When we are dealing with complex issues and diverse group that can be approached from multiple prespectives we may not even know the exact questions that we should be asking and if we expect definitive answers we're likely to regularly face disappointment.

Dancing with Ambiguity at the Online BallroomDoing this dance is about having some roots to hold you when the wind blows, like your values and self awareness. The other part is about being open to whole new worlds of possibility. A person who was present for this conversation said dancing is about losing your balance and being able to find it again.We can connect with people so different than ourselves, we have to be able to open the window to their views, which may be very different than ours.

  • We construct an online training for a group of colleagues we don't know well. They are in 7 different countries. They all speak and write in English, but some have English as a second or third language. The come from different organizations with diverse management perspectives. We have been told they are all interested in the training and have online experience.
  • Our approach is to learn through conversation. About a week in, people are not happy. Some were expecting material delivered sequentially with the correct "answer" to each area. Others are disappointed that the full group is not engaging in the conversations. Some are lost with all the volume.
  • As facilitators, we had access to only a limited amount of information prior to the online interaction. We have to move forward, figure out what we can and try to keep the group moving forward. What do we do:?

Some useful practices:
  • We have to shift from an advocacy of "my ideas" to the opening to a weaving together of "our ideas." Winning means something collective.
  • It means that what we know as "right" today might be modified tomorrow not because we are fickle and inconsistent, but because what we learn tomorrow changes our understanding and world view.
  • Diversity of perspective and muliplicity of meaning can be celebrated and sought out by asking open ended questions and providing access to powerful learning experiences which can then become opportunities for individual and shared making of new meaning.

Discussion starter questions:

  • What are the organizational and cultural implications of "not knowing?" (i.e. face saving practices)

Back to Main Planning Page