This is a great five-minute video from Rob Paterson.
Chris Corrigan and Rob compare a meadow next to a ploughed field. It’s a pretty compelling metaphor for the difference between a natural community and a conventional organisation. It had me hooked the moment Chris steps from one to the other and discovers an eight-inch difference in the height – a pretty clear signal about the health of one versus the other.
So many people planning meetings seem trapped in a ploughed field mindset in which a superficial tidyness is confused with productivity. Our education system is probably a profound training in that kind of thinking. Meetings that are more like the meadow – where lots of different conversations are going on where things are not linear – are sweepingly dismissed.
You’ll hear them described as chaotic. Often the critic will make some angry statement about the “need for action” as if nothing is happening in these animated conversations. The irony is that the critic is actually terrified of the action happening all around them. They don’t really want action, they want control. And as they can’t seem to exert much control over their own state they want to control what everyone else is doing instead. Given too much sway, these people would create more ploughed fields where vitality is slowly sapped.
Of course, like most human beings, I can be like that too. Doing lots of facilitation is great for me because it gives me lots of practice in sitting with that kind of panic but resisting the urge to control.