Master keys unlock every door. They are incredibly powerful.
When thinking about how to unlock the potential that rests within a group of people coming together to collaborate, I'd like to suggest two questions you can ask yourself, ones that function as personal master keys:
- What contribution can I make in this conversation to advance our collective work?
- What factors do I need to consider to successfully make that contribution?
What contribution can I make in this conversation to advance our collective work?
Answering this question requires mentally stepping outside the group and assessing its current reality without judgment, much as a facilitator might:
- What is happening?
- What is being said?
- How are people interacting?
- What is the mix of participation (both extroverted and introverted)?
- Whose voices are not being heard?
- What perspectives are not present among the actual participants?
- Where does agreement or disagreement exist?
- Where is there understanding and where might confusion exist?
- What's absent from the discussions?
What factors should I consider to successfully make my identified contribution?
Your contribution will occur within a context and culture. Think about the action you've identified in relation to the following question in order the shape the manner in which you might the contribute:
- What is the culture in which this group operates, as well as the culture of the group itself?
- What trust and social capital have you built with groups members and which ones?
- How alike or different is the contribution you want to make from how you normally act in this group? How might this affect how it will be perceived or received?
- How might your default style help or inhibit you successfully making the contribution you've identified?
- How might you modify your tone, expression, language, et al in order to have people hear the value you are trying to contribute?
- What observable behavior and understood data can you link your contribution to and how might you build on what others have shared?
When all else fails, consider consulting a "locksmith", someone whose personal qualities and/or experience with the group might help with a stubborn lock.