Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Are you drawn to healing justice or the practice of presence?

The past couple months have been one of the most satisfying and growthful times in my working life. Part of what has been most satisfying has been discovering and collaborating with others who share my passions. I'd like to tell you about and invite you into two of those networks of interconnected passion and vision

Presencing: One thing I'm most interested in is how our inner lives impact and change institutions we are a part of. I'm in the midst of organizing a series of forums and trainings about an approach to leadership called Presencing or Theory U. In this process, I've discovered an abundance of partners in this journey, including great partnerships with the Creative Leadership Studio and InCommons. Together we are exploring how to pioneer a more sustainable and inclusive society, and finding a lot of fun and learning along the way.  On January 17 from 9:00 am to noon at the Carondelet Center in St. Paul we're organizing a training about using Presencing to support deep shifts in human systems and communities. The training is free, but space is limited. Register now to confirm your spot. The video below gives you a flavor of a day long forum about Presencing that we had this fall. 

Healing Justice: For many years, a focus of my work has been seeking healing responses to crime and the causes of crime. I'm very grateful to be working with the American Friends Service Committee to assess how healing justice could be furthered in Minnesota. On the evening of January 10, we're having a community meeting that will gather people who are doing some amazing work in this area, and we'll envision how it could more fully expressed in MN. I invite you to a>. If you aren't able to be there on the 10th, I invite you to fill out this online survey, providing your input about how the American Friends Service Committee could contribute to healing justice in Minnesota. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Organizations gaining more consciousness: Nick Ellerby

I've had the privilege of doing two rounds of video interviews with staff and clients at the Oasis School for Human Relations in England. Oasis supports transformative learning in organizations through consulting and training. One of my favorite conversations at Oasis was with Nick Ellbery about what it takes to raise the consciousness of an organization. Here are Nick's suggestions.

What are the elements of organizations gaining more consciousness?
  • Discover what you are connected to
  • Find the optimum moment
  • Global questions create a lever
  • Face the question, "What is your purpose?"
  • Allow new questions to emerge
  • Deepen to new layers
  • Make space for an emergent process

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Invitation to Partner with me: From Death to Life

I'm trying something I haven't done before, and I'd like to ask your help with that.

This fall I have the honor of supporting the organizational development of a group called From Death to Life. Mary Johnson founded the organization a few years ago after her son was murdered, with a purpose of bringing together parents who had a child murdered and also parents of people who committed murder, for healing and reconciliation. Since she started the group, she met with the man who killed her son, and the two of them slowly grew close and now do a lot of work together. In the past couple months, they have gotten lots of media attention--on NPR, CBS Evening News, People Magazine, etc. Here's a powerful video about From Death to Life from local filmmaker, Dawn Mikkelson.

I've known Mary for several years, and I know many people on her board. They asked me to facilitate discernment and visioning with them, and also to help them figure out how they can best structure the roles in the organization. They have lots of interest and attention in their work now, and a need to have more organizational capacity to make use of it. And, they currently have very little money. They are committed to being Spirit-led, and they also recognize they need to define clear long-term goals and decide on the best strategies and division of responsibilities to get there.

I feel called to support their work. When I agreed to work with them, I proposed three things:
  • I would reduce my rate by about 25%
  • The organization would pay me a small amount they could afford
  • I would try to find an additional $800 though donations that I requested. That $800 would be donated to their organization, and then they would use it to pay for my consulting time.
I'd like to invite you to make a donation to From Death to Life, earmarked for this visioning work we are doing together. It would mean a lot to both me and the board and volunteers of this organization. To make a donation, click on the link below and use the online donation form. Donations go through their fiscal agent, the Basilica of St. Mary. In the "tribute" part of the form, type "Visioning" in the name box, and then select "in honor of" for the type of tribute. Thank you very much for joining me in this work. I'll report back on my blog about the progress toward this goal. Any amount over $800 will go toward the programs of From Death to Life, bringing together parents impacted by murder for healing and reconciliation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Beyond debate and dialogue there is ...

“I know where we are called to go, but I am afraid to go.” I recently facilitated a board retreat where a board member acknowledged that the best path forward for the organization was clear, but that he was afraid of the financial and personal risks that would be involved. As he said this with vulnerability, the group was able to sink down to another level of conversation and interaction, where we weren’t just exchanging opinions but noticing what was moving through the group, and allowing that movement to slowly melt away obstacles.

The approach to leadership and change that I find most useful in my work is called Presencing or Theory U, a framework developed by Otto Scharmer. In the language of Presencing, the board of directors I described moved down the levels of conversation in the chart to the right, so the group's highest potential could move through them. Presencing is set of principles and practices for collectively creating the future that wants to emerge. I’m eager to connect with people who resonate with this approach, in my consulting work and in my learning. Below are two events related to Presencing that I’m involved with that I invite you to participate in.

Global Presencing Forum - Minnesota: Practices for Transforming Institutions, Society and Self
A group of us in Minnesota are organizing a one day conference on October 24th in Minneapolis/St. Paul. We'll have live streaming video of plenary sessions from the Global Presencing Forum, and have our own breakout activities, conversations, and panel. Our goal is to strengthen the Minnesota hub of people practicing awareness-based methods for pioneering a more sustainable and inclusive society. If you'd like to join us, please pencil the date in your calendar and sign up below to receive details as they develop.

Leading from the Future That Is Emerging, June 14
On June 14, David Fey and I are presenting a break-out session on Presencing at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofit's Leadership Conference in Minneapolis. We will provide an interactive introduction to Presencing and its connections to nonprofit leadership.

Presencing is one of many approaches to opening up to deep listening and innovation.What is most helpful for you in connecting to what is seeking to emerge in your life and work? I invite your input, challenges, and questions.

Friday, April 22, 2011

How Do You Access Collective Wisdom?

One way that I describe my work is that I support groups to access their collective wisdom. Last year I helped the Center for Spirituality and Healing make the following video with Alan Briskin, who wrote the book, The Power of Collective Wisdom and the Trap of Collective Folly.

Alan describes six "stances" for allowing our collective wisdom to emerge:
1. Deep listening
2. Suspension of certainty
3. Seeing whole systems / seeking diverse perspectives
4. Respect for others / group discernment
5. Welcoming all that arises
6. Trust in the transcendent

These approaches closely reflect what I practice with groups. Do they fit with your experience? How do you draw upon the collective wisdom in your organization and work?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Invitation: George Lakey Book Launch

George Lakey has been an important mentor and teacher for me. I'm helping organize this event when he'll be in the Twin Cities in May. I'd love to introduce you to George and the work he does.

At this Twin Cities book launch, George will share stories about what he has learned from his extensive experience facilitating groups to bring about social change. The book will also be for sale. Profits from sales of the book will go to Training for Change.

More about the book: Parker Palmer said, "It represents the fruits of a lifetime of transformational teaching and learning by one of the foremost adult educators of our time.” In this new book George presents the core principles and proven techniques of direct education ... [Read excerpts and more comments about the book here]

More about George: He has led over 1500 workshops on five continents while publishing eight books, teaching peace studies, and leading activist organizations... [Read more

Sunday, May 15, 2011 from 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM (CT)
Minneapolis Friends Meeting
4401 York Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55410
View Map

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ways I'm a fraud

“Spirituality is not possible without vulnerability.” - BrenĂ© Brown

Do you ever feel like you are a fraud? Or that your organization is a fraud? Like you aren’t embodying what you claim to be? Maybe those insecurities can sometimes help our work and organizations become more effective.

“In fact, you are a fraud,” a Quaker elder said to me, in response to my concerns about how a training about nonviolence that I had just led went.

“Ouch,” I thought. She went on, “You are personally a fraud sometimes, but the message of nonviolence that you are carrying is true.” She pointed out the necessary tension between the aspirations I was following and my limited abilities. If I didn’t feel this painful tension, I might be in trouble. At this time, I was avoiding conflict on many fronts, while also teaching others to nonviolently and proactively lean into conflict. The night before this particular training, I had invented a whole new model for teaching conflict resolution. I thought it was brilliant. The participants in the training didn’t agree.

I still sometimes feel like a fraud. Much of my work now seeks to support groups to get their egos out of the way so they can effectively serve a purpose greater than narrow self-interest. As I do this work, my ego is frequently alive, kicking, and defensive, acting as an obstacle for the work I’m doing. Recent experiences have reminded me of this.

For several years, I’ve been fortunate to meet on a regular basis with elders from my Quaker community, who provide spiritual support and accountability for the work I am doing. They both help me admit where I’m feeling like a fraud, and they help me reorient myself away from downward spirals of criticism to humble steps to move in the directions I’m called.

I often pray to be molded and shaped. The Quaker elders that I meet with have reminded me that sometimes the shaping of my clay can involve God taking away chunks of who I think I am, or adding new pieces. Some recent experience where I’ve felt like a fraud, or felt rejected, or felt insufficient seem to be a part of this process, an invitation to burn away parts of myself that are getting in the way.

I encourage organizations I work with to quickly develop prototypes of their visions and then fail early and often to maximize learning and keep improving the services they are offering. The universe has been reminded me in the past month to seek out risk and failures in my own consulting work, to maximize my learning and shaping. So with this post, I want to say back to the universe, “Bring it on!”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Most important goals for the world: The results

Earlier this month, I asked you what the most important long-term goals for the world were. Thank you to the 53 people who completed the survey so far. Thank you for playing along! Here is a visual representation of the results. The larger the font, the more votes that item received.
Click on the map to see a larger version of the image. To see the full results, click here.

Of course, all of these possible goals are interrelated. In a comment to a previous post, Tom Jablonski said, "It seems like so many of the problems that plague our world today, the poverty and homelessness, are symptoms of a world view based on production and consumption, where a few people profit at the expense of many."

I agree with Tom. One way I would describe the foundation that links all of these goals is the need to move from ego-centric to eco-centric ways of being, so we can act on behalf of the whole. This shift in our worldviews is needed to support the Great Turning, the cultural transformation from unsustainable industrial growth to cultures that sustain life.

What do you see as the foundation that links all these long-term goals? How do you discern your role in contributing to these goals, individually and as communities?

Monday, January 3, 2011

What long-term goals for the world are most important to you?

This month I'm turning 40. I'm using this as an excuse to reflect on the last 40 years and the next 40 years in the world and in my life. As a part of that reflection, I made up this survey, to ask you what you think are the most important long-term goals for the world. It is meant to be a reflection exercise, not a scientific survey.

I'm making a more detailed list of projections, visions, and goals for the next 40 years. I welcome your help adding to that list on this editable document. I'm also making a similar list of historical events that have shaped my world in the past 40 years. You can also help me edit that document.

Living in the tension between presence and vision

I'm feeling a tension between two dynamics:

To be faithful and live with integrity, we need to honor both sides of this tension.

I'm currently working as the Interim Executive Director for City House. We connect folks in the mainstreams and the margins for spiritual friendship. As we're discerning ways to take the organization to its next level, we're affirming that the practice of being present and loving without trying to change people is central to our work. At the same time, I think we're being called to do our work in service of the broader goal of "building the spiritual muscle to end homelessness and poverty." That goal pushes us into risks and partnerships that I think we need.

How can we do both of these things--be present and open without an agenda, and also commit to bold goals that inspire results?