Tug On The Idea

631. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Sean drew a picture of a tug-of-war. The rope was taut. He said, “Any good process has two sides pulling on the idea. To stay out of the extremes and off the margins we need the tension from the other team. We need the other side to pull as hard as we do; that’s what makes it all work. That’s what keeps us playing in the center. ” And then he paused and thought about it, adding, “In a way, it’s this kind of tension that makes collaboration happen. Collaboration isn’t about absolute agreement – that’s not generative at all; collaboration is how we do conflict. Collaboration is healthy conflict.”

I laughed at the phrase and I think it is accurate. If we can pull on the idea rope without negating each other, if it’s not personal, then it is healthy. It’s all about focusing on the idea, pulling on the idea instead of diminishing the other; a great collaboration is subject centered, it is about a better idea and that requires some tugging. It is not about being right or winning; it is the game that is essential.

I once took a class from the great Kichom Hyashi. One day he divided the class into two teams from a mock organization: 1) the finance folk and 2) the creative team. He posed a challenge and asked the two teams to try and pull the other side into their point of view. We immediately began diminishing the ideas of the other side. Kichom stopped us. He asked us to begin again only this time he would facilitate our conversation. He did not allow us to diminish or negate the other team. We entered the heat, argued the idea instead of negating the people, and an extraordinary thing happened: the tension mounted until it was palpable, crackling, and then a 3rd channel broke open. A better idea, previously hidden, burst forth. It was not a solution but a better idea, an expanded vision. The tension transformed into excitement. The two teams were now one voice chattering about the possibilities.

Kichom sat back in his chair and smiled, saying, “It’s not a mystery. This is how it is supposed to happen.”

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