Updated: Apr 11, 2020
We can view the Impact of the Coronavirus On Business as a daunting and unpredictable set of scary circumstances we have no control over in our realm of the world. We can stay in a state of overwhelm . . . freeze, run, hide, react negatively.
Or we can choose to pause, take a deep breath (or two), and consider having a meaningful one-hour conversation that just might prove how brilliant we can be when faced with a seemingly unpredictable dilemma. “How can we process what is going on in our lives, in our work? How can we move through this crisis, pool our wisdom, and create a proactive collective response?”
We need a way to participate in these changes, to make our own decisions in our own groups and move things along. We need ways to talk with our managers and our peers, and work things through in an open way.
So, let’s consider having that conversation, but let’s make it a “Focused Conversation.” The Focused Conversation is a method developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs’ Technology of Participation; it follows a natural, human process to access group wisdom. By the skillful use of questions, a facilitator can provide an environment for collective thinking to take place within a limited time frame.
Use the Focused Conversation Method when you want to provide for meaningful dialogue; broaden a group’s perspectives; elicit clear ideas and conclusions; and allow the entire group to participate. Common applications include:
· collect data and ideas
· discuss tough issues
· reflect on important issues or events
· work as a group on presentations or reports
· reflect on accomplishments or failures, giving an opportunity for learning
· focus multiple interests on a particular topic or issue
· explore levels of consensus that may already exist within the group
· avoid heating arguments by provoking thoughtful dialogue
· move any discussion to a productive end.
The Situation: The COVID-19 virus has collided with our lives at a local and global level.
Rational Objective: To establish a context for the virus’ impact on our daily lives.
Experiential Aim: To experience responsiveness to the times in which we live.
Hints: Be ready to go around the table on the first question, if need be. It will be important to take notes on each question, so that you can read back to the group the events they gave you. This act of reflection does make an impressive impact on participants.
Opening: A global, novel virus that keeps us contained in our homes—maybe for months—is already reorienting our relationship to government, to the outside world, even to each other. But crisis moments also present opportunity: more sophisticated and flexible use of technology, less polarization, a revived appreciation for the outdoors and life’s other simple pleasures. No one knows exactly what will come, but we can anticipate that society—government, healthcare, the economy, our lifestyles and more—will change.
· What impacts has the virus had on you, your family, your work, your community?
· What positive or inspired responses have you initiated, experienced or seen?
· What will be required to support you and us during this period of time?
· What are we willing to do to create a support system?
I believe we have seen the power of the group/team/family to bring wisdom and innovative ideas to this conversation. I believe this is our first step in helping all of us pull through this by adapting and supporting one another. Thank you making a difference today, and for your clear commitment to be part of the solution no matter how distressed we might feel at times.
The Focused Conversation Method originated in the 1960’s and is being used in African Villages, Fortune 500 board rooms, and many other places throughout the world. More and more leaders see facilitation as an absolutely critical management skill. Why? Everyone wants to participate in everything that has any possible personal impact, and those who can facilitate a useful conversation are at a premium.
“Organizations today need meetings that help people move from a reactive into a proactive focus on solutions. They need meetings that give people as much say as possible over the issues that affect their lives and work. Such meetings are needed at every level in the organization, so it is clear that everyone’s input and involvement are important, and that tested methods will accomplish the agenda, maximize participation, and get the job done.” – R. Brian Stanfield, The Art of Focused Conversations.
Give it a try! Contact Tracey McConnell at (928) 925-4020 or Tracey@CreativeCapacitiesLLC.com for more information or a free consultation.