Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bonnie on maps and methods

Following up on this post, I really appreciate Bonnitta's comments in this FB thread, highly relevant to to my previous post. I'm going to copy and paste them below. I say amen sister.

 "I like it [the map] if it is used as a tool to shift the conversation from 'here is what your organization looks like from this narrative' -- the assessment part, to 'what's actually going on in the lived experience of people in their everyday ordinary interactions.' I like the chart if it is employed as an aspirational tool -- look we can move in different directions-- but it is problematic if we try to use it as a transformational tool. Here is why.

"When we create maps that become conceptual objects for mind, people automatically latch onto the map instead of the territory. We displace people's attention from their actual experiences, to a generalized formulation. This means we push the responsibility up to a level of abstraction that enables us to avoid the hard work in real life. In other words, a map like this inevitably sets up an alternative game in organizations -- that game is moving your assessment up the map.

"This is the same problem we see in developmental studies from which the colors are borrowed. People have an innate genius for prioritizing the games that matter. In developmental studies we find that a kind of languge-game instinct allows people to game the signifiers such that it gets harder and harder to distinguish authentic results from pretended results.

"The point is, if we are interested in transformative pedagogy in organizational life we need to leave these kinds of maps behind. We need instead heuristics which illustrate practice points that can be related to on an everyday personal basis. We need to ask ourselves the question -- what is happening in actual human experience such that we can see these patterns emerge in organizations?

"What I see, is that what is actually happening is actually rather simple, and doesn't need a lot of conceptual complexity. If you look at you map (as well as the AQAL original) we see two basic impulses in human action-- the upper half is toward the direction of more open-ness, and the lower half is toward the direction of more participation.

"This then became the fundamental 'source code' for the OPO -- not to look at stages and try to imitate them , which inevitably happens when you introduce such a tool.

"But instead, to ask questions such as "how do we make incremental shifts in our everyday ordinanry experience such that we become on the one hand more open to experience, to options, to emotional energy, to possibility, to the unknown, and on the other hand to become more capable of authentic participation.

"This is truly the kernal of the matter. But it points to larger challenges at the personal and inter-personal level. It says HOW YOU LIVE these two questions, is how you will contribute to enacting organizational life. There is no need to track the bigger picture. We need to focus on the actual ordinary experiences that we encounter in each moment, in every encounter.

"How do we create governance that is more open and participatory. Not how do we get from this stage to another, in some prescriptively described way... That just tempts people to engineer reality from a point of systemic abstraction. Just shifting the conversation can create incremental steps toward being more open and more participation. Without a map it is THESE incremental steps that might open toward UNKNOWN and novel ways off oragnizational life. A map like this, with its totalizing point of view, closes the opportunities for the many ways we have not yet learned to be together.

"So there is a need, I believe, in this community, to take a serious look at the mode of pedagogy that works for reinventing organizational life, and the problematic ways that we have conventionally approached such things with our maps and charts and systems thinking that abstracts from the actual lived experience of the many to a genearalized narrative held by the few."

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