Awakening a Keen Observer

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


The Plumber
One of my favorite old Sesame Street routines was a plumber outside knocking on a door..and inside a voice, "Who's there?" and the plumber replies, "It's the plumber, I've come to fix the sink." The inside voice replies, "Who's there?" The plumber speaks louder and the voice continues to answer "Who's there/" repeated ...the voice is a parrot which we can see but the plumber cannot. There is not going to be a resolution to this situation and the longer it went on the funnier it became. (My adult children remember this routine too.)

But having a plumber come to your house is both good/bad news. Good news because something will be resolved, bad news...because something needs to be resolved. Good News because unlike many parts of the world there is plumbing to be fixed. Bad news because in many parts of the world there is no plumbing to be fixed. We should take care how we choose our complaints.

Is life like this ...not like stopped up pipes...but can one thing be both good and bad simultaneously? Humm let's think about that for a while.

We have trouble that needs to be resolved and we work to resolve it. Do we learn from that situation? I'm not sure? But one would hope so. We can learn from things that seem like stopped up pipes perhaps more than when everything runs smoothly. Do we become complacent? We might. Then do we 'wait' for someone shake us from that complacency we can be the heroine(hero) and fix it? What does history--ours or corporate history--teach us?

What brings satisfaction?

Let me try and put this together with a quote from Margaret Wheatley (thanks to Aaron Carland for telling me about her writings)

Solving, not Attacking, Complex Problems
A Five-State Approach Based on an Ancient Practice
Margaret J. Wheatley and Geoff Crinean ©2004

Organizations today suffer from a severe disability when it comes to solving problems. In virtually every organization, regardless of mission and function, people are frustrated by problems that seem unsolvable. Every attempt to resolve a problem results in unintended consequences that dwarf the original one. Relationships worsen as people harden into opposing positions, each side insisting on its own solution, unwilling to consider alternatives. Too many problem-solving sessions become battlegrounds where decisions are made based on power rather than intelligence.

Consider the language used to describe problem-solving. We "attack the problem," "tackle the issue," "take a stab at it," "wrestle it to the ground," "get on top of it." If colleagues argue with us, we complain that they "shot down my idea," "took pot shots at me," "used me for target practice," or that "I got killed." In the face of opposition, we "back down," "retreat" or "regroup." (Sometimes there are gentler metaphors in use–we may "float an idea," or test it to see "if it has legs.") Such aggressive descriptions of problem solving point to a startling conclusion. We experience problem-solving sessions as war zones, we view competing ideas as enemies, and we use problems as weapons to blame and defeat opposition forces. No wonder we can’t come up with real lasting solutions!
(There is more to come from this...)

Do we thrive on good/bad news? Or can we live with what IS without it being either.
Can we say, "this is the way it is let's deal with what that means"?
As individuals and as group let's see what we can do to
Just to be who we are where we are dealing with the situations before us.
That should be purely good news.

God abide
Bobbie Giltz McGarey


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