I live in a part of London where a mysterious transformation happens every year at exactly the same time. It is an awesome undertaking, mysterious and magical. The forces at play are never seen. Like the shoemaker’s elves they do their skilled work unseen; their selfless and significant contributions to the locals’ well being is their only calling card. But there has been a disturbance in the force. I’m not talking World Cup, but Wimbledon.
It is the day after. The clear up – hasn’t happened yet.
The station forecourt is still a summer wonderland of painted green hedges and oversized floppy tennis rackets. A few maps and guides still stand to attention, banners and creations in purple, white and green still cling seductively to buildings and lampposts (a co-incidence of colour scheme: visitors have occasionally probed, with a puzzled air, the apparent spontaneous and widespread hot bed of support for the suffragette movement in the area)
And it’s wonderful.
There is an ease, a reasonableness in the air; a relaxed atmosphere that allows everyone to acclimatise to a change. As I pass the out-of-date props I can sigh and think farewell to that midsummer fortnight of excitement and sunburn and re-adjust.
It is dawning on me that the customary scene-change that the clear up ninjas have with cunning and skill executed every year has consistently created the impression – again and again – that ‘ it never happened’. In a mental Fosbury flop that lands me on the plump cushions of a new opinion, I wonder whether that’s healthy. (After all, the key plot twist in many a suspense thriller involves persuading a character that something ‘didn’t happen’, no?).
And in the way these things unfold, the benefits of a non-ninja approach gently insinuate their cheery selves into other other places and conversations as the week progresses.
Spookily, two client meetings this week have been billed as ‘open’. We dedicated the time to talk to each other about – in one case the brand, in the other the company’s culture – without an agenda. What subversive little monkeys we were. Horrors! A professional encounter in a business environment with no ninja plan to maximise efficiency and effectiveness!
What beautiful dividends. With no agenda, energy flowed naturally into asking and listening. Participants found themselves talking to subjects in a different way – unformed thoughts, hints of ideas, observations, instincts, regrets, speculation, all took the place of the usual packaged judgment. We were, I suppose, ‘noodling’ aloud with each other. The flow was energizing. Conclusions were reached that felt understood, and owned. We’d given ourselves time to acclimatize to each other, and to new thoughts. And a couple of amazingly brave ideas were created. It was a joy to participate.
I’m going to champion noodling. (NO, not the art of hand-fishing for catfish in Oklahoma) But the noodling that means playing, experimenting and improvising. Not a fan of the word? We can always re-claim and re-purpose some old favourites. ‘Wool – gathering’ anyone? ‘Gongoozling’?
And I think the perfect place to do some of that will be the café. I’ll just scuff some of these tennis leaflets out of the way….
Penny works with senior people who want change.
Her approach is unconventional, and fun.
By challenging perceptions, creatively re-framing situations, and reclaiming their energy and bravery, her clients create new options and successes for themselves and their businesses.
If you’re feeling stuck and want to get moving again, contact Penny: email@example.com