Behind the scenes: working with multiple perspectives
COVID-19 has led to an increasingly prevalent voice towards our leaders to weigh other perspectives in their policy then the health considerations only. Not ever before the public call for integrating more perspectives was so loud. “How does that work? Decision-making from multiple perspectives?” Time for a blog.
The general public’s’ urgent call for more perspectives
The way in which the COVID-19 crisis was approached primarily from a health perspective in the first period, led to an increasingly louder call in the Netherlands for politicians to weigh other perspectives. The outcry called for a more emphatic manner of decision-making, including multiple views. An economic perspective and the well-being of the population, in the broader sense of the word, were sorely missed. Multidisciplinary thinkers, such as public philosopher Marli Huijer, have been summoned into the conversation more and more. The conversation that Damiaan Denys initiated with Laurens Knoop from The School of Life, economist Barbara Baarsma, counsellor Ybo Buruma, agriculture, food expert Louise Fresco, rector magnificus Rianne Letschert, and actor Gijs Scholten van Aschat, was welcomed with open arms. The more perspectives, the merrier.
A call for more perspectives in decision-making seems to become more and more common because of COVID-19 and all of the issues that arise from it. To be able to find and give meaningful direction has never been so important. But how do you come to fundamental decisions based on multiple perspectives?
The research phase allows you to truly open up
As a cultural scientist, I was introduced at the age of twenty to the value of research into fundamental questions from multiple points of view. These included a political, economic, welfare, cultural, technical and philosophical perspectives. It starts with the nature and formulation of the question itself. Fundamental questions are not operational questions, but questions about transformation, innovation, crisis settlement, connection, culture change or market expansion, to name a few examples. Basically, all questions that reveal the deeper intention or greater desire of the organization.
In the organizations and transitions that I was allowed to supervise and guide for the past twenty years, I made a profession out of it. At the Ministry of Education, the Chamber of Commerce, the Federation for Culture and many other places, I gave an unusual amount of attention to the people, their perception and determining what ‘the question underneath the question’ is. Nine out of ten times, this question is located on a more fundamental level than the one that is discussed in the boardroom. The reason we focus on these ‘superficial’ questions, is because we live in a ‘do-state-of-mind’ with efficient corporate cultures. This culture pushes us to move quickly and eagerly towards a solution. However, in researching fundamental questions, slowness is required. After this phase, you will move faster to “different and better” than you ever thought possible.
“ Slowness is needed when researching fundamental questions. In order to move faster to “different and better” answers. ”
Choosing the right buttons to turn
Simply put, we are not used to just really thinking about which question actually needs an answer. It takes courage and vulnerability to really dare to look at what is going on at a deeper level in the organisation. Instead, we prefer to turn all kinds of different procedural buttons, without even knowing if they will actually contribute to improving the fundamental problem.
We usually start with a confidential question round along key figures in the organization to gain insight into the actual question. Another tactic we use is organizing a dialogue to gain insight into the question behind the question. To find this you need to truly hear and see the people. As soon as we get a picture of the genuine question, we test and investigate it. The legitimacy of the answer depends on the people you conduct that research with and in what way you conduct it.
“ It is in that research phase, in which we allow ourselves to “not- knowing”, where the magic happens.”
Free thinking does not happen automatically
The magic happens in that research phase, in which we allow ourselves to “not-know”. This is where creativity starts and the hatches open up to what others have to say. After all, we have not yet determined a position and therefore have nothing to defend. We can allow ourselves to think freely. Provided that we are actively invited to do so … Because free thinking isn’t something that happens automatically.
Unusual suspects play an important role in activating free thinking. “If you do what you always did …”. We involve experts from completely different views in the research. Think of artists, scientists or ecologists. Even if the question is about “insurance” or “trust of the target group” these unusual suspects help us to see. Where clients sometimes had doubts in advance about the duration and amount of people involved in that research process, there has never been a client who had any doubts afterwards. This is because in that precise part of the process the gates open to interconnection and new direction.
“Sharing wisdom and experience between very different people requires selfless guidance and an excellent eye for essences.”
What is needed to do this?
In this day and age, those who can guide others with very different backgrounds and life experiences are needed. Especially people who can freely share their wisdom and experience in a circle of trust. This calls for helpful guidance and an excellent eye for people, the essence of a situation, and the process. Preferably with a backpack of methods and skills to bring out what really lives in a group.
This will enable an organization, network or country to create a collective perspective that transcends everyone’s own right and to which everyone commits; from people working in management to the deepest level of implementation. After that, making a multi-year agenda including the associated planning and budget for the average leading team is a piece of cake. The true question did not live here.
Since the time had long come for this approach, but the demand for it is now increasing drastically, The Curiosophy Collective offers consultants, who guide your executive team or organisation through a fundamental, strategic issue in a multi-disciplinary manner.
Do you, as a company, social organization or government, have a fundamental issue for which you are looking for a sustainable answer? Please contact us, check our Curiosophy Consulting options or E-mail us; firstname.lastname@example.org.