Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 10: How to Usefully Say "No"

One of my faithful workshop colleagues described a state of being in which he found himself having said "yes" to far more things than he had wished.  He asked Roger to speak about how to usefully say "No."

Roger began by saying that usefully saying "no" is largely about managing your attention.  The state described occurs when one's attention is fragmented so that they say "yes" when the thing is in conflict with some other commitment that one has.

The three things to consider when saying "No" are:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 9: Tracing the Cause of Cyclic Chaos and other teaming traps

Okay, I admit that I am intentionally titling by alliteration...

During the check in, Roger noted again some of us complaining of the experience of personal and professional chaos.  He suggested a method of working with this experience. First, if the suffering has a cyclic or predictable quality to it, consider yourself the evil genius of your own life, having mastered the ability to cyclically produce your experience of suffering.  (This was said in jest, since the actual condition is that we are strategically unconscious to our production of this condition).

A way in which you can work with tracing the cause (but perhaps "cause" is too strong of a word), is by working at three levels: the personal dynamics, the transpersonal dynamics (system) and the perceptual reality.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 8: Conflating One's Metaphorical Survival with Actual Survival

Our Feb 25 class collectively addressed a question about online classes.
What is the reason it seems so difficult to implement online classes at Cal Poly? Is the change that is needed structural or does it just need the right mix of people to make it happen?
Roger quickly lets us know that to answer the question, we have to identify the background conversations going on around the issue.
First, we note that this idea comes up again and again and it always seems that although a fair number of people say, yes, this needs to happen, it never quite does.
Why is it a cyclic event?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Per our discussion last Friday

Hi to anyone reading this. There is a related post on my blog

The point with Nina Paley is not the movie, which I like, but rather her model about the movie as IP. If you watch the movie, watch the credits and notice the acknowledgments. Also look at the remix projects on her wiki.

Then, should you feel inspired take a look at this:

I would recommend the following process. First, watch the video. Don't read any of the comments or get any other information about it first. It is 45 minutes long. Watch yourself as you watch the video. You might even take actual or mental notes on your own process.

Then Google the author. Chiren or Athene should get you there. As you come into contact with the information about the author, again, please watch yourself and your own process. Record or remember what you notice.

Consider all of this in light of our conversation last Friday and collaboration in general. What is the relationship between transparency and collaboration?

I am recommending this all in the context of our conversation about the OER and the 'after class' conversation about how I understand the activity in which I am engaged, based on Trevor's comments about interruption.'

I will be interested to hear from anyone who does this. I did this process myself and found it interesting.

Also, a piece of homework has been missed in the notes.
Please do a two column exercise on a time when you wanted to say "no" and did not, should you be so moved.

If it seems right to us, perhaps we can hear from Dianne and Kurt about what they have been reading or perhaps any follow up on X-teams or an intro to "Bio-teams." I would like to find time to hear from people who have been doing the homework assignments as well, if this ever seems to make sense to us to do.

See you Friday,

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 7: Human Nature and Expectations

As always, these summaries represent only my limited viewpoint. This week, I was extremely limited as you will see.

The session began with Roger asking if anyone was interested in running the class for the day. Sean volunteered. He shared that he has been thinking about human nature and how it affects teaming and collaboration.  He invited people to offer their thoughts in response to his question.

So the question was, "What is human nature and how does it affect teaming?"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 6: Interrupting Patterns of Behavior

I find myself attempting to make a cohesive whole out of our time together when it may not have been that.  So, if you don't recognize this account of our February 11 meeting, it may simply be the way in which I am re-presenting it.

We spent our time in a conversation about interrupting patterns presumably because in a team collaboration, patterns of behavior can serve to interfere with the functionality of the team.  By "behavior," we are considering the full spectrum of actions: thought as well as more externally apparent actions.

I would like to indulge in a bit of a self-pitying interlude: I had artfully re-counted our entire class on my computer while waiting in a doctor's office yesterday. This morning my hard drive failed. No, I didn't have a backup. So, needless to say, my first rendering of these notes--beyond brilliant...are lost forever.  The muse has now left me, so we will all suffer (the two of us readers) with this dull version. 

Roger asserted that there is a common dynamic to deal with dysfunctional collaboratives:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 5: Finding the Nexus of Suffering

During the check-in, it was clear that many people were experiencing a rather deep suffering.  Roger noticed this, named it explicitly and asserted that he didn't think our planned conversation on bioteams would address it.  We instead spent our time together working with the suffering in the room, believing that having the skillful means of effectively working with suffering is directly relevant to teaming and collaboration.

Roger asked, "What is the source of suffering? What is our model of suffering?"

To illustrate the idea of models of suffering, he spoke of two types of developmental traditions--the mystic traditions and the yogic traditions.  In mystic traditions, one's belief is that the source of suffering is outside oneself.  In the yogic traditions, one believes that the source of suffering is inside oneself.

If we believe that source of suffering originates outside ourselves, we can find ourselves attempting to manipulate those around us in an effort to alleviate our suffering.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 4: After Action Review & X-Teams

Roger introduced the idea of after action reviews.  The purpose of an after action review is to gain insight into what was valuable and/or could be done differently.  In essence, the after action review serves as a "learning loop" that involves the collective.  With respect to the organizational learning theories of Argyris and Schon, I believe it would be considered the second learning loop, with the first learning loop being the direct information that you receive, like a thermostat provides information about the temperature. The second loop involves collective, critical inquiry into what was apparently learned.

Roger laid out a generic view of the conversation (or any process, really) of last week.  What we immediately see and experience is the content and process (on the right). But these occur inside of a context which is created by a number of invisible forces:

He asserted that these forces, the mental models, assumptions, values and beliefs are usually hidden beneath the context.  The clues to their existence are paradox, emotional content, ambiguity and conflict in the process and its content. 

For me, it looks a little more like this, where everything that happens is occurring inside an invisible sea of mental models, assumptions, values, and beliefs and therefore deeply influenced by them.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 3: Food

I will be brief, since I see that we are going to do an after action review in the coming session.

Lynn and Nina hosted the last workshop with the principle of food.  There is a theory that providing food satisfies the reptilian core of the brain that would otherwise be occupied.  People would then (in theory) be able to be more present to what is happening in the teamwork.  I am grossly paraphrasing this idea, and I apologize if I'm misrepresenting it.

Joy was unable to find research that supported the idea, but her brief search was neither exhaustive nor conclusive, so we don't know that the research doesn't exist. But I suppose it is the case that research is only really conclusive about a particular biased view of things, often built into the way in which the research is being conducted.

In any case, the time unfolded by Lynn and Nina inviting us to partake of the treats and then requesting that each of us take 3 minutes to tell a story in which food has powerfully influenced our lives.  The process they established was to debrief on the process after we had completed sharing our stories.

People told stories of fond family remembrances, of rich heritage and relationship with land, of amusement and tradition. There were also stories of betrayal, denial, humiliation and violence.

Monday, January 24, 2011

After Action Reviews

Hi all. I would like to start the practice of after action reviews for our presentations. This simply means taking the time to reflect on how it went and what we learned. What worked for you? What did not work or might have been better? What would you keep the same? What would you change or amplify? What did you/we learn? How can you tell you learned that? Does anything change as a result of learning it? Etc.

In addition, what are the assumptions, assertions, and models being suggested? What is the context for the subject? What process is used or was described?

When possible perhaps we can engage in a bit of deconstruction and reflection. Were there emotional dynamics involved? What did the talk or presentation take as a given starting place and what are the the implications of that? Are there consequences? What dynamics of inclusion, exclusion, etc. are implied, if any? Does this still hold if we imagine a different starting place or context? What are the biggest risks associated with the model or area? What problem is it trying to solve, if it is trying to solve a problem? What are the consequences of the model if it fails? What are the consequences of the model if it works? What are the dynamics of interdependence and systemic relations implied or necessary for the model? What is the use orientation? Is it necessary to ignore anything for the model to work? Is it necessary to amplify something, perhaps even artificially?

I would like to start this weeks session with some reflection on this before we engage the second presentation, if possible and acceptable.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 2: Setting the course

After the check-in, Roger guided us through a process of creating the structure for the course.  He brought a "sticky wall" to aid us. This item, sold by the Institute of Cultural Affairs , is a roughly 1.5 meter by 2.5 meter sheet of parachute cloth taped to a wall. It is coated with a polymer adhesive so that we can place and rearrange 5" x 8" cards on the wall.  By grouping the ideas that emerge from a question posed to small groups, we will, in theory, be able to see the collective conversation taking place in the room.

Roger asserted that normal conversations more or less occur like the making of popcorn. One person says something.  In response to that persons' statements, each person has a set of associations that occur in their minds. They feel an urgency to say the things that pop (corn) into their minds. They then speak in response to their own associations. Their speaking causes another round of associative thoughts within others. The thoughts come with a sense of urgency or necessity to speak them by the thinkers of the thoughts.  In this way, the conversations proceeds like corn popping...somewhat randomly.

Sometimes one can suspend the popcorn response or even suspend the sense of urgency to say what they are thinking. But normally, a group conversation proceeds in a somewhat random, linear fashion by this associative stream of ideas.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 1: Introduction to teaming and collaboration

Disclaimer: The following is a re-presentation of our time together. I've learned that I have a habit of deleting information, distorting it and making generalizations. I do this often without noticing that I'm doing it. So, I humbly offer this filtered account in the hope that some of it will be useful.

As part of the "check in" ritual, Roger asked us to state what our expectations were for the class. People gave a wide range of expectations that included nothing on one end of the spectrum and feeding our souls on the other end (this part is a slight hyperbole, if there is such a thing as "slight hyperbole"). He asserted that he didn't believe us when we say we don't have expectations. We will see that we do indeed have them in the moment that they are violated and we are disappointed.

Incidentally, for those who are new to the "check in," it is simply a way to enable people to set down anything that might be "holding" their attention. Each person can say anything they would like, or not say anything at all. The intent is to free the attention from whatever is gripping; to allow each to be present to what is taking place in the room.

During the check in, several people stated their desire to learn something about teaming and collaboration. Roger asserted that we often have a model of learning which equivalent to passively absorbing what an authority or expert tells us. This will not be the model of learning in this workshop. In fact, peoples' asserted that they "learned so much from Roger" in the last workshop is incorrect, in Roger's model. He believes that the nature of the workshop will be governed by the quality of attention that we all bring to the workshop.