We have a regular group sessions at the University of Nottingham, in the calendar as ‘Strengths Workshop’. We bring topics and situations to discuss using Clifton Strengths Finder, Clean Language metaphor modelling and Non Violent Communication. We also cover the Viable Systems Model, eastern and western philosophy, cognitive biases, complex adaptive systems and other bits of experience and knowledge we have.
Tuesday 30th August – Just Mike DavidVH and DavidR, Bank Holiday week.
Notes compiled afterwards from memory.
Start with no agenda as usual, so this is messy and emergent, even if you were there…..
We start taking about new hobbies, no handed rock climbing, longboard skating, and get into talking about being happy about not knowing the future. And we’re off.
Is being happy with not knowing based on strengths / personality and worldview? What does the cognitive dissonance feel like to someone who is not happy with complexity and needs to reduce the situation to knowable? Is it possible for right wing Americans to realise an issue “may be more complicated”, or can they only reduce the dissonance when presented with a solution. There are no longer any small c conservatives it seems? On the right there are simple solutions that are received by people looking for solutions, either because of strengths, upbringing or whatever. It makes their brains happy.
What is required to, for example like Boris Johnson post Brexit – “it is the governments idea to have a plan – not ours”. Assuming that he is consistent, what does his life experience, his patterns, his understanding and his strengths need to be to not have dissonance? Is this perspective any less correct because we find it had to understand? Knowing this, how would you have dialogue with him?
Reductionism is the spherical cow – how fast will a cow roll downhill if you push it? Assuming gravity and friction to be constant, and a constant gradient, and a spherical cow we can do the maths! Maths and science are given respect that ” it’s more complicated than that” is not. But the things we do to make the maths work loses the complexity.
Started with “When you cope with complexity it looks like what?”
then “So when you deal with complexity, you are like what?”
Initial metaphors about complexity being like the TV sales area in John Lewis – lots of tvs on different channels, some you can’t see, some you may not know exist. Seeing all the information from “24hr news channels” to “Lion King” and needing to understand it all. – but a description of complexity – and how we need to talk about how to act.
Dealing with complexity is like having a beginner mind – and not being an expert. Being open to what happens.
It’s like a globe, and understanding parts of the globe that stick out. Taking those bits and understanding them.
There are some more questions and answers but we don’t go very deep into clean language questions today.
We then discuss two cases of dealing with complexity.
1) Donald Trump – George Lackoff describes a patriarchal figure – able to talk problems and reduce the complexity and provide simple solutions to people who are used to patterns of patriarchy, and/or have strengths that require them to have an analysis & plan, to be in control. Complexity is dealt with by reduction, and many people are disenfranchised.
2) Do I have agency? Why worry if I cannot change things? Is dealing with complexity inherently good or are there times when it is best to try not to ‘deal with it?’
Examples with Musicians – grade trained musicians often require sheet music to perform. Non grade trained often don’t and can improvise. DavidR plays in a brass band, and recently ended a piece on notes A F G. These are notes that apparently should not work, but do because of the context and build up.
But sheet music reduces the variety/complexity of what you could play. Even so, getting a tune to end on a A F G is hard.
Improvisation is dealing with complexity within the available option, by using what musical niches you know. If you only know AC/DC then any improvisation is going to sound like them. Knowing theory allows you to improvise more, and improvisation is reacting “ooda loop” style to other people.
The more you know, and the better you will be confident to play less. Just a single note fully in context, that may sound wrong out of context could be the ultimate goal. The A-F-G improvised.
Like the complexity metaphor, it’s like having a lot of personal “expert minds” (like musical styles you can play, and knowledge of theory) but engaging beginners mind, and being open to understanding and emergence.