Posted by: Ken Homer | January 2, 2012

A Twitter Request

Twitter, which I mentioned earlier as being responsible for my long absence from this blog, is one to the best things to happen to me in years. I have met and made friends with people on twitter that I would never have met otherwise. Twitter has allowed me to build a terrific personal learning network (PLN) through which my life and my learning has been immeasurably enriched.

One of my favorite tweeps is a fellow who tweets under the handle @demingSOS His tweets are filled with references to W. Edwards Demming, Chris Argyris, Peter Senge and other management philosophers and systems thinkers. Tonight he posted the following tweet:

What are the philosophical ideas & assumptions that form the foundation of the techniques and models you use at work?

Those of you who are on twitter know that this is a large question to answer in 140 character bites, but I was feeling adventurous and decided to give it a try. Here’s a slightly expanded version of what I had to say:

1. People and organizations have within them the wisdom to successfuly confront any challenge they are facing.

2. That wisdom can’t simply be called forth, because it does not exist in individuals, it exists in the relationships between individuals.

3. Therefore it is necessary to create relationships in order to access and evoke collective wisdom.

4. Collective wisdom is accessed, applied and refined through a process of structured converations that begin by including all voices involved.

5. The conversational meta-map that I developed and use follows a five step iterative spiral:

1. Exploring and Creating Shared Meaning;

2. Exploring divergent possibilities;

3. Winnowing away the field of possibilities to those which are most likely to succeed based on available resources;

4. Coordinating individual and collective actions in service of the agreed upon possibilities;

5. Reflecting on learning (debriefing) which feeds back into and enlarges the pool of shared meaning.

6. Different kinds of conversations and conversational structures, i.e., World Cafe, Open Space, Future Search, Appreciative Inquiry, etc., are required for handling different kinds of predicaments, such as problems, messes or wicked messes

7. Evoking collective wisdom and developing practical intelligence is hard work; it requires careful planning and facilitation, as well as willingness operate from a genuine space of “not knowing” and the challenge of staying the course of not knowing when traversing “The Groan Zone.”  But the effort is worth it. Skillfully coordinated collaboration yields amazing results that people take ownership for.

8. The only competitive advantage that is truly sustainable is to work on making ALL of humanity better able to live well on Earth for as far into the future we can imagine. (This was actually a response to another one of demingSOS’s tweets on sustainable competitive advantage – a term I will blog about in future, which as you no doubt can see is one I have some issues with.)

9. The world comes alive with possibility when we can shift from seeing it as “a set of problems out there” to a “set of concerns we all share.”

10. People grow in the direction of the questions they ask. Don’t ask what’s wrong and who is to blame, ask: what matters and who cares. (This is a direct quote from David Cooperrider, the originator of Appreciative Inquiry.)


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