Whenever I end one of my intensive coaching conversations, I pay attention to two essential points:
– Have I kept the arc from topic verification to solution orientation and resource reinforcement for my conversation partners, so my coachees are stronger and more motivated as a result than before
– Have I given thanks for the many thank-you impulses and solution orientations, that keep me positively aligned on a daily basis.
So thank you.
Dialogues make me happy. Questions we ask each other make me happy. I carry them before me like a light (I almost wanted to use the image of a sword cutting through the thicket of confusion, but I leave it).
Well: I am not naive.
Of course, there are also absolutely depressing conversations and bleak thoughts.
After some reverberation then follows my realignment:
– Without bleak cuts, there are no insights and gratitude about the many successful conversations. Difference is what makes it.
– Without differences and variety, there would also be no reason to find appropriate solutions.
Questions are (almost) everything.
As long as they are open and constructive and give time and space to respond.
Answers are often quick satisfaction pills. How long these works also depends on what goal they cover and who they involve.
– Yes-no questions (term: closed questions) give little space and are often subject to everyday routines. Beware – the most essential yes-no question is the one about whether this is a yes-no question. Ach.
– “Firefighting questions” need quick decisions that are just as quickly superseded by the next one – they are great for process-based behavioral guidelines.
– Strategy questions are devoted to factual considerations, build on actual figures and developments, and their answers can also be answered simply on the basis of verified structures. Anyway the answers do not say anything or motivate in reaching the goal at all.
– target questions allow a broader perspective (especially along the miracle question or the brief solution question given by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg), touching resources, obstacles and action beyond and the impression, if the target would be able to accomplish.
– Relationship questions (actually standard for all systemic-constructivist work) need a new form of reflection – on the form we take in relating to our values, beliefs, concerns, individuals in any shape, and other abstracts, – and later only to the effects of our responses on others. Think about nowadays requested client satisfaction – this could be the opener by, as the native Americans say: “you have to walk in their shoes to get a better understanding.
Among these questions I include the
– Benefit question. Those who cannot see the personal benefit in their decision and response will fail powerlessly halfway through. Unfortunately, we all know someone who turns to substitute games to gain new energy out of fear of sense devaluation.
– Vision questions. Wait. How challenging is that. And yet these are the most essential, the ones that shape our lives.
And sometimes it helps to rely on oneself in full confidence to find an answer later, to forgo the relief of a pronounced first solution.
And sometimes it helps to find the questions behind the questions.
Because as said before: it is probably the greater challenge to find the question and not the answer…..
And always it helps to challenge your own abilities. To sharpen perception, to reflect, to leave old paths and to engage in new solutions that are appropriate for the moment.
Nothing is eternal, not even stone or ice. Everything may be expected, everything may be explored. A defining phrase attributed to Nashrudin Hodja: “From the bud of confusion blossoms the flower of wonder.”
Let us wonder and await the wonderful solution to a question just like this.
Sometimes I write just to finish a thought or clear up my feelings.
For many years we have lived comfortably according to a Central European code of conduct. We knew how we ourselves and how others should behave towards us. Practical drawers that helped Central Europeans, Northern Europeans, Southern Europeans, Americans, etc. to define according to cultures, values, principles.
Stop, first insert: the youth. In waves adapted or applied, they expanded or added something new to our drawers. And yet: all of this signaled a high level of security, even for those who were and are able to question themselves and the system in a highly reflective and related manner.
And now: the VUCA world has completely changed our ideas and reinforced them by a month-long pandemic and migrations.
Our rules of the game are still valid now? I don’t think so.
But what comes instead? Is something coming instead?
Can I be polite when psychotic narcissists abuse me? Do I have to maintain composure? Or better to show barriers, boundaries?
Crises – and as such we can call the current Corona situation – are not only a test for and on characters, but also something like a relationship maker. We recognized the value of trust and loyalty, but also what loss of control and dealing with uncertainty do for dialogue and cooperation.
Who was and is there for us, who supports and strengthens common tasks, projects and who shares responsibility with us – regardless of previous agreements and obligations – in the professional and private context.
Who believes that they can use us as lightning rods, as soul buckets for games that are mainly intended to compensate for their own insecurities?
And who can see himself as a constant even in unpredictable times, clearly also in the “fog”, curious and friendly in the new?
Let’s actively change the rules of and the perspective on the game.
We have learned: Relationship is everything, more than contracts, more than strategic goals, and more than unachievable goals. Relationship is communication and relationship is future.
So: what behavior, what attitude is appropriate with regard to the new, old, hybrid, analog, digital system changes? What or who wins the upper hand: the identity of individuals, of (structural or functional) organizations versus differences in any form.
Much of the previously valid behavior needs to be revised:
– Reflection on what is valuable and important also in our relationships
– Discarding reflexes and getting to know your own patterns
– Orientation towards development and growth – more on the inside than on the economic outside
– Learn to communicate clearly, in a friendly and understandable way and to take people with you into the new era.
– Respect that not everyone pulls in the same direction and
– Go further and allow change, even better, help shape it.
Responsibility begins with us for us and is then a prerequisite for smart relationships – also at the cost of demarcation and self-protection.
If we move towards a systemic-constructivistic understanding, we know about the second order cybernetics (Heinz von Förster) and the impossibility of completely detaching ourselves from the partiality of the observed system. And yet, distance is good and also the clarity to address and express your own needs.
This is the only way we can grow out of this crisis with the feeling that we know exactly who we can rely on – and with whom we therefore want to continue to work and laugh together in the future.
We wish you a very comfortable and safe summer, take care and start dialoguing with us on your experiences,
Regards, Barbara & Michel
The topics of podcast 2 (in German): Transformation drivers youth – culture – communication and the impact on corporate standards.
– Impact of new skills on the labor market, availability for companies
– Change of cultures and the death of old one-way information
– New frontiers are not defined by organizations, but by communication.
– The ephemerality of strategies: Fractal interventions and influences of dialogic communication on identities, organizations and strategies
– sensories of change perception in ecology and economy
– new guiding differences: legitimate and illegitimate
Many thanks to MacJingle for the fine implementation. We look forward to feedback and suggestions – as already with great thanks to the previous good ideas!
“Post-heroic” is what Dirk Baecker (University of Witten Herdecke) calls the characteristics of leaders after – or just in between – lockdowns, partial physical isolation, and instantaneous expectations about the drivers of our happiness, our success.
And returning from the buzzword world to the mindful balance between disruption, technology pushes, (assumed) facts, and alignment with long-term values is what Simon, Weber and Friends call for.
Wow, this is going to be exciting. How do we manage clarity, disenchantment from learned demands (on us and of others) like “faster, better, higher, further” and balance them with unpredictability and vulnerability?
How do we become more robust, more resilient?
My assumption for the solution is a bold hypothesis: by taking more personal responsibility, becoming more attentive to the system as a whole, and giving up some habitual selfishness, which includes growth at the expense of others…..
Since the path to achieving the goal involves some effort, I begin with the benefits from transformation:
– We gain security from ourselves and experience in dealing with unfamiliar situations and others, even when faced with new, unexpected developments (Peter Sloterdijk calls this immunity through shared security)
– We learn to appreciate and consciously enjoy the beauty of our lives alongside all our efforts
– Our social competence and thus the easier, friendly interaction with ourselves and others moves to a new level. The reward: friendly recognition away from functional hierarchies.
– From a meta-level we gain overview of the essential. One of my favorite quotes by the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk: If you want an overview, you have to overlook some things.
Did you find yourself in this?
It can be so simple. Or?
– The first question that takes us further is: What is so significant that it should remain in our (professional and private) lives? What gives you stability, security, well-being, and a framework for the goals you still want to achieve, the beauty you hope toward?
– Then: what, beyond all learning from the momentary situation, learning about ourselves and our robustness, should become different, more beautiful in our lives? We are living a month-long seminar right now, training this co-immunity that is only ensured through togetherness, mutual recognition. What are the insights from this?
– And finally: what do we need to let go of now, to throw off ballast? Admittedly: the current situation makes it almost on its own to separate us from old patterns, beliefs, habits. Maybe there are other issues you want to leave behind, fears, differences, but also simply overcrowded closets and desks. Tidy up.
Reinvention as a leader
The involuntary or sometimes voluntary, conscious distancing has done its part to evaluate more critically the desire for the “post-charismatic” leader (Matthias Karmasin) and to discard it “as a relic of little use”, – even if the cry for rapprochement with the old, familiar is loud in some places:
FOMO control (Fear of missing out control). Is that really so? Or were we allowed – unfortunately without playful experience – to perceive ourselves already in a new attitude, new behavior? Maybe even find pleasure in it.
What are we already letting go of, letting go of, perhaps with quiet regret and firm resolution to remember it long and in good, and yet?
The answers are with you, individually and uniquely. And these answers influence us as leaders, as opinion leaders, as role models for those who need security, courage and a framework for their own development.
On a meta-level, “clearing out” simply also means gaining an overview and making room for new things, new interests, new methods, new networks.
It is a never-ending story that has now picked up speed and therefore requires our attention all the more. Let’s look forward to all the new and let’s look forward to beautiful memories and sometimes the transformation of sorrowful learning into hopeful understanding.
All the best to you, write to us, we look forward to it,
Yours Michel and Barbara
To doubt ambiguity is daring. Have we not worked long enough to allow the play of forces between both poles in an all-participatory way?
And yet, in view of the discussions about hybrid life that will remain in the future, it is appropriate to reflect on this and to pay attention to other models of thinking and decision-making.
The solution lies in more than both.
Both, the one with the other follow a systemic consulting loop into the positions of meta-validation, into potential, creative discarding and the search for transformation into creative innovation.
Two models of consideration as pars pro toto are given here. Both provide structure without prejudging content. They promote the essential ingredient of desired development, namely reflection and ownership:
A first model follows the format of the pentalemma from the school of Matthias Varga von Kibed and Insa Sparrer, who trace it back to the ancient, Brahmanic jurisprudence of the Indians:
– The One, Old, Existing is the first and starting point for our considerations – for the strategists of the old school, the inventory of the current state. Let us take as an example the current professions and their functional and legal descriptions.
– The other, the new, the desired future – in many development approaches also of non-trivial systems the target, the goal follows as second position. Following our example, here are those professions which futurologists consider to be necessary in the future. I have found one of these functions under the designation “Chief Remote Officer”, a “liaison officer” equipped with high social competence and transformation knowledge between the then no longer existing hierarchies. Can this go well, some will ask, and also want to recognize as: the “emperor’s new clothes” (loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen).
The journey has begun
We are already on the journey between the one, existing and the other, conceivable new, We alternate between our doubts and considerations, how the way from the actual to the target is to be accomplished.
Now the third position of the “and”, the “either and or”, the “both” is reached.
According to our example of the future world of work and its professions, this could mean naming those professions that remain valued, perhaps further developed and enriched by the addition of new knowledge. Or vice versa, new professions are supported by highly developed fact-evident, old knowledge: Who is not familiar with giving his current bread and butter job also a special touch through personal talents? Or also, completely up-to-date, to exercise several occupations, activities parallel, this at different places, at different times and then also still many other facets more.
– The confusion because of the many possibilities and expressions aims at the fourth position, the “neither of both”, and does not have to mean to renounce all these possibilities, but rather in the systemic loop, in the daily Scrum and other helpful methods, to check the journey of the experiences, the result of the considerations, developments.
Which questions did we forget to ask?
Are our conclusions valid?
For the development of the professional world, this would perhaps also mean questioning whether all framework conditions, the regional markets, the needs of customers, our families and friends, and not least our own wishes, have been considered enough.
Do flexibility, agility, ambiguity offer enough answers in times of chaos?
How much structure is needed to tame disruption and dystopia?
What does “taming” mean and who is still in control and when?
In considering future career choices, this could lead us to question the profession of communicator, facilitator, consultant. Will we still need these professions or will they be replaced by artificial intelligences – remote learning, so to speak? And also: which intelligence will fix our drain?
– The journey starts from the beginning – looking at the One, old, then to the New, and so on to the “neither – nor”. Are we now sure about the future developments, about our part in it?
No? Now everything can happen!
– Then comes the master throw, the penta, the fifth position, a new dimension: the change and the completely different.
Which visions accompany us in our development, including our own ability, skills, responsibility?
How to do it? The magic word is transformation, letting go of the old, the new, both, none of the above … and then in their place: the dream of the best of all worlds.
For our example of future professional worlds, this means what? This long journey begins with a hearty, courageous “I don’t know”. Now everything can happen.
For the realists, for whom dreaming is too exhausting (written in times of Corona without cynicism, but with compassion), a still current solution from the workshop of Steve de Shazer is offered here:
The appreciative “Yes, exactly this one” is followed by a complementary consideration and examination, a “and also this one”, which then leads to a “maybe beyond”.
The appreciative, necessary quantum of security through the acceptance of the existing is strengthened and upgraded by the friendly interpretation, the change of perspectives and thus leads to the accepted new. Certain professions, especially social and infrastructure-related professions, will probably be needed for a long time; they will have to experience a different valuation. Other, trendier job descriptions will probably soon disappear or be absorbed into others as a result of digitalization and AI. And then, how will we shape cohesion and culture “beyond” that?
Perhaps this reflection on the basis of future job descriptions is an incentive to extend these two wonderful didactic and semantically rich models to other life situations?Whatever happens, let’s not allow ourselves to lose the personal responsibility and ability to reflect and decide:
Who or what do I want to be, what skills to use for what? Write to us, we are looking forward to your input.
Yours Barbara and Michel
“There is magic in every beginning” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe). Nassrudin (Nassredin) Hodscha calls the magic “wonderment.” So what is it, the moment of miraculous enchantment, the pause? And what have Goethe and the whimsical Nassrudin lost in the everyday business life of the “New Normal”?
I do not know. And: precisely because of this I am curious about possible solutions and twists – and the new big picture of our lives. Is that why I am already “agile”?
How many perspectives does a meta-position offer? What can the many others add to our expertise? How many possibilities can be seen in the big picture? How much serenity does it take to recognize these as further solutions and how much strength to accept and implement them?
Were you counting as you read? The many “much(s)” that open up when we no longer remain in the pattern of “need to know”?!
Strictly speaking, I offered you the core themes of agility
– Not knowing and trusting
– Dialogue and then interdisciplinarity is a great extension of perception,
– Changing perspectives and relating them to the system – thinking outside the box – and then
– To be happy about the successful, small step, draw strength from it and make a next step.
Yes, you say. I know, you say.
Of course. And then: does this knowledge change your attitude, your behavior? How do we recognize the transformation, the change.
Different levels cause different consequences and emotions
- we may give up the illusion of control, the longing to have everything under control and the last “illusion” of power over the system.
- we allow ourselves to trust in ourselves and then in the people who contribute to our visions, goals.
- only then do we open ourselves to the impressions and additions that reach us from outside. We marvel at the possibilities that we ourselves never considered. For years, I have been observing esteemed people who systematically do everything differently than I would, and: they manage it – often easier and more relaxed than I do.
I’m learning. Just as long I focus on my “customers”, internally and externally. Their concerns provide impulses and open up my perspectives. Thank you for that.
- we are flexible and not dependent on rigid structures and certain experts/team members. Iterative steps bring necessary flexibility.
- we draw breath and recognize the small successes along the way. Serendipity. The small happiness.
Finally: the small daily happiness.
This happiness belongs to us individually or, within the organization, jointly aligned and experienced according to values. The prerequisite for this is the serenity to stay with oneself and to be attentive to the small coincidences, progresses and sections that happily open up for us.
How do you create the small moments of happiness for yourself? We, Barbara and Michel, are curious to learn from you. Write us, call us and expand your happiness moment by sharing.
Until then: stay healthy, curious and open! To imagine the better you don’t have to know the good (following Steve de Shazer).
Yours Barbara & Michel
Do you sometimes feel like it’s only Tuesday on Friday? Or that your short-term memory lets you down and you easily could be reminiscing about old memories?
You are not alone, but in good company of the many who spent the last months working at home and missed necessary challenges to practice their memory.
Never mind, it’s not that bad?
Unfortunately it is bad, because with the fitness of certain brain areas, the level of perception is also affected and with it the perceived and actual ability to concentrate, focus, reflect and understand complexity. This often leads to a sense of loss of control, and regardless of actual impairment, we then even more crave certainty, control, and power.
My thesis is, that the diminished capacity to grasp complexity leads to a loss of agility, a prerequisite for moving forward in the current situation.
Loss of control versus desire for power?
What is your experience? Has your working world become more hybrid?
How many benefits do you derive from the new situation?
Why don’t I ask about the disadvantages of the same?
What design frameworks does the “new normal” offer?
How do I maintain my perceived and actual capacity to think and remember?
One question can be answered quickly: asking about the disadvantages (for solutions of this kind) is less significant, they block our creativity and memory of successes.
More important to ask: what have you and your organization been successful at? How much agility and how much structure were helpful in reorganizing the world of life and work? How were you able to sustain courage and joy?
And then: how do we influence our ability to focus and quickly recognize, analyze, act, react? How do we maintain our flexibility?
How do we exercise our thinking skills in the context of new digital demands and increased lack of social, empathic interactions?
How do we react to, how do we distinguish between fake and subjective reality? How do we value facts? How “agile” do we manage complexity? How do we deal with uncertainties, volatilities, ambiguities?
What does our freedom consist of?
Certainly, we will all have to learn, develop and reinvent a lot. For today I have three approaches to offer:
- Nora Bateson refers in her reflections on “Emergence” to the assumption that many present results are preceded by developments of several generations and that a solution lies in this understanding without exposing the roots of the development. She calls this understanding “Warm Data” – empathy, intuition and understanding of the “system” – on which shared learning (“Symmatesy”) and solutions are then built on.
- Studies found that actually exercising different regions of the brain not only strengthens memory, but leads to a more relaxed, overall sense of well-being. Studies show that calm, serene engagement of the same brain regions lead to quicker and appropriate memories and decisions. I call it clarity from (letting go) and curiosity about what comes next.
- reflection on one’s own need for secureness and control: Marshall Rosenberg writes in “The Purpose of Anger” that anger and rage are expressions of unmet needs. Recognizing and articulating these needs ourselves and then in others could save us a great deal of effort in imposing systems of control (on ourselves and) others.
How much better would then self-confidence, self-responsibility and sense-making work for complexity management and the development of agile attitudes.
I’m sure you can think of other helpful attitudes and skills.
Write to us. Together, we’ll create a diverse, agile, solution-oriented world in motion.
Oh yes: please let’s not forget to paint this future colorful and meaningful to us. Then it can succeed….
Write us your impressions and answers. Let’s learn and experience together,
Barbara & Michel
Surprising Purpose of Anger by Marshall B. Rosenberg, ISBN 9781892005151
Nora Bateson: https://warmdatalab.net/warm-data
Temptation. What a word. Temptation. No, not prohibition, not kick from self-harm. Or is it? Has the edge of the plate we look over become so narrow, the plate on which we eat life so small?
Reflecting on it is addictive. Danger of longing. Because today I mean nothing else when I write about temptation than the invitation to go beyond previous experiences. Drug-free, of course. Well then, let’s “try” it:
What holds, what gives structure in an old world that is more and more dissolving? What are old experiences that we should keep and new experiences that we should gather?
My inspiration for today’s blog was a classically presented offer of future orientation. It offers strict presumptions about digitization, remote work, management work and operational future scenarios. With all due respect: bullshit.
Do I have your attention?
Bullshit? It depends on the perspective!? If the author (s) speak for themselves and take responsibility, the prediction may be correct. If – as it is the case – we are asked collectively to convert the prediction into reality, this statement with a claim to truth is inappropriate. Because: Every individual is asked to follow their own plans, intentions, wants and skills in order to create reality. To know the results of the collaboration today is impossible.
‘Cause future is a mutual trial (and error)
My offer: Let us no longer pretend that we know, that we have the wisdom to see the future. And let us allow ourselves, our fears, our worries and our care and the knowledge that we want to steer our futures from different perspectives, expertise, the ability to react quickly and out of the longing for a beautiful and appropriate life for many. In their “Generative Change”, Robert Dilts and Stephen Gilligen emphatically describe that creative shaping of the future depends on our attitude. Only stability in ourselves, openness, the welcome of other inputs enable us to find solutions where there was previously externally controlled determination.
Have you given up looking any further?
Have you withdrawn into your own truth, into the familiar, the known? Just withdrawn into clear predictions that arose from the extrapolation of the past? Or decide to focus on yourself, to trust and to look for solutions in cooperation with others.
By this the “attempt”, the “temptation” takes on a different, beautiful meaning.
She leaves the outcome open, knows little about “either or” and often “as well as” and then “and then also” (note: based on Steve de Shazer`s und Insoo Kim Bergs „Brief Solution Synchronicity“, BFTC Milwaukee/Wisconsin).
Own tasks, people, intentions, cooperation, all of this begins to change and opens up many possibilities. Try it. What was quietly announced before the disruptive year 2020 is reality today. Terms like “positive” and “negative” have changed their connotations. Also allow “trying”: We define “trying” as a consistent search for solutions, developments, alternatives and then “both”: this “trying” does not know failure, only one path of development.
What is that to us as managers?
A lot, I would like to think: if executives can convey a new definition of “temptation” or “attempt” to the entrusted employees, employees should not dismiss an unsatisfactory result with “unsuccessful attempt”, which then entails waiting and withdrawal, but rather a continuous resumption, continuation and astonished, self-confident, creative, new “intermediate result” possible.
Is temptation addicting?
Maybe? Maybe not. It takes self-reflection and it takes effort. It takes courage to try unfamiliar territory, to discover yourself and creative solutions.
Is there a means for this? Let’s try with attitude.
- Give yourself and your employees a framework in which solutions are possible (Dilts and Gilligan speak of the interplay between the body and the unconscious and the conscious in a constant dialogue.)
- Give yourself and the employee a common intention (what do we want to achieve together?)
- Develop a “generative”, trying mindset together (move yourself and the people you trust from being evaluated by third parties to an appreciative relationship.)
- Find an appropriate, shared, creative solution (many roads lead to Rome: there is not just one solution, stay open.)
- Convert obstacles into fine resources (change takes place where challenges and uncharted territory await.)
- Drive the transformation forward steadily.
Tired of trying? Well. Then get down to work: do it!
Write to us: what should there be more of in the future, and of what less? Thank you for your feedback today,
Your Barbara and Michel
Robert B Dilts, Stephen Gilligan: more information at www.stephengilligan.com
Insa Sparrer, Matthias Varga from Kibed at https://www.syst.info