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Essay: Creative Interchange and the Greatest Human Good

Hundredth year after Henry Nelson Wieman’s dissertation “The Organization of Interests” and one year after the unforgettable Fourteenth Gathering of the Crucial Dialogues Society I’ve written down my actual understanding of the Creative Interchange process in an essay:

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Essay: Creative Interchange and the Greatest Human Good

  1. 1. 1 Creative Interchange and The Greatest Human Good 1. Introduction In his book Man’s Ultimate Commitment Henry Nelson Wieman suggests that we have a need in our lives to achieve the infinite potentialities present in us at birth. He stresses the importance of our commitment to a life-long process that enables us to live our lives to the fullest. In order to obtain the Greatest Human Good one has to commit to live Creative Interchange from within. This special human interchange, that Henry Nelson Wieman coined Creative Interchange, is our ability to learn what others have learned, to appreciate what others appreciate, to feel what others feel, imagine what others imagine and to creatively integrate all this with what we have already acquired and form this way our true individuality. This Creative Interchange uniquely distinguishes the human mind from everything else. In this essay we will claim that Creative Interchange, lived from within, will lead to the Greatest Human Good. You can see the living Creative Interchange process, in action by watching the inquisitive behavior of any healthy young child (before the counter process, which Charlie Palmgren coined the Vicious Circle, sets in). We are all born with this ability (Creative Interchange); sadly we have lost to live it from within so much (due to the Vicious Circle). The Greatest Human Good is, according to Henry Nelson Wieman, not any state of existence or any realm beyond this world, it is the most complete transformation of the individual toward the qualities that life can yield and the fullest development of her/his humanity. Because the Greatest Human Good must come from within and from the way we relate to each other, we are pilgrims toward the continuous improvement of this world. The Greatest Human Good is to undergo this creative transformation that enables us to appreciate most profoundly everything appreciable. At the heart of this creative human interchange is the free mutual authentic expression of self, one to the other, while understanding and appreciating each other. So, the individual’s capacity for appreciative understanding is integral to this process.
  2. 2. 2 Ironically human interchange is necessary to develop this capacity and the relationships we develop with other people are always imperfect to some degree. From infancy on we observe a decline in honest and integer interaction. At the same time we observe a rise in human interchanges that are deceptive, manipulative, … thus far from being honest and integer. Henry Nelson Wieman called this forms of interchange ‘evasive’ ones and those deaden our abilities to represent ourselves authentically and appreciatively understand the other. Charles Leroy Palmgren, who’s mentor was Henry Nelson, pointed rightly out that this evasiveness is a spin-off of a counter productive process he coined as the Vicious Circle. In fact, even our social institutions and our economical organizations are undermining our ability to creatively interchange with each other, since the Vicious Circle is omnipresent in these communities. In this essay, based on Man’s Ultimate Commitmenti , The Chicken Conspiracyii , Creatieve Wisselwerkingiii , The Greatest Goodiv , Ascent of the Eaglev and Cruciale dialogenvi we will discuss how Creative Interchange is a personal commitment; a commitment to direction rather than drift; a commitment to openness and to agility rather than closeness and rigidity; a commitment to a more comprehensive purpose, to a more inclusive understanding; a commitment to an abundance of creativity and more control from the inside-out (rather than from the outside-in) over the conditions of our existence. By Creative Interchange Henry Nelson Wieman meant two things: (1) an authentic human dialogue that creates appreciative understanding of our unique individualities, and (2) the progressive integration within each of us what we discover from each other in this way.vii Henry Nelson Wieman described Creative Interchange sometimes as having those two features and at other times as a four-fold process. Actually both are true. Each feature has two aspects. Authentic Interacting leads to Appreciative Understanding, since the interaction involves both: sharing and appreciative understanding. Progressive integration involves creative integrating of what was appreciatively understood and transformation of the interacting parties. Creative interchange can thus be viewed as the following four-fold process: Authentic Interacting, Appreciative Understanding, Creative Integrating and Continual Transformation. I’m using the Lemniscate of Bernoulli to picture the Creative Interchange process’. One of the reasons is that the Lemniscate is the sign of infinity… never ending, as the living of Creative Interchange from within should be.
  3. 3. 3 Authentic Interacting means sharing with integrity the best one knows and listening with humility to learn the best others know. Appreciative Understanding is more than simply understanding ideas, facts and viewpoints of others (which is done during the interaction). Central to the concept of Appreciative Understanding is appreciation of the meaning those ideas have for the person sharing them. The meaning of ideas and facts depend very much of the mental model (mindset, frame of reference) from which they are viewed. Appreciative Understanding respects the viewpoint of others. It assumes there is more than one way to look at reality and that each perspective provides some originality to see the ‘truth’. In dialogue, Appreciatively Understanding of each other’s views can lead to a common meaning, a common way to see the ‘truth’. The Creative Integrating aspect of Creative Interchange means that the interacting parties are changed in ways that strengthens who they were meant to be as individuals. The Continual Transformation aspect of Creative Interchange is continual transforming of oneself through living the learning process Creative Interchange from within in collaboration with others. For Henry Nelson Wieman this meant that we could learn form one another’s successes as well as each other’s failures. Both forms of learning have a continual transforming impact on us.
  4. 4. 4 2. The Sources of Obstruction of Creative Interchange “This source of perversion which keeps man from realizing the great good for which nature fits him, can be put into a single word: Evasion.” - Henry Nelson Wieman Man’s Ultimate Commitment From our own experience we know we do not interchange with each other the Creative Interchange way much of the time. Our social interaction is woven with varying strands of human interchanges. These conflicting forms of interchange are familiar to all of us. One of these forms Henry Nelson Wieman called ‘evasion’. This is a deceptive interchange in which one conceals from him/her self and others that which he/she does not want to recognize. One does so because recognizing it would break down their sense of self-worth. To be able to preserve a sense of worth and security, to be able to save face among friends and superiors, or to avoid despair, people do practice devices of deception and evasion. Another form of interchange is when one person tries to bring under control the other’s thoughts and feelings. This form is manipulative interchange. Sometimes it is called brainwashing and, in schools for instance, indoctrination. Instead of communicating to increase the knowledge of the other, one uses manipulative interchange to bring the mind of the other under ‘outside-in’ control. Other forms of interchange are more mild: the so called ‘social’ interchanges: instructions, greetings and rules that add almost nothing to our current way of thinking and behaving and the interchanges where an individual takes on a ‘mask’ that he/she changes with different people and situations in order to be liked or just get by. At the heart of the distinction between Creative Interchange and those other kinds of interchange is the recognition of another’s worth as a human being. Not interchanging in the creative sense described in chapter 1 is to deny that the other person in the interchange has worth. Not to acknowledge another person as having thoughts, feelings and knowledge of his/her own is to fail to recognize the other as being a
  5. 5. 5 worthwhile person. This awareness of mutual worth is what distinguishes us from animals. Henry Nelson Wieman believed that the fullest attainment of humankind could never be reached unless we make the ultimate commitment – a commitment to bring into our lives and into our organizations a greater dominance of creative human interchange. He saw this as the needed next evolution. He observed though that there was no certainty that we will commit ourselves to the required conditions for such an evolution. His observation is still valid in the 21st century. Charlie Palmgren spent most of his live discovering and studying those required conditions. First of all he identified the process that Henry Nelson Wieman called ‘Evasive Interaction’. He understood that this kind of interaction usually begins in early childhood and that children set up protective devices to maintain their self-esteem. The perception of the child’s worth is built up in defense against the negative judgments of others. This way, security operations become our way of life to preserve a false, but socially acceptable image or self-concept. The more social interactions we participate in, the more likely these security operations will become complex. As security operations become dominant, they mislead the individual about his/her identity and worth and the dignity and worth of others. The awareness of mutual worth is fading. Charlie Palmgren sees these protections as what Henry Nelson Wieman called evasions and those are the reason we are unable to see good in ourselves, in the others and in the world. The result of what he ultimately called the Vicious Circle is anxiety, despair, extreme stress and depression. We are prisoners of our Vicious Circle that builds up our protections. We hide so to speak in our protected comfort zone. This is the main reason for our defensive reactions towards change and personal transformation. Letting go of the need for these protections is the start of a slow and arduous process of awakening. Awakening that will lead to the regaining of our Awareness and ultimately the discovering of our ‘lost’ Intrinsic Worth. All this is made visible in next visualization of the Vicious Circle.
  6. 6. 6 The danger of security operations is a deeply divided sense of self: the conflict within. A conflicted self cannot fully engage in Creative Interchange because one level of self is in conflict with the others. For Charlie, to make a commitment toward removing these protections and consequently the inner conflict is to make a commitment toward the greatest creative transformation for ourselves and for those with whom we relate. Being prisoners of our Vicious Circle is a form of evasiveness that renders our lives superficial and that smothers our potential for creative transformation present at our birth. In his book, he co-authors with Stacie Hagan, ‘The Chicken Conspiracy’ Charlie refers to Anthony de Mello SJ marvelous poem known as “The golden Eagle”viii . As the eagle is destined to soar on high, our birthright is to achieve the Greatest Human Good and the highest individual and collective transformation. Unfortunately, we create false perceptions of who we truly are and, consequently, we live our lives more as chickens instead of the eagles we are. We have grounded ourselves through inner conflicts, ‘security operations’, the conformity and the concealment that our cultures and institutions have fostered within us over time, due to the devastating work of the Vicious Circle. Like most creatures of habit when so conditioned, we settle down in time and lose both our desire and ability to undergo the creative transformation that once dominated our childhood. In our book “Cruciale dialogen” we discussedix that by being fully awakened we are able to live fully the Creative Interchange process so
  7. 7. 7 that we can ‘turn back’ the Vicious Circle so that ultimately we reconnect with our Intrinsic Worth. We used following gear metaphor (left gear Charlie’s Vicious Circle, right gear Henry’s Creative Interchange): Allow me to explain the metaphor as I see it. Charlie’s definition of ‘Intrinsic Worth’ – “It is the capacity to participate in transforming creativity” – means living Creative Interchange from within. The two gears do not function at the same time, or at least, the force delivered to the axes of the two gears is not the same. One (CI/VC) has more energy than the other (VC/CI). Indeed, if more energy is put into the Creative Interchange process its’ gear is forcing the Vicious Circle gear to travel clockwise until, hopefully, we are (at last) re-connected with our Intrinsic Worth. In other words, one should apply more Force, more energy and effort into the CI gear, make it work harder so that the CI gear, being stronger, is wearing down the resistance caused by the VC gear. Or, one could relieve some of the opposing Vicious Circle force, to allow the movement of the CI gear to be freer, more flowing. Both are possible solutions to the ‘gear problem’ and please remember Yoda’s name for Creative Interchange: ‘The Force’ (and his ‘dark force’ corresponds with the Vicious Circle). Creative Interchange and the Vicious Circle are the ‘bright’ and ‘dark’ aspects of life. We can make a choice, a commitment, to live within the Vicious Circle, where a large part of our self is deadened to keep the darker aspects of life out of awareness, or live with all of our senses acutely awake to our life experiences boundlessly and authentically.
  8. 8. 8 The Vicious Circle is not unique to individuals. It can be prevalent in whole cultures. Vicious Circle cultures oppress the mind and suppress freedoms and, consequently, the awareness of the fullness of life experiences. It is our conviction that the conditions for Creative Interchange in organizations should be provided by the corporate leaders. Fortunately they recognize more and more that organizational development is interdependent with the healthful development of the human mind and human character. They understand, as Kegan & Lahey point out in ‘An Everyone Culture’, that in a Creative Interchange Culture personal development leads to organizational development and vice versa. This way the creative transformation of our communities and ourselves can move forward to new and higher levels. The choice is clear: either we choose to stay in our Vicious Circle or we choose to live Creative Interchange from within. The Red and Blue Pill choice Morpheus is offering Neo in ‘The Matrix’ is the choice one has between living in freedom, knowledge and sometimes the painful truth (Creative Interchange) or staying in falsehood, security and the blissful ignorance of illusion (as prisoner of the Vicious Circle).
  9. 9. 9 3. The role of trust/openness, reason, curiosity, volition and freedom in our relationships “An openness to the truth, no matter what the consequences, no matter where it leads you.. That’s faith. Not belief, but faith” - Anthony de Mello SJ Awareness The key to start to undo the devastating work of the Vicious Circle is a better awareness. We all need to wake up so to speak. Staying in our Vicious Circle seems to be a way of hiding our true (original) selves from others and … from ourselves. We have to become aware of our being prisoner of our own Vicious Circle (personal and organizational) and of our actual capabilities for enabling transformation. Being prisoner of the Vicious Circle means that we are often more invested out of fear and anger to protect our shaken self-esteem against ‘wrong’ and negative evaluations. This misguided protection compels us ultimately, as the Vicious Circle diagram of Chapter 2 shows, to reject ourselves in ways that are equally wrong. To realize our true potential, we must reconnect with our Intrinsic Worth and our Original Self. This means that we must first become aware of our personal Vicious Circle and then free ourselves from it. Living Creative Interchange from within can do this. To explain how we can effectively do this I’ll use the Lemniscate model that I’ve used in my book ‘Crucial dialogues, the daily living of Creative lnterchange’ (in Dutch). It all starts with to trust and be open again to your ‘truth’. Anthony de Mello calls in his book ‘Awareness’x , the authentic openness to your ‘truth’, ‘faith’. Communicating this faith, your ‘truth’, authentically and openly generates insight and insight is that with which reason works to discover what is truly significant in your ‘truth’/’faith’. Both, ‘faith’ and ‘reason’ are needed to create common understanding and to unlock knowledge, which, being consistently used, generates wisdom.
  10. 10. 10 Reason, as Wieman used the term, is the method by which we test the veracity of statements (or any facts we are faced with and that we communicate). Of course, a statement can be true before it is reason- tested, but we can’t know for ourselves that it IS true until we have applied some ‘reason-testing’. In above picture this ‘reason-testing’ is called asking Learning Questions. Ed Schein coined the term ‘Humble Inquiry’xi . The driving condition of humble inquiry is genuine curiosity. Instead of rejecting the insight of the other, when one does not immediately see the significance of it, one need to be curious and ask what I call here learning questions. For that particular questioning I’ve used in my Crucial Dialogue Model Ed Schein’s terminology, Humble Inquiryxii . Asking Learning Questions proves that I want to understand and appreciate, when I don’t immediately see and grasp what the other appreciatively understands, namely her/his ‘truth’. I see Authentic Interaction as what Wieman and de Mello called pronouncing one’s ‘faith’. The insights from Authentic Interaction are based on experiences and observations from which, after applying reason through learning questions, knowledge may result. Without learning questions knowledge cannot fully be derived from authentic interaction.
  11. 11. 11 Everybody's talking at me I don't hear a word they're saying Only the echoes of my mind Song by Harry Nilsson In my book ‘Cruciale dialogen’ (Crucial dialogues) I have examined the interrelationship of authentic interaction of facts and the reason test in those cases where one wants to understand what the other is communicating: • One speaks; the other listens, forming an insight into what is in the mind of the speaker, • The insight gets reason-tested by subsequent learning questions (a dialogue within the dialoguexiii – the ‘standing 8’ in the big ‘lying 8’ or Lemniscate); • This may change the insight and through this dialogue within the dialogue, both speaker and listener arrive eventually at a common understanding (creation of a common meaning) and subsequent knowledge. All this corresponds with the left side of the Crucial Dialogue model and of course other tools – in order to fully understand the message – like
  12. 12. 12 deciphering non-verbal clues and confirmed paraphrasing could (and should) be used. Phase one ‘Communication’ is completed the moment the message is understood. Phase two ‘Appreciation’ is about appreciative understanding the message and the creation of a common meaning.xiv When we’ve created a common meaning of the reality and if we have the volition to transform it for the better (and eventually for the Greatest Human Good) we have to live the right side of the Crucial Dialogue model. There we bring volition and freedom to the process. Volition is, as I understand the term, is creating and choosing something, which is more than just wanting it. Volition and Freedom are working in tandem. Charlie Palmgren sees freedom as “the degree to which we are able to bring to bear all the resources at our disposal” or “the self using all of its resources to create what he wants [& chooses] to create”. That’s the reason why we have to ask Choosing Questions in order to be sure that we have all the resources needed for the chosen actions. Charlie concludes: “By committing to the process of Creative Interchange – approaching our relationships with a boundless, authentic and truthful appreciation of the humanness of the other – we maximize our potential for achieving the greatest freedom in our lives and, in the end, the greatest good.”xv What we truly want is augment our wisdom and transforming ourselves. This volition/freedom tandem creates wisdom out of knowledge so to speak. All this is visualized in following picture:
  13. 13. 13 As being pointed out the limiting devices for that Creative Interchange process is evasiveness, which means: • Not trusting one’s own ‘FAITH’; • Not having the CURIOSITY to use one’s own REASON to test the communicated insights (i.e. the Learning Questions); • Not accepting the tested insights, thus the appreciative understanding of those insights and the knowledge that is its product; • Not having the willingness, the VOLITION, to imagine what one ought to do and to decide accordingly; • Not using one’s own REASON to test the feasibility of the imagined options (i.e. the Choosing Questions); • Not using one’s FREEDOM to bear all the resources.
  14. 14. 14 4. Worth-based Attitudes or Qualities Needed to Reconnect with Creative Interchange “The nature of the rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens.” - an Arab saying The list at the end of the previous chapter encompasses the actions generated by our personal Vicious Circle, which slows down or stop (our commitment to) the Creative Interchange Process. The question we will answer in this chapter is: “What are the qualities that improve a person’s acceptance and living of (the ‘lost’) Creative Interchange?” The major challenge of leaders and managers at all levels is to provide the conditions by which individuals can maximize their potential through learning from one another, from their work and their own humanness. Those conditions are necessary so that the qualities to improve a person’s living of Creative Interchange can be used to the fullest. At the heart of our interchanges is the underlying self-evaluation of our intrinsic worth. If we view our worth as something that someone must grant us, then we will feel hurt if we do not win that acceptance. On the other hand, if we view our self-worth as a given quantity at birth which is never greater than that or will never been less than that at any given time, our emotions, personality and behaviors are “worth-based’, rather than ‘hurt-based’. A hurt-based existence is characterized by cycles of destructive ‘Vicious Circle’ behavior. Much of the destructive behavior we find in our institutions and organizations – bullying, betraying, manipulating and other ‘dirty tricks’ – are manifestations of ‘Vicious Circle’ behavior. Creative Interchange is a worth-based interchange. An interchange based on intrinsic worth possesses different emotions than the one based on hurt, hostility and anxiety. Creative Interchange cannot thrive where the motivation of the participants is derived from fear and anxiety. Vicious Circle based interchange generates qualities of confusion, polarity, negativity and rigidity. By bringing worth-based attitudes to all of our interactions, we can begin
  15. 15. 15 to enrich our personal and professional relationships with the creativity that pervades our very ‘worth-full’ nature. Let’s first identify those worth-based attitudes or qualities, I’m sure you’ll identify them visioning the video clip YOUxvi Trust Trust is an orientation or attitude that is innate in the infant but is undermined by threats to our worth and thus by the devastating work of the Vicious Circle. Through trust we bring authenticity to both our intent and the interaction itself. Do we approach the other person with acknowledgement of his/her worth and humanness AND a sincere desire to share with integrity our ‘faith’? The concept ‘Trust’ encompasses both trustworthiness (the ability to be trusted by others) and trustiness (the ability to trust others). Although we speak often about trustworthiness, I find it symptomatic that the word ‘trustiness’ is seldom used. Our culture is indeed still more an outside-in culture (trusted by others) than inside- out (trusting others). Creative Interchange can only be ‘controlled’ from within! Openness One of the first filters in the communication process is intent. I call our intent ‘negative’ if our intent is to deceive, manipulative and/or control. I call our intent ‘positive’ if it is our intent to be authentic and integer. It is the openness to share our best with others and encourage, even subconsciously, others to share their best. This openness based on authenticity and integrity is also innate. We are born with positive intent. This mutual openness brings more to the table so that we can understand the reality better. Curiosity Curiosity is another innate attitude or quality. It can enhance interchanges based on mutual trust. Curiosity is the invitation to discovery in our relationships. As you’ve seen in the little video we need no better model for curiosity than a very young child. Their curiosity is not yet slowed down by the devastating work of the Vicious Circle. We see in them a seemingly limitless quest for appreciative understanding of – for them new – experiences. This quest is shown through their untiring demand to know. Children of the age between two and five are often called little ‘Why-monsters’. They are responsible of the turning grey of the hair of their parents. Sir Ken Robinson argues that schools are responsible for killing creativityxvii ; in fact it’s the Vicious Circle (who, indeed, ‘thrives’ in schools).
  16. 16. 16 Curiosity is at its best working two-way: while listening and asking with humility, we achieve the capacity to appreciate, absorb AND offer larger amounts of information. With trust and that kind of openness, curiosity leads to a creative state of ambiguity. Tolerance for Ambiguity A quality of children is that they embrace ambiguity. The Creative Interchange process and the flourishing relationship/organization, inherently thrives on ambiguity, for it is from our tolerance for ambiguity that we ultimately discover what we do not already know. Tolerance for ambiguity means staying in uncertainty, staying with the question, despite of the discomfort of not knowing immediately the answer, or not exactly knowing where we’re headed. It requires relinquishing control and to make room for thinking. By trusting in ourselves within the process, together we progressively integrate new insights, creating new knowledge and thus a new ‘mindset’. In his research around ‘emotional intelligence’, Daniel Goleman has identified the contributing factors in emotional intelligence to include self- regulation, which he describes as the ability to redirect disruptive impulses and to suspend judgment, thinking before actingxviii . Daniel Goleman cites trustworthiness and integrity, comfort with ambiguity, and openness to change as hallmarks of self-regulation. A leader high in emotional intelligence is able to keep highly divergent ideas in his/her head without running away from them and jump to conclusion. These qualities actually change the way we think about ideas. No longer do we think in terms of right/wrong, good/bad or either/or. Through connectivity we begin to see positives, we are open to diversity, and stay open to ambiguity. We start to think in terms of ‘both/and’. Connectivity Have you ever considered the awesome ability of infants around the world to learn rapidly? Their spontaneity and connectivity associated with creativity allows young children to learn at a high pace. Unfortunately we do not keep that speed of learning through what is sometimes called the socialization process, which I call the Vicious Circle. With connectivity we can integrate relevant and irrelevant ideas that are seemingly random into ‘both/and & different from’ innovative outcomes. When someone states that he cannot see how an idea could work, they are really saying that they are short in making the necessary connections among the concepts at hand. The difference between perceived relevance and irrelevance is one’s imagination.
  17. 17. 17 Creativity Creativity is another quality of an infant. My favorite definition of creativity is to find new ways to solve a problem and being happy while doing that. A young child cannot use prescribed solutions to its problem; it has to be creative to find its own solutions. And have you ever counted the number of times the infant smiles and laughs while doing that?xix This leads to the so-called Creativity Indexxx : Creativity is essential for an individual, community, organization or society to be able to continually transform itself into the Greatest Human Good for that individual, community, organization or society. Tenacity After deciding what exactly will be done, a long journey starts and this journey is usually not for free. "When the rubber meets the road” is a typical American expression, I’ve learned from Charlie Palmgren. As long as the decision is in the air, the idea encounters relatively little resistance (assuming that it is not shot out of the air). The moment the idea "lands", since the decision is taken to implement it, an enormous friction is created, similar to the friction encountered by the wheels of the landing gear when the aircraft touches the tarmac after a flight. The moment one takes action, the promise suddenly encounters big nuisance, in such way that in many cases promises are ultimately not fully realized.
  18. 18. 18 Tenacity is needed to keep our attitudes unencumbered and to transforms one’s mindset and behavior. Not surprisingly this is another quality of the infant. Tenacity is necessary to continually perform the promised action(s). Tenacity and courage are two sides of the same coin. Both are needed to entrust ourselves to the Creative Interchange process, knowing that the outcome, whatever it will be (since we cannot control the process itself, we can only live it to the fullest); will infinitely more fulfilling. Intrinsic motivation and commitment are the ingredients for the basic condition tenacity. Tenacity means "the tenacious pursuit of what is desired" and has as synonyms persistence and perseverance. It is the persevering implementation of the action plan to achieve the desired reality. It is sticking to a chosen approach until the objective is achieved, and not faint at times of doubt and disillusionment inherent to change and transformation. Interdependence The final quality is interdependence (i.e. the kids culture). In order to continue the implementation of our promises, we are dependent on others. There is a mutual dependence. Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Mahatma Gandhi In his book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’xxi Stephen Covey states: Our objective is to move progressively on a maturity continuum from dependence to independence to interdependence. Although independence is the current paradigm of our society, we can accomplish much more by cooperation and specialization. However, we must achieve independence before we can choose interdependence. Stephen Covey uses the following definitions: 1. Dependency: You must take care of me; 2. Independence; I take (first) care for myself; 3. Inter-Dependence: We learn from each other and together we can accomplish great things through synergistic collaboration.
  19. 19. 19 5. The Role of a creative Community “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi The importance of a creative community Henry Nelson Wieman often spoke of the importance of a creative community. He was persuaded that a creative community had a crucial role to play in each of our individual efforts of becoming better human beings. To Henry Nelson a creative community was a community living Creative Interchange from within. Individualism in his pro-freedom form meant to him that the individual commits to her/his own creative transformation and where ideals acts as enablers to a higher level of transformation and are shaped and changed to meet her/his needs toward transformation. The constraints that limit freedom are best overcome by way of fellowship with those who practice the commitment to creativity in human interchange. That community must be committed to its own transformation toward ultimate goodness. This community can have many forms such as a team, a division, an organization, an institution and even a so-called Community of Practice. The relationships within such a community and the interdependency – between as well the individuals as between each individual and the community – are crucial. Henry Nelson Wieman claimed that solely through open and honest relationships we will be able to learn what others have learned, to appreciate what others have appreciate and to feel what others feel. Then, if we are committed to and living Creative Interchange from within, we can add all this to what we’ve already acquired and form out of this all our own coherent individuality. He believed furthermore that this creative process is to work in the community as well. The community evolves its own individuality through the assimilation of the combined experiences we share in our relationships within the community. The ‘richer’ these relationships become, the richer the community that emerges. Without relationships an organization would have no history, no traditions and no values. In short that organization would not have a culture. A Creative Interchange community ultimately creates a Creative Interchange culture.
  20. 20. 20 Let’s go back now to our own Crucial Dialogue Model and let’s focus on the tail of the body of the ‘butterfly’. There you find the three ‘states of mind’ that enable dialogue the Creative Interchange way: • Personal Purpose is worth-based and expansion oriented: we want to re-become our Original Self; • Positive Intent is worth-based and expansion oriented too: we believe in positive interdependency to re-become our Original Selves; • Personal Commitment too is worth-based and expansion oriented: a commitment to Creative Interchange so that we ultimately re- become our Original Self. These worth-based creative ‘states of mind’ engender following typical behaviors linked to the characteristics of Creative Interchange and thus to the four phases of the Crucial Dialogue Model: • Authentic Interaction – open sharing of one’s unique perspectives and skill; being in the ‘faith’ or ‘long in the truth’; • Appreciative Understanding – understanding AND appreciating what others know and value; listening with ‘ears of awe’;
  21. 21. 21 • Creative Integrating – continuous assimilations of the values and ideas received from others into one’s (actual) created or adaptive Self; • Continual Transformation – the continuous, indefinite improvement and expansion toward our fullest possible development: our personal and communal ‘Greatest Human Good’. These behaviors are the essence of Creative Interchange. As we observe the infant trying to experience her/his environment we can see these behaviors in action (cf. video clip ‘You’ – see chapter 4). They a) need distinctive conditions and b) manifest themselves in different skills that are developed to propagate the worth-based ‘states of mind’ and behaviors. The behaviors (or basic conditions) are the red and the skills the green elements of the ‘wings’ of the Butterfly Model: The Crucial dialogue model has 4 phases, 8 basic conditions and 16 skills: Phase 1 ‘Communication’ (corresponds with the Authentic Interaction characteristic of the Creative Interchange process): • Basic Conditions: Trust and Openness • Skills: Crucial Question/Opportunity, Advocacy and Inquiry, Non verbal communication and Confirmed Paraphrasing.
  22. 22. 22 Phase 2 ‘Appreciation’ (corresponds with the Appreciative Understanding characteristic of the Creative Interchange process): • Basic Conditions: Curiosity and Tolerance for Ambiguity; • Skills: Humble Inquiry, Finding positives, Integrating differences (i.e. converting drawbacks) and the use of Mental Models. Phase 3 ‘Imagination’ (corresponds with the Creative Integrating characteristic of the Creative Interchange process: • Basic Conditions: Connectivity and Creativity; • Skills: Reframing, Use of Analogies, Use of Metaphors and 4 plusses and a Wish. Phase 4 ‘Transformation’ (corresponds with the Continual Transformation characteristic of the Creative Interchange process): • Basic Conditions: Tenacity and Interdependence; • Skills: Repetition and Evaluation, Feedback (Positive Reinforcement & Correction), Dare to Change and Process Awareness. Valuing Consciousness The creative skills given at birth are responsible for the development of what Henry Nelson Wieman and Charlie Palmgren call ‘Valuing Consciousness’. Let’s start the overview of this concept with Henry Nelson’s definition of a value: “A value is a goal seeking activity” In other words, what you value is what you’re seeking out; the activities you engage in are meant to achieve that goal. For instance if Love is one of your values you will engage in activities to achieve love. The same is true for Safety and all values one has. So by observing someone’s activities, we are able to identify what she or he really values. We are born with as well ‘valuing consciousness’ as ‘Creative Interchange’. The first will steer our awareness. Let’s look at the activities a just born engages in. A dear friend of Charlie’s, dr. Erle Fitz (a great name for a psychiatrist) described this phenomenon as follows. The moment a baby has increased interludes of wakefulness she/he is steered by its Valuing Consciousness to discover the world. Indeed, at a certain point in time, the baby in not solely engaged any more in the
  23. 23. 23 cycle he started with: sleep–wake up–cry–eat–sleep–wake up–cry–eat– sleep … because the interludes of wakefulness, after having eaten and before falling asleep, become longer. The baby uses these interludes to deploy - the longer the more - goal seeking activities. She/he wants to appreciatively understand the world around her/him. Indeed her/his ‘Valuing Consciousness’ determines the activities she/he engages in. Conclusion: the ‘Valuing Consciousness determines the activities a human being engages in and those goal seeking activities become values which become crucial elements of (and in) one’s life. If I don’t value something, I’m not aware, don’t even see and can’t therefor be conscious of it. Unless I see the value of something I won’t develop activities in order to obtain that value. This Valuing Consciousness expands the moment Creative Interchange comes alive. The Valuing Consciousness expands through (authentic) interaction – interchange – with other people. Fundamentally we are social beings. Indeed, the whole Creative Interchange process comes fully alive through interaction with other people. Through living Creative Interchange form within with others we expand our Valuing Consciousness, we appreciate what others appreciate and incorporate elements of others in our own mindset, we transform ourselves in community and therefore we transform ourselves and the community to a higher level, to the Greatest Human Good. Unfortunately there is another reality. Indeed another process is going on: the Vicious Circle. The Valuing Consciousness expands until we become prisoner of the Vicious Circle. For instance, the child is loved unconditionally until the parents and other grown-ups set conditions (rules and regulations; without the consent of the baby by the way). In probably all great world religions ‘God’ loves you unconditionally. Conditional love is coming from mankind. And the moment conditions are set in … the Vicious Circle start its devastating work. Learn, un-learn and relearn It is said that Alvin Toffler once wrote that the illiterate of the future would not be the individual who cannot read or write but the one who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. In the context of this essay I would like to argue that many of us have learned to be what Henry Nelson Wieman called ‘evasive’ in our relationships. Indeed many of us are stuck in their ‘fixed’ mindset, in their Vicious Circle. To grow as humans in our relationships we find ourselves having to unlearn how we relate mostly to
  24. 24. 24 each other and re-learn some of the creative skills we were given at birth. Actual brain studies do suggest that we can continue to grow new nerve connections into even old age. This is not so much a matter of unlearning as it is of new learning. If we continue to use the new connections to the exclusion of the old, some of those old connections will atrophy and possible die off. The next chapter will introduce a model I labeled “Mindset Dynamic’. It shows how to bring these lost creative skills back in order to allow us to grow more freely towards the Greatest Human Good.
  25. 25. 25 6. Blessing and Curse of our Mindsets (Mental Models) “In cognition, the term Mental Models refers to both the semi permanent tacit ‘maps’ of the world which people hold in their long-term memory, and the short-term perceptions which people build up as part of their every day reasoning processes.” - Art Kleiner In this chapter I’ll present the ‘Mindset Dynamic’ model, which I’ve based on a classic view of the ‘Origin of Habit-Behavior’xxii and the Crucial Dialogue Model. We will do this step by step and conclude with a full blow up of the model. Please bear in mind that what I’m presenting is not the truth. It is a personal conscious interpretation of reality through my Mindset. I’m only presenting ‘my’ truth and, having a ‘growth Mindset’, I know one thing for sure; ‘my’ truth is not ‘the’ truth. So you’re welcome to challenge my actual Mindset. There are a lot of synonyms for the concept Mindset. Mental Model is one, Frame of Reference is another, Paradigm is still another. The Mindset incorporates the Beliefs, Presuppositions and Assumptions one acquires over time through experiences. The Mindset Dynamic explains how Mindsets are created and transformed. The creation of ones Mindset starts at birth (and perhaps even before we’re born). Their ‘Valuing Consciousness’ (see chapter 5)
  26. 26. 26 helps babies to discover the world around, being conscious of that world and finally valuing it. This happens to be a very iterative process. From the very moment we’re born, we communicate with the reality around us and thus with the truth in it. Antony de Mello called this truth, as we’ve seen earlier, ‘Faith’. The newborn’s ‘Awareness’ makes her/him observe and her/his intuition forms an Insight, which creates a Feeling followed by a Behavior, which has an Outcome. For instance, when a baby sees the friendly face of its mom it feels intuitively her love, which has the following behavior: the baby smiles. This behavior has an outcome, the smile is returned. Another example, when the baby becomes aware it’s hungry it has another behavior: it starts to cry. The outcome is that mom comforts the baby and if she appreciatively understands the message, the baby is fed. Thus its observation creates an insight and a feeling. Those are influenced by the ‘core’ ‘states of minds’ (cf. chapter 5) of the baby, which are at that moment still in early development: Personal Purpose (survival and ‘feeling comfortable’), Positive Intention and Personal Commitment. You’ve seen these ‘core’ elements at work in the video ‘You’ (cf. chapter 4).
  27. 27. 27 The baby soon appreciates that each behavior is followed by an outcome and this outcome is put in her/his ‘database of experiences’, her/his memory, which will, in the course of time, develop into his/her particular Mindset or mental model. From the moment its ‘first’ Mindset is created pretty soon the following happens. When the baby ‘observes’, what its sees is practically immediately ‘interpreted’ using its ‘first’ Mindset, using its consciousness and the ‘states of mind’ are by-passed so to speak. Due to its interpretation the baby ‘jumps to conclusion’ and displays the ‘appropriate’ behavior, trusting that this will bring the ‘expected’ outcome. If this is the case, the ‘first’ Mindset is strengthened:
  28. 28. 28 All this is going almost continuously on during approximately the first eight months of the baby’s life confirming day after day its ‘first’ mindset. During this period the ‘Intrinsic Worth’ of the baby is still unconditional as has been explained in the books of Hagan & Palmgren and myself treating the Vicious Circle. The moment the baby can sit upright it starts to discover nature’s Law of Gravity and it experiments to see if its spoon, muesli, orange juice, etcetera do drop down whenever it open its fingers or put’s its bowl upside down. After picking up the little spoon and cleaning up the mess a couple of times, the parents soon start to make their ‘love’, and therefor the baby’s ‘Intrinsic Worth’, conditional: “You’re loved IF you’re behaving as follows…” and some rules are set! Of course the baby continues its experiments, because this has become one of its habits by then. And pretty soon its parents reject the baby for the first time and the Vicious Circle starts to spin slowly. The baby is learning about inadequacy – specifically its own and it soon learns that, as a toddler, you are no match for giants who are your elders. Coupled with the lesson on inadequacy comes the pain of rejection. The child’s perception of its worth is now associated with not staying within the limits and obeying the rules. The anger, fear, pain and guilt the baby feels when experiencing rejection and thus inadequacy, causes it to work endlessly to re-become adequate – to be, or at least appear to be, perfect. The games, through which the baby hides its Original Self, start! The games the toddler is learning to play can be labeled as follows: Interact in such a way that what unacceptable about yourself does not show. Over time the child learns the complete meaning of the ‘mother’ culture game: Interact with people in such a way that what is unacceptable about yourself and the other person doesn’t show. The baby is taught, trough everyday socializing processes and conditioning, to value certain behaviors to exclusion of others. Roles and images are created to enable the toddler, child and teenager to play its games successfully. These are solidified over time into demands and expectations for itself and others. The young adult is more and more disconnected from its Original Self and has formed when it is a young adult a constructed Self. This created (or adaptive) Self embraces illusions as Control, Certainty, Stability and Security. At this point, the journey is complete. The false ego has landed. The trust of the child has given away to a demand for security. The child’s curiosity is buried by the need for certainty. Creativity has been stifled by the need
  29. 29. 29 for stability. In the mean time our once unconditional worth has become conditional. We’ve somehow lost our Intrinsic Worth. An Extrinsic Worth that has to be earned has replaced it, and roles and images and their efforts must be ‘controlled’, to meet our assumed demands and expectations from others and ourselves. By then our ‘first’ Mindset is completely transformed in a new constructed Mindset through the devastating work of the Vicious Circle: You can find the full coverage of the Vicious Circle in the books I’ve mentioned. Allow me to underline though that the box of ‘demands and expectations’ (see above figure of the Vicious Circle) ultimately becomes ‘our box’ and we strive to limit that box at a size that we can cope. In fact, as we grow up, gradually our box of ‘demands and expectations’ (re. ourselves and others) expands in a ‘natural’ way. The more ‘roles’ we have to play – let’s name some of them: girl/boy, wife/husband, mother/father, friend, employee, and member of several communities– the more demands and expectations we encounter.
  30. 30. 30 At some point in time it is simply not possible to meet all those demands and expectations and then we experience first frustration, which pretty soon develops nasty side effects. Guilt and Pain are turned inward (we aren’t a baby any more) and we experience Blame and Shame; Anger and Fear are transformed in Hostility and Anxiety and Fight and Flight are transformed in Stress (distress to be exact) and (di) stress related Illnesses. Once caught in this negativity, the adult begins to show awful Symptoms and ultimately … reject herself. Because such rejection is in direct violation of her sense of Worth, the cycle starts again: we feel inadequate and hide in a smaller set of ‘Demands and Expectations’, which becomes ultimately our so-called ‘comfort’ zone. Whenever a new initiative – for instance a drastic change in our personal and/or our organizational life - invites us to go ‘beyond our box’, huge resistance is mostly our ‘knee jerk’ reaction. The red arrows in next picture gives are a representation of the working of the Vicious Circle within an adult:
  31. 31. 31 We use a lot of energy in order to stay within the limits of ‘our’ box. At that moment we’re totally disconnected from our Intrinsic Worth and – since Worth has been defined as “the capacity to engage in transforming creativity” – the Eagle has become a Chicken. The blessing of our ‘first’ mindset (survival and feeling comfortable) is transformed in the curse of our ‘nine dots’ in which we are prisoned. We have developed a ‘fixed’ Mindset and became and stay Chickens. Our ‘box’ has indeed become the Mindset of our ‘created’ self and in order to re-connect with our ‘original’ Self and become the Leader we were meant to be, we have to disrupt that ‘fixed’ Mindset. We will have to transform our ‘created’ Self through leaving our comfort zone, so to speak. We must ‘adapt’ our Self; the ‘created’ self must become an ‘adaptive’ self. The way to do this – the way to transform the Chicken into the Eagle he was born - is to live the Creative Interchange process from within, which is far from being easy or comfortable. "Doing what you are afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that - that is what life is." - Amy Poehler Using the metaphor of the Matrix (see chapter 3) we have to chose deliberately for the Red Pill, and transform continually our ‘adaptive’ self into a ‘higher’ version, nearer to our ‘original’ Self. In other words, we have to become aware and conscious of the need of a continuous ‘adaptive’ Self. “Becoming a Leader is Becoming Yourself”, said as well Warren Bennis as Russ S. Moxley (see chapter 3). Reliving Creative Interchange from within, we become slowly the Eagle we started out to be from the beginning. If we don’t choose the Red Pill and go for the Blue one, we stay a Chicken. Warning: choosing for the Red pill is not choosing for a smooth, ‘free’ ride; on the contrary! To start this voyage we have to stop our ‘knee jerk reaction’ style, our ‘habit’ behavior following immediately our observation. The first step in order to truly understand our observation is to use what we call a Reason test. We’re testing our interpretation of our observations through Inquiry. This will give us a better insight into the reality, which will inevitably create other, more accurate, feelings. The second step is to decide to do something about what we’re feeling and to generate ideas in order to change the unsatisfying reality.
  32. 32. 32 “The key to seeing the world's soul, and in the process wakening our own, is to get over the confusion by which we think that fact is real and imagination is illusion.” Thomas Moore, Original Self: living with Paradox and Originality As you can see in the figure most of the time we still ‘jump to conclusion’ whenever we’ve found what appear to us as a ‘good idea’. We start to implement that idea and our behavior has an outcome, which is added to our ‘mindset’. The problem is that the outcome of some of our actions is not instantaneously. Between action and outcome the time lapse is sometimes long. Not having an immediate outcome is sometimes interpreted wrongly, which feeds our mindset wrongly. When we are children, problems are never far from their solutions and those solutions
  33. 33. 33 have almost always a direct outcome. Whether it is positive or negative, the experience helps us to change our mindset gradually. Years later, as grown ups, we still tend to believe that the world still works the same way. Unfortunately, cause and effect are, in the adult world and in more complex human systems, not closely related in time and spacexxiii . So we have to let go of the notion that cause and effect are close in time and space, and stay aware! On the other hand most of the time our behavior change is not a lasting one. We do not implement the action tenaciously. Indeed we do not perform those actions long enough – or we learn over time that we do not have the necessary means to perform those actions long enough – in order to create a lasting transformation. Hopefully over the years our mindset changes and we learn to add a second Reason test to find out, before we implement ideas, if we truly have the necessary ‘freedom’ to implement them. Experiences have taught us that sometimes we lack willingness, at other times we simply don’t have the necessary resources: action plan, people, time, … This leads us to the complete Mindset Dynamic model:
  34. 34. 34 7. Toward the Greatest Human Good “The teach a new way of thinking, don’t bother. Instead, give them a too, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.” Buckminster Fuller We come to transformation toward the Greatest Human Good through living Creative Interchange from within. Henry Nelson Wieman called this Man’s Ultimate Commitment. A commitment to recapture the required behaviors we all are born with and in doing so to transform the way we form and nurture our relationships and transforms our lives. The three ‘states of mind’ – Personal Purpose, Positive Intention and Personal Commitment – that we’ve discussed before, together with the eight basic conditions, if provided, and the sixteen skills, if lived and practiced, will ultimately lead to the Creative Interchange outcomes: Individual Freedom and Shared Meaning, Integration and Synergy and finally Accomplishment and Productivity. In a two or more person relationship (such as a couple, team, company, community or institution) a relationship-level Mindset is created out of common experiences. Each person is bringing her/his purpose, intention and commitment to the table and is practicing the skills and thus displaying the connected behaviors. Each of the two is engaging in the ‘Mindset Dynamic’ (see chapter 6). The thus created experiential ‘Mindset Dynamic’ between two people can be pictured as follows:
  35. 35. 35 Relationships anchored in creative interchanges, using worth-based skills and behaviors will therefor experience the already mentioned Creative Interchange outcomes. In this way, a community-level ‘Mindset’ has impact on the future experiences and growth of that community. This community level ‘Mindset Dynamic’ looks like: During their Dialogue based on Creative Interchange, the participants create a ‘shared meaning’ on which they act and the outcome creates a collective mindset The Mindset Dynamic is why our ‘states of mind’ and the needed conditions are so important to our unlimited growth as human beings toward the Greatest Human Good as well as the productive growth of our work teams, organizations, institutions, communities and societies.
  36. 36. 36 Enlightened Organizations – called DDO’s (DDO = Deliberated Development Organizations) in Robert Kegan, Lisa Liskow Lahey et al.’s book ‘An Everyone Culturexxiv ’ – see a direct linkage between their own success and profitability and an evolving, thriving society of highly cultivated human capacities. The chief task of corporate leaders is a) to communicate and motivate in such a creative way as to develop the unlimited potentialities of employees, and b) to provide the safety and the conditions whereby all employees learn from one another and learn from the work that they can perform best. Those conditions have already been mentioned in chapter 5: trust, openness, curiosity, tolerance for ambiguity, connectivity, creativity, tenacity and interdependency. The first step in transformation to worth-based, Creative Interchange is to commit to live and improve oneself in the skills we use to obtain Authentic Interaction, Appreciative Understanding, Creative Integrating and Continual Transformation behaviors, in order that those become good habits.
  37. 37. 37 Authentic Interaction Skills Advocacy and Inquiry This skill enables the parties involved in the dialogue to express their own thoughts and to inquire the thoughts of the other(s). When balancing advocacy and inquiry, we lay out our reasoning and thinking and then encourage others to challenge that reasoning and thinking. And we invite the others to lay out their reasoning and thinking and then they encourage us to challenge those, in order to fully understand each other. Advocacy is a clear, open and honest communication – sharing with integrity – is the best way for us to present the way we think and understand our ideas. Advocacy and Inquiry are in fact question-and-answering skills that show an authentic interaction behavior. Confirmed Paraphrasing This skill enables the parties involved in the dialogue to be clearly heard and to confirm what each understands about the other’s communication. Confirmed Paraphrasing is practiced on three levels: content – what is understood about what is said and heard; emotion – what feeling is connected with what was said, and meaning – what values and beliefs underlie what was said. Through repeated use of this skill, one develops a level of trust in order to be able to evaluate which level or combination of those three levels of paraphrasing is needed in a particular dialogue.
  38. 38. 38 These and similar skills (Goal Sharing/Crucial Question and Non verbal communication) will affect worth-based, expansive motives and attitudes (which I often call ‘conditions’) of trustingness and trustworthiness such that there will less likely be hidden agendas and more likely result in open, honest and integer communication (i.e. Authentic Interacting) setting the stage for the next behavior of Appreciative Understanding. Appreciative Understanding Skills Finding Positives and Converting Drawbacks This set of skills strives to train individuals to appreciate value and respond emphatically to new ideas even if those ideas seem at first sight ‘not so good ideas’. It’s about finding ‘the plus behind the minus’. By identifying positives and evaluating ‘negatives’ as drawbacks that may likely be ‘turned around’, participants change typical perceptions related to an ‘either/or’ orientation to recognition of ‘both/and’ thinking. These skills often include chaining positives and drawbacks and the yes/wish building technique. Questioning Mental Models Mental models are the images, assumptions and stories we carry in our minds of ourselves, other people, organizations, institutions and every aspect of the world. They are the spectacles through which we see the world. Mental models determine what we see because they interpret the reality we see. Mental models are ‘mental maps’ and all these mental maps, by definition, are flawed in some way. Differences between mental models explain why two people can observe the same event and
  39. 39. 39 describe it differently. Mental models (part of the left side of the ‘Butterfly’ model) ultimately shape how we act (the right side of the ‘Butterfly’ model) and thus the outcome. The concept Mental Model has many synonyms like Frame of Reference and Paradigm to name two of them. In this essay we mostly use, as you have seen, the concept Mindset. Because mental models are part of our consciousness, below the level of awareness, they are often untested and unexamined. The core task of this skills set is bringing mental models to the surface, to explore and to talk about them with minimal defensiveness – help to see the qualities of our ‘spectacles’, appreciatively understand their impact on our lives and find way to re- form the glass by creating new mental models that serve us better in the world. Two types of skills are central to this endeavor: they are reflection (slowing down our thinking processes to become more aware of how we form our mental models) and inquiry (holding conversations where we openly share views and develop knowledge about each other’s assumptions. The Mental Model metaphor ‘colored glasses’ (see above figure) is based on The Ladder of Inference of Chris Argyrisxxv
  40. 40. 40 Individuals who lack those skills have difficulty to hear what others actually say. Instead, they hear what they expect others to say. They have little tolerance for multiple interpretations of events because they often “see’ only their own interpretations. Through increased trust and clarity of message from the authentic interaction skills, these and other positive skills (like ‘humble inquiry’ – cf. Ed Schein and ‘the left hand column’ – cf. Argyris) engender attitudes of curiosity and comfort with ambiguity. Those are the needed conditions of Appreciative Understanding. Skills of appreciation allow us (1) to hold lightly to our convictions, recognizing that our worth is not based on others accepting our convictions and (2) that those others may hold more enlightened positions that the ones we currently hold ourselves. Living those skills make us grow in our freedom and broaden our mental models and achieve a sense of shared meaning and value with another in our relationships. We are ready for skills of Creative Integration. Creative Integrating Skills Imaginative Skills How do we regain the childlike playfulness that served us so well in our early learning years? I don’t mean child-ish, I do mean child-like. Rekindling the abilities to make absurd connections in our observations, by engaging in fantasy, by ‘battling the windmills” in our mind we accept the ultimate purpose of our life, i.e. to obtain the Greatest Human Good. These skills are reframing the issue at hand, recognizing the relevant in the irrelevant, and the use of analogies and metaphors to expand our imaginative skills.
  41. 41. 41 4 Pluses and a Wish This skill enhances the ‘value’ of each idea. The underlying truth is that any idea has some value. This skill is particularly helpful to stop our created knee-jerk reaction to kill every idea, which we do not directly value. It is also used in schools and in parenting; there it is used to motivate a child’s cooperation and it is based on the idea that, “Children who feel respected are far more motivated to comply with parental wishes than children who do not feel valued”xxvi . I learned it from Charlie Palmgren who incorporated this skill in a Problem Solving methodology I labeled Synergyxxvii . It works as follows: whenever an idea is uttered by one of the members of the team the so-called ‘client’ values that idea by naming four pluses (things she/he appreciates in the idea). In case the idea is not fully satisfying yet, one wish (a thing he/she wished the idea should incorporate to make it even better) is expressed. When someone in the group has a new idea that responds to that ‘whish’, he gives it to the group. The client values the now strengthened idea and this goes on until he is fully satisfied with the final idea. This way everybody collaborates to create ‘great’ ideas. These skills help break down polarized thinking and the barriers to creativity. Through greater spontaneity (nobody’s idea is shot down) and connectivity (we connect and built on each others ideas) we enjoy greater freedom to integrate what we creatively experience through our relationships into our expanding individuality – to constantly evolve into the infinite potentiality of our being. As shown in the ‘Mindset Dynamic’, the progressive, creative integration works at the individual level as well as the relationships level, constantly changing our individual and collective mindsets for our marriages, our work teams, our organizations, our communities and our societies. At the same time a sense of shared vision is created. If we are successful in integrating all of these skills into our teams we’ll creatively find ideas to continually transform our reality toward the Greatest Human Good.
  42. 42. 42 Continual Transformation Skills Feedback (Positive Reinforcement & Correction) Feedback Processes are pivotal skills in transformation. Feedback involves providing those involved with information about their functioning. Feedback can be positive and reinforces in this case the actions taken. Negative Feedback (correction) is almost always considered external while reinforcement can be external or intrinsic (i.e., generated by the individual). The importance of feedback to learning and transforming is great since knowledge of results is necessary to correct mistakes and to motivate the team members to behave in certain ways. One of the critical variables in both cases is the length of time between the response and the feedback. In general, the more immediate the feedback the more learning is facilitated. Process Awareness Process awareness ensures that we are not only aware of what one is doing, but also how one is doing it. In addition it makes sure that one is aware of the extent to which what and how something is done, is congruent with the terms of the Creative Interchange process. In its simplest form Process Awareness is a dual awareness. A portion of the
  43. 43. 43 awareness focuses on the task (what is done) and the other part focuses on the process itself (how it is done). In our case this process is of course Creative Interchange. The Process Awareness Skill can monitor what you say and do, identify and evaluate what others say and do, monitor how the team members are living the Creative Interchange process and most of all identify if you yourself live or hinder that living Process. The latter means too that through Process Awareness you are aware of the functioning of your Vicious Circle. This is often called self- awareness, beautifully painted by Albert Einstein’s quote: “The superiority of man lies not in his ability to perceive, but in his ability to perceive that he perceives, and to transfer his perception to others through words.” Process Awareness is also linked to the concept ‘transcendence’. You certainly have heard once following expression: “Being in the world and not from the world.” Being in the world means that you identify yourself with your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Being from the world suggest that you are nothing more than a conglomerate of your experiences and actions in this world. Not being from the world means that you can observe the world ‘from a distance’. One is, so to speak, ‘above’ the world and can therefor observe the world and his/her behavior without being effectively concerned. Being capable of both is an ideal we strive for. This way, the created or adaptive self – the by-product of the Vicious Circle – is from this world. This self is a unity created from the mix of experiences, perceptions, roles, images, games, demands and expectations and so on. The Original Self is not from the world. The Original Self is ‘beyond’ the world being with both feet in the world. Process Awareness has to do with being receptive to information associated with the task or activity being performed, and to information connected with the Creative Interchange Process while being at work with others (i.e. being in the world) AND at the same time being open to analyze oneself, the internal data that are generated by those actions, without being prisoner of these data (i.e. not being from the world). If we have successfully transformed ourselves though the transforming power of Creative Interchange (Yoda’s Force!), we will have begun to experience (1) an interchange that has as its core authentic understanding and appreciation of the uniqueness of others, and ourselves and (2) how this transforming power enables us to continually
  44. 44. 44 re-create ourselves by integrating what we experience from others. Through an ‘ultimate’ commitment to Creative Interchange we start to transform ourselves and invite others to do so, in the direction of ‘The Greatest Human Good’. Henry Nelson Wieman made following observations: • “The fullest attainment of humankind can only be achieved when people make the ultimate commitment to engage in Creative Interchange, the true source of human good and transformation.” • “People are made for creative transformation as a bird is made for flight.” • Creative Interchange occurs when the individual finds one or more persons with whom she/he can engage in that kind of interchange which creates in each an awareness of the original experience of the other person.” • “We must counteract the forces that obstruct Creative Interchange, such as prejudice, all forms of ignorance; everything that blocks the creative process.” • “There are no guarantees that Creative Interchange will bring this world to peace and justice, and it has that potential.”
  45. 45. 45 8. Creative Interchange: The Hidden Force of Transformation “Is a dream a lie if don’t come true or is it something worse.” Bruce Springsteen The River By Creative Interchange Henry Nelson Wieman meant two things: an authentic human interchange that creates appreciative understanding of our unique individualities, and the progressive integration within each of us what we discover from each other this way.xxviii Open to external influence and dialogue, the process transforms the mind as the mind cannot transform itself. The prerequisite is that the mind is open for transformation, which makes me think of Thomas Dewar’s quote once paraphrased by Frank Zappa: “Minds are like parachutes - they only function when open.” Creative Interchange: The Hidden Force of Transformation We want to suggest that any of the interpersonal transformations models that have been popular over the recent years work because one or more of the worth-based behaviors of Creative Interchange are involved: Authentic Interaction, Appreciative Understanding, Creative Integrating and Continual Transformation. Take for instance the nowadays-popular Theory U ‘movement’ started by Joseph Jaworskixxix and C. Otto Scharmerxxx . According to Joseph, the birth of the U-Theory took place following a conversation Joseph, Otto and Garry Jesula had with W. Brian Arthur of Xerox PARC in Palto Alto, Callifornia on April, 16th 1999xxxi . While reading C. Otto Scharmer’s Theory U I created a Storify stating that Creative Interchange is the hidden Force of Theory U.xxxii Conflict Resolution techniques employ empathetic listening, paraphrasing and mostly ‘compromise’ strategies. Compromise is generally an outcome of evasive communication because it often seeks the least common denominator among the offered positions. Nonviolent Communication of Marshall Rosenberg originated as a conflict resolution technique and became a basic work on Communicationxxxiii . I only found out the existence of the work of dr. Rosenberg after my book ‘Cruciale Dialogen’ was published. My book is based on Creative Interchange and since many people have pointed out
  46. 46. 46 that both books ‘Nonviolent Communication’ and ‘Cruciale Dialogen’ are surfing on the same wave, it is clear to me that nonviolent communication’s hidden Force is Creative Interchange! With creative worth-based communication (as in Crucial Dialogues) the parties can expect integrated, synergistic solutions, which often are beyond and superior to the original opposing positions. Empathic listening and confirmed paraphrasing are practical skills leading to Appreciative Understanding and Creative Integrating. Transformational Leadership is about engendering integrity and spirit for the purpose of self-organization, being comfortable with ambiguity, and working toward shared meaning. Transformational Leadership’s four components the so-called 4I’sxxxiv , include (me paraphrasing Bernard Bass): • Idealized influence: Leaders who express their conviction clearly and emphasize the importance of trust; they live their values from within and urge their followers to do the same; they emphasize the importance of purpose and commitment (cf. Authentic Interaction); • Inspirational motivation: Leaders who articulate an appealing vision of the future, they are with their followers and support them in many ways (cf. Authentic Interaction and Continual Transformation); • Intellectual stimulation: Leaders who question old assumptions, beliefs and mindsets; they stimulate in others new perspectives, they encourage the expression of ideas (cf. Appreciative Understanding and Creative Integrating); • Individual consideration: Leaders who deal with others as individuals; they consider individual needs, abilities and aspirations; they listen in order to appreciatively understand and support individual member’s development, they advice, teach and coach (i.e. living Creative Interchange from within). Creative Interchange is at its best, when all the required conditions are aligned. In Transformational Group Dynamics the facilitator will strive to establish high levels of trust among participants, keep attitudes curious and imaginative, encourage worth-based communication skills, and seek behaviors of openness and appreciative understanding regarding new ideas and foster synergy and continual transformation. Creative Interchange is at the core of many current efforts to stimulate the so-called “out of the box’ thinking, like Design Thinking. Modern formal education has tended to over emphasize divergent ‘either/or’
  47. 47. 47 thinking, although the natural associative functioning of the mind is to engage in ‘both/and’ thinking, which is so critical to creative thinking. Creative Interchange is “both/and & different from’ thinking. I claim that Creative Interchange is the hidden Force behind Design Thinking. My claim becomes clear if one looks closely at the Double Diamond Model of the UK based Design Councilxxxv . Divided into four distinct phases – Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver – the Double Diamond is a simple visual map of the Design Thinking process. 1. Discover – The first quarter of the Double Diamond model covers the start of the project. Designers try to look at the world in a fresh way, notice new things and gather insights (cf. Authentic Interaction); 2. Define – The second quarter represents the definition stage, in which designers try to make sense of all the possibilities identified in the Discover phase. Which matters most? Which should we act on first? What is feasible? The goal here is to develop a clear creative brief that frames the fundamental design challenge (cf. Appreciative Understanding); 3. Develop – The third quarter marks a period of development where solutions or concepts are created, prototyped, tested and iterated. This process of trial and error helps designers to improve and refine their ideas (cf. Creative Integrating); 4. Delivery – The final quarter of the double diamond model is the delivery stage, where the resulting project (a product, service or
  48. 48. 48 environment, for example) is finalized, produced and launched (cf. Continual Transformation). As you can see, it’s not difficult to identify the four characteristics of Creative Interchange in the Double Diamond Model. Following visuals – the first is another picture of the Double Diamond and the second is a visualization of the Creative Interchange process - make the underlying of Creative Interchange regarding Design Thinking – and thus my claim - even clearer:
  49. 49. 49 Creative Interchange is also at the basis of much of the current work on learning and transformational organizations theory and practice. It is at the heart of the Learning Organization, the Dialogue Process and Appreciative Inquiry. In fact I like to state that Creative Interchange is the sum of Appreciative Inquiry and Problem Solving, since Creative Interchange is also the underpinning of the Synectics Problem Solving Process. In short, Creative Interchange is the meta-process that determines whether any of the current models of Communication, Conflict Resolution, Dialogue, Creativity, Innovation, Agility, Resilience, Leadership, you name it, are or will be successful. Through this essay we hope we have raised awareness of this liberating process called Creative Interchange that Henry Nelson Wieman wrote about: this from his dissertation ‘The Organization of Interests’ (1917)xxxvi on till the end of his life (1975). With the acquisition of a few enabling skills and a commitment to maintaining the worth-based conditions in one’s everyday life, each of us can experience that which transforms our lives and those around us in ways we are unable to imagine nor achieve individually. In this essay we’ve suggested that the health and growth of any organization is directly tied to the health and growth of its employees and the communities in which the organization operates. These interdependencies are manifest in the vitality of the various interpersonal relationships among employees, customers and other community members. The symptoms of an unhealthy organization are poor moral, high turnover, strikes, elevated absenteeism due to burnout, low engagement, above-average occupational injuries and material damages and a general decline in productivity. For instance, the annual cost in a tiny country as Belgium of extended absenteeism is 6.4 billions of Euro!xxxvii We suggest that creating a work environment rich in the required conditions of Creative Interchange is both a self-preservation strategy and a moral imperative. Such a Creative Interchange environment engenders the healthy development of the organization, its employees and the communities within it operates.
  50. 50. 50 Warning “There are no guarantees that Creative Interchange will bring this world to peace and justice, and it has that potential.” Henry Nelson Wieman It has the potential and whether that potential becomes a reality or not depends on us; in other words we have to live Creative Interchange from within. If we don’t live Creative Interchange it is extremely doubtful that it will bring this world to ‘peace and justice’. “If not us, who? If not now, when?” John Fitzgerald Kennedy (paraphrasing Hillel The Elder) When push comes to shove, Organizational change is at the end Personal Transformation. W. Edwards Deming wrote years ago “There is no change without Personal Transformation”. And each Personal Transformation starts with the change of one’s personal mindset. So everyone has to change his/her mindset, not only those ‘in the reality of the workplace’, the workers and employees. Conclusion: Changing peoples mindsets is mandatory for sustaining Organizational Transformation. I believe we are on the eve of a new Paradigm. I call it the ‘Creative Interchange’ or ‘inside-out’ Paradigm. What practically will change in the new paradigm? Let’s start with change itself. Change projects will become transformation projects. Actually most change projects want to change what is and are constantly at war with the facts, while forcing people constantly into new models the ‘outside-in’ way. Transformation on the other hand is bringing out what is inside, thus the ‘inside-out’ way. During transformation you have to see the reality in a different way (i.e. a change in mindset). The sequence of transformation is ‘See- Feel-Act’.
  51. 51. 51 As long as people don’t first see and appreciate it, then really feel it, no transformation from within is possible. At best, people will perhaps display another behavior, they’ll change their behavior temporarily and nothing will really transform, the mindset will not be altered. If you really want transformation who is enduring, it has to come from within. This can only been done by living the Creative Interchange process. It is my belief that deep transformation within an organization has to start at the top! What I see in the actual paradigm is that the change plan is first sold to management and then, immediately, rolled out in the organization. Deep transformation is accepting the need for personal transformation, starting with top management. They have to live the transformation process, thus the Creative Interchange process, by themselves – at least six months – before starting to roll it out in the Organization. And, after that, the rolling out should be a cascading down the Hierarchy. Employees do have Eagle eyes and SEE the difference between what Leaders say they will do and what they actually do, have accordingly FEELings and will take ACTion on those. So what is needed, is that, before rolling out the transformation process, the members of the Management Team live the process themselves and do ask for and do give one another honest feedback about how they are living it. “Are we really doing ourselves what we will ask from our people in the near future?” is the crucial question. So that’s my dream: “That Top management embraces Creative Interchange and live that transforming process from within.” And this brings me back to Bruce Springsteen’s quote: “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true or is it something worse” …
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