Three risks to a reading

The listener faces three risks to the truth of his or her construction, derived from the way s/he reads what the speaker is saying in the ‘plus-one’ exercise.  These risks will arise from three possible types of error that the listener can make in their reading.  These risks form the basis of the three questions associated with leading action learning and can form the basis of the plus-one’s feedback in the ‘plus-one’ exercise (which is of course itself a reading).  On the assumption that the speaker is presenting some form of problem associated with a client situation:

  1. Is the reader placing too much dependence upon one account of what is going on? (is one person’s version of the story being bought into, as though he or she knew and could give a total description of the problem situation?)
  2. Is the reader assuming that there will be a right way to interpret the presented problem? (is a particular frame of reference being accorded unquestioned authority?)
  3. How is the reader ‘drawing the line’ around what is or is not relevant to the problem, and is the reader including or excluding himself or herself in the way that line is drawn? (What is relevant to whose problem in the problem-as-presented, and is the reader able to formulate what is relevant to the problem in a way which includes his or her own impact on the reading?)

These relate to the model used for the ‘plus-one’ exercise as follows: [1]

  • Type I Error: This is an error of perception by the reader, in which some detail of the account of wigo is misread.
  • Type II Error: This is an error of interpretation or inference, in which the details are put together into a picture by the reader in a way that is inconsistent.
  • Type III Error: This is an error in the attribution of intent because of implicit assumptions made by the reader about intent or motive influencing what is judged to be relevant detail. This error arises when the reader ignores key interests influencing the form taken by the interpretation or inference, including their own. These interests may shape both the way the interpretation or inference includes details in the way it is constructed, but also may shape what details are ignored.

[1] These errors are an adaptation of the three kinds of human error identified by James Reason, and enlarged on in ‘Unintentional’ errors and unconscious valencies:

  •  Type I: errors of execution in the way some particular action is carried out (e.g. carried out a treatment in the wrong way).
  • Type II: errors of planning in the way actions are combined to produce an overall effect (e.g. combined treatments in a way that was ineffective).
  • Type III: errors of intent in the way the need for an overall effect is itself defined (e.g. misunderstood what the condition was that needed treating).

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