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Alex Steffen of World Changing has a written voice laden with clarity and insight. I’ve been reading incredible quotes from his latest fantastic article, Putting the Future Back in the Room, out loud to my housemates, so here are some extracts that are still ringing for me. I highly recommend a full read of the second half of his article, copied selectively here:


“The planetary crisis we face may be made up of machinery and market failures and sheer masses of humanity struggling to live, but I’m more and more convinced that it is not at its core really a material crisis at all. Rather, the planetary crisis is a crisis of vision; we see a growing and darkening void where our future ought to be. The average person, presented with accurate information about the state of the world, can see no way forward at all. The path we’re on appears to end in darkness and a swift, cataclysmic drop. Most folks, entirely understandably, choose not to look.”

We already have the ability to solve or at least address the planet’s most pressing problems. We don’t have every solution we’ll need, not yet. We do, though, have the technological capabilities, the design genius, the scientific ingenuity, the entrepreneurial zeal, the policy acumen, the community-building skill, and the educational and cultural wisdom. It is not that we are not capable of sustainable prosperity. We have never had more or better ability to build a better world. What we seem to lack is a belief that we can actually use those powers to change anything, and we lack that belief precisely because the future has been ripped out of our cultural debate.

That’s why if we care about the planet, the most important thing we can do is start showing how good a future we still can have. That’s why, right now, optimism is a political act, and a radical one at that.

I think, what we need today, is mass movement planetary futurism. I don’t mean futurism in the cheesy sense — the what-color-is-your-rocket-car sense — I mean futurism in the best sense: of people who understand that the future is not an alien world or a land-of-make-believe, it’s where we are right now, with a brief passage of time. Utah Phillips used to like to say that the past didn’t go anywhere. Well, the future’s already here. We’re making it, as we speak, and we make it better when we consider what the effects of our actions might be over a longer range of time.

Human beings make the future every day. Making the future — setting in motion future events — might almost be considered part of the definition of humanity. The problem is that today, when powerful men sit down and make decisions, they generally make those decisions as if the future didn’t exist, as if the consequences of their actions were beyond anticipation, as if they bore no responsibility for foresight. The future’s not welcome in the room.

We need millions of people ready to put the future back in the room. We need millions of people ready to demand that their governments, their companies, their communities and their cultural institutions confront the reality of the futures they make every day.”

Many, I believe, are secretly terrified of what they’d see if they looked ahead. The people most deeply traumatized of all in our society may be the older men who’ve devoted their entire lives, in grinding hard work and out of love for the people around them, to building companies and communities and systems they thought represented a pinnacle of human endeavor and free enterprise, but which instead — they would now find, if they could bring themselves to admit the possibility — have become components of what is quite possibly the most destructive way of life ever made by human beings. To have done right and well your whole life and yet find yourself ethically indicted in the end, to have your accomplishments turn to ash, to arrive late expecting security and respect, and find neither: I don’t think those of us who are younger can fully understand what a soul-wrenching experience that must be.

As the air goes out of the most destructive parts of our economy — as the oil runs out, as the sprawl financing dries up, as the world runs out of big trees to cut and big fish to catch — economic fear gets added to the mix as well. How will they survive? Even when they see a glimmer of a bright green economy, it looks full of jobs demanding different skills than the ones they’ve spent a lifetime honing. I think a lot of them refuse to see a bright green future — attack even the possibility of its existence, yell at those who even suggest its necessity — because they see no place for themselves in it, and hear a ringing condemnation of the legacies they’re preparing to leave woven into every fiber of the innovations we need.

I honestly have no idea how to reach out to these good people. We know, though, that they are the ones often at the table when the future is made, and though we will eventually prevail since time and numbers are on our side, spending another couple decades butting heads with these guys will at best slow our progress. Merely defeating them politically also wastes a huge creative resource: their talent and experience. Many of the people most angrily denying the future are those who understand how the systems we now need to retrofit, redesign, replace and adapt actually work — because they built them — and, if convinced that this new work needs to be done, they have oceans of insight and institutional knowledge to bring to bear on the problem. No one knows how to hack a system better than the person who’s been in charge of protecting it from change…if only we can win them over to the side of change.

Whether or not we can bring around the oldest generation, the fundamental need is clear: we need, now, to put the future back in the room.”

Alex Steffen, Putting the Future Back in the Room

An ode to active citizenship


Today I was referred to a fantastic interview with Peter Block on the content of his book, Community: The Structure of Belonging – highly recommended! Diving into Peter’s brilliant wisdom in this three part YouTube clip, I was reminded of the profound significance of citizenship and the role of leaders in engaging people to act on what matters most to them.

Reclaiming our citizenship

Much of my work around sustainability is exploring the barriers to change. As an environmental scientist, I used to believe that giving people more information – better, more targeted, engaging, simple, meaningful, practical information – would cause them to act to change their unsustainable ways of living, surely! After some years of disbelief, and thanks to some great teaching around behavior change from Doug McKenzie Mohr, I now realize that more information will not create change. If it did, most of us would have reason to be living in radically more sustainable ways. So why is it that so many people are disengaged from acting to make their lives more meaningful, as well as contributing to the wellbeing and survival of other humans, other animals, and all species into the future?

There’s probably not one simple answer ; ) But in the last few years, I’ve come to see that as well as the need to understand our interconnectedness, our understanding of ourselves as consumers rather than as citizens plays a huge role in whether or not we are impelled to act to work with others to create better ways of living.

So much of our lives are shaped around our assumed role as consumers, and this saturation becomes self-perpetuating: with the desire for more stuff driving longer work hours, making it less and less possible for people to interact, to see each other at community events, or volunteer their time. Sadly, as Peter Block points to in his interview, this cycle is dangerously addictive:

“Being a consumer is guaranteed dissatisfaction – looking to others to satisfy what you can’t satisfy yourself…This culture has become addicted to looking for things from the outside.”

So if a life as a consumer is dissatisfying as well as draining on the planet’s resources, and at hyper levels creating barriers to so many around the world being able to fulfill their basic human needs, what is the alternative?

Active citizenship

It sounds simplistic, but the shift in understanding of ourselves as citizens, as opposed to a consumer or client or customer, is profound.  To be a citizen “means that you’re capable of producing something, of diagnosing your own problems, of deciding what’s important to you (Peter Block 2009)”. To understand yourself as a citizen implies that you believe  you have the power to change your life, and to help shape the lives of others for the better.

Currently, those working on social, environmental, economic or political problems focus on creating high level solutions through science, funding, or policy creation. This macro-level work is essential. AND at the same time, I believe working on the micro scale to engage active citizenship is revolutionary, world changing and very necessary work.

“The most important contribution any of us can make now is not to solve any particular problem … What we must do is increase the proportion of humans who know that they can cause change.” ~ social entrepreneur Bill Drayton

“The idea that more programs, more money, better leadership, more expertise, is going to create a different future, it’s not – the only thing that’s going to create that is a deeper sense of connectedness, social fabric, community, citizens thinking this place is mine to create” ~ Peter Block

Leadership as hosting the conversations that matter

One of the most interesting parts of Peter’s interview, pitched towards public servants and elected local government representatives, was his challenge that the role of leaders is not to represent others. Democracy, and most leadership thinking, rests around the idea that we elect others to act on our behalf, and that those we vote for act as proxy for our best interests.

“I think the role of elected officials is not to represent citizens, but to confront citizens with their own freedom” (PB)

This is a huge challenge to our common view of leadership, that others can do public interest work for us (and if it doesn’t work, it’s the fault of that individual or political party, or the system itself!). This handover of responsibility removes us from our own sense of power and possibility, given we’re not in an official role with a mandate to ‘do good’.

Instead of representing others, or defending the city’s progress to citizens as if they were clients, Block advocates that the tole of elected officials should be to convene citizens to meet with each other and have the conversations that matter.

“The leader’s responsibility is to name the debate, knowing what we need to focus on, and naming the questions.”

“If you want to create a different future, you have to have a different conversation. And the conversation we’re having now doesn’t have the power or capacity to create a different future” (PB)

Just as importantly as offering meaningful questions, leadership is about having a “conversation about the possibilities, not the problems” – a generative lens through which positive action is much more likely.

Toasting to the profound promise of transformation through simple acts of active citizenship in service to possibility, everywhere….

Thanks to vivian Hutchinson, friend, mentor and leader in social entrepreneurship in New Zealand for sharing such an insightful piece, and for helping inspire active citizenship through the inspiring ChangeMakers platform.

ChangeMakers’ 5:10:5:10 tool for self-defined citizenship action is an inspiring but simple catalyst for supporting each other to step into more active citizenship, wherever we are and whatever we care about:

5 – spend 5% of your time on active citizenship tasks

10 – do ten actions in the next year on your personal passion for making a practical difference

5 – spend 5% of your income directly supporting the citizenship actions that inspire you

10 – join with ten other people to create a learning community to support each other’s work for change

What could your 5:10:5:10 be? And how could you help convene the conversations that help others awaken their citizenship action?



A journey witnessing the possible future…

Over the last few weeks I’ve been travelling in Denmark and Germany interviewing communities for my thesis on community renewable energy. The experience of learning from communities in practice through face to face interviews, digging deeper into the learned experience of committed local people and seeing a multitude of renewable energy solutions created on the ground was hugely inspiring. See more about our research on what makes communities successful in setting up renewable energy projects at http://renewablecommunities.wordpress.com

Plus the first of the spring picnics between interviews and seeing so much landscape flushed with the green of spring crops wasn’t half bad either ; ). I was also very lucky to be hosted in a beautiful ecovillage an hour out of Berlin for a week, which was deeply relaxing as well as inspiring to experience what organised community life can be like in daily practice. The priviledge of being able to show up to help yourself to three prepared meals in the community restaurant each day just by being part of the community still seems like an incredible priviledge, even for an avowed believer in the benefits of community like me.

In many ways, I feel like I’ve been out witnessing the possible future, and learning more about how more communities can realise this positive future now. I’m looking forward to sharing the guidebook we write for communities interested in shifting towards renewable energy in June.

Injections of inspiration from the future via the web: TED talks

Despite the great inspiration and stories I’m bringing with me back to Sweden for the analysis phase of our thesis, I’m feeling a little hemmed in by sitting myself back at a desk all day after such a kinesthetic learning experience. When my system cries out for an energy boost (and I should probably go out into the spring sunshine for a walk), I sometimes find myself turning to one of the greatest online inspiration sources I know of: TED talks.

The latest TED talk I just watched is a great wise voice from the future, in the form of a 12 year old girl. Adora Svitak is a sought after speaker to teachers across America for her radical message on the need for shared learning between adults and kids, rather than our dominant model of teaching down to kids.

It took me back to one of the main themes of Art of Hosting Karlskrona, where both Meg Wheatley and Peter Senge spoke eloquently of the need for intergenerational dialogue.

“I know of no quicker way to bring the future into the present than to bring in children and young people.” ~ Peter Senge

Peter also spoke of the power of young people leading the change that is needed in the world. “People are predisposed to listen to young people’s voices – they hit us in the heart and have an unexpected authority and influence.”

More importantly, Peter spoke to the idea that excluding young people’s voices enhances our long-term loss of connection with the future. As a student of sustainability, it seems that our choice to exclude young people from decision making and many forums in which the future is determined is reflective of our continual choice to live unsustainably. Being disconnected from young people, and believing that we as adults have the knowledge and answers, it’s easier to stick with our current ways and turn our minds away from the consequences of our actions on the future generations who are already here, in the form of today’s young people.

As Peter Senge attested, an emotional connection with the future is critical to the profound changes that are required in the world today. In the same way, I’m curious about the effect that having an emotional connection with young people – the living future – has on us as adults and how we chose to act. In my sustainability work, I often hear of the influence young women have on their CEO Dad’s in bringing a sustainability strategy into a company, or of how many adults start acting to reduce their environmental impact when they become parents, and then suddenly have a visceral connection to the future.

The challenge to listen and learn from kids

In her TED talk, Adora’s main challenge to adults is to listen and relate to kids, to basically get into equal relationship. “You need to listen and learn from kids, and trust us and expect more from us.” This grows the potential of kids and the role that they believe they can play in the world, now and into the future. “It is imperative to create opportunities for children so we can grow up to blow you away!,” she says to a laughing TED audience.

More strikingly, she speaks to the consequences that having limited freedom and low expectations can have on kids. “Adults often underestimate kid’s ability. We love challenges but when expectations are low, trust me, we will sink into them”.

What do kids offer the world?

As well as the effect getting into more equal relationships with kids has on them and the development of their potential, Adora speaks to the difference that kids can make to the world at large.

“The world needs opportunities for new leaders and new ideas. Kids need opportunities to lead and succeed.”

If the world, of adults and children, was more open to the “childish” strengths of imagining, believing, designing, and being truly outraged and disbelieving of injustice, I believe we’d be a better world, now and in the future. And what a great excuse to get more and more childish as I grow older!

“Our audacity to imagine helps push the boundaries of possibility.” For “In order to make anything a reality you have to dream about it first.” ~ Adora Svitak

Check out Adora’s inspiring 8 minute presentation and the interesting threads of discussion at http://www.ted.com/talks/adora_svitak.html

Organising as hosting


My first posts on the Art of Hosting training last week shared some of my harvest from Peter Senge, Margaret Wheatley and the amazing hosting team for the training. Thinking about my learning from the event I realise that as well as the great content, so much of what I learnt was around how to call and host an event, and to collaborate in practice to bring the training into being as a shared outcome from the Masters in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability, KaosPilots and Team Academy.

It’s often easy for me to overlook the arts that go into organising, and instead focus on the inspiring external presenters, skilled facilitators and the excitement of who is participating and what happens once the event’s started. But what if organising wasn’t boring logistics management, and instead an important service as part of the hosting arts, done in dynamic teams and full of valuable learning and service?

Toke Moller gave me a valuable reminder on the importance of organising as a hosting art, and asked Benjamin and Liher (my great co-organisers from KaosPilots and Team Academy) and I to share our learnings from organising the training over the last two months more widely. So here’s a first go at extracting some of my personal learning from organising. There are lots of great models out there to support event organising, such as the 5 Breaths, Chaordic Stepping Stones, and useful project and event management tools. The Art of Hosting list serve is another good resource for learning from organising hosts around the world.

CALLING an event

Start with a powerful urge

When Karen Miller held a short Art of Hosting (AoH) workshop with MSLS students last November, I was immediately on fire at the potential I felt a longer AoH training held for MSLS students. As change agents for sustainability, we need to be able to effectively engage groups of people. Personally, I wanted to grow my own hosting skills, and the content of AoH put me back in connection with a lot of the valuable group process work I’d done through Heart Politics gatherings, a four-day Dialogue on Genetic Engineering (pdf), and the Stewardship Learning Community in New Zealand.

At the end of the session I told my classmates that I’d look into possibilities for us to attend an AoH in training. The more the idea sat with me, the more my energy grew around the possibility of not just showing up to an event, but making one happen for ourselves.

Jump on opportunities

With great serendipity, through my friend Jasmine Cargill I met Toke Paludan Møller, one of the founders of AoH, at the Inner Climate Learning Village in Copenhagen at the time of the climate change negotiations. I mentioned the idea of an Art of Hosting training for young change agents to him, which sparked his interest, and we said we’d be in touch.

Share the excitement with a few change agents who can build the idea and run with it

The next night I met the wild fire connector Benjamin Degenhart from KaosPilots at a Survival Academy event, and mentioned the idea of an AoH training for young people to him. In his great style of running with ideas he has energy for, the next day at the Survival Academy Open Space session he brought students and AoH hosts together around the idea, and stood at the end of the day to commit to making a training happen. Suddenly, the idea was a possibility held by not just me and keen MSLS’ers, but by a connected KaosPiloter and one of the founders and Stewards of the Art of Hosting.

Share the dream and create a wider team

A few days later Liher Pillado, Rogerio Gonzalez and Henna Kaariainen from Team Academy with great foresight and trust came to visit MSLS in Karlskrona to introduce us to Team Academy and discuss over two evening workshops how our two programs might be able to collaborate. Benjamin jumped on the opportunity of adding KaosPilots to the discussion by travelling from Copenhagen for the 2 days, and quickly we began to appreciate the different strengths of our radical education programs, variously focusing on social innovation, sustainability and entrepreneurship, and on the potential for us to compliment each other by collaborating together.

At the end of our second workshop we had a project ‘birthing’ session (a great Team Academy process) on how we could collaborate together, and about ten people self-selected to work together as representatives of the three programs. We decided that an Art of Hosting training would be our first tangible project in order to get the collaboration ball rolling. Soon after a  Sustainable Kaos Academy (SKA) Google Group was set up as a collaboration platform between the programs.

ORGANISING an event

Form a tight hub to hold together

Over the holidays Benjamin, Liher and I started overloading the SKA Google Group with long posts of early stage organising. With a first Skype call with Toke coming up in early January, we decided to take the initiative and form a tighter organising hub to really run with the project. While we kept up the communication with Sustainable Kaos Academy (SKA) reps, working with a tight-knit team was really critical to our ability to create a major gathering in such a short time period, allowing us fast turn around on decisions and a high level of accountability to each other.

My learning from working with Benjamin and Liher on a daily basis over a month and half period was incredible. I have huge respect and heart for ‘my boys’ and would go anywhere with them on future projects – just send me the call guys : ).

Create a vision document

Liher created a ‘Pre-Motorola’ document for us, a pre project plan in Team Academy language, which set out how the project was established and what we were seeking to achieve. Looking back, going through this process together would have been really helpful for us as an organising team to set out our purpose, bottom lines and goal posts very clearly.

Set up an organising infrastructure and use it

Given we were working to organise an event from our bases in Sweden, Denmark and Spain, our online infrastructure was critical. We found a Google Group to be pretty clunky for SKA, so set up a Wiki for AoH Karlskrona organising, which proved to be very easy to use and great value. For participant lists we found Google Spreadsheets really helpful, embedded into appropriate pages on our Wiki.

Benjamin, Liher and I met twice a week by Skype at the same time, and wrote up minutes from our meetings directly on the Wiki, making an effort to record decisions and actions more clearly as we went along. Skype chat was also a useful way to harvest outcomes from group discussions in real time. For documents we needed to draft together we tried out GoogleWave a few times and found it much easier than resending emails to each other with lots of changes.

Pay attention to the practicalities

With so much content in such a short space of time, email chains got pretty silly quickly, and so we made an effort (most of the time, eh Benjamin ; ) to create separate emails with specific subject lines, and to bold the ‘ask’ or required actions from an email. All simple stuff, but makes a huge difference in practice with a full inbox. As much as we could, we tried to save more complex discussions for our meetings and record key actions on the Wiki for permanent archiving and to avoid email searches and confusion (thank god for the search function in gmail which also got used a lot!)

With payments coming from different countries and invoices needing to be created, it was really important to have someone with experience to manage the finances and keep track of payments – huge thanks to Liher, Henna and others from Monkey Business, and their contracted book keeper, which we set aside budget for.  We calculated a break even point in terms of participants and based the hosts’ payment on this, with an agreement to allocate any profit from additional participants above this number, including the possibility of creating a seed fund for future collaboration events.

Meet regularly

With busy lives as full-time students going through exams and project deadlines, there were a few times when I was tempted to drop one of our twice weekly Skype meetings. I was really glad we kept with them, as there was always decisions to process, and they helped keep up our connection and momentum. In future for meetings of more than three people I think I’d invest in an online conference call platform, as the quality of our call with ten people on a Skype line for meetings of the hosting team was very variable and sanity-testing! Apparently http://www.freeconferencecall.com is a good platform which we’ll use for our last meeting with the hosting team.

Value the relationships

More and more I see that the quality of connection and working together determines the outcomes from team projects. Having a personal check in and check out at the beginning and end of each call was really valuable for getting to know each other and deepening our relationships, as well as processing challenges as they came up. Learning about our organising was also a regular agenda item for our meetings, which we harvested in our minutes and on Google Wave.

Make a great invitation and build the excitement

We spent quite a bit of time drafting and redrafting the invitation for AoH Karlskrona, which Ronny from MSLS then turned into a funky graphic invitation which we distributed via a website and in personalised emails to our own programs and networks. The website and promotion via Facebook and Twitter were good ways to hype the event, although Benjamin found that presenting face to face with KaosPilot students was important for helping them understand what the event was actually about and what the value was for them in attending.

Subdivide roles

Originally I thought that as a group we’d develop our strengths by taking on different roles than what was usual for us. But in the short time we had we ended up working to our strengths and clearly subdividing our roles, which was a successful strategy for us. Our role breakdown was:

Benjamin: Online platforms, promotion, key contact and coordinator for hosting team, KP funding and collaboration product, invitations, managing RSVPs and payment from KP’s and external participants, oversee workbook production for event.

Liher: Budget, invoicing and financial management, communication with hosting team re payment, invitations, managing RSVPs and payment from TA participants and those paying in cash.

Kati: Overall project oversight, venue, MSLS funding, invitations, managing RSVPs and payment from MSLS, and overseeing a fantastic MSLS team management of invitation production, catering, accommodation for participants, printing workbook, orientation for visitors, harvesting materials, cleaning. 

Get support from a wider team

Without support from a much wider team of incredibly generous MSLS volunteers, Benjamin, Liher and I alone could never have organised the training. I can’t underestimate the value of an on the ground organising team who select and self-manage their area of responsibility, with a number of group meetings and ongoing support from a core team. Financially, the training would have been totally inaccessible for student participants without the generous financial support of the KaosPilot and MSLS Programs, as well as a number of local and international businesses who believed in the project.

Prepare people before the event

It seemed that warming up participants before they arrived by using an online Ning was really successful. This allowed participants to see each other’s faces and learn more about each others’ networks, projects, and motivation in coming to the training. Anna, Sophia and Maureen from MSLS also produced a great detailed Arrival Guide which went to all participants, letting them know about Karlskrona and what to bring so there were less individual questions.

After a few scrambles and some innovation on the first day, I realised how important it is to give organisers the information they need before they have to make something happen, rather than reviewing what didn’t work so well afterwards. By halfway through the first day I found it useful to have conversations with people who were responsible for catering, harvesting materials, cleaning or other areas about what would be needed, what the time frames were, and who they could involve, so they could self-organise to do a great job.

Hand over, let go, and participate!

While a huge amount of work went into organising the Art of Hosting Karlskrona training, it was incredibly satisfying to see people step into the training so fully right from the start. I felt the incredible value of being in an organising role, physically hosting the hosting of an event, and seeing the value others got from the experience, and really feel that the sense of service that organising brings is more needed in the world, particularly the feeling of shared organising for shared outcomes. Because of this, I’m becoming more comfortable in asking people to take on part of an organising role, and letting go of my tendency to try and do things myself: an area of really valuable learning! So once we’d got into the organising swing by the end of the first day and all the roles were covered by small self-organising teams, it was great to step in as a full participant on the second day.

Celebrate, reflect, harvest and share your learning

Gratitude for this incredible learning experience, and for the appreciation and recognition of AoH Karlskrona!

This is my first go at harvesting my learnings on organising as part of a hosting role. If it would be useful, Benjamin, Liher and I would be happy to share our Wiki, budget and other resources with you in the spirit of shared learning, and to be in conversation to support your organising. Feel free to get in touch on kati.aroha @ gmail.com

The Arts of Hosting


I’m still digesting the incredible Art of Hosting training we held in Karlskrona last week with 90 young leaders from the Masters in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability, KaosPilot, Team Academy, Youth Initiative Program and other youth leadership networks throughout Europe. As well as the upcoming collaboration as the Sustainable Kaos Academy Initiative, the joint platform for our four programs, it was fantastic to see so many connections being made, project ideas formed, and some great skills development amongst the participants in how to host groups in having the conversations that matter most in the world right now.

I learnt a lot from watching our very skilled hosting team in action – Toke Moller, Tenneson Woolf, Rowan Simonsen, Valentine Giraud, Jasmine Cargill, Augusto Cuginotti and Julie Arts (see their profiles here).  Thank you to our wonderful hosts!

Here are some notes on my learning highlights on hosting from the 4 days:

Art of Hosting methodology and tools

Introduction

Tools are containers. They are the way in to the learning space. The learning space will not open through hard work – it will open with art, skillfullness and practice.

Don’t become a disciple of a particular methodology. Instead ask:

  • What is a tool going to serve?
  • What’s the purpose?
  • What’s needed?
  • What does the group need/want?
  • Timing – what’s best now?
  • Choose and blend your use of tools depending on your responses.

Use the tools for something that is needed. There is definitely enough work to do, and these tools will help us reach the learning space, so that energy can be released and used for what is most needed.

Asking great questions is a warrior’s art – do it gently, but it’s still a fierce art. Know your ‘sword’ and don’t be afraid of it by posing the questions that matter.

Overall guidance on Hosting:

  • Be present
  • Have a good question that is connected to the heart of the matter and what you feel from the group
  • Use a talking piece  (a stone, ball or other object) to allow deep listening and meaningful speech.

Hosting Tools:

Circles are the mother of all processes

Proactive Café is a sharp tool for convergence and birthing tangible project outcomes with support from a group

Appreciative Inquiry shifts the emphasis from solving problems to feeding and amplifying what works in a situation/group

World Café builds relationships and helps the intelligence of a group emerge as the system connects to itself in diverse and creative ways

Chaordic Stepping Stones (Need, Purpose, Principles, People, Concept, Limiting Beliefs, Structure, Practice) is a great tool for project management

5 Breaths Model (Callers, Principles, Invite, Event, Practice + Hosting the Whole as a sixth breath) is a great model for integrated project planning and event management.

General reflections from Toke Paludan Møller on process, purpose and action:

Process

  • A person who cannot ask for help cannot be trusted (because they don’t trust others)
  • Relationships are the path to working together. Relationships are the medium tangible results come from. Don’t plan for outcomes, build relationships. Don’t push and control, tend to the growth – inspire, notice, appreciate.

Purpose

  • Helping birth and cooperate with life wanting to be its connected self
  • Do work that makes you tremble
  • Confusion is a blessing – this is a learning space. A leader must be open to being confused – it represents a willingness to let go of fixed and existing ideas
  • The significance of sacred intent – why am I on the planet?
  • Hunt for clarity! By holding clarity at the centre you earn the right to lead.

Action

  • Action will come from heartfelt work. An awakened human being is action.

I really appreciate the voice Meg Wheatley has on the importance of conversational leadership and learning together. We were lucky enough to have her join us by web conference at the Art of Hosting Karlskrona training last week. I was struck by Meg’s contributions on perseverance, hope and a leader as host. Here’s some of  her key notes:

Leadership

  • There is only one kind of leadership that works – leadership that respects and develops others.
  • Always work in the spirit of ‘I know what you are capable of’. Similarly, WE can be much more than we are, as humanity.
  • What we need is already here. The leadership we need is here.
  • How a leader evolves is dependant on whether they trust others
  • Authoritative leadership turns people into robots, where they begin to be asked to be told, and not to think or respond personally.
  • Chaos is our most sustainable resource

Purpose

  • There are not enough people on the planet thinking more deeply

Leader as host

  • Collaborative processes bring us together with others’ skills and knowledge that will be required for the change we need in the world
  • How much time do we put into making people feel comfortable with the meaning of our lives? Not much compared to the time we put into hosting people physically.
  • In chaotic times the world reverts to heroic leadership. In uncertain times we need more than ever to turn to the community.

Collaboration

  • Who amongst us knows the answer? No one! Collaboration will save our lives.
  • Collaborating, we all grow smarter, and we grow closer
  • Collaborating creates the conditions for sustainable lives
  • We must make a decision to work together

Perseverance

  • Begin with passion. But passion does not give us the ability to persevere.
  • The world is calling for great perseverance.
  • “Every day I have to decide not to give up”
  • Urgency acts to fracture our relationships and drive us apart from one another. Ugency pushes people away who’re not focusing on the same issues, or have a different idea from mine. Urgency exhausts us. Urgency is a trap.
  • Anger also doesn’t give us the capacity to continue working. Anger is a parasite that destroys the host. There’s more than enough to be angry about, but what do we chose to do with our anger?
  • We must pay attention to our inner state – need to be grounded in the long term.
  • Notice what motivates you – this will directly affect your results. And chose a motivation that allows you to persevere, from which you can say “This is my work no matter what, I can’t not do this work.”
  • Focus on the work I want to be doing no matter what. This takes discipline.

Hope

  • Work without hope because it automatically brings in fear and despair, the shadow sides of hope.
  • The place beyond hope and fear is where we need to work

For a fantastic article on the power of conversational leadership, the ‘leader as host’ idea that Meg refers to, see Conversational Leadership – Thinking together for a change


On the 20th February we were lucky enough to have Peter Senge join us at Art of Hosting Karlskrona, a facilitation training I co-organised for 90 young leaders collaboration for change.

Peter Senge has always been a leading thinker and leadership guide for me, so it was hugely inspiring to talk with him by web conference and to have him sound so many valuable notes around  leadership, intergenerational dialogue, community and collective change.

Here are some of my highlights:

Youth leadership, the future and intergenerational dialogue

  • We have a long-term loss of connection with the future. This is enhanced by modern society excluding the voices of children and young people. An emotional connection with the future is so critical to the profound changes that are required in the world.
  • People are predisposed to listen to young people’s voices – they hit us in the heart and have an unexpected authority and influence from young people’s voices. Just think of the contrast between hearing about an issue and looking at a trendline, and looking into the face of a child.
  • Young people doing community building are agents for profound change
  • “I know of no quicker way to bring the future into the present than to bring in children and young people.”
  • We need networks of mentors that span generations.
  • Look for commonality – there is so much! But commonality is not revealed when you focus on one controversial issue – this puts people into opposition mode and simplistic polarisation.

Change

  • ‘Change’ is a problematic idea
  • People don’t resist change, they resist being changed!
  • How do you evoke wanting to change? How do we create spaces where people can connect to their aspirations?
  • Don’t get caught up in opposing the status quo. Be a force for the future without reinforcing polarisation.
  • Span the issues. Suspend the rigidity of your views, which is an expression of our fears.
  • Speak to our potential and the possibility of the future
  • Start with the people who are most predisposed and invite others who are less disposed in to join you
  • So many of our views and assumptions are informed by a view of humanity at our worst. Let’s work from the basis of humans at our best, and use the natural energy of our desire to be who we really are and can be, and our genuine desire to help one another.
  • We don’t need to solve all the problems, or have a plan in place, we just need to make some progress and use this momentum to drive further changes. Do one of two things and the momentum will grow!
  • There is no ‘answer’. Let go of their being an answer, and don’t worry about solving all the big problems. Focus on the quality of relationships, small steps, and gain momentum.

Collective leadership

  • Leadership must be catalytic, rather than an end unto itself
  • Respect is a cornerstone of effective process – people need to feel respected
  • A powerful act is simply to get people (including children, young people and older people) together, host them well, and reveal collective wisdom.
  • Collaboration is the human face of systems thinking.

Community

  • Everything we do is to build networks of relationships
  • Communities are a synonym for microcosms of the world
  • Community forces you to embrace diversity
  • Communities must be geographic or at least able to meet face to face. Web-based communities are a compliment for face-to-face communities.

Motivation

  • Find your deepest source of aspiration
  • See with your heart – this is literally the meaning of ‘courage’
  • ‘Enlightenment’ = open heart
  • The oldest Chinese symbol for mind is heart
  • As humans we have a knowing of the heart
  • Let go of the attachment to the mind and intelligence. Pay much more attention to your deepest feelings.
  • Just keep doing the work!