Most of us humans tend to act and interact as if our agreements, the guidelines for our interactions, are fixed. If they are fixed, they are permanent, static. Dead. If they are fixed, then they cannot be changed.
And, if they actually are agreements, a mutual understanding, then we can decide what they are. This means that we can change them. They are just agreements. They are changing, impermanent, dynamic. Living.
If they are living, then agreements are constantly evolving, changing in content as the context changes. If they are constantly evolving, then it would probably be a good idea to revisit them periodically.
In my own practice, I used to focus on making the best decision. After all, I have advanced degrees in the decision sciences. And, once I had followed a good decision making process, and made a good decision, I was done. Complete. On to the next decision. A few years ago, I began to see the brilliance in “rushing to failure,” learning from trying something, making mistakes, and adjusting. Much more interesting. And, it was a mind shift to focus on getting to the awareness of the mistakes quicker. While the rewards were high with this focus on failure, the fail language brought in lots of scarcity and feelings of weakness. We were constantly asking about and focusing on our failures. Good learning, and a bit debilitating in the language.
A couple of years ago, a colleague and I started experimenting with the practice of tangibilization. Through the O Process, we would imagine possibilities, see a pathway of relationships and activities to manifest it, and a tangible outcome. We would then look for the feedback in the pathway and outcomes, over time. With this feedback, we would re-envision the possibilities, adjusting the pathways and outcomes we saw. We were engaging an evolutionary process–learning and adjusting. Over time, we saw that in this process we were constantly revisiting our agreements, adjusting them based on what we learned along the way. With this realization, we shifted our language from “rushing to failure” to “revisiting our agreements.” Now we actively seek and celebrate the feedback, with a reinforcing feeling, continuously evolving our agreements.
At first, this might seem inefficient. Surely it is more efficient to decide once and be done. Less time spent on process. Right? Back when we focused on making one decision and being done with the process, we observed that we actually ended up spending much more time on fixing the consequences of agreements that no longer worked. This is analogous to the observation that most organizational work is spent correcting mistakes made from poor planning. This does not mean spending endless time talking through every agreement over and over. That IS a waste.
We found that it was far more efficient to continuously iterate the O Process, remembering the potential, pathways, and outcomes we saw, comparing those with what actually happened, and adjusting. This is also known as the scientific process. It turns out to be much more efficient and effective to revisit our agreements frequently, adjusting based on the feedback we received from the universe. We learned that our agreements are dynamic, alive, so we revisit them continuously.