Collective Ontology

Ontology has a central meaning in the Ontogenica process. Its etymological root is, of course, (Onto-) from the Ancient Greek ὤν (ṓn, “on”), the present participle of εἰμί (eimí, “being, existing, essence”). The addition of -logy gives us the notion of the Greek λόγος (lógos or “account”). So we have one’s account of what exists -- essentially one’s being. This is of tremendous importance in our work with individuals. Clearly, if one's account of what exists -- for example, the nature of 'employment' -- can be impacted, then one's 'being' in the human capital market is also revolutionised. It is, however, less clear how this also applies to organizations, as we assert it does.

It is important to understand that there is always an organizational ontology, whether the organization’s leaders and decision-makers are fully cognizant of it or not. Indeed, given that an organization’s ontology consists primarily in the subjective ontologies of these guiding individuals, it is almost definitional that the firm’s ontology is beyond the grasp of any one individual. This perception builds on the position that one’s individual ontology is beyond the reach of one’s epistemological reality, which, in simple terms, is one's position on what counts as knowledge. It is an unobservable and inescapable constraint. Much like ones very vocabulary limits what one can say about one's vocabulary. This ontology is often buried in the controlling assumptions that can stubbornly persist in the face of the most enthusiastic change initiatives and blunt self-assessment.

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