The Great Escape

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Trevor Hapi Howse, a dear friend and mentor who passed away on May 12th 2017.
         Haere, haere, haere. Haere ki te wa kainga.

Trevor used to say to me, “Trust in the process girl, the process will work it out.”  This would challenge my 20 something year old self who would cry “but it is the people who need to work it out!”

This blog focuses on just how important that process is for providing a container within which people can work together.

Last week my family of five participated in an escape room called the Great Escape. This is an interactive puzzle game where participants are locked inside a theme room to unravel the mystery of the room and engineer an escape within 60 minutes.

The five of us stood in the room with our diverse experiences and perspectives and proceeded to work together to unravel the clues.  The process was not linear at all.  There was no set of instructions to follow that was tidy and instantly understandable.  Instead there were circular and iterative processes in play, moving around the room and into another room (opened by a lock from a clue) and back again.

We had to be adaptive. We had to listen to each other and be open to noticing things around us. We had to let go of our preconceptions of what clues could and should be. The clues could be anything in the room from pictures to objects to smells; we just had to work it out, together.

At three minutes under the hour, we had done it.  We had collaborated to find the solution of getting out of the room.

It was a truly satisfying experience that supports my belief that “Collaboration can be liberating.”

What I was reminded of doing this Great Escape was how much you need to ‘let go’ when you collaborate with others. You don’t know the final solution, nor do they, but the combined wisdom of your diverse knowledge and perspectives will in time bring you all to a desirable solution.  As Trevor said, “Trust in the process.”

The lesson from this blog is to check that the conditions of your collaborative process are as enabling as possible. Perhaps get a facilitator experienced in collaboration to help out.  Also, see if there is an escape room game near you where you and some of the people in your collaborative process can get some practice in.  Have fun.

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