A naive question

Obviously this is too simplistic.

But I have this question for anyone who’s got some process to manage human beings in organisations. You know the sort of thing… a process to set and manage coaching; a format for efficient meetings; a form for 360 feedback, an assessment “tool” for interviews.

Does this process bear any resemblance to how you actually relate, in your own life, to anyone whom you love? (eg how you chose your spouse, how you treat your children etc etc)

And if not, why not?

4 thoughts on “A naive question

  1. Chris Corrigan

    I can’t resist! I’ll bite!

    In my case, yes it absolutely does. What I do in my business and with clients is what I do with my faily and at home. After running 120+ Open Space events, how could I not create open space for my kids. They do not go to school. They live and learn in the world on a steady diet of mentors, opportunities, resources and conversation. Whoever comes are the right people. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. When it starts is the right time. When it’s over, it’s over.

    My daughter wrote a poster for her bedroom door with the law of two feet on it: if you find yourself in a situation where you are neither learning or contributing go somewhere where you can. It is her mantra for how she shows up in the world.

    It is crucially important to me that what I offer in the world be absolutely authentic and in line with the way I show up everywhere, including with myself. I am not perfect of course, but that is what reflective process is for: putting a question in the middle and stretching into what that question means.

    What you are asking Johnnie, is neither a simple question nor a naive one. It is fundamental I believe to people working with people, and I think those of us who walk that path are required to do a tremendous amount of personal work to make it so.

  2. patti digh

    First of all, I want Chris Corrigan to adopt me.

    Secondly, I love your question – it is getting at a simple truth that I see play out again and again when we work with clients–humans step through the threshold of a business organization and somehow lose our humanity.

    The legislation of human behavior at work (in the U.S.) is one culprit. The outcome is people who ignore the full humanity of the people they work alongside–they become titles or tasks. And when we come in to an organization and ask them to play to discover relationship and creativity, it is extraordinary what happens…they play with abandon. We have an impulse to be fully human, but we let work strip us of that. When given permission, and a safe “play pen” in which to play again as full, rich, textured humans, we lunge toward it in recognition.

    Chris has said, “those of us who walk that path are required a tremendous amount of personal work to make it so,” and I believe not only personal work, but an uphill climb to get clients to do that work too, sometimes. The urge is toward neatness, clean, tight, neat lines in business–and what we are asking is for people to walk (even run!) toward messiness, chaos, those edges where real learning (and real relationship) take place.

    We were asked recently to do a keynote entitled “Transforming work relationships,” which we began by saying that we can’t transform work relationships until we VALUE relationship–an important distinction, I think.

    Thanks for this early Sunday morning food for thought, Johnnie…

  3. Max Christian Hansen

    It’s a great question (I’m not sure how it’s naive.)

    Some of the most important structures for managing human beings that I’ve developed in the past year have been precisely for managing people I love. Two people, to be precise: my brother Laurence and my own self.

    Both of us are excellent employees, with resumes full of past employers willing to say so. But both of us feel we have far more to offer the world, and far more success awaiting us, if we operate our own businesses. (Although I’m about to take on some associates, we’ve both been solo acts to date.)

    Problem is that a fine employee isn’t always a fine manager, and both of us need help knowing how to manage ourselves. So we decided a while back to start phoning each other once a week to co-coach. It hasn’t always been perfect. But it was very helpful for a period of time.

    It was very structured. The phone call was at the same time each week, and we asked the same scripted set of questions. Only after hearing the initial answers did we go deep into the week’s specifics.

    Sometimes the questioning got pretty intense. You can only dare to do that if you have a mutual pact that each of you wants to do your best, and each wants to help the other succeed. The fact is the same pact can and ought to exist in every work place. A tremendous amount of demandingness can be accompanied by a great deal of empathy, if the pact exists and is made explicit.


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