What’s working? How can we make more of it?

To our good friends–

Read an e-mail from Michael Herman last night in which he describes his first meeting with Harrison. Michael asked How do we get people to self organize and change and grow? Harrison answered with: “Well, I don’t. I go in and ask what’s working. Then I ask how we can make more of it. And that always seems to work.”

I do like the man’s way with words: laid back, friendly, slightly unexpected, unbalancing.

I like this very much. I like the short and simple “What’s working?” That could almost be a greeting, instead of How ya doin’? or even Hi! Simply, What’s working? Obviously there is a context there too, for Harrison is there because they have called him in for organizational work of some kind. So they expect to get down to business. Yet, I like it….

How can we make more of it? is interesting. It may not even be a How question so much as an opener to Yes: Is this what we really want? At the least, it assumes that we think this is good. The first question, What’s working?, assumes that what is working is what we want to be working, that the working is going in the right direction. Then this question asks how did we get here, what did we do to make it work, and yes, it is a How question because it jumps people right into mechanics and past the question of Why do we want to do this. It assumes that it is good. Assuming something is good is the same as saying it is good by definition: we have put off any real conversation about it.

Make more of it is a good turn of phrase. It is a different metaphor, kitcheny. Make more of it also suggests that we increase the good of it. We tell the story more, we turn it into something larger, like esprit de corps, or culture, or even advertising copy. We catch more wind in it, as in a sail.

It could be Can we make more of it? That raises the question more directly: Do we want to? Make is also the How question, again. Useful question, but is it premature? Should we be asking, What do we want to make more of in this world? That might be too broad a question for starter conversations. Need to be open-ended, but with a handle. What’s working is an appreciative question, turning our attention to the good, to even look at the bad and see why that is working, and working us. It gets us to appreciate–to put the value to–what we see and experience. It invites us to meet. And so How can we make more of it? may be a good way to invite the various conversations and meetings which say, We have a role in this, We can change this, We are the ones for whom we have been waiting.

I like this. What’s working? How can we make more of it?

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on December 6th, 2005 | 2 Comments »

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2 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On December 9, 2005 at 5:08 pm raffi Said:

    That was a great story. I am slowly gathering material for a first issue of the Russian language News from OS bulletin. I hope to include this one at some point.

    I regret that I didn’t take the opportunity to get to know you at OSonOS. While I have been baptized, I don’t call myself Christian (feel closer to Quakerism, but not really a practicing Quaker) and so I continue to be intrigued by how you bring what seems to be a Christian perspective to OS. It’s a conversation (or two) that I hope to have with you at some point.


  2. On December 10, 2005 at 2:43 pm doug Said:


    Feel free to use it in your publication. Please remember to include the copyright and contact info, Raffi.

    I too would like to have such a conversation. I have been to three Quaker meetings for worship and have been invited to a local one by a friend who is an ordained Quaker minister, and hope to worship with them off and on starting a few weeks from now.

    Are there many Quaker meetings for worship in Moscow and Russia?

    :- Doug.

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