Sunday, February 18, 2007

Reframing Falling Flipcharts

I had a powerful reframing opportunity today as I sat for 7 hours in the Emergency Room waiting to see the doctor that would eventually give me 6 injections and as many stitches in my big toe due to a freak flipchart accident in my home today.

Trying to put a new flipchart together, with meager instructions, for my home office this morning created the situation which put me in the ER all day. A serial optimist, what could I do to reframe that? How could I go in to see the Doctor positive instead of p.o.'ed that I had to wait 7 hours for treatment of a squashed toe? Well, let me tell you...

For the last 8 months or more I have carried around Peter Senge's "Presence: Exploring Profound Change in People, Organizations and Society". It is a book about systems, living organizations, reactive versus deeper learning, stories and more. All of which sound very relevant to my work, so, I have taken it back and forth on trips to the States twice, to Madrid, even to Bangkok, and I have never gotten past the Introduction (which I have read many times now).

Today, I grabbed it again, and in the no mobile/no laptop zone of the hospital waiting room devoured half of it. With the complete concentration you can only get when you have absolutely nothing else to do (or anyone to interrupt you), I dove into that book and am really enjoying it. It is dense at times, and some of the points are very subtle and need to be applied (put the book down and think "how does this resonate with my experience?") before going on to read the next part, and therefore takes the kind of time commitment that I cannot easily find these days. But I am in it now; I can even say (almost) that I am glad to have had that flipchart create the time for me to read this book properly...

This is the sentence from the book that is tickling around in my mind at the moment (and keeping it off the incredible throbbing pain in my toe):

The next great opening of an ecological worldview will have to be an internal one.

I agree - I would love to discuss this with anyone - have you read it? I still have half of it to read and am a bit worried about what has to happen to give me the quality time I need to read the rest of it...

2 comments:

jay said...

Yes, I read it two years ago. I didn't have to go to the ER but I was at DisneyWorld, so I had time on my hands. It's an interesting book. Sort of My Dinner with Andre. You eavesdrop on a conversation. I share many of the conversers' beliefs, so I found the book a breezy read. No doubt some of their thinking leaked into my book, since I was writing it at the time. My guess is that no more than a handful of red-state people bought the book; Northern California, Massachusetts, and some New Yorkers probably bought all the rest. Have you read Jaworski's Synchronicity? Last week John McCarthy, Jaworski's fave theoretical physicist was sitting in the row behind me at a presentation. That's synchronicity for you.

Gillian said...

Thanks, Jay, I have not read Synchronicity and will pick it up. Reading your comment reminded me that two years ago I would not have found Presence as applicable as I do today. Then I was working in an NGO as the Director of Capacity Development which trained environmental leaders which were distributed in countries all over the world, our own staff was very small - 16 people, most travelling all the time. So working with ongoing informal learning with those groups was more challenging (at least there was a lot less direct feedback). Now that I am sitting in an office every day with 140 people, it is much easier to put processes into place and gather regular feedback (from the value of free coffee, to the role of process faciliation in creating workshops that actually work.)

Maybe that's why I could never get past the Introduction of Presence - this was the right time for this information in my own informal learning process. Does that mean we have to keep trying with learning, that it might not be the right time for people and that they need to determine what and when they want to learn something and at that point they pick it up? What does that mean for those of us working on the supply side of this field?