Gregor Cuzak

on marketing, business and philosophy

Pouring dead bodies of knowledge into empty barrels

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I just read a chapter from Presence, written by Peter Senge et al., lent to me by my friend Danilo. I find it so compelling that I simply need to share it on my blog.

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The chapter no. 8 is about a survey among patients and physicians. There were about 130 interviews that the researchers did. After this they summoned the participants to show them the results.

The results were organized in four levels. 

At level one patients wanted their doctors (or vice versa) to fix their problems, as in “hey doc, I got a sore throat, give me a lozenge”. 

At level two doctors went a bit deeper by advising the patient about behaviour that caused then problems, like “see, gotta smoke less, or else your bronchitis might grow into something nastier”. 

At level three the relationship went deeper again. Doctors, or patients, went further to dicuss root causes of behaviour, and helped the other side reflect on themselves, for example “I never thought my doctor could support my bad habit as a relief valve to the deeper personal amd family problems that I’m facing.”

Still deeper, at level four, a sense of meaning occurs. Patients and doctors alike start feeling that their relationship is an important stepping stone to a larger change in the system. It let’s people realize of some of the most important things in life. Someone would say “my doctor admitted that she practices alternative medicine, too. She says that medicine needs to relearn healing and is working for this cause already. I decided I would support her.”

A chart with these four levels was made on the stage. Upon this the participants were asked to mark their existing experience in doctor-patient relationships by sticking blue dots onto the chart, while red dots would mark their desired relationships. Participants went to put their dots on the chart. What appeared was a clear pattern. The room went silent.

Most blue dots were in levels one and two, while most red dots were in levels three and four. Everyone wanted to be up in the levels three and four, yet most remained in levels one and two. 

Upon this a man stood up, apparently he was the mayor of the city, who admitted that they are encountering the same problem in the city administration. Their goals are high and idealistic, yet their work remains reactive and they keep fixing problems at levels and and two all the time.

Next up, a woman stood up. She told the audience that she was a teacher and that she felt helpless because they kept organizing their learning process in schools around levels one and two, pouring dead bodies of knowledge into empty barrels. They were not able to teach at levels three and four where learning goes from barrels to lighting flames in the hearts.

Indeed, later on several others stood up to tell how well their jobs, organizations and even lives were meant, but all they got out were levels one and two.

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What do you think about this passage? I thought it was very important to share this with you. I hope you like it as I do. you may even share your experiences or suggest ways of how to achieve levels three and four. I think I have seen many instances of the higher levels in my career, and they are what keeps me going anyhow.

3 Comments

  1. Se ti oglasim, ko pridem v Ljubljano, da izmenjava knjige, misli in ideje.
    Nisem še slišal za uporabo procesa U v Slo. razen moje prakse. Sam sem ga uporabil v treh daljših primerih: 2 podjetjih in eni neprofitni organizaciji in v nekaj krajših delavnicah, kjer so bili ljudje iz vseh vetrov.
    V vseh primerih je proces vodil do povezovanja in uglaševanja ljudi, dobre analize stvarnosti in konkretnih ter uporabnih prototipov.
    Se strinjam, da je proces lahko zelo uporaben tam, kjer je malodušje, nerazumevanje in potencialna konfliktnost. Poleg tega kar omenjaš: študenti in starejši še povsd tam, kjer sta dva bregova: šolstvo, zdravstvo, ….

  2. @Danilo

    Hvala za komentar. Knjigo sem prebral, se bo treba dobit, da ti jo dam nazaj. Boš kaj v Ljubljani, te peljem na kosilo.

    Drugače me zelo zanima, kdo je teorijo U v Sloveniji že uporabil. Zdi se mi namreč, da bi nam prišla prav, pa ne le v podjetjih, morda še bolj v javnem sektorju. Zlasti se me je dotaknil primer nezainteresiranosti študentov zaključnega letnika na fakulteti. Dasiravno je ta primer lahko tudi dokaz moje nekompetentnosti kot predavatelja. Vseeno bi v proces vključevanja mladih v družbo ustvarjanja rad pregnetel s takim U pristopom. Enako bi rad naredil tudi pri starejših občanih, ker mislim, da je njihova izločitev iz dela pri 65 letih ogromna izguba za vse nas.

  3. Odlično izpostavljeno Gregor. Ta primer je eden najbolj močnih tudi zame, še posebej nadaljevanje, ko dejansko začnejo graditi neke nove možnosti zdravstva na območju kjer se je to dogajalo.
    Intervjuji so seveda pomembni v tem primeru, a so le en element. Izjemno pomemben je element skupnosti, kjer se ljudje začnejo odpirati, kar tudi opisuješ in gredo preko lastnih mentalnih modelov. nadaljevanje tega pa je izdelava prototipov neke nove stvarnosti. Celota predstavlja teorijo U in sam imam kar nekaj dobrih izkušenj, kako v neki organizaciji skozi tak proces priti do novega svežega pogleda in novih dejavnosti, ki prinašajo nove rešitve.

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