Soft Front, Hard Back.    


Keep listening to your people, whilst keeping the big picture in mind. Another way of saying this is sensing into what is present right now for individual people and yourself (‘Me’) and to respond to that with a deeper view or awareness of the greater good (‘We’).

This has been described in martial arts traditions as the ‘warriors way’, sometimes spoken of as maintaining a soft front and a hard back as we face into and embrace life’s challenges and opportunities.  

In our context a soft front talks to the immediate ‘horizontal’, process level interactions – the ‘way’ we get stuff done together on a moment-by-moment basis. It could be described as the ‘how’ of the work. In the context of Me/We it’s what is evident in collaborative behavior:

  1. Warmth/compassion toward our fellows.
  2. Willingness to hear and embrace a better way, and
  3. Commitment to remaining accountable for the work flow.

‘Hard back’ speaks to our commitment to the vertical level dimensions – the ‘why’ of the way. It’s the context, the broader vision, the deep principles and outcomes we are collectively committed to.

It provides the basis for us to ‘stand’ upright and gives meaning and purpose to work processes. It guides decision as to ‘what’ work is to be the focus and keeps the action on course.

It’s ‘hard’ in the sense that it is less mutable, less subject to change than the daily workflow. Another way of seeing it is as the paradigm or overarching mutually agreed perspective that underpins the work. Of course, it too is ideally created in a collaborative context.