Thursday, September 10, 2009


When I took training in collaborative decision-making—a way to get groups to come to consensus—it became obvious to me that this is the only kind of solution that actually works. It involves giving up only what didn’t really matter to you, anyway, and becoming open-minded on how to get what does.

Solutions That Work for Everyone

In problem solving, if everyone doesn’t get something they can live with, they will sabotage the plan or simply not play. They’ll take their ball and go home. Nothing will improve. Status quo. Much ado about nothing. Time wasted.

Of course, we all know that finding common ground isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes maturity—none of that dropping the ball stuff. Getting better at finding commonality, over time, is one of the gifts of experience. Success, joy, and happiness in life depend on learning to see where we intersect with others, where we can agree or design a new way to do things that’s OK with everyone involved.

Us ‘n’ Them is so much easier. No one has to put forth any effort except to dig themselves deeper into the rut they’re in and not move. Very little work is involved, especially of a mental or spiritual nature. You don’t have to expand your ideas, entertain the notion that you might not have the only—or even the best—solution. You get to sit on your butt. You don’t have to grow or worst of all, grow up.

Not only does this lack maturity and creativity, it is boring. It is so same-old, same old. Who needs it?

Imagine, instead, starting this chain reaction of vision, all around you: Now the highest part of everyone concerned, in whatever dilemma or challenge, will come up with a fabulous, creative solution, because you’ll let that essence of him and her out to play.

How do we create that environment?

A Safe, Creative, Comfortable Atmosphere

For starters, believe in the best in everyone—that we have a Higher Self able to do amazing things if s/he is simply set free. Identify the goals you want to achieve, and then trust that order will come out of chaos if you just allow group process to reveal itself without any help from you, thanks, especially if you’re the boss, parent, or a controller by nature. Chaos to order seems to be one of those odd pairs of opposites that occur in causal order when left alone. Think of the cacophony of potential sounds that blare in the head of a musical genius before they ultimately become a symphony. If you believe in the Bible, think of the original order out of chaos that only took a week.

Everyone has true genius when goodwill and a good setting are provided for troubleshooting. People love to solve problems and grapple with issues when they are safe, fed, comfortable, and their capabilities are held in high esteem.

One of the greatest gifts from my parents was their trust in my ability to figure things out for myself. “We know you’ll do the right thing, baby” was one of my mom’s mantras. I lived up to it.

In contrast, one of my friends had parents who didn’t trust her as far as they could throw her. They even had her followed and spied on. She lived down to their opinion of her.

Create environments with big intersections, places where people can easily discover their commonalities or become stimulated to consider new ideas and expand themselves till their lanes cross. I remember my excitement when I first learned the word synergy, the idea that the sum is equal to more than its parts. If two heads are better than one, imagine a room full of minds dancing. This atmosphere is best achieved where deadlines are reasonable, the stakes are high, and everyone stands to benefit from the best outcome. Comfort and ambience help-- anything that builds trust and bonding among the team members before or during their solution sessions.

This model can be applied between two people in a marriage, several in a family, lots in an organization—wherever two or more are gathered.

Where in your life can you build a road where intersections are plentiful and people get to a green light together?

What an alternative to road rage or gridlock.

Photo Credit: © Rudyumans

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