Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Groups and Dominate Modes of Discourse

Recently, integral salon leaders from around the world, friends all, even though I haven't met them all....yet...were hit with a request from one of us to help with the energy of the salon they lead. Another salon leader followed that up with their own questions about dominant voices taking over meeting with uninformed knee-jerk reactions, leaving the leaders of the group struggling with how to handle those situations. I'll eventually post the entire conversation (as soon as we've agreed how), but wanted to share some insights on group process that we've learned frome at SeattleIntegral. Lord knows, we've had our share of disastrous meetings! I remember one Meetup in particular, that had fallen apart with those knee-jerk reactions, where my wise-beyond-her-years friend Kari and I sat across from each other smiling and laughing inside, and wondering, what the F*** just happened? Here's an excerpt I posted from the email exchange.

Judging from the experiences we've had at SeattleIntegral, this is a common problem with groups. What we've learned is that the conversation will be dominated by whatever holonic level the majority of attendees intersect at. In other words, wherever your "dominant mode of discourse" (Integral Spirituality, Chapt. 7, page 149) is located, that's the level where the conversation takes place....and if the Dominate Monad of the majority of attendees is at first tier, you're going to have a first tier conversation (I just went nuts when I read this...it was exactly what we had been dealing with! Ken did it again!)

Now, there are some things you can do about that: be aware of the dominant monads of the individuals attending your meeting, if possible (you'll learn who is what very quickly in these situations, but it may take several meetings), and set up your meeting accordingly. Second tier, or teal/turquoise can skillfully guide the conversation by setting the tone of the meeting response before that participation begins.

For example, if your dominate mode of discourse is amber (mythic-membership), set up rules ahead of time.....If it's orange (achiever), set up rewards or a goal to be accomplished....if it's green (individualist), well, good luck, and goodbye! No, seriously, set up the abilty for everyone to have a voice, but limit the time for each (because you only have so much time, right?).

Another thing you do is set a "safety system" with other second tier group members, who understand that when things start to go toward a first tier dominate mode of discourse, you gently guide the conversation back (understanding each others roles in this situation and what to look out for ahead of time is critical).

We've learned these things from having meetings go right out the window because we lost control. Our leadership group, the Core Group, has mostly second tier people trying to learn how to operate as a second tier leadership group, but, in any group, if you have a couple of people at first tier consciousness, and we all have elements of other levels and stages that sometimes show up in our shadows, therein lies the challenge.

The final point I'll make is that our salons (yours? Ours? Anybody?) seem to be made up of mostly of orange and green-emergent-to-whatever folks, (with a little blue now and then) and our job as second tier salon leaders is to be able to provide the context and a space where consciousness can grow and people can be helped in whatever ways possible to see both horizontal and vertical perspectives.

We are not trying to run a second tier salon. We're trying to develop a second tier leadership group, a very different thing. This Core Group is trying to develop what the next evolutionary phase of an Integral Salon might look like. We don't tell our "sub-groups" what to do, how to think, what to program, anything.....We're "only" trying to provide a larger context for more complexity.

We're actively pursuing Holacracy/Sociocracy as a governance system (like I-I), in the hope that the other sub-groups might join in that circle to create a larger organization. We've just approved our first set of by-laws (again, that govern the Core Group, not the sub-groups), and a lot of other things.

So, back to what we don't do: All of the Core group members are also members of various sub-groups, so we have a very good idea what the ITP/ILP, IOS, Integral Spirituality, Meetup groups are doing (these Core Group members are, in most cases, guiding those groups to a certain extent, if only by example).

As long as we have first tier folks who cognitively get this stuff but can't embody it, we have to take it to them...we have to have these conversations in their language, with just enough taste to allow them to question, to create the disorienting dilemmas, and also allow them to move at their own speed.

The reason the remainder of the group is functioning so well, is because we're all on the same page. Some of us have gone through the "Generating Transformative Change in Human Systems" program from Pacific Integral (google them), and we've had a great deal of experience with Integral Leadership, shared altered states of consciousness and their various energy fields, and have a dominant mode of discourse. Some previous members were asked to leave....second tier cannot fear hierarchies, and if someone isn't fitting in, or is getting in the way of the group progress, they have to go: The compassion of the blade.

How we "regulate" that is that no longer can anyone just "Join" the Core Group. You would need to be invited to join, or you could petition the group. Most of us are certified through the GTC program to Integral Assessments on groups and people, and most have done the Cook-Grueter Leader Development Profile (LDP), so we know what our individual action-logic is, and to be in the Core group, you'd need to be at the Strategist level (second tier), or pretty damn close.

Now, as for the groups where the discussions start getting out of hand, we generally have a minimum of 2-3 Core Group members at most meetings and when the discussion starts going south, we're not afraid to pull it back, and to tell people why. This is a conscious response from the Core group members because we have talked about how to respond in certain situations. That does not mean that we don't allow Amber, Orange, or Green to share what they're thinking, but it does mean sometimes pointing out the ways that thinking is amber, Orange, or Green, and why.

One of our favorite sayings is, "well, that's a perspective".....and then moving on....

So how do we open a meeting where we know there will a combination of several memes? An opening statement might be something like "we're going to follow these rules (amber/mythic), so we can accomplish (Orange/achiever) such-and-such, and everyone will have a chance to be heard (Green/egalitarian)...and since we only have this much time......." Remind Amber that rules need to be followed, Orange that we have goals, and Green that others need to be heard.

Original Image by Gary Stamper at the iBoutique

1 comment:

Tom Mull said...

=)