I thought this line from Annette Clancy‘s recent post was rather brilliant.
The primary challenge to those of us involved in assisting organisations to strategise is the co-creation of a secure enough environment in which to envision a future that is insecure.
I only discovered Anne’s work today, thanks to Chris Corrigan. I feel tremendously excited by the clarity with which she describes her experience. I’d say she is clear about what isn’t clear, and there’s a surprise in many of her posts.
I was fascinated by her experience at a conference where there were groups working in different languages. She was less comfortable in a group that use her own language than in ones she didn’t “understand”.
Today I felt more misunderstood and I think I, in turn misunderstood my colleagues in a group that, on the surface, offered more possibilities of what we had in common than not. As soon as we had negotiated a “sameness” (language of communication) other differences emerged – nuance, intention, conscious and unconscious projections and inferences. I realise that not understanding the language also offers a respite from the words and offers the possibility of playing with meaning, non verbal and symbolic communication. I ask myself – how is the discourse affecting me? Is how I am being affected useful in terms of what is transpiring? The advantage of exploring this in a group relations conference is that is precisely the kind of exploration, reflection and learning we are invited to participate in.
I also found this fascinating:
We’ve spent about 4 hours talking about chairs. Moving them, not moving them, what they “symbolise”, who’s not sitting in one, who is sitting in the middle of the group, who’s sitting on the outside of the group. Were anyone to walk into the middle of these conversations I’m convinced they’d think we’ve all lost the plot. In the absence of an agenda and something “to talk about” a group starts looking for things to talk about to replace the anxiety of the silence. Think of how difficult it is to sit on a three hour train journey with no newspaper, iPod, coffee, book and you get some idea of what I’m talking about . Paranoia about senior management and their intention towards the group starts to rear its ugly head. It didn’t take long for people to feel like we were like lab rats in a cage, being manipulated for some other external reason. The “management” deliberately arranged the chairs to “make” us react in this way is a popular fantasy.
And I can’t resist quoting one more chunk, from her post What does leadership look like?:
All problems in systems are caused by an attempt to control someone else’s actions and behaviours. Attempting to police those situations more often than not results in the suppression of difference and generates the fantasy of collaboration. If we’re brave enough to accept that difference exists and is enriching and is part and parcel of all systems, then the task becomes one of managing and engaging with that difference. If there is room for difference then there can be a realistic and authentic agreement to move forward from that perspective. That, to me, sounds like a more authentic form of consensus than an imposed “rule” that we all have to be the same.