In yesterday’s post I talked about success being more like a ball of string unravelled by a cat. Today, a word about knots. When unravelled string is around our place, it usually ends up having knots in it. (We don’t even have a cat!) And often, when I am trying to ‘unknot’ the string, rope, electrical extension cord, or whatever it is, I find knots. Often, my process of trying to straighten the rope out, I create more knots.
Knots are places where things come together. Lots of ‘things’. In the ropes I often untangle, the knots are not beautiful knots you’d find in some survival book, these are messy. Rope is joining the knot at all kinds of angles and countless times. Knots appear to be a magnet for the rope. And usually there are more than one knot. Untangling them takes patience, thinking multiple ‘moves’ ahead, a lot of trial and error, and sometimes we need to start away from the knot in a seemingly unrelated part of the rope.
Most projects I’ve been a part of are similar. Frankly life is often like this too. So too is change. There are aspects of change, projects, life that are like magnets attracting all manner of things. The knots are not the goal. Sometimes the knots are not even related to the goal or objective you are trying to achieve. And yet, we keep running into them. And it is frustrating.
The thing about knots is that there is no ‘one way’ to untangle them. There are multiple ways in – multiple perspectives. Each ‘way in’/perspective tells us something about the knot, how it was formed, and how it might be untangled.
The other thing about knots, especially in change projects, is that they are a signal. They are points of connection. They show us how an organisation, a team, or ourselves actually work. Quite different from the organisational chart or process map, they highlight the culture of ‘how things work around here’.
Change makers seek to understand the knots. Sometimes to untangle them, other times to work with them. Mostly to listen and learn the different perspectives that are all contributing to them.
What are the ‘knots’ you need to engage with today?