The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Crystal clear

Requests to have a clear goal, clear communication, or a clear understanding are regularly being expressed in team meetings.

The desire is natural. The hope, at least in some ways, futile.

The secret hope behind such requests is that it is possible to achieve a state where one achieved to be fully understood and did this without leaving any questions open.

It’s a perfectionist’s goal and a closed mindset approach.

It doesn’t leave space for questions should they come up.

It doesn’t create space for change nor other ideas.

Asked about a project a colleague responded

Listen to a colleague I was reminded of this, asked about a project she answered “I’ve written it. The definition is crystal clear.” Inquiring a bit further we learned how she was underestimating the work necessary to get to a shared understanding. Probing further we helped her see how her own understanding of the work laid out was still incomplete.

The moves from an idea, to an elaborate thought and a written description all are theoretical. They may involve exchanges with others and thus their experience, but they lack all the depth that is being generated from describing how things will happen. The most in-depth understanding then comes through putting things into action and learning in that movement how practice and theory differ.

These are all necessary steps.

The desire for clarity comes along with the fear of the unknown. Moving from one step to the other can be frightening as each step uncovers how much there still is to be learned about the work we laid out.

It may help to see how the ideal of clarity is also a massive pressure on oneself as well as the others. It is the desire to avoid failure. And yet, it is the very reason failure occurs. Failure here is as close as a question being asked.

Clarity is the result, not where we start.


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