Making decisions in a ‘worldmaking’ way
Last month, I was chatting with a colleague at the Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency (MVAA) and he asked, “Have you heard about any resilience summits in Michigan?”
“No, I haven’t. What have you heard?”
“Nothing – and that’s a problem. People really need this support right now. Would Worldmaker consider hosting one this fall? We can help.”
“That might work since I’ll be coming up to speak for our Michigan Army National Guard project. Maybe we can bring together a Summit the following day.”
We had not planned to host another event this year given our August Resilience Symposium in Zimbabwe (postponed from 2020). The Summit would need to come together on a compressed timeline and the pandemic landscape was a factor, both for leadership decision-making (wanting to be a force for good) and logistics (impacts on attendance and event management).
People are hurting. How can we help?
The decision whether to host the event required weighing the needs, risks, and ultimately, the care of those we serve. Below are a few of the voices that resonated during my decision-making process…
In writing about the value of recently attending a conference, leadership strategist Chris Brogan noted, “If we’re not sharing best practices with each other or even new ideas or even things to dream about, we are probably doomed.”
A community leader I ran into recently talked about the ugly political landscape he was dealing with and emphasized, “We need to stop looking left and right and focus on the middle. We can build out from there in ways that can’t be achieved by trying to start at one of the extremes. We need to bring people together and move forward from there.”
Then I heard Mike O’Bryan, recipient of Worldmaker’s 2022 Promise Leader award, ask the question, “Who are you wanting to be right now and who are you serving right now?”
I considered the struggles of people that Worldmaker is in relationship with. Every day we see people in pain, uncertainty, overwhelm, or grief. People need reminders today that they are not alone in their struggles.
I thought about leaders navigating the litany of impacts from the pandemic and other contemporary challenges. There is much that we need to learn, refine, and do to be of greater service to those in need – and a powerful way to do this is through collaborative conversations.
I thought about the children and other vulnerable people getting caught up and trampled in the cross-fire of growing levels of polarization and incivility. We must stop the fighting and find better ways to listen to each other so we can forge common ground.
Ultimately, our team decided that coming together to share hard-earned leadership lessons and facilitate learning that could help relieve suffering, renew hope, build resilience, and create new collaborative paths outweighed the risks and challenges of moving forward with a live event.
Is this the “right” decision? I’m not sure. I take comfort in Mike’s wise suggestion to move beyond a mentality of right and wrong to a more helpful question: Who is being hurt and how can we best help? This is where the greatest value of our work lies.