Transforming Fear to Joy

In today’s rapidly changing iVUCA (interconnected, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, the art of building relationships in order to co-exist in community is fundamental for both surviving and thriving.  Global agreement, in principle, supports “the quantity and quality of social relations” as a key indicator of our happiness.  Now, we just need to get our act together by allowing our behaviours to catch up with our beliefs.  As Henry Ford (1863-1947) so aptly put it, “Coming together is a beginning; staying together is progress; working together is success.”

Whether we find ourselves in a family, an organization or a network of nations, the complexity of our everyday lives typically requires the able assistance of others.  As a ‘solo’ entrepreneur for over 25 years, I can attest to this reality.  In the earlier years of my career, I chose to collaborate with others for the sole purpose of thriving (learning, growing and creating).  In the latter 5 to 10 years, collaboration has also become instrumental to my survival (sustenance, well-being and adaptation) with the once clear boundaries between survival and thriving disappearing.  Without the collaboration of a 30-something, logical, high-tech wizard and a love-to-learn, creative explorer/retiree now website manager, it would have taken me three to five years (instead of one) to publish and populate my current website.

Building the relationships that enable us to survive and thrive has become the complex activity of living.  It has also meant bringing an end to isolation (disengagement), exclusion (secrecy) and even competition (win-lose).  At both personal and professional levels, these endings mean learning new behaviours to support our new beliefs.  As an example, my Sociotechnical Systems Roundtable (STS-RT) collaborative writing team (Doug Austrom, Don de Guerre, Craig McGee, Bernard Mohr, Joe Norton, Carolyn Ordowich and I)* are refining our own ‘behavioural’ model — Connect?Converse?Collaborate?Co-create?Community.  This model or dialogue process incorporates STS values for, in Ford’s words, beginning, progressing and succeeding at collaborative design of adaptive enterprises.

A Dialogue Process© for Adaptive Enterprise Design:

Connect.  To begin any collaboration, there is a starting point for connection often based on mutual interest — a common goal, purpose or vision.  This act of ‘coming together’ might occur through initial conversation with colleagues or the formation of a new project in one’s place of work or even the opportunity to redesign one’s ‘workplace’.  Often the focus is on a particular task, however, equally important is the ‘quality and quantity of relationship’, which necessitates cultivating a sense of safety, self-awareness, belonging and acceptance among collaborators.

Connecting marks a new beginning, and therefore is fraught with ambiguity, uncertainty and insecurity.  From an organizational perspective, a relationship-task tool for building ‘connective tissue’ is an environmental scan which, when conducted by staff, will bring forth both internal strengths and vulnerabilities and external opportunities and threats for consideration by the system under study.  This gathering of information provides a data pool from which dialogue increases awareness, understanding and agreement on design choices.

Converse.  Conversations that move beyond assumptions and dig deeper for greater understanding and agreement on task and relationship parameters begin building the foundation for collaborative enter