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The Cost of the Silver Hand

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In versus out—does it even matter?

It does in Minnesota. It’s 33°F right now—not so cold—but in less than 30 days we’ll plunge well below 0°F and stay there for a month or two. Being inside matters when the outside temperature is cold.

About “inside,” you remember high school, yes? Being an insider seemed to matter there: being part of the groovy clique seemed to say a lot about your identity. But it turned out that the cost paid for being an insider was higher than we realized.

You get inside by exploiting insider behaviors: hang with other insiders, use insider words, allow the insider frame of reference to settle on you and gradually think insider thoughts. There is a certain warmth to being inside. Sometimes it’s safe and cozy. Sometimes staying inside means forming alliances and battling for diminishing territories. A friend recently used those words to describe his years inside a large retailer based in Minneapolis—he left when the cost of alliances and battles was greater than his paycheck.

The classic insider mistake is to think inside is all there is. And that mistake is murder when the layoff discussion happens in the HR office on a bright, cold Friday afternoon. Or when you graduate high school.

But being on the inside is good when you also recognize voices from the fringe. That sort of consciousness allows new thoughts to infect the inside, possibly even countermanding the inbred thinking of insiders talking to insiders.

Lately I’ve been stimulated by reading The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion, by Hagel, Brown and Davison (NY: Basic Books, 2010). In particular, their talk about what the edge person brings to the discussion seems fitting. The edge person is working at something different than the insider. The edge person is trying to accomplish something in a different way and so is asking different questions. The edge person asks questions the insider doesn’t even consider. And it turns out those questions are sometimes the very questions the leaders of the insiders wish they were asking.

My favorite scene in Canal Digital’s “Silver Hand” is at the bar when our hero tries to casually drop the Silver Hand reference.

What a lovely fail.

The smart insider acquaints herself with the habitat and questions of the edge person.

And vice versa.

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Via Canal digital

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