Systems Thinking and Transparency

The Infrareds finished our third and final project for the class. It’s been quite interesting to see how our team has evolved over the semester and quite fascinating to simultaneously study the many facets involve in group and team work. Levi covers much of the theoretical underpinnings and Schwarz gives many, many practical guidelines for becoming more effective.

The mutual learning model is very powerful in concept, but it really seems to be a change in our natural tendencies. One aspect that i’ve found significant is trying to be transparent in what I’m thinking, saying and doing, too. This means becoming more aware of my mental habits such as making inferences and assumptions, jumping to conclusions, etc – basically, acting unilaterally. i do find that when in more stressful or emotionally charged situations that i seem default to thinking more unilaterally – right/wrong, good/bad, me/them… It brings to mind a poem from Rumi that I’ve really found helpful at times:

Out Beyond there is a Field

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

~ Rumi

That’s straying a bit into the spiritual realm, however, to me it is an attempt to apply higher values to daily life. Models like the Mutual Learning Model and the Skilled Facilitator Approach (SFA) seem to be useful tools to put into practice some of the higher values that connect us as human beings. The challenge most often seems to be points of view or habits of mind that tend towards the unilateral approach. These seem so ingrained and it takes some time to get a different perspective… Intellectually, it seems quite clear that acting unilaterally is ineffective and leads to unintended consequences, most often not positive — although these may be good learning opportunities, now that I have tools such as the mutual learning model and the SFA.

For me, some sort of reflective practice is really important to get some insight into how some habits or points of view are not in line with my core or higher values. I have found that meditation has been extremely helpful for me. After our presentation on Monday, I realized that I could have shared this with the class. However, I didn’t disclose this. Probably, because I feel it is a very personal part of my life and I don’t want to push my preferences on someone else. However, I feel like if i had to make the presentation again, I would share how meditation has helped me as a reflective practice.

When the Infrareds met Monday before class to prepare for our presentation, Penny shared a situation from work where she was trying to apply the SFA in a meeting and one of her co-workers jumped in over her and acted in a unilateral way. It was an opportunity for all of us to reflect and see if she could have done anything differently. After our presentation, I realized such a live situation could have been a very good learning opportunity for us to use in our presentation. However, we didn’t quite think of until afterward!

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