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foxwizard ☾

🎭 Weaponised naïveté

One of the most important things an external facilitator can bring to a context is not their “expertise”—it’s their lack of knowing the dynamics of your context.* This naïveté allows us to thus ask the taboo questions with impunity, to great affect.

* This goes against the default advice of researching and knowing your client. But that’s bad advice. You cannot become an expert in their world—they’ll always know it better than you. Don’t even try to pretend.

External facilitators are brought in to conjure ideological optionality within a team that is otherwise fractured, mired or at an impasse. Through deft facilitation and weaponised naïveté, we can bring about a “narrative wedge” to make bold decisions happen.

The expertise of the external faciliator is thus not in knowing what the ‘right’ decision is—but in knowing how to create the conditions in which the best decision can emerge.

Weaponised naïveté is a superpower—but it takes intentionality to protect this power. Some clients will want to brief you on all the “personalities” in their team, and to let you in on the politics, tensions and subtext. You need to delicately stymie this as swiftly as you can, because it will rob you of your naïveté.

The reason teams find themselves unable to bring about meaningful progress amidst complexity, ambiguity and paradox is because they’ve become conditioned by the fabric of measures and meanings they work within. The last thing you want is to be similarly inculcated, as this will render your efficacy benign.

To infiltrate the inculcated, keep your naïveté weaponised.

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