Senior management options LO28525

From: Heidi and Dan Chay (
Date: 05/16/02

Replying to LO28519 --

>A colleague for a non-profit has just asked for some advice that
>members of this list may be able to contribute.... 1. One of the four
>gets the job. How do you set the agenda for discussions between the
>four about the consequences of this ? What is a good way of
>reallocating responsibilities that allow the collaborative spirit to
>survive ?...

Alan Cotterell wrote:

> I suggest your CEO should call the four candidates together, and ask
> them who is their leader.

My thoughts elaborate on what Alan has written here. With At's seven
essentialities in mind, i'm sure there are many ways for this dilemma to
become demergent. At the same time, i'm sure there also are many paths to
emergence, here, too. Alan's option seems to me quite promising by
itself, without elaboration.

At the same time, a facilitative leader might be able to enhance the
quality and likelihood of constructive self-determination. If i were
brought for ideas i might consider the following smorgasbord of questions:

 * Could we bring the key people responsible for and affected by these
associated decisions into a learning-oriented dialogue together?

 * With the people with whom i was working, at some point or multiple
points i might ask if the following question partly embodied our
intentions, "If we all could come to a consensus agreement about what our
best option(s) might be, here, with the whole of our situation in mind,
what would that agreement look like?"

 * If our goal was to see what an agreement might look like, i probably
would be interested to emerge with the group what "consensus" might look
like and explore "shades of consensus" and/or other decision-making
methods including consensus hybrid models. We often find ourselves using
the criteria "Do enough of us agree that the issue both so urgent AND
important, that we want to turn to another decision-making rule?" I also
find that collaborative processes with quality consensus expectations
often, to many peoples' surprise, is faster than, say, voting or deciding
by fiat -- and rarely are issues both so urgent AND important (and the
group so uncreative) that they switch decision-making rules.

 * If the group happened to proceed this far on such a collaborative path,
i probably would want to explore and honor the possibility of not coming
to consensus within time constraints. Then what?

 * If we happened this far, i might also explore the possibility of a
short conversation to make explicit together "What do we already know
about having constructive conversations when the issues could be
difficult?" One community group we worked with came up with the ground
rule "No hitting, kicking, scratching, or biting." Now almost four years
later, they're still using it.

 * Still staying away from "solutions," i might ask "What are all the
different facets of our challenge?" This fits with the idea that it would
be hard for most any group to agree on a solution if they can't agree
first on the problem.

 * i would consider a conversation about illuminating underlying
"interests," needs, hopes, fears, concerns, and desires. i might help
distinguish interests from "positions," "what sometimes we just SAY we
want," and trading-positions-style negotiating.

 * We might explore a question about criteria. "How would we know a good
decision if we could collectively agree on one? What would if feel like?"

 * We might try to explore as creatively as possible multiple options (not
solutions). Tossing a coin, or throwing dice would be examples of process
options. I also could imagine experimental, contingent, and temporary

 * Depending on what emerges, it's often useful to stay away from jumping
to "solutions" and return to original questions with the hope of setting
up constructive feedback loops. In my experience "solutions" emerge
naturally from fertile conversations. The challenge more often is to have
those fertile conversations first.

 * In such a collaborative process it seems important to me that formal
leadership enters prepared to be surprised.

These and others all seem to me like basic learning-org tools: Argyris,
Fisher & Ury, Fifth Discipline series...i've seen them work wonders with
gun-toting, bowie-knife-wearing, ragged individualists, though.


Dan Chay


"Heidi and Dan Chay" <>

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