Su writes: “There’s a regular journey I take with my children. Have done it many, many times. It’s a journey that is all about getting to the destination – we’re not in it to look at the scenery. So many times, I’m on automatic and we travel along discussing school, favourite colours and what would happen if you really did have eyes in the back of your head.
Once recently, in the middle of this train of scintillating conversation, we were interrupted by one of the children: “I know we’re going the right way”, she said, “because we always pass that house”.
“That house” was very inconsequential: a bland, beige, functional box of a house which did not demand or desire any attention. I can honestly say I have never properly looked at that house before, although I have gone past it so many times over so many years. And every journey since then, I have noticed the house. I now know the colour of the curtains, I notice when the hedge has been cut and I wonder about the inhabitants. Something which was very part of the background has been pulled into the foreground, by a chance comment that was made.
In our standard work activities, we often have to go through the process: enter into the same room with the same people for the same regular meeting. As we’re on autopilot, we are not aware of how we’re going about doing this: it could well be that we’re continuously making the same mistakes or not identifying the things we’re good at. At the next meeting you’re at, why don’t you bring some of this into the foreground? Make your team aware of what’s happening at the side of the conversation, on the parameters of the journey. Without judgement or agenda: “Lisa is being talked over”; “we avoid discussing the figures”; “our action planning makes all the difference”.
It’s important that our meetings are focussed on achieving their outcomes efficiently. By noticing what is happening along the way, we give ourselves the opportunity to understand, reflect on and even enjoy the process of getting there.
Have a look around for “that house”"
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