Podcast: letting go of planning and control…

Rob Poynton, Mark Earls and I recorded a podcast this morning, around the benefits of doing less planning. The podcast itself was largely unplanned but we managed to cover quite a few interesting topics.

Click to Listen Download the Podcast (27m45s, 9.8MB)

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Here’s my rough summary of what we talked about but hopefully you’ll want to hear for yourself.

We begin talking about the workshop Mark, James and I ran with NESTA a couple of weeks ago and looking at what improv can teach us about control and influence. Mark refers to Simon Caulkin’s recent piece in the Observer highlighting dual standards among CEOs when it comes to control – they seem to advocate light touch control of their companies by government but tight control by them of their internal processes.

We go on to explore how this paradoxical attitude to control goes on in each of us, and start looking at two different notions of power – one which is more about power over others, the other more about sensing our intimate connectedness to the world and operating from that sense.

Rob is based in Spain and explains that the Spanish have two different words for power use the same word for ‘power’ as for ‘capability’ that relates to this idea. We talk about how Improv can teach us the difference between controlling a narrative, say, and realising that we can have great influence over it. I get in my mantra of “notice more, change less” and how it influences how I manage my own anxieties, as well how I work with groups. Rob elaborates on the flow state of almost disappearing from groups he facilitates.

We look at the connections between Lenin, Henry Ford and Frederick Taylor – and how we want to move away from a brain-based, mechanistic notions of how the world works towards approaches that are, literally, more full-bodied. As Mark puts it, “the twentieth century dehumanised this amazing, collaborative, co-creative, brilliant species of ours into something which is a gross distortion, and we’ve lost a lot as a result.” And Rob ends by talking about how we can, paradoxically, use the fruits of that divisive way of thinking to have a kind of connectedness we’ve never had before.

3 thoughts on “Podcast: letting go of planning and control…

  1. Robert Poynton

    One point to clarify regarding the Spanish. It is not that there are two words, but that the same word, ‘poder’ can mean both ‘power’ and ‘capability’. It has both meanings built in, suggesting there is more to power than simply ordering other people around.

  2. Stuart Reid

    I am pathetically impressed by your having an iTunes feed for me to subscribe to. Looking forward to the podcast – planning in facilitation is an interest of mine, as you know!



  3. Stuart Reid

    Have now listened to the podcast, and am so glad you posted it up. It’s the kind of rich conversation about facilitation practice that I have been wanting for some time. I particularly liked the contrast one of you drew between controlling something to get it right, and actively participating to get something good. The points about noticing and connecting also really resonated with me.

    Is there a way of creating a space or opportunity for more conversations like this I wonder? Or are they already taking place somewhere?

    Thanks again to the three of you.




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