So my throwaway question from Friday generated some heartfelt comments.
Heartfelt, and – to me – heartening. I think a lot of organisations create complicated processes in an effort to systematise human relationships. These processes generate what a friend calls a “corporate nod” the kind of assent that really means “yeah, I’ll play along” and not “yes, I love that idea”.
Of course, any organisation needs its procedures but there seems to be an impulse to create too many of them, and too complicated. A personal peeve of mine are “evaluation forms” at the end of events. These seem to encourage an evaluative rather than participative mindset – where people are invited to assess whether it “worked” (on a 5 point scale) instead of engaging live in making it work at the time.
One fine day, I’ll announce that I won’t read those feedback forms – to emphasise how much more valuable it is to get live engagement from people taking risks to make things work in the here and now. Probably on the same day I’ll kick off a creative thinking meeting by saying, “Could we all embrace the possibility that nothing useful may come of this meeting? That way, we can all stop trying to control what happens, relax and probably create an atmosphere that’s actually more likely to see something useful emerge.”
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.
I don’t have a problem with neat lines if they act as a prompt to, rather than limitation on, creative thinking.