>I wrote this message for participants in the RedQuadrant Way tool shed, and thought I might share it more widely<
This is a little thought from the toolshed by way of season’s greetings, as I have a chance of some reflective time. I think that an important part of understanding this practice we call consultancy, or change, or systems change, or whatever… is to understand the roots, and the history, and to listen to the elders. You’ll find a lot of that in the toolshed, one way or another.
For years, I’ve been trying to find a piece I wanted from Marv Weisbord, which I thought was a reflection at the end of his long consulting career – which encompassed work in Bethlehem Steel, where FW Taylor undertook his famous experiments – and from which I vividly remember two quotes – one was ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ – don’t discuss the undiscussable, and the other was a piece about a senior executive who was always disclosing his desire to retire. This was greeted positively by his team, and the consultants helped them work through implications and possibilities. Then they came back a year later – and there he was, still working, still talking about his plan to retire… soon.
I always thought this piece was ‘Techniques to Match Our Values’ – until I actually read it again 🙂
Thanks to my twitter network, I now know that I was really thinking of ‘Let People Be Responsible’. Both pieces, and another one headlined ‘Requiem for Bethlehem’ are attached.
Techniques to match our values – https://www.dropbox.com/s/lrsrpmfeby6f2vi/Techniques%20to%20Match%20Values.pdf?dl=0
Requiem for Bethlehem – https://www.dropbox.com/s/z2oweb9lavmu506/Requiem%20for%20Bethlehem.pdf?dl=0
Let people be responsible – https://www.dropbox.com/s/mu60prut2q7zxo8/let%20people%20be%20responsible.pdf?dl=0
What I find fascinating is that ‘let people be responsible’ is the piece I wanted, but isn’t quite the piece I remembered. What I really want is a mashup of the history in Techniques to Match Values/Requiem for Bethlehem… and the ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ (not actually quoted in here – I was sure it was!) of this piece 😀
It does contain some of the essence of that, though (and, btw, is co-written by Weisbord’s partner in business and life, Sandra Janoff). The quote I’m looking at is:
“Let People Hide Their “Hidden Agendas.”
“We never ask people what they are not saying. We see this as a form of subtle coercion that undermines a group’s willingness to accept responsibility. If people wish to conceal their “real” feelings or “real” data that is a choice they must live with. Their choice is, for us, the real data. In our philosophy, people have a right to hold back.”
You’ll hear a similar thing if you listen to these two reflective consultants, perhaps in their twilight years: Peter Block (episode 41) and Ed Schein (episode 49) on the Amiel Handelsman show – https://amielhandelsman.com/the-amiel-show/
So, the Christmas message I have for you is this. Yes, there are many crises out there and in here, several of them existential. Yes, we can be forgiven a sense of urgency. And sometimes we need pace and drive and bravery and determination and even self-sacrifice. And, sometimes, an alternative is to let people live with their choices. To turn to our communities, to gifts, to ourselves, to care and gentleness. To let sleeping dogs lie. Allow yourself that that is a possibility.
PS oh yes – and one of the original triggers for this is that Marvin Weisbord did retire. And he went back to one of his other careers, as a pianist – I got the below this month from the Future Search Network mailing list 🙂