Category Archives: Reflection

Grounding Practices that Enable Emergence in Dialogue | DwD 11.08.17

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Stages-of-readiness for embodied dialogic practice.

Design and engagement practitioners have adopted mindfulness approaches to large-group participation recently, that help participants move go from “heady” intellectual interactions to more embodied states of presence and awareness. Perhaps the most well-known approach is that of Theory U (Presencing), which has been applied in a huge range of process contexts, including in the 2015 Unify Toronto series.

This DwD will share some of the theory and practice behind the “Come to the Edge” performance that happened in Belgium last month. Jennifer Jimenez will share, how this approach relates to developments in the disability arts movement and the shifting relationship to time. This involves grounding practices, but also practices that help people become transport to other realities, and involves crossing different types of thresholds. 

Stephen Sillett and Jenny work together and will give insights into the thinking behind how this work is informed by dialogical design practice in long term community development. They will address questions about:

  • How can we quickly enable diverse groups of participants to gain trust in their engagement and go deeper? (Using approaches appropriate to the people, place and purpose.)
  • How might we facilitate participants to feel both free and grounded, through emergent embodiment?
  • What would help support each of us to risk approaching the Edge of what we know, or to enter into an unknown area of inquiry?

This DwD will engaged approaches to enable free exploration and collective trust and comfort to be achieved through intentional process design. We will share situations where we (ADCID) have helped participants with complex disabilities who can feel burden with frustration at their situation, and resigned to a state of endurance. We have developed different approaches for these contexts, which have adaptations from actor training, and mental space psychology.

Working with pre-verbal approaches, and metaphorical representations of burdens, we found major impact on communities who use alternative and augmentative communication. These can be used in the design of other dialogic engagements, and also for activities seeking to use dialogue as part of participatory design methodologies.

We will share the following exercises which can be used to open up participants to deeper engagement:

  • Chairs and Tables – exercise that uses a simple spectrogram followed by metaphorical objects which become psychoactive and which the group can bond as we unburden
  • Passing the energy – exercise that opens up individuals and establishes a group dynamic.
  • David Grove’s Clean Space – deeper engagement around an outcome

Register on Eventbrite

Location: Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) Room 410  OCAD University     205 Richmond St. West at Duncan

About the Presenters

Jennifer Jimenez has a background as a scenographer, theatre-maker, and arts educator. She seeks artistic projects rooted in devised collaborative processes where all elements can play an active role in creation. This can take the form of integrating lighting and design into the rehearsal and creation process, working with community members to create a performance piece or devising an audience interactive piece, where those present are actively involved in meaning making. She has participated in training workshops in collaborative creation with Ariane Mnouchkine’s Teatre Du Soleil, and in Image and Forum Theatre facilitation at the Centres for the Theatre of The Oppressed in London, Toronto, and New York. Jenny has a Masters in Devised Theatre Creation from Central School of Speech and Drama in London, UK, and a BFA and BEd from York University.  She has taught drama and visual arts in the Ontario Secondary School system and in the UK.

Jenny Jimenez and Stephen Sillett are co-directors of ADCID (Aiding Dramatic Change in Development), where they facilitate and direct dialogue, drama and art processes for healing and community development. Through ADCID projects and in partnership with other social actors, they explore 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. They direct the InFusion Labs process where theatre artists, therapists, scientists and social practitioners explore spatial approaches to exploration and discovery.

 

Decolonizing Futures through Storytelling

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OCAD SFI grad student Pupul Bisht presented the October DwD on exploring storytelling to decolonize foresight methods. Pupul’s research in OCADU’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation program critiques and redefines futures methods by inquiring into cross-cultural and indigenous futures thinking.

Pupul explores several questions in the workshop:

  • How might storytelling work as a tool for inclusion of non-western perspectives in foresight?
  • How might we make futures methodology pluralistic, and hence more inclusive?
  • Who owns images of the future? Can stories help reveal these power structures?
  • How do different cultural epistemologies of time & future affect the ability of a community to participate in the current foresight design process?
  • How do different cultures visualize progress?

Different cultures around the world have diverse future temporalities and distinct ways of thinking about the future. In the Confucian worldview the future can be in the future as well as the past, so can it be in the Hindu and Buddhist worlds. The concept of time in these cultures is such that one can view the future in or from the past. This cyclic concept of time is often not included in foresight explorations, as most tools and frameworks used by practitioners visualize time as a linear entity, expressed “horizontally.”

This Design with Dialogue workshop was part of Pupul’s major research project in the SFI program, and  designed around exploration of the above mentioned questions in multidisciplinary teams of experts in foresight, storytelling and non-western perspectives. Through this dialogic workshop we will try to identify underlying cultural values, worldviews and assumptions that shape the current methods and theories in futures discourse. We will conclude with a generative session where we will explore practical frameworks that could be used to make the discipline more inclusive.

From this workshop, you can expect to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the epistemological limitations of the current futures discourse
  • Explore scope for intervention in multidisciplinary teams
  • Learn new methods and expand your foresight vocabularies and toolkits

Join us if you are interested in exploring ways to open the foresight process to non-western ways of knowing, doing and being through storytelling. This workshop will be an interesting opportunity to co-create frameworks at the intersection of Foresight, Storytelling and Decolonization

About the Presenter

Pupul is an Indian designer with deep passion for exploring cultural plurality in contemporary design practices.  With a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design from National Institute of Design, India Pupul moved to Toronto last year to pursue her Master’s in the OCAD Strategic Foresight and Innovation program. She is conducting this workshop as part of her Major Research Project. Her thesis explores the intersection of cultural foresight, storytelling and epistemological pluralism.

With a belief that the stories we tell of our pasts shape our futures, Pupul wants to dedicate her multi-disciplinary creative practice to uncovering narratives of alternative histories and desirable futures that otherwise lie in mundane yet under-explored nooks of our everyday world. Through the tool of storytelling she hopes to move foresight outside organizational confines and engage in mass-dialogue about our collective futures as a civilization.

Designing for Play – How to Play your Work

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In the March DwD session with Farzad Sedghipour, we explored the importance of finding play in our work through a semi-structured facilitated workshop.  Roughly 20 members of Toronto’s innovation community attended, ready to design for play. The workshop was based on Farzad’s Strategic Foresight & Innovation project,  Play to Perform: Why Play is the Future of Work

Play is one of life’s top motivators, it is fundamentally collaborative, and we have to play in creative work.

The Process

“Work and Play are words to used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.”
-Mark Twain

The DwD workshop comprised several improv games; a short-discussion defining play, what it is and is not, the creation of individual Play Personalities through a Maker’s survey, and group games exploring the future of play at work.

Defining one’s Play Personality required individuals to reflect back into their childhood experiences and remember moments when they were fully immersed in an activity for its sake.  Participants were asked to also consider times they made a difference, what made them come alive in these instances, and what animal personalities and historical/fictional characters they identified with.

The final piece of this exercise was a magazine montage, in which participants created their play personality using magazine cutouts, to help them define what personality traits and attributes characterize them when they are in a state of play.

In the second exercise, we explored jobs many would consider “mundane” or “boring” – call center operator, assembly line worker, retail etc. –  and how we as managers might help our employees find more play within them.  We talked about how Toyota for example, injects play into manufacturing work through their Kaizen culture, which encourages employees to take ownership of continuous improvement initiatives and processes.  We talked about how a call center might “playify” its work to A/B test various strategies, while enabling staff to have fun and produce more great work.  In general, we talked about how managers can give employees more agency and control over how they do their work, in order to cultivate a play mindset in their employees.

Rank your top 2 drives to play are:

  • The Joker: loves nonsense, and practical jokes as an adult
  • The Kinesthetic: needs to move (to think); loves being in their body: dance, swim, yoga, walk
  • The Explorer: Actively seeks out new experiences, be they physical, mental, or emotional
  • The Competitor: loves playing games to win, to be number 1
  • The Director: Enjoys planning and executing scenes and events. Born organizers, party givers; the world’s a stage and we are all players in the director’s game
  • The Collector: Have and hold the most, best, and most interesting objects: coins, toys, wine, shoes, ties, videos, music etc. can be solitary or social
  • The Artist/Creator: The maker, including painting, woodworking, pottery, and sculptor.. more recently, the programmer/developer
  • The Storyteller: Imagination is the key to this kingdom; novelists, playwrights, cartoonists, and screenwriters; Performer of magic tricks, lectures, dance and actingLeading with a play mindset is what creative entrepreneurs and master crafts people do explained Farzad, because for them, play is the work they would do even if no one required them to do it.

A few key insights that emerged were:

  1. Employing sensory props such as smelly markers, jelly beans, and balloons can nudge participants in more vividly recalling their childhood experiences,
  2. More opportunities to learn about the neuroscience and theory of play,
  3. and facilitate mad libs and co-creations to inspire more play-led activities.  

All great suggestions to think about, for how else could one consistently perform with vitality, creativity, and skill, without play.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Farzad is an economist and a futurist who is passionate about strategy and organizational design, play, and the future or work.  He thinks systematically and behaviourally to help clients find innovation opportunities between diverse values and interests. Farzad’s past experiences include 8-years’ leading economic research, organizational development and business design, and strategic-foresight projects for the private and public sector. He holds a M.A. in Economics & Finance and a MDes in Strategic Foresight & Innovation.

 

Finding & Building Peace – What’s Possible?

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Design with Dialogue starts each new year with proposals for the upcoming sessions, and we aim for both intentional impacts and resonant emergence. Rather than planning a series of programs, we set themes and look for opportunities to engage those themes with interested hosts or presenters. A recurring and critical inquiry, both intentional and emergent, is that of a peaceful future in Canada, North America and our relationships with the world.

Our January DwD convened a group for a conversational dinner to explore together the possibility of policies and engagements for peace in Canada.  The intent was to start a continuing dialogue across viewpoints and cultures grounded in the unique Canadian experience and expression of “peace, order, and good government.” Rather than moving toward activism, the opportunity was held for discourse and perspectives that might promote peaceful relations to our governments and colleagues.

Throughout the year we’ll be joining other communities of inquiry – with Unify Toronto’s Indigenize or Die series and Interchange for Peace (Stephen Sillett) in particular.  Another fellow treveler is the Science for Peace series at UofT (also held on Wednesdays)

We started with several initial inquiries, that might continue throughout the year as recurrent themes:

  • Why isn’t there a robust peace movement in Canada? Given Canada’s longest participation in wartime in its history (Following Afghanistan, we are in Ukraine in the NATO build-up against Russia) – Why are we complacent? How do we wake up to the moment and realize the societal costs of these engagements?
  • The Doomsday Clock is set to the closest to midnight since the 1950’s nuclear arms race. There’s a good chance it will go closer in 2017 given the promised increase in nuclear weapons support by US presidents Trump and Obama. How might we live with and communicate about this symbol in our civic lives?
  • What ought to be our priorities for peace making in this era? How might we FIND peace?
  • How might we ally and participate with indigenous people to inform peace advocacy? See the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • What do we have to reconcile within ourselves and the national culture do become peacemaking a peacekeeping culture?
    (Can we design interventions relevant to Canada’s 150th?)

 

 

2016 Retreat / Visions for 2017

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Every year a group of DwD facilitators and stewards (community volunteers who curate sessions) meet for a year-end retreat. We celebrate and appreciate the learning and accomplishment of the year and have an inquiry toward planning for the next year.  Among the dreams and possibilities we considered for 2017 were:

Dreams from the Retreat

  • The Stoa and the Agora – Creating spaces for emerging challenges received as significant or arising within society as opportunities for deliberative dialogue. Extending DwD to civil society and public engagement.
  • Continuing with Unify’s Indigenize or Die, guiding its continuity toward a community to deepen participation with settlers toward reconciliation and becoming stewards of the original land
  • Rather than singular issues, fostering a commons to reveal connectedness between our programs: Such as Indigenous ways of knowing, Theory U, Listening practices (Bohmian)
  • Integrating an connecting issues or dialogues between the series events.
  • Host indigenous speakers in Systems Thinking ON to inquire into aboriginal systems of thinking
  • Inviting and appreciating the “Mixing of Unlike Minds”
  • DwD can take on specific problem areas: Environmental Defense – break stakeholders out of groupthink Inclusion and flourishing of newcomers with right livelihood
  • Host invitational innovation circles again – such as with Toronto Star
  • Cartography of social issues: Mapping issues and interfaces in collaborative dialogue, boundary crossing and boundary object formation
  • Creating pop-up labs and studios through DwD – Connect with MaRS, Innoweave, Interchange Peace Finding
  • Critically engage the rapidly forming memes of the day: “Fake News,” Russia-bashing, Fake foreign policy, …

Design with Dialogue – 2017

  • January – Can we Reenvision Peace as a Goal Again? Also, Ethics of Autonomy, Information Warfare, Causes and confusions of the Refugee Crisis
  • February – Play to Perform?
  • Invited Workshops
  • SSHRC Imagining Canada’s Future (Canada @150) and social futures

Systems Thinking Ontario – 2017

  • Reframing the purpose of ST-ON: Outreach, Education, Connecting local systems community, Creating contexts for teaching, youth engagement
  • Bringing local and international speakers to the regular sessions: Martin Bunch, Steve Easterbrook, Judith Rosen
  • Exploring classic issues, e.g. The Human Use of Human Beings (Wiener)
  • Entertaining “unlike minds”
  • Exploring mindsets – limited scope of thinking
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Invited subject experts who can host a systems conversation about their practice
  • Invite artists and creatives to explore systemic thinking
  • Constructivism
  • The human and natural systems of water

DwD Engagement Model

The Agoras model of staging from “Lab” to the field of stakeholders has relevance in the current proliferation of social innovation labs, as the lab concept has been employed ubiquitously and metaphorically. There’s little evidence of external impact in terms of higher quality programs and stakeholder services that would not have been done without the labs. They are often small developmental teams using facilitative approaches that work with policy or startup organizations. Given that the SFI MDes program trains people for leading in such roles, we need to consider whether there are more or less effective models of “lab work.”
Christakis and Warfield developed an approach 20+ years ago for the developmental evaluation of social science innovations in stakeholder applications, as a reference for SDD. Known as the Domain of Science Model, it shows that the “Lab” is the initial, most tentative stage in a series of four domains that are needed to develop an evidence-based social innovation. The stages are summarized in the following model:

 

      Lab – Building creative Foundations from philosophy, social science, systemics

      Lab – Visualizing Theory & building artefacts to test in Studio

      Studio – Design science, adapting Theory > Methodology

      Studio – Building new methods for application in Arena.

      Arena – Adapting & testing method & evaluating in Arenas with stakeholders

      Agora – Releasing to public in new forms.

 

 


Peter Pennefather shared a sketch of his extension to this model after the retreat, in the following diagram. His contributions adds several new dimensions, such as the dominant logic/reasoning process in each stage, the transformation of public goods (from need to effect) and the inclusion of the design process that’s central to DwD.