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Showing posts from April, 2017
Peacekeeping
There is a perennial debate among facilitators about voting during collaborative process. Most of them do not like the idea of using voting to select the final plan of action. The debate is about whether voting has any place – whether voting fits with our process values about how we treat evidence, inference, and one another. For a long time I never understood the passion of the no-voting-never-ever-not-even-to-take-the-group-pulse faction. We live in a democracy. How could voting be a bad thing?
Then I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. This is a novel about a family of missionaries serving in the Belgian Congo before and during the transition of the Congo from colony to democracy. However, the natives of the town where they are serving don’t understand this democracy idea. How can anyone do a good job of ruling a people when 49% of them voted against you? This changed forever my view of the role of voting in coming to consensus.
It’s easy to understand why …
Tomorrow, Earth Day, will see Marches for Science in many parts of the country. I hope to march myself on our Niantic Bay Boardwalk. Science has its own set of process values that are very much like those of collaborative work. The scientific method is all about how we treat evidence and inference as we look at natural and experimental observations and try to understand something about our Universe.
The one value that sometimes seems to be missing from science is how we treat one another in the process. In fact, both historical and fictionalized accounts of scientific debate are rank with stories of scientists criticizing, attacking, and demonizing those who don’t agree with them. The source of this is the same as the source of most human conflict: positions. Once you take a position on anything, including scientific theories, you cannot allow for the possibility of the other position.
The whole March for Science movement we will celebrate tomorrow is a perfect case in point. There are …
Let’s look more closely at the concept of forces in opposition that must be kept in balance. We talked last week about the three Cs: considerations, concerns, and constraints. Of these, concerns may be the most important. Considerations are the foundation of collaborative work, but no one will be ready to share their considerations until the battles over process values have been won and people are ready to be collaborative. Constraints are critical, but they are found by the proper treatment of evidence and inference. That is perhaps the last battle.
Concerns are worries about forces that are acting on the situation. Concerns point to forces that have to be kept in balance. For example, some people are concerned that having a social safety net makes people dependent on the government. Others are concerned that without a safety net people will die, or at a minimum become more of a burden on their neighbors than if early intervention had nipped the problem in the bud. These concerns are …
One of the problems with most meetings and a frequent source of conflict in political processes is positions. Positions are at the very top of what S.I. Hayakawa has called the “ladder of inference.”[1] You start at the bottom of the ladder with events. Your perception of these events, the next rung on your ladder, depends on what you are trained to see, what you believe to be true, and which direction you are looking at the moment the event occurs. By combining your perceptions with your experience, you move up another rung and draw certain conclusions. Continuing to work your way up the ladder, you finally reach the top where you take a position on what should be done about the event.
The problem with positions is that no two people climb the same ladder of inference, and once people have taken positions, it is almost impossible to find common ground. A key process value must be to help people climb back down the ladder to where they have a chance to find agreement, to where they are…