It is quite a sight when you can literally see the wheels in people’s heads spinning as they take in new information and insight. This is exactly what happened Monday morning (April 18, 2016) at the Central Library in Halifax, Nova Scotia as 35 people gathered for a Worldview Intelligence Social Systems exploration in an introductory workshop supported by Engage Nova Scotia. The turnout was fabulous despite a last minute snow date change (from Friday to Monday) indicating the degree of curiosity about this new approach to leadership development, conflict resolution and innovation.
The good people at Engage were intrigued by the idea of Worldview Intelligence since they are working with partners and communities to cultivate engagement and catalyze action so that more Nova Scotians are working together, through differences, to build their future. Worldview Intelligence offers a structured approach that can – and does – shift conversations by illuminating and shifting the usual dynamics at play. These dynamics are often invisible and, when made visible, seem like common sense. The six dimensions in the Worldview framework offer a way to think differently about what is at play.
In just a couple of hours, we introduced the framework, identified five subsystems to explore, engaged that conversation in small groups, heard a little harvest in the room that reflected the conversations and insights gained – that are still percolating as participants imagine more ways to bring the worldview exploration to life in this province.
The conversation was framed up with a few points from the Now or Never Report that reflect current reality in Nova Scotia. Those points were:
- As Nova Scotians we hold ourselves back with attitudes of “division, distrust and discouragement.”
- We do not, as a province, share broad agreement on the need for economic growth
- We have divergent and often conflicting ideas about how best to achieve it
- There is division between rural and urban perspectives and a lack of public confidence in private sector leadership of the economy.
- While virtually everyone sees the need for population growth and greater wealth generation, most of the practical strategies to achieve these outcomes are controversial.
We cautioned that this does not reflect the totality of current reality but is a good snapshot to begin from. We worked with the idea of Nova Scotia as an interrelated social system. A social system is comprised of entities or groups in definite relationship to each other. Those relationships can be formal and informal and may have no clearly identified point of leadership or contact, unlike an organization. There are enduring patterns of behaviours and relationship within the social system that are both explicit and implicit. And it is a messy mix of multiple realities all co-existing at the same time. Each person and each community of interest brings their own interpretative lens to the reality of the situation.
The subsystem explorations invited were: Government (not including healthcare), Healthcare, Business, Rural and Social Systems. We offered a few questions to guide the discussion and then we were curious about what people were learning about the subsystem they were exploring and what they wanted other subsystems to know.
The discussions were animated and interesting, sometimes focused on the worldviews of the subsystem being explored, sometimes more about expressing individual worldviews about that subsystem. As a side note, it was speculated that if this discussion had been preceded by the individual worldview exploration there would have been an increased discernment about how or through what lens the conversations were engaged.
A few cool and interesting insights:
- There are many different interpretations of what it means to be “rural”, although in entering a conversation like this, people often think they are all talking about the same thing. Understanding there are different interpretations opens up and can change the direction of the conversation.
- There is no value in pointing blame for something happening in one subsystem on another system, although this is often an automatic reaction. There are ways for the total system to be successful. How do we find them together?
- When we talk about healthcare, we are really talking about two systems: one that is focused more on wellness, well-being and the health of community and one that is focused on the medical system itself. So, when we talk about health care, which system are we talking about?
- Maybe if we dared to think about government differently, we would find the places of openness and innovation.
- The worldview exploration was all about innovation and it was happening in an innovative building.
There are more insights. We did video record the session and will be offering a few videos within the next month. We did intrigue a few people about the Worldview Program being offered in Halifax at the end of May, first of June. And people are definitely musing on the possibilities that the Worldview Intelligence exploration could help people or communities shift from adversarial debates to solution-based conversations, build points of connection among groups and individuals to then explore difference in new ways and help illuminate the hidden patterns and unwritten norms that are impacting our ability to move forward as a Province.
Want to know more? Join us at the end of May.