OK, let’s start with a little bit of a reality check: If you are convinced that your way is always right and there is no space for growth then you’re likely to find your relationships with others a little baffling or infuriating. Agreed?
Have you ever thought this of someone: "Why don’t they just ‘get it’ and get on with it?"; "Are they really this stupid or deliberately antagonistic?" - Whilst there may be some evidence, research and popular opinion that your ‘way’ is sound, if you’re simply not open to consider there might be another way you have closed your mind.
If your response to opinions and possibilities that challenge you is to seek to reject, ridicule or block even a conversation that might force you to change yourself or your systems then you have plateaued in your thinking, learning and probably your life. This is unfortunate as an individual and disastrous for the work you do.
For example in a school where the culture needs to evolve and change, this can make for an extremely uncomfortable working environment for the teachers and potentially hold back the learning of a whole generation of young people. It doesn’t have to be like this.
Complexity And The Need To Be ‘Open’
To work with complexity and all the possibilities and potentials therein, there is a prerequisite for success: you have to be ‘open’ to both respond to the challenges at that level and to be ready to evolve to a new level of complexity as conditions demand.
Being ‘open’ is therefore the first of the five Butterfly Model principles that I use with groups and probably the most difficult to sustain but this is the key to managing and developing complicated challenges and relationships.
In their brilliant book ‘Complexity and Education’, Brent Davis and Dennis Sumara sum up the need to be open in order to engage with complex systems:
“A necessary quality of complex systems is that they are open. They constantly exchange energy, matter, and information with their contexts. In the process, they affect the structures of both themselves and their environments.”
And there’s the rub! All learning environments require all to be open to learn. In a school, the presence of every staff member, student or others connected with this web of learning disrupt the system in some way. Therefore the system has to be robust enough to respond to a plethora of personal opinions and needs.
Now you know the solution, the challenge is to be open with the people around you, using that to enrich the work you all do.