Category Archives: Understand

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.

 

Systemic Constellations | Where’s the Money?

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Where’s the Money? Exploring for Clues.

Does the collective field have anything to tell us about where the money is?

Diana Claire Douglas joined us from Ottawa to share a brief (3 hour) orientation to Systemic Constellation Work, based on Bert Hellinger’s well-established practice for engaging families, organizations, and all types of social systems within the “knowing field” – a multi-dimensional field that is always present and has also evolved over the last 30 plus years. Systemic constellations consider issues, questions and propositions from a very broad, human and universal systemic perspective. It is used for diagnosing and resolving issues, making decisions, experiencing other ways of knowing, gathering collective intelligence, testing propositions, and creating new processes, services and products − for individuals, families, organizations and larger systems such as cities. For participants, the engagement process is highly experiential, felt, and mostly-nonverbal. The constellation process accesses information and energy that is beyond our mental conceptions through participants representing the elements, reporting their bodymind experiences with no interpretation, finding their place in the field, and allowing movements to emerge from the field as the representatives interact. -In the June DwD session 22 participants engaged in an experiential “experiment’ around the intention of discovering the sources and flow of money as a systemic cultural issue shared among people self-selecting to be in the field.

Stitched Panorama

Photos by Codrin Talaba

Systemic Constellation Work is a systemic perspective that embraces families and collectives as living systems, with an inner stance of the facilitator being in relation to the “Knowing Field.” SCW holds an extensive body of knowledge including premises, principles and themes based on the understanding that living systems are guided by principles of balance, internal order and exchange. This supports an experiential process and practice that allows for embodied energy and information to be made visible.

After a series of individual and paired constellation exercises that located the sources of money issues within family constellations, a large group process proceeded and evolved into configurations like those in the photographs. In asking the question “Where’s the money?” in two ways “Where’s the money out of need?” and “Where’s the money in the flow?,” the group generated about a dozen different elements to be represented in the field (yang money, alchemical goddess of money, new paradigm money, power, love, sex, purpose, past, future). These were randomly selected by participants and then represented in locations and relationships in a physical mapping of the field.

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The process is quite dynamic, as particpants move in relationship to re revelation of inquiries within the field. The attitude of response is one of “knowing” and is felt as a response from the representation of an identity or issue in the field (people represented the four dimensions of past, future, above and below – but also selected power,  mystery, “yang money,” love, and the new paradigm of money).    Background presentation on Systemic Constellation Work (1Mb PDF).

Reflection from Diana Claire Douglas, as facilitator:

For many months now, I have been hearing “where’s the money?” from almost every individual or group involved with (social) innovation. The DwD group seemed a wonderful opportunity to explore what the Knowing Field could show us about where the money is while introducing the systemic constellation work process.

The first three partner exercises allowed participants to experience what it means to be a representative in the knowing field, through exploring their own relationship with money and the impact of knowing why they wanted money. This was working at the personal and family system level. We moved to working at the collective level when doing the whole-group process. The original question “where’s the money?” became two questions: “where’s the money out of need/fear?” and “where’s the money in the flow?” There were a few surprises while we were doing the process: although both yang and yin money were named as elements to be in the constellation, no one chose to represent yin money, so it was not in the field; and in the middle of the constellation an apparent street person lay down across the outside of the window behind the Past.

The process is dynamic, as the representatives move in relationship to each other, revealing what is missing in the field, what is blocking the energy flow, and what needs to be seen, acknowledged and healed before there is flow in the system. This constellation ended when the Past and Future could see each other, when Love and Sex connected, when missing elements (Patriarchy and Family) were added, when Yang money felt it encompassed the whole field, and when almost all the elements were connected in a line from the Past to the Future.
In the short time we had to constellate such a big issue, we saw many movements and elements coming into alignment with each other…each of these planting a seed in our personal consciousness and the collective consciousness that will eventually emerge and show impact in the world. Afterwards, participants often report being more aware of the shifts they saw happening during the constellation — their perception had opened in a new way — and thus are tuned into what is emerging.

Some have called this work “action inquiry in the causal field!”  And I believe there are several further constellations that could be done emerging from this first constellation asking “where’s the money?” For example: what would happen if we did a constellation just with Yin money and did not have Yang money represented? What might we see when both Yin and Yang money are represented in the same process? What would happen if we explored the “who” of Who-has-the-money? New-paradigm money was not able to connect with Who-has-the-money until a missing element was added (patriarchy). As this element was put at the feet of Power, we could use a constellation to unpack the relationship between New-paradigm money, Power, and Patriarchy.

 

About Diana

DCDheadshotDiana Claire Douglas is a systemic  facilitator, coach and trainer (family, organizational, and social issues), social architect, artist, published author, and explorer of the depths. She is founder of Knowing Field Designs Aligning human systems with Life. She is internationally certified as an Organizational Constellation Work facilitator through the Bert Hellinger Institute of the Netherlands. She is the lead facilitator for systemic constellation work for Integral City and The Hague Centre for Global Governance, Innovation and Emergence, where SCW is used regularly for decision-making, designing creative projects, and team building. She has facilitated constellations at international conferences including INFOSYON conference in Amsterdam, Integral Theory Conference (ITC 2015) in California, and Integral European Conference 2016 in Hungary.  See more at The Knowing Field Issues 19, 22, 26, 27, 28.

Collaborative Synergy – Mapping team communication with Sociomapping

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Stephen Sillett facilitated a contextual drama activity with 5 brave and generous DwD volunteers to explore the theme of “team communication and synergy”. The drama activity also provided a safe opportunity to develop characters who could input data into a software visualisation tool called Team Sociomapping. Stephen came across Sociomapping in 2010 and contacted Pauline Willis to learn more about it’s potential application. In 2011, he visited the offices of QED Group in Prague, whose founder Radvan Bahbouh developed Sociomapping – during that trip, Pauline Willis provided an opportunity for participants from a Scenofest workshop, to visit the QED Group offices and unpack their group interactions using an early form of Sociomapping software. Since then Stephen has been looking at ways to bring Sociomapping and other visualisation tools into his practice, and learning from organisational development practitioners that specialise in team dynamics.

Background: thoughts on session theme

  •  How do we observe and intervene in the way groups interact?
  • How can we help organizations and teams improve their performance while relying less on top-down, command and control approaches?

When we look at dialogue between members of a small-medium size team, we may think that discussions are more about task type, resources, skills and goals. However, there are softer, less tangible group dynamics at play which can have significant impact on performance. The way that members of such groups interact, and the team dynamics at play, particularly when groups are separated by time and space, can be difficult to probe, monitor and make sense of.

The session

The Sociomapping tool, has key utility in looking at changes in team/group dynamics over a time frame of months. For the purpose of the session we will use participatory drama simulations of groups, so that we can compress time, and explore how dynamics of groups can change through a couple of scenario interventions that our actors will represent. Stephen Sillett led our DwD group through what I many think of as a simulation workshop in which a team of performers played out a ‘set of scenarios’ involving a project a corporate publication team was assigned to complete. Stephen referred to the scenario as in terms of being a Contextual Drama session, and asked those attending the workshop to imagine that they are looking in on the action much like a fishbowl. This contrast to the normal way we think of theatre, where we are an audience watching a performance that has been designed with the audience in mind. In this “Contextual Drama”, the team in the scenario comprised of a millennial junior designer (Patricia), an efficiency-driven IT Lead (Tim), a new production team team leader (Kelly), a perfectionist Graphic Designer (Lauren), and their hyper-competitive Head of Sales and Marketing (Geoff).

Session Reflections from Farzad Sedghipour

The first part of the exercise was for the audience to identify one of the characters in the scene and follow them on their journey, looking at their relational perspective. In doing so they would see ‘what was happening’ from an outsider’s perspective, and reflect what we might have done were we involved in similar situations ourselves.

CollabPlay

Photo by Farzad Sedghipour

What became noticeable for me observing the team simulation was how siloed and self-centered each team member was, and how in obsessing about their own interests and the project deliveries assigned, they missed the bigger picture and the relationships needed for the team to accomplish its collective goals. The story of ‘The Blind Men and the Elephant’ came to mind. This team was actually less than the sum of its parts – a team scenario I admittedly have been a player in more often than I would like to admit. This simulation reminded me that in times of such frustration with team (under) performance, it is important to seek to acknowledge my frustrations, take personal responsibility for having played a role in creating them, and to seek to understand the points of view of my other teammates’, instead of running to conclusions about their intentions and competencies.

Visualisation with Team Sociomapping

After the theatre scenarios were complete, every team member was asked to two questions: 1) to rank how ‘mutually positive’ their relationship had been with each colleague? and 2) how happy were they with the position they had at work?

These results were then visualized through the Sociomapping tool, which showed a sort of topographic ‘map like’ illustration of how each member connected with their fellow teammates, providing each member a view of how they themselves were perceived by the other members of their team.

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For us the purpose of the Visualization tool was not diagnostic per say, but as a sense-making tool; it was proposed that instead of analyzing the results, the team members stand up and play out the their places with respect to each other on the floor, as the Socio-map illustrated on the computer screen.

We found this approach helpful in taking us away from ‘analytical judgement’ towards opening the space for understanding and co-creation. For example, the IT Lead could voice “I really hate that I’m so far from the New Project Manager and wish we could have a better relationship together.”

This interest-led approach opened up the space for authentic inquiry into the obstacles that had created distances between team members, and how the team could overcome these challenges in the future – connecting each team member’s point of view to see the whole elephant. This process would enable the team to design ‘interventions’ from within the group itself that might benefit the group’s behaviour and dynamic, and run them for 1-month intervals before re-assessing to evaluate if the intervention had been successful at helping the team develop, with the goal of becoming greater than the sum of their parts.

Suggested areas of further research included ways to ensure team members felt safe in answering the Socio-mapping questionnaire truthfully, and ways to explore power dynamics and how they might be addressed with the help of this tool.

About the Host and explorers/actors

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. He directs InFusion Labs where theatre artists, therapists, scientists and social practitioners explore spatial approaches to exploration and discovery.

The actors in the team were Patricia Kambitsch, Tim Lloyd, Geoff Foulds, Lauren Stein, Kelly Okamura. Pam Patel stepped into the scenario as a disruptor character, but was not mapped as part of the team dynamics.

If you see potential for such teams development in your areas of practice please email Stephen.

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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Cycle

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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