Postmortem as Prenatal

NaBloPoMo 2020 — Today’s Lesson

Feedback and root cause analysis:  If you’re like most people I know, you love neither.  I relish the former; my friend revels in the latter.  We make a great team!  We conducted a series of both recently, and yet another complementary relational phenomenon occurred to me:  These are not concluding activities; they are initiating.

Many of us procrastinate and dread feedback—both the giving and the getting.  On the other side of dread and gnashing of teeth, we sigh with relief when it’s ‘over.’  For more complex issues, just one session may not suffice—we must dig deeper—ask more questions, really dissect out the nerves, vessels, and tumors.  A good postmortem requires patience, curiosity, and a nimble beginner’s mind.  We never know what will emerge, and we follow clues with a balance of enthusiasm and realism.

So many times in the past week someone has told me, “This is very good information,” when I have either given or described feedback I received.  Very good indeed, and sometimes painful and humbling.  I did not sigh with relief and closure.  I inhaled deeply and prepared to contemplate longer—to gestate.  The figurative autopsies I assisted in this week served as developmental studies of our paths to current state. They shed light on the potential anatomy of better processes, understanding, and collaboration.

We dread the hard conversations.  We think if we can just get through them, we can be free and slink away.  But the joyfully ironic truth is, hard conversations are exciting and inviting beginnings.  If we both steel and soften ourselves to pass through these jagged archways, myriad new possibilities beckon.  We get to be the architects, together, of a much healthier new future.

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