Vibrancy Is A Choice Checklists — Re-membering Abundance-based Agreements

You invite some colleagues to work together with you on something you feel is really important. Knowing you, your passion, and what they can contribute, they enthusiastically say yes. You come together for the first time.  For the first 2 hours, the vibe is electric and the pulse is quickening. Then something shifts, and some people seem unclear about the process, they quickly start to disengage. Trying to re-engage the group, someone has an idea and proposes a different, “more engaging” process. A couple of the others agree, and feeling a little lost you agree. After all, you trust everyone in the room. A few minutes later, you notice a few others starting to check out. One of them calls for a brief point of clarification. The enthusiasm starts to breakdown quickly, accelerating into a collapse. You decide to stop the freefall, and call for a break. What happened? Great intentions, trusted colleagues, a great start, then rapid collapse. Have you ever experienced something like this? I have, frequently.

While some people I know are extraordinarily gifted at seeing what to do in these breakdowns, converting them into breakthroughs, I wonder if many times it is possible to not collapse in the first place. A book I just finished reading by a well-known surgeon who studied surgery units, airline pilots, and large-scale construction projects, proposes a simple, elegant solution–the checklist.

To align what we perceive in the world with what our best mental models suggest, I have long been a proponent of CRISP frameworks and processes. CRISP means that the frameworks and processes are designed to be obvious and how they are comprehensive, rigorous, integrative, simple, and purposeful. From this thinking emerged the GRASP, 5 primary relationships, 3 levels of perceived reality, 4 lenses, the O Process, and the Harmonic Vibrancy Move 4-step process. And yet, I continue to experience the kind of collapse I described at the beginning of this post. Enter the Vibrancy is a choice checklist.

In The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande shows how the checklist helps highly trained experts in complex situations prevent the avoidable failures that still haunt the activities we humans organize. What would this look like for abundance-based agreements, where we still experience frequent collapse?

Gawande finds that people who have successfully used checklists with experts in complex situations often have checklists for process and for communication–what to do in what order, and who needs to talk about what and when. The point is to remember to do all of the critical steps, some of which are often forgotten in the heat of the moment. According to what Gawande found, the checklist should be designed for a specific situation. It should be short, with 5 to 9 items. The language should be simple, precise, and familiar to the professionals. And then, most importantly, it needs to be tested in a real situation. All checklists always need to be refined.

Returning to the initial situation, before we start the meeting, we can create two checklists: one for the proposed process; and one for how we want to communicate when something else emerges. While the first might initially look like an agenda for the conversation, thinking of it as a checklist gets us thinking about the most critical elements to be addressed, some of which are often forgotten, and the different perspectives on what needs to come together.  In addition to the basic process, what other assumptions do we need to be sure are clear to all and not missed, especially the ones we have experienced as being missed in the past? What roles need to be taken up, and who will take them? What are the most frequent avoidable failures that we experience? We want to make sure we address them consistently.

In processes where we are working out of abundance-based agreements, we are engaging with high complexity–high vibrancy in self, other, group, nature, and spirit, with clarity about how much we see, who decides and enforces, with what values, and how we interact, in a highly engaged, interactive group. Lots of potential, with lots of emergence, ripe for checklists.

In the next weeks, I will be sharing high-vibrancy checklists we are finding. If you have checklists for these situations, please share them with me. Vibrancy is a choice, and a checklist can help us remember how to invite, see, and honor that choice, especially when we forget.

Step #4 — Ask What Agreements Shape Your Experience

You can choose the experience you want.  In the third blogpost in this series, you decided what experience you wanted.  In the 4th step, we ask what agreements shape that experience.

Underlying your experience is a set of agreements that determine, in great part, what experience you have.  These are the rules of the game.  In the following 2-minute video and 2 audios, we explore what agreements are and how you see them.

 

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A 23-minute conversation between Jim and Jackie regarding agreements (click on the MP3 file Making an Agreement)

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A 44-minute conversation between Jim and Orland Bishop about agreements, what they are, why they are important, and how people work with them (click on the MP3 file Orland Bishop and Jim Dialog on Agreements).

What agreements can you see that shape your experience?  Could you choose different agreements?  Could you talk about this choice with the other people in the group?

In the next series of blogposts, you and I will explore how to design agreements.

Step #3 — Choosing The Experience You Want

You can choose the experience you want, every day.  In the second blogpost in this series, we mapped your experience on the 3 Circle diagram.

In the 3rd step, you choose the experience you want.  Given what you saw in the mapping of your experience in Step #2, is that the experience you want in that group?  Is that the experience that you feel is available to the group?  The experience that the group could have, if it only decided so.  Here are some blogposts describing ways of seeing what you know about this choice:

In this 3rd step, describe the experience you would prefer.  Describe how this is different than the current experience.

In Step #4, we will look at the agreements underpinning this difference in experience.

 

Step #2 in Choosing the Experience You Have, Every Day — Mapping Your Current Experience

You can choose the experience you have, every day.  In the first blogpost in this series, we made the distinction between low and high vibrancy experiences–the 1st step in choosing the experience you want.

In the 2nd step, we map your current experience.  We will use the 3 Circle diagram to capture the description of your experience, in a way that differentiates the qualities of the experience you have and want.  In the following 24-minute video, you and I take this second step.

 

When you map your experience onto the 3 Circle diagram in the video, what level of vibrancy do you see?

You can validate where you map this experience through the more in-depth, free, online, 12-minute survey we have used globally by clicking here.

4 Steps to Choosing the Experience You Have, Every Day — Step #1 of 4

You can choose the experience you have, every day.

Most of the experiences you have are formed by a set of rules to a game that you have accepted, consciously or unconsciously.  Many of these experiences are not the ones you would choose.  You can change that.

I will take you through a 4-step process that we have uncovered over the past 10 years.  The process brings together what my colleagues and I have learned in our own attempts at choosing agreements, and what we have learned from the one hundred groups we have met in over a dozen countries and from the thousands of people that have taken the vibrancy survey in 94 countries.  The process is simple and hard.  It is simple in that you only have to see the agreements you have and choose the ones you want.  It is hard in that you have to see what was previously invisible and you have to enact your choice.  We use the following 4 steps to make the hard simple.

  1. See what you already know about your experience
  2. Map your current experience
  3. Choose the experience you want
  4. Ask what agreements shape that experience

In this series of 4 blogposts, I will walk you through these 4 steps, after which you will be able to choose the experience you want and see the agreements that support that.  After that you can decide whether you want to learn more about the design of specific agreements, which I will share in the next series on designing agreements.

 

Step #1 — See what you already know about your experience

You are hardwired to know.  You know when you experience low vibrancy in a group or place, and you know when you experience high vibrancy.  This knowing can show you everything you need to choose a different set of agreements.  The first step is to understand what you are hardwired to know, the difference in your experience of low and high vibrancy groups.

In the following 7-minute video, you and I take this first step.

 

In the next blogpost, we see how to map your current experience.