Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldmsith wrote an article recently in the journal, OD Practitioner, that chronicled their work in a school system that was riddled with conflict. It was a bit of a nightmare job, actually, where many of the participants in the session they were going to lead had actually circulated a petition to block them from coming to do the work. Both employees and management were stuck. Powerfully stuck.
Cloke and Goldsmith pulled it out. And I’m sharing the story because they came to see the importance of how our “stories” drive conflict:
In most organizations, employees tell stories about atrocities committed by their managers, and their powerlessness working in an autocratic, bureaucratic hierarchy. Meanwhile, managers tell stories about passive, negative, irresponsible employees who are out to get them, and about the lack of support they receive from the organization. Both sides feel misunderstood, powerless to solve their problems, stuck, and unable to make the first move.
Cloke and Goldsmith make the point that their intervention in that school system was two-fold. At one level, they set up a process where the parties involved could actually work collaboratively to come up with solutions to the very serious problems they faced. On a deeper level, they also gave them a process that proved to the participants regardless of the problem, the two groups could, in fact, work together. It is very powerful to help a group get “unstuck,” even if they don’t solve all their problems right there and then.
Stories are powerful. And remember, they can keep you very powerfully… stuck.
Stories are powerful. And remember, they can keep you very powerfully stuck.
Jamie Notter is the person whom I credit the start of my public speaking career. He was the one suggesting I become a professional speaker… At the time, I never considered it. I will always be grateful.
Jamie is a successful author four times over. From his website, Jamie is an “accomplished speaker, author, and consultant—with deep expertise in workplace culture, generations, and growth.”