Listen for Downloading Part One of Two
Theory U by Otto Scharmer details four levels of listening as the source for great leadership. 1) Downloading 2) Factual 3) Empathic 4) Generative. The model changed the way I listen and hear. To hear means having the mind opened. The heart follows. The theory is not exclusive to interactions in an institution either. It applies to a personal life too.
The lowest common denominator to listen is acceptance of one’s own voice and another’s humanity. Accept how we listen. Scharmer refers to this listening of our own thoughts as downloading.
Downloading comes from the prison or place of our own mental model. It is where we disconfirm and discredit a information. The prison locks in old habits of the mind. It doesn’t welcome other insights.
To change, I change. I decide to move with an open mind and heart because I want change. I want innovation. I want transformation.
It’s simpler to walk around an empty room alone with my own thinking. No one disagrees with me. In that room, the mind speaks from the downloading place. There, discomfort fires up when I’m probed to consider other perspectives. Angst is good though. And acknowledging disagreeableness is better. It influences knowledge and unlocks a door to recognize downloading.
Take notice, leaders. Look for patterns from Downloading. The patterns from the mind’s prison prohibit an open mind and heart.
Confirming / Disconfirming Information
A work environment confirms information. And it should in certain spaces. There are MOUs and training manuals. Directives and technical processes and instructions. There are specific named goals and targets. It’s easy to brainstorm a list to confirm knowledge in many areas.
I am comforted in my personal life with confirming information. I am confirmed in social circles as well. I enroll in classes that affirm me. I am reaffirmed by some media I follow. I generally don’t worry about disagreement. I align with confirming information. I confirm my opinions and judgements.
If the mind disconfirms input, we go to a mental file of what we’ve learned, what we’ve listened to, and what we’ve read.
But the file is a facsimile. It aligns with what we’ve learned, listened to, and read! Downloading tells me what I already know. Information comes from past learning and has nothing to do with the present.
Who steps up to acknowledge downloading? “Oh, I have a mind-set stuck in the past like a prisoner sentenced for life?” That’s the fate of Charlottesville’s Neo-Nazi. He downloaded hate perpetuated through years before his staged demise. If you watched any part of Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson’s hearings, you saw downloading in its most inhumane form. Few GOP talked over, under, and around any attempt the Judge offered as answers.
(This is not about Mental Health concerns, especially with those receiving medical attention.)
My words may not show how deeply rooted in a past I am. But humanity choreographs actions at times to watch words in action. We act out older ways of functioning from culture, systemic policies, racial bias, politics, and, yes, colonization.
Working in the trenches with humanity is like sitting on a teeter-totter. On one end is ongoing change efforts. Downloaded information sits comfortably on the other end. Downloaded words can be rewritten and transformed into another script. A rewritten playbook includes a just, equitable nation. The leaders of that union listen to hear. But it all begins with the words I choose to write on my script.
Where do you sit on the teeter-totter?
Making the Point for Trainers and Facilitators
Trainers/ facilitators sometimes get lodged inside of downloading. I have. I catch myself in downloading when a disagreeable interaction happens.
We’ve all sat in professional development and meetings. We listen to downloading trainer carry on. Gleeful bantering on without checking in with an audience is evident. One circular loop of downloaded information generates one outcome. That circle is the repetition from old learning. Nothing new evolves. Questioning from the group halts.
Participatory leadership moves outside of downloading. It influences an open mind to listen for innovation.
Discovery with ST Consulting provides strategies to observe downloading. Trainers understand a bigger picture instead of a prison from old habits. Personal creativity and organizational development await.