Tag Archives: Social Innovation

Liberating Structures for Systemic Change

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So, ” how DO you change the culture around here?” July’s DwD brought Liz Rykert of Meta Strategies together with the DwD community for an exploration of Liberating Structures, a powerful set of 33 self-organizing group engagement and process change methods. The goal of the session was for all participants to learn and acquire initial experience in LS methods, for productively and playfully changing their conventional patterns of engagement. With a focus on Organizational Culture Change, Liz’s session employed a series of introductory methods for group learning of several of these ready-to-hand tools, all of which are powerful exercises for creating knowledge through relationships and convening explorations:

  • Impromptu Networking (Moving introductions)
  • Flocking (experiential understanding of network behavior)
  • What? So? Now What? (Framing questions using the 1-2-4 small group practice)
  • Brief Stories
  • Heard Seen Respected
  • 15% Solutions

Liberating Structures are well-known in organizational development and change work for helping to equalize input, access hidden creativity and insights and breakdown the barriers to full participation for everyone. A live sketch (thanks to Patricia at playthink) reveals the course of the evening’s program, from the compelling interest in organizational change, to the processes and principles of Liberating Structures, to the attitudes of engaged facilitation in the practice. Liz’ slides from the workshop are also available online.

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One often hears how “we need to change the culture around here.” But changing the culture can feel particularly ephemeral and hard to pin down. The session explored how the patterns of relating contribute to the culture we co-create together in the groups and communities where we work and live. Liz turned the discussion toward the “ghosts” in culture, the patterns and attractors and understand how shifting up our behaviours and actions contribute to the outcomes. A mix of physical and movement exercises, brief dialogues, and guided explorations modeled the approach toward mixing methods within a well-planned workshop. A handout summarizing the assembled collection of best-known LS methods (Matchmaker) is also available online.

 

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Liz worked dozens of stories and examples into an engaging learning experience. References to organizational studies (Edgar Schein’s Org Culture and Humble Inquiry), complexity theory (Kaufmann and Snowden, Chaos,-Complexity-Bifurcation), and organizational development (Harrison Owen’s Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry) were integrated and sprinkled throughout the session, allowing for connecting the ready-to-use LS methods to larger theoretical constructs from which most of these were originally developed.

 

ABOUT THE HOST

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Liz Rykert is the President of Meta Strategies which she founded in 1997. It is a strategy group working in complex organizational change and technology. Meta Strategies delivers on: Change work including innovation, culture change, large system transformation, coaching and facilitation; Web work including strategy, online community, website design and programming; and Network strategy, development, visualization.  She is an active practitioner and coach of methods such as Liberating Structures. She practices Developmental Evaluation on the often uncertain and emergent qualities of projects she works on. Liz has a knack for uncovering new ideas and bringing them to life for the benefit of everyone.

Coincident with the recent DwD, a Plexus Institute newsletter just recounted an extraordinary story of Liz’ role in organizing support for Syrian refugees in Canada. The following post is referenced from this newsletter (otherwise not available online):

Grass Root Groups Welcome Refugees to Canada

When Liz Rykert was working as a consultant a hospital in Oswego, New York, she and colleagues visited the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum, which preserves the memories of nearly 1,000 European refugees rescued from the Nazis in World War II and housed in what was then the Fort Ontario Army barracks. She also learned of the work of Ruth Gruber, the woman whose book Haven describes the harrowing work of getting the refugees from war zones to a military ship for transport to the U.S. and safety. 

Rykert and her husband, John Sewell, who had accompanied her, thought of what refugees endure: dangers and hardships, loss of their worldly goods and comforts, fear of the future, and endless struggle to stay alive keep their children safe. Rykert recalls her husband saying: “We have to do something about Syrian refugees, being displaced by the millions, taking terrible risks.” His reaction was no surprise. Sewell, a life-long activist for progressive causes , was first elected to Toronto City Council in 1969. As Toronto’s Mayor from 1978-1980, he helped facilitate the city’s response to refugees from Vietnam, a grass roots initiative led by Operation Lifeline. Nearly two-thirds of the 60,000 who arrived in Canada settled in the Toronto area.

Rykert and Sewell are part of a group of 21 friends and neighbors sponsoring a refugee family who fled their home in Aleppo, Syrian, fearing for their lives. The family spent two years in emergency quarters in Turkey before their arrival in Canada in March of this year. Omer Suleyman, a cook, his wife, Aliye El Huseyin, a nurse, and their three children, daughters Esra, 13, and Marem, 8, and son Suleyman, 6, are now in an apartment in Toronto, adjusting to new and very different lives. A Toronto Globe and Mail story by Ian Brown describes the family, the sponsors, and their experiences. 

As of last February 8,527 Syrian refugees had private Canadian sponsors, an unusual system unmatched elsewhere in the world. Sewell says some 10,000 private groups like the ones he and Rykert helped form have organized to welcome refugees and many are frustrated with national and international bureaucracies that have delayed arrival of their families. Immigrations officials, observing the doors closing to refugees across the world, have been surprised to find Canadian citizens impatient for more to arrive.

The citizen sponsorship groups commit to paying all their family’s expenses for a full year. Sewell explains the groups collect money (his collected some $45,000 and members don’t know amounts of individual contributions), make connections, arrangements, and help meet individual needs. Some sponsors take classes in how to help without smothering, and how to help foster eventual independence. “It’s a brilliant system,” Sewell said. “We find them places to live, find doctors, get their kids into schools, parents into ESL classes, and a network of people gets them into society, all at small expense to the government, which does pay for healthcare.” Rykert explains the groups introduce newcomers to others who speak Arabic, find banks and other businesses where someone speaks Arabic, locate mosques and grocery stores that sell halal meat and other foods they need, find tutors for children who have missed years of schooling, and free language classes for all. While Suleyman and his wife were anxious to find jobs immediately, their sponsors encouraged them to focus on their new language for the sake of more success later.

The couple says many newcomers suffer from dental problems that result from the often-chaotic lives and erratic diets of refugee existence. Canadian health care doesn’t cover dentistry, so they found a friendly dentist who discounts rates treating their family. Sewell recently took the Suleyman youngsters on a downtown outing, where they were delighted with their first escalator ride.

Sponsors benefit a much as the families they help, Sewell observes. “This is extraordinary community building,” he said. “We have gotten to know our neighbors in more ways than we’d have thought. You think you know your neighbors until you start something like this. This expresses the best about being Canadian. We do this.” For the last 120 years, Sewell said, Canada has had immigrants and refugees equaling about one percent of the population annually. “That means we are very adaptable, and very accepting of new people and different cultures,” he said. “That has been our history.”

 

 

 

 

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.

Facilitating Co-Creation – Design Patterns for Dialogue

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How do we design dialogues?

With 35 participants, July’s DwD explored the patterns for design for dialogue events, for clients, organizations, and communities. We explored the patterns and elements of effective group processes expressed in both theory and our experience, with guidance from emerging process design tools.

  • What patterns and modes of engagement enable committed participation and reflective inquiry?
  • How might deepening our awareness of the essential elements found in our best methods foster successful group outcomes?
  • How might these patterns differ between arenas, whether creative organizational workshops or in civic dialogues?

Based on a workshop taught in the OCADU Strategic Foresight and Innovation program, Peter Jones shared a foundation for workshop design patterns for group dialogues in any setting.   Working with the Group Pattern Language Project as a source of structure and tools the session addressed:

  • What patterns for dialogue structuring might best enable our own, everyday group work situations?
  • How do we select and adapt best-fitting practices and methods to create mindful, evocative learning communities for creative inquiry?
  • How can we learn from these patterns to co-create new methods or group structuring approaches?

The ultimate goal of the workshop was to co-create better workshop designs and deepen competency through collaborating with peers, using the resource of the pattern model and toolkit.   Participants offered 5 of their problems or upcoming opportunities in their current practice, including an urban youth summer camp, a 24-hour intensive retreat, a community  engagement series with underserved immigrants, a new UofT course program and an international workshop in Lisbon.

Participants co-created new workshop plans with the patterns and shared ideas, exercising the pattern language for meaningful workshop design problems.

The group pattern cards can be downloaded and ordered from GroupworksDeck.org.

waymaking

Creating a kit for learning and teaching Waymaking.

YouthCamp

Designing a youth summer camp program.

Charette

Designing a sustainable cities retreat workshop.

Rexdale

Designing community engagement for an underserved neighborhood.

 

The Hosts

Peter Jones and Chris Lee guide this session on group design patterns. Peter is co-founder of Design with Dialogue and associate professor at OCAD University, in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation MDes program. Peter runs the innovation research firm Redesign and has been engaging groups of all sizes and shapes since the mid-1990’s. He is author of the early handbook of facilitation process, Team Design (1998), We Tried to Warn You (2008), and the recent Rosenfeld title Design for Care: Innovating Healthcare Experience. His work can be found at designdialogues.com

Chris Lee is a Toronto based facilitator and process designer. He runs Potluck Projects, actively using concepts and participatory methodologies from the Art of Hosting, Asset Based Community Development, and Person-Centred Planning to support groups in achieving collective outcomes that are greater than the sum of its parts. He also works with the YSI Collaborative, a network and community of practice that accelerates and amplifies the conditions for youth-led organizing and engagement in Ontario.

Playing to Change the World: The Oasis Game

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How can we play to change the world? How can we, in the process, help a collective socio-cultural, environmental and economic dream materialize?

Returning from Warriors Without Weapons – a 32-days intensive leadership training program in Brasil, Dona Geagea shared the philosophy and magic behind The Oasis Game.

The Oasis is a game and, today, a movement that is emerging out of Brasil, based on the Elos Philosophy that practices 7 disciplines: Gaze, Affection, Dream, Care, Miracle, Celebration, and Re-evolution.

A transformative process that begins with the self and extends to community, the Oasis is designed on the premise that our world is full of “deserts”- areas where social and environmental vitality have been destroyed- and where change can offer hope, stability, and refuge for weary travelers crossing the desert. How can this game open space for personal and collective transformation, effectively, quickly and with the engagement of all players?

Thirty brave souls found us for this session to put their beings into The Oasis Game and experience its underlying philosophy first hand through storytelling and activities to practice the seven disciplines.

Warrior Gaze

Learn more at: Warriors without Weapons

Warrior Circle“On the warrior’s path, it is up to you to discern which threads have been woven by divine hands and which have been woven by human hands.  When you begin to discern the difference, you become a Txucarramae- a warrior without weapons… When you discover what you have been doing with your life and how it is you dance through the world, little by little you let go of your weapons, those creations made to kill creations. Suddenly, you discover that when we stop creating enemies, we extinguish the need for weapons” – Kaka Wera, Guerreiros Sem Armas

 

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Dona opening the circle after bringing all participants in, one by one.

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Everyone plays together for 10 minutes, creating a totally new environment in Lambert Lounge .

ABOUT THE HOST

Dona Geagea is Hub Manager with Waterlution Canada and social entrepreneur behind Beyond the Jar.  As a facilitator and change-maker, Dona pushes her own creativity and innovation through what she offers to the community, and her experience in the Warriors Without Weapons international leadership training program was part of this spectacular and transformative learning journey. With a Master in Globalization Studies and a Graduate Diploma in Water Without Borders from the United Nations University (Institute for Water, Environment and Health), Dona is continuously engaging the water community in multi-stakeholder dialogue, locally and internationally, and hosting inspiring spaces to encourage systems-thinking. Through developing her own capacity at promoting creative disruption, she hopes to motivate others by the power of innovative ideas to change the water space and beyond.  She is thrilled to be able to share with the Design with Dialogue community stories and processes from her transformative journey in Warriors Without Weapons/ Guerreiros Sem Armas.

 

SOAR Workshop: Thriving First Nations

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Our Futures Depend on Thriving First Nations

How might Canadians help create durable social change for first nations in the coming decade for education, employment, housing, justice and health equity, and spiritual connections to land?

The August 2013 DwD session was held by the “social start-up” Generation Connection to collect ideas toward an educational initiative envisioned to support the upcoming generation of First Nations and aboriginal entrepreneurs. About 25 participants engaged to co-create ideas and approaches to help realize durable social change within the coming decades. One of the intentions was to find ways in a multi-stakeholder inquiry to acknowledge First Nations and Aboriginal language and culture, and ways to support ancestral ideas and desire for self-governance, with economic sustainability.

Workshop Approach: The SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results) method is an appreciative inquiry approach that focuses on generating positive approaches and developments, from which action can be taken. A report was created (DwD Aug2013 First Nations SOAR), and is now available to participants and interested readers.

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Generation Connection 

Generation Connection is a social enterprise seeking to provide entrepreneurial education and related support services in collaboration with new First Nations and Aboriginal entrepreneurs. The mission is to provide entrepreneurial education as the catalyst that will enable local entrepreneurs to develop and implement business, social, and environmental solutions to local problems.  The vision is to provide alternative pathways out of poverty through entrepreneurship, to enable entrepreneurs to resolve local social justice gaps and barriers, and to live in a just and sustainable society.

Peter Scott, BFA, MDes Candidate OCAD U

Peter is a 2nd year Strategic Foresight and Innovation MDes student at OCAD University.  His background focuses on social entrepreneurship education, including entrepreneurship certificate programs from MIT Sloan, Wharton, INSEAD and Rotman School.  For the past seven years, Peter has been the program administrator for the Small Business Program (SBP-Regent Park Program) a jointed initiative with Rotman School, U. of T. and the Regent Park Community.  His research interest includes ways to enhance learning in the classroom experience, scaling up small businesses, and systems and design thinking approaches.

Ushnish Sengupta, MBA

Ushnish has an Industrial Engineering and MBA education, experience in starting up and managing Social Enterprises, and in delivering entrepreneurship and business courses. Ushnish’s specializations include project management, strategy, and IT

Larry Sadler, MBA 

Larry Sadler is an experienced business consultant, who has served for 5 years on First Nations reserves. Larry’s specializations include strategy, governance, operations, IT management, and three decades of co-operative development experience.