What is conflict? What can conflict create? These were the first two questions discussed at the Global Leadership Café held at the Tsukiji Honganji Temple on June 26, 2014. The diversity of input on these questions and the core question, What Can We do to Encourage Creative Conflict? were not only insightful, these conversation led to a major shift in the way conflict will now be experienced by some of the participants.
The evening began with some social networking and then each participant took a seat at one of the 10 tables set up with paper, colored pens and playdough. After an introduction to our topic, we took a moment to get quiet and check inside to see how we were feeling about the subjectmatter we were about to discuss. Once done, we were introduced to the playdough and asked to work together in pairs to create a specific form that we independently chose without telling our partner what that choice was. Each striving to impose their form on the combined portions of playdough, conflict was created. This process was an opportunity for us to see how we deal with conflict in our lives. Some of the creations ended up being quite clever, like the elephant and ball looking like an elephant with a skirt, and an egg and nest becoming an egg in a nest.
After this exercise we were asked to place ourselves in a line across the room indicating how we feel about conflict. Those who relish it up front ,and those who try to avoid it in the back, and everyone else where they stand relative to these two attitudes. More insights were gleaned here.
And then the conversations began. Two rounds with the first question, What is conflict? And then two rounds on What can conflict create?
Cultural differences became obvious, as we described our own conflict experiences at home, work and in the world. One table determined that there are two kinds of compromise: compromising on the issues and compromising within oneself, where we compromise our own values by being quiet and going along with someone else’s way of thinking.
The second question led to discussions about how we can creatively deal with conflict, such as reflecting the other side’s position, playing with the energy, establishing a safe space, creating an agreement that conflict is OK, active listening (nonjudgmental, respect of differences, asking questions), looking for the worst possible solution, and going deep to recognize the emotion as well as the logic.
Our third question, (How do we encourage creative conflict?) brought forth ideas such as: love conflict, set clear objectives, ask provocative questions, agree to disagree, embracing our differences, clarify and agree on the vision and then encourage all ideas to come out, role playing, develop yourself, find a common goal, show the benefits and find out each other’s investment.
When we concluded the conversation we were once again asked to get quiet, go inside and ask ourselves, “How do I feel about conflict now? This was when we realized how impactful our café’s can be. In this case several of the participants who had placed themselves at the back of the line when we were asked to line up according to how we feel about conflict, discovered a totally new attitude within themselves that they will take forward into how they live their lives.
The evening ended with sharing our discoveries so we could mutually benefit from them. And the post-its they were written on helped me share them in this report.
Another successful adventure in collaborative leadership; domo arigato to all who came together to co-create this inspiring café.
Transforming our Relationship to TIME – A review by Aruna Byers
April 18th was a collective journey through time and space at the Global Leadership Café IV! After entering the room we were invited to contribute thoughts about our relationship to Time on the Time wall. These provocative comments set the stage for deep introspection, as we selected a place at one of 10 tables that filled the room. After a brief introduction to the GLC and its intentions for the gathering, we were asked to introduce ourselves and talk about our personal relationship to Time. Why is it that most of us seem to feel that we never have enough of it? Here are some examples of the comments from my table:
- How we think about time is a matter of perception.
- We have different relationships with Time, depending on our own point of view. For example, a speaker may feel there is not enough time to get all his points across while giving his talk, while someone in his audience may feel his presentation was taking too long.
- We may relate differently to Time physically than we do psychologically.
- Today’s technology can affect the way we use our time, i.e. being distracted by Facebook or watching TV.
- We can do things to save time, like preparing a whole week’s meals in one day, instead of cooking every day.
- When you do things you love you can get into a flow where time is not an issue.
Before we knew it we were lost in time. The conversation picked up speed and it continued at the next table. After updating our new team as to what was previously discussed, we then incorporated these offerings into our new conversation, which took us into a deeper understanding of the subject. Some of the points that particularly spoke to me were:
- We can actually shift time because the brain can hold onto and manifest any concept we choose.
- Meditation and its benefits can bring us into more self-awareness and improve the way we manage our use of Time.
After a break out of Time we joined a new table and dialogued around the question: “How does your relationship to Time affect your leadership style?” In my group, a comparison of the way different leaders deal with Time brought forth the consensus that while a structured, authoritarian approach to Time seems more efficient, and it may be in the short term, in the long run a collaborative approach is more effective because everyone shares ownership for the decision that has been made.
Those who previously sat at this table felt that most people generally run after Time instead of managing it—and this is perpetuated by the fear of not getting done what is expected or intended. This group then discussed the benefits of getting with “the flow,” where things seem to just happen magically.
We later returned to our starting position and summarized what had been brought forth from the group conversation and wrote our main points on large Post-its that were grouped in themes and placed on the walls. Finding the theme we felt the most attracted to was the next step on our journey through Time. These themes, in no particular order, were:
- Prioritizing around our values,
- Living habits,
- Perception of Time,
- Stopping and
- Natural Time
With the help of a coach, each of us identified an action step we were willing to commit to that could improve our future relationship with Time. Everyone I spoke to after this meeting was extremely enthusiastic about the conversation and the way it was managed.
Conclusion: a great night with an amazing group of people. Many of us transformed our Relationships to TIME!
The Feb 7, 2014 Freedom to Fail GLC not only helped to clarify ideas about failure, but for some they were transformative, and for one in particular, life changing.
This sold out café was an opportunity to voice feelings about our own failures in a structured, non- threatening environment. Many who attended discovered the importance of being able to view and express themselves honestly, without concern about societal expectations. Sharing our experiences and viewpoints about failure with those from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds encouraged us all to think in a more expanded way. As a result, most us in attendance no longer see failure as negative.
Many people, after placing their failures on the failure wall were able to see that what they had believed to be failures were actually necessary steps in their learning journeys. They were able to make peace with the past and transform present circumstances.
The exchange of ideas in the rotating conversatoin was also an opportunity to step into new levels of self-expression, release pre-existing self-limitations, and expand personal networks.
The resounding success of this event is sure to spark more interest in future cafes, so a larger venue is now being sought.