In thoughtful mood this morning, coming to the end of a hectic week.
Yesterday, Penny Pullan and I did a couple of webinars for people interested in improving their ability to engage others to identify, own and manage risk. You can get a copy of the recording of the webinar via www.facilitatingrisk.com if you want one. Inevitably the questions that arise in such discussions are about how to engage people (who are predictably diverse and irrational and thank goodness for that) with processes and systems in organisations that have been conceived from a rational paradigm. I could go on, but will only to say that engaging people to identify, own and manage risk requires people to meet others (in concept, and in what is thought, felt, said and done) where they are - not where you might want them to be. Tolerance and respect for other points of view are necessary inputs to creating some semblance of order in the face of risk.
Always one to find a coincidence, I was tidying my in-box over my first cup of tea, and found an academic paper written by a philosophy professor in Canada (Joseph Boyle) entitled Universal Justice in a Diverse World (published in The Good Society, volume 19, no. 2, 2010). I decided to read it and there was the parallel. In short, he was arguing that "moral law requires tolerance and respect for those one disagrees with" because "there is a moral need to mitigate the social costs of refusing to be tolerant".
Seems to me that at the heart of making progress in situations that are risky and important, there's a need to engage others about what they want, be tolerant enough to listen, be respectful enough to acknowledge their point of view and then to be courageous and skilful enough to build from where they are to get an outcome that meets as many needs as possible.
It's not orderly in a rational and process-like way - but it's a way of creating order from what would otherwise be an unmitigated mess.