Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

Five great principles – Prepare to get political

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Reposting my Facebook message here:

Nice blog post by somebody I didn’t know before (thanks Sheri!) and great five principles he describes from his field of work, but something to keep in mind for all of us:
Stay niche (aka be unique),
Embrace wickedness (I love that one!),
Edit out the genius stuff (it must be understandble by your grandparents);
Be a Breathing Space and last one:
Prepare to get political (in a new sense, I would add).

And a place where these principles are at play: on the squares in Spain and Greece. You can read reports from people who were in Athens yesterday. Good stuff is happening, and it is different than what the ‘normal’ media are telling.

On resilience

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

I came across the website of Human Systems Dynamics Institute, of Glenda Eoyang. I haven’t met her, have not heard her, but here is a part of her latest Info-letter on Resilience, that I find useful. She is also the author of the Questions in Chaos: What, So What, Then What; a described in her Info-letter of Feb.’11.

We can think of resilience for an individual or a group as stable equilibrium—the system is balanced and is able to return to its original state after it is disturbed. The lack of resilience is unstable equilibrium—the system doesn’t return after being disrupted. We can use this distinction to build our capacity for resilience in three ways.

1. Take the opportunity in quiet times to gauge the stability of your own equilibrium with the following questions:
* How quickly do I recover from little disturbances?
* How comfortable am I in my current state and how afraid of disruption?
* What was the last time I was really surprised (positively or negatively), and how did I respond?
2. Assess the factors that influence the stability of your equilibrium with the following questions:
* How many and what kinds of connections hold me in place?
* Who are the people that I interact with each day and how do they make me more comfortable or less comfortable?
* What resources (emotional, financial, relationships, etc.) do I have and how long and how well could they sustain me?
3. Test your own equilibrium to build your resilient capacity by:
* Challenging your own assumptions and values
* Playing “what-if” games with others and by yourself
* Noticing how you respond to the small, everyday disruptions of life and finding ways to react with more grace and good humor

None of us knows how we would respond in such extreme stress as the Japanese, Egyptians, civil servants, or Burkinabe. We also do not know what challenges await us in a future that will test our stability, but we do know that our equilibria will be tested in the months and years to come. Will we find a stable equilibrium? Will we respond with resilience?

Creating Cultures of Place

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Art and Community; Creating Cultures of Place
The recent newsletter by Michael Jones, with a link to his latest essay – worthwhile reading!

Several years ago I was a keynote speaker at a Celebrating Communities Conference in Atlantic Canada. During the keynote I asked the group to share a story of a place where they experienced the greatest sense aliveness, vitality and connection. How did this connection to place shape how they thought about their leadership and their community now?

They reflected on finding common ground in their deep ties to land and sea and how these close ties to the wildness of nature instilled a resilience of spirit in their leadership and in their communities.

Shortly after the conference, in a conversation with Peter Block, who has written several wonderful books on community, he said; “we cannot begin to understand community without first talking about place”

Since that conference I have been convening place – based conversations with leaders in communities and organizations. I have learned that leaders who are place-based recognize they need to know where they come from in order to see where they are going. In a turbulent world where there are no rules, no consensus and no clear way forward, if they have no place to stand they will lack the grounding to act wisely in the world. In this context an intimate relationship with place helps us see – and clear sight helps us create a new story of possibility rooted in where we come from and who we want to be.

This spring I will be continuing these place- based conversations with municipal, government and arts leaders in a community conference in the Muskoka region of Ontario on the theme ‘Creating Cultures of Place’

To read more please go to my Leading Artfully blog, Art and Community; Creating Cultures of Place


Friday, July 30th, 2010

First morning here in the Art of Humans Being in the Essex Conference center. Not yet 7 am and I see already some people around writing in their notebooks; I hear a conversation going on in the background… I’m sitting here on my bed; the sun is sending its rays through the trees’ branches. My little room being under the roof, I see branches all around, as if sitting in a tree hut.

What to tell about our half day together yesterday? I’m not sure. There is nothing that really stands out for me, nothing that I could capture easily. The weaving of 26 stories and perspectives didn’t show a clear pattern; at least not to me. Or does it?


This is a gathering, a learning event that uses the Art of Hosting pattern, but its main pupose is not to provide a training in this art, but to use the art to dive into the main theme and question: How will we, as humans being, repattern ourselves, to create and activate the new story? Tenneson said: I want to loose myself in that question!

I have two feelings right now. On the one hand there is a tension – actually I think it is a longing – that we talk about and engage with the real stuff: Why are we doing this? What’s the real point here? If we don’t repattern ourselves the end will come, sooner or later. That’s a fact. Did we do that yesterday? Where we blunt and bold enough to be at this point where we don’t have a clue how to move forward? On the other hand there is this calm feeling – a deep inner knowing – this kind of coming together is the repatterning! At least part of it. Being in a collective inquiry works on many levels: energeticc – intangible – subtle – conscious and also: individual – group – collective – systemic.


What sure is different here is the presence of other ways of knowing – other than mental – the poems, the silence, the collages, the artful workbook, the invitation from Judy to come from a soul-aligned space.

Let’s be bold and nothing than my unique self.
No forcing and no holding back (Rilke).
From hosting conversations that matter to hosting collective learning that matters to the planet.

What’s going on in the world out there that makes repatterning and restorying important? That was the question for our World Café and a way to ge to know each other. Some nuggets for me where:
It is us – you and me – normal people – civic society that will do the repatterning, not the leaders in politics or economy.
We have a choice – we can make a choice.


The collages, made as a way of harvest, showed in many different ways the bridge from the known and old story to pictures and images that spoke of nature, community, being creative and the like: a story of wholeness and wellness and being fully alive!

We ended our first afternoon with a circle. What calls you to be here now – as you are aware in this moment?

Highlights and threads:
It is time to live big.
All is not as it seems.
Home – where is my place? Where do I engage in transitioning with a local community? Commitment to find community where I am.
This land – here – Cape Ann.


Leadership – How to create collaborative leadership? How to listen to the voice of the collective, of the system?
Deep grief – what is it that is being griefed?
Living between stories, between the old and the new – literally, energetically.
Finding my own voice – finding home in myself – owning my wisdom.
The nourishment of circles engaging with big questions – the gathering of the people – the collective inquiry.

Are these the elements of our repatterning, of living wholeness?

What if…

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

“The European Consumer Summit is a multi-stakeholder event organised every year by DG SANCO (Directorate General Health and Consumers). It gathers more than 400 participants in Brussels for 1,5 days. This event was previously organised as a ‘classical conference’: with lots of plenary presentations but not enough opportunities for participants to contribute and network. Not this year…

Our vision for the 2010 Summit was to get real policy output, including deliverables directly from participants and therefore much more interaction. The 2010 theme was “Services: access, fairness and choice” and the 6 workshops had quite different scopes:
• How can we help consumers to choose the right service provider?
• Web 3.0 – Challenges and Opportunities for Consumers in the internet of the future
• Bank Account Fees – How to ensure transparency and choice?
• The Adventure of Car Hire – Enforcement challenges
• The Green Energy challenge
• Going around in circles. How to improve urban sustainable mobility”

Consumer summit ik

This report is written by Carina Törnblom, official in the European Commission. I don’t know the right term for her function – sorry Carina. She has been part of the Art of Participatory Leadership training, offered by some of our Art of Hosting colleagues. Six other colleagues, of which I was one, were asked to host one of these six interactive workshops.

Her report continues:

Designing a successful event

In order to prepare the event, we set up an internal task force and connected this to a team of facilitators, practitioners of the Art of Participatory Leadership from inside and outside the Commission. Some of the workshops had more difficult starting conditions than others, e.g. high potential conflict due to very different opinions between participating stakeholder groups (industry and consumer organisations). Therefore facilitators were challenged to be very flexible and on the other hand to be enough convincing to ensure the interactivity in the workshops.

The outcome

On the D-day, each workshop was asked to address the challenges in the morning, the solutions in the afternoon and prepare 3 findings and 3 things for the Commission to do. This was reported on the second day (half day) in plenary followed by questions and answers session. In the Car Hire workshop industry agreed to involve consumer representatives and representatives of the European Consumer Centres network in the upcoming Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism. In the Green Energy and Urban Transport workshops there was a call for more studies on consumer behaviour and multi-stakeholder working groups. In the area of Bank Account fees, the Commission will further explore how to improve transparency, including, for example, the idea of an independent on-line comparison tool, as well as financial education. The discussion on the internet of the future highlighted issues to be monitored closely, such as consumer friendly online contracts, privacy and data protection.


During the day, we could already feel from the buzz in the building that participants were in a great mood and the feedback was very positive. 95% of the participants were satisfied with the interactivity, the opportunity to voice their opinion and the increased understanding of other stakeholders’ position. One of the participants told us spontaneously that in nearly 12 years of being on the consumer circuit, this was by far the best conference he had ever attended.



In SANCO we are also very satisfied with the output, the willingness of our stakeholders to commit themselves in the suggested directions. This was not only an efficient and effective way of working but it represents what the European project is about: close cooperation and real dialogue.

This success was a truly collaborative effort, thanks also to our colleagues from other services. This was the first time that a more participatory approach was taken by the Commission in such a large conference with external stakeholders. It has not gone unnoticed and has been a real chance for the Commission to be looked at differently. Let’s hope this will inspire others so that it is just a start… What if the Commission would use this approach as a rule and not an exception? Would that not change how the citizens see us?

Women in public leaderschip

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

I’m a fan of Jack Ricchiuto (regular leaders have noticed this lately!), and I am reading his small blog posts with anticipation and gratittude, because many times he gives voice to something that was bubbling in me already. Here one of these little gems, with the title Women in public leadership:

“In a community gathering recently focused on authentic community engagement, almost every regional government leader participating was a woman leader. The absent men were obviously hunting and gathering godknowswhat.

It invites all sorts of allusions to the inclusive nature of feminine energy. And it is a call for more leaders to the practice of fusion, not a continued specialization, of gender energy. If it takes more wise women in civic leadership to bring this about, let the revolution begin. But, the simple replacement of men with women will not be enough to bring this fusion of energies. It will take gender-collaborative, rather than gender-competitive, dialogue around the synergies of power and inclusion.

Communities will become whole when power and inclusion becomes whole.”

(To readers who want more of the Women Moving the Edge story… it is coming; next week for sure!)


Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Lately I start to replace the word sustainability with thrivability, and now I came across the word trivancy. The big English-Dutch dictionary that I have here doesn’t know any of these two words… I expect them to mean the same…

Here is what Jack Ricchiuto (yes, again from him!) writes as part of a longer article:

The good news is that all groups can thrive. The quickest way for groups to experience more thrivancy is to design them for more thrivancy. Like everything else in life, thrivancy happens by design. Things always perform as they’re designed to perform.

The work of designing groups for greater thrivancy is the work of designing the four core elements of a group’s interactional space. When any of the four elements of this space is better designed for thrivancy, groups become smarter and better together.

Leadership in a connected world

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Here is someone who puts words on the unstructured thoughts in my head: Jack Ricchiuto writes about The Future of Leadership in a Connected World. I love the clear message he gives. This leadership must provide and facilitate the conversations that lead to:
and culture!
Simple, but there is HUGE truth in it; and it has a lot of consequences!


Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Via Toke Moeller and it speaks to my heart, gut and mind!


To be committed means we are willing to make a promise with no expectation of return; a promise void of barter and not conditional on another’s action.

In the absence of this, we are constantly in the position of reacting to the choices of others.

The cost of constantly reacting to the choices of others is increased cynicism and helplessness.

The ultimate cost of cynicism and helplessness is we resort to the use of force.

In this way the barter mentality that dominates our cultures helps create a proliferation of force.

The use of force is the essence of the past we are trying to transform.

Commitment, the antithesis of entitlement and barter, is to choose a path independent of reward.

It is a choice made in the absence of reciprocity.

This is the essence of power.

Peter Block from Civic Engagement Series; writer of the book Community; The Structure of Belonging

Participatory Leadership

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Via the Art of Hosting emaillist Toke send us a harvest document that talks about Participatory Leadership. This is in other language the worldview that we train people in, in The Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations. Here it is for you to enjoy!

How do you explain participatory leadership in one sentence?

o Imagine… a meeting of 60 people, where in an hour you would have heard everyone and at the end you would have precisely identified the 5 most important points that people are willing to act on together.

o When appropriate, deeper engagement of all in service of our purpose.

o Hierarchy is good for maintenance, participatory leadership is good for innovation and adapting to change.

o Complements the organigramme units with task force work groups on projects.

o Look at how well they did it in ….. – We could be the ones everybody looks at.

o Using all knowledge, expertise, conflicts, etc. available to achieve the common good on any issue.

o It allows to deal with complex issues by using the collective intelligence of all people concerned & getting their buy-in.

o Participatory Leadership is methods, techniques, tips, tricks, tools to evolve, to lead, to create synergy, to share experience, to lead a team, to create a transversal network, to manage a project, an away day, brainstorming, change processes, strategic visions.

o Consult first, write the legislation after.

From Traditional ways of working -> To Participatory leadership complementing

Harvesting after the check-in circle

Individuals responsible for decisions -> Using collective intelligence to inform decision-making

No single person has the right answer, but somebody has to decide ->Together we can reach greater clarity – intelligence through diversity

Hierarchical lines of management ->Communities of practice

Wants to create a FAIL-SAFE environment ->Creates a SAFE-FAIL environment that promotes learning

Top-down agenda setting ->Set agenda together

I must speak to be noticed in meetings ->Harvesting what matters, from all sources

Communication in writing only ->Asking questions

Organisation chart determines work ->Task forces/purpose-oriented work in projects

People represent their services ->People are invited as human beings, attracted by the quality of the invitation

One-to-many information meetings ->A participatory process can inform the information!

Great for maintenance, implementation (doing what we know) ->When innovation is needed – learning what we don’t know, to move on – engaging with constantly moving targets

Information sharing ->When engagement is needed from all, including those who usually don’t contribute much.

Dealing with complaints by forwarding them to the hierarchy for action ->Dealing with complaints directly, with hierarchy trusting that solutions can come from the staff

Consultation through surveys, questionnaires, etc. ->Co-creating solutions together in real time, in presence of the whole system

Top-down ->Bottom-up

Management by control ->Management by trust

Questionnaires (contribution wanted from …) ->Engagement processes – collective inquiry with stakeholders

Mechanistic ->Organic – if you treat the system like a machine, it responds like a living system

Top down orders – often without full information ->Top-down orders informed by consultation

Resistance to decisions from on high ->Better acceptance of decisions because of involvement

Silos/hierarchical structures ->More networks

Tasks dropped on people ->Follow your passion

Rigid organisation ->Flexible self-organisation

Policy design officer disconnected from stakeholders ->Direct consultation instead of via lobby organisations

People feel unheard/not listened to ->People feel heard

Working without a clear purpose and jumping to solutions ->Collective clarity of purpose is the invisible leader

Motivation via carrot & stick ->Motivation through engagement and ownership

Managing projects, not pre-jects ->Better preparation – going through chaos, open mind, taking account of other ideas

Focused on deliverables ->Focused on purpose – the rest falls into place

Result-oriented ->Purpose-oriented

Seeking answers ->Seeking questions

Pretending/acting ->Showing up as who you are

Broadcasting, boring, painful meetings ->Meetings where every voice is heard, participants leave energised

Chairing, reporting ->Hosting, harvesting, follow-up

Event & time-focused ->Good timing, ongoing conversation & adjustment