Will Van Inwagen is a Principal of Being In Systems, a human-centric development consultancy which focuses on capturing the emergent wisdom of people to affect change. He is a certified facilitator and negotiator and is a frequent contributor to EE Magazine. Being in Systems is the co-producer, with EE, of EE Community Conversations.
Recently I was sitting next to people who were having a very passionate conversation about how their companies were not including them in the process of deciding whether they would be able to continue to work from home or have to go back to the office. The anger, frustration, and powerlessness this group was expressing deeply impacted me.
My immediate reaction was to sympathize with them, rush over and tell them they didn’t have to take this ‘abuse of power’ and that they should protest to their management. I thought I would even help them to state their case. Then I realized I was getting swept up in their struggle, all too easily and without conscious thought.
I realized that I was witnessing only a small example of the polarization and lack of communication currently going on in regard to the future of hybrid home/office working arrangements.
In the face of fear of changes, of the unknown future, many of us, like me, often choose to stay in the uncomfortable status quo rather than calmly and seriously consider all perspectives on best ways forward. What this brings out is the automatic reaction to pick a side and to start defending why my side is right. This futile process gets me nowhere until I can understand the other.
As a trained facilitator and negotiator I have found that when both (or all) sides get an opportunity to have their say and be heard, and then to openly hear what the others say, then magic starts to happen.
There is too little speaking, listening, and magic happening around decisions related to who can and can’t participate in a hybrid work environment for their company. Instead there is dictating, controlling, inflexibility, resisting, complaining, and anger.
I began to see that there are, however, examples in other areas of social decision-making where two competing ideas can work together. What came up for me was the image of a hybrid car. A hybrid car utilizes both gas and electricity. There is no fighting going on as to whether gas or electric is better–just a smooth transition from one to another when needed.
With regard to the workplace, there are reasonable considerations and points in many perspectives on this situation. What is missing is the co-creation of a space in which they can all be shared in a neutral, safe, supportive environment in which the gifts of working from home or being at the office can be acknowledged and an outcome that benefits the whole can be co-created by people on both sides of the conversation.
There is a way to support this transition to create a result that is more whole, complete, and effective than could have been created otherwise—where everyone feels heard and taken into account—so that the whole organization and everyone in it benefits. At Being In Systems, we bring people together to create these results. What we offer is a bridge: A way to combine disparate perspectives, facilitating the emergence of solutions that would not otherwise have been possible.
Being In Systems is inviting all people who are being personally and professionally affected by this situation, whether a manager or an employee, to come together in a neutral place where emergent possibilities exist. We’re offering a series of three virtual generative dialogues in November.
The value you will receive from attending these conversations:
Experiencing people from all sides, from different organizations, in a safe space where you can listen and share freely.
Becoming more resilient, enhancing your capacity to adapt to new situations in the future.
Being able to be present and open to hearing what others have to say and feel, even if their views feel challenging.
Having a place to be supported and to support others in processing this new social/organizational challenge around workplaces.
Learning how to feel into what is emerging from these times and then to use that to your benefit.
Learning how to bring these conversations to your workplace so others can have a chance for their voice to be heard.
Learning how to respond with dignity and respect to what is happening rather than impulsively reacting to what is happening.
Awakening yourself to your own voice, agency, value and generative potential.
Please join us in these very important and needed conversations. We know wonderful and innovative ideas will emerge from them.
There will be three 2-hour conversations held weekly starting Wednesday November 3rd, ending November 17th, starting at 12:00 hours Pacific time zone.
The value of these conversations is $180 USD.
Early bird before October 13th is $150 USD
Please contact [email protected] if you desire to come up with an alternative value exchange for attending this program.