Secrets of Technography, the series: Ownership
It used to be the rule that in team meetings only the person who talks
gets to use the chalk. So, what would be up there for all to see would be
the speakers' ideas of what we were supposed to learn.
Then they invented flipcharts and facilitation and made it the rule that
the person with the chalk would only write down what the facilitator said
to write. Someone would finish a thought, and the facilitator would
summarize, and the flipchartist would calligraph accordingly. This was a
big advance in collaborative technologies. And probably the most
practical, given the medium and the method.
With technography, the person with the keyboard types in what people want
typed, and only what they want typed. You can talk all you want, you can
go on and on, diverging and converging without even a token attempt at
self-summary, and the technographer patiently and intelligently listens,
but doesn't type a word. Not until the you actually take responsibility,
actually tell the technographer to write your considered words down that
the technographer begin typing.
Because even if the technographer could type at the speed of speech, it
wouldn't help. Neither you, nor anyone else would be taking
responsibility for the words. The faster the technographer types, the
less attention people pay to what gets written. The less attention, the
less ownership, the less successful they will be at creating a
meaningful, useful product.
As technographer, you don't let any other person, even the person who's
paying you, sitting next to you, whispering wisely into your ear, tell
you when to start typing or what to write.
You take down exactly what the author tells you to take down. And you
take your time, and everybody else's, to get it right. You don't change
anything, even if everybody else asks you to, if the author doesn't
agree. Because, even if you could make all the changes requested, only
the author has the authority.
This is one of those hugely subtle distinctions between the technography
method and those of flipcharting and notetaking. Subtle, but profoundly
empowering. The rules for sharing a "live" computer screen are not the
same as those for sharing a whiteboard or a piece of butcher paper. Using
a computer, sharing a desktop, we never run out of room. There are no
physical limits to how many ideas we can represent and play with at the
same time. Therefore, we can allow no one the right or responsibility for
interpreting our words. We can work together here. We can make things.
But we must each individually contribute, and individually take
responsibility for our contributions, because we can, and we want to, and
if anybody else does, the connection gets lost: the connection between
the speaker and the screen, between the speaker and the community,
between the community and the work.
Once we take responsibility individually, we can take collective
responsibility for the work as a whole. As described by the "C-Cycle"
(""collect" "connect" "correct"), artful use of the outliner as a
communication tool facilitates a balance between individual and group
processes. After individual comments are captured ("collect"), the group
organizes the individually authored contributions into logical,
group-authored categories "connect." These categories (level one) are
produced by and agreed on and are the property of everyone. The
individual contributions (level two) substantiate each category. The
outline, collapsed to the first level, reveals the consensus.
Collectively authored, produced and owned.
-- Bernie DeKoven Meetings@california.com http://california.com/meetings.htm