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Discovering Your Wisdom

This posting is the promised Part Two of What Everyone Should Understand About True North's Mastering Projects Workshop.

Read that posting before you read this one, to get the contiguous story!

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Finally, we invite people to bring themselves to the workshop. Not the role you play or the title you display, but your shoes-off self. To arrive skeptical if you are skeptical. Optimistic if you are optimistic. Curious if you are curious.

We invite you to bring yourself to the workshop because I noticed, after attending many workshops, that I usually didn’t show up. I sent who I was supposed to be in my stead, and this surrogate postured and posed, and stayed in his head where no situated learning could really penetrate. If managing projects is a continuing act of self discovery, then bringing your self to the effort seems necessary, essential.

We cultivate individuals in this workshop.

“What do we mean by individual cultivation? What is the theoretical background of individual cultivation? More advanced forms of learning try to go beyond the classical transfer model. That is to say, the understanding of learning as a process of transferring more or less stable chunks of knowledge from one brain to another is replaced by a more dynamic perspective: learning as a continuous and active process of adaptation and construction in which knowledge is developed in permanent interaction between the cognitive system and its environment.”
Markus F. Peschl
- Triple-Loop Learning as Foundation for Profound Change, Individual Cultivation, and Radical Innovation

We’re interested in discovering what you see, what you prefer, how you respond to difficulties so that you can see yourself in action. This cultivation produces individuals properly situated to resolve the dilemmas they encounter on their project. We consider some of these dilemmas—Should you plan the whole, or just the foreseeable parts? Are you loyal to your manager or your assigned team? Who you discover yourself to be when situated within one of these dilemmas determines the choices available to resolve them. No method involved, other than mindful engagement.

Rather than transfer method-level information, this workshop employs focusing tools—a series of lenses through which to consider your project to help you make better informed choices. We believe that poorly informed choice is the most insidious form of slavery, and that latitude for action comes from becoming better informed about the actions you might take.

One of our focusing tools, for instance, considers your mindset about your project. Mindset, positive or negative, hopeful or hopeless, tends to be causative. We create what we believe we will create at some mysterious level. Considering what your mindset is and deliberately choosing what it will be is one way to gain leverage over even otherwise hopeless-seeming situations.

There is little in this workshop that’s covered in any way in the popular project management trainings. No instructions for calculating a critical path, no directions for controlling change, for this is not a deductive experience but an inductive one. We are conditioning you for the real work your project will bring you, and those deductive, technique-focused models for responding prove poorly situated to provide much real leverage. Besides, you can learn these techniques anywhere. We’re offering something quite different.

This is a difference that makes a real difference. When you return, and your boss asks you what you learned, you’ll probably find yourself unable to crisply respond. There might not be ten bullet items you can explain to anyone who was not there. Those who were there, though, will understand in ways no words could properly express. You’ll feel different as you engage in the same old activities. And you’ll notice choices that never seemed to be there before.

Whether this experience changes anything you do, it’s likely to profoundly change how you relate to your work. Ask your boss to watch. He’ll probably notice, too. And those you work with might ask you about the secret, what happened in that workshop you attended, and think you’ve made some pact of silence when you find yourself unable to explain. But they’ll notice the difference. Invite them to attend. They, too, will experience profound learning, and will find themselves unable to explain, too.

“... profound change does not only happen in the cognitive domains, but touches a more fundamental necessary to make changes in this domain than to change one’s intellectual, philosophical, political, etc. position. Philosophically, one can refer to this domain as the “person.” It goes beyond the level of personal skills, competencies, personality, etc. because it transcends the domain of personality traits, behavioral and cognitive patterns, solely quantifiable data, etc. It touches the person on his/her fundamental level of being and, in many cases, concerns the domain of wisdom."
Markus F. Peschl
- Triple-Loop Learning as Foundation for Profound Change, Individual Cultivation, and Radical Innovation

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