“We aren’t talking enough about power”


Well, that’s a classic show-stopper, isn’t it? 

How often have you heard that in a workshop or discussion?

Power, like ‘leadership’, ‘innovation’, ‘culture’, and ‘transformation’, is one of those — ahem — power words. Very often, it allows us to seem deep and reflective, without actually getting anywhere.

It’s frequently gesturing at a real feeling, a real set of issues — in the meeting or workshop context, often that there are a set of assumptions or structures that benefit certain people, that aren’t being discussed or challenged.

But labelling it as ‘about power’ often raises the stakes without changing the game.

And this is probably irredeemable, because power, like those other words, means different things in different contexts and frameworks at different times — so, however neat your definition, it doesn’t particularly matter because someone else will be using it for an entirely different reason.

Yet we can’t get away from the word and the concept. We feel it all the time.

I can’t condense down my thoughts about power into a LinkedIn post, partly because they’re not finished yet. But I’m sharing my work in progress (the power of vulnerability?) and my best idea yet:

To understand power, looking into a situation:

•What is the situation?

•Who are the actors?

What purposes

•are being sought?

•are being achieved?

•are being espoused?

Context cues and framing

•What are the boundaries of appropriate actions?

•How are they set?

•How are they enforced?

Affordances

•What actions are possible within the boundaries?

And what is the history?

Then, look at how all the above is established — and what the implications are.

Work in progress, anyway…

What is your definition of power? Why do you think it’s important?


See slides with many more thoughts on the LinkedIn post at https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn%3Ali%3Aactivity%3A6879341724381003777/

2 thoughts on ““We aren’t talking enough about power”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s