5. Collaborative Edge Focusing Decision Making Meetings -- Shared Leadership, Coordinated Collaboration, and Creative Edge Impasse Resolution

  1. Focusing – Individualmente, con un Entrenador de Borde Creativo o con un Terapeuta de Focusing Experiencial.
  2. Turnos Iguales de Intercambio de Escucha/Focusing
  3. Focusing Interpersonal – Usar Escucha/ Focusing Para Facilitar la Resolución de Conflictos
  4. Grupos y Equipos de Focusing – Registrarse, Luego Dividirse en Parejas y Tríadas
  5. Reuniones de Toma de Decisiones
  6. Communidades de Focusing
  7. Organizaciones de Borde Creativo

The Collaborative Edge Focusing Decision Making Method sets firm rules, norms, and time limits for the conduct of task-oriented meetings. . The preverbal, vague Creative Edge and Spanish version, cultura de creatividad, from which new ideas and innovative solutions come can only be accessed when speakers know they will not be interrupted and they do not have to be on their guard, fighting for a turn.

No Interruptions are allowed, and people get on a list for turns simply by raising a finger. Speaking turns are generally limited to three uninterrupted minutes maximum. Focused Listening responses are used to help group members articulate new ideas from their “intuitive feel” of situations and to resolve interpersonal conflicts.

Whether within a hierarchical or an egalitarian organizational structure, using The Shared Leadership Component, meeting tasks are divided into five different jobs. At least five different group members are actively involved in running different aspects of the meeting. They have responsibility, and they have ownership in the outcome of the meeting. In a small group, almost everyone will have a job.

Through The Coordinated Collaboration Component, the creativity of consensual, collaborative decision making is combined with the needs of hierarchical organizations.  The Coordinator or Project Manager schedules open periods of group or team collaborative effort, followed by closed periods during which the Coordinator or Project Manager takes responsibility for crafting a document that provides the best “felt consensus” of the collaborative effort.

The Creative Edge Impasse Resolution Component provides a variety of methods for using Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening Core Skills to:

  • allow group members to go more deeply into articulating The Creative Edge,
  • resolve interpersonal conflicts
  • create totally new, innovative solutions out of polarized oppositions

Case Study One:

A social service agency (AP) was struggling for funding. Another agency offering similar services had fought an active campaign to disenfranchise AP, upstaging AP and landing a major Community Grant which traditionally served as a signal to the entire community that an agency was thriving. Yet AP felt it offered a distinct service to a distinct population.

I, a psychologist working with a population served by AP, joined the Board of Directors, becoming the Chairperson. I recruited a physician, a psychiatrist, a social worker, and another psychologist to add some professional clout to the agency “graduates” who made up the present Board. I got these busy professionals because I promised and delivered one hour long, efficient Board meetings, once a week.

We met promptly, drew up an Agenda, prioritized the items, and allotted an estimated number of minutes to each item, leaving some spare minutes for overflow.

As Chairwoman of the Board, I acted as Agenda Manager, keeping the meeting on task. We parceled out the other task jobs, including

  • a Process Monitor and Alternate Process Monitor to keep a list of those wanting turns and to facilitate Focused Listening responses if there were arguments
  • a Time Keeper to time each item and insist that we either stop or renegotiate time limits, keeping within our 60 minute allotment
  • a Recorder to insist that we either state our decision or state “No decision reached” before moving on to a new item.

Within these constraints, meetings went smoothly, everyone speaking to the point and avoiding digressions. We kept to time limits, conscious that any overflow would either lengthen our meeting or take time away from another item. Instead of drifting from item to item without firm decisions, the Recorder forced us to state our decision. We saved any socializing for after the meeting.

If there were interpersonal conflicts, we might set aside an extra twenty minutes to use Interpersonal Focusing, each person having a short turn to use Intuitive Focusing and receive Focused Listening responses from the Process Monitor or another group member.  If additional time would be needed to get to the “intuitive feel” underlying the conflict, we might arrange for a longer Interpersonal Focusing session during the week.

When there were polarized conflicts or confusion, we might do a moment of quiet Group Focusing on the issue, then use the Round Robin No-Interruption method to hear from The Creative Edge of each person.

With the support of its Board, the Director and “graduate” staff rewrote the curriculum, highlighting the special and unique service offered by AP. We were all very excited, very motivated, and marched in community parades, carrying AP signs, and otherwise stirring up interest in AP. With all the media coverage plus new curriculum, many new clients joined AP’s groups.

After a couple of years, we won the big Community Grant, signifying that AP, serving its distinct clientele, was alive and thriving.

Case Study Two:

Three of us are on retreat. We are there because we each have an interest in a particular project, dealing with the one-hundred year old scrapbook and other memorabilia of a deceased woman. Two of us want to write books about her life story. The third wants to send the materials to a University for preservation.

We have circled around the task, dipping into it one at a time, exploring the materials, but spending our time in many other ways – interesting walks and talks, etc.

Finally, I ask, on a walk, that we talk about the task, each of us having an uninterrupted turn to say our thoughts/feelings about it.  I have to keep reminding people not to interrupt. It is such a common human pattern to interrupt the other whenever they say something we don’t agree with!!!!

One of us wants to get the scrapbook taken care of, preserved before it is too late and is willing to take it directly to a relevant University far away where it could be archived in a protected environment. She’d take it in a few months. It suddenly becomes clear to me what an urgent need this is for her and how ready she is to take action. I had no idea her time table was so short!

I can feel that I am nowhere ready to do this. In my turn, I am able to express that I need to be able to go through the actual materials slowly, teasing out the intricate pieces of the story of the love affair that develops in the scrapbook – and that I don’t have time to do that now, and also, that I feel overwhelmed by the task of caring for the scrapbook.

I use Focused Listening with the third one of us, asking her to carefully sense into her “intuitive feel” about “the whole thing about the scrapbook,” and, especially, how it fits into her overall writing goals, e.g., can she check and be sure it is something she really wants to do, and when? Can she check to be sure she is not just going along to please us?

With my Focused Listening responses, she articulates many Creative Edges around this and gets clear that this is an important project to her, but not until next Spring – she has to finish another project first.

We start generating a lot of ideas about how we can resolve our differing needs, some of us wanting to hang on to it, one wanting to take action right now. We come up with a list of phone calls we can make, to curators and archivists and photographers, finding out how to best preserve the materials – whether the University will actually do a better job, or we could learn to do it, whether we could hire someone to take photos of each page, each letter, this a step that might allow us to turn the original over to the University. The other two will be leaving town that day, me the one left in charge of the original materials.

I express my concern that they are going to go off and leave me with this long list of tasks to do. I do this in a sort of accusing, blowing-up way: “If you have to keep going for walks and drinking coffee, we are never going to get anything done, and I’m going to get left with all the work!!! Who is going to make these phone calls, and who is going to take these 300 photos or pay to have them taken?!!!” They accuse me of being unwilling to turn any responsibility over, that I won’t let them take the scrapbook with them. I can feel that this is not exactly the issue, and not exactly the solution. They scatter but talk among themselves. I’m sure they are never going to speak to me again.

But the one tells the other she can wait on the University delivery, it “doesn’t matter that much…” The other, from having really heard, during the uninterrupted turnseach person’s wants and needs, decides that preservation is really the issue FOR BOTH SIDES, and that, if we can preserve it ourselves, the other can wait on the delivery. She volunteers to make phone calls.

We are finally mobilized to the task, over our blockage, because we have been able to find the common denominator, a solution that could contain the needs of everyone. We make phone calls and learn the parameters from the curator, archivist, and photographer. We get generous advice about how to preserve it ourselves, that the University will only provide an acid-free box in a temperature and humidity controlled environment, that we can do this or better ourselves. We learn where to buy acid free tissue and other materials. We learn how much it would cost to have the photographer take the photos and get generous advice on taking the photos ourselves.

One of us says she will take photos, but not “professional” quality, just for her own use. I join her, holding the pages open while she shoots. We find that, together, we can meet both of our needs for extensive, detailed information from each page, and we take 300 very good photos in an afternoon.

The third is happy to delay delivery to the University. Actually, she wants to go to the University herself and see the dorms, chapels, waterfalls, where our subject actually spent her time. This turns out to be more important to her than delivering the scrapbook there, now that she knows we can preserve it ourselves as well or better. It is completely obvious, knowing her Myers-Briggs typology,that this is exactly the kind of extraverted doing that would matter to her.

The other two of us (Introverted writers) are agreed on wanting to savor every morsel, wanting to tease out and reconstruct the story. I am interested in the non-fiction, the facts and historical framework. She is interested in fictionalizing it.  I am more interested in a book with actual scrapbook photos in it. She would write a novel. There is a chance we can collaborate, having photos and facts and fictionalized narratives woven into one book – or not!!!

Now, we turn to a person outside of our group who uses his special skills to get our digital photos onto CDs for each of us. In a matter of minutes, we have the 300 photos on CD’s, one for each of us, some for surviving descendents of our subject, and one for the curator at the University. From talking to the curator, we have gotten a link to a whole new twist on the love stories, an interesting historical fact. We separate, each with her next tasks, lots of energy, the log-jam broken.




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These materials are offered purely as self-help skills. In providing them, Dr. McGuire is not engaged in rendering psychological, financial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.