Dancing in the Midst of Complexity | Forum for Theological Exploration

Dancing in the Midst of Complexity

By: Darlene Hutto
March 24, 2020

What does it mean to practice creative dance in the moment of best-laid plans gone awry?

Recently I had the privilege to facilitate a cohort of amazing women for an Inaugural Thriving in Ministry retreat in Pine Mountain, GA. During this time, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic status for COVID-19.

We were in a unique moment in time.

Though the COVID-19 situation and its impact has significantly changed over the past few weeks, at the time of the gathering we decided to proceed with our work after discerning whether or not to cancel the retreat. The small group size of the event and our spacious accommodations situated for social distancing, allowed us to be in community with one another under the best possible conditions.

However, while preparing for the retreat, we had our harrowing moment. A member of our leadership team could not attend the gathering given the restrictions put in place by their institution overnight! In consideration of what we might do in the wake of her absence, we acknowledged that disruptions are opportunities to engage the creative dance of design. This disruption invited us to consider how might we rethink her role:
What does it mean to practice creative dance in the moment of best-laid plans gone awry?

  1. We could do without the role.
  2. We could have someone else fulfill the role, or
  3. We could leverage the moment as a formative teaching moment.

As the facilitator of this gathering, I drew from a moment from FTE’s Co-CREATE facilitation training when we were tasked intentionally with a similar disruption and trained to come up with creative ways to approach dancing in the midst of complexity. In a scenario during the training, the team had to determine what to do during a conference with a series of anticipated storms causing a number of flight cancellations. Rather than cancel the planned conference, the team worked to implement and practice in real-time an online meeting leveraging a conference call tool. What a rush it was to be present and design in the moment! This experience, much like the pivot we needed to make last week, is likened to the call colleges and universities have and are currently undergoing. By extending spring breaks and taking classes online, they have been able to model continuing education with the intent of minimal disruption from a public health perspective.
Last week, our team member who was unable to attend the retreat offered their leadership in an online format as a way of leaning into the creative dance of complexity. We put our heads together to leverage the tools we work with every day; our computers and a projector along with anticipated wifi connection at the retreat location. We were good, all was well, and our content remained intact while we learned to disseminate and experience information in ways we had not considered.

We are all leaning into the challenges of the moment with the intent of responding to the question, “How do we lead and do the least amount of harm?”

How did we get there? We leaned in, we extended grace to one another, and we discussed how we might continue with the plan we had in place and dance our way together in the movements of our work that necessitated a change. In these days as you engage your work anew, amidst changing platforms and landscapes, consider these words: Disruptions are opportunities and challenges that invite us to dance in the midst of complexity.

Tags...: Design Thinking, Inspired Leaders


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