Change Your Thinking, Change The Conversation, Change the Outcome

Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking we used when we created them.” The question is, how do we go about changing our thinking?

einstein - solving problemsWorldview Intelligence has been proven to provide a mechanism to do just that. It is an approach that can be applied to a variety of organizational and community challenges and it offers a framework that enables people to organize their thinking differently. It provides new language to address stuck issues and it offers a way to see and understand the complexity that so many of us are challenged by.

A number of explorations are possible with the same WVI framework including personal, professional, team, organizational, culture and social systems. The fact that the same framework applies in all these situations makes it sticky. And, our clients have told us it is like “having a secret weapon that gives us the skills, power and confidence to change outcomes.” It is a Worldview Intelligence Advantage.

If you want to sample what it is and the power and potential of Worldview Intelligence, Jerry Nagel and I are offering a one day introduction on November 30, 2017 in Dartmouth, NS, partnering with the Halifax Department of Diversity and Inclusion. There is still space and we would love to have you join us.

Clients who have benefited from the Worldview Intelligence approach include a 200,000 member union in New Jersey shifting its primary focus from service to organizing, a growing health care organization in the mid-US wanting to bring coherence across the mergers and acquisitions that have fuelled its growth, a small community addressing the issue of workforce readiness and availability of workers in the region over the next few decades, side-by-side white and Native American communities wanting to bridge cultural worldviews and change the nature of their relationship, a local Law Society shifting the culture of the regulation of law in their province, and the national energy utility in Bermuda.

Why Won’t You Just Meet Me Halfway?

Have you heard yourself ask this question, usually in frustration: Why won’t they just meet me halfway?! This often gets said when we are in a disagreement or a conflict with someone or another group and we want to make progress on an issue or mend a relationship. But, what do we really mean when we ask the question?

First of all, what is halfway? How do you know? If you imagine a road with point A and point B and you start at one point and the person you wish to persuade to meet you halfway starts at the other point, it is pretty easy to discern the halfway point. However, what if there are other roads connecting points A and B? Do you know which road you are each traveling?

In the case of a difference of views on an issue or circumstance, are you even clear on your own starting point? Have you really thought about it, clarified it for yourself or are you assuming? What about the other person (or group)? You may think you know their starting point … but do you really?

Another key question to ask yourself is, what do you mean by halfway? If there are more than one possible starting points or interpretations of starting points or if there are multiple pathways between the two, which is usually the case, then what is halfway?

More often than not what we mean when we say halfway is, here’s where I am, here is the road in front of me, meet me on my road. MY road. Not THE road. Not your road. Not some other road we may not yet have discovered. Meet me halfway on my road. Which means, come to me. Compromise something that may be important to you and meet me on my path.

meet halfway

If this trip is important, then determining starting points and the willingness to find the intersection that represents “halfway” is worth the time it takes.

What steps are you willing to take to meet the other person (or group) at some other point that may or may not be the “half way” you think you are asking? What might you need to let go of or be willing to compromise to get to this point? What curiosity are you willing to bring to your own motives and to the motives of the other person?

Worldview Intelligence offers the opportunity to discover your own starting point (or that of your organization or community) on issues that matter enough to involve other people. It invites you to imagine what the other person’s (or group’s) starting point might be and then allows you the opportunity to invite a conversation that may evoke a very different pathway than the one that is directly in front of you or the other person; a pathway that has greater potential to meet at the intersection of worldviews, where both or all views make an important contribution to solutions you may not have thought about or considered, each on your own.

Join us in Halifax on November 30, 2017 to learn more about starting points and meeting halfway.

There Are No Simple Solutions to Complexity

We want it to be simple. We groan under the weight of the increasing complexity we are experiencing – at work, in life, in our communities and in political environments. We bemoan the fact there are no silver bullets even while we continue to search for them.

Not only do silver bullets or simple solutions to complex issues not exist, but when we try to apply any we have come up with, they do not work. We end up in a situation where fixes fail or backfire loops emerge. Fixes that fail is when the solution we apply backfires and the problem or issue still exists either in its original form or worse. Unintended consequences spin off increasing the complexity of the circumstances we have been attempting to address.

Examples of unintended consequences abound but one example from our Worldview Intelligence work is with a health care client we work with in the US. The client piloted a new approach to patient care in six of its more than two hundred clinics across three states. Including one of these clinics in the pilot put its relationship with two other nearby clinics in jeopardy – a relationship they had invested years in building to create a common patient experience – because the one clinic was now operating differently.

So, if simple solutions do not exist, how do we find our way forward? One way is to illuminate the complexity, the relationships and the underlying patterns. Working with a Nova Scotia client recently that has a strong reputation Nationally and Internationally for the work they do, where they work in numerous coalitions and collaborative relationships to accomplish their mandate, they were invited to map their system and relationships.

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Mapping shows the messiness and the complexity of the system. It illuminates what people try to hold in their heads, resulting in less stress and greater capacity to address issues and plan.

The map showed the dynamic complexity of their work. A surprising outcome to them was that in making the complexity visible, it reduced the sense of overwhelm and stress many of the staff felt, untangling the complexity and offering clear ways forward in their work planning, including identifying meetings, who needs to be involved in which conversations to which degree.

Worldview Intelligence explorations do not necessarily reduce the complexity, but by illuminating it, shows ways to address it and then change the outcomes.

Child Soldiers – Changing the Nature of the Conversation to “Win”

According to the Child Soldiers Initiative, “the use of child soldiers is one of the farthest-reaching and most disturbing trends in contemporary conflict”. It would be very easy to forcefully say that it is wrong and that the people who put children in the line of fire are cold, calculating and vile people. And that might all be true. But holding onto that stance of judgment not only will not save those children, it will not solve the plight of child soldiers.

Retired Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, a celebrated humanitarian and outspoken advocate for war-affected children, and Jonathan Somer, an expert on the engagement of armed non-state actors in the protection of children, were in Halifax the evening of July 5, 2017 for the first in a series of lectures. This one was titled “Bridging the Divide: Engaging States and armed non-state actors”. It was moderated by Dr Shelly Whitman who took up the post of Executive Director of The Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative in January 2010, an engaging speaker in her own right and strong moderator. They spoke about the roles that states and armed groups have to play in respecting international humanitarian norms and supporting child protection.

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Retired Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire and Roger Soper

More than that, they spoke about the necessity of changing the conversation with states and armed groups to expand the possibility that something can be done to alleviate the plight of child soldiers.

It was fascinating to listen to a couple of the stories. Dallaire told a story about child soldiers in the Sudan. He talked about the eventual release of 300 child soldiers into the care of his organization. This only happened by establishing dialogue with a willingness to listen, to ask questions and to learn.

There are underlying circumstances or conditions – history and reality – that lead to the tactical and strategic use of children as a weapon of war. We heard about the reduced population of older people through both war and the ravages of AIDS, leading to a much higher percentage of children in the population. And we heard about poverty and few options for children or families. Ironically, becoming part of an armed initiative can provide a sense of safety for children or a sense of belonging.

Ultimately through establishing a dialogue with this armed group in Sudan, Dallaire and his team were able to ask a different set of questions – not questions of accusation or blame. They asked questions like, are these children winning battles for you? Will they win the war for you? Are they able to sustain conflict over a long period of time? Are you able to sustain them as a group of soldiers? What about the International reaction to the use of child soldiers – does this help your cause?

The answers to the questions were ultimately no, they don’t win battles or wars and we can’t sustain them the way we can an adult army and the impact of international scrutiny because of child soldiers is not helpful. They asked questions that invited a closer look at an expanded reality. This is what ultimately led to the surrendering of those children.

Canada is playing an innovative and leading edge role in raising awareness of child soldiers, in understanding the underlying patterns as well as the tactical and strategic uses, that lead to the ongoing use of child soldiers. They are changing the nature of the relationship and the conversations to find new ways forward and make progress on a disturbing and challenging trend in some conflict zones. This is essentially a worldview exploration and we know that applying the skills of Worldview Intelligence changes outcomes. While there is a long way to go on this issue, there is hope.