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Ground Rules Deep Dive #10: Maintain the Balance Between Heart and Mind, Expertise and Passion

By Milenko Matanovic

Together we are capable of extraordinary achievements. Over the years, Pomegranate Center has proven this by encouraging people to uphold a code of conduct that leads to creativity and collaboration. This code of conduct, what we call “ground rules,” is essential to creating a positive atmosphere that focuses on how things can be improved, free from complaints. In this series of short essays, I will look at different ground rules, evaluate why they are important, and share stories from the field.

At a community meeting, all kinds of different people should have an opportunity to share their ideas. In the Pomegranate Method, listening to each other’s ideas is as important as sharing them. The hope is that the participants will adjust their ideas to accommodate those of others and find a shared direction. Our goal is first to help everyone comprehend the variety of issues people bring to the table.  Unless we first hear others’ ideas, we will assume that the only opinions that matter express our priorities.

People bring a wide variety of concerns. They offer different ideas, small and large, that constitute their collective vision. They also offer a variety of styles of how they speak and what focus they bring.

I’ve observed three significant categories: focus on values, elements and object, and activities. We always find individuals who are fond of proposing values and broad concepts, such as safety, beauty, health, or justice. On the other extreme are people who narrow their comments to the particular ideas: a 6’ fence, a mosaic celebrating orca whales, motion-detecting lights, etc. Another group is comfortable in describing activities: walking, dancing, eating, etc.

If not careful, we may disregard other’s ideas because their emphasis is different from our own. Some would argue that walking and health are two different ideas when in fact they promote the same spirit.  Walking is one of the activities supporting health. It is not the only one, but it serves as a specific illustration of how we can promote health.

Once an engineer, comfortable with data and statistics, dismissed a mother who quietly said, “I want my baby to be safe.” She spoke from her heart and to the engineer it was too vague. In return, the mother saw his dismissal as not caring. Here, one represented the mind and one the heart, though both wanted the same end goal.

In the Pomegranate Method, we ask the participants to agree that all sorts of contributions are welcome. We request that they listen to the intent. Then people discover commonalities even though they focus on different aspects of the same ideas.

 

Read the ninth installment in the series, “Do Your Homework and Know the Problem,” here.