September 12, 2013

Your Permission Is Not Necessary


"We really need to have a launch party the day tickets to TEDxIndianapolis go on sale."

When I heard a fellow planning committee member make this suggestion, my first thought was, "Uh, I'm pretty sure we don't."

I mean, come on.  Have a launch party just because tickets are now available?  Who would think you should invest your limited time and resources in an event that really isn't necessary?

Apparently a good percentage of our planning committee members as I paid attention to their reactions to the idea.

Despite the additional enthusiasm, I remained skeptical: we didn't need a special event just to kick off the ticket sales.  People would be ready to snatch their seats the minute they became available online.

But I decided to keep my mouth shut and not express any of my reservations.  Because the bottom line was that my permission wasn't required.  Someone had passion for an idea.  Others also held interest.  And they were going to make it a reality.

A few weeks ago, much to my amazement, 100-200 people came out to our launch event.  They were entertained by local DJs and musicians, enjoyed some free food and drink, engaged in some creative exercises related to our TEDxIndianapolis theme, stood to have their pictures taken holding an X, and bought their tickets at computer terminals set up for that purpose.

So while I still hold on to my belief that we didn't need to have a launch party.  I can now appreciate and support why people may want to have one and the value that it can offer.

This experience again reminded me that not everything requires our explicit permission or outright support in order to move forward. Sometimes simply remaining on the sidelines, observing but not obstructing, is all that is required.

P.S.  In the Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, this idea of observing without obstructing is called stand aside.  It is one of several gradients of agreement, and I have found this scale to be a useful tool in my work with groups/

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