Going Beyond: Engage a New Conversation

Continuing our ongoing conversation about leading change ...

Once you have established some sense of shared meaning (see earlier post here), it is time to start a new conversation.  One that will take you beyond your current level of skills and experience.  This new conversation is a look at and into the future you intend to create.

What needs to be different for you to be at your best more often?

If you had three wishes for your team, what would they be?

There are a few ways you can create one of these new conversations.  I like to think of a conversation as having three dimensions, so changing one of these dimensions ought to move you in a “new” direction.

First, you can change what you are talking about, or the topic of your conversation.  Second, you can change the people who are talking with you.  Third, you can change the way you are interacting, or yourprocess.  

Changing the topic of conversation or the people you are talking with are less trivial than they sound.  Many times, an interaction is not as productive as it could be because you are talking about the wrong thing.  You should be talking about x, but it is easier to talk about y.  In addition, you prefer to engage with a third party rather than go directly to the one person with whom you have the issue.

You stay stuck because we don’t look for a way out.  Maybe you don’t want to find a way out.  It’s comfortable here, in your stuck place.

The thing is, if you are serious about going beyond where you are now, you have to do this.

Starting with the process of interaction is often most effective.  One way to begin is to listen.  A lot.  Ask questions to give you something to listen to.  Your objective is to learn the other’s story.

As this unfolds, you will probably find opportunities to share your story -- slowly at first, maybe even a little tentatively, as you continue to listen and find ways to connect your perspectives and ideas to those of the others who are engaged with you.

This may start to feel like a dance, though one where you are inventing the choreography as you go.  It is especially important to do this when you believe you have a lock on the one best answer for the change you are looking to make.  You may find that your answer really isn’t the best one.

The question at the heart of this stage is:  What is the future you want to create together, and what are you able to do in order to move in that direction?