A discussion on ORSC Global between our coaches stirred my excitement about this amazing phenomenon. I believe the ability to consciously work with Parallel Process is the ability to directly tap into a collective creativity and the wisdom of a larger intelligence. I also think there are creative leadership applications for this. Before I get ahead of myself, lets take some things apart and first look at the definition of parallel process.
Wikipedia states the following: "Parallel processing is the ability to carry out multiple operations or tasks simultaneously. The term is used in the contexts of both human cognition, particularly in the ability of the brain to simultaneously process incoming stimuli, and in parallel computing by machines." In my mind, this is not to be confused with mere multi-tasking. An example from the computing industry might provide better understanding.
Here it refers to an initiative where at least two micro processors handle separate parts of an overall task. When working with a complex problem, computer scientists divide the complex problem into component tasks. Each component task is then assigned to a dedicated processor. Each processor then solves its assigned part of the overall complex problem; parallel process. Finally, software then re-assembles the data to reach the final conclusion and resolution of the original complex problem. It is the high tech way of saying that it is easier to get the job done if you share the load!
While we indeed leverage parallel processing in best practices for task forces and other team efforts, there is another, messier way in which it shows up in human relationships that I believe to be a good mine for systemic transformation. It happens when we are in a parallel process without realizing it!
Years ago when Faith and I still did couples therapy we would from time to time choose to do individual work around specific issues with partners. Faith would work with one partner and I with the other for a session or two and then return to conjoint work. That's when we noticed a recurring phenomenon: by the time we got back to the joint sessions, Faith and I would invariably get into disagreements before the couple session - the content of which simply did not feel congruent with our own partnership.