My goal with this presentation is to look at Wu Wei Coaching from several different viewpoints.Hopefully for everybody there will be at least one viewpoint that you can relate to and map it on your own experiences.
Water is a good metaphor for Wu Wei. It can go around and through obstacles.It has flow.It is very flexible and can take many shapes.It can still be very powerful too.Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
I’ve been coaching people and teams for more than 10 years. At some point of my coaching career I realized that I really couldn’t use any specific tools and techniques to achieve the results I was supposed to achieve. In fact, I even realized that the goals themselves were always changing as a result of conversations, which opened lots of different viewpoints to them. At the end, only thing left to do was to work from the themes emerging in those conversations.In 2008 I had an opportunity to study the thinking of complex responsive processes with Ralph D. Stacey and Douglas Griffin. It was the most interesting training I ever went through and I have been continuing to learn more about this way of thinking ever since. That training gave me words and understanding about what happens in social groups we usually call organizations. It also provided an environment where it was possible to engage in discussions about what we saw happening around us. I’ve come to learn that there are no organizations, just people creating global patterns while co-operating in local interaction.In my search for new approaches to coaching I went through 2.5-year training in Family Therapy tradition, which utilized the framework of social constructionism. I already had many years of experience from Solution Focus but Dialogism, Narrativism and Reflexivity really opened my eyes to see what we are doing when we engage in dialogues. It is all about improvisation with emergent narratives.Wu Wei: I saw an excellent article by Jeffrey K. Edwards & Mei-Whei Chen about Wu Wei method in supervision and realized this is perfect word to describe what I’m experiencing.Nowadays almost anything I do provides means to reflect upon what I am doing in coaching. Yi Quan and Mindfulness meditation have taught me to be very sensitive of the movements in the situation at hand – what is happening in me when I engage in dialogue. Tuishou (“pushing hands”) practice provides perfect example of how to train non-verbal communication with another person by being very sensitive of the subtle movements of oneself and the other person.
Whenever one is talking about coaching it is important to look into the relationship between the coach and the clients. There are some general principles I have learned to value in coaching:For me, the most important thing to remember is that we are constantly negotiating our identities in the given situation. It is helpful to look at our minds as social processes. The ways we think and act are related to the groups we belong to. By looking at the conversation and the case from many perspectives it is possible to come up with novel thoughts and actsThe way of least resistance is to find out what is already happening and how to improvise with that.
With this slide I want to compare Wu Wei with some other coaching practices and to raise up some viewpoints to the activity of coaching.Competent practitioners have acquired skills to use tools and techniques, but experts need to use practical judgment in particular situations. Practical judgment isn’t just competence of following rules and techniques - it is expert improvisation. The expertise of a coach is the understanding of the context and discourse. He needs to be able to understand the emergent themes in the conversation and work from there. This expertise is developed in reflexive process.Reflexivity is turning your focus back on yourself – subject and object are not separate but simultaneously present. Reflectivity is turning the focus more on the outside, acquiring a position of outside observer.Reflection-In-action is improvised learning in practice. It means to reflect upon what is happening from within the experience (swimmer).On-action means to reflect upon what is happening from outside of the experience (airman).Being is more concentrated on the experience of what is happening – Doing is more concentrated on the process of what is happening.Client centered coaching focuses the conversation on the client and how to understand him in relation to the case. Case centered coaching focuses the conversation on the case and how to solve that.Wu Wei Coaching is an attempt to put more focus on the reflexivity-in-action. It is highly client centered, “being focused” coaching approach. Wu Wei tries to keep the dialogue on what is really happening in that particular moment. Otherwise it would be easy to fall into 2nd order abstractions without even realizing it. Another reason for this focus is that as Wu Wei Coach is engaging in reflexive dialogue, he is participating in a process of developing both his own and the client’s expertise.An example of second order abstraction would be to talk about “organization” and how to change that with some specific methodologies such as Lean or Agile. Wu Wei Coach might approach that kind of conversation by focusing the dialogue to the patterns of cooperation that the client has been part of and how he relates to them. How he sees his and the client’s identity in those activities.
1st order cybernetics provide a feedback loop to workflow – a simple system. Example: Thermostate.2nd order cybernetics provides a nested feedback loops – a nested system. Example: Thermostate adjusting the basic value based on the outside temperature. Or a person adjusting it.1st order reflexivity: What is the meaning of this data to me in my particular situation? Is this even meaningful data?2nd order reflexivity: How do I find out the meaning of this data in my particular situation? How do I participate in creation of this particular situation? Is this even meaningful situation? Who am I in this situation?Wu Wei coaching is an attempt to keep 2nd order reflexivity ongoing. The reason for this is two-fold: 1) By doing this you enable lots of different perspectives into the situation instead of being stuck with one or two, 2) This is how expertise is developed.Data and 1st order cybernetics map to the mechanistic view (as there are only simple relations between the parts)1st and 2nd order cybernetics map to systems thinking (as there is a nested system of relationships, not just parts)1st and 2nd order reflexivity map to complexity thinking (as it includes meaning creation, which can lead to unpredictable future)
All the parts of listening are feeding back to the inner dialogue. Listening includes both verbal and non-verbal communication, emotions and feelings.Wu Wei is attempt to put focus on the listening of these different perspectives at the same time, which inevitably affects the inner dialogue too.If one is able to listen all these viewpoints it is helping the 2nd order reflexive process.It also coaches the client to listen with “Wu Wei ears”. Example: While I am making this presentation here I’m also listening my words, your gestures in the audience, and my inner dialogue which affects my presentation right now.
Complex responsive processes is a meta-framework, not a tool. Whenever you fall back to the tools you are inevitably in the systems thinking / mechanistic world.If you want to use tools you can’t escape it.Real life is always complex, difference is how you see it and talk about it.
You can’t really find Wu Wei Coaching from any of these slides…Because these are just abstractions.You are interpreting them…And perhaps even reflecting on your interpretations.If you can do that – you are able to use some of these principles,That’s where you might find the real Wu Wei Coaching.Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. I can’t capture Wu Wei coaching to these slides…But you can still understand it if you are able to use these principles such as 2nd order reflexivity and listening with three ears
Wu Wei Coaching“Be like water making its waythrough cracks. Do not beassertive, but adjust to theobject, and you shall find a wayaround or through it. If nothingwithin you stays rigid, outwardthings will disclose themselves.Empty your mind, be formless.Shapeless, like water. If you putwater into a cup, it becomes thecup. You put water into a bottleand it becomes the bottle. Youput it in a teapot, it becomesthe teapot. Now, water can flowor it can crash. Be water, myfriend.”- Bruce Lee (c) Ari-Pekka Skarp 2012 - fractalsauna.wordpress.com
Origins of Wu Wei CoachingComplex responsive processes No autonomous individuals, no organization Co-operative local interactions, emergent patternsPost-modern frameworks Social constructionism - discursive, contextual Solution Focus, Dialogism, Reflexivity, Narrativis mWu Wei ≈ “without action” Aligning Tao (“natural order”) and te (“force”) Spontaneous movement in accord with the complex patterns of nature Applying practical judgment in particular situations - reflexivity in actionYi Quan, Tuishou (“pushinghands”), Mindfulness Being very sensitive of the movements in a situation (c) Ari-Pekka Skarp 2012 - fractalsauna.wordpress.com
The Coach and the ClientIdentity isforming in Client alreadythe has all thedialogue needed strengthsChange is Contextalready andhappening discourse Work with the dialogue inCourage the “here and now” Client is Improvisation the expert instead of Way of of his tools and least situation techniques (c) Ari-Pekka Skarp 2012 - fractalsauna.wordpress.com
How to map Wu Wei? (process of what is happening)Tools and DoingTechnique Reflection Cognitive coachings NLP Agile coaching (outside Client Process Case observer) centered consultancy centered Solution Focus ReflectivityCognitive Family therapy coaching Dialogism NLP Narrativism Reflexivity Agile coaching In- Process Solution Focus On- Being consultancy (experience of action action what is Family therapy happening) Narrativism Reflexivity Dialogism Reflexivity (subject = object) (c) Ari-Pekka Skarp 2012 - fractalsauna.wordpress.com
Wu Wei and Reflexivity Thinking styles: 1st order 2nd order Complex reflexivity reflexivity Meaning? How? Reflexivity Systemic 2nd order cyberneti cs Data 2nd order Feedback Data cybernetics Data loopsMechanistic 1st order 1st order cybernetics cybernetics (c) Ari-Pekka Skarp 2012 - fractalsauna.wordpress.com
Wu Wei and Dialogism Dialogue is like a cocktail: 3 parts of listening, 1 part of talking 3. What is happening in your inner dialogue?2. Whatyou aresaying? 1. What the other person is saying? (c) Ari-Pekka Skarp 2012 - fractalsauna.wordpress.com
Three ways of seeing (c) Ari-Pekka Skarp 2012 - fractalsauna.wordpress.com organizations Mechanisti cSystemic Complexhttps://fractalsauna.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/three-ways-of-seeing-
Wu Wei and Thinking Styles Organizational DevelopmenCoaching methodologies: methodologies: Ad hoc Scientific Cognitive management coaching Agile coaching Lean Systems Agile Thinking Solution NLP Focus Cynefi Family Radical n Process therapy Consultanc Manageme Beyond nt BudgetinNarrativis y g m Dialogism Complex responsive processes Reflexivity (c) Ari-Pekka Skarp 2012 - fractalsauna.wordpress.com
But…You can’t really find Wu Wei Coaching from any ofthese slides…Because these are just abstractions.You are interpreting them…And perhaps even reflecting on your interpretations.If you can do that – you are able to use some ofthese principles like 2nd order reflexivity,That’s where you might find the real Wu WeiCoaching.“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, likewater.” (c) Ari-Pekka Skarp 2012 - fractalsauna.wordpress.com