Yesterday, I attended a meeting which I left thinking:
“This might turn into a total mess.”
Have you ever experienced something similar?
20 well-meaning people come together around a shared purpose. Self-organisation is the game of the day.
A large rectangular table. People seek to form a circle, yet there is only space for a long oval. Many can’t see each other.
A bit of an agenda by the initiator (unclear), no facilitator, poor listening skills, people speak in the order of whoever gets their voice through. Some speak a lot, others not at all.
Then a proposal by a group member: “I would like the following change to what we agreed upon last time.”
(I leave out the details of that change, as it’s not needed to get the main points.)
Immediate strong agreement by some, including the initiator of the group. Silence from others.
I think to myself:
“Mmmmh, I am not so sure about this change. Does she really know the implications of these suggestions? Does everybody else actually understand the risk of doing this?”
I speak up to bring in my perspective, but am immediately met with comments like: “Don’t let your old thinking limit what we make possible here.” (Imagine tone of voice that clearly knows better.)
The initiator says: “That’s how we do it from now on, right?!”
I caution: “Wait, we can’t just casually say, ‘this is how it’s now done.’ Last time we agreed upon a certain way of decision-making.”
Nobody clearly remembers what we had agree upon. People obviously never thought about the impact of decision-making. Decisions just… kind of… happened…
I remind them: “We said we make decisions via ‘Consent decision-making’. Which means that people signal if they object to a proposal by raising their hand.”
(at the time the group wasn’t mature enough to bring in 5toFold) *link to Givens for using 5toFold*
The initiator remembers and takes the lead: “Okay, hands up – does anyone have any objections to the proposal?”
No hand goes up.
I negotiate with myself inwardly: “Do I raise my hand? I have a lot of doubt and uncertainty. However, nobody seems to care to listen to my view.”
I look around, people seem to want to get done with this topic. Participants seem to have no clue of the importance of decision-making.
My inner negotiation continues: “If you raise your hand, this will get really annoying. If the group wants to create a mess, let them. They may need this learning experience. If this proposal creates the distortion you envision, you can back off from this project without too much loss.”
I sigh. And keep my hand in my lap.
Have you ever been in a similar situation?
Where you weren’t convinced? But you gave in, because no-one seemed to care for your perspective?
With a sense of accomplishement, the intitiator declares the proposal as “accepted”…
Some days later, I get to ask the participant who brought the proposal forward:
“Are you aware of the possible side effects of your proposal? How did you experience the meeting? How the decision was made? Are you satisfied with the result?”
To my surprise, I hear her say:
“Oh, I hadn’t thought it through, I just brought if up. I am surprised that it went through so fast. Hadn’t expected that. I just wanted to start the conversation about it.”
- Sadness and frustration – I want to serve the group with my expertise, yet people respond to my input as ‘in the way’.
- Less engagement – I started by being engaged, now I move to the side of the playing field.
Regarding the project
- Lowered trust in the way this groups operates.
- Lowered care and identification with in the outcome of this project.
- My heart is just not in it as much as before.
WAS THE PROPOSED CHANGE A BAD IDEA?
We don’t know, yet. Time will tell.
What I DO know is what I got to experience first hand: The shift from being an engaged contributor to a half-engaged participant.
If this way of communicating continuous, my engagement might disappear completely.
Which is a phenomenon
WE SEE IN TEAMS AND ORGANISATIONS WORLD-WIDE.
Everyone talks about
Wanting people to care. Yet is unaware that:
HOW decisions are being made
is at least as important to building high-performing teams as
WHAT decisions are being made.
That’s why the 5toFold process pays such close attention to
- Valuing all perspectives
- Listening to all viewpoints
- Crafting a clear proposal, before bringing it to a group for decision-making.
- Distinguishing between the roles of sponsor, facilitator, participants.
- and so on
Learn about the details of the carfully crafted 5toFold process by taking our Intro to 5toFold workshop.
People don’t need to be agreed to. But people need to be listened to.
– Birgitt Williams, founder of the Genuine Contact™ Program