Obama’s StarPower

So, as I’ve said, we’d play this StarPower game in our Personal Mastery workshops: people traded chips, ending up at one of three tables depending on the value of their chips, and then got the game turned over to them – the facilitators withdrew.

At the tables they’d be all mixed up: the CEO might be at the bottom table, or union workers at the top. We conducted literally hundreds of these workshops, and the outcome was almost always the same: the Tops would suck up power; the Bottoms would come together, like unions, against the Tops; and the Middles would tune out. We would “process” the outcome using the work of Barry Oshry, talking about creating a place where the Tops give up some power so others can take responsibility; where the Bottoms step up to the plate instead of blaming others for their problems; and where the Middles, from their unique perspective, get involved to facilitate this process.

One workshop was quite different. The CEO was a woman, and she ended up at the top table. Suddenly she broke out of the game mindset, brought the whole group together, and said let’s talk about why we’re doing this and how it’s like our own organization. They brainstormed ideas for how to avoid the usual organizational traps, and then voted to end the game and turn the workshop back to the facilitators (who didn’t have much to say, at that point, since they’d done it all for us).

The world, as I see it, is in one big StarPower game. Bush was the classic Top, sucking up power (and then feeling burdened – remember him talking about how “hard” his job was?). I (and a lot of the country) was the classic Bottom – blaming Bush for everything, even my almost-atheism.

My belief is that Obama is changing the game. Even the stupid little things that right-wingers have gleefully seized upon, like bowing in Saudi Arabia or shaking Chavez’s hand, are signs. Maybe Barry Oshry has some good advice for him.

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2 Responses to Obama’s StarPower

  1. Curt says:

    Well, I remember that session and that moment pretty well – when K. “reorganized” the game. I always thought it was just another “Top” stunt, the only controlling option left in ruleless game. Give the game back to the facilitators meant reestablishing the “proper” order to me.

  2. celebratingtime says:

    Well, yes, it could be viewed as a “Top” stunt. And I may be combining her in my mind with one other group that kind of came out of it by themselves, by processing what it meant for their organization. Since your organization didn’t change at all afterwards (as none did, which is why I’m so cynical now about organizational change when the Tops hold so much power), I guess your interpretation is more valid. But I do believe Obama’s trying to do something different.

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