DwD 9.09.15 | The Art &Practice of Regenerative Leadership

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  • What new ways of thinking and seeing are needed within the many participatory organizing structures that are emerging?
  • How can we integrate living systems principles as we explore the leadership that is needed now in our organizations and communities?
  • What are our new practice grounds – spaces and times of shared learning, renewal and relationship that deepen our connection with both people and place?

Join us for September’s DwD, with Michael Jones and Michelle Holiday, as we delve further into an exploration of leadership based on an understanding of living systems.

Through stories, dialogue and music over the course of the evening, we will move together through four timeless patterns that shape all living, creative, expressive systems. As we engage with these patterns in our leadership work, important new insights and possibilities emerge, opening a path to leadership that is generative and even regenerative, healing what has been wounded in our communities and ourselves by the structures we have inherited.
Underlying these patterns is a deep connection with place. Any living system is rooted in and nourished by the place where it grows, and we and our organizations and communities are no exception. For this reason, our gathering will draw on our own stories of relationship with place and the urban ecology we live in, inviting us to craft new narratives of what is possible.

Finally, we will explore what practice grounds may offer the most fertile soil for these new possibilities to take root. What kind of greenhouse or Solarium do we need to create to cultivate regenerative leadership in ourselves and our communities?

In convening this evening, Michael and Michelle will draw from the work they have been engaged in within their own communities as well as from an article that has been published in the current issue of The Spanda Journal, Living Systems Theory and the Practice of Stewarding Change.

About the hosts

Michael Jones is a leadership educator, dialogue facilitator, writer and Juno-nominated pianist/composer.  His most recent book, The Soul of Place, is the third in a series on Re-imagining Leadership.  Others in the series include Artful Leadership and the award-winning  Creating an Imaginative Life.  Michael has also been a thought leader with the MIT Dialogue Project and Dialogos and other prominent leading edge universities and centres. He has co-chaired several place-based initiatives and spoken on the leader’s emerging role as  placemaker in a variety of forums including The Authentic Leadership in Action Conferences (ALIA), The Society  for Organizational  Learning (SoL) and many others. As a pianist/composer Michael has composed and recorded fifteen CD’s of his original piano compositions and performed as a solo pianist across North America  as well as Korea and Japan.  He has been integrating his music in his leadership and dialogue work for over twenty years. See www.pianoscapes.com to learn more about Michael and his work.
Michelle Holliday is a facilitator, organizational consultant, researcher and writer. Her work centers around “thrivability” — a set of perspectives, intentions and practices based on a view of organizations as living systems. To this end, she brings people together and helps them discover ways they can feel more alive, connect more meaningfully with each other, and serve life more powerfully through their work. This generally takes the form of designing and hosting transformative events, as well as delivering talks and workshops. Michelle also writes regularly, including a forthcoming book, The Age of Thrivability. Her research is summarized in a slideshow called Humanity 4.0, as well as in a TEDx presentation.

Don Officer on Living & Dying through Change & Transformation

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Something about August reminds us of those unseen tipping points that mark the change of seasons in the year, in our lives, in our organizations and ultimately cultures. The fruits of summer need shorter days and colder nights to ripen. All are harbingers of harvests but likewise endings soon enough to come. So it was timely that Vanessa Reid opened up a conversation to the 30 or so DwD participants in the Lambert Room on Wednesday, August 12 around the perpetual mystery and wisdom of transitions.

Such conversations take courage. Everything about our culture is designed to downplay two obvious, but annoying details. First, we all change through our lives and experiences. With the passage of years we can do less or fewer of some things and more of others. These slow but inexorable alterations do not usually comply with expectations. If that weren’t annoying enough, the many parts of the world around us move along on their own cycles and rhythms. Vanessa gave us a framework for that, a systems approach called panarchy.

Panarchy is a philosophical and methodological approach with a history some of you will recognize. In human terms we feel the perpetual tension between stability and disturbance in every aspect of life. This personal aspect was Vanessa’s focus at the DwD session. Relating her own experiences as a daughter, an agent for social change and institutional steward Vanessa illustrated how she came to appreciate panarchy from the inside out. As the invitation explains she has been immersed in creating  (and sometimes extinguishing we discovered) broadly aligned cultures. All this she accomplished while immersing herself in some very extended, old yet highly contended global cultures from India to Jerusalem to Greece.

The evening was designed to be interactive. Conversing as individuals in a circle, sometimes in twos or threes, participants pondered aloud their own cycles of growth, transformation and death or disappearance in their lives. Throughout the session process shifts between expression and reflection were felt and consolidated. Living in our hard driving high-energy compulsorily optimistic culture, we feel a powerful resistance to accepting personal or social decline’s inevitable consequences as we, along with our personal cocoons, are overtaken by the power of change from without as well as within.

Some of these ideas did indeed sink in during our three hours together. Closing thoughts from the circle reminded the whole group of the ambivalences that big changes intermingled with tenacious continuances visit on everyone. Vanessa is a living model for acceptance of panarchy’s swirling curves as it describes its sideways figure eight of infinity. Perpetuity is of course not always a consolation when we must give up something or a person dear and meaningful to us. Consciousness does not always let matters go gently into that good night. Moving on is nonetheless active and dynamic. Awareness of the call to close is step one.

Donald Officer

Living & Dying through Change & Transformation

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How do we make sense of the lifecycles in our individual lives, organizations, and systems?

How might we act and respond to ongoing change in ways that support individual and organizational resiliency?

August’s DwD was hosted by Vanessa Reid, with a session exploring the ways in which we make sense of the change in our personal and organizational lives.

Drawing from concepts of the Panarchy cycle, Vanessa worked with participants to discover how cycles of living and dying can help us to better understand the ways in which our actions can support or hinder transitional phases in our personal and organizational lives.

We explored the fears and disturbances that come up in transitions – such as “not-knowing”, uncertainty, grief, and chaos, to find how these can be leadership skills that we can hone. The group explored the nature of “practice leadership” for our individual and collective transitions, and translate concepts and models into a living practice.

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Vanessa and Chris Lee working the floor at Lambert Lounge. The ecocycle loop sketch is taking shape at Vanessa’s feet on the floor.

 

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About the Host

Vanessa Reid is the co-founder of Living Wholeness Institute, which works with citizens, teams, organizations and social movements around the globe on initiatives that are transforming broken systems and creating new, deeply sustainable social realities. She is the former executive director of Montreal’s Santropol Roulant, an innovative non-profit working with food and intergenerational relationship as a catalyst for social change. As the executive publisher of ascent magazine and timeless books, she co-created an organizational process of conscious closure, and stewards many end-of-life processes with people, families and systems.

Most recently, she has been living and working in Greece and the Middle East where the contexts of systemic collapse is asking citizens to respond in fundamentally new ways. She is a co-founder of the SIZ (Systemic Innovation Zone – Greece) working with citizens and groups towards new forms of participation and democracy, through the Art of Participatory Leadership. She co-created the practice grounds for social innovation labs including the Finance Innovation Lab and Tasting the Future-UK.

 For more, visit http://www.the-lwi.org

 

 

The Humble Power of Non-Directive Communication

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The intentions for this DwD were to explore two contexts:

  • How do we avoid personal bias when facilitating authentic & emergent dialogue?
  • How do we create open spaces in communication for deep listening and sharing?

Stephen Sillett hosted our July 2015 inquiry into non-directive communication. Peter Jones presented a dialogue from Ed Schein’s Humble Inquiry, and Stephen held an experiential activity with David Grove’s Clean Language methods. We touched on open and shared conversation experiences of forming and asking questions, touching on how power relations, culture and personal assumptions influence how we ask questions.

Humble inquiry is an approach to creating better working relationships with people in interdependent situations. Schein simply calls this “the gentle art of asking rather than telling.” However, as with most of his work it goes well beyond good management, it’s an approach we can all learn from for better relationships and more effective team and partnership work.

Humble Inquiry is the skill and art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.

Schein notes three modes of humility – Basic humility, Optional humility, and Here and Now humility. We always have a choice to approach a situation as an inquiry, with questions that invite the other person to share, to ascend a bit. We allow the other to be the expert in their own experience. This is especially powerful when you as the questioner may already be in a more powerful status.

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Clean Language

Clean Language draws from techniques developed by David Grove, derived from counseling, and used  in organizational development and group facilitation. Several books and materials available on the Clean Language website provide pathways for interested participants to follow. Stephen will be running clean language workshops in the future and can be contacted at stephen@adcid.org

These activities can be very powerful, especially when exploring emotive, complex or confusing situations. It slows down our everyday way of communicating, which is often goal-directed and constrained by time, inhibiting our capacity for clear, clean communication.

This approach involves formulating questions that focus attention and develops a person’s understanding, without adding the questioners’ own needs and advice to the balance of conversation.

Experiencing the Process in Embodied Metaphors

The exploration of metaphors was initiated through a person’s real incident in the past expressed using “body images”. This help to give a strong anchor, from which to process the meaning using “clean language” to enable the participant to build a deeper understanding of what is happening.

As shown in the photograph, other participants played roles in the metaphor through an image theatre method.

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Voice Qualities

David Grove deliberately ‘marked out’ his use of Clean Language through changes to his normal way of speaking:

  • The speed of his delivery is slower than half normal pace
  • He uses a slightly deeper tonality than normal speaking
  • He often uses a distinctive sing-song rhythm
  • There is an implied sense of curiosity and wonder in his voice
  • The client’s idiosyncratic pronunciation, emphasis, sighs etc. are matched

Syntax: The syntax of Clean Language is peculiar and would sound very strange if used in normal conversation! It uses Pacing and Leading in a particular way. For example, all the questions begin with “and” and are orientated to the clients ‘perceptual present’. The generalised syntax, in its full form, comprises 4 components:

“And [pacing clients words]

+ And as/when

+ [question]

+ [refer to this particular experience]”

 

About the Host

ssillettStephen Sillett is co-executive director of Aiding Dramatic Change ~ in Development (ADCID), and helps the organization research, facilitate and direct dialogue, drama and art processes for healing and community development. Through ADCID projects and in partnership with other social actors, he is exploring approaches that engage community members in conversations, consciously orientated to maturing visions of the future. Research interests include the facilitation of non-verbal and spatial meaning-making practices within group workshop and the creation of interactive performance. He directs InFusion Labs where theatre artists, therapists, scientists and social practitioners explore spatial approaches to exploration and discovery.

To learn more and ask questions to practitioners visit ADCID’s Linkedin Group or Facebook Page

Innovative Learning in Canadian Higher Education

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April’s DwD was convened by an graduate student-led panel, organized by Strategic Innovation Lab and Strategic Foresight & Innovation, responding to the question:

What new ways of learning, particularly in higher education, will Canadians need to thrive in an evolving society and labour market?

The roundtable and dialogue was sponsored by Imagining Canada’s Future, the strategic development of next-generation social science for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) with the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS).

This question was one of their key Future Challenge Areas. The SFI team documented the session and prepared a report for CAGS and SSHRC. This report is now available to the public, linked here and titled Innovating Canada’s Higher Education.

Canada, like many other countries, is at a tipping point in the way its education system, especially higher education, is conceptualized, structured and delivered in light of the knowledge and skills required for the 21st century. The panel discussed and explored the following issues:

  • What knowledge, skills and delivery methods are required in order for the public education system to create an innovative, resilient and culturally rich society?
  • What aspirations and expectations will a diverse and global citizenry bring to the work environments, jobs and labour markets of the future?
  • What conditions are needed for new models of research—particularly, co‑creation of knowledge with the public, private and/or not‑for‑profit sectors—to flourish?
  • What roles will emerging and/or disruptive information and communication technologies play in learning for individuals, institutions and society?
  • What role should individuals, institutions and governments play in promoting and supporting the life cycle of knowledge—including creation, accessibility, retention and mobilization—across sectors, both domestically and internationally?
  • How can we harness Canada’s strength and innovation in the arts, digital media and cultural industries to build social, economic and cultural well‑being?

Panel and workshop photo-documented by SFI student George Wang.

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SFI graduate student panelists opening the first part of the event.

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Tables were convened by graduate student panelists for each of the main questions.

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Responses to each table’s question captured on standing boards.

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Graphical recordings by SFI students Maggie Greyson and Ana Matic during panel and in closing plenary.

The final report is now available here, and was delivered to very positive response by CAGS and SSHRC, especially for its vivid capture of the innovative process and the visual approach to communicating the results of the civic dialogue.

The convening team had suggested some related readings for members of the panel and public:

Joseph Wilson on learning: ‘People are envious of what we’re doing in education’ (or any of the Possible Canadas articles)

Democracy Hacks  was recommended as a relevant podcast.

The Governor General David Johnston has been advocating rethinking education, and this may be his legacy for Canada in 2017.

A pan-Canadian joint undergraduate degree is taking shape: Pan-Canadian University

Slow Learning, a site presenting critical visions for self-directed, community learning

 

HOSTED BY THE SFI DIALOGUE TEAM

Inessa Chapira
Christina Doyle
Maggie Greyson
Conor Holler
Goran Matic
Corey Norman
Adrienne Pacini
Sheldon Pereira
Patrick Robinson
Peter Scott
Jacqueline To
Ryan Voisin
George Wang
with faculty advisor Peter Jones

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