Last week, two Colorado entrepreneurs asked me to develop a business model that would utilize their talents (and my own). I've been immersed in the design process and enjoying it immensely. One of the design themes that emerged is the following:
Rather than create an enterprise to fix problems, we are developing a way for relationships to get repaired or restored. When relationships are broken, there are countless opportunities to learn about oneself and the others. There are ways to outgrow past outlooks. We will use processes that change patterns of reacting and interacting.
Any obvious problem (with business, education, communication, etc) is the symptom of an underlying relationship problem.
When the underlying relationship problem is resolved -- the obvious problem vanishes without any expenditure of time, effort or money. An example from the discussion of last's week's Excellent Cheating may be helpful to grasp how problems easily disappear.When classroom teachers "ask for plagiarism", they maintain broken relationships with their students. The teachers cannot relate to the students' points of view, look through the students' eyes, or support their intentions. The teachers attempt to control perceived misbehavior. Teachers close their minds, misdiagnose the problem, escalate the tensions, and learn nothing in the process. Cheat is not excellent, it's despicable.
Students then feel blamed, criticized, misunderstood and manipulated. The situation provides incentives to retaliate, create difficulties, oppose the power structure and sacrifice shared goals. Problems with plagiarism abound.When the underlying relationship is restored, plagiarism vanishes. Teachers look through the students' eyes and see how plagiarism has been requested and rewarded. The teachers relate to the students' desires for "games worth playing". Teachers learn to stop assigning submittals that can be outsourced and plagiarized. Teachers open their minds to ways learning really happens. Students are engaged in expressing their own viewpoint, making decisions that have consequences, and experimenting with their own actions to discover the best approach. Their submittals are unique, heartfelt and records of personal experiences.
Students then feel valued, nurtured, guided and understood. The situation provides incentives to relate, create common ground, collaborate with authority figures and work toward common goals. Cheating makes no sense. Plagiarism vanishes.When relationships are healthy, learning occurs. Differences become lessons. Changes occur to support the relationship. Everyone involved says they are growing from the experience. Solutions are found that abandon the obvious problems.