Category Archives: Learn

Learning and practicing methods

The Alpha Expression Workshop

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DwD often hosts more open-ended, playful learning workshops in the summer months. For August we hosted Dexter Ico, well known as a video coach, with his Alpha Expression workshop. The experience we explored together:
Can we be self-expressed on demand? 

The promise: Discover your capacity to be yourself with others, on stage, on camera, on demand.

Dexter Ico has been coaching people from all walks of life to hold presence in unnerving situatins – the stage and video camera in particular – working with stand-up comedy, theatre, improve, and vlogging to gain presence and assurance. Earlier developments of his workshop were known as “Practice makes Practice.” Join Dexter and Design with Dialogue in this August session to safely explore the range and experience of you ability to hold presence with grace and focus, pushing the ranges of vocal and physical expression to learn from touching these boundaries in a safe environment. Dexter calls this form of over-acting the “alpha expression.”

Exercises were descriptively named following the impulse being explored. The following photos of community members show “Exaggerated Alpha” and some from “Expert Voice.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of us stage-shy, hyper-rational, modestly-composed speakers learned how to swing out and push the edges of self-expression and speech performance in the workshop. Of course, as only a 2.5 hour workshop there was only so much direct coaching available for the over 20 participants in the OCADU Auditorium. This was a first experience for many of this opportunity and even at that initial stage, was experienced as a personal breakthrough by many.

 

ABOUT THE GUEST HOST
My name is Dexter Ico. I have a knack for coaching people. I’ve helped kids to CEO’s, actors land TV shows, and held one-off talk shows. As a video producer, I interview and direct people all the time, encouraging the expression of that intuitive alpha in everyone.

 

“The Alpha is being yourself to an extreme, in your essence, wanting to engage with others, like children do.  It’s about empowering who you already are through playful exercises and interactive dialogue. The key component? A sense of play.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deliberating on Values in Digital Democracy

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The July DwD hosted a mixed group of designers, curious citizens and community activists to engage in the inquiry and workshop Exploring Values in Digital Democracy. The primary purpose of the workshop was to explore questions of values and positions openly to inform the design of the Nova Agora prototype and contribute to new model of digital citizenship.  The focal questions for the session were:

  • How might we better address policy disputes through citizen-led democratic practices?
  • How can we deliberate in democratic processes through sharing values?
  • How can we better employ “digital citizenship” to understand values commitments we may share in common?

Rationale. Today, adherents of mainstream political parties are unable to even speak with one another about issues of critical importance to their collective futures. Policy controversies, such as debates on globalization, abortion, or immigration, have polarized to become intractable disputes.  A lack of diversity or mobility, filter bubbles, social media echo chambers, and targeted advertising amplify this polarization. Digital feedback reinforces entrenched positions. Then, the more positions polarize, the more a simple policy controversy moves towards policy conflict and ruptured public discourse.

Approach. Jenny Whyte and Natalija Fischer facilitated July’s DwD with a workshop, a process and prototype. They presented Nova Agora, a citizen’s digital service and research platform, designed as a peacebuilding tool to deconstruct policy disputes by reframing how issues are expressed and interpreted, from positions to values, thereby facilitating connection, catharsis, and understanding.

The workshop was open for any citizens interested in fostering respectful discourse, self-awareness, and moral based reasoning. Participants engaged in several activities designed to draw out and deliberate on the values important in political decision making (specifically the set advocated by Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind from moral foundations theory). Values and political positions were explored through dialogue, embodied acting, and small group work.

 

Patricia Kambitsch sketched the summaries and process as seen in the final story map.   (Click to enlarge)

 

People were asked to visit the Nova Agora site in advance of the session and take the survey on positions or the survey on values.  Both of these resources remain open and available for others to review and the design team would welxome further feedback and insights on the process.

Nova Agora Team

Natalija Fisher  – natalija@nasagora.org, MSc Water Resources Management, UNESCO-IHE

Natalija has worked on freshwater protection across government, non-profits, and start-up systems.  Internationally, she facilitates youth inclusion at global events like the Budapest Water Summit and the World Water Forum.

Most recently, Natalija has launched two peace-building initiatives.

 

 

 

Jenny Whyte – jenny.c.whyte@gmail.com, Strategic Foresight and Innovation, MDes

Using the design tools learned in the SFI program she aims to tackle wicked with a human-centered approach.

She is currently winding up to defend her thesis exploring how better understanding ‘the self’ might encourage social change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Citizen’s Design Brief for Canadian Foreign Policy

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Design with Dialogue has been continuing with a series of dialogues and design sessions to construct a shared ethical vision and narrative characterizing the emerging commitments and proposals for a new Canadian foreign policy. Across the perspectives of a wide variety of citizens and residents, ages and sectors, ethnicities and spiritual traditions, a growing group of DwD members have started to define a foundation for agreement on principles and proposals that might guide a new Canadian values orientation to policies affecting our relationships with other nations and cultures in this single shared planet.

The consensus of the group meeting across successive sessions was the topic was urgent and necessary to develop with further inquiry. To instigate dialogue we have embraced a series of motivating questions including:

  • What do we (as Canadian citizens) believe to be a socially and culturally responsible foreign policy?
  • How should Canada conduct herself in the complex future of international relations? What are our  proposed decision criteria for state responses?
  • What ought to be the most critical objectives for Canada’s social license to advise and act in global affairs?

The workshops have yield a challenge map expressing a wide variety of perspectives, which are being structured by influence and relationship to their moral weight on other issues in the problematique (the relations of the challenge map).

We continue our Canadian peacefinding series with a dialogue to co-create foreign policy principles and proposals. Today the spheres of national security and foreign policy are held closely by government and decisions are made based on undisclosed interests and unknown expected outcomes. In a democratic society, we can state our claims on policy input, even if government secrecy holds sway in decision making.

As citizens we might exercise our option to participate in defining people’s interests in foreign affairs, which ought to be as much a domain for grassroots citizen participation as indigenous affairs, labour relations, healthcare, or education. Perhaps even more, since misguided foreign relations disrupt the futures of our families and children and relationships with other cultures. The outcomes of bad policy choices, as seen in similar societies to ours (US, UK), leads to institutionalized racism and participation in war making and profiteering. In this session we will continue and complete discussions leading toward an outline or draft of a citizen’s policy brief. Possible outcomes could include:

  • Proposing a mandate for an idealized and transparent diplomacy model.
  • Identifying clear guidelines for proposals to endorse intervention, peacekeeping or coalition support.
  • Articulating a mandate for decolonization of Canadian government interests, ensuring corporate and special interests are not  marginalizing rights, opportunities and freedoms anywhere in the world.
  • Providing for a clear path of state representation that fully includes Indigenous people, as rights holders to treaty lands of Canada, in diplomatic and foreign affairs decision making.
  • Positive relationships based on Canada’s support of indigenous peoples and cultures everywhere.

 

Foreign policy is as much a domain for grassroots citizen participation as indigenous affairs, labour relations, healthcare, or education. Perhaps even more, since bad foreign relations decisions disrupt the futures of our families and children and relationships with other cultures. In this session we will construct (an outline or draft) a citizen’s policy brief following dialogic design principles. Possible outcomes could include:

  • We will close by defining actions and possible outcomes consistent with participant proposals. These may include editorial writing and citizen participation in hearings, forming alliances with other grassroots groups concerned with decolonizing foreign policy, and sponsoring a continuing dialogue series on the issues.

 

Game Changing – Adapting Workshops for Emergence

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In this DwD session with Stephen Sillett, we explored the nature of emergence in structured facilitated workshops and the approaches to breaking structure in planning and convening to create the conditions for generative emergence. A good cross-section of Toronto’s current generation of innovation leaders attended, about evenly balance between social innovators and business/design consultants. Th first sketch of the evening mapped the sectors and approaches from particpants during our check-in.

 

The Process

We used the Groupworks Pattern Language (available for download) to discuss and incorporate instigating (evocative) patterns for emergence. Several key patterns are core to engaging vitality and dynamic emergence in a group intervention: Emergence, Improvise, Letting Go, and most of the patterns included in Flow and Faith.

While these sound like simple expressions within a convening structure, they are not easy choices in practice.  When actually facilitating large group interventions, we often follow a strict plan of events, agreed upon in advance with our sponsors and stakeholders. Two questions explored in the session:

How do we best change options or parameters of a scripted workshop while maintaining integrity of the purpose and ensuring high-value outcome intended?

What happens when we change the structure and process of workshops, possibly violating key elements of a plan or facilitation approach?

The function of non-dual experience, BOTH / AND becomes operative here.  How do we know how (and when) to restructure, reduce, accelerate, or improvise within a well-defined group process? How does an interplay of structure and emergence in facilitating group interventions relate to these shifts?

Experienced group facilitators know well the difference in experience and participation between following a script and drawing out emergent engagement. However, experience also tells us there’s a balance, between some structure and some emergence, and a dynamics shift that occurs between them. Are these transitions between structure and emergence the key to creative balance in workshops? Also, even with experience these is a point at which we realise that changes to the workshop context, content of process fall outside previous encounters, and levels of uncertainty rise. How do we deal with this uncertainty? When should we say “let’s give this a go!” and when “this is not viable, it is not ethical to proceed!”


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sketches by Patricia, playthink.com. Harvest of evening final dialogue, as summary.

Small groups developed engagement stories and models for exploring these interventions in engagement. These were developed from several design provocations:

  • Use of time:  Some activities are multi-day journeys, others 1-day, 1 hour or last only 10 minutes.
  • Modularity: How do we scale to the needs of our stakeholders?
  • Intensity: Activities may vary in their level of intensity regarding participation, accountability, pressure to meet deadlines, level of physical activity
  • Outcome: Some processes may work toward consensus, others toward proposals, others are more fluidly co-creation .

 

 

Innovate or Dinosaur! Serious Play for Innovation.

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September’s DwD explored the new board game (launched this week) by Traction Strategy, cheekily called Innovate or Dinosaur!  A truly collaborative innovation game, the playful approach helps teams generate and test new ideas, create a path to assess and implement them, and builds the capacity for organizations to “innovate everyday”.

Played by teams of 4 or more per table, the game is staged into two board and movements, Exploration and Evolution.   The  Explore board uses a standard die and chance to move players through a number of event and process cards that promote lateral thinking and exploration of your innovation ideas in novel, playful ways. gameboard

Players start by generating a set of proposed innovation proposals for their organization or projects that they choose to present in exploration with team members. Competition can be set up between groups and within teams in playful ways to drive the game process forward. We played with a time deadline model, where the first round of game play ended after 20 minutes and teams were credited with the number of innovation proposals explored within the period. Chance also played into some teams tackling fewer proposals, depending on board position and card actions.

Tamara and Shawna’s experience in innovation engagements with organizations led to creating a large catalog of provocations and lateral thinking concepts in the various process cards. Many of these are quite unexpected and fun, lending a real experience of surprise to the game proceedings.

The Innovate or Dinosaur game design is based on some of  the key ingredients for innovation identified in a study done on the innovation processes of  Nobel Prize Winners – some of  the most highly recognized innovators in the world. These key ingredients include: collaboration, competence, communication, vision, playfulness, and work (effort).

franktable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A roomful of participants played through both boards of the game over a 2 hour + session, which was found to be insufficient time to explore more than one innovation proposal from each player. The game approach requires multiple rounds of ideation, and participants found real value in some of the idea development. By the end of the session, there was convincing evidence of the unique value of the gameboard approach and the value of the specific tools and processes built into the game.

Traction Strategy has since launched the game publicly, and the game is available and promoted at innovateordinosaur.com

evolvetable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Hosts

Tamara Eberle, CPF, CTF, Founder and Director of Facilitation & Learning, Traction Strategy  and Shawna Eberle, Toronto-based Director of Traction Studio

tamTamara is an award-winning professional facilitator with over two decades of group leadership and process design experience. She is a Certified Professional Facilitator (IAF), Certified ToP Facilitator (ICA), has a degree in Sociology, and has specialized training in Public Participation (IAP2), Change Management, Design Charrettes (NCI), and organizational game design.

Traction Strategy is a multi-award winning, boutique consulting company providing Certified Professional Facilitation as well as leadership and organizational development training.  As experts with diverse, cross-functional teams and stakeholder groups, they use participatory methods and techniques to support teams and organizations while providing a meaningful experience.