Ownership is the decision to become the author of our own experience. It is the choice to decide on our own what value and meaning will occur when we show up. It is the stance that each of us is creating the world, even the one we have inherited.
The key distinction for the conversation is between ownership and blame (a form of entitlement).
We have to realize that each time people enter a room, they walk in with ambivalence, wondering whether this is the right place to be. This is because their default mindset is that someone else owns the room, the meeting, and the purpose that convened the meeting.
The idea that “I am cause” can be a difficult question to take on immediately, so lower-risk questions precede a direct approach on this one. The best opening questions are those about the ownership that people feel for this particular gathering. The extent to which they act as owners of this meeting is symptomatic of how they will act as owners of the larger question on the table. The extent of our ownership for larger questions is more difficult and therefore requires a level of relatedness before it can be held in the right context.
Here is a series of questions that have the capacity to shift the ownership of the room.
The most effective way to renegotiate the social contract is to ask people to rate on a seven-point scale, from low to high, their responses to four questions:
- How valuable an experience (or project, or community) do you plan for this to be?
- How much risk are you willing to take?
- How participative do you plan to be?
- To what extent are you invested in the well-being of the whole?
These are the four questions to ask early in any gathering. People answer them individually, then share their answers in a small group. As mentioned above, be sure to remind them not to give advice, be helpful, or cheer anyone up. Just get interested in whatever the answers are.
Block, Peter. Community: The Structure of Belonging(p. 128-129). Berrett-Koehler Publishers.