â€˜What is really going on?â€™Â Â It is the question often used in the Adaptive Leadership practice as well as in the psychodynamics approach.Â Â In the former, it is about being on the â€˜Balconyâ€™ rather than the â€˜Dance Floorâ€™, or the ability to be at both at the same time.Â And being on the â€˜Balconyâ€™ could mean reading the political landscape as an example.
In the psychodynamics approach, the question is about understanding the covert dynamics on various levels e.g. intra-personal and group level.Â Â For example, John always fails to refuse othersâ€™ request on him, resulting in him working too late and losing his own priorities.Â Â He is frustrated about it and tries to improve without much success.Â Â The overt view is that he is bad at saying no to others and should pick up some skills in doing so.Â Â However, on a covert level:
- Intra-personal – John may actually derives sense of safety unconsciously by being the victim of overloaded with othersâ€™ workâ€¦.Â just like the role he has played with his parents and siblings for many many years,
- Group – The team may be playing to Johnâ€™s valency to take on othersâ€™ work at the expense of doing his own work well.Â Â This scapegoats John so that the team does not need to face its collective failure to meet business target.
So, it is useful to ask ourselves the question â€˜What is really going on?â€™ instead of tackling simply the overt reason / view which does not really solve the problem.Â Â Â Yet, some thoughts came to my mind recently on this question.Â Â To ponder this question more, it actually implies subtly (especially when we often stress on the word â€˜REALLYâ€™ in the question) Â that:
- Ignore the overt reason / view
- Figure out THE covert one.. which is like THE truth / answer
In fact, I have experienced myself and seen others like playing â€˜detective gameâ€™ in finding the â€˜real murdererâ€™ in the name of this question.Â Saying, â€˜No, no, noâ€¦ it is not.Â Â Tell me what is REALLY going onâ€™Â Â Â On reflection, it is dangerous to do so.Â Â I think more often than not there are always more than one reasons why someone behaves in a certain ways.Â Â It is not â€˜A leads to Bâ€™.Â Â Â It is more like â€˜A1 + A2 +â€¦.. + An leads to Bâ€™.Â Â So, John could be really not skilled in saying no.Â Â At the same time, he enjoys the familiarity and attention in the role of being dumped with othersâ€™ work.Â Â And the group is scapegoating him at the same time.
What does it mean?Â Â It means:
- Do not deny the overt reason / view immediately
- Always come up with multiple hypotheses on any covert dynamics
So, a better question to ask instead is:
â€˜What may also be going on?â€™
This embraces the overt one, and the notion of multiple dynamics.
Thinking further, I guess that it is not even about â€˜A1 + A2 +â€¦.. + An leads to Bâ€™Â Â Â Â The As do not act together in a linear way to influence.Â Â Â They may actually be like in parallel universes.Â Â One of the As is sometimes in action and sometimes not.Â Â Â Â Or one of the As only commences to exist in the subjectâ€™s and / or observersâ€™ mind because we see it in a certain way. Â hmâ€¦…