I facilitated dialogue between conservative and gay Christians in the same denomination off and on for two years. It got ugly at times. Getting people to come is the hardest part. (same problem with racial issues) This group was truly inclusive and most of the people there were experts on Bible scripture, citing Chapter and verse to support their points. Previously intellectual sparring kept the group from learning about the other’s personal faith journeys – their stories. It is impossible to demonize someone once you know their story. The man who drew this map was from the conservative side and yet he spoke for everyone. Even if they all could quote scripture, and acted as if they knew what God said, the Circle above representing God gets to the truth of the matter. “I don’t remember talking to either one of them lately.” Everyone needs to get off their soapbox in order to achieve collaboration and understanding.
The woman who drew this was trim, coiffed and perfectly dressed. Her blond flip hair-do and “had-to-have-been-a-cheerleader” demeanor did not make ANY sense when she present this map to the group. She said, “This is me. And I do everything I can to protect my people from all the problems and interference that come down from HQ and senior leadership. And I’ve got plenty of tools for my people, but they don’t seem to step up to the job. They are always asking me what to do. I don’t understand.” People looked left and right, thinking, “you don’t understand?” She didn’t. I asked, “Would you be interested in hearing what some of the other characters in your drawing might say?”….I pointed to the chick bottom left, “Can anyone say how they’d feel if they were this character?” I got several answers, that told the same story, “I can’t do anything because she’s always hovering over me. So why try.” She turned in shock. Another said, “She’s standing on the tool box so I have to go through her for everything.” I pointed out. “To me, this eagle character looks kind of mean. I don’t see you that way.” Every now and then a drawing really packs a punch. This one had a radical impact on the manager who drew it. Her positive intent was very strong: to protect and help. When she saw how much damage her current strategy was doing, her attitude changed – no defensiveness, no bad feelings, just a new opportunity to do it better.
Every so often, senior leadership decides that a new system will solve all our problems. They know there will be a “period of adjustment” but this drawing communicates the emotional costs in a way that is hard to ignore. The minute this metaphor map appeared a room full of fifty people started laughing in recognition. The directors and all his direct reports pedal a monster bicycle of integration that leaves dead bodies behind and people running for their lives ahead. The emotion in this picture is the primary message.
Virtual teams can work but this particular member of a virtual team didn’t feel like she was part of a team at all. The meeting was the first time the eight people had met in the same room for a year. Each of them performed the same role at their individual business units, but no one knew why they were in the room together or what they were supposed to achieve. There was no sense of connection to each other or the company. This one drawing set the agenda for the rest of the meeting. Often one person has an insight that crystallizes general discomfort to a specific actionable issue
It is frustrating to be the one collecting data. Quality and Safety managers don’t know what works if they can’t measure results. Personally I hate people measuring me, and I have a gut resentment against those who think I need measuring. The person who drew this map drew it for people like me. I look at it and it helps me remember to chill out. All of us can do with a reminder that the people that get on our nerves don’t wake up early to plan new ways to make us crazy. They are usually just as concerned about achieving the vision as we are.