The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

A desire to achieve the imagined result

While facilitating a team meeting I invited Donald to use the idea he had just shared to ask Jim a question. My task in the meeting was to help the team open up to one another and thus transform their communication. To do so, we had agreed to focus on asking questions instead of sharing methods or advice. Quite naturally, in his desire to provide Jim with the most complete help possible Donald had gone back to sharing an idea of how Jim should address his situation. When I asked Donald to use his idea to give Jim a starting point by asking a question, Donald struggled. He explained his idea, asked a question, and added details to explain how to approach the question.

Donald had focused on the outcome he envisioned. He wanted to make sure that Jim would have everything needed to achieve it. But that required him to share a lot of information and to invite Jim to take the idea with him, instead of using the moment they had together to help Jim get started.

Asking questions is focused on the process of learning and developing an idea together. It is an approach that allows one to move step by step and to align oneself with the situation and each other’s needs.

It is, however, often a bit frightening as a co-creation requires both to engage in a process of sharing and letting go. It also means to let go of sharing a method as a solution and to engage in using the method. That is to constantly bring it back to the next step.

This is more complex than learning what the method is or using it for oneself. It requires knowing what it is for and what every step contributes to coming closer to the outcome.

One of many differences between both approaches is, that in the first case there is no common understanding of what the achievable result can be. Whereas focusing on the process can lead to adapting the imagined result to the given context.

Both approaches are valuable, however, in a team, it pays to invest in creating a shared idea of what it is that is to be achieved. It makes it easier to frame the resulting tasks.


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