The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Wanting to and Able to

For ourselves, it usually is quite easy to distinguish between something we want to do and something we are able to do.

What’s a bit more difficult to settle is the difference between not being able to and not wanting to. Sometimes we actually can’t distinguish both because one helps the other. It requires a bit of an effort to find out if we actually don’t know how to do it to then gain the clarity that we don’t want to do it.

Not too long ago I fell into my own trap. I used an excuse explaining that I couldn’t participate in the workshop. I had done a quick check of my calendar and noticed that I wasn’t available on one of the dates. Just a bit later dates had been shuffled and I was asked to commit. It’s only then, that I started a real evaluation of the proposal. I had to figure out if I wanted to do it enough to actually commit.

When working with a team this difference can be crucial.

It becomes the space in which we see a team member as being someone who contributes willingly or who doesn’t care.

It is mainly a space of misunderstandings.

Team members are not always aware of their competence. They sometimes simply don’t have the factual knowledge of how to do things.  Sometimes they are not clear about the permissions and tasks linked to their role in the team.

The way we react to this lack of clarity is how we enable us to do our share in the team. Do we let things go or do we name and question these “details”?

A friend described the situation in his team. He had shared strategic questions and was expecting that the team would take them up during the year. Observing that there was no active follow up on this he told me that for him, the team members didn’t want to contribute. Seeing the team as knowledgeable and capable it was clear to him that they were able to contribute. There was frustration that the team was not following him.

While it might be right that some didn’t want to, the cause wasn’t settled.

Had they really been aware of the request to chime in and contribute to strategic issues? Did they see it as something they were responsible for? Had they realized that this task also belonged to their role? And had they already understood how to address that given request?

Leaving the causes of “they don’t want to do it” aside means to avoid seeing that they might be right not to want to.

Naming the expectation, searching for the lack of knowledge allow to address such a situation, helping the group to solve it.


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