Byron's Babbles

Nuanced Complexity

The word Nuance means very subtle or little difference between the two things. So, when someone asks you to give or make a nuanced report of something, it means to make a detailed, verified, acknowledged, and characteristic report. Opening day for Major League Baseball (MLB) ⚾️ is this week, so my eyes and attention have been turned to America’s Pastime. That means my attention has also turned to my beloved Cincinnati Reds and Reds Beat. Mark Sheldon made a comment in his Reds Beat Newsletter that jumped out at me. I have always loved his work and wish I could go to a Reds game with him sometime. The first paragraph welcomed us back to the newsletter and then in the second paragraph he wrote:

“One great change from the past two years is reporters are allowed back inside the clubhouse. Hopefully this translates to better reporting from me and more enjoyable reading for you. Talking to players, the manager and coaches means more candid answers to questions and more depth to information. It should also bring something that is difficult to achieve on Zoom and impossible to get on social media — nuance.”

Mark Sheldon

Did you catch that? More candid answers and more depth – those allow for nuance. Sheldon is so right, nuance is difficult, not impossible, in a virtual platform and I continue to hone that skill daily. Nuance is not easy to notice, but as Sheldon points out very important to telling the whole story. In learning, real depth comes from individuals exploring their own views first and then placing them within the context of their organization. The depth of learning comes from the heuristic nature of nuance.

One of the leadership strategies I teach about is the need to move away from the old industrial model which uses binary questions that are yes/no or one right, one wrong answer. Sheldon’s point of nuance in an in person locker room interview is well taken. We imagine when he asks a question and the player pauses. Right then we know the answer is not a simple question with a binary answer. The in person interaction allows for both in the conversation to have that psychologically safety where to explore their own views first and then place them within the context of their team or organization. This is not to say it can’t be done on Zoom and we should continue to work at being able to provide the ethos for nuance, but it is much more effective in person.

My point here is how important a more nuanced approach can be. Getting rid of the binary approach allows us to put everything into context. And…context matters. Always! Ask any of us a question and there will be nuanced complexity. The nuances are not always easily seen, which is Sheldon’s point, but if we want to know the whole story we must seek to uncover the complexity of emotions, relationships, history, patterns, values, politics, and power dynamics.


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