Coherence

This article is follows up on the previous post on communication.  The selection below is from David Bohm's On Dialogue.

A society is a link of relationships that are set by people in order to work and live together: rules, laws, institutions, and various things. It is done by thinking and agreeing that we are going to have them, and then we do it. And behind that is a culture, which is shared meaning. Even to say that we want to set up a government, people must agree to a common meaning of what kind of government they want, what’s good government, what’s right, and so on. Different cultures will produce different functions of government. And if some people don’t agree, then we have political struggle. When it goes further, it breaks down into civil war.

I am saying society is based on shared meanings, which constitute the culture. If we don’t share coherent meaning, we do not make much of a society. And at present, the society at large has a very incoherent set of meanings. In fact, this set of ‘shared meanings’ is so incoherent that it is hard to say that they have any real meaning at all. There is a certain amount of significance, but it is very limited. The culture in general is incoherent. And we will thus bring with us into the group - or microcosm or microculture - a corresponding incoherence.

If all the meanings can come in together, however, we may be able to work toward coherence. As a result of this process, we may naturally and easily drop a lot of our meanings. But we don’t have to begin by accepting or rejecting them. The important thing is that we will never come to truth unless the overall meaning is coherent. All the meanings of the past and the present are together. We first have to apprehend them, and just let them be; and this will bring about a certain order.

If we can work this through, we will then have a coherent meaning in the group, and hence the beginning of a new kind of culture - a culture of a kind which, as far as I can tell, has never really existed. If it ever did, it must have been very long ago - maybe in some groups in the primitive Stone Age conditions. I am saying that a genuine culture could arise in which opinions and assumptions are not defended incoherently. And that kind of culture is necessary for the society to work, and ultimately for the society to survive.
— David Bohm, On Dialogue

I believe the new culture that Bohm refers to is being created now and design is the vehicle taking us there.  People are empowered to search for alternatives on their own as existing institutional structures dissolve or lose meaning.  The emergence of a design culture in organizations of all sizes is enabling people to make sense of the unknown and ultimately create shared meaning among diverse elements or groups.  Creating coherence where others see confusion is the leadership challenge of today.