NEWS! NYC Art of Hosting & Healing Trauma Training ~ July 28 & 29, 2017

Join me, Nancy Fritsche-Eagan, Chantilly Mers, Myra and Rich Rivera for a two-day emersion into participatory practices and methodologies for hosting healing conversations in our families, communities and organizations.

Register here.

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Protected: Art of Hosting & Healing ~ October 24 & 25, 2016

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Impact HUB Baltimore ~ March 2-4


Art of Hosting/Leadership Skills for Transformational Change ~ Join me Tuesday Ryan-Hart and Allen Frimpong at the Impact HUB in Baltimore, MD [March 2-4, 2016] to build skills for hosting challenging conversations around social justice and equity.

The training is organized by leadership from Impact Hub BaltimoreArt in PraxisEquity Matters, and the Neighborhood Design Center who “agree that Baltimore is at a critical inflection point and [we] want to see the city move forward. To address the complex challenges ahead of us, we need to cultivate a community of people skilled in new and transformative ways of leading change.”

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One of the highlights from being part of the conference team at the YSEALI Summit was the Civic Engagement track’s winning information campaign, the video #BeingDifferentisOK. It was imagined, designed and implemented by a team of seven from seven different ASEAN countries during two 2-hour sessions with assistance from the fabulous INFORMation CAMPaign MAP designed with Marguerite Drescher.

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Protected: SEIU Unified Plan Strategy Session ~ Friday, October 23, 2015

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Protected: Art of Hosting & Cooperative Social Action

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September 28 ~ Community of Practice Gathering

Register now for a Community of Practice inspired by Frederic Laloux’s “Reinventing Organizations” and join Art of Hosting practitioners for an exploration into the living system theory that is central to the new organization as portrayed in  Reinventing Organizations.

Check out my blog below regarding Laloux’s premise and this 10-minute vid for a quick overview.

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Huffington Post features Social Entrepreneur Bootcampers

Collin’s lap desks manufactured from waste plastic

Case Western Reserve University Professor Michael Goldberg posted a Huffington Post blog today reflecting on his teaching time with the Social Entrepreneur Bootcamp in South Africa that was founded by YALI fellow Irene Chikumbo.

Michael generously gives a call out to me and our faculty peers Gretchen Zucker from Ashoka and Fahad Hassan from Alma, but the focus is on the entrepreneurs and their learning.

His blog describes the impact on the young entrepreneurs who completed his class assignment to interview potential customers and collaborators about their product. This simple exercise created a shift of focus and/or strategy in each of the students.

Chembo’s hand knitted scarves

Two of the student comments illustrate the tension between good business and social mission in social enterprises. Collin Nyamadzawo was surprised to find that his business collaborators were motivated by “feel[ing] like they were a part of something greater than themselves.” Simultaneously, Chembo Litana’s conversations emphasized for her that “My product should be good enough to be bought even without the social story. The social story should be icing on the cake or a convincing factor.”

Bottomline, staying in communication with the people who will use or source your product  is always good business.

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The New Strategic Plan ~ Don’t Make One

Last night’s presentation by Frederic Laloux, author of the wildly popular Reinventing Organizations, added useful insight to the way that I have been using participatory practices to undo the dominant strategic planning paradigm (i.e., leadership retreat dedicated to some iteration of S.W.O.T., values and mission setting followed by action planning).

As Art of Hosting practitioners, we like to re-frame strategy sessions with the premise that while planning in complex systems is impossible, we can prepare to respond more strategically. Suggesting that it’s more strategic to go forward without a traditional plan can sound ridiculous, especially when holding a position of accountability in a hierarchical organization that is designed around set deliverables with exact due dates.

While the production-to-market-schedule of the product/service is not what is being challenged by the suggestion to expect less from “the plan”, the first reaction from leadership and management is usually to defend the necessity of well thought out marching orders. Let’s assume that having a plan or plans is a given for a moment. Every routinized machine-like process (making payroll, meeting government regulations for day care, scheduling counseling appointments, maintaining infrastructure, etc.) requires a design map and plan for the most efficient and effective operation. Great, do that and do it well.

Now, also consider that the people and environment that surround the machine-like aspects of the organization are living systems that change consistently and respond rapidly to constant stimulation. How do we strategically plan for that?

Laloux found a common thread among the 12 organizations that he researched (including multi-site industrial companies with thousands of employees) that are operating with a living systems framework (instead of the dominant Industrial Age factory model) ~ none of them have strategic plans. Instead, these organizations are designed/prepared for rapid response to the constant shifts and changes (including those that result from individual and organizational learning) in a dynamic world.

He suggests that these plan-less organizations function by embracing the living systems paradigm and integrating practices of:

  1. Self-Management ~ emphasizing peer relationships that foster trust in individual decision making vs. hierarchy or consensus;
  2. Wholeness ~ inviting people to show up as their whole self vs. professional contributions only; and,
  3. Evolutionary Purpose ~ listening to what wants to emerge vs. trying to control the future (for instance, with a plan).

Thanks to this research-based insight, my new question before bringing participatory strategy and innovation sessions to organizational settings is:

What is the minimal understanding/embracing of the living systems paradigm necessary for participatory real-time strategic practices to be useful?

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Practicing the Tools from Social Entrepreneur Bootcamp ~ Zimbabwe

Facebook caption: “A beautiful Great mini-training session with #Team263AfricaTV discussing PURPOSE among other things. Awesome feedback that just woke my dull Monday to life!!”

Nico Abote, Executive Producer of 263 Africa TV, posted enthusiasm and a montage of photos of his first day back with his team using practices learned during Social Entrepreneur Bootcamp – Zimbabwe with me and YALI fellow Irene Chikumba.

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