Liberate Expression by Applying Restrictions

Liberate Expression by Applying RestrictionsOne of the goals in asking Weave questions is to encourage meaningful, authentic and free expression.

An interesting way we can achieve this, which is a great paradox, is a technique I first came across in software development referred to as ‘restricted liberation’. Similar techniques are used in poetry and music. My favorite example is the structure imposed by blues music. Other examples include the Haiku and the Sonnet and more recently the 140 character limit imposed by twitter.

We have found that restricting the structure of people’s answer when we ask questions for a Weave has the following benefits:

  • encourages thoughtful and meaningful responses when an individual responds to a question
  • facilitates an efficient way to browse collective responses from a group.

A simple example of how we do this is to ask for a limited number of words, for example a survey we sent out today to leaders at Comcast we asked :”In five words or less, what must we as leaders do to move our employees effectively through the changes ahead?”.

I recently came across a Harvard Business Review article which provided a great structure to: Define Your Personal Leadership Brand in Five Steps. I found this simple structure encouraged my own thoughtful response, here is the basic structure:

I want to be known for being (3 pairs of 2 words on identity) so that I can deliver (results).

The process was:

  • Define desired Results by considering: Customers; Investors; Employees and The Organization
  • Pick 6 descriptors balancing qualities about what you want to be known for.
  • Combine the six words into 3 phrases to define your identity.

Alex and I both followed this process:

“I want to be known for being an enthusiastic collaborator, inspiring visionary and pragmatic technologist so that I can unleash the potential of teams.” – Paul

“I want to be known for being deliberately focussed, intuitively creative and strategically alert so that I can deliver rapid, sustainable growth.” – Alex

Feel free to share your own leadership brand with our readers below. We would also love to know your feelings while following this restrictive structure (in 2 words please!) and whether it resulted in a more powerful expression of your own identity.

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