A small group of English learners with different professional backgrounds goes on a poetry picnic. They strive to explore their business alter egos and come up with an impressive variety of selves.
What's so nice about communities of practice is that trust and mutual respect among members is so high that you can challenge them with almost any unconventional idea. Yesterday evening, a small community of English language learners with different professional backgrounds met in one of Vienna’s most beautiful parks to read some poetry and explore their 'business selves'. It takes a lot of bravery to share the character traits of your alter ego in front of a group (in your second language). And just like unexpected love, the inspiring variety of their 'business selves' took me by surprise - as if they were philosophers, artists or therapists.
Exploring New Avenues
Progressive HR professionals, heads of departments, and team leaders use poetry to tap the immense potential of their employees. While it has to be admitted that reading poetry does not make you a good leader or provide any ready-made solutions to your business problems. However, it trains emotional skills, opens up new avenues of thinking and can help change decision-making and innovation processes in organisations. Exploring the meaning of a poem and its tokens can definitely create new thinking-space, provide fresh insights, and help teams and individuals adopt a different perspective.
The Poetics of Uncontrollability
Doing a poetry workshop with employees asks for an open-minded approach towards learning and development. The process itself can hardly be controlled and demands high flexibility from both, participants and facilitator: Drawing conclusions too soon may limit possibilities and keep future opportunities hidden. The challenge lies in thriving on 'uncontrollability' and making use of various meanings that co-exist. Reading poetry tests the ability to leave everyday business rhetoric behind and foster activities that go beyond the still prevalent “acquire knowledge and solve the problem” mindset.
I love to do these experimental workshops with Lovelyn Andrade, a female Filipino poet who likes to join our sessions and listens to what participants associate with her poems. What is more, she uses a contemporary, accessible language in her poems. She says her mission is to make her audience feel included rather than exluded by too many layers of allusion and archaic phrases.
Lovelyn Andrade’s Alter Ego series will be published in a poetry for business booklet in 2017. We’ll keep you posted.