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Let’s NOT get on the same page…

How many times have you heard this sentence at work? – “It’s important we’re on the same page” or been asked “Are you on the same page?”

If you’re anything like me you’ve heard it hundreds of times, and probably never paid it much attention to the nuances of the wording before.

Last week Fisher Qua said something that has changed the way I see it. For ever.

It was in the context of a Liberating Structures Immersion Workshop which was all about creating containers within which groups can share, learn and discover (highly recommended BTW).

Fisher spoke to us about providing boundaries within which to explore questions rather than just providing  the answers. He used the metaphor of a library saying:

“I don’t want everyone to be on the exact same page, I just want everyone to be in the right stack in the library.”

My interpretation of this is that in order to allow for one’s own discovery some exploration is needed. Some rooting around a bunch of related stuff, that may sometimes result in not finding what you hoped for, may eventually lead you to an answer, or may actually uncover new things that you didn’t even know were there.

Yes – we need to be talking the same language, to be aligned on the topic and pointed in the right direction, but maybe that’s all we need?

How boring would it be if when we went to a library or book shop and as soon as we walked in someone handed us a book and sent us on our way? I enjoy browsing. Finding new stories. Briefly reminiscing over previous tales, before settling on which to purchase.

Think about this next time you want to draw out some information or have a team explore a problem. Don’t assume you already know the solution and just tell them which book and page the answer is on, but be willing to point them to the right stack in the library and provide the space for them to define where they end up…

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