My last blog post here was back in March, at the beginning of a colossal few months of travel and work during which I was away from home and working in the Netherlands, Germany, northern Ontario, New York City, Vancouver Island, and several locations in Japan. In the course of my travels I was away from home for 64 days, had two major airline cancellations (one airline went bankrupt, one couldn’t get me home without massively creative re-routing). I probably doubled the number of foods I’ve tasted in my life, just from the 28 day trip to Japan alone, and I’ve come back to find myself taking stock of where I am these days.
Summer is good for that.
In reflecting on my work offerings these days, I find myself doing these kinds of things:
- Helping organizations and communities by facilitating large scale meetings and participatory processes to understand and act in complexity. I do this through meeting design and facilitation. That’s the bread and butter.
- Using technology to support strategic work in complexity. This year I’m working with both Sensemaker and NarraFirma in different projects to help groups collect, analyse, and act from stories. I love this work and it has taken me into the realm of deep developmental evaluation. The software is helping us to be able to generate deeply informed strategic insights with our clients and to create innovative ways to address stuck problems. It’s amazing and powerful participatory research and support for strategy.
- To that end, I have been also been working closely with evaluators in some interesting emerging community projects as well as developing teaching modules to run workshops on participatory methods and evaluation.
That’s the basic strategic work. There is lots of capacity building work I’m doing as well. For me that focuses on teaching, first and foremost:
- Teaching Art of Hosting workshops, including upcoming ones in the next year on Bowen Island, and in the Whitehorse, Montreal, and Calgary.
- Teaching complexity courses. One with Bronagh Gallagher focused on complexity for social activists, and one with Caitlin Frost on complexity basics, using Human Systems Dynamics, Cynefin, The Work and dialogue methods. I’ve taught several one and two day complexity course this past year, and feel like we’ve really got a good introductory course.
- A one day workshop on dialogic containers that I gave to good reviews at Nanzan University in Japan. It is based on two papers I wrote over the past few years on Hosting and Holding Dialogic Containers, and one Dave Snowden’s ABIDE framework (now mooshed with Glenda Eoyang’s CDE framework) as a way of using containers to work with complexity. At Nanzen, Caitlin added a neat little piece on Self as Container as well.
- A course on evaluation, which I first offered online with Beehive Productions this past winter, and then has developed into a two day course offered in New York with Rita Fierro and Dominica McBride. That might morph again and meet the Art of Hosting, so if you’re and evaluator, look out for an offering that joins up those two worlds.
- Leadership 2020, a nine month participatory leadership program for leaders in the Social Services Sector and child and family services ministries in British Columbia. We are coming up on ten years of this work, with a redesigned program so that we can get more leaders through it in a slightly compressed time frame.
- I continue to offer a one-day course at Simon Fraser University on World Cafe and Open Space Technology as part of the certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement. You can come to that if you like.
- And I have a few coaching clients as well, folks I spend an hour or so with here and there, thinking through issues in their own practice, working on workshop designs and supporting their confidence to take risk.
As for writing, I have long promised a book on Chaordic Design, and that may still come to pass, but I can see it now being a joint effort with my partner Caitlin Frost. We have been using the Chaordic Stepping Stones tool in every context imaginable and have a ton of stories of application to share. The basic model on my website is due for a revision as well, so perhaps I’l have a chance to do that in the coming few months. When Caitlin and I can find some time to go away and write, we might actually get some stuff on the page.
And here is the blog, my old friend, the place I have recorded thoughts and insights and ideas and events over the past 17 years or so. It needs a bit of attention and it needs to be used, so look for more blog posts more frequently. And they won’t all be well crafted essays – could be just more musings, things that are longer than tweets, and that properly belong free in the world and not locked into the blue prison of facebook. Maybe you’ll even see something of the other passions that are in my life, including my love of soccer, music, and some of the local community projects I’m up to.
Does any of that grab your interest? Is there anything you’d like to hear more about? Can I support your organization or community, or individual practice in any way? Wanna play?