"The 3rd Alternative" could have been so much more. I think Covey is right to try to modernize the Hegelian philosophy of thesis-antithesis-hypothesis. Though he fails to mention nor credit Hegel, there is a powerful need in today's polarized debate to insert this process leaven of humility. That, in fact, truth (solution) is an amalgam of multiple points of view. As Covey correctly states: this is not compromise but actually something beyond; something transcendent of the ideological or strategic limits so far permitted.
I have always enjoyed the sense of surprise and wonder in our Working Differently communities, when people who saw themselves as polar opposites in seeking community solutions discover that what was truly at polar opposites was their preconceived notions of each other. The point of intersection will never be in the knee-jerk slogan but rather in the aspiration. (Don't contend about big or small government -- these are just potential tools. Focus rather on what your community can/should be.) For it is here -- in the "what to we want?" -- that business person and social worker can see their own role and each others' value in the solution more clearly.
This transcendent sense of something other than narrow points of view is the missing piece in "The 3rd Alternative." It is what, in the end leaves, this effort inert. For Covey fails to deal with two corseting postures in today's arena. First, there is not universal value in solutions. And, second there is a profound diminishing in our belief that solutions are achievable. These two constraints may be mirror images of each other, but their cancer affects our individual, organizational and community urge to act. And this passivity keeps us out of the arena and therefor unaccommodating to a "3rd Alternative."
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