How We Modeled Our Partnership

This is a story of partnership development that brought us to creating the “Crew Co-operation” blog. It is about a partnership modeling exercise that took us an hour to understand what the best way of cooperating is.

It was in January 2018 when we — Tanya Smirnova and Gleb Shulishov — decided to unite our effort in helping the teams to develop and build good cooperation inside the team.

Two months later, the time has come when we both felt a certain discomfort that prevented us from interacting. Gleb immediately suggested modeling  “when our partnership is at its best, it is like what?”

No sooner said than done! 🙂

We clearly understood in 60 minutes how partnership looks for each of us, what we will do and what resources and support each of us needed.

Gleb was the first and his image traced its outlines gradually. At first, there were two flat objects that constantly moved and changed their shapes. Sometimes they came into contact and matched together, and what happened then was “Bingo!” Sometimes they did not coincide and then nothing happened. In both cases they continued to move. Over some time, there were three more flat objects and black fog. When Gleb saw the whole picture, he wanted to stop all the objects. Then we realized that it was a picture of how it is happening now, but not when the partnership is at its best. The question helped us to move on: What happens next? It turned out that it would be good to stop all these objects from time to time. “Rhythm is important, within all this chaotic movement!” — cried Gleb.

The rhythm was “Bin-bin-bin-bingo! Bin-bin-bin-bingo! Bin-bin-bin-bingo!” Every “Bingo” meant a stop, when he could see but not move on. During “Bin-bin-bin” he could move but did not see anything around. This rhythm was a metaphor for our partnership at its best as Gleb saw it.

Then it was my turn. Gleb asked: “When our partnership is at its best for you, it will be like what?” I didn’t come up with any image, and I just started to describe in a logical way what I want: “I would like the teams to show up on their own, and when they do show up — I can work with them…” Then I took a grip of my metaphor. I’ll be like a little bouncing ball. I can only bounce in the rooms (they are teams), I can not bounce on a field or a road for a long time, therefore I can not get to other rooms. That’s why it’s important that the rooms should appear all by themselves. It is also important what the rooms look like. If the ceiling is not high-quality (the client’s request is not worked out), then I-ball will fly quickly to the sky from the room. If the floor is very soft or nasty (what the company is doing), then it will not be possible to bounce in this room.

An hour later, there came the most interesting moment of our modeling, it was when we decided to find out how these two metaphors could live together and interact. Gleb replied at once: “When I have “Bingo”, I open my eyes and sometimes I see the rooms where you can bounce. I would like to talk to you about them, and if you are able to bounce in them, I throw you-ball into the room.”

Our conversation resulted in discussing a lot of details, subtleties, resources and support that we could provide to each other. Our expectations became clear,  we had an insight of our interaction. We felt a sense of lightness and confidence!

  1. The tools we used in the conversation are called Clean Language and Systemic Modelling™. These are sets of open questions that help formulate a metaphor and understand how it works without thinking up, evaluating or bringing in personal experience. This method allows you to understand how what you are modeling is really working for the person and you. Also, these two methods help to understand how the resulting systems and metaphors can interact with each other.
  2. The “Clean Language” approach was developed in the 1970s by David Grove (psychoanalyst from New Zealand). It was adapted for coaching and working with business in the format of “Systemic Modelling™” by his follower Caitlin Walker.
  3. Working through the metaphor allows our subconscious mind to convey the information we need, quickly and safely. Plus, the metaphor is easily remembered and then used in the interaction of colleagues. For example, it’s enough for me to tell Gleb that the ceiling in our client’s room is not very high-quality. It will be clear at once that we need to talk with the client to make it clear what his request is.

If you want to know “when your team works at its best”, write to our e-mail.

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