Can we Disrupt by Collaborating with our Sworn Enemies?

Many say it is impossible.  Others say it is foolish.  But maybe that is the bold solution we need.

Disrupting the status quo requires doing what critics and followers think is impossible. But to make such a radical change, we often have to have a completely different perspective. Finding that perspective takes a different mindset and collaborative spirit.

Are you bold enough to take a radical step?

A Complicated Case

I listened as LTC Woulda explained the intersecting threats of Weapons of Mass Destruction, terrorism and interruption of sea transportation in the Middle East.  This was a rare opportunity to hear Lieutenant-Colonel Sijmen Woulda of the Royal Netherlands Army speak about the work he and his diverse colleagues do as Combined Strategic Analysis Group. Representing 22 countries, they are embedded at the U.S. Central Command and working as a think tank to solve the conflict in the Middle East. That is a tall order and a unique approach.  Each of these threats are caused by a range of factors from corruption to violation of human rights violations to the struggling economies as they fight for water and other natural resources. As I listened, it became clear that solving such a complex problem will not be easy. Albert Einstein was right, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

But there was something different about this group and their perspective.  First, they were a diverse group that worked together on a complex problem.  That is a lot of moving parts and plenty of room for egotistical conflict.  I was also impressed that they recognized the lack of communication as a core issue in the conflict.

But most impressed me was how such a diverse group could work together.  How did they move beyond the typical egotistical stumbling blocks of thinking their own idea and perspective was the best?  After all, this stubbornly held views is at the center of warring tribes in the Middle East and contentious domestic politics.  How could this group be any different?  So I asked the question.  I was extremely pleased with the answer.

Respect world

The Simple but Radical Answer

LTC Woulda condensed it to one word – Respect. The think tank members recognized that to solve this problem, it demands a combination of different perspectives. No one perspective would suffice therefore they needed to listen respectfully if they were going to successfully collaborate.  He explained that most of the problems in the world are caused by disenfranchised individuals who feel marginalized and disrespected. To solve those problems, we must respect their perspective.

It doesn’t mean that we agree with everything they do but it does respect that it is their perspective and important to them.   It demands that we respect those that are different and respect those that disagree – That is a radical idea.

But are we bold enough to respect those that are sworn enemies?  Is that going too far?

He explained that respect allows us to take the next step and communicate with them. Listening before speaking to them and then collaborating with them.  If we do not communicate with them, we cannot influence them. If we cannot communicate with them, we are doomed to repeat the worst of the past and prevented from disrupting for a better future.

To do great things, disruptive leaders begin with respect for differing opinions.

  • Whose perspective are you dismissing simply because it is different?  
  • What opportunities are you overlooking because they seem opposed to your perspective?
  • How can you begin sensing and seizing the best of those opportunities by disrupting your current practice?

3D PWR Tip: Begin every interaction with respect for their perspective.

(c) 2015 Murfield International, Inc.

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Dr. Loren Murfield works with aspiring and emerging leaders so they can leverage their power to do what followers and critics think is impossible. This often involves working with them to develop their disruptive ideas and write their stories of rapid and radical change. How could you leverage your leadership power by sharing your story of disruption? Contact Dr. Murfield today.9 Critical Components

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