“Remain introspective and open about your theory of change.”
I have great compassion for leaders today. They have to interact with multiple, complex systems as they are changing. And time and time again, we watch them successfully enroll people to participate in changing the world and then, just as unsuccessfully, see their grandiose plans to make things better play out in strings of failures.
What are we missing?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this in the last 3 weeks. Joe Brewer’s words have stuck with me….perhaps because they run so contrary to the way many of us relate to change. Growing up, I was taught to make sure I’m asking the ‘right’ questions and then find the ‘right’ answers. As if there was a right and wrong way to deal with things. Fine for simple basics like homework and high school relationships. Not so fine when it comes to the intricacies of adult life and the systemic breakdowns we’re witnessing in the world.
When it comes to complex, inter-related systems that are rapidly changing, the ‘problem/solution’ mindset seems to be falling short of what’s needed.
Take a medical emergency, for example. When you have multiple health issues going on at once and something out of the ordinary happens, you want the doctors to look at as much of the picture as possible. It’s as if you intuitively know just looking at one or two facts will be insufficient. You want the doctors to keep asking questions, to keep looking at and paying attention to as many things as possible. If they don’t, widespread systemic breakdowns—or even death—may be in your future.
The same applies to creative projects. The challenge for me now in writing this book is to continue to question all my assumptions, ask powerful questions, be open to new inputs and new insights. This dynamically creative thinking space is where, I think, I can better grasp the complexity of coaching. Where I can let go of old mental models that no longer work. Where I can keep learning and adapting the book’s content to the changes happening in the world.
Perhaps the same applies to leadership. If we as leaders can remain skeptical about how the world is supposed to work and stay with the discomfort of not having a ‘quick fix’ solution, we may succeed in creating a world that does work.
This blog post by Shae Hadden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.