— William Isaacs, Dialogue
What gets missed
We often needlessly overlook the new, the unexpected, and our humanity when we fail to create space to listen to what’s true right now.
One time, I worked with a large organization that was decidedly one of the most humane and caring organizations on the planet. It was highly respected and well known for always being there to help and serve people in their time of greatest need.
But on the inside, it was a much different story. It was without question the most toxic and political organization I ever encountered. It was shocking to witness and experience such a stark contrast between their organizational culture and public persona and purpose.
One week while I was there, the organization prepared for a significant upgrade to its IT systems. The upgrade involved dozens of systems and hundreds of people. Every step of the upgrade was planned in meticulous detail down to the person and the minute.
While attending a final planning and coordination meeting, my team was scheduled to carry out their work at 2 am on Sunday. I explained to the person leading the meeting that this would not be possible because only one person could carry out one of the tasks, and she happened to be eight months pregnant. We needed to find a better time for her to do her work.
The room erupted into dead silence. My concern was uncomfortably handled, and the meeting moved on. But within minutes of the meeting ending, I was called into office of the chief executive in charge of this group.
I was asked to explain my position and why I was risking the success of this project. Although it was an uncomfortable meeting, in the end, the executive agreed that we shouldn’t be asking someone who is eight months pregnant to do their work at 2 am on a Sunday.
As it turned out, the detailed schedule was a fantasy (as I knew it would be), and our team was able to do their part well ahead of the projected 2 am time.
How might this meeting have gone differently if we had opened the meeting listening for the truth?
New questions and practices
What difference would it make if your meetings opened with the question, “What’s true right now?”
As I think back over a career filled with endless agenda-driven meetings and room for nothing else, it’s astonishing to consider all the things that got missed in hindsight. Simply opening up the time for people to share would have given people permission and space to share their truth.
Instead, we most often carry on with what we think we know already, our habitual patterns, the buzz in our minds, and ceaseless efforts to sort everything out and craft new solutions from an incomplete map of the territory.
What if we developed new disciplines and practices to notice what we are basing our thoughts and actions on? Not from a sense of how things are supposed to be.
We might discover the wholly new and unexpected, requiring us to think with new information and a new perspective.
I’ll close with this great question from William Isaacs:
What’s true now?
What’s true for you now?
What new questions will you ask and when? What new practices will help you notice more?
In my online workshops, we explore many more ways to deepen your awareness and get closer to the truth.
If you’d like to learn more, sign up to join the waitlist for the next public workshop.
Or, if you’d like to schedule a private workshop for your team, organization, or yourself, please email me for more information.
To your forward thinking life & success!
Bill Fox, Author and Founder at Space Beyond Boundaries and Forward Thinking Workplaces.