<Bob> Hi Leslie. How are you? And what would you like to share and explore today?
<Leslie> Hi Bob, I am well thank you and I would like to talk about chaos again.
<Bob> OK. That is always a rich mine of new insights! Is there a specific reason?
<Leslie>Yes. The story I want to share is of the chaos that I have been experiencing just trying to get a new piece of software available for my team to use. You would not believe the amount of time, emails, frustration and angst it has taken to negotiate this through the ‘proper channels’.
<Bob> Let me guess … about six months?
<Leslie> Spot on! How did you know?
<Bob> Just prior experience of similar stories. So what is your diagnosis of the cause of the chaos?
<Leslie> My intuition shouts at me that people are just being deliberately difficult and that makes me feel angry and want to shout at them … but I have learned that behaviour is counter-productive.
<Bob> So what did you do?
<Leslie> I escalated the ‘problem’ to my line manager.
<Bob> And what did they do?
<Leslie> I am not sure, I was not copied in, but it seemed to clear the ‘obstruction’.
<Bob> And were the ‘people’ you mentioned suddenly happy and willing to help?
<Leslie> Not really … they did what we needed but they did not seem very happy about it.
<Bob> OK. You are describing a Drama Triangle, a game, and your behaviour was from the Persecutor role.
<Leslie>What! But I deliberately did not send any ANGRY emails or get into a childish argument. I escalated the issue I could not solve because that is what we are expected to do.
<Bob> Yes I know. If you had engaged in a direct angry conversation, by whatever means, that would have been an actively aggressive act. By escalating the issue and someone Bigger having the angry conversation you have engaged in a passive aggressive act. It is still playing the game from the Persecutor role and in fact is the more common mode of Persecution.
<Leslie> But it got the barrier cleared and the problem sorted?
<Bob> And did it leave everyone feeling happier than before?
<Leslie> I guess not. I certainly felt like a bit of a ‘tale teller’ and the IT technician probably hates me and fears for his job, and the departmental heads probably distrust each other even more than before.
<Bob> So this approach may appear to work in the short term but it creates a much bigger long term problem – and it is that long term problem of ‘distrust’ that creates the chaos. So it is a self-sustaining design.
<Leslie> Oh dear! Is there a way to avoid this and to defuse the chronic distrust?
<Bob> Yes. You have demonstrated a process that you would like to improve – you want the same short term outcome, your software installed and working, and you want it quicker and with less angst and leaving everyone feeling good about how they have played a part in achieving that objective.
<Leslie>Yes. That would be my ideal.
<Bob>So what is different between what you did and your ‘ideal’ scenario? What did you do that you should not have and what did you not do that you could have?
<Leslie> Well I triggered off a drama triangle which I should not have. I also assumed that the IT people would know what to do because I do not understand the technical nuances of getting new software procured and installed. What I could have done is make it much clearer for them what I needed, why I needed it and how and when I needed it. I could have done a lot more homework before asking them for assistance. I could also have given my inner Chimp a banana and gone to talk to them face-to-face and ask their opinion early on so I could see the problem from their perspective as well as mine.
<Bob> Yes – that all sounds reasonable and respectful. What you are doing is ‘synchronising‘. You are engaging in understanding the process well enough so that you can align all the actions that need to be done, in the correct order and then sharing that. It is rather like being the composer of a piece of music – you share the score so that the individual players know what to do and when. There is one other task you need to do.
<Leslie>I need to be the conductor!
<Bob> Yes. You are the metronome. You set the pace and guide the orchestra. They are the specialists with their instruments – that is not your role.
<Leslie> And when I do that then the music is harmonious and pleasing-to-the-ear; not a chaotic cacophony!
<Bob> Indeed … and the music is the voice of the system – and is the feedback that everyone hears – and not only do the musicians derive pleasure from contributing then the wider audience will hear what can be achieved and see how it is achieved.
<Leslie> Wow! That musical metaphor works really well for me. Thanks Bob, I need to go and work on my communicating, composing and conducting capabilities.