Friday, April 30, 2010

Learning Comes from All Perspectives

I just spent most of the week working in Washington DC at a Performance Improvement Retreat..a government experience: turning to a new playbook. What a concept being able to toss the old aside and create radical positive change, especially in a bureaucratic environment. Did I achieve my goal in helping them see through new eyes? I believe I did.

One of the participants came to me at the end of the 2 days and asked me what I had learned. That's not a question I'm generally asked. It was a great question and I think I shared an unexpected answer, both for the asker and for me.

It's amazing where learning happens. I learned what the participants were living in their environments from many departments and agencies, federal and state, high intensity positions and more low key ones. I learned about the assumptions they were operating from... and what it looked like to them when I helped them see beyond the assumptions and over the roadblocks that seemed insurmountable. I learned that no matter how de-energized some of these participants might have been, they were willing to dive in and co-create something powerful with people they had just met for the first time so they could bring back learning and a new play book to their respective worlds.

I learned that situations are similar on both sides of the border and how powerful a coaching model can be in these types of situations. And I learned how trusting a group can be when you show them you're really interested and are there to speak with them not at them.

I learned a lot and will bring that learning to everything I do from now on with clients, colleagues and students slike. Most of all I was reminded at how learning continues well beyond retreats and ocnversations if we keep our eyes open to it and learn to find what we don't know way more fascinating than what we do know.

Donna Karlin

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