Strategic Teams Achieving Results

Using Parallel Process for a Successful Transformation

Posted on October 22nd, by Marita Fridjhon in 2013, Blog, Team Building. No Comments

parallel_290x136_scaled_croppWikipedia states the following: “Parallel processing is the ability to carry out multiple operations or tasks simultaneously. The term is used in the contexts of both human cognition, particularly in the ability of the brain to simultaneously process incoming stimuli, and in parallel computing by machines.” In my mind, this is not to be confused with mere multi-tasking. While we indeed leverage parallel processing in best practices for task forces and other team efforts, there is another, messier way in which it shows up in human relationships that I believe to be a good mine for systemic transformation. It happens when we are in a parallel process without realizing it!

You must have had the experience in client work or in your life, where you worked with or in a company and the very problem they were addressing for their customers, plays out in their own teams and offices. Think of social activists in situations where, if it was possible to press the mute button, we will see that activists act and behave energetically in exactly the same way as the antagonists they are protesting. Parallel process.

How might this be used in an intentional way by both sides?

In Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI) we re-interpret our personal experiences not only as personal, but also as an expression of the larger whole. In doing so, we often amplify the experience in order to discover what is emerging. We also lean into the wisdom of an intelligent, creative system called the 3rd Entity or the relationship itself, for information from the vantage point of meta view.

Parallel process can also involve creative leadership applications. If we look at parallel process from the Systems Inspired Leadership perspective, we may see it as an attempt of the larger system to break down the complexity of an issue, bringing us together in parallel process to work separately on the same issue.

What it requires is that when I notice that I, as leader, get irritated by my team member who acts too independently, I need to be courageous enough to recognize our parallel process… since acting too independently is something I am working on in myself! Recognizing this may invite me into vulnerability rather than authority. It will move me to not only share my discoveries about the challenge but be curious about the wisdom sitting across from me. When that happens, we not only grow us and our teams, we also partner in the systemic evolution for humanity.

Think about the client that irritates you. Think about the team member that challenges you. What is at the root of the irritation and challenge that points to a parallel process in your life? Imagine for a moment that you have been brought across from one another because you need each other to be uniquely able to contribute your solutions to the larger complex problem of this on the planet. When you can access that place, consider how you might use it consciously as a coach or as a leader.

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