A conversation with Gail Taylor & Matt Taylor. Founders of the MG Taylor Corporation
“I think I was lucky to be a teacher of very young children as my first career. They taught me so much about the joy of teaching and learning. Within the first few months of teaching, it was clear to me that mutual learning created authenticity and trust. We had wonderful fun together growing with and for each other. Many of my current ways of thinking and acting developed during those few years with these young minds. I left the formal classroom 50 years ago, taking with me new ways of working, teaching, and being. Since then, I have founded and been part of teams — The Learning Exchange, M G Taylor Corporation, Tomorrow Makers —developing processes, methods, and content with and for adults that help all of us find our way back to that childlike wonder where I believe our answers to today’s challenges will arise.” – Gail Taylor
In this episode of Control the Room, I had the pleasure of speaking with Gail Taylor & Matt Taylor about their decades of experience creating environments, tools, and processes for facilitating Group Genius with large complex organizations. They begin with how they became facilitators and how they came to the same conclusion from two totally different backgrounds. Later, they explain how working across many industries helps them bring competitors together to solve complex problems. We also discuss language and how verbs better describe who we are. Listen in for many more tips from these two of two giants of facilitation.
[1:50] How Gail And Matt Got Their Start.
[18:19] Sustaining Collaboration
[21:25] Finding Answers to Complex Problems
[30:35] Coming To The Same Conclusion From Two Totally Different Backgrounds
[41:20] Creating Environments For Creativity And Collaboration
[50:40] Coming To Knowing
[59:30] Bringing The Heart And Mind To Work
[1:05:10] The importance Of Physicality To Think
[1:14:05] Crossing Thresholds To Design the Future
Links | Resources
Gail on LinkedIn
Matt on LinkedIn
About the Guest
Gail and Matt, now in their 80s, have had long, interesting lives. Long before meeting in their 40s, each had a number of successes and were known for their work, visions, and interest in the future. In 1980, they created MG Taylor Corporation, which has become well known for creating environments, tools, and processes for facilitating Group Genius with large complex organizations to find unique solutions to problems that seemed unsolvable. It was said by many that the “Taylor process” helped them solve in three days what, by any other process, would have taken a year, if at all.
About Voltage Control
Voltage Control is a change agency that helps enterprises sustain innovation and teams work better together with custom-designed meetings and workshops, both in-person and virtual. Our master facilitators offer trusted guidance and custom coaching to companies who want to transform ineffective meetings, reignite stalled projects, and cut through assumptions. Based in Austin, Voltage Control designs and leads public and private workshops that range from small meetings to large conference-style gatherings.
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Douglas: Welcome to the Control The Room podcast, a series devoted to the exploration of meeting culture and uncovering cures to the common meeting. Some meetings have tight control, and others are loose. To control the room means achieving outcomes while striking a balance between imposing and removing structure, asserting and distributing power, leaning in and leaning out, all in the service of having a truly magical meeting. Thanks for listening.
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Today I’m with Matt and Gail Taylor, the founders of the MG Taylor Corporation. Now in their 80s, they’ve spent the last 40 years creating environments, tools, and processes for facilitating group genius with large complex organizations. They both share an unquenchable love for finding unique solutions to problems that seem unsolvable. Welcome to show, Matt and Gail.
Douglas: It’s so good to have you. So as usual, I want to get started by hearing a little bit about how you all got your start. How did you get into this business of helping people facilitate group genius?
Gail: Well, it starts probably as two separate individuals because we didn’t meet until we were in our late 30s. But I was an elementary teacher, second graders, and I think I really never thought about thinking. Before I got in the classroom I was dyslexic and wasn’t a great student and didn’t like the school of education. And so I was surprised when I walked into this classroom about this energy that was there and this anticipation and the excitement of these little seven year olds.
And it wasn’t very long into the school year where I thought I was teaching math and one child raised his hand and asked why soap bubbles had colors? And it’s like, I don’t know what this has to do with what I’m talking about, but I had the wherewith all to say, “I don’t know. How many others have questions that you’re wondering about instead of paying attention to what I’m saying?” And all these little hands shot up in the air and all these questions I wrote on the blackboard. And I said, “Two weeks. Two weeks. And I don’t know any of the answers. I’ll see if…” It was long before the internet, of course and, “I’ll see if I can help you. You can make phone calls, you can ask questions, you can look in Encyclopedias, but in two weeks all of you will share your answers.”
Sitting in that room two weeks later, I could see the thoughts over their heads. They were so excited. I could literally feel the energy in the room. I started crying actually. It was so beautiful in terms of that energy. And my question was, can adults still learn? Have we ruined ourselves to that creative process of discovery and wonder and excitement about sharing ideas? And it changed that day and that question, do soap bubbles have colors changed my whole outlook on teaching. It woke me up.
So I went on teaching for a couple years and the scores were fantastic that the kids did the play. What we learned together, what I learned was that I’m sure is good or not better, if not better than what they were learning. So a couple years later, I said, “I need to start the learning exchange,” and I won’t get into the background story but the learning exchange partner, Mary Watkins and I started it together and it was for Kansas City, which had at that point, 22 different school districts, and to open up the opportunity of experiential education, which was, at that point, nobody knew what it was, but it came from the Sputniks Care. And the government went out and said, “Wait, we’re not prepared to know the future. We need math, science, these kinds of things,” and experiential education became an opportunity.
So it was to bring the whole city together to discover experiential education, particularly for teachers. So we designed courses that were missing in the school districts and then sold them to the school districts. And we brought together CEOs and scientists and artists and kids of course, and teachers and parents. And we designed courses and then sold them to the school district.
And a couple things I learned from this. One is when people designed together and played together and had their hands busy with stuff, they could fall in love with each other. All this disagreement and all this separation between, “Well, what do I have to do with education? Why should I be concerned about this?” It all came together and just melded together and what came out of it was extraordinary.
I found it in ’72 and then met Matt in ’76, who had come to Kansas City and he’ll start his story. And about that time it was like, “It’s time for me to leave and pass it on,” which it went on for another 20 years. They brought me back at the 25th anniversary for a $1,000 a night dinner. My salary was about $3,000 when I was working there but it got big and it was the playful place for Kansas City to think about education, and it was not the Red Cross, not these big things. It was this little alternative organization that everybody fell in love with because it just brought the best out of people. And it allowed us all to play together and work together and do amazing things, but it was time for me to pass it on and figure out what I wanted to do next.
So I went to New York for the summer to study with a remarkable woman in education. And when I came back, I had several opportunities while there to change jobs and to move to D.C. or Washington. But I had two young kids, Jeff and Todd, and I thought, “I better find out what’s going on in Kansas City because uprooting this family is not something I want to do lightly.” And that leads into how I met Matt, but I’ll stop there for a moment.
Douglas: Before we move on, I want to talk about a few things that I noticed there, which is so keen for facilitation. The first being that I’m sure it’s showing up as a teacher, having the room full of kids and the responsibility to move things along and their objectives. The parents are expecting the kids to be educated and taken care of, and the administrators have expectations. And it’s probably so tempting, and I see this in facilitators too, so tempting to just keep things on track.
They’re like, “Oh no, we’re not talking about soap bubbles right now. We’re talking about math.” Whereas shifting that conversation and inviting it in tapped into a curiosity that probably made them more attentive when we were talking about math or made them more curious about the world around them and I think that is facilitation at its core.
Matt: Yeah. Gail, tell the two stories. There’s two stories. One where she got accused of teaching because her children were jumping grades.
Matt: That she was cheating the scores, right?
Gail: And the test, they went score high.
Matt: Yeah. And the other, when she left the kids alone for a day to run the fellow stories. Important.
Gail: Well, yeah. It was after when I realized that learning was a whole different story from what I learned in the school of education and each child was unique and had things to offer. The test scores just rose and the excitement about being in the school and the conflicts went away, there being a willingness to share with each other and to play was just extraordinary.
So it was snowing one day and I got in a little bit late and the kids said, “Oh, we thought you weren’t going to be here today and everything.” And it’s like, “Well, that doesn’t matter. You can run the class.” “No, no, we couldn’t run the class.” And so I said, “Okay, two weeks. Two weeks. Who’s going to teach math? Who’s going to teach science? Because I’m not coming to school that day.” And they all got ready and man, in some cases, they chose the weakest one in a subject to teach the class.
Kids are so intuitive and they’re so compassionate when they have the opportunity to be that way. And so I had to hang out… My principal of course, didn’t like the idea at all, but I had to hang out where they couldn’t see me. And the class, it went on beautifully. And they had a great day. And again, their confidence and their understanding of what learning was, teaching was, being together was. I don’t know why. I was very shy in growing up and I was dyslexic but suddenly working in this classroom, my curiosity in terms of where can we go and what is there for us to learn and how do we make things happen and all of this, it just bubbled up in me and woke me up to things I really wanted to do in my future.
Douglas: Amazing. It reminds me of the quote that I always heard about startups. It’s like when everyone’s disagreeing and times are rough, everyone’s got their idea of how to fix things and no one can agree on which way to go, which pivot to do or whatever. And there’s this quote that I’ve always reminded of, which is, “Sales fixes all problems at startups.”
And it’s not about the revenue or the economics, it’s about the fact that, hey, a deal came in and now we got work to do. There’s no denying what needs to get done. It’s the same environment you created for the students. They had a job to do and there’s enthusiasm about making it happen and they figured it out.
Gail: Yeah, at the learning exchange, it’s when we’d get a phone call, “Can you do this?” We had 10 seconds to say, “Well, wait a minute. I’ll find out in 10 seconds. Of course, we can,” kind of thing. Same thing.
Matt: But you always made the people who wanted it to be involved too. That was the other thing that you did.
Gail: So I had a fabulous mentor, Mary and I had a fabulous mentor, Head of Association, Kansas City, and he said, “How much money do you need?” And we said, “A $100,000.” He says, “That’s a lot of money.” He says, “You’re just housewives and teachers,” but he said it in a loving way, in a kind of interesting way. He said, “I’ll tell you what, go out and get $10,000 from the business community and I’ll match it.” Well, grumble, grumble, grumble, but of course we did.
And in the process we met people we would not have met and told our story to come back and he says, “Great, now go out in the women’s communities and do the same thing.” Grumble, grumble, grumble. But of course, we came back. He said, “Now you have 40,000.” He said, “How much did you think you could earn on your own?” And we said, “$20,000.” He says, “Okay, I’ll match that. Now you’ve got $80,000. That’s enough.” He really worked with us. And Mary and I decided that that was hard work.
So we were never going to take money from people without involvement. So we would say to Mr. CEO, “No, we don’t want your representatives. We want you, we want you and your money.” We never lost a funder in that process because they got engaged. They again, were reinspired to think about learning and their own paths of how they learned and how they made decisions and all of those kind of things.
When I went back 20 years later, whenever it was, the board members were still cycling and still staying involved because that is, and it’s rare, it’s rare today to dare people to be engaged both with the funding and the participation. And very few organizations really get involved in education in a very intimate way where the leader is there. But-
Matt: Then there’s the story about, we don’t have time to come.
Gail: Well, I can go on with more and more stories.
Matt: Well, tell that one. Got to tell that one.
Gail: Well, all right. You can cut out all this stuff that isn’t. Monthly, I would call and say, “It’s time for the board meeting.” “Oh, we don’t have time for a board meeting. I’m really busy. No, I can’t come to it.” “Wait a minute. You agreed. It’s time for the board meeting. It’s time. We’ll have snacks, food, stuff, it’s time, come.” And I wouldn’t take no.
And they would come and they would leave literally five and six hours later. Our board meetings were an hour but they would be in conversation. They would play bathtub physics, which was one of the experiments we had with all kinds of water things. They would go and do math games, they would see new books and it was like, “Wait a minute, you guys have to go home. You’re too busy to be here.” And they’d say, “Yeah, but our mind is just expanding and we’re thinking about all these things.”
This happened month after month, after month. “No, I can’t come. No, I can’t come.” And then getting them there and having them spend until closing often, which really says that we invited them into a different world and they spent a day in the different world, then they had to go home to their old system and that old system told them exactly how to behave. And so that habit just made that day they spent with us a distant memory. Meanwhile, they were going to get on with important work. In a way, that’s happening to our paradigm.
Douglas: Yeah. I always wonder in those moments where when in space they see so much value and they see so much potential, and like you said, the time evaporates and they almost don’t want to leave. And then when it comes time to schedule it again, it’s like, “Wait, why are they so resistant?” So I’m curious, what have you found that’s like, why do people forget how incredible it is and how do we help people return to that or want to return to it?
Gail: I think it’s going to get easier because the system is shifting, but that paradigm of right and wrong and hierarchy and what you pay attention to and answers not explorations. This is being talked about a lot in Ian McGilchrist’s work and other work about the left and right brain, which neither Matt nor I like that dichotomy very much, but it’s important to understand how the right brain has all the answers. And it’s decided, and it doesn’t have context around it or anything. It just has answers, important life saving skills.
The right brain is, “Oh, that’s interesting. I wonder about those possibilities. I wonder about this,” and it hardly ever says either or, or any of these kinds of things. That’s for the right brain to do in terms of… And so we’ve grown up in a world that honors the right brain, extraordinarily. You can’t make a living with this. “You can’t do this with this and you have to lawyer, doctor, surgeon,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
That’s fading and we’re becoming more and more aware of how these two facets and many more, much more than… This is a very short conversation but the complexity of how that brain works and how it enables the right brain to set up a workspace in the brain, this is really interesting in terms of environments. The brain sets up a little workspace and it brings in all those things that have been about that and that’s when consciousness comes. That’s where consciousness is created but it’s a much more dynamic open field of play and interaction. And it dampens down all those things that aren’t coherent with this new coherence that’s coming up and it’s the new stimulants.
And I think we’re learning a lot about the brain and the young child and learning. I think the world is just so full of explorations right now about what’s really going on with us and we’re far more, far more wonderful than we ever give our ourselves permission to really understand what humans are capable of and what we can do together as part of nature and as part of a world in creation, what we can do and that we don’t need.
Anyway, I can go on and on about that but I think this paradigm that Matt talks about, I think it’s so exciting that we’re where we are because I think the coherence of these millions of people actually coming together in their different ways, the old falling away, but leaving room for the new to be born and come about and mature, I think it’s pretty exciting.
So I think we’re all beginning to morph and to… Maybe we’ll go back to our offices and feel like we can stay here, we can stay in this world that we created over the last three days or in your one day or whatever your special events.
Douglas: Yeah. So I want to come back to the moments where you all first came together and you talked about your experiences as an educator and what drove or led you to this work. And Matt, I think you came from, if I recall correctly, the architecture world. And so kind of curious how that led to this confluence of you all meeting and starting the MG Taylor Corporation?
Matt: Yeah, I grew up in a military family. I was born in ’38, so World War II, and which meant that I lived my early life on Air Force bases all over the world. And my mother taught me to read when I was very, very young before I ever went to school. She taught me how to read on the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Matt: So I got to school the first day and there’s these little pictures with, “Here’s Joe and the bouncing ball,” and da da, and the guy in a suit and father and I said, “That doesn’t look like my father,” and I got sent to the head of the school. It was a private school and I walked in. She says, “In 30 years I’ve never had anyone sent in so early the first day. Why?” And I said, “Well, [inaudible 00:21:08],” and she says, “You better sit here.”
So I sat in her chair for the whole year and watched her when she had to work with the teachers and do her work. And then in-between those meetings she would teach me. We would talk and look out the window of everybody running around and playing and stuff like that.
And so that was my introduction and here I was going from this place to this place, to this place, to this place. And at one point I told my mother that I wanted to get an answer to a complex problem. And she was quite bright and very well educated, but she couldn’t answer it. So she ordered the Encyclopedia Britannica. Meanwhile, we got shipped over to the Philippine Island. So the books had the get over.
And on the way to the Philippines, I walked through a city in Japan. This was 1946 where a 100,000 people died in one night, one night. Now, you would think how protected you think that us Americans walking through their city were, when we got off that boat on the way to the Philippines. How protected do you think we were? None. We had one person, one MP with a 911 pistol on his hip walking with us, but more to keep us from getting nothing. And we were welcomed, people coming up. And of course, it was really good to have blonde hair because that’s really big in Japan. But anyway, and saying hello and taking his places and everything else like that, it was totally astounding.
And then we get to the Philippine Islands and I was told I had rheumatic fever. I had to spend the rest of my years in bed. I could get out a half an hour a day if I didn’t get excited. And the Encyclopedia Britannica came there, so this will kill you. But I read it, what are you going to do?
Now, this made me a terror in education for the rest of my life. I went to some good schools and one of… I went to a couple of military schools, which was good because they had discipline and you learn things and stuff. But when my father was sent to the Pentagon after the war and after the Philippines, I started playing around in the long strip of buildings and stuff where the president lives and where… I forget the name of that, but anyways.
Gail: The mall?
Matt: Yeah, the mall. And I walked into the National Art Gallery and here was this beautifully built building and this big dome. And I looked at it and I said, “I want to be an architect.” And so my father had his old things from college, a little drawing kit because he took this drawing. He gave them to me and I got books and everything and I started learning how to draw.
Now, I ended up in a school in the eighth… No, sixth and seventh grade. And the owner of the school had a piece of property across that everyone told him, “You couldn’t build in Palo Alto because of the offsets, and you couldn’t have two bedrooms and two baths,” and no one could figure it out. And he says, “Can you do this?” And I designed it and it was built and it was on the eve… Once a year they go around, achieve that.
So here I am. And then I go to a Jesuit high school in San Francisco and they’re great teachers and they learn just to leave me alone and let me read and give me good information. And so at the end of my junior year, and from the time of the… I guess it was the fifth grade or something, every summer I went around to architect’s offices and said, “Can I work summer here?” And they’d laugh and be nice and everything and said… But meanwhile, I had learned to draw and I had gone to level night school, college level to take drawing courses and bloom through them.
So at the summer of my third year in high school, I got a job and it was with the San Francisco office of one of the largest architectural firms in the world, like a Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, but there were none that were that kind of big buildings and everything.
And I never went back to school but I kept reading the Encyclopedia, which kept on making me a pain in the ass to everybody. And got into architecture very young and after several years of working on various size projects and everything, I got an interview with Frank Lloyd Wright. And he says, “Well…” He says, “Next spring,” he says, “Just work your way here to Tallahassee and we’ll see if we can keep you.”
And so I got to spend a time at Tallahassee, and actually, I was there the last year of his life, and I won’t get into the details of that. That was a completely different kind of thing. We designed buildings, we built our buildings, we grew food, we served food. There were 50 people and there was not one person there that wasn’t part of our team. There was no outside people doing things.
I learned the philosophy of doing hands-on and architecture isn’t some fancy thing where you draw something up and blah, blah, blah. It is embedded in an environment or organic environment. So you see, I really got some information at really the right time. And so he died and I went back to work. I was invited to stay with Tallahassee & Architects, but I wanted to be in Southern California. And I got to doing very large projects, four other architects, but nevertheless, I was in charge of the drafting room and stuff like that. So all the time I was always in a job, two or three, five, six, 10 years ahead of my age. And I learned that once I was at some place for a period of time and I knew the job and I had everything the way I wanted it, that the idea was go to another job, another architect.
So just two more things. The conflict between the architect, the client, the architect, and the builders was terrible. If you’ve ever seen someone going through building their house, you know the horror stories.
Douglas: You’re talking about projects that are orders of magnitude more complex than a house. So it’s got to amplify that, right?
Matt: Yeah. But yeah, this was the time when in southern California where I was working, if we said we’re going to do a subdivision of a 1,000 houses. And so my job was to start with the topo plan and all the way through and then the houses that were going to be shown and stuff like that. And so I got to go through all those processes, but still, the conflict then was when they tried to build them and they hated, those groups hated one another and complained and remember, 10% for the architect, 10% for the general contractor, 10% for all the subcontractors. Okay, 30% of the money is gone and we don’t have a brick there. What is this?
So I got on a bus and I went to New York City, got off the bus, found a hotel, said I’ll be staying here. The hotels there, they did that. And next day went out, found the person, they had me over. I got a job and they handed me my first building to build because that’s what I wanted to integrate. And I ended up working with two companies. One was one of the largest ones, the company that built the center that got blown up, but in those days it was other projects.
And so in my very early age, I was running. A project was 600 people and two buildings a block long, 25 stories high. What I learned to do was find out that if you worked a certain way, you could increase the value of the work done. Everyone could make money and you could reduce the time and the cost by about 50% because in there was all that waste and all that doing it over in mistakes and drawings that didn’t work and stuff like that.
And that became my work in architecture all the way up through the 60s. And in the late 60s, having worked in different parts of the country, different kinds of projects, big projects, sometimes in a little job because I wanted to learn this craft or being in charge of a huge project, I just took them. And once I got to what I learned and finished the project, I would go find something else to do and that’s when I moved to Kansas City.
I found out I wasn’t being very popular with the people in the business because they kind of liked that 10%, 10%, 10%, 10%, 10%. And so somehow I moved to Kansas City and I looked up and I said, “What’s going on in the world? Since World War II I hadn’t been looking too much. What’s happening? Why is this? Why are these things? Why can’t we? What is going on?”
And I spent a couple of years reading. I was asked by the person who did my taxes if I would do a course on the future, because he knew what I was thinking about. And I built a little thing called Renaissance Library, and I had a bunch of books that I had read and I started a course redesigning the future. And in that course there were 500 books you were supposed to read. Of course, no one read 500 books, but if you had 15 or 20 people taking a course and they all read 10, you’re getting into it. And the library was there, they could walk in 24 hours a day. And that’s where I met Gail, because she had a person who had taken the course and said, “You ought to meet this crazy guy,” and that’s when I met her.
And so you can see by that time, both of us had come almost totally to the same thing from totally different backgrounds and experiences. So I left the Renaissance project, she left hers. We went to a town where we knew three people in the state and sat down and say, “What are we going to do?”
Gail: First, we went to Washington D.C.
Matt: Yeah, Barbara Hubbard had come to Kansas City to talk and had met us and she had us go to Washington D.C. for a few months, a couple months.
Gail: But Matt, what’s interesting about that, it’s part of this story. So one of the first things we decided is how we would bring our work together was to create a secular monastery out in California somewhere. And we had these dreams about the architecture of course, and how we would bring these leaders together to work because we had looked at also people like Barbara Marx Hubbard and many, many other people who were brilliant, but they didn’t know how to share. They only knew how to speak to their own idea.
So anyway, we brought 12 people together that we’d met in different ways and asked about this. And everybody said, “Hey, this is a great idea.” And so we actually were out in California. We took a bus trip to [inaudible 00:34:41], where we were going to do this, talk to a farmer who was going to give us land and everything. We were all excited. We were spending the summer with Barbara Marx Hubbard, and we’d begun to ship our furniture. We’d sold our house, began to ship it out to California and everybody’s life changed at that point, all 12 people.
Gail: Something. We all had these different life shifts, and so the whole idea fell apart. But anyway, that was our first dreaming of coming together and creating an environment and a process and tools to facilitate this future. And we were saying what these people are learning and teaching each other or learning and writing about is good, but then they never get past their book. They’re so busy talking about their book, they never know how to create anything else. So that was our first idea together in terms of what do we have to offer that could ease this situation?
Matt: Yeah. Because they spent so much time going around the world speaking, they didn’t have time to be together with their peers. So we were creating a space for them and everything we owned was getting ready to go out on a piece of rock where there wasn’t anything and the whole thing blew up. So we-
Gail: One of the members said, “Come to Colorado.”
Matt: And we went there and Gail started walking around and talking to people, and I took a job doing design and making for people that were doing their landscaping country, a company that did that. And then Gail talked to someone that ended up with the city offering me a contract for affordable housing. And at that point, the architect that had built the two-storey building that we were in at a very nice little space, and he let us have it at a really good price.
We built the big white walls, the tables, the movable furniture and all of that. Everything that you see on this wall was designed in the very early ’80s, 1979, ’80, ’81, and it was radical. And from then on, everywhere we went and every major client we had, we helped them build their environment because we just didn’t do the work for them. We did the work that they offered us and we encouraged them to have their own facility, their own knowledge workers, and to change their whole way of thinking and working. And that really became what MG Taylor did up until what, seven years ago? Eight years ago? When was it? Anyway, when we shut down, because at this moment they’re all over the planet.
Douglas: And when you say they’re all over the planet-
Gail: Well, we licensed it. We licensed Ernst & Young with our process. And so-
Matt: Yeah, we got a patent on it.
Gail: And that amplified and it went global. Matt talks about his fast tracking and taking the waste out of the system. One of the things we were most known for with our process in the beginning years is people would say, “You created in three days, work that would’ve taken us a year easily to accomplish.” It was called accelerated solutions and that was one of the things that, of course, business was very attracted to how you make this happen.
Matt: What we did is we didn’t teach. They learned, but we didn’t teach. We created an environment, a physical environment, a process environment, an environment of knowledge workers, working to support them, an environment where we designed carefully the three long hour days that we call the design shop and they designed their future. And the group genius of those people, time and time again in projects of enormous complexity, ultimately the 777 and things like that took two years off and a billion dollars off the cost in two years of time, all right, of their expectation with that airplane.
And so we created the environment that allowed them to be human in ways that they did not realize, to find their genius, to understand their differences is what produced the answer. I didn’t have to prove to you I’m right and you’re wrong. When I say, “Well, you see it this way and I see it this way and Bill sees it that way and Mary sees it that way,” what happens? We put that together, “Oh wait a minute, this does it all.” One simple step and all this time and cost and anguish and conflict disappears.
And we can talk a little bit about somehow the work just started rolling in. Within about a year we were doing national work and then it just went on and on and on, but the whole point was that the process was rigorous. You’ve seen the books, it was detailed and worked out and all of that took years to learn as we got into more and more complex stuff, but we never stood up and taught and we never stood up and said, “Here’s the answer.” We never stood up.
The biggest problem is when we had consultants and saying to them, “Cool, don’t stand up in the front of the room and give them the answer. Just get in here and participate.” And they’d say, “No, no, no. I’m the expert in the world on this.” I say, “Just get in there.” And they would come up afterwards and say, “I got more consulting done in three days than… Why did this work?” And so that’s what was different. What was different was the architecture of the process, the environment, the discipline of the work.
Gail: Yeah. It’s not so different today because of the 20 years or 30 years, but in the beginning, collaboration was a very scary thing for organizations to do.
Matt: Yeah, we didn’t even use the word.
Gail: And often they tried it because they’d spent all their money trying to find answers and they’d finally come to us and say, “Can you help?” We got to a point where people would ask us, “Do you guarantee this will work?” And of course, we would say, “No, we don’t guarantee it will work unless you’re in there with us and you’re fully employed with finding these solutions.” And we would say, “If you need to know the proof of that, you can call all these people that left a company because they got a good answer and then didn’t follow through.”
And so that was our marketing really, is other people. We had one CEO walk in who was very reticent to walk in into a process. And he said, and everybody was… All of his hangers were afraid to have him come in. He walked in, took off his tie, took off his jacket and said, “Montessori for adults.” And the fun of this is how hungry people are for a relationship-
Gail: And for play and for co-creation and for finding safe places. One of the things we talked about, there was no neutral spaces in organizations. There were corners and there were executive spaces and stuff like this, but there was no neutral space for creativity to really just a place, a place where it was safe because in our process, we said, “Things don’t go out the doors until they’re permanent, but you don’t start telling all these stories out of context because that puts fear in people’s minds. And they’re worried that they heard something that’s going to make them change or whatever. It’s the story in its entirety that leaves these walls.” So they felt safe to take risk and to play and we’re all hungry for that. So I think that was a large part of our success.
Matt: And the interesting thing is we never advertised, but over those first couple of years, slowly the work started coming in and then NASA, Air Force, Army, General Motors, and we ended up with a portfolio of projects from some of the largest and most complex organizations and many, many government ones besides Army. And guess what? We were getting for pay one of the best educations in the world because we were hearing them and what was going on.
And over time, we were able to bring Air Force, NASA and other people together to work on something that they were fighting one another about, and that’s how we did the 777. All of these people hated one another. That’s the whole process of making an airplane, getting it certified by FAA and stuff like that. And we brought them into 777, brought in the three competiting engine companies, and we all designed what we wanted. And then one of the companies, of course, had to be selected, but they were in there exposing, and it was important because they had to cooperate in order to save time to test the engines.
And so the point was, enemies, people who didn’t agree with one another, people who didn’t understand one another found out that even to, “Compete,” well and legitimately and honestly, and without rhetoric, they needed to understand and work together. And this is what I learned in construction years ago.
Gail: So Matt loves the big jobs. I love the entrepreneurs who walk in the door and the startups and the small businesses and the schools of education that we worked with and the government facilities that we worked with, and all of this other stuff. And what was nice about it is most consulting firms at least used to, I don’t know about today, but they would have one sector. They would focus on one sector or a couple of sectors. What gave us our ability to play with ideas is the fact that we were across all these sectors from different vantage points and we were always getting asked.
And so a small business to me and to Matt actually was as important as the Air Force or any of these others, and they were all useful to us. We were learning constantly about how people thought and how they played together, how they weighed and considered things, what they did afterwards in terms of follow through.
Matt: And ultimately, World Economic Forum in Europe, the people are the same everywhere. When you get through this superficial thing and into the humanity, we found out that you got the same result no matter where you went in the world.
Douglas: You mentioned the 777, I want to come back to that because some of our listeners might not know what that is.
Gail: Just that it’s an airplane.
Douglas: Oh, the aircraft. Sorry. Yes. You were working on the 777 aircraft. Got it. Okay.
Matt: Yes, aircraft.
Douglas: Got it. So I was kind of thinking about the models that you guys have created and how you even structure some of this, the environments you create, and what might be some good kind of jumping off points for folks that are listening and want to maybe embrace some of this, creating some of these moments where you allow people to, I don’t know, to come together and work in these ways?
Matt: Well, the books, the models that are being produced called The Collaboration Code is slowly telling the whole story, not telling the story so much, but the techniques, but the important thing about the models is the models don’t solve a problem. There’s one model that says you have to create the problem. Most people think the condition is the problem. “We’re going broke, that’s our problem.” No, no, no, no. That’s your condition, and your problem is what you have to create that will allow you to solve the changes in your condition.
And so the modeling language is designed to be a language so that people working together on complex things are speaking the same language and it isn’t just French and English. The fact is very few people, if you have an architect and you have a bricklayer and you have a financier for the firm, and you have someone that’s going to go out there and get the money, they don’t talk the same language at all. They got words and they think they talk the same language and they argue, but they’re not speaking the same language.
And so by bringing him into this environment, and we don’t stand up and say, “Now there’s a model here.” No, that’s for us to know so that we can create the right environment and the right process. So in three days, all these different people coming in like this at one another or like this can relax, get engaged, work their heads off, read, think, talk, invent, and come up with a solution and not walk away with, “Oh, here’s our idea.” But that last day, laid out on big walls, here’s the flow chart. This happens and this happens and this happens and this happens and this happens.” You see.
It’s no different than building a building or no different than teaching someone physics, creating an environment of physics and demonstration and stuff. It’s just that it’s not done in these areas of where the major work of our society is being done. Does that make sense?
Gail: Yeah. So one more aspect that I think is important, has always been important for me about the language. Indigenous cultures have 70% of their words are verbs, and only 30% are nouns, if that many.
Gail: We have 70% as nouns and only a few as verbs. And so the modeling language is a verb. It’s always becoming… One of the things we’re trying to wake people up to is answers are only temporary stops along the way, that basically we’re creating a journey and a life. And these models are going to help us stop and say, “Where are we in our journey and where do we go from here? And how do the models play together?”
And so play, and I’ve been using a word which is catching on that we’re togethering. We are verbs, as Bucky Fuller reminds us when he said, “I think I am a verb.” And we’re constantly in process and these models are process models. They’re not standard telling us how we think, “You’re part engineer, you’re this and that.” All of those things that I would hear so many people define themselves as finality when they would take these kinds of tests about who am I? And it’s like, no, no. That’s today.
There’s a person who’s written… I can’t think of his name right now, Live Wired. And he said, “We’re not hardwired. Our brains aren’t hardwired. They’re live wired. And from the time we are born until we take our last breath, we are in the process of changing and designing and thinking and modeling, that that is what we as humans do. That is what all life does.”
And that’s what we try and teach with the modeling language or the whole process actually, it’s coming to knowing as indigenous say, they have no word for knowledge. It’s always coming to knowing. And I think deeply rooted in our process is that coming to knowing through play, through our minds, through our hearts, through our interactions, through our stories. We try and bring that all alive.
Matt: In part of Gail and Matt is here’s two people of totally different backgrounds-
Gail: And personalities.
Matt: And personalities. We bet and fell in love and did this. What’s the book, Gail? The Power of Two. When we started this, we lived up in the mountains and then built a little place to work down in the only mile high part and-
Gail: In Boulder.
Matt: But driving down the hill, we would be talking and we would design and think and create new concepts and stuff. I’m sure if the two of us had gone different ways, we would’ve done a lot of things around the same subject. However, we would not have done… Either one of us I don’t think would’ve done what we did. It was that constant back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Rethinking, rethinking, rethinking, testing, experimenting that was magical.
Douglas: I think I remember you telling me a story about driving down that hill and development of some of your axioms, that you would invent them just as you were driving or kind of bounce them back and forth.
Gail: Yeah, because each one of those drives usually had a conversation.
Matt: In those opening years, the first 10 years, the times we were not together were almost zero. And then the children started to work in design shops too.
Douglas: Oh wow. So it kind of became a family business.
Matt: Yeah. Gail had two boys before she met me, and so they got the play too. And one of them still’s from time to time active, knows the process from head to toe.
Gail: Douglas, I wanted to say one more thing about the language. Some colleagues actually of ours are creating a card game of models, and they’re just beginning and we’re just beginning to help them with it in terms of a nice box where the cards are and the models, because they go in to clients all the time and they lay cards out on the table and they start a conversation, which is just for conversation. And so there are a number of products coming out from different people, not necessarily us at all, but from different people who are saying, “These are tools that are going to help.” That was one of Rob Evans’ big things in terms of how do I preserve because we’re all getting older and let’s do this.
And so some very young people that we’re working with are creating these deck of cards and I just wanted to add that in terms of-
Matt: The models. Yeah, the models.
Gail: The models, yeah.
Douglas: That’s great. So I know Rob Evans, people can buy the books from him. I know you all are doing the value… You’re associated with The Value Web. There’s a lot of folks in that community that really are big fans of keeping their tradition alive and keeping the conversation going around the work. Are there other places other than Rob and The Value Web that folks should know about to learn more about what you all built and how to stay current on it?
Gail: Yeah, there’s so many different places because we never wanted to be a large consulting company. Early when we first got together, somebody from Fast Company came in and said, “Well, when you’re really big,” and we said, “No, we’re going to be a network. We’re going to stay a network because this is the future.” And so there are dozens, maybe hundreds of small organizations that at their base have MG Taylor core because so many people have spun out of the large corporations and started their own and they have spun out and started their own.
So it is a very large network. Many people we don’t know but they meet us and go, “Oh, well, I’ve been doing this for years. So there isn’t one place to go. There is a network on LinkedIn. There is a network in Facebook that we didn’t start, that have just begun, and they can go in and find why MG Taylor process is a good link, I think.
Douglas: Perfect. I want to come back to, I think Matt had brought up the book, the Power of Two, in talking about how you wouldn’t have created this without the two of you coming together. And I guess, Gail, I’m kind of curious with you all’s different backgrounds of architecture and the structure versus the education and students, you feel like there was that spectrum at play for that duality that you all brought together?
Gail: Yeah. It was really fun and different. The first time Matt and I did anything together was with teachers in a very poor environment and a classroom. All the chairs were for third graders and all the teachers were crammed into third grade chairs and stuff like this and there was nothing about place in that environment and Matt was mostly lecturing. At this point he was mostly talking and at the end, and I was squirming in my chair and thinking, “Oh my God, this is horrible and this environment’s horrible, and how we’ve set it up is horrible and everything’s not working.”
And at the end of it, Matt asked how many had gotten any value out of it? And I think there were two hands that went up out of about 25. And I said, “This won’t work, Matt.” And he said, “We got two.” And I said, “But that’s not what we’re after.”
And then I was taking his course and his course was brilliant, the Redesigning The Future, but it was all intellectual and it was all serious. And I went up to him afterwards and I said, “Unless we get some play in this, I can’t take the course. My brain just can’t hold all of this stuff.” And he was kind of like, “Well, what do you mean?” Kind of thing.
And so over the years, we learned to bring these two very important aspects and I think the heart, the mind and the brain, and through our activities and through the different modules, and we spent a long time in what I call idea wandering. We would play with ideas. We’d be on a walk and we’d see a squirrel and we’d say, “How did the squirrel decide to have a bushy tail?” And then we’d go off in terms of the bushy tailness of the squirrel and all of these things that was just a play of mind. “Let’s ask [inaudible 01:00:17] what they would do with General Motors. Let’s do this. Let’s do this.”
And so through the years, we became very holding onto our own values, but learning to play and to interact and to respect each other’s ideas, and how they came alive for us and how to see that they can come alive for the participants as well. Does that make sense?
Douglas: Absolutely. The bushy tail example reminds me of the, “Why do bubbles have colors?”
Douglas: How do we tap into that child’s mind so we can invite some real true wonder and curiosity?
Gail: I would say the first module that we would do in our design shops for how does a rainforest decide? That would be one of the early modules for scanning. How do the most intelligent and diverse life know how to get into a tide pool and out on time, or they will all die? These kinds of questions we would ask and where there were no answers. That wasn’t the point. The point was for the conversation, that enabled people to relax and have some fun when they got into the serious part of solving the problems they came to solve.
Matt: The other thing in architecture and construction and things like that, if you want concrete to work, there’s 14 things you do. And if you don’t do 14 things, it’s going to crack. So you learn a lot of those kinds of disciplines, and it’s very important that in that kind of work that those disciplines are followed exactly.
At the same time, the thing that makes that building go together really correctly, and people doing that is not by lecturing on those systems. It’s by the environment that is created for the people to do the work. And that is, to me, design and making. There’s models about making the hand, the physical work, the team that’s going to pour that concrete, or the team that’s going to design this tool or whatever it is.
So I learned that part of management, so to speak, in my construction years, because there I was with a few years experience, and I’ve got bricklayers and steel people and stuff like this and a 25 storey building, and they run into a problem and they have years. One of the people that worked with me started as a bricklayer in the tallest building in New York City in the ’20s. His father was in charge of it.
And so these people had massive knowledge, so I didn’t tell them what to do. I asked them, “What is working and not working for each one of you, plumber, electrical, whatever? Tell me what?” And they would tell me what, and then we say, “Okay, how do we put this together?” And at the end of it, they would sometimes say, “How did you solve this? You’re only 22 years old.” And I said, “You taught me.” And then I had to go to the architects. I had to go to the people that were functioning the building. I had to go to half a dozen places and say, “We’re changing your building and here’s why. And sign this piece of paper, it’s okay, or we stop.”
And so the point is, the physicality was a very important part to me to bring to, and that’s why we built these environments. They’re not sitting around in a bunch of junky places that most… Even when we go, there’s people out there, they have complete systems they put in trucks, and they go and they get a very big empty space and they set the system up, because when people walk in, it’s different. And you’re pulling out of them different feelings, emotions, sensibilities, sense of place, and you’re taking away the familiarity that drives them to fall back into that habit that is, “Well, just get it done and get out of here. You’re wrong. I’m right. Why can’t you just do this?”
Douglas: Matt, I’m really curious. You talked a lot about drawing as part of your process to find your way into architecture. And I’m curious how much drawing played a role in this kind of group genius work that you’re doing?
Matt: Because we were drawing all the time on the walls and everything. That was one of the processes. Very nice little book.
Douglas: Draw In Order To See. Yeah.
Matt: Yes. I knew you were going to ask this. It’s How To Draw by Mark Alan Hewitt, H-E-W-I-T-T, A Cognitive History of Architectural Design. He goes back to the pyramids and before actually, and all the way through history, but cognitive science, hey, 23% of our neurons go to the brain to the hand. Doing, the physicality of doing. And what they have found out, and I rebuilt about this a long time ago, students in architecture today start on a computer. It can’t get worse than that.
Now, I use a computer for doing drawings like this. Okay? That’s computer but I start with mind, then sketches, and then how I produce the drawing that goes to somebody is whatever tool is available. But I prefer the physical hands-on kind of thing. That’s why reading this book is different in my hand. I could have gotten it on my computer. Right?
Douglas: Yeah. It’s amazing to me in our workshops, sometimes when people pick up a pen, it’s the first time they picked up a pen the whole month, right?
Gail: Yeah. Yeah. Right. That’s amazing.
Matt: Yeah. And it’s different.
Matt: I’m just a big believer in books and because they’re physical, because there’s unlimited wonderful stuff out there. And going back to old books, because a lot of the troubles we’re in today were very nicely talked about and solutions offered 10, 20, 30, 40, a 100, 200, 300, 500 years ago. And so I think the library is one of the most important institutions.
Gail: So Douglas, one of the things that we might suggest for people to do is something we’ve had a lot of fun with. It’s called syntopical reading.
Gail: And we’ve done it in our sessions, and this leads into often books, but we ask each person to read a different book, to pick out a book of their own choice. It can be a children’s book, a fiction, a non-fiction, science fiction, whatever, to read a book. We did this early on in our very first center. We asked people to bring a book that they wanted to dedicate to the library. Then we got in a big circle and Matt said, “What does your book have to say about cathedrals?” And there was this shocked stillness in the room.
And finally somebody said, “I didn’t read a book about cathedrals.” And Matt said, “I didn’t ask you to read a book about cathedrals. I’m asking, what does your book have to say about cathedrals? You are the author. What does your author? Become the author and think about…” “What?” And the conversation went on for hours, I mean literally hours. And people began to see the relationship between and the pullout and stretch out a question and see it from many, many different points of view.
And from that point on, we made some topical readings, a module. We would do it at different times, but it would be choose a book. You become the author, you are the author, you speak as the author. Why were you compelled to write the book?
Matt: And as the author, what have you learned being in this engagement?
Gail: Yeah, exactly.
Matt: And what are you going to tell us?
Gail: Yeah. What do you in particular want to say to this group that is gathered, hearing you speak? And we’ve done that on the mining networks Value Web thing. It’s been very successful and it really stretches your mind to say, these ideas are connected. And these relationships, whether a children’s book or in a science fiction or a documentary, they can play together. Again, what we try and do always is create rich conversations where the end result is something of value, and we don’t know what that is. We don’t know what’s going to come from these. Yeah.
Douglas: I love it. And I have a trite question, but it’s a curiosity. So do you always use cathedral or do you mix it up?
Matt: Oh, no.
Gail: Oh, no. Yeah, it’s very different.
Matt: You choose that carefully.
Gail: Yeah. And in fact, when we’re doing it with corporations, we don’t do it at all. We don’t ask that question. We say, “Why did you write the book? What are you wanting people to get out of the book? And in particular, with this group working on 777, what would you like to say? What would you like to tell them?” So it’s that, drafted like that.
Matt: Yeah. You say, “As the author, give us a critique and information?” One, the example though of the cognitive breakthroughs that are possible and also the changes that are just impossible. We had one with a company that did hair stuff and that kind of thing, and they were growing.
Matt: Grooming stuff. And of course, there’s a lot of stuff in the back room about that that’s still quite dangerous, good, bad, and argumentative. This young man, his first day was the design shop we did with this group, which was to get them ready to go public and set that up. And so I think it was the second night. We’d put all the books out on a big table, say, “Take a book, read it, and come back the next day.” And then we’d say, “You are the author and here’s the question we want. What advice in this case, what advice as this author who sat through two days of this work and participated have to tell us where success or failure is?”
This young boy gets up, this was his first, second day of work, and he was in the department that does all the testing, and that’s where animal testing. The book that he happened to pick up, I think it was two days old in terms of off the market, Why Elephants Weep. And it told the story of elephants and their intelligence and what was happening to them and why and everything else like that.
And he stood up with this book and he says, I’m such and such and such and such. And I wrote, Why Elephants Weep. And I’m telling you, we are now going to stop doing animal testing in this organization.” Just a young kid, right out of college, third day. The bottom of the… And guess what? They did it. They stopped because they got it.
Gail: Yeah. All the consultants that could come in and give them this advice, in fact, they’d heard it before, obviously.
Matt: They hadn’t.
Douglas: Wow. I love it. And all this has reminded me of a word that you shared in the pre-show chat, Gail, and it was liminality. And I’m really curious to hear you share a little bit about how that’s shown up in your work and what it means for you and why it’s so important?
Gail: I read that word during the pandemic, or when we were first going into the pandemic, and I thought, “What does that mean? I’m going to look it up.” And in Wikipedia, I think is where I first found it. And it talked about going through a rite of passage and that period where you’ve used up most of your knowing and you’re going into spaces of uncertainty and where you really don’t know the answers. And it’s a very uncomfortable space often, especially for humans who are taught to always have the answer.
And that it’s that threshold of where you’re going and if you’re willing to stay in that liminality with that unknowing, you’re going to step over that threshold into a new knowing and a rite a passage that opens up a new world or opens up new possibilities. I wrote a couple of articles during the pandemic and used that word at one point, and several people appreciated that because the liminal space, of course, is that uncertainty, but it doesn’t… It’s not a verb, it’s not a process. And liminality actually opened me up to the fact that this is a process I’m going through.
And yes, it’s uncomfortable at times, but just keep moving forward with my intuition, the conversations, hope in the world kind of thing. And I think it’s a very powerful word and I think we’ve forgotten about rites of passage and creating a new paradigm where we the people, for the first time are being told it is up to us to create the future we want. It’s a good point.
Douglas: As you mentioned the future, it makes me think about how this work might impact the future. And so I’d love to hear from both of you, as people continue to lean into these ways of working and creating moments of group genius, what does it make possible? How do we change the world?
Matt: Well, I think it does, and I think it has, and I think that we have done that. When you look at the outcome, there was one at the World Economic Forum where the Head of the UN was there and he came and he was a participant. No, he wasn’t a participant. We had a group working for two or three, good part of a morning on a suggestion globally to take place, had to do with water. And he came in when they did their… He sat down and we did their report. And this was a suggestion that this would become something, that they would do and would become part of the agreement of the nations of the world in order to protect water. And he sat there, and when it was all done, he stood up and said, “Do it, and walked out the door.”
Now, that’s not only getting a good piece of work done and a solution. It’s getting a decision that fast. And so there’s all these little spikes over all these years, not just our work. The people out there now, I don’t know how many people are doing this work, but it’s a big group. Gail’s been in a couple of design shops that she came and they asked her to come and work with them, but it was their design shop and one on education, which is a great story and for a whole nation. And very often, not only is the idea and the steps in the plan made, often, often, often the decision is made in design shops.
And so the world changes right at that moment and it doesn’t matter if it’s a little school system down there or if it’s how we’re going to build airplanes in the next generation or what. Both are different in scale, but it’s the same thing. So I think it’s had tremendous effect. And at the same time, I think it’s still coming out of babyhood to the scale that it will take to be one of the ways globally that we engage one another and come to decisions.
Gail: Yeah. So I read a report in 2005 called The Second Superpower, We The People. And when I read that, I thought, “Wow, is that true? And are premature enough to change the world? Are we the second superpower?” Well, the door’s still open on that, but I’m getting more and more validation that yes, that’s happening regardless of our stupidity. Sometimes that is happening.
And I look at exponential change, and the story I have in my mind continually is the lily pond. If there’s one lily pad in a pond, and it doubles every day. So you go from one lily pad, the next day you look out your window and see two, and then four, and then eight. The day before it’s half full… Or the day before it’s full, I’m sorry, the day before it’s full, it’s half full. That’s exponential change.
And really getting comfortable with that and knowing that each of us every day is doing something that’s affecting the future. And to get more and more people to understand that it’s the smallest conversations helping us change our thinking as well as the big things happening. It’s all of us together adding to the pond of possibility that we’re going to reach that tipping point. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s mine or yours or whose it is, we’re going to reach it if we’re constantly adding to that, the conversations about possibility and hope and the future we’re creating together, it’s going to happen.
So it’s about the conversations. It’s not about the fears. It’s about the conversations. It’s about being bold enough to ask people new questions, new possibilities. That’s what mostly the learning exchange and Matt’s rebuilding the future and our process is about new conversations around important subjects, but through play and learning each other’s genius, that creates that whole system where in the third day, a design shop, a person solves a puzzle that he’s been working on for three days and the whole idea that it’s been wanting to happen falls into place all at one time. The play, the intellect, the emotions, that synergy.
Douglas: I love that you brought it back to the lily pad example, because of the power too, focus for today, just if things are growing at that scale, and when we think about the encounters we have with organizations and teams, and if each person influences two people and they go and influence two other people, just think of the change that can happen and the impact that it creates and in a short order of time. So I love that. And as I bring things to a close, invite each of you to leave us with a final thought?
Gail: Well, right now my passion is on what I’m calling the second womb, which is taking care of the baby from newborn through the ages of seven. Understanding that that young child’s brain is developing so fast with the love and the learning and that being taught as part of nature and as part of really understanding the world around him or her, that those years are so precious and we close them down too often and want them to get a job or be prepared, or you got to have training now. “You got to learn your coding by the time you’re seven,” or these things, the wonder of those first seven years for parents and teachers and community and child.
And so I’ve gone back to young children, but back to what I’m calling the second womb of those first seven years of being part of nature and being recognized and helping schools and communities and parents, and ask new questions and have new thoughts about what is this miracle that is in our hands and how do we give shape?
Because the scaffold, that’s the scaffolding. And after that, what happens to that developing person will be so much easier for all of us and change the game. We often say, “Let’s change the educational program. Let’s change the college, the university, let’s change the high school program.” Start at the beginning. Start at the very beginning. Don’t leave that out. That’s often been an afterthought in schools. “Oh, yes. Well, maybe we need a preschool. Oh yes. Well, maybe we need,” but it should be the beginning. Those precious years.
Matt: I believe a lot in dialogue and reading because if you look at the knowledge that humanity has put together over centuries, and I believe going back to some of the older centuries, centuries and centuries, a 1,000 years back, some of the remarkable stuff that was done and known, we have the answers to the questions and the conflicts that we are facing.
We are falling apart in a bucket of fantastic information and knowledge. And as a society, we’re not engaged with that. It’s not about belief. It’s not about, “I’m the smartest person on the planet.” It’s not about, “Well, I got a doctorate in monkeys.” It’s about taking this inheritance of humanity, of nature, of animals, very smart. And taking that and understanding it and then applying it, going to work, getting our hands out there, designing, making, building. The negative stuff is just feedback about certain mistakes, turn it into positive stuff, stop fighting because it’s not productive. It’s a waste of time, and build, grow, have fun.
It’s criminal to see what we have and what we’re not using. And one of the things that… And there’s many others, but one of the things that our way of working is that when you create that open environment and challenge and put people to work, they blow each other away with, “I didn’t, you knew this. Oh, this is fantastic. Hey, we can… Yeah. Oh wow. We can do this.” And they walk out with that.
Gail: So one more suggestion. Stop debate in schools. Stop debating and start dialoguing classes instead. Stop trying to define and compete and pit ideas against each other and build dialogue into the exploration and learning in schools.
Matt: Yeah. And find out a lot of things. The children wait until they do all the right things to get into a major university. Kids very young can understand that stuff. And we know stories about people who… Children who start doing university level work when they’re 12 years old and stuff like that. That’s rare in our society. It is not rare in possibilities.
In the old days, you went out and you worked with your father.
Gail: Or mother.
Matt: Or mother, and you learned that as you went. Now, part of that was because of negative conditions like wealth and stuff like that, but still, there was a value in there that has been lost in our society today.
Douglas: Amazing. Thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure having both of you here, Matt and Gail. This has been a longer episode than normal, and I feel like we could keep going and going and going. So I just want to say thanks and hopefully it’s not the last time we talk. I always enjoy when we have an opportunity to talk about your work and just what’s going on in this world of group genius.
Gail: Thank you, Douglas. You’re part of this group genius.
Douglas: Thanks for joining me for another episode of Control The Room. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates when new episodes are released. If you want to know more, head over to our blog where I post weekly articles and resources about radical inclusion, team health and working better, voltagecontrol.com.