The magic of perspective: The cultureScan Process

In order to see the bigger picture, we need to shift our perspective. The swan seen to be gliding effortlessly across the lake belies the frantic paddling beneath the surface which is not seen. Similarly, the simply described, sequential process does not immediately reveal its secrets.

The 1990 Voyager photo of Earth taken from the edge of our solar system – the ‘pale blue dot’ – provides another perspective. It needs to be pointed out to the viewer. Earth is the tiny speck about three-quarters to the right of the picture and 45% from the bottom.

The hidden secrets of the process now outlined are not extravagant, abstract claims. We can attest to the power of the process from direct observation of what we see and what is fed back to us during interventions.

Throughout the process, it is underpinned by sound psychology, neuroscience, sociology and spirituality principles.

STEP 1: Survey

Prior to receiving their anonymous survey, participants are assured of confidentiality, the importance of their input. They feel welcomed, included, trusted and appreciate the vote of confidence shown by their leaders.

The questionnaires they complete are more than mere diagnostics. Eugène Ionesco has pointed out that It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question”. Our survey questions are designed to expose respondents to statements that often embed new words, metaphors and ideas that help them to make more sense of the topic being addressed, and awaken them to the possibilities inherent in the process. New and different perspectives are provided. This is in some ways a knowledge transfer that prepares them for the next step, and which continues throughout the process.

STEP 2: Immersion

Selected from a menu of optional opinion pieces, reflections and exercises – participants are able to take a deep (but unpressured) dive into the topic/s. (An immersion process at both the individual and small-group levels).  Following exposure to survey questions, this immersion phase of the process, based on discovery and focused attention, is a path to raising awareness, a ‘confronting’ of unconscious bias or limiting beliefs.  During the reading, reflection, exercises, a shift takes place from analytical ‘left-brain’ activity to the inclusion of ‘right-brain’ emotional and creative activity – so that a ‘left and right brained’ team begins to form.

STEP 3: Anecdote / Story Circles

The process seeks solution, but at another level fosters individual growth and nudges organisational culture in the right direction. Armed with the knowledge and preparation provided in the first two steps, constructive, open, positive and confidential ‘group conversations’ are conducted. Precision-crafted questions are used by specialist facilitators to trigger the anecdote/ story circle events. Anecdote/ story circle technology is a psychologically safe and positive container for sharing stories, perspectives and feelings; listening, surfacing valuable information and insights, and going beyond the ‘edges’ of what participants would previously have explored. Participants become present to each other. A collective wisdom begins to develop. Diversity is harnessed. Bonding and teaming occurs. Unconscious biases are uncovered. Change and healing begins to happen: in viewpoints, attitudes, connections, motivation.

When people feel included and realise that their voice is being heard, then engagement and motivation follow. Thus the anecdote/ story ingredient in the recipe quietly begins to shape culture, and stimulate growth in emotional and social intelligence. Qualitative data is being combined with quantitative data; Information and knowledge transfer is accompanied by the recognition of shared values (empathy, respect, cooperation. The sacred Native American Talking Circle focused on harmony and balance). Insights are experienced, captured, democratized and mobilised.

Eminent educational and cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner believed that “the richest learning comes from narrative …. It deals in human or human-like intention and action and the vicissitudes and consequences that mark their course”. Story is an Ubuntu way. Wisdom teachers such as Buddha, Rumi, Jesus made extensive use of story/ anecdote/ images/ metaphor to coax change.

It sometimes happens that individual and team coaching and counselling results from the prior steps in the process, and this activity accompanies implementation)

In summary, business in the West has a somewhat inhibiting obsession with overly formal, and structured approaches to information-sharing, sense-making, problem-solving, decision-making, developing actions, mobilising participants – often attempted during meetings.

During such gatherings, neuroscience informs us, our capacity to think creatively and relate effectively are often dampened when stress hormones are released in response to criticism, threat, judgment and undermining (real and perceived).  Conversely, in psychologically safe environments, the release of relaxation hormones fosters and boosts bonding, critical thinking and creativity.   Caringly facilitated anecdote/story circles tap into this relaxation-power. (They align with the appreciative inquiry model which is down-to-earth in terms of what works, is fuelled by relationships, uses the process of discovering strengths that may be applied to opportunities, and is based on collective agreement, shared aspiration, and the reaching of desired future results – all shaped by story).

Recently, Doodle undertook “the most comprehensive report on meetings ever conducted” in Europe and the USA, highlighting the high incidence and staggering cost of unnecessary and poorly organised and run meetings – in terms of direct ‘man’ hours lost, the impact on other work scheduling, stress, lost time due to lack of clarity and focus, lowered morale, and harmed relationships.

(The State of Meetings 2019 Doodle Blog 0
Their research supports Milton Boyle’s observation that meetings are where minutes are taken and hours are wasted.

Surely it’s time for you to move your organisation forward by tapping into the power of

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