Content originally taken from eBella Magazine, “Dealing with Breakdowns Creatively” by Kelly Townsend
In any business, people inevitably deal with breakdowns. Most of us have been taught to approach and deal with breakdowns as problems that shouldn’t be happening. We’ve learned to relate to breakdowns as ‘bad’ and find out quickly who, or what, is to blame. This ‘there’s something wrong here’ approach is called a disempowering context. It makes people defensive; they want to avoid breakdowns, and are always trying to cover themselves. I’ve enjoyed tremendous success in training people in organizations to deal with breakdowns from a creative approach which empowers people to relate powerfully to breakdowns.
This innovative method begins with company leaders committing to operate and live from an established context, through a business’ charter, vision, mission and values. When this is present in an organization, it’s possible to help develop employees who will relate and deal powerfully with inevitable breakdowns from a creative and empowering approach.
When people in an organization create an innovative and fresh mission, values and commitments, that context is kept alive and real through conversations, systems, structures, and practices which are consistent with fulfilling the context created. Inside this newly created context, any relationship, group or team is bound to have breakdowns. When I say breakdown from a created context, I don’t necessarily mean asking ‘what’s wrong’, but addressing breakdowns by determining ‘what’s missing, that would make a difference if it were present?’
Here’s an example: your company is committed to integrity in your operations, but your team consistently fails to keep agreements with your delivery schedule. Instead of relating to this as something that is ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’; trying to find who’s to blame, shift the context by asking, ‘what’s missing at would make a difference in operating as a company that performs with integrity?’ By reestablishing what all parties are committed to in fulfilling the mission of the organization; and what is possible through partnership, your workers will be empowered to be problem-solvers when breakdowns occur and have the skills to deal with them creatively and efficiently.
4 Steps To Declaring Breakdowns From A Created Context
Stop the action and declare a breakdown
Bring the people involved together to declare and communicate there is a Breakdown. Return all people involved to the created context of the company or team. This gets everyone back to being in an aligned conversation.
Get to the source of the breakdown
It’s important to investigate the facts specifically. What happened? Where did it happen? When did it happen? Deal only with the facts — not people’s interpretations of what happened. This creates clarity in dealing powerfully with what happened.
Create a new practice that resolves the breakdown and leaves people inspired
Ask those involved how they can ensure that what happened will not occur again in the future? This maybe an opportunity to incorporate new systems, practices and protocols that are established and agreed upon by all parties involved. Be sure you complete the process by putting the new practice in existence.