Gurteen Knowledge Cafe: Human Will and Human Won’t

Last night’s Gurteen Knowledge Cafe was full of fascinating conversation from the word go. Kate Hopkinson led the discussions on “Human Will and Human Won’t”, diving straight in with little introduction posing two questions: “What do you believe helps motivation and cooperation and what suppresses or impedes it?”

The group on my table began with incentives, feedback and recognition, through leadership, authenticity, shared values and consistency, then onto necessity, relevance, line-of-sight, communication, before leaping into crisis and the question of how to help people accept and learn to cope with constant change.

As usual, the range of views represented increased the scope far wider than my own context and I quickly realised how narrowly I had initially viewed the conversation. When I observe how limiting my own viewpoint can be, I feel the value of coming along to events like these to talk to people in similar roles in different organisations and I wish I could convince more people to come along.

Kate spoke about The Landscape of the Mind, a model she has developed to help people understand each other’s preferred working styles. I began to feel uncomfortable here, the voice of Dave Snowden echoing around in my head, telling me that people change their preferences as they change context. Conrad must’ve felt the same way, commenting wryly as he did that “I don’t believe in astrology, but people with my starsign never do.” My own preferences seemed scattered throughout the model, perhaps leaving me somewhere in the middle, though I identified my current colleagues on either side of my category, not unlike real life.

I’d love to better understand the working styles of the people around me, but I fear many tools we’re presented in our working lives – such as Myers Briggs – aren’t up to the job and there is a real need to get smarter.

I’ll try to keep a more open mind.

One thought on “Gurteen Knowledge Cafe: Human Will and Human Won’t”

  1. matthew_in_ham

    The issue of context is always one that I have difficulty with in these self analysis methods as I can be, for example, instinctive or analytical depending on the situation, and I think that a skill is being able to move states to match the situation. I did an experiment on this in the pub afterwards and as we got more used to each other I pointed out that I had started swearing (deliberately) about 15 minutes ago and nobody had noticed, what may have been surprising, or even shocking, behaviour at the start of the evening had become natural at the end.

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