Creative Interchange as Paradigm

 An important element in Wieman’s view on Creative Interchange is the distinction between “created good” and “Creative Good.” Created good is all that is the result of past operation of Creative Good (i.e. Creative Interchange): objects, ideas, actions and alike. Creative Good or Creative Interchange is that process by which we move beyond currently existing created goods toward a deeper insight and moral commitment. I have edited the following for gender neutral language, of which I am sure Wieman would approve.

“All the indications of maturity sum up to the first of them:  Putting one’s selfand all that one can command under the supreme control of what generates allvalue and not under the supreme control of any good that has, to date, beencreated in existence or envisioned in the mind.  Mature people find their ultimatesecurity and stability not in any created good and not in any vision of ideal possibilities but solely in that creativity which transforms the mind of the individual, the world relative to their mind, and all their community with other people…Thus, to reject every basis for ultimate security and stability other than the creative process itself is to meet the final test of maturity.”[i]

Thus Wieman called for – half a century ago (!) – leaving the old Command & Control paradigm, with its illusions ‘security’ and ‘stability’, and to choose for the new Creative Interchange paradigm. Creative Interchange – that can be lived from within but not controlled – is the creative process that will lead to a new Mindset, where embracing ambiguity and trusting the process are the new security and stability.

For Wieman Creative Interchange encourages people to sacrifice existing created good for the sake of newly emerging good. The Creative Interchange beliefs and practices encourage openness to and trust in transformation and the letting go of the present order of the self and society. In other words, people who live Creative Interchange from within are open to being changed by a power greater than themselves; a power that transforms human life in ways that could not be planned or controlled. Creative Interchange may lessen the hold of fear and desire, diminish the tendency to cling to the present beliefs, suppositions and mental model and inculcate trust in the process of growth and transformation. Creative Interchange is the answer to W. Edwards Deming ‘s command: Drive Out Fear (point #8 of Deming’s Way ‘Out of the Crisis’)[ii].

For Wieman, the greatest barrier to emergence of the new is the convulsive clinging to present beliefs, values, and habits giving them the loyalty and commitment that should be given to the Creative Good. Wieman’s central theme is self-commitment to growth and transformation through Creative Interchange. The Creative Interchange process transforms human life toward the Greatest Human Good.[iii]

Creative Interchange changes the mind in ways that the mind cannot do this by itself. The challenge of life is not to realize goods that we can now imagine but to undergo a change in consciousness in which there will arise possibilities of value that we cannot imagine on basis of our present awareness. This transformation of the mindset cannot be imagined before it arises and therefor cannot be planned or controlled, neither from the outside nor from the inside. One must cultivate a willingness to set aside present held values and open oneself to a creativity that leads the mind toward a wider awareness and a new consciousness. The human task is not to contrive a better form of living based on present understanding but rather to set the conditions under which creative interchange may operate to expand our awareness. The good of human life increases, as the mind becomes a more richly interconnected network of meanings.

Creative Interchange is a Paradigm since it needs a ‘Shift of Mind’ in order to see ‘the world anew’. The essence of the discipline Creative Interchange lies in a mind shift:

  • Embracing interdependence rather than dependence or independence;
  • Living the process of transformation rather than the process that leads to personal stress and organizational mediocrity.

 

The conditions for Creative Interchange to thrive

The concept of creative interchange makes it possible to study the conditions necessary for the occurrence of creative transformation toward greater good. Wieman started this study and found that the conditions for creative communication, the first characteristic of Creative Interchange, include honesty and authenticity in expressing our particular way of seeing reality. He also found that those involved in Creative Interchange must not cling to or insist upon the keeping of their present patterns of interpretation. In other words, they must not cling to their ‘truth’. Not only one must be open to express ‘his truth’, one must be open this ‘truth’ being changed by new insights. Not only one has to trust the other involved in Creative Interchange, one has the have trust in the process of creative transformation.

Charlie Palmgren took the challenge of continuing the search for the conditions necessary for Creative Interchange to thrive. His first contribution was to make the barriers within ourselves to Creative Interchange visible by discovering the counter productive process: the Vicious Circle. The Vicious Circle is Palmgren’s view of how humans become disconnected from their innate Worth. He believes that human worth is the capacity to participate in transforming creativity. Worth is innate! Worth is the innate need for creative transformation. He drives home his point clearly:

“Our need for creative transformation is to our psychological and spiritual survival what oxygen, water, food, exercise, and sleep are to physical well-being.”[iv]

Charlie helped me to understand that Creative Interchange (CI) is innate and the Vicious Circle (VC) is induced by conditioning, parenting and education. Both are processes that are more or less a reality in every one’s life. If the one is operating at full speed the other is slowed down. Thanks to my daughter, Daphne, I use following ‘gear’ metaphor:

If more energy is given to Creative Interchange the (right) CI gear drives the (left) VC gear anti-clockwise till one is re-connected with his Worth and thus with his capacity to participate in transforming creativity. The more you live Creative Interchange from within, the more you recognize your Worth and the more you are able to live Creative Interchange from within. This is a reinforcing process towards the Greatest Good.

If more energy is given to the Vicious Circle the VC gear drives the CI gear anti-clockwise till one is not expressing himself authentically any more and loses his capacity to participate in transforming creativity. This is in fact (another) reinforcing process that Peter Senge in his bestseller ‘The Fifth Discipline’ not surprisingly calls the ‘Vicious Cycle’ [v] towards the defending of the actual created good and thus resistance to transforming creativity or Creative Good.

 

Creative Interchange is a kind of dialogue

This dialogue begins with the candid expression (communication) by the ‘sender’ of one’s unique, personal perspective, which goes beyond the superficiality of much conversation. This perspective needs to be expressed without the desire to impress or to manipulate the other. Since those elicit a defensive or rejecting response.

The ‘receiver’ of the message must be free of self-preoccupation and not project interpretations or feelings onto what is said. In addition, the receiver does not cling to the present state of self (the ‘created self’) and is open to change, to transformation. He understands the message appreciatively (appreciation). The Authentic Interaction and Appreciative Understanding characteristics of the Creative Interchange process create in this dialogue a new insight and a new common meaning.

This new meaning or insight is then integrated into the mind, and this addition of a new perspective or pattern of interpretation leads to a novel mind (imagination) and if sustained through action (transformation) the process creates a new enlarged mindset which increases what the sender and receiver can know, feel, imagine and control.

In his poem ‘Revelation’[vi] Robert Frost talks about people that don’t live Creative Interchange being stuck in their Vicious Circle:

We make ourselves a place apart
Behind light words that tease and flout,
But oh, the agitated heart
Till someone find us really out.

‘Tis pity if the case require
(Or so we say) that in the end
We speak the literal to inspire
The understanding of a friend.

But so with all, from babes that play
At hide-and-seek to God afar,
So all who hide too well away
Must speak and tell us where they are.

Let’s analyze this poem:

Frost paints the picture that people who don’t interact authentically who they really are disguise their true image with lies or “light words that tease”. This far from authentic interaction (communication) tend to decieve, or tease. He goes on to say that “But, oh, the agitated hear, till someone really finds us out.” In this phrase he is basically saying, people tend to believe your story, they appreciatively understand (appreciation) it, … until they find out otherwise through other facts. If that’s the case, the liar mostly loses alot of respect.

In the second stanza, Frost also says, “We speak the literal to inspire, the understanding of a friend.” This further defines Frost’s point of lying to make some one think that you are something you are not.

But after all of the deception and lying, in the end of the poem, Frost wants to the reader to “see the light”. He says, “So all who hide to well away, must speak and tell us where they are.”

Frost’s message is, don’t make it seem like you are something you’re not. Just be you. The real you, the Original Self or Creative Self (the one who “hides too well away”) must come out in Authentic Interaction. The created self must stop lying, and speak form the Original or creative self. In Frost’s words: the “inner you” must speak and tell us where he or she is.

So genuine dialogue the Creative Interchange way starts with Authentic Interaction, which I’ve called in my book ‘Cruciale dialogen’[vii] Communication. The second phase is Appreciation of what’s being said. In dialogue we form a ‘common meaning’ about the question, the topic at hand. And from this place the right part of the model leads to action: Imagination, choice and Transformation.


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[i] Henry Nelson Wieman, The Source of Human Good, Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964 (2nd printing 1967), p. 101.

[ii] W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, Cambridge, Mass. MIT, Center of Advanced Engineering Study, 1983.

[iii] Johan Roels, Creative Interchange and the Greatest Human Good, https://www.slideshare.net/johanroels33/essay-creative-interchange-and-the-greatest-human-good

[iv] Stacie Hagan and Charlie Palmgren, The Chicken Conspiracy: Breaking The Cycle of Personal Stress and Organizational Mediocrity. Baltimore, MA: Recovery Communications, Inc. 1998. p. 21.

[v] Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization. New York NY: A Currency Book, Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. 1990. p. 81.

[vi] Robert Frost, A boy’s will. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915. Poem #21.

[vii] Roels Johan, Cruciale dialogen. Het dagelijks beleven van ‘creatieve wisselwerking’. Antwerpen-Apeldoorn: Garant, 2012.

 

Introduction

 The first time I heard about the living process I was born with was mid October 1992 in Atlanta (US). Not that it is of any direct importance, it happened during the week of the first baseball World Series in which games were played outside the United States. It pitted the American League (AL) champion, Toronto Blue Jays, against the National League (NL), champion Atlanta Braves. During that exceptional week I learned more about the Creative Interchange process than about the baseball game and I still remember those experiences as if they happened yesterday: both were great fun and a proof the Creative Interchange is a living process!

I happened to be in Atlanta for an ODR’s certification MOC® course level II. ODR’s CEO Daryl Conner, what I’d expected, did not run this course. Sharp on time another fellow stumbled into the Olton room of Atlanta’s Swissotel: he presented, and at the same time excused himself for, his bruised appearance (he fell the day before while running down his favorite hill ‘Stone Mountain’). I’ll never forget his opening phrase: “Our learning systems focus on what we got wrong, better approach is to look what was done right and to build on it the next day.” Officially it was a three day MOC® course. In what Charlie Palmgren taught us was extremely more deepness than what I’ve experienced during the three day Level III course run by Daryl Conner earlier that year. It took me some time to appreciatively understand that Charlie smuggled into the ODR course a basic introduction of Creative Interchange. And there was more, during the presentation of the ODR part around FOR (Frame of Reference) Charlie presented his own Vicious Circle, the process that hinders Creative Interchange.

At that course there were five participants: two ODR junior consultants and three ‘foreigners’. Those three stuck together for evening meals, to talk about what we’ve learned (for instance regarding Charlie’s one liners as “Culture teach us hypocrisy”) and to watch in the restaurant baseball games of the Atlanta Braves vs Toronto Blue Jays. One our company of three was a Canadian lady from Toronto and the other two European gents (A Dutch KPMG fellow and myself). Needless to say that we acted during those evenings as Blue Jay fans in the hometown of the Braves. Although I learned a lot during that unforgettable week about Baseball game rules, it was Creative Interchange that impressed me most.

A year later I found out that Charlie had been the ghostwriter of a chapter of Daryl Conner’s bestseller ‘Managing at the speed of Change’[i]: Chapter 12: The Synergistic Process. ICharlie called the Creative Interchange process in those years the Synergistic Process, although, off the record, as in the course in Swisotell, he called it by its genuine name: Creative Interchange.

I became a follower of Charlie Palmgren in 1994 and learned more about Creative Interchange and slowly started to live it. 

 

Creative Interchange

For Henry Nelson Wieman (Charlie’s Palmgren’s mentor), creative interchange is an experience, the kind of experience that transforms us in ways in which we cannot transform ourselves. According to him, creative interchange is the experience of spontaneous human-heartedness and human-thoughtfulness that opens us to an increasingly widened and deepened appreciation and understanding of ourselves as individual persons and of all other persons we encounter.

Ordinarily, the experience of most of us is dominated by the concerns of survival and security. This survival-security orientation easily minimizes creative Interchange between people since it is an orientation fed by the Vicious Circle[ii]. In fact, the harder we try to live within our Vicious Circle, the more intolerable life becomes. Charlie Palmgren has described the obstacles to Creative Interchange brilliantly in ‘The Chicken Conspiracy’. His mentor, Henry Nelson Wieman emphasizes, in his book, Man’s Ultimate Commitment, the obstacles as:

“These barriers to creative interchange are not only internal to the individual. They are also social. Barriers are built into all our social institutions.”[iii]

The reality is that the experience of creative interchange is a somehow difficult to attain experience of individuals and societies. Wieman is calling for the experience of creative interchange as something more than an occasional interlude in our lives; he is calling for the experience of creative interchange as the nurturing matrix out of which we continuously build, correct, and rebuild our individual lives, our societies, and the one world to which we are inescapably connected:

“Creative Interchange is that kind of interchange which creates in those who engage in it an appreciative understanding of the original experience of one another. … Creative interchange has two aspects, which are two sides of the same thing. One aspect is the understanding in some measure of the original experience of the other person. The other aspect is the integration of what one gets form others in such a way as to create progressively the original experience, which is oneself.”[iv]

 

The Nurturing Matrix of Creative Interchange

Creative interchange is that kind of experience that confirms and assures us of our sense of individuality, both apart from and in connections with other human beings. Human nature needs more than anything else if it is to be satisfied in the deepest and most far reaching ways.

Creative Interchange is not limited to the acquisition of information alone. “Creative communication in its most complete form can be described thus:

You express your whole sefl and your entire mind freely and fully and deeply an truly to the other persons who understand you most completely and appreciatively with joy in what you are as so expressed, and you yourself respond to others who express themselves freely and fully and deeply and truly while you understand them most completely and appreciatively with joy in the spirits they are.”[v]

This way, Creative communication encompasses two of the characteristics of Creative Interchange: Authentic Interacting and Appreciative Understanding. For Wieman this kind of free, full, deep and true expression between two persons is always experienced in the form of events. For him the fundamental experience of creative interchange, which is the most precious good in our lives, is rooted in events. Event, in his understanding, means passage, disclosure and growth. The Original Self emerges in a series of events, free and full of dynamic possibilities for insight, joy and constructive action. I envision this emerging as follows:

 

Creative interchange then is an ongoing series of events in the lives of people, transforming them in the direction of the greater good, as they cannot transform themselves. To Wieman “Transformation can occur only in the form of events.”[vi] Perhaps his most famous description of those events in connection with Creative Interchange is in chapter 3 “Creative Good” of ‘The Source of Human Good’. In that chapter he analyzes Creative Interchange into four subevents of emerging awareness, integrating meanings, expanding richness of quality in the appreciable world, and deepening community. His summary statement on these subevents is:

“The four subevents are: emerging awareness of qualitative meaning derived from other persons through communication [Authentic Interaction]; integrating these new meanings with others previously acquired [Appreciative Understanding]; expanding the richness of quality in the appreciable world by enlarging its meaning [Creative Integrating]; deepening the community among those who participate in this total creative event [Creative Interchange] of intercommunication [Crucial Dialogue].”[vii]

It has be underlined that those four subevents, or characteristics as Charlie Palmgren calls them, or phases as I has called them in ‘Crucial dialogues’ (one of the applications of Creative interchange), are working together and not any one of them working apart from the others constitute Creative interchange. Each may occur without the others, and often does and that’s ok. In that case though it is not creative interchange. The four can be distinguished and together they constitute creative interchange.

I described those subevents one by one in my books – ‘Creatieve wisselwerking’ as characteristics & ‘Cruciale dialogen’ as phases- and many articles. Mostly even as a ‘logic chain of events’. I made nevertheless clear that distinctions made for the purpose of analysis and understanding should not obscure the unitary and complexity of the four-fold combination necessary to Creative Interchange.

The experience of creative interchange is in itself an event with different dimensions. At its best it is the always moving, free, unplanned emerging, understanding, feeling, integrating, expanding and deepening qualities in our lives. It is our way of being in the world (and not of the world) with openness to new insights, new experiences and trusting new relationships. Through this living creative interchange from within we are able to think, feel, and act based on our core values and core qualities; we are willing and eager to be corrected, transformed and enriched by the novel possibilities inherent in shared experience.

Through Creative Interchange we have relational power. By this I mean the ability to affect others and to be affected by them. Relational power is opposed of unilateral power as Creative Interchange is opposed to the Vicious Circle. Unilateral power grows out of the dominant desire for survival, security and domination towards others and is the fruit of the Vicious Circle. Relational power nurtures a particular kind of human development and, if at work in Organizations, a particular kind of Organizational development. The secret of relational power lies in its capacity to enable people to meet one another with a basic openness of heart, mind and will, thereby rendering the progressively yielding, whenever appropriate, their most treasured and cherished beliefs and even values. Creative Interchange is the expression of relational power and, as such, is the experience of self-correction. From the perspective of Creative Interchange as relational power, we are open and expect to be transformed in the direction of the greatest good, i.e. our Original Self, as we meet others in moments of genuine dialogue. From Wieman’s point of view, any amount of knowledge, beliefs and values is fallible, and the insistence upon them as absolutely true and final is a direct blockage of the exercise of relational power, and thereby weakens the possibilities of Creative Interchange.

Creative Interchange is a self-corrective experience, and as such it is the unending experience of emerging, understanding, feeling, integrating/expanding and deepening. Therefor I use as ‘image’ of Creative Interchange the Lemniscate, which is the infinite symbol. In Wieman’s words:

“Every value pursued in modern life can become demonic – beauty, truth, morality alike – if and when it excludes the demands of creative good in the name of the false finality of what has been created.”[viii]

Charles Palmgren calls this the false finality of the created self. From Wieman and Palmgren’s frame of reference, any and every finality is false, and it is finality in its many forms that blocks and sometimes kills altogether this life enhancing self-corrective experience of Creative Interchange. Wieman makes this point extremely clear when he emphasizes that:

“At the ultimate level of commitment one commits [oneself] to the actuality, holding [one’s] beliefs about it subject to correction because [one] knows that [one’s] knowledge false short of omniscience.”[ix]

Palmgren makes his observations most forcibly when he points out that:

“Most people are just scared to death to ask them [the crucial questions regarding their created self]. For if we ask them, we may discover that we were wrong. Being wrong means being inadequate, and being inadequate means putting our worth on the line. The vicious circle plays itself out so strongly in the lives of many people that they won’t even let themselves think about ideas, ask questions, or expose topics that are beyond their current demands and expectations [i.e. their current mindset].”[x]

Those two quotes emphasize the duality between creative interchange and the vicious circle.

Our primary commitment must be to Creative Interchange, for Creative Interchange and Creative Interchange alone can transform us in ways we cannot transform ourselves. We must seek to imbed Creative Interchange into the center of all of our experiences, as the guiding principle for all that we think, express, understand, feel, imagine, decide and do in our lives. In order to do this we must abandon many of our habits, fruits of our personal Vicious Circle, thus much of our mindsets. This seems and is a very simple proposition, but like other simple propositions, we – curiously enough – have the greatest difficulty to successfully adopt it.

 

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[i] Daryl R. Conner, Managing at the speed of Change. How resilient Managers Succed and Prosper Where Others Fail. New York: Villard Books, 1993, pp. 200-215.

[ii] Stacie Hagan and Charlie Palmgren, The Chicken Conspiracy, Breaking The Cycle of Personal Stress and Organizational Mediocrity. Baltimore, MA: Recovery Communications, Inc. 1998.

[iii] Henry Nelson Wieman, Man’s Ultimate Commitment, Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America ®, Inc. Reprint, Originally published: Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, , 1958, p. 53.

[iv] Ibid. p. 22.

[v] Ibid. p. 23.

[vi] Henry Nelson Wieman, “Intelectual Autobiography,” in The Emperical Theology of Henry Nelson Wieamn, edited by Robert W. Bretall, The Library of Living Theology, New York: Macmillan, 1963, p. 3 & http://urantiabook.org/sources/wieman_autobiography.htm

[vii] Henry Nelson Wieman, The Source of Human Good, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946, p. 58.

[viii] Ibid. p. 25.

[ix] Henry Nelson Wieman, “Commitment for Theological Inquiry,” in Seeking a Faith for a New Age, edited and introduced by Cedric L. Hepler. New Jersey: The Scarcrow Press, 1975. p. 145.

[x] Stacie Hagan and Charlie Palmgren, The Chicken Conspiracy, Breaking The Cycle of Personal Stress and Organizational Mediocrity. Baltimore, MA: Recovery Communications, Inc. 1998. pp. 105-106.

 

In his book Man’s Ultimate Commitment Henry Nelson Wieman suggests that we have a need in our lives to achieve the infinite potentialities present in us at birth. In fact he stresses the importance of our commitment to a life-long process that enables us to live our lives to the fullest. In order to have the Greatest Human Good one has to commit to live Creative Interchange from within.

This special human interchange that Henry Nelson Wieman coined Creative Interchange is our ability to learn what others have learned, to appreciate what others appreciate, to feel what others feel, imagine what others imagine and to creatively integrate all this with what we have already acquired and form this way our true individuality. This creative interchange uniquely distinguishes the human mind from everything else.

You can see this beautiful process in action by watching the inquisitive behavior of any healthy young child (before the counter process, which Charlie Palmgren coined the Vicious Circle, sets in). We are all born with this ability (Creative Interchange); sadly we have lost so much (due to the Vicious Circle).

The Greatest Human Good is, according to Henry Nelson Wieman, not any state of existence or any realm beyond this world, it is the most complete transformation of the individual toward the qualities that life can yield and the fullest development of her/his humanity.

Because the Greatest Human Good must come from within ourselves and how we relate to each other we are pilgrims to the continuous improvement of this world. The Greatest Human Good is to undergo this creative transformation that enables us to appreciate most profoundly everything appreciable.

At the heart of this creative human interchange is the free mutual authentic expression of self, one to the other, while understanding and appreciating each other. So, the individual’s capacity for appreciative understanding is integral to this process.

Ironically human interchange is necessary to develop this capacity and the relationships we develop with other people are always imperfect to some degree. From infancy on we observe a decline in honest and integer interaction. At the same time we observe a rise in human interchanges that are deceptive, manipulative, … thus far from being honest and integer. Henry Nelson Wieman called this forms of interchange ‘evasive’ ones and those deaden our abilities to represent ourselves authentically and appreciatively understand the other. Charles Leroy Palmgren, who’s mentor was Henry Nelson, pointed rightly out that this evasiveness is a spin-off of a counter productive process he coined as the Vicious Circle. In fact, even our social institutions and our economical organizations are undermining our ability to creatively interchange with each other, since the Vicious Circle is omnipresent in these communities.

In these series, based on Man’s Ultimate Commitment[i], The Chicken Conspiracy[ii], Creatieve Wisselwerking[iii], The Greatest Good[iv], Ascent of the Eagle[v] and Cruciale dialogen[vi] we will discuss how creative interchange is a personal commitment; a commitment to direction rather than drift; a commitment to openness and to agility rather than closeness and rigidity; a commitment to a more comprehensive purpose, to a more inclusive understanding; a commitment to an abundance of creativity and more control from the inside-out (rather than from the outside-in) over the conditions of our existence.

By Creative Interchange Henry Nelson Wieman meant two things: (1) an authentic human dialogue that creates appreciative understanding of our unique individualities, and (2) the progressive integration within each of us what we discover from each other in this way.[vii]

Henry Nelson Wieman described Creative Interchange sometimes as having those two features and at other times as a four-fold process. Actually both are true. Each Feature has two aspects. Authentic Interacting leads to Appreciative Understanding, since the interaction involves both: sharing and appreciative understanding. Progressive integration involves both: creative integrating of what was appreciatively understood and transformation of the interacting parties. Creative interchange can be viewed as following four-fold process: Authentic Interacting, Appreciative Understanding, Creative Integrating and Continual Transformation. I’m always using the Lemniscate of Bernoulli tot picture the Creative Interchange process (and its application ‘Crucial dialogues), since the Lemniscate is the sign of infinity.

 

 

Authentic Interacting means sharing with integrity the best one knows and listening with humility to learn the best others know. Appreciative understanding is more than simply understanding ideas, facts and viewpoints of others (which is done during the interaction). Central to the concept of Appreciative Understanding is appreciation of the meaning those ideas have for the person sharing them. The meaning of ideas and facts depend very much on the mental model (mindset, frame of reference) from which they are viewed. Appreciative understanding respects the viewpoint of others. It assumes there is more than one way to look at reality and that each perspective provides some originality to see the ‘truth’. In dialogue, appreciatively understanding of each other’s views can lead to a common meaning, a common way to see the ‘truth’. The Creative Integrating aspect of the creative interchange process means that the interacting parties are changed in ways that strengthens who they were meant to be as individuals. The Continual Transformation aspect of Creative Interchange is continual transforming of oneself through the learning process Creative Interchange. For Henry Nelson Wieman this meant that we could learn form one another’s successes as well as each other’s failures. Both forms of learning have a continual transforming impact on us.

The following parts of this series discuss sources of obstruction of Creative Interchange (Part 2); the role of trust, reason, curiosity, imagination and freedom in our relationships (Part 3); the required conditions that enable the Creative Interchange process to flourish (Part 4); and our journey of transformation and commitment living Creative Interchange from within (Part 5).

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[i] Wieman, Henry Nelson. Man’s Ultimate Commitment. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991.

[ii] Hagan, Stacie and Palmgren Charlie. The Chicken Conspiracy. Breaking the Cycle of Personal Stress and Organizational Mediocrity. Baltimore MD: Recovery Communications, Inc., 1999

[iii] Roels, Johan. Creatieve wisselwerking. Nieuw business paradigma als hoeksteen van veiligheidszorg en de lerende organisatie. Leuven-Apeldoorn: Garant, 2001

[iv] Palmgren, Charlie and Petrarca, William. The Greatest Good. Rethinking the role of relationships in the moral fiber of our companies and our communities. Victoria, Canada. Trafford Publishing, 2002.

[v] Palmgren, Charlie. Ascent of the Eagle. Being and Becoming your Best. Dayton, OH: Innovative InterChange Press, 2008

[vi] Roels, Johan. Cruciale dialogen. Het dagelijks beleven van creatieve wisselwerking. Antwerpen-Apeldoorn: Garant 2012.

[vii] Wieman, Henry Nelson, op cit. p. 305

 

 Het laatste deel van deze serie is uiteraard gewijd aan het sterk weer doorgaan. We zijn opgestaan en hebben verschillende opties voor het doorgaan gecreëerd en overwogen. Die verschillende opties kunnen gezien worden als besluiten. Besluiten betekent niet hetzelfde als beslissen, hoewel de twee begrippen soms (verkeerdelijk) als synoniemen door elkaar gebruikt worden. Besluiten is afwegingen maken, grondig over alternatieven nadenken en tot besluit een keuze maken. Beslissen legt de nadruk op het vastleggen van een afspraak, een antwoord gevend op de vragen serie betreffende het gekozen besluit: “Wie, doet wat, waar en wanneer?”

Het onderscheid tussen besluiten en beslissen zie je aan de gemoedsgesteldheid van diegenen die het ‘passieve’ gedeelte van de cruciale dialoog afronden. Na een besluit is er geen creatiespanning. Er werd namelijk niet beslist iets daadwerkelijk te doen. Je kunt nu eenmaal niet aangesproken worden op wat er besloten is. Gezien er niets beslist is, heeft niemand zich tot iets verbonden. Wanneer er een beslissing wordt genomen en deze bovendien wordt vastgelegd dan is er verantwoordelijkheid genomen. Er zal dus iets dienen te gebeuren, waardoor de creatiespanning wel aanwezig is. Indien ik in het kader van het ‘sterk-weer-doorgaan’ proces bovendien anderen van m’n beslissing op de hoogte breng, weet ik bovendien dat ik op mijn verantwoordelijkheid om mijn beloftes waar te maken, kan aangesproken worden. Dit is ook de raad die ik meegeef. Zorg, tijdens jouw persoonlijk ‘sterk-weer-doorgaan’ proces, ervoor dat mensen om je heen, die je dierbaar zijn, op de hoogte zijn van je beslissing opdat ze jou door eerlijke feedback zouden kunnen coachen.

Dit deel gaat over doorgaan door het effectief nakomen van de beloftes die je aan jezelf hebt gemaakt. Ik noem het ook transformatie omdat gedurende die fase ik mezelf transformeer. Ik groei naar een nieuwe ‘gecreëerde zelf’ met een nieuwe mindset. De oude mindset wordt losgelaten, indien we niet terug afglijden in oud stereotype gedrag. Deze transformatiefase vergt ook de meeste energie.

Men hoort tegenwoordig vaak dat de toekomst aan diegenen zijn die ‘wendbaar’ en ‘weerbaar’ zijn. Daarbij wordt het begrip wendbaar nogal eens ingewisseld voor het synoniem ‘Agile’. Agile is voor mij dan weer een synoniem voor Creatieve wisselwerking en iemand die het Creatief wisselwerkingsproces van binnen uit beleeft, is per definitie ook ‘resilient’ (weerbaar). Een wendbare persoon heeft geen ‘updates’ nodig want hij verbetert continu. Vandaar een van mijn favoriete slagzinnen: (CI)²= Continuous Improvement through Creative Interchange!

De transformatie is op de keper beschouwd een transformatie van de mindset.

Zien met nieuwe ogen is zien van uit een nieuw denkkader, van uit een nieuwe ‘mindset’ zou m’n derde vader Charlie Palmgren stellen. Diens mentor, Henry Nelson Wieman, zei ooit: “Creative Interchange is the process that changes the mind, since the mind cannot change itself.”

Beslissen betreft het omslagpunt tussen het opstaan en het doorgaan. Beslissen heeft te maken met kiezen van oplossingen uit de set die tijdens het vorige deel werd gecreëerd. Die zullen in de laatste fase ‘Transformatie’ effectief worden uitgevoerd.

Het omslagpunt kan gevisualiseerd worden met m’n Cruciale Dialoogmodel. Er bevindt zich als het ware een ‘staande’ lemniscaat in de ‘grote’ lemniscaat, die ik, in navolging van Lex Bos[i], gekozen heb als basisvorm voor het Cruciale Dialoogmodel. Het gaat als het ware om een dialoog rond de hamvraag “Welke van de mogelijke oplossingen kiezen we om daadwerkelijk uit te voeren?”. Deze ‘dialoog in de dialoog’, waarbij ook de voor de acties nodige middelen worden afgetoetst, dient de beslissing vooraf te gaan.

 

Stephen Covey schreef al meer dan twintig jaar geleden in zijn nog steeds actueel boek: ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’: “Begin met het einde voor ogen!”[ii] Die opdracht leidt naar de gegenereerde oplossingen, oplossingen die, met inzet van de daartoe nodige middelen, het gewenste doel, de gewenste toekomst creëren.

Ook schuilt er waarheid in mijn parafrase van de befaamde Edison quote: “Transformatie is voor 1% inspiratie en voor 99% transpiratie”. De originele quote heeft het over genialiteit. Je moet inderdaad geniaal zijn om een transformatie ‘within time and whitin budget’ tot een goed einde te brengen,.

Een ander belangrijk element ligt besloten in de paradox van Henry Nelson Wiemans’ ‘two fold commitment’. Enerzijds dient men ten volle voor de beslissing te gaan, met gedrevenheid en hardnekkigheid, dus niet versagen is de boodschap. Anderzijds dient met voortdurend open te staan om te leren wat de veranderlijke werkelijkheid te bieden heeft en dus durven te wijzigen (indien die werkelijkheid daar om vraagt).

Commitment en Intrinsieke Motivatie het gouden duo.

Inzet (commitment) is de bereidheid om alles te doen wat nodig is om de acties die je gekozen en beloofd hebt uit te voeren, ook daadwerkelijk te verwezenlijken. Het gaat om de bereidheid buiten je ‘comfortzone’ te gaan. Onvoorwaardelijke inzet dus.

Intrinsieke motivatie is de prikkel om te doen wat je beloofd hebt te doen. Het is de reden waarom je elke dag weer je bed uit komt en weer de handen aan de ploeg slaat.

Als je wel gemotiveerd bent, maar je hebt onvoldoende commitment, dan zal de transformatie niet succesvol zijn. Dan ben je iemand die wel de correcte droom heeft maar denkt dat het vanzelf komt of niet bereid is zich maximaal in te zetten. Hierdoor zal je vlug ontmoedigd worden en uiteindelijk niet succesvol zijn.

Als je wel de bereidheid heeft je maximaal in te zetten, maar heeft daar geen duidelijke reden toe (motivatie) dan zal je uiteindelijk ook niet effectief zijn. Beide, naast de passie voor het leven, zijn dus essentieel voor succesvolle transformatie.

Tenaciteit

Intrinsieke Motivatie en Commitment zijn de ingrediënten voor de basisconditie Tenaciteit. Tenaciteit betekent “het vasthoudend nastreven van wat wordt gewenst” en heeft als synoniemen vasthoudendheid, volharding en doorzettingsvermogen. Het is het volhoudend uitvoeren van het actieplan teneinde het gewenste te realiseren. Tenaciteit omvat ook het actieplan blijvend volgen totdat het beoogde doel bereikt is of ophoudt redelijkerwijze bereikbaar te zijn. Anders gesteld: het vasthouden aan een gekozen aanpak totdat het beoogde doel bereikt is en niet versagen op momenten van twijfel en ontgoocheling eigen aan verandering.

Belangrijk is ook dat het vasthoudend gedrag niet krampachtig en gesloten wordt, maar toegankelijk blijft voor verstandelijke beredenering en bovendien berust op een goed aanvoelen van de realiteit.

Endurance is patience concentrated.

Thomas Carlyle

Volharding is geconcentreerd geduld. Inderdaad, de kernkwaliteit ‘geduld’ is een noodzaak om te volharden in het verder bewandelen van de ingeslagen weg, totdat de realisatie van het beoogde een feit is. Ook mag niet uit het oog verloren worden dat elk veranderingsproces tijd vergt.

Geduldig uitvouwen van wat besloten werd, is de boodschap.

Understand that your success in life won’t be determined just by what’s given to you, or what happens to you, but by what you do with all that’s given to you; what you do with all that happens to you; how hard you try; how far you push yourself; how high you’re willing to reach. True excellence only comes to perseverance.

President Barack Obama (Remarks by the President at Kalamazoo Central High School Commencement, June 2010)

Vasthoudendheid mag echter geen koppigheid worden. Vasthoudendheid helt over naar koppigheid wanneer doorgezet wordt zonder dat men met de realiteit rekening houdt. Dan is men ook niet deskundig. Ook dat is tenaciteit: het blijven observeren van de veranderende werkelijkheid. Wanneer door het blijvend observeren van de werkelijkheid duidelijk wordt dat de gewenste realiteit op die manier onbereikbaar is of wanneer door nieuwe gegevens duidelijk wordt dat er betere oplossingen zijn, dient de aanpak grondig in vraag te worden gesteld.

Koppig volharden, wordt bijna altijd volharden in koppigheid.

Jean de Boisson (Pseudoniem van Cees Buddingh)

Interafhankelijkheid

De andere basisconditie van dit onderdeel in het ‘sterk-weer-opstaan’ proces is interafhankelijkheid. Voor de werkelijke uitvoering van onze beloftes om door te gaan zijn we afhankelijk van anderen. Er is sprake van een wederzijdse afhankelijkheid.

Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being.

Mahatma Gandhi

In Stephen Covey’s reeds geciteerde boek ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ wordt gesteld: Our objective is to move progressively on a maturity continuum from dependence to independence to interdependence. Although independence is the current paradigm of our society, we can accomplish much more by cooperation and specialization. However, we must achieve independence before we can choose interdependence.”

Stephen Covey geeft daarbij de volgende betekenissen:

  • Afhankelijkheid: Jij moet voor mij zorgen;
  • Onafhankelijkheid; Ik zorg (eerst) voor mezelf;
  • Interafhankelijkheid: Wij leren van elkaar en kunnen samen 
grootse dingen bereiken door synergetische samenwerking.

Na de beslissing start dus een ‘lange tocht’ die meestal niet vrijblijvend is. “When the Rubber meets the Road’ is een typisch Amerikaanse uitdrukking, die ik van Charlie Palmgren leerde. Zolang het besluit in de lucht hangt, ondervindt het relatief weinig hinder, uiteraard in de veronderstelling dat het niet uit de lucht wordt gescho- ten (cf. de afknalzinnen). Op het moment dat het ‘landt’ en dus een beslissing wordt, ontstaat een enorme wrijving, vergelijkbaar met de wrijving die de wielen van het landingsgestel ondervinden wanneer een vliegtuig na een vlucht opnieuw het tarmac raakt. Het moment dat men overgaat tot actie ondervindt de belofte plots grote hinder in zoverre dat veel beloftes uiteindelijk niet volledig gerealiseerd worden.

Vaardigheden

Om die beloftes tijdens deze ruwe tocht te beschermen, omvat deze fase naast de reeds vermelde basiscondities Tenaciteit of Vasthoudendheid en Interafhankelijkheid (i.e. van elkaar wederzijds afhankelijk zijn) en volgende vaardigheden:

  • Het blijvend Herhalen en Evalueren van de uitvoering van de beloofde activiteiten;
  • Vragen om Feedback (Positive Reinforcement en Corrigeren);
  • Durven Wijzigen (indien nodig);
  • Aandachtig beleven van het proces; het zó belangrijke 
Procesbewustzijn.

Door het effectief ‘doorgaan’ verandert – terwijl de wereld buiten ons niet ophoudt te veranderen – ook en vooral de wereld binnen ons. Dit is ook nodig volgens W. Edwards Deming. Deze kwaliteitsgoeroe verwoordde het zo: “Nothing changes without personal transformation”.

Personal transformation can and does have global effects.

As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us.

The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.

Marianne Williamson

Voor verdere beschrijving van de vaardigheden verwijs ik graag naar m’n boek ‘Cruciale dialogen’[iii]. Vooral het blijvend bewustzijn van het creatief wisselwerkingsproces tijdens de realisatie van de beloofde acties is van groot belang. We zijn ons binnen het procesbewustzijn er ook van bewust of wat we aan het doen zijn, gedaan wordt met de intentie en de gedragsvaardigheden van Creatieve Wisselwerking of dat we eerder handelen vanuit onze Vicieuze Cirkel. Blijvend verbonden zijn met het Creatief wisselwerkingsproces staat garant voor het uiteindelijk blijven doorgaan!

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________

[i] Bos, Alexander H. Oordeelsvorming in Groepen. Proefschrift Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen, H. Veenman & Zonen: Wageningen, 1974.

[ii] Covey, Stephen R. The seven habits of highly effective people, Fireside: New York, 1990. Habit 2, pp 95-144.

[iii] Roels, J., Cruciale dialogen. De dagelijkse beleving van het ‘Creatieve wisselwerking. Antwerpen – Apeldoorn: Garant, 2012.

 

Belang van eigenaarschap in het kader van ‘Veiligheid’ en ‘Dienstverlening’

Sta me toe de definitie van eigenaarschap te herhalen: Eigenaarschap is het zich identificeren met ondernemerschap en verantwoordelijkheid nemen voor eigen inbreng (kwaliteit van de dienstverlening en van het contact met de klant). Eigenaarschap begint dus bij onszelf en vormt onze menselijkheid, onze bedrage. Die menselijkheid vind je in ‘het lichaam van onze persoonlijke vlinder’.[i]

In het kader van ‘Veiligheid’ en ‘Dienstverlening’ kunnen we ons de vraag stellen, behoren ‘Veiligheid’ en ‘Dienstverlening’ tot onze persoonlijke waarden. Daarbij bedenken wij dat een waarde, een doelzoekende activiteit is. Dit is overigens de definitie van het begrip ‘waarde’ volgens Henry Nelson Wieman, de ont-dekker van Creative Interchange[ii].

Eigenaarschap is belangrijk want de grondhouding van elke professioneel.

Eigenaarschap is verantwoordelijkheid, aansprakelijkheid, empowerment & het juiste gebruik van macht in het kader van partnerschap voor het behalen van de gewenste resultaten. De resultaten in het kader van Veiligheid en Dienstverlening liggen voor de hand. Voor ‘veiligheid’ is dat ‘het beheersen van de risico’s’ en voor dienstverlening ‘het verstrekken van hoogwaardige kwaliteit aan een aanvaardbare prijs.’ De resultaten zijn dus voor de eigenaars belangrijk, ze zijn authentiek – ze horen bij hen. Het partnerschap is van het grootste belang in het kader van ‘Veiligheid’ en ‘Dienstverlening’. Cruciale vraag daarbij zijn: “Met wie vormen we hierbij een partnerschap?” “Wie zijn onze partners?” “Zijn die echt mede-eigenaar?”

Soms worden die partners ook de ‘betrokken partijen” genoemd en het antwoord op bovenstaande vragen heeft dus alles te maken met het identificeren van deze betrokken partijen. Met andere woorden wie zijn de echt ‘betrokken partijen’ in het kader van ‘Veiligheid’/‘Dienstverlening”?

In tijden van snelle veranderingen stelt dit andere eisen aan organisaties en medewerkers dan dat we tot dusver gewend waren. Uitdagingen bij dit eigenaarschap zijn:

  • Hoe langer hoe flexibeler zijn. De klant wil een uniek antwoord, dus dienen we hoe langer hoe ‘wendbaarder’ te zijn. In het huidige management jargon heet dat ‘agile’. En laat nu de hoeksteen van ‘agile’, ‘Creative Interchange’ zijn…
  • Passie en engagement (niet alleen betrokkenheid!) op peil houden zonder dat er zekerheid is. Zekerheid is overigens een illusie van een paar paradigma’s her!
  • Strategieën die onder dwang ondernemerschap en eigenaarschap moeten creëren zijn eigenlijk niet uit te voeren. Drucker’s uitspraak “Culture eat strategy for breakfast!” is hier kenschetsend. Nogmaals, eigenaarschap invoeren komt neer op het creëren van een Creative Interchange Culture.
  • Echt eigenaarschap vraagt om gelijkwaardigheid in de relatie, daarom vormt partnerschap een onderdeel van zelfsturende teams en is het beleven van het Cruciale dialoogmodel daarbij van enorm belang.
  • Eigenaarschap is dus méér dan goede communicatie, het gaat om het creëren van een machtsevenwicht. Onze aansprakelijkheid in twee richtingen. Je kunt jezelf verantwoordelijk voelen, maar als je niet communiceert komt er geen beweging in. Wanneer je je eigenaar voelt van iets, komt er beweging in. Je bent geëngageerd en je dialogeert. Dialoog is een hogere vorm van communicatie en streeft naar continue verbetering. Daarbij is het “zijn’ even belangrijk als het ‘doen’.

Eigenaarschap leidt naar zelforganisatie, hetgeen zowel de werknemer (arbeidsvreugde, respect, …) als de organisatie (betere professionele output, tevreden klanten, …) ten goede komt.

Het gaat bovendien altijd om maatwerk. De volgende stappen zijn in het kader van Veiligheid en Dienstverlening zinvol:

  • Kader vaststellen: vastleggen van gezamenlijke visie en doel, met duiden van de wezenlijke ‘waarom vraag’ en commitment onder de stakeholders en vastleggen van de gewenste resultaten en de monitoring ervan;
  • Operationaliseren van gewenst collectief gedrag: beeld krijgen van huidige cultuur en gedrag én van de gewenste cultuur en gedrag; uiteindelijk vastleggen van dit gedrag;
  • Faciliteren van het leren (individueel en collectief): dialoog en coaching (individueel en team; daarstellen van een interactieve leeromgeving;
  • Versterken van eigenaarschap: creëren van een samenhangend geheel van activiteiten gericht op bevordering van eigenaarschap.

Die activiteiten zijn alle activiteiten om het Creatief wisselwerkingsproces te bevorderen. Dus ook deze om de condities daartoe te creëren en om de vaardigheden te (kunnen) ontplooien.

[i] Roels, Johan. Cruciale dialogen, Het dagelijks beleven van Creatieve wisselwerking. Antwerpen-Apeldoorn: Garant, 2012.

[ii] Wieman, Henry Nelson. What is Creative Interchange? Interchange, January, 1970.