Sunday, October 17, 2004

The WE Story

Beyond Cluetrain Conversation: The WE Story

I need a larger canvas, but this itty-bitty postcard-sized blog will have to do for now. I want to present the tiniest of snippets of a powerful chapter "Telling the WE Story" in the book, The Art of Possibility. This is true conversation. It's beyond Cluetrain. As Drucker notes, you can be having a conversation - yes, even with a human voice - and yet no communication occurs.

I often struggle to connect two disparate (divisive entrenched) sides - build bridges - evangelize - market - relate. So the timing is impeccable. I'll draw from it again in more posts I'm working on. If you have a chance, read at least this chapter in its entirety - I've had to leave out all the stories and anecdotes and so much more. Snippet below:

More often than not history is a record of conflict between an Us and a Them. We see this pattern expressed across a broad spectrum: nation to nation, among political parties, between labor and management, and in the most intimate realms of our lives...What can we invent that will take us from an entrenched posture of hostility to one of enthusiasm and deep regard?

To begin the inquiry, we have distinguished a new entity that personifies the "togetherness" of you and me and others. This entity, the WE, can be found among any two people, in any community or organization, and it can be thought of, in poetic terms, as a melody running through the people of the earth. [Is this amazing, another musical metaphor?] It emerges in the way music emerges from individual notes when a phrase is played as one long line, in the way a landscape coalesces out of the multicolored strokes of an Impressionist painting when you get some distance, and in the way a "family" comes into being when a first child is born. The WE appears when, for the moment, we set aside the story of fear, competition, and struggle and tell its story.

The WE story defines a human being in a specific way: It says we are our central selves seeking to contribute, naturally engaged, forever in a dance with each other. It points to relationship rather than to individuals, to communication patterns, gestures, and the in-between. Like the particle-and-wave nature of light, the WE is both a living entity and a long line of development unfolding. This new being, the WE of us, comes into view as we look for it - the vital entity of our company, or community, or group of two. Then the protagonist of our story, the entity called WE, steps forward and takes on a life of its own.

By telling the WE story, an individual becomes a conduit for this new inclusive entity, wearing its eyes and ears, feeling its heart, thinking its thoughts, inquiring into what is best for US. This practice points the way to a kind of leadership based not on qualifications earned in the field of battle, but on the courage to speak on behalf of all people and for the long line of human possibility...

Usually what we mean by the pronoun "we" is "you-plus-I," so the questions "What shall we do?" or "What will work for us?" generally refer to a compromise between what you want and what I want...

The practice of the WE offers an approach to conflict based on a different premise. It assumes there are no fixed wants nor static desires, while everything each of us thinks and feels has a place in the dialogue...

Traditional methods of resolving conflict, all the I/You approaches, tend to increase the level of discord because they attempt to satisfy the dictotomous positions people take, rather than providing the means for people to broaden their desires. I/You methods deprive people of the opportunity to wish inclusively. They do not give people the chance to want what the story of the WE says we are thirsting for: connecting to others through our dreams and visions.

While the WE practice can enhance any aspect of your life, it also poses a risk. It is not a technique for arriving at a decision based on known quantities; it's an integrative process that yields the next step. It asks you to trust that the evolution you set in motion will serve you over the long line. What happens after that is not in your control, but springs spontaneously from the WE itself.

More here.


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