What can we see on the horizon? What is around us and we cannot see? Why can we not see? The
own subjective framework is involved in the answer because they load with more or less anxiety the
explanations about the questions. The emotional charge of responses can lead us to search desperately
explanations in the past to address the present.
About ten thousand years ago, our ancestors left
to wander looking for their livelihood and settled
in the first agricultural groups that generated early
clans and primitive societies. Following this path,
the anthropologist Robin Dunbar conducted a study
wondering: what should be the optimal size of a
group about the size of the brains of people. His
conclusion was that an optimal social group, which
can be controlled without hierarchical organization is
150 members (compared with a group of chimpanzees
that has an approximate size of 50 members). What is
the reason for this number? The calculation is based
on developmental brain’s ability to “cope socially”. This
concept involves two aspects: the ability to process
the emotional impact of external information and the
ability to manipulate information to generate a set of
emotions in the other group members. Two studies


between 1966 and 1976 of Allison Jolly Nicholas and
Humphrey respectively anticipated the evolutionary
hypothesis that the complexity of the human mind
was due adaptive need to predict and manipulate the
behavior of others.
The complexity of coexistence between humans
became a greater evolutionary development of our
brain resources because of the need to manage
emotions and symbols. For humans, the act of
explaining events is related to the management of the
emotional impact of these facts on our personal image
of the world. Precisely, the need to signify the context
has been one of the steps that led to the language.
This implies an evolutionary skill that allows us to live
together. The brain is prepared not only to manage
environmental factors but also to maintain coexistence
with other brains.
Marcelo Manucci ©2016

Emotions are primarily responsible for the answer
to the question: Where are we now? Where are we
going? All living beings need to frame its territory
to decide their movements. Mammals make these
marks with chemical segregations that generate
different behaviors. In humans, marking of the
territory is also a chemical process, although it is not
as explicit as in the case of other mammals. In the
case of people, the chemical marking occurs through
emotions. That is our brain chemistry that defines
the limitations and potential of the landscape that
we face daily.

The steps we decide daily are base on our perception
of the world around. However, does not mean a
neutral visual image; it is a subjective construction
of reality that defines the own version of the events
around us. From this personal interpretation, we
make decisions and project actions. Our coexistence
has had an evolutionary leap that differentiates us
from other mammals or even many social insects.
In organic systems, life context is predetermined by
nature. In human systems, the context is determined
by the individual map of the territories that gives
meaning to everything that surrounds people.

The encounter with new situations always has an emotional impact. Emotions regulate our coexistence
because the fact of living together implies that each maintain a personal position according to the
movement of other members. These positions depend on the meanings and interpretations that
each person infers about the actions and intentions of other people from their context.

How can we prepare to live in unstable contexts?
Let us return to organizations. We have been educated for stability, and we are training people to be
effective in known territories, but the current conditions of instability reveal an entirely different situation.
How can we prepare to live unstable conditions? The classical framework of managers reduces the number
of alternatives for organizational development. For this reason, leaders often fall into confusion, reacting
compulsively against the events.
Traditionally, the classic management model has been focused on optimizing the limitations. This
management model is based on the idea that we share a “limited territory”, where other players are
enemies that restrict access to limited resources. From this perspective, the alternatives are limited, and the
growth possibilities are incompatible between actors: while some company grows, others must be out of
the market. In this context, the administration becomes “an obstacle race”. Under this model, the manager’s
role is reduced to take anything that obstructs the planned actions.
We need to be wary of emerging situations that appear in the landscape because the possible levels of an
impact do not necessarily mean positive conditions. This means that the movements of the contexts are
open to different outcomes. Therefore, when we refer to alternatives, we are not talking about controlling the
context. The design of alternatives is not related to removing actors from the territory or limit their influence.
Rather, the design of alternatives refers to the corporative skills to move under unstable conditions of life.
Our perception of events defines what we see and what we cannot see. We approach the events through
perceptions, cognitions, emotions and past experiences, but also intuitions, expectations, and projections
about the future. So, to transform a biased point of view we should ask: How are we looking at the reality
around us? What concepts, values, and emotions are framing the facts? These questions allow us to think
about the subjective position from where we order the perception of events that then generate hypotheses
and actions.
Observation refers to the interpretation of the world; it is related to constructing meaning. That is, the
image that we have of reality. Therefore, to expand “the image” of reality, it is necessary to explore the limits
of our perceptions. It is necessary to review the own map (image) of context to transcend the barriers of our
models and paradigms.


Marcelo Manucci ©2016


The known world is a design, which we usually do not change until it is in crisis.
The unknown is what is outside the individual design and involves two aspects:


unknown in the context. This dimension refers to what is unknown
because it does not exist. It is unknown because the situations are in gestation. This
aspect appears in the multiplicity of new situations that arise from the instability of
the context.


unknown in the personal image. This dimension refers to the context
conditions that exist, but we do not see. This vision is limited because our map of
reality is outdated, we have no resources to understand the context, or because we
refuse to the reality of events.

The unknown appears: on one side of the complexity and instability of the context;
and on the other, from the uncertainty and confusion of people against this
dynamic. Therefore, the uncertainty is not in the context; it is in the perception
that the person has in their context. The complexity is in the context; uncertainty
is in the context observer.


Marcelo Manucci ©2016

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