Saturday, August 04, 2007

Leading in Chaos

I have the privilege this year to work with Jeff Hale on his dissertation in our Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership. Jeff and his family have faithfully served years in West Africa as transformational leaders in the work of God there and their example has been deeply inspiring to me and many others. Jeff is proposing a fascinating study and the working title at present is: "What does it mean to organize and lead in chaotic times? Interpreting the Apocalypse through hermeneutic phenomenology."

Here are a few beginning thoughts from Jeff on his research proposal:
"The chaotic times of the 21st century make the traditional forms of organizing and leading obsolete because the ontological and epistemological assumptions of these forms are undermined. Consequently, the fundamental problem for 21st century organizations and their leaders is the rediscovery of meaning. Faced with this crisis of meaning, scholars and practitioners turn to symbolic interpretive and postmodern ontology and epistemology, as reflected in Chaos Theory and theories of spirituality, to make sense of their world. Unfortunately, there is not a philosophical framework for leading in chaos to guide scholars and practitioners in appraising and developing theory and practice. This study proposes one way of defining a philosophic framework in relation to the research question.

'What does it mean to organize and lead in chaotic – even apocalyptic –times?' This research question confronts the Revelation to John, also known as the Apocalypse, through hermeneutic phenomenology as developed by Paul Ricoeur. Ricoeur’s work is well suited as a methodological framework for this study. His emphasis on metaphor, narrative, and understanding of hermeneutics as 'the art of deciphering indirect meaning' works well with the literary nature of the Apocalypse. Ricoeur’s four characteristics of text and social action offer the possibility of discovering spirituality in the text that is not dependent on The Apocalypse’s status as a religious text. Ample examples of Ricoeur’s application of hermeneutic phenomenology to biblical texts serve as guides in the research process. Significantly, this methodology offers a way to link, within the hermeneutic process, the meaning of the text with the meaning of social actions of organizing and leading. "

Here is a link to Jeff's blog: