“What is ‘now’? – for it is a moment of time & yet it can’t be said to be either the ‘moment at which I speak’ or ‘the moment at which a clock strikes’, etc., etc.” – Our answer is: The function of the word “now” is entirely different from that of a specification of time.
Ludwig Wittgenstein ‘The Brown Book’ (Example 56)
Working with a team that was struggling.
In 8 months they have gone through 2 managers; 2 company and team re-organizations; been told that they are an economic strain on the company; and had been threatened that “corporate” is going to outsource their functions to an external vendor.
This was a daunting task for the team, the people and me…
- The 1st session was griping about the past
- The 2nd session was griping about the future
- The 3rd session was gossiping about other departments and people
Laura, a senior staff who has been with the company 22 years and was well respected, asked, “What do we do now?”
My response, “I know you rather well now and I have some ideas. What may be best is for us to have a discussion about ‘Now’ and what we need as a team and as people… I am going to ask you a weird question and let’s see how that works, OK”
Asking a version of the Miracle Question
- Pretend that right now, while we are all inside this meeting room, the problems that we discussed & that others perceive are solved. Meaning that what this team needs to be successful and flourish is provided outside this meeting room. BUT none of you know about this happening, because we are in this meeting room, now. When you leave this room today, what would be the 1st concrete thing you would notice. That makes you recognize that now things are improving?
Some nervous laughter… then discussion … then flip-chart writing… then Distinctive :: Working Well :: 100 Days Better.
We shifted perspective from problems of the past and problems of the future to some steps to take now to make work better.
Outcomes from that Meeting
- Laura was promoted to Manager … being that she was well respected by the team and upper-management she was able to secure some time for the team to gather resources and make progress.
- The team identified 3 areas of focus for the next 100 days to as they said, stabilize the bleeding.
- These 3 areas required work with other departments. They used a SOLVED Solution-Focused approach to identify specific people within those departments that can be most helpful.
- Over 100 days the team measured their output and on-time completion of work and showed to upper management an improvement.
Sometimes focusing on now is what you need to get through the past and future. Plus if someone on the team did not ask, What do we do now? it may have had a different outcome.
What do you think?
How often does your team focus on now? How often do you focus on now?
michael cardus is create-learning