The range of what we think or do is limited by what we fail to notice

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28 / 5 / 2015 9.32am

By Nicoll Loyd

‘Linger  longer…  noticing’
Mona Siddique Keynote Address, ODNE Conference 2015

Reviewing my reflections from this year’s ODNE Conference, in my notebook I spotted the note: ‘linger…noticing…risk…share what’s been noticed’ -  notes I took from listening to Mona Siddique’s opening address to the conference. As I write this, my first blog, I thought it might be interesting to share what I noticed through being a part of the OD community who convened at Roffey Park...there was a lot to notice!

The first thing happened before the conference began; this was the generosity and pro-activity of NHS Employers and the Do OD network, to cover the costs of four people from their network, to attend as their guests. The commitment to support the development of the OD community – its profile, confidence and capability was symbolised for me in this ‘free place’ gesture. I duly set about reflecting on my motivations for wanting to attend: to learn more, to become differently connected, to have my brain stretched, to appreciate the work of others....and hey - my name is pulled out of the hat and I'm off navigating my way to Horsham.

My travelling companion, Tracey Watson, will I'm sure cover off her reflections of our journey down - not least her titter at me for my lack of competence in using Twitter. Therein lies another thing I had been noticing about me recently....letting go of my reluctance to use technology to share stuff. I've asked myself: 'Is this about me having things to say that people might want to listen to?'....and technology incompetence anxiety....'How do you tweet...how do I develop the knack? How do I manage my lack of confidence when all around me I believe colleagues have this technology cracked? They are sorted…capable…confident…knowledgeable…mastering the technology rather than being mastered by it…with plenty to comment and talk about in this strange abbreviated vocabulary that you are also required to adopt that maximises your message and minimises your character use.

As I write, I am mindful of the range of assumptions I am running about how Twitter exists in other peoples’ worlds, and how those assumptions run a risk of minimising me, of keeping me immobilised, keeping me quiet.

Dr. John Scherer, in his key note address, invited us to reflect on five questions. I’m not going to highlight all of them, but the first one ‘What confronts me?’ – is worthy of mention. He illustrated his point by drawing our attention to the interaction between a human being and a tiger. If you see a tiger, get scared and run, then it is hot-wired to come after you and there will be but one winner; the beauty, physique and speed of the tiger will reduce you to dinner.

If, however, you stop and confront the tiger, take a moment, look him in the eye, he will stop and think about it; whether to come and chase after you. In this moment, you have created a chance – the possibility of a different outcome.

Going back to my relationship with Twitter, I have a choice. To cut and run - to believe that others are so much more able and sorted in their technological and ‘twitter text’ eloquence than I am – or to go there – to take a minute and size up the situation. I’ve been technologically challenged in the past and have mastered a pc, mobile phone, Now TV, so why should Twitter be any different?

You may be thinking, ‘So what?' at this point as I bare my soul about confronting my technological fears. 

My reality as an OD practitioner, when I am in that field of complexity that reflects organisational life, is that I feel when the tiger is present: when I’m in a situation with someone more senior and something needs to be said and I bring it to the meeting; when there is a single line of reasoning being voiced and I challenge to draw attention to possibilities, perhaps hidden; where there are consequences for a course of action which subvert the original intentions; when colleagues ‘just want to get on’ and I invite them to stop a minute and notice.

At times like this I do spend time sizing the situation up, connecting with my own values and OD values, asking myself a version of ‘Do I ask…do I keep quiet?’ or 'Do I run?' In those moments I am quickly navigating between my own safety and the greater good of our endeavour - for the person, team or organisation.

Over the last couple of months I can think of two occasions where I nearly ran, because I nearly didn’t believe it was worth saying anything. Despite myself I faced the tiger up and for one of the occasions I was able to offer a provocation which offered a vocabulary for others and enabled them to contribute their view. 

Before I wrap my first blog up, I am now wondering how much of the behaviour we encounter at work comes as a result of colleagues running from their tiger or from fronting it up? How much, in the NHS of today, we operate from a survive mode or a thrive one? Is there a bravery associated with being an OD practitioner, or is it as simple as noticing how you are connected to your values, assist others connect with theirs and what happens when you/we speak from them?

As for my journey with Twitter… I have people following me now!  I’m liking and re-tweeting the posts of others and am more inclined to make my own comments. So thanks to ODNE Europe and the guys at DoOD for helping my relationship with my tiger #twitteryesIcan

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