Tag: Understanding

Understanding is always partial

A quick reminder from Quaker Meeting.

Thanks for holding the camera Kitsie!

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.

Just finished a Quaker Meeting in this room where a woman said, “Understanding is always partial.” What a good reminder. You know sometimes I’m apt to think that I understand it all but I do well to keep in mind that I never understand it all. There are always other people that have a piece of the truth. There is always more for me to learn.

When I think I know it all, for one, I miss the opportunity of anybody else being able to contribute. And two, I miss the opportunity of me learning anything new.

Understanding it’s great. It’s wonderful for me to be able to say, “I get it, I understand that.” But it’s also great to be able to say, “I don’t understand it at all. I don’t know what else is to be revealed.”

You can help your group by always remembering that understanding is always partial.

Thanks for listening everybody.

When you speak from personal experience

When you speak from personal experience you are on solid ground. When you speak on authority of divine guidance or even on scientific authority, you are more subject to challenge. Craig explains in the video.

And he made this a video at a Make Shift Coffee House! It’s a place where people come to understand each other’s political views. Learn more here: MakeShiftCoffeeHouse.com

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.

I’ve been thinking about speaking from authority. There are two or three different authorities that somebody can speak from when they’re trying to persuade others of a certain way; a certain belief.

One set of authority is scientific fact and when I speak from that place of authority, I might get in a debate about which scientific facts are more correct than others.

Another basis for authority is divine authority. I might say this is what God has told me to believe or this is what the Bible says and when I try to persuade somebody of something based on that platform of authority, I might find myself in a debate about whether my God knows better than your God.

But there’s a third basis for authority and that is personal experience. When I talk about what I have seen and what I have felt, I’m on solid ground. It’s very hard to argue with my personal experience and not only that, when I talk from a basis of personal experience, I am, when I’m at my best, I am allowing you to speak from the basis of your personal experiences and we don’t even have a debate.

My personal experience is true for me, your personal experience is true for you and it is speaking from a platform of personal experience; that’s what we do at a Make Shift Coffee House. We’re about to have a Make Shift Coffee House right now. It’s a place where we hear some music, we have some food.

Come on in, I’ll show you what’s going on here. We share our personal experiences and all we try to do is understand each other. People are going to be gathered here in a few minutes and we’re going to share some stories, we’re going to learn some things from each other, we’re going to ask people to sign up, and we’re going to sell stickers and we’re going to walk out of here each understanding more about where each other is coming from than when we walked in.

Thanks for listening everybody.

The Right to Understand

If you want good group decisions, people need to understand where we are in the process and what we are voting on. It’s surprising how often these things are obscured by those in power in order to get their way. Yet Robert’s Rules of Order, a process guide for decisions among equals, protects “the right to understand” for all participants. Craig explains how that’s good for the group no matter what.

And here’s a Tip that Craig wrote about Understanding.

And Craig has made several other videos about understanding. Search “Understand” at our website to find them.

Here’s what Craig says in the video:

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here. This book is called Roberts Rules of Order, widely recognized as the leading authority for procedures that guide group decision making among equals.

This is not the book for dictators, or parents, or animal trainers. This book is for groups where the participants are equal, where they have equal rights of participation and equal authority to vote.

It’s a complex book. There’s a simple version of it called, Roberts Rules of Order in Brief. But in spite of the complexity, there are some basic underlying principles to these procedures which are really great and one of them is the “right to understand”. This book provides that everyone, whether in the majority or minority, has the right to understand where we are in the procedure at any time and the right to understand what’s being voted on.

The right to understand where we are provides equal access to the process. Everybody knows how it’s supposed to work and when they get to participate and how they get to participate, and everybody knows how things are done. There’s no smoke and mirrors.

The right to understand what’s being voted on at any one time ensures that nothing gets railroaded through without everybody understanding; that the wool doesn’t get pulled over anybody’s eyes; there’s no bait and switch or manipulation. Everybody should be able to really understand what’s being voted on.

Now, the majority gets to decide, and anybody has the right to join the majority or leave the majority whenever they want. But even though the majority is in power, they still preserve the right of minority participants to understand where we are and understand what’s being voted on because they know that it is in even their best interest for everybody to have those basic rights.

If somebody feels they don’t have equal access to the process or if somebody feels that they had to vote on something that they didn’t understand, for one thing they are going to be angry about the decision and probably work to undermine the decision after it’s been voted on.

A second reason to preserve these rights is that it allows for the best thinking and the best ideas of all the participants. Even though we might make a decision against that minority point of view, it’s worth hearing because there may be something there that we have overlooked. It will make for a better group decision when everybody has access, everybody knows what’s being voted on, and we hear all the perspectives in a deliberate predictable process.

So thanks a lot Robert, for writing up these rules! Even though they are complex, the principles are awesome and I’m here to promote the right to understand.

Hope you’re doing good out there everybody. Thanks for listening.

Action precedes understanding

In this video Craig trashes the myth that we need to fully understand something before acting on it. Instead, it’s through action that understanding emerges.

Related to this video Craig has written one-page Tips called Take a stepAct as if, and Failure.



Here’s what Craig says in the video:

Hey everybody, it’s Craig Freshley here.

Many of us are stuck.

We want to write that essay or start that project or launch that website, but we don’t have it all worked out. We want to start doing things in new ways, or doing new things, but we don’t fully understand all the consequences. So we put off acting until we have complete understanding.

Some of us even, before taking a big step, will go on a retreat. Go on some soul-searching sort of mission, sit on the top of a mountain in a wool blanket and try to develop complete understanding before taking that action.

But I’m here to remind us of that oftentimes action precedes understanding. It is through acting that understanding develops, and it’s ridiculous to expect that we’re going to get complete understanding without taking any action. In fact, it is through action that we get better and that our understanding certainly becomes more complete. “Act” is the root word of the word “practice” and it’s through practice that we get better.

This is especially true for groups. When groups make decisions, they want to have it all worked out first. They want to have complete understanding before pulling the trigger on that project or on that website. But with groups too, practice works. Fail fast and fail cheap before failing big. Make use of pilot projects, demonstration projects, trial and error.

Now, with a lot of groups the stakes are high and you don’t want to launch that public website until you’re sure you’ve got it all worked out. All right, I get that. But you can do a variation of practice – you can read about what other groups have done.

There’s this thing called “best practices”. We have the benefit of other groups having written up their experience with launching a website, with starting a project. And so before doing our own, if we’re too nervous to actually pull the trigger on a big thing like a new website, we can learn best practices from other groups.

But you know what? Even so, it’s all about practice. You can’t just read stuff and expect to have complete understanding. You got to do stuff. Do stuff small before you do stuff big, but don’t expect understanding without doing stuff.

Action precedes understanding.

Thanks for listening everybody. I hope you do good out there!

Make Shift Coffee House

Troubled by the political divide in Maine and across the country, Craig hosted a Make Shift Coffee House to help people understand each other.

You can learn about it at MakeShiftCoffeeHouse.com and find links to a news article, a radio show podcast, comments from people who attended, and links to resources about how to understand each other. Craig also wrote a Good Group Tip about it called How to talk across our political divide.

Craig wants to facilitate future Make Shift Coffee Houses. If you would like one in your community, let us know!

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here. I want to tell you about the Make Shift Coffee House.

It’s an event that we had right here in this room just a couple days ago. On a Saturday night, we had a band playing right over there in the corner, we had a whole bunch of food over there against that wall, and we invited into this room — at my local library — Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, and liberals. We invited them together for the purpose of having a conversation – in order to understand each other’s political views and hang out.

Look, our country is politically divided; more divided than I have ever experienced. So too right here in our state of Maine. We decided to try and bring people of different political views together for the specific purpose of understanding each other. Not to persuade each other, not to even try to come to agreement, but just to understand where each other is coming from.

Disagreement is fine, in fact it’s a good thing. It often results in really good solutions and really good public policy. But when we try to make solutions and public policy based on a lack of understanding of each other’s views, a lack of understanding where each other is coming from, in my experience that leads to conflict and it leads to bad public policy that has unintended consequences or simply gets overturned by the next political party that comes in. So when we are politically divided, at the very least let’s try to understand where each other is coming from.

So we made a Make Shift Coffee House for this purpose and we asked people to share from their own experience. We asked people to listen to each other, not to try and formulate counter-arguments, but to really understand each other. We made sure that everyone got a turn who wanted to speak, and we did not criticize each other. It was a really good discussion. We were pretty respectful and civil and I think a lot of people learned a lot of new things about different perspectives. I played the role of neutral facilitator.

All in all, it was a pretty great evening. We had 60 or 70 people come together. You can read about it at the website MakeShiftCoffeeHouse.com. There’s a link there to a newspaper article, but there are also links to all kinds of resources about how you can facilitate your own conversations across the “red-blue divide”. There’s also a place where people have made their own comments about the Make Shift Coffee House.

At Good Group Decisions, we think that these kinds of conversations are really important and we need to have a lot more of them. If you would like to have a Make Shift Coffee House in your community, drop me a line and let me know. It’s something that I would like to help out with.

So there you have it! Just wanted to share with you what we did here in Brunswick, Maine, to help people understand each other’s political views.

Understanding and Trust: Both Required

In this quick video Craig explains the spectrum of Understanding to Trust, and how both are required to make good group decisions.

What Craig says in the video is similar to what he says in his Good Group Tip called Trust Takes Over.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi Everybody. Hey it’s Craig here. I want to tell you about this concept that I call “where understanding stops, trust takes over.”

Now when we make group decisions there are — lets say we’re in a meeting or any kind of process making a decision together as a group — there are some people in the group who need to understand everything about it before they’re comfortable deciding. They want all the facts and figures. They want to make sure they’ve explored all the implications and unintended consequences.

There are others in the group who don’t need that. Because of the people involved, because of whoever it is that’s going to implement the decision, they are perfectly happy to just trust even without knowing all of that stuff. It takes all types.

We can think of a spectrum from understanding to trust. And for the highly logical people, before making a decision over here — and let’s say were starting over here — they have to develop lots of understanding and come a long way down this spectrum. But I’m here to tell you that I don’t care how many facts and figures and how much effort is put into data collection, you never have complete understanding and at some point you need to trust and let that carry the rest of the way.

Now other people are fine to say, “Okay I understand a little bit. I understand that Sally is involved and I really trust her and that’s all I have to understand.” And they don’t need…..they’re willing to make the decision right here and they let trust takeover.

All decisions are a combination of understanding and trust.

So those of you who are logical thinkers and want to get as far down this spectrum as you can before making a decision, I’m encouraging you to trust a little bit. And those of you who were quite willing to trust right here and have no patience for the people that need to gather data and information, I’m encouraging you to honor those people that need more information and to hold off a little bit and give them what they need in order to make good decisions. But both types of people — logical people, intuitive people — try to meet in the middle. That’s where we make our best decisions; when they are a combination of both understanding and trust.

Okay that’s it for today. Just wanted to share with you this model of the spectrum of understanding to trust and when understanding stops, let trust take over. Thanks for listing everybody. Here’s hoping that you make good group decisions.