Parent and Child…or Power and Love

I saw two very different broad type of responses to c19.  

The first is was that of widespread paralysis. Like rabbits caught in headlights. Sat waiting for the ‘top’ or the ‘centre’, or ‘HQ’ to figure things out and give us clear guidance and instructions.  If in doubt – do nothing and await further instructions. Or, keep doing what we have always done – but do it with greater commitment, greater risk, and greater efforts to mitigate the risk too.   It is a reflection of a particular culture where organisations and individuals have formed a dependency on an ‘authority’, that will eventually ‘know the way’ and ‘show the way’.  And a reliance on habits and routines that have been proven to work in the past and will surely, hopefully, prevail again. It was a culture of ‘closed innovation’ where some were paid to think and lead while others followed.

The second broad response was that of open innovation and creativity.  Self organising and mutually supporting groups and networks have springing up within days and all sort of innovations being tested.  Restaurants becoming take-aways. Makers clubs running online.  Choirs and bands performing from the sofas using collaboration platforms and music being released at an amazing rate.  GPs suddenly doing nearly all of their consultations online.  New hospitals are spring up within weeks. This world is moving quickly, collaboratively and positively.

What influences which of these two reactions we get in a crisis?  Well, certainly personality, history and culture play a huge part.  

Some people are more prone to ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ when they face a threat – they act.  They experiment. They test their assumptions by trying things out. While others are more prone to freeze.  Let others take the risks. As the way forward becomes clear, guidelines will appear and we can the move with safety. 

In our evolutionary history both can work. 

I also think organisational culture and structure play a part.  

Families with strong leaders look to the leader for assurance and guidance.  Organisations with strong hierarchies look to the senior management and the board for guidance and instructions, while families with more distributed leadership start talking to each other about what next.  Organisations with more empowered structures start to blossom with experiments as individuals and groups start to test the new waters in terms of what works, and share what they know.

But which is best?  How should we develop our systems to better respond in the future.  Well, I don’t think it is either/or.  

It is both/and.

The best responses have both a strong top down influence and this blossoming of innovation.  They work together – exchanging information. Listening, challenging, supporting, testing. A clear sense of direction and purpose re-stated from the top. A strong culture of connection and innovation learning and sharing how to work for this purpose in the new world.

Dependency is replaced by a healthier, more human relationship.  A genuine association around a shared purpose that knows how to work with both power and love.

Take a good look at your systems.  What reactions are you seeing to the crisis? 

What does it teach you about the need for things to be different in the future?

Open Space Using Zoom – some reflections

Well, that was a joyful experience.

We had an open space event planned for today and were facing having to cancel it due to Covid-19.

Our Open Space...
Some of our Open Spacers!

But thanks to our courageous client, Vanessa Garrity from the Yorkshire and Humberside NHS Leadership Academy, and some courageous participants, we decided instead to take the Elephant in the Room Open Space event online.

A little faffing about with settings and such like and we were able to do nearly everything that we might have done with Open Space in the real world. We had Tom Bailey doing graphic facilitation, we had a lot of smiles and we had some difficult conversations too.

A number of people had their first experience of using zoom, which they enjoyed, we overcame social isolation while remaining safe, and we also did some good work exploring power, inequality and obesity.

Importantly instead of saying we have to put engagement work on hold we were able to carry on almost as usual. Indeed for a couple of our participants who have long term chronic health conditions found the whole experience more enjoyable and much easier than having to travel to a venue and sit on an uncomfortable seat. Result.

We recorded the event, both audio and video, and that is currently being edited, but here are a couple of sneak previews:

And here are a few of the pictures that Tom Bailey drew while the event was running:

So there is a lot we can do to engage staff, citizens, colleagues and patients through our online leadership to offer inspiration, encouragement, support and learning. If you would like us to help you use this time well – then please get in touch!

Complete Reset?

From: The Systems View of Life by Capra and Luisi

We really are cursed to live in interesting times, aren’t we?

Or perhaps we are blessed?

Perhaps we are offered the chance to step up to a call that is greater than achieving a good inspection, or a strong return on investment. Perhaps we can do more than mitigate the worst impacts of the social systems that we have created on the growing numbers of the marginalised and the poor? Maybe we can find a kinder way to share this beautiful planet with other forms of life?

Perhaps we have the chance to find a way to manage a ‘complete reset’? A lasting shift to a kinder, more connected way of being in the world?

I am looking to work with a group of people from a range of disciplines and backgrounds who are keen to use this time to reflect on our own practices, our ways of being in the world, our habits and behaviours, knowledge and skills, values, attitudes and beliefs, and sense of self and purpose so that we may not ‘return to normal’ when this passes, but ‘move on to a new normal’.

A new normal that is kinder, more inclusive, sustainable and resilient.

After the financial crisis in 2008 we had no real alternative to move forward with, so we simply went back to business as usual. I am keen to explore how we can move forward.

Please do get in touch if you might want to come on this journey with me. And please do forward the invitation to others who might be interested.