Our reality has changed in the last few weeks. Each of us is trying to make sense of the new norms of working, living, and communicating. Some are further ahead on the curve of “this is what it is, and this is what I’m going to do,” while some are still at “what the heck is happening, when is it going to end, and what am I even supposed to do.” Collectively and individually, we’re going through an experience we’ve never gone through before (and hopefully never have to go through again). How each one of us makes sense of this experience is completely unique and personal. What if there was a tool/framework that could help clarify our experience to ourselves and help us make sense of our experience? There is, and it’s called the Experience Cube!
Although created for a slightly different context by Gervase Bushe in his book Clear Leadership: Sustaining Real Collaboration and Partnership at Work, this tool/framework could be really helpful right now. This framework depicts our experience as the sum of these four elements – Observations, Thoughts, Feelings, and Wants.
Source: Bushe, G. (2011). Clear Leadership: Sustaining Real Collaboration and Partnership at Work. Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
Observations are the objective facts we hear and see; Thoughts are our interpretations – our ideas, judgements, beliefs; Feelings are a combination of our bodily sensations and our emotions; Wants are our desires, aspirations, and needs that drive our actions. To uncover the different elements of our experience, we need to “walk the cube” – consider each element, in any order, and try to separate facts from our interpretations, from our feelings, from our needs – bucket each element separately. Becoming aware of the different facets of our experience brings clarity about whether our fears are well-founded or the actions we’re taking are well-guided.
Unconsciously or consciously, we may be focusing too much on just one aspect. For example, if we focus too much on thinking and ignore the facts, we might be unknowingly drawing conclusions that lead us to take actions like buying insane amount of toilet paper or every available bottle of hand sanitizer, maybe! Or if we’re too overcome by feelings, we might be anxious all the time, without even realizing it.
At this time when things outside of us are ambiguous and uncertain, let’s hit pause and take time to walk the Experience Cube. It will not only help us get some much needed clarity but also better prepare us to navigate the new reality.
Reference: Bushe, G. (2011). Clear Leadership: Sustaining Real Collaboration and Partnership. Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
– By Antara Harve, Director – Instructional Design at MPS Interactive Systems