Action theatre, revisited

A lot of conversations about the need for action frustrate me as I’ve blogged before. So Ton’s reflections on Reboot 11 which had “action” has its theme, make a lot of sense.

He says:

To me the whole Action theme this year was about your radius of action more than actual acts… So Matt Webb talking about scope in his opening key-note was spot on for me. Matt talked about how big visions and dreams (touch the moon with your fingertip) look differently when realized in a centralized command structure or in a decentralized network-sourced effort. Calling upon the Reboot participants to give the world a new ‘macroscope’ by taking 100 hour steps, he brings action and change down to the level where you can act confidently now.

I really warm to this notion. I easily tire of conversations where people come up with top-down solutions which often involve lots of angst about how to make other people change. These are bad enough from people at the top of a hierarchy. Even more strange are the times I hear people doing this where I suspect the real issue is that they can’t get the powers-that-be to listen to whatever grand plan they generate. The question “but what is my part in all this?” seems to be missing.

I think Ton’s in similar territory when he describes two ways to frame issues so that you are impotent:

In the former, you say you would want to change but put forward a version of the problem that is simply too big to handle, allowing yourself the excuse to do nothing. In the latter you say the problem is something you can handle, but only if all others listen to you to get it done… Again this is used as excuse for inaction as ‘obviously’ it is impossible to get all others on board (= back to the ‘too big to handle’ end of the spectrum).

Yes. I think a lot of apparently virtuous demands for action could more honestly be described as demands for control. And behind the need for control is probably some vulnerability the person is either unaware of or (perhaps for very good reason) unwilling to express.

And the “person” where I’m most aware of this syndrome in action is me, by the way. So being a facilitator is good practice for me at monitoring my own inner control freak…

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