Friday, May 06, 2011

3D Juggling 526: Forgive and Forget

Claire writes: “The TV commentators at the British Royal Wedding last week drew similarities with Prince William’s last big outing at Westminster Abbey at the funeral of his mother, Princess Diana.  Some of the press made an issue of prickly relationships between Prince Charles’ new wife Camilla and some of Diana’s friends. Whether or not that is true, it is a reminder that sometimes it can be hard to move on.

The news channels were then immediately swamped with the death of Osama Bin Laden.  There did not seem to be much forgiveness there, and there was much discussion in the media.  One 9/11 survivor was reported as saying: "I can't find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it's Bin Laden."

We notice that a lack of forgiveness can cripple organisations and prevent teams from moving forward.  Some people are waiting for the perpetrator to apologise when the perpetrator themselves may be completely unaware of having done anything or of its impact.

Forgetting does not require memories to be obliterated – but something needs to happen to allow people to move on.  In South Africa, that process has worked well in places.  I was at a conference recently where there was a discussion on corporate repentance.  One delegate commented that England cannot say sorry for the impact of the crusades because other nations were there as well – and it’s all or nothing.

The reality is that even when the intent of an action is well meant, the impact may have repercussions which require both an apology and forgiveness.

When is an apology on behalf of others enough?  When will it only be effective when the person is there? And how do organisations manage that when the pain is historical – or external?

Something to mull over if you’re encountering unforgiveness at work.  Think about it..."

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Organisational Forgiveness
Kim Cameron has done a research project sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation on forgiveness and organizational virtuousness after organizational downsizing and crisis.

The continuum of forgiveness includes:
•    "We will forgive if we can punish the offender."
•    "We will forgive if justice is done."
•    "We will forgive if society expects it."
•    "We will forgive if an authority or prevailing code demands it."
•    "We will forgive if it re-establishes order."
•    “We will forgive because we love the offender."
Most people connect most with the first few which, Cameron suggests, indicates that organisations must often provide justice and restitution for forgiveness to occur.

Cameron goes on to make recommendations as to how leaders can work through issues that require organisational forgiveness.

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