Thank you Liz for coming here and expressing your interest.
I also thank those who took the time to give feedback on S3 International Community of Practice group. With these expressions, I feel it as good enough for now and certainly safe enough to go and write down this story, as I remember it, and with the intention that it may bring in some Value for you.
Please, before starting to read this text, make sure you clarify your needs and do please make sure you really want to spend the time reading it.
Aware of this choice, and accountable for it, please do continue reading.
Recalling Tuesday the 17th, I present a story below. Some people might find too much detail, others might like to know more. Either way, I ask you to express your feedback in the end, in order for us to grow together in learning and practicing collaboration in the most fluent, loving way.
A bit of context
It was the time for one more weekly meeting, within FESCOOP, a recently born cooperative which aims to bring ethical finance to Portugal.
I had committed, along with a group of people delegated, with the task of proposing an organizational structure and mapping out activities related to the need of leveraging principles like democratic governance and cooperation.
Why I decided to facilitate Driver Mapping?
The 17th was the day to present a diagram for the organization in order to collect inputs from the group. Yet…more and more I thought of designing organization, more and more I noticed that there was something missing. I was spending so much time in thinking about organization, and trying to include others voices saying that we should take a look at existing models from foreign ethical banks, while at same time I was wanting to also think about organization design tools. Three tools I identified as candidates for designing organization structure: driver mapping (from S3), impact mapping and regenerative development. As Impact Mapping I only knew after Driver Mapping and Regenerative Development seems to put a lot of emphasis on the spiritual side and the one person I know speaking of it is still learning it, therefore making it hard to replicate and evolve, Driver Mapping seemed the way to go.
Even more after reading http://www.slideshare.net/npflaeging/betacodex11-the-3-structures-of-an-organization, where I noted the “enormous” amount of time I had been putting on trying to design a formal organization which could be accepted by a group of people ruling themselves by an informal structure, which was shared by James Priest in the Sociocracy 3.0 International Community of Practice Facebook group.
The meeting details
While I was presenting the agenda for the meeting, which had been sent to the group on the day before, tension rose from one person saying she found no need for going through the steps of the exercise I had presented as Driver Mapping, as she had already done all that. I tried to listen to this persons needs, yet for some reason that conversation didn’t go further (maybe someone else started speaking) and I felt the need to explain where I aimed to reach with the exercise. The relevance of hearing everyone’s voice, that the exercise could contribute, if not for anything else, to build the group relations, and that we expected to collect some data to feed a future organizational structure.
As there were some other topics on the agenda we moved on to those.
It was then 30 minutes near the end of the meeting, when we finally reached the topic of driver mapping exercise.
As I had suggested in the agenda proposal we could start with FESCOOP already specified goals, I wrote those on the white board, and went for a round to check if there were any clarifying questions and then one to check for objections. We spend around 15 minutes with this exercise, with some people wanting to had this or that word into the sentence. As we reached consent, when I proposed us to identify some actors (those feeling the needs we are trying to solve, those that may be impacted - concurrently or not, by our actions and those who could provide services).
There was this tension inside as I didn’t know all the questions I wanted to ask. Even though I had the pdf opened on the page on the phone, while I was walking to the board to explain what actors were, I don’t recall looking at the phone.
And then the same person who intervened before mentioned that she had 100 page written with the actors and it would be impossible to write them all down. That I shouldn’t go with this exercise, and yet write down the “how” we are going to attend the needs, and not go that way. One other person also said at some point that this was being a waste of time for her. Yet I understood I needed to continue explaining the exercise, and after distributing some post-its and having people without knowing what to write, and when someone started writing others started evaluating…
Well, at some point another person in the group intervened mentioning she was in my defense, and that this exercise was supposed to be brainstorming…One other person mentioned that I had not explained that…and eventually that tension went off and we continued, while I looked at the clock at we had 10 min left in the meeting. I felt I could at least go through the needs in 5 min, after someone also presenting some arguments and saying that she expected the exercise to take no more than 15 min, though with people arguing so much at doing it, we were long run on this.
And then we went on, I took the post-its people had started writing with the actors and noticing some had written more then one actor on the post-its, I eventually starting writing single-actor post-it on the board myself (noticing people needed to be asked to write one actor per post-it). As we finished this, I asked people to go on and put the needs in the 5 min left and place them near each actor. Almost everyone participated in the exercise.
By the end of the 5 min I explained that the next step would be joining needs across actors (removing them temporarily) and after checking for volunteers to work with me and finding that the volunteers were the one within the current organization group, I suggested us to move on to the closing round, and ask for a final word on what people would take from there.
Expressions like “Waste of time”, “disappointment”, lack of management, organization and concessions came out, while others like "enjoyed the welcoming in the group, or we managed to work through the tensions during the exercise, or I’m happy we managed to do so much with so little time - (me saying) and to finish the round “this is all beautiful but we need more concrete stuff” came out…
After the meeting
Well…I went home, and couldn’t sleep so much…The next day it happened I was up from 8h30 to 19h00 without eating and washing myself. All day sticking to computer, either sending and replying to emails, either writing down my memories from other meetings. There was something in me that made it hard to give a rest to FESCOOP that day.
I noticed I had a lot of tension built up (some of which not necessarily mine) and things untold…and at a point I realized that most of what I needed was more listening, for others, and for myself.
As soon as I started listening to myself, and along with some conversations with others, things came clear out of the fog.
That first person comments on the meeting actually fed an idea for a new organizational structure proposal, mainly focused on the two main strategic lines identified, and all the deception words helped me to understand the importance of a balanced feedback in the end, where you explicitly ask people for “what went good”, side-by-side with “what can improve”. That an “emotional feedback” might not be something so good to feed when there is the chance of not seeing the people again.
There was this realization that it might help for the common well-being at the end of the meeting and in-between meetings if people start with what can improve, and finish with what went good.
I also connected with a comment that showed up about the exercise not being placed in the right context.
In the end, related to the Driver Mapping, we collected the data and the plan is to include it as an example for future local groups to be built…
Life goes on, and I feel richer for having had the chance to learn a bit more about Driver Mapping, by using it in a regular context.
Some Lessons Learned
- If it’s one of the first times a person facilitates, a full-script sheet where she can get back to anytime to check on the process to follow becomes quite handy.
- Listen, Listen, Listen … If someone expresses a tension and may even present a possible solution, make sure you listen her needs and evaluate her solution before moving forward. And if you realize that at some point you didn’t listen, be easy with yourself.
- If there are new people in the group, make sure they feel welcomed and are contextualized ideally before the meeting starts
- Driver Mapping is a great tool for value creation, yet to fully express its power, there may be benefit from using a full hour for it.
- As Driver Mapping allows to design organization and at the same time develop strategies and action items, if there is some prior strategy defined, do make sure that it is included in the exercise (as by placing boundaries) or consented not to.
- If you want people to play with you and participate in exercises you are facilitating, make sure they give prior consent to it.
- Whenever you try something new, which ends up consuming a lot of energy and you having a sense of failure or emptiness, realize that life is a constant learning process, and expects no less from it.
- After the storm, if you take some time to rest, the fog also starts to disappear, and light and fairies may come to hold the path for you.
What are you feeling right now? What are the needs beyond that feeling?
Are there and if so what are the things you would change on the way this story was written?
Are there and if so what are the things you believe should be kept?
Any other comments you feel could add value?