Reflections on a conversation
This week I had the privilege to co-host a conversation among a group of people who are all passionate about what one would colloquially call 'systems work' (I know, what does that even mean? But that is another reflection). They have all spent most of their careers thinking about and exploring different ways to act with a systems lens, be it from an evaluation perspective, from a facilitation perspective, from an organisational perspective, or from a consultant's perspective. Bringing all these experiences together led to a firework of thoughts building on each other, which made 90 minutes feel like the blink of an eye.
Among many things, one thing that stuck with me is that there is seemingly no time for reflection in most organisations. That is a sentiment that many shared including myself. But without reflection, there is no learning and, ultimately, no change. That reminds me of a piece of work a friend of mine did a few years ago in Gateshead, UK, which he aptly concluded with the statement that 'learning is a luxury.' I experience the same in my own organisation. Although I have to say that there is quite a lot of reflection compared to other places, it still always feels rushed and all spaces for reflections need to have a clear purpose and are time-bound. What I'm missing is a generous space for purposeless exploration and reflection. I know, that is a lot to ask, as there is work to do, lives to improve. But isn't the consequence of not taking the time to reflect that there is never any deep change happening? Aren't we then as a consequence just perpetuating a way of being and doing things that we are used to? If we don't reflect how we show up in the act of wanting to improve other people's lives, we perpetuate the situation that allows their lives to be miserable. Shouldn't we even question the aim for somebody to improve somebody else's live? And even more, somebody from the "Global North" to want to improve the lives of people from the "Global South"? As soon as you even take some minutes to reflect without a clear outcome in mind, as I do now, you might start to question actions and justifications for these actions that you just before thought were obvious.