Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Leadership When Events Don't Play by the Rules"

Our condolences go out to the victims of the recent shooting rampage in Tucson, AZ. This event has many struggling to make sense of the inexplicable.

In "Leadership When Events Don't Play by the Rules," Karl E. Weick, co-author of Managing the Unexpected in the Professional Reading Program and Sensemaking in Organizations, offers advice to leaders who find themselves facing such defining moments. Many say this event will be one of Barrack Obama's defining moments as President.

Weick uses the acronym, SIR COPE, as a resource for sensemaking is such situations:
  • Social: "Encourage conversations, don't treat them as malingering."
  • Identity: "Help people solidify other identities such as sounding board, witness, source of resilience, information hub, story-teller, companion, care-giver and historian, all of which are roles that help people build a context that aids explanation"
  • Retrospect: "Make it possible for people to talk their way from the superficial, through the complex, on to the profound. Listen to the words people are saying, help them find other words that connect with human strengths rather than with darkness and evil. Help them talk their way into resilience."
  • Cues: "Help people expand the range and variety of cues they include in their stories. You know this will heighten confused complexity. But you also know that confusion can provide a transition between the superficial and the profound if people struggle with a wider range of issues and complexities before they settle for their "answer."
  • Ongoing: "Don't let people languish in the feeling, "Now we have it figured out." They don't have it figured out. Why? It's not that kind of an issue. Recovery is about workable, plausible stories of what we face and what we can do. But these are not final stories. They are stories that should be modified based on new inputs and new opportunities and new setbacks."
  • Plausibility: "Don't let the first plausible account be the last possible story. The first plausible account is assembled to help people make meaning. It is not assembled in the interest of accuracy. We seek swift plausibility rather than slow accuracy in inexplicable times simply because we need "an" explanation, not "the" explanation. Help people get that first story. But then help them revise it, enrich it, replace it."
  • Enactment: "Help people keep moving and keep paying attention. When people are animated, their actions are small experiments that help make sense of perilous times. Wise leaders protect that process and that truth."
This has been the second of a series of transitions from the About Leadership tool in the Leadership Toolbox to the WFLDP blog.

1 comment:

Pam McDonald said...

At this time, the University of Michigan website seems to be experiencing technical difficulties. Hopefully, they will rectify the issue for those who want to read the entire article.