Thursday

Transparent communication and satisfactory outcomes

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. - George Bernard Shaw
When specialists in organization dynamics discuss "Transparent Communication" the topic starts to share some of the concepts pervasive in areas such as Zen, Aikido and other sophisticated and mature martial arts, subject/object dualism and ontology. In Aikido, we learn to "blend" with our counterpart during encounters. Students and practitioners of Zen seeking "satori" learn to erase barriers between themselves and the instruments of their practice (Eugene Herrigel wrote a wonderful intro to the topic in the classic "Zen in the Art of Archery"). At one point, he describes a Zen archer drawing the bow, concentrating on the target: the archer may actually be surprised when the arrow is released, because it is not the archer himself who releases the bow: it is the blended system of the archer, arrow, bow and target -- "it" will shoot when all is ready.

Broken down to its three syllables, the word Aikido derives from:
  • "Ai" means in Harmony or Union with;
  • "Ki" refers to the Spirit or Universal power;
  • "Do"means the Way or Path.
  • Together, "Aikido" generally means "The Way in Harmony with the Spirit."
Taking a step back from this and considering "Ki" - Some, with a more religious bent, tend to think of this as a very spiritual kind of power. Others with a background more deeply rooted in science may internalize the concept of "Ki" as a general representation of the underlying physical nature of the universe, the laws of motion, etc. Interestingly enough, the teachings overlap and converge in many ways. Aikido practice develops a deeply ingrained intuitive understanding of the interplay between two (or more) people. The more advanced the practitioner, the more effortless -- and yet more powerful -- his or her movement.

There are clearly unifying concepts across all of these disciplines -- and many more. The more barriers we can tear down, the less resistance and the greater the possibilities to achieve an outcome satisfactory to all involved. Sounds obvious in retrospect - but it's perhaps one of those concepts far too often neglected in the development of company cultures and management.

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