Saturday, 14 February 2009

Genuine Contact™ Program: Processes for Reducing the Cost of Conflict - the end

Dates: March 5-6, 2009
Where: Val-David, Quebec
Module 3 of the Genuine Contact Program

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As I sit with a leader, courageous enough to consider doing something about the conflicts that are erupting within their work units, courageous enough to want to create a healthy and balanced organization, I am learning to have more and more compassion or them and for the steps ahead. This is not easy work. This is a cross roads and choosing the road less traveled is the beginning of quite a journey. I sit and listen, create space for them to begin to look more deeply and begin to see more clearly the situation in which they are struggling, and consider the choices they can make. I share stories of what is possible and my belief in the human capacity to work through these situations and make choices for life.

Some leaders are ready. Some are not. Those who step in often do so because they see few other choices – nothing else has worked. They wonder if they can trust me or this program or processes I offer. I believe that in the space of these honest and powerful conversations they somehow touch the core of their own knowing that there is a better way. They move through their fear knowing there is only one choice they can make and start down that road less traveled. They are glad to have someone accompany them on the journey.

Scharmer describes this process I experience both with leaders and with groups in wonderful language. He talks about accessing different sources of intelligence as we move from downloading the story, to opening the mind, opening the heart and finally opening the will. “When operating on this level our work focuses on getting the self out of the way in order to open a space, a clearing….grace is the word that comes closest to the texture of this experience that refuses to be dragged onto the surface of words”5.

Using the Medicine Wheel Tool from the Genuine Contact™ Program as a framework for assessing and regenerating organizational health and balance and Whole Person Process Facilitation, I step into the chaos with a group in conflict. As my work with the group unfolds, I sit in the circle and hear the stories of pain and heartbreak expressed, see the anger move through people in waves and make way for the expressions of desires to be respected, heard, appreciated and cared for by their colleagues. Gradually ever so gradually, like the sky clearing after a storm, I watch as glimmers of sunshine, warmth and hope begin to shine through and the meaningful conversations about what they could do and how they could work and be together in new and more life nurturing relationships emerge. I sit in awe of the human capacity for healing and wholeness. In the words of a client “There were no more games, just simple truth, caring, the beginning of understanding and an acknowledgment that everybody wanted something better and, they were willing to work for it. That was almost two months ago and the changes started from the first day we returned to the office….. What I can’t begin to describe is the light that has come back into people’s eyes, the energy that has returned and the willingness to share and help that has developed….and the “real work” seems to be taking care of itself.”

What a privilege is mine to work with real human beings and watch the birthing of new futures right before my eyes. No the work is not done. There is more to do to sustain the unfolding of vibrant life in these teams and organizations, but it is a beginning and opening to give energy for the next steps to institutionalize new ways of working together. They have moved through the dark night of the organizational soul and have a vision for something better. Now they have some energy and a space to begin to develop their own capacity and practices to sustain life in their team.

We talked about the cost of conflict, but what is the return on investment if we decide to spend dollars on making changes to achieve organizational health? Returning to the small team example I used earlier, if the conservative estimate of $250,000 annual cost of this conflict for this small team was reduced even by 25% for one year, they would have received a return on investment for my services of about 700%. The experience to date of this team would suggest a far higher increase in productivity and returns. Imagine the return on investment of preventing conflicts in whole companies or departments? My business partner and I have always said that “it is not about” the money. There is a lot of money being wasted, and as Dr Dana’s work points out, these costs are often hidden.

We can use these sorts of calculations to support the investment in conflict resolution and organizational healing processes and even better yet in early conflict prevention and
organizational health. Our first investment however must be in creating space for these leaders to open not only their minds to this work, but to journey with them as they open their hearts and wills to a new future. In the words of my client “I saw another way and took it….all I did was point the way and invite some people along. It happened because there was a facilitator who understood, gave space, cared and took care. The group made it happen because they were finally honest, were truthful and they cared.” I say it happened because this leader dared to act from his deeper source – and it opened the possibilities for his team to do access their potential and a new future is emerging.

Our willingness to be authentic and genuine practitioners ourselves, willing to work from that inner place from which genuine and compassionate action originates is essential. Genuine contact begets genuine contact and opens the pathways for the will to change and a new reality to be created.

Source : Donna Clark :

Thank you Donna.

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