March 22, 2002
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - The 10 Lenses
Right or wrong, stereotypes exist. Because humans tend to compartmentalize the world around them to better understand that world, stereotypes work as guidelines to interpret difference. We often help sustain the life of invalid stereotypes, intentionally or unintentionally, simply by not challenging them. Such categorization is often, if not always, dangerously shortsighted, and racial and cultural stereotypes are perhaps the most egregious. While stereotypes may serve as relational guideposts, they inhibit individualism, denying that which is central to [anothers] personal and public identity. We, as a society, better than ever understand that we do not know someone simply by his or her skin color. Prominent African American figures with such diverse ideologies as Colin Powell and Louis Farrakhan show us that more than race should inform how we perceive these men, and how we believe they perceive the world.
In The 10 Lenses, Mark A. Williams suggests a better way to organize our world than to rely on stereotypes as our guide. Supported by twenty years of research and with data collected from The Gallup Organization and Harvard Medical School, Williams concludes that we perceive the world though lenses which exist as modes of thought, feeling, and behavior in the general population. Williams delineates these 10 lenses, found imbedded within such already established overarching categories as race and culture, giving us the opportunity to dissect our own perception of the world as a first step. Then, applying the 10 lenses outwardly, we can get along with people better when we learn to understand their modes for perceiving other people.
The 10 lenses range from Elitist to Integrationist, from Seclusionist to Multiculturalist. A classic workbook, The 10 Lenses is laid out by first giving a short description of each lens and providing a short test which can help you determine through which lenses you view the world. Then comes the real meat of the book. Each lens has a full description, running ten to twenty pages long, and within those pages you will meet that lens archetype, read the general profile and strengths and weaknesses of that lens, and its history. Then, Williams coaches us on how to best work, mentor or coach that lens type, and how they fit into organizational systems. The book is part of a complete package of services to support the training, understanding and communicating of a culturally diverse workplace and world.
I believe that race and cultural diversity issues will be with us until we are able to understand and educate ourselves against stereotypes and discriminating behaviors and systems. This is the first book that I have seen that embraces the complexities of this issue. The only contention I have with the book is that it concentrates solely on race, culture, nationality, and ethnicity, though Williams acknowledges this and believes the lens concept can be applied to other difference issues, including gender, class, age, sexual orientation and religion. This book is a perfect example of why I started Jack Covert Selects: the publisher is small, but the subject and writing isnt. Buy it and become a better person.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.