BIF-7 Breath One: Questions, Purpose and Limiting Beliefs

Welcome to the series where I connect my BIF-7 insights on the questions I carried with me to the Five Breaths of Design/Chaordic Stepping Stones. In this post you’ll find insights on Breath One, The Call.

The first breath invites questions like who is the core team, what is the issue/question, what is the purpose and what are any limiting beliefs. Here are the golden threads from my notes on the various stories at BIF-7 that connected with the first breath of designing conversations that matter:

At BIF-7 there were many examples of asking the big questions, like:

  • If you had unlimited resources, what’s the one thing you’d give your patients?
  • What is health?
  • If we didn’t know school, what would it be?
  • How are we doing? Not just recently, but over a long period of time?
  • Why do we have institutions and large companies?
  • When you have a challenge with your child, who do you turn to?
  • And the inspiring mantra that “change begins with the first new question”.

On framing the issue and purpose in a way that can incubate change-making:

  • Reduce the temptation to change the core; like our bodies, the current system’s antibodies will try and kill it. Instead, go to an edge.
  • Change making is about finding allies and over time building more allies. Key is finding an explorer as an ally; someone in the current leadership who sees possibility in the change you are trying to create.
  • Use metrics that matter to the core and as your experiments show success it will be difficult for the core to argue with your results.

Lovely, juicy tidbits on limiting beliefs and preparation for the calling team:

  • Where we are not telling the truth to each other; where we nod our heads and fib? This is where shadow appears.
  • Asking how close will our courage let us get?
  • Tapping into the eldership and intuitive knowing inside each of us: what happens in a world where there are no superheroes? When we stop believing in the superhero inside ourselves?
  • Inquiring into the fibs, such as hearing “talent development is the most important thing” and asking “what are you doing about it”?
  • To not be too afraid of your mistakes; great opportunity to do The Work (when we make a mistake it means…).
  • Write the obituary; this initiative closes its doors. What does the article say? What can we learn from it?
  • If it feels scary and lonely you're probably on the right track.
  • When you're disrupting yourself, be assured you have no idea what will come next.
  • Throw out the performance metrics you've always relied on.
  • Your odds of success will improve with your first small step (e.g. want to write a book? Your odds improve when you start a blog).
  • Safe-fail: for 90% of all successful new ventures, the strategy that leads to their success is not the strategy they originally pursued.
  • 90% of the experiments don’t work.
  • Cultivating the internal motivation to keep going; imagine you from 100 years in the future calls you, tells you to keep up the good work as what you are doing is making a difference.

Up next in my BIF-7 insights is Breath Two: Clarify.