People Like Us

Seth Godin occasionally uses the phrase, “People like us do things like this” when talking about how people mobilize to accomplish something together.  I think the phrase can be taken in a couple ways.  It could mean that people like us to this kind of thing.  It could also mean that people like us do things in this kind of way.  It’s probably most useful to think of it in both ways.

Either way, that phrase raises some important questions that relate to the idea of a shared vision.  Approaching this vision business really is about considering certain kinds of questions.

The common line about the educational goal of law school is that it teaches you how to think.  The approach law schools use to try and teach students how to think is the Socratic method.  The Socratic method is basically the process of asking a student a question, getting a response, which produces another question, and continuing the cycle until exhaustion or the end of class.  So a key part of the this popular and long-standing approach to teaching thinking skills involves the asking of questions.

And if the creation of a vision is about certain types of questions, I would suggest that what we’re really doing is using the asking of particular questions in order to think more deeply about certain things.  It’s about asking questions to facilitate deeper thinking about what we really want and what’s really most important to us.

If Seth’s phrase is accurate and certain kinds of people actually do certain kinds of things in certain kinds of ways, I believe it would be worth giving some thought to the implications of this assertion.  The relevant questions that arise in this inquiry would seem to include: What kind of people are we at our workplace?  What kind of people do we want to be?  What kind of workplace is this  What kind of workplace do we want this to be?  How would people like this operate?

There’s no shortcut to deeper thinking.  Thinking, especially the kind that asks difficult questions for which there’s no easy answer, can be hard, time consuming work.  For this reason, asking these kinds of questions may be inefficient and may be frustrating.  But I would suggest that it is less inefficient for someone in a car to ask where we’re headed, why we’re going the direction we’re going, and whether this route will get us where we want to go than to simply ignore those inefficient questions in favor of the seemingly more efficient act of simply driving.

What are your answers to those questions?  What other questions need to be asked about your workplace?


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