Moving Forward With an Imperfect Plan

The conventional lens puts great emphasis on planning and control. For many good reasons, we plan extensively. Yet there is an old saying that a plan never survives its first contact with implementation.

The positive lens values knowing but it also recognizes the value of learning. They are not the same. The positive lens seeks to integrate knowing and learning. It calls for the nurturing of collective intelligence and discovery in real time. Since many people do not know how to nurture collective intelligence or facilitate learning in real time, they engage in dysfunctional patterns. My son-in-law recently told of a work experience:

“Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, I had multiple conversations about a process at work that we’re trying to improve.  Each time I thought we reached consensus, members of the group brought up additional concerns–or changed their mind and expressed a different position.  It has been frustrating and discouraging at times.”

He took his discouragement home. He tells of using his personal disciplines to elevate himself. He was successful in his self-elevation efforts and returned to work with a new outlook. His account is instructive.

“I tried to listen more sincerely to my colleagues.  I proposed a path forward that would incorporate all of the feedback in one way or another.  As I did, I felt a renewed energy for the project.  It was almost like I realized we didn’t need the perfect plan going forward; we just needed to go forward.”

In this account he is integrating the conventional lens with the positive lens. In the positive lens we enrich relationships and build trust in our ability to engage uncertainty and learn in real time. When trust is present, faith and energy emerge. We go forward. Moving forward generates feedback. Processing the feedback leads to learning and the development of new organizational competencies. We begin to believe in our collective ability to move forward while learning in real time. People who learn to do what my son-in-law did, evolve into effective facilitators and they begin to be seen as organizational magicians. We stand in awe of their ability to get difficult things done.

 

Reflection

  • How common is the conflictual process described here?
  • What are the consequences of seeking to create a perfect plan?
  • How can we use this passage to create a more positive organization?
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