Getting to Yes, And

Joan Ball: Stop, Ask, Explore


Joan Ball

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Kelly connects with Joan Ball, an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St. John’s University to discuss her new book: “Stop, Ask, Explore: Learn to Navigate Change in Times of Uncertainty.”

You talk in the book about shifting from a knowing orientation to a learning orientation and it feels like this is a real problem today where we reward certainty over wisdom.

“That's certainly what I found in my work, and there is not only not a reward for not knowing, but there is actually a penalty. We don't want our leaders to not know; we don't want our leaders to tell us we're not sure what to do, but we are in the process right now of learning. Because that feels wishy washy or that feels like we can't trust them. And, so, there's a real paradox here that I think is leading to a lot of the challenges that we face.”

I was really struck when you talked about how important metaphors are for the way we see the world we live in.

“I like to focus on metaphor as a sensemaking tool. So, when we're in a circumstance, there's a real reason that we called email ‘email,’ because we knew what mail was and now we added electronic.  And a car wasn't a car when they first came on the market, they were horseless carriages. And there was a reason for that as well, because we’re making sense of what this new contraption was. By grounding it in a familiar metaphor, we frame and reframe.”

So part of what you talk about is our need to understand how disruption and interruption effect both our minds and bodies.

“What I found is that disruption and interruption are like the great equalizer. Because no matter whether you're highly educated or not educated at all, whether you are highly trained and have all of the models and frameworks memorized, or you're doing it by feel when the path that you're on is disrupted or interrupted in any way, shape, or form, there's a first reaction that comes into our minds that comes into our bodies. And I would suspect in improvisation, when you're in that space with someone I'm sure that there is both a mental and an embodied reaction to that - there's an energy that comes into it.”

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