I attended two sessions today that shared the theme of finding ways to break out from an unproductive way of thinking. The first was Don Gray and Becky Winant's "Making conscious decisions for change", which explored how changing perception leads to changes in behaviour. We discussed mental models (deletion, distortion, construction, generalisation), modalities of thinking, associated and disassociated experience, the interaction between the "here and now" (present) and the "then and there" (past), and creating options through awareness of our assumptions. All of these techniques and concepts provided me with powerful insight into how I might coach teams better through some common project problems.
After lunch Martine Devos and Jerry Weinberg ran a session on Organisational Mapping. This is a technique for exploring the multidimensional complexity ignored in more traditional org charts (such as who has money or budget to spend, where people are located, who communicates with whom, who gets along and who doesn't, etc). Interestingly we found as we drew our own maps that inanimate objects (e.g. story walls) and intangible things (e.g. rumours, or ghosts of previous managers or employees) occupy a place within these maps.
When comparing several maps of the same organisation in an "art show" what was striking was how much they varied, and why. To each individual their map was true. Taken together (especially taking the aspects shown in one map but omitted from others) they uncovered a deeper truth: one that could be used to break out of habitual behaviour. We were able to see this in action as Jerry explored with five members of one organisation how the "wall of mistrust" shown on their maps was both self-constructed and easily surmountable.
It also stopped raining today. It was wierd to be in desert country with rain pouring down, though apparently Phoenix does have a monsoon season (normally August, according to Linda Rising who lives locally). But now the sun is shining again, and the date palms look less incongruous and the pool more inviting...