Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Etiquette of Potluck

I came across an interesting metaphor when reading "The World Cafe" today regarding the role of 'contribution' in group settings. The author reflecting on p.100 talks about how they began to think of Cafe conversations as being similar to potluck dinners, how each person contributes a unique dish is what makes a potluck so interesting, fun and nourishing. I started to think more about the essence of potlucks and how this could be used as a metaphor for how to understand & empower healthy group etiquette.

A potluck is a group gathering where each person attending brings a food item for the nourishment and enjoyment of others present. It is a community affair where celebration and connection is valued.

We trust that those bringing their contributions do so with love and care (no inedible ingredients to make others unwell).
We don’t question others cooking skills or require a detailed list of ingredients or the cooking instructions that went with their contribution.
We don’t criticize their dish and tell them how we would have rather made it.
We have the option to try a variety of dishes, no one is forced to eat anything they don’t like, are allergic to, etc.
We take responsibility for our own contribution and don’t expect others to cook for us or clean up after us.
If we require help, we ask for it. If we are unable to contribute, we communicate this.
What we bring to the table is for sharing.
Those invited are under no obligation to attend. 
There is an overriding presence of gratitude involved with a potluck - we are thankful for the presence of and contributions of others.

One group etiquette that has been on my mind for some time has been the idea of holding each other able.  I believe this is essential for individuals to be passionate about and empowered to contribute as well as for groups to sustain a cooperative working environment, more than ever within organizations that count on individual contribution as an essential aspect of the group's function or success. So how might we hold each other able in a group/organization setting? Perhaps this means that we agree to:

*Have confidence in each other’s talents, skills and leadership.
*Empower and support each other to carry out their roles & ideas
*Trust that individuals embody the group’s vision and objectives and carry out all undertakings accordingly.
*Value everyone’s contribution to the collective group and encourage creativity, diversity and entrepreneurship within the collective.

What do you do to empower this etiquette among others within your group?