Applying Thinking Patterns to Ethics Case Study Activity: Destructive Emotions Avoided

At PFEW 2018, I serve as a Company Advisor (CA). The program has an incredible history which means they have a well developed educational program for the students. With 447 students at this week’s camp, a plan is certainly a necessity. As a CA, one of 23 other professionals, I join my peers in the effort to bring our experiences to the students within the PFEW framework. Since learning the Thinking Patterns (dsrp) by Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera, I’ve evangelized how all learning and organizational situations benefit from their application. Today, I witnessed first hand what I consider a Mission Moment.

MYNDDSET’s Vision (My Dream or Future State) = Transformed People, Transformative Organizations.

MYNDDSET’s Mission (The repeatable work I do. What gets me to my Vision) = Map (Make thinking and ideas explicit), Advance (Build knowledge and “grow” people using thinking), Transform (Use Systems Thinking to shift people and organizations.)

Mission Moment = A rare moment in time when all of the parts of your mission are evident.

This Mission moment exemplifies one of those rare moments in time worth sharing. During the camp, the students are exposed to a fantastic ethics situation. The challenge I have personally with the study of ethical situations is that we (the collective education system) teach kids to debate ethical issues. Debate meaning they “argue” for or against a particular scenario. Presenting sides and creating a “I win, you loose” situation was the approach I planned to avoid during the session I would help facilitate. Enter THINKING.

I certainly didn’t have the floor to teach students about dsrp. That’s not needed. I used dsrp to help me design the event, the student role, the rules, the context for the interactions between the students. With 60 students, a process suitable for the educational goal was paramount.

I created a perspective table in the middle of the group. Each team faced one side of the table. The forth side was used by myself and the other CAs. I placed three paper tents on the table. One said “Questions”, one “Perspectives,” and one “Ideas.”

The three student groups were asked to have their representative explain their perspective on the ethics case. After, the two groups would have time to respond through individual representatives coming to table and standing on opposing sides of the table. From there they would ask questions in an effort to understand perspectives and build new ideas.

Before this happened though, we discussed the framework. To ensure we moved beyond a debate and to knowledge building, we agreed that responses would be in the form of questions. “I disagree with you because…” statements were replaced with “Have you considered the impact of X and if so, describe your thoughts.” We discussed how these questions would help us uncover more information and that sharing perspectives would allow us all to build on our mental models or create new ones (new ideas). We adopted this approach to avoid little to no progress (ie, everyone stays put on their idea because they are fighting for it).

This group of 60 teens did an amazing job. The occasional slips into old routines took a few down the path of showing how emotions made them stubbornly attempt to prove they were right and others wrong. But we corrected each other. The students policed each other and demanded their peers ask good questions rather than simply attack their position.

Without teaching dsrp, Thinking about Thinking created a Mission Moment for me. I saw respectful teens demonstrating empathy and a thirst to learn, agreeing to be okay with the ambiguity of an ethics conversation and the willingness to participate in a structure that helped them pursue a learning goal.

The best result was the lack of teen emotions that often cloud their thinking. In this case, their emotions allowed them to share ideas openly. It was an awesome thing to be part of.

Doers Unite…and Change!

By Mark T. Burke

Monday morning. You go to your place of work.  You prep for the day.  You casually meet your fellow co-workers as they do the same.  How are you thinking about your day?  About your week?  Do you start to think about all the “things” you have to do?  File this. Submit that. Talk to Matt.  Meet Deanna.  Attend meeting XYZ.  If this list sounds familiar, you’re not alone.  In fact, you’re probably like most others in your organization.  You’ve become a first class DOER.  And…and this is the scarier thing, your work culture is most likely supportive of your “doer” status.

Are you a Doer?  Think more about accomplisments.
Are you a Doer?
A “doer”  in this case is someone that does things to get through their days, their weeks, their years.  A doer has the mental model that their job…no, scratch that…their WORK is about DOING.  “If I do this, then that, and get this done and take on that, my WORK is good.  My job is safe.  Life is good!”

There’s nothing wrong with being a doer.  Doing is very important to an organization.  Doing gets the job done.  I’ve covered this in a course on Entrepreneurial Spirit I built a few years ago.  We must all balance “Thinking, Building and Doing.”  The issue is that work cultures can take the path of becoming based on doing, thus eliminating the THINKING and the BUILDING.  A doer work culture sidesteps the purpose behind doing for all but a few.  In a doing culture, a few people know why things are being done while the masses go about doing random, disconnected tasks to support the intended accomplishment.  Job trumps WORK in this case.  

Doing a good job is important. But doing good WORK is more important.

Incremental shifts can move mountains.  So for today, your (our) task is to shift thinking from penning a “to do” list to building desired accomplishments.    This is our time to unite and change for the better.  Thinking about accomplishments shifts our thinking to the more important efforts.  It gives us a yardstick to measure our minute-by-minute efforts.  By keeping our accomplishments clearly focused, we won’t get lost in the mundane tasks of the day.  As you begin this shift, share your efforts with your team (your boss and those who report to you, your clients, your customers). Help your organization shift from being a team of doers to a team focused on valued accomplishments, valued WORK.

How do you keep focused on your accomplishments?