公務人的力與愛 - 我的觀察與反思
By: 陳明勇, Facilitator and Director at CP Yen Foundation
The September Issue of Dialogue News: "Innovative Ways of Communication... highlighted an interview with Dr. Joyce Yen Feng, former Minister without Portfolio at Executive Yuan. In this interview Dr. Feng Yen stated that If communication among civil servants feels blocked, focus on the relationship between the two of you. Oftentimes, the only things exchanged among civil servants are official documents, and not conversations; this often causes friction as each side tries to do their best, but are not in alignment with one another. Yet if you can connect and talk with one's counterparts, you would be mutually better able to understand each sides' needs and expectations. Your counterparts would also be more willing to work with you to accomplish tasks that benefit the public and build bridges which help to overcome obstacles and reach goals.
I've been pondering Minister Feng's insight over and over, wondering: What actually prevents outstanding civil servants from achieving synergetic results inside our gigantic government machine? The answer revealed itself as I repeatedly read the book “Power and Love”. In the book, author Adam Kahane pointed to Paul Tillich’s definition of power as “the drive of everything living to realize itself” and love as “the drive towards the unity of the separated.” As I reflected upon the experiences of working with civil servants over the years, these words began to make more sense to me.
The CP Yen Foundation has in recent years had the opportunity to facilitate a number of inter-ministerial meetings at the national level. During these meetings, I have always felt deeply impressed by how excellent, mission-oriented, and responsible Taiwan's civil servants are. They work hard to achieve the objectives set out by the organisation and their supervisors. They are also strongly driven by their own desire for self-actualisation. I also became increasingly aware of the lack of communication and connection among them.
In our facilitation processes we first try to understand the needs and objectives of the organisations with whom we are working. After that, we would create a facilitation design according to the current reality of the organisation. During these processes, dialogues with member of the organisation are essential elements in each meeting.
I remember a particular case in which we were facilitating an annual consensus building workshop. A government minister wanted the senior executives from various departments, bureaus, and groups to discuss their experiences of working as civil servants. During our facilitation we observed that all the participating senior executives were extremely engaged and were listening attentively to one another. One of the executives who served in the public sector for over 30 years told us that he had already worked with one of the heads of a bureau on a number of occasions, but he had never spoken face-to-face with him to learn about his feelings; and that he was excited to learn so much about other people’s experiences as well.
As the participants shared their stories, we could sense the dialogue connecting them ever more profoundly together. No longer were they individual parts of their separate departments, bureaus, and groups, but became parts of a collective whole which has a common vision of a future which they could work toward together.
In another inter-ministerial meeting of nearly a hundred participants, we facilitated a consensus-building workshop to plan policy for the next four years. We observed that among the participating civil servants more than 60% held doctoral degrees, that they were devoted to their jobs, and were constantly seeking the best ways within their areas of responsibility to achieve the targets set out by their supervisors.
During the meetings, the participants expressed that they felt an openness of space to be engaged in constructive dialogues, to discuss various issues, to listen to others while advocating their own points as well, to suspend their doubts and to open up. Over the course of the dialogue, the participants’ attitudes changed from cautious to increasingly open and willing to share their thoughts. During the process, the distance and power structures in the group seemed to break down. The departments which had originally felt separate began to discover their commonalities which enabled a more harmonious and obstacle-free setting for the dialogues to emerge.
Earlier this year, while preparing for a different inter-ministerial meeting, we felt resistance towards participation from some departments. So, we planned the agenda carefully. Fortunately, the magic of facilitation really motivated all the participants to become increasingly and more fully involved in the meeting. Ultimately they were able to dialogue in a positive way and to develop an authentic connection with one another. The resistance that we once felt evolved into a bridge, enabling the participants to discuss how they could build actual bridges and roads to make urban commuting easier for their residents.
In light of the new government leadership after the election, regardless of how the change of government may change the work of civil servants, by being sensitive to the needs of stakeholders, maintaining an open and accepting perspective in our dialogues, and respecting people’s natural drive for self realisation, we would collectively have a much easier time in finding ways to meet the interests of the whole group.
Note: CP Yen’s new book “Power and Love” was published in March, 2016. You can purchase "Power and Love" at Books.com, click here for direct link.。