Tag Archives: Community of Practice

DWD – The Evolution of a Learning Community

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The seventh year of Design with Dialogue has led to the recognition of our opportunity to convene a series that uniquely mobilizes dialogue as a dynamic community process for social purpose and transformative learning. Several overarching themes evolved from our year-end discussions:

  • To connect the main DwD series with issues and themes to increase their impact and reach
  • To integrate across the 4 DwD communities, to hold events in DwD, Unify and Systems and Visual Thinkers that reinforce and continue common themes via the different practices of each
  • To promote DwD as a learning and development opportunity for grad student leadership
  • Co-produce DwD events with single-sponsor or civic community leaders
  • To explore new venues and partnerships that might connect the DwD learning model to other communities of practice in the GTA and elsewhere

CONTRIBUTIONS from the Retreat  

  • Beginner’s Workshops – Learn convening skills with mentors and develop community of practice in training
  • Integration of Practices – Connect learning and methods from across the four communities
  • Issue-based Dialogues – Civic and global issues, e.g. terrorism, sustainable economy, foreign policy, finance capitalism, educational reform
  • Indigenous movements, Decolonization and post-globalization (JRS or other special guests)
  • Stakeholder driven sessions – Formation of DwD “innovation circles” for specific stakeholder groups
  • Citizen engagement within communities – Affirmative outreach to engaged citizens and groups for specific sessions
  • Connected series of sessions – Connecting sessions across themes & DwD communities of practice.
  • More Community in CoP – Convene spaces for real conviviality
  • Methods and Themes “matrixed” together
  • Action-oriented – Actionable outcomes and follow-up from DwD engagements
  • DwD + OCADU, MaRS, Ontario, Interchange,
  • Spinoff practices from DwD sessions
  • Experimentation – Taking previous sessions and going deeper
  • Connecting communities within each month
  • Partner on community based projects with partners

DwD and Strategic Foresight and Innovation

  • Engage SFI Students directly as session leaders and co-creators
  • Student workshops – Convene training-oriented sessions for SFI students within DwD platform
  • Develop an OCADU SFI “ladder” of facilitation training
  • Engage Foresight program – Hold “Future of” workshops
  • A “Methods taster” – What could this prepare people for?
  • Invite more leading practitioners
  • Policy design and civic innovation
  • New entrepreneurial and business-oriented sessions

We would love to hear from the DwD community, online (remember the DwD LinkedIn group) and in person.

Barefoot Facilitation | Kate Sutherland

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Author and facilitation expert Kate Sutherland presented Barefoot Facilitation at April’s DwD. Guided by appreciative interviews and dialogue questions, participants explored the landscape of facilitating where needs emerge, unbidden, for the benefit of groups and organizations we might serve.

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Humans are going through a massive transitional period. This “Great Turning” is calling for collective intelligence, collective wisdom and collective capacity as never before. We are being asked to revolutionize how we work together.

Barefoot facilitators are to professional facilitators what paramedics are to doctors: a person with a basic and versatile toolkit and enough savvy to skillfully support what is needed 80% of the time, and for a fraction of the cost.

Kate is inspired by the “barefoot doctors” of revolutionary China. In the mid-60s, there was little access to medical care in rural areas, and not enough resources to supply fully trained doctors. Instead, 30,000 villagers were trained in basic Western and Chinese medicine — enough to treat common ailments, and to share information about hygiene, family planning, and prevention of epidemics.

They were called “barefoot doctors” because when they weren’t tending to basic medical needs, these people continued to farm barefoot in the rice paddies along side their neighbours. This important innovation rapidly revolutionized health outcomes in rural China.

By analogy, we do not have resources or capacity to supply professional facilitators to all the meetings and group endeavours supporting the great shifts underway. There are, however, thousands of people in all walks of life already up-skilling their ability to facilitate deep and lasting change in the human systems of which they are a part.

Questions we explored included the following:

  • What shifts in perspective will greatly enhance your effectiveness in groups?

  • What ways of being are like secret sauce for what you are doing?
  • What organizational theories are most helpful for a “barefoot facilitator” toolkit?
  • How can we grow a movement of barefoot facilitators who help each other  with supporting the groups of which they are a part?

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Visual recording by Charlotte Young. Thanks also to Natalie Zend for facilitation support, and Patricia for the sketchnotes.

About Kate:

Kate Sutherland is an author and social entrepreneur who helps change agents and social benefit initiatives be more innovative and effective. As a consultant, trainer and coach, she has helped hundreds of leaders and organizations be more nimble, resilient and aligned with their core purpose.

Kate is the author of Make Light Work in Groups: 10 Tools to Transform Meetings, Companies and Communities, and Make Light Work: 10 Tools for Inner Knowing. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and teenaged daughter. For more about Kate, see www.katersutherland.com.

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“We already have proven solutions to our toughest social challenges. Our bigger challenge is working together to scale them for wider benefit. Kate’s latest book is a precious resource for those looking to improve how they work not only with allies but also with opponents and strangers.”

– Al Etmanski, Co-chair of BC Partners for Social Impact

On Building Culture through Participatory Design

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Guest post by Leah Snyder of Mixed Bag Mag

When Gelareh Saadatpajouh, Programs Coordinator at Toronto Design Offsite set out to facilitate Design with Dialogue’s TO DO session she decided to have our group explore, as she puts it:

“Design processes, where plurality of indeterminate factors is approached together and in an ongoing manner, and where designers become adept in handling the growing complexity in both materials of their craft and their position in the world.”

Increasingly designers are being called upon to search their souls in order to create with meaning. In a world exhausted by consumer culture and in desperate need of cultural revision we as designers can play a key role. As Gelareh got us up and activated with an exercise where we mimed our way of working it was clear why design thinking is so adaptable across platforms, disciplines and cultures. For as many people as were in the room there was a different design process. As we later shared our revelations from watching each other I realized that my own design process is also adaptable to where I am in my life’s journey and can shift when I have a renewed way of interacting with my world.

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For over a decade my creation happened in isolation. Working with clients to design promotional tools and branding strategy there would be a two-way dialogue with the client after which I would go inside to then create something that would ultimately reach out. After another exercise where we were directed to find a design process action then go out into the group with that action to mingle I realized that my process has radically shifted. Now my first step is to reach out. I start by engaging in multi-directional dialogue, sometimes with other designers, but more often than not those dialogues are with people from many different walks of life. Sometimes those dialogues occur at street corners, even with strangers. I design as I walk, I process as I talk.

More and more I see others who design programs or products, ad campaigns or architecture instinctively, like me, reach out first as the point from which to start. As Design Week in Toronto demonstrated there is a community expanding around the questions “What is design?” and “Can we as designers contribute to modeling a new type of world?”. The idea of the collective is now being understood as the base from which we need to grow ideas. At a time when we require it the most the spirit of collaboration has motivated designers into taking more radical positions. The result –  fertile ground in which we see new materials and new models rapidly sprout.

For the last part of the workshop Gelareh had us break out into small groups “guided by a designer who shared something of their design, resulting in new “artifacts” that were then constructed through brainstorming, creative discussions, and active participation throughout the design process.”

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On the street, a few days later, I randomly bumped into someone whose group I was in. I was able to ask her if the exercise we did on her project was helpful to her. Did it result in a new “artifact” for her work? The answer –  an enthusiastic yes! And as we walked up to the street corner together, before going our separate ways, we continued to design as we walked and process as we talked.

 

DwD Reflection & 2012 Shared Vision

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Every end of year we retreat and reflect on what we learned over the year’s events and who we are becoming in DwD community and practice. Fifteen people attended to co-create the vision for 2012 priorities, sessions, and direction. An Appreciative Inquiry guided the exploration and reflection, leading to harvests for each phase, as illustrated:

Discovery

Discovery explores the best in our experience, sharing and learning from our past and bringing forward the positive values to be honored in the inquiry. Paired shares led to whole-group expressions of valued experiences and impressions from Design with Dialogue in the 2011 season.

Visual reflection of DwD 2012 by Patricia Kambitsch.

Dream

Dream envisions what might be, and generates a multiplicity of possibilities for the group to reflect and decide. Individuals generated their ideas, shared in triads to review and add more, and posted and clustered in a harvest sheet. We organized and labeled clusters in a following session, resulting in a document shared with participants. The original harvest appeared as follows (not the full image):

Design and Destiny

In concluding the review and vision, people expressed their own hopes and encouragement for the 2012 season. People added their personal commitments to their proposals, which all ensures a rich, diverse, and heartfelt community in 2012.

  • Have continuity between sessions, with blogging and conversational support.
  • Have workshops to explore the nature of inquiring systems (of which AI, DwD are representative)
  • Evaluate the impact of learning from dialogue. Observe and evaluate the forms and outcomes of design. Relate the learning and observations to academic impact.
  • Inquiry into experiential modeling and experiential learning. What contributes to enhanced perception in dialogue?
  • “Listening sessions”  How to best share what we are learning in listening?
  • Continue with “sessions on what’s going on right now.” Capturing relevance as its emerging.
  • Holding new types of experiential dialogue sessions (e.g., Joanna Macy’s The Work that Reconnects)
  • Continue to connect with conferences and academic groups
  • Consider interim DwDs that provide continuity – Hold special interest groups for hot topics
  • Develop the practice and “rituals” of dialogue:
    Save 30 min at Pre or Post for continuing topics
    Provide coaching / video in basic facilitation and process skills
    Start Web conferences or online sessions

 

Authentic Leadership in Action

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The ALIA (Authentic Leadership In Action) Institute, based in Halifax, gathers a global network of systems-change agents for programs that explore how we can act as more powerful leaders in our communities and organizations. ALIA’s approach integrates experiential skill-building with mindfulness, creative process, and dialogue.

The recent annual Summer Institute, held in Columbus, Ohio, was well attended by DwD community members. July’s DwD session engaged about 20 participants with Greg Judelman, Patricia Kambitsch, Mark Kuznicki and others that attended revealing their learnings and insights. The structure and inquiry of the evening was inspired by processes from ALIA,  a movement exercise and reflection into our own deeper capacity to lead positive change.

The July DwD led to a voluntary continuation of dialogue at Sin and Redemption. It appears that our goal of re-creating the ALA experience was achieved – since the DwD, we’ve had numerous reflections on the core idea of vulnerability as authentic risk in leadership.

In his Attention Surplus podcasts, Sean Howard discussed his insights into the practice of attending to vulnerability explored in this DwD. Being vulnerable in leadership, listening, and engagement with others was a core notion from ALIA.  Highly recommended –