It’s easy to take evolution for granted when your team is standing at a whiteboard looking at a bunch of colored sticky notes.
But the very fact you have a whiteboard, that you are standing together, and that anyone in the group can move the sticky notes are all clues to the mysterious evolution of work culture and collaboration.
If we care about leadership, governance, and participation, we can’t afford to ignore the role of evolution in collaboration today. But let me back up just a bit.
One of my biggest insights (not an original insight, alas, but still a significant one for me and my clients) was the evolutionary development of culture. It revealed how to include more and make distinctions through increasingly complex perspectives on collaborations.
You might have already heard about Spiral Dynamics, based on the work of Clare Graves. It is a particularly useful outcome from decades of post-modern socio-cultural research and study, giving us the capacity to see aggregate structures of culture or group worldviews, to anticipate how they evolve, and to guide efforts to effectively work with worldviews and help support the healthy expression of each stage.
The worldview of a group influences what the group sees and what it leaves out. What it values, and how it makes meaning of what it perceives. Worldview greatly influences collaboration, because shared meaning is one of the essential ingredients in effective collaboration.Read more
The Ten Directions and Meridian University collaboration enables students who are pursuing graduate degrees at Meridian University to concurrently complete the Integral Facilitator certificate program for academic credit towards their degree program.
The Meridian University degree programs which are eligible to receive academic credit for participation in the Integral Facilitator Certificate Program are:
How it Works (more…)Read more
Recently I have been facilitating a group of 22 leaders that is about to begin a major transformative process.
A newly configured team, they are coming together via a recent integration of three different organizations to collaborate on an organizational renewal strategy to move into the next era.
When we first met, what immediately struck me was the complexity of the group. The breadth and level of detail in their discourse just simply boggled my mind.
Ask them whether the new organization was a department, division, or a business unit, and you’ll hear 22 different ideas. Ask them why they are coming together, or where they are going and you’ll hear 22 different ideas.
Many individuals in this group also have strong and diverging opinions about what this new team should focus on and they are more than happy to present the facts to back up their case. And as many as that held reservations about proceeding and were clearly not yet fully “in”—and they all feel they’re responsible for an almost endless set of plans, commitments and priorities.
In short, it’s a recipe for mind-numbing incoherence and immobility.
Which is more or less what started to happen… (more…)Read more
An excerpt from “Will the Next Buddha be a Sangha? Responding to the Call to Influence the Future of Collaboration” published in Integral Leadership Review, January-February 2015
In the early 2000s I was retained to lead a cross-border merger integration project for a major utility. This was an extremely challenging and emotionally intense experience for the employees, for the new management team, and for the merger integration teams who now had functional responsibilities for aspects of the ‘new’ smaller and leaner post-merger organization.
In the new post-merger culture, there was a strong preference for learning in teams, and working collectively was valued.
The mandate we were given was to create a new, higher-performing culture using an empowerment framework that relied on more engaged and facilitative approaches to getting work done. One of our key areas of focus was to help people learn how to use more reflective processes and bring team learning into the organization.
As the integration process unfolded, we saw a complete bifurcation in the performance spectrum. One of the key differentiators was the level of facilitative leadership displayed by the team or department leader and their willingness and capacity to engage others.Read more
“The opposite of Love is not Hate; it’s indifference.” – Elie Wiesel
Last month, I wrote about The Awakened Takeover. Which is another way of saying I *dared* to articulate my deep intention and publish it for the world to see. And now…it has me by it’s teeth.
In it, I included this call to action:
Care more, open yourself to more perspectives, and you can’t help but become more engaged and optimistic.
Yet looking back on my own path, not caring enough was never the problem.
In fact, there was a time when it felt like it WAS the problem.
Being able to take more perspectives, we get inundated with more information and our circle of care expands. The world pulls on us in new, more diverse ways. We don’t just see need everywhere, we feel it. Our care pulls into new and different relationships with the world—and that gives rise to a very distinct kind of challenge.
This is the challenge of how we cope with how much we care.
It’s true for me. I can recall a stage in my life when I became so overwhelmed by the stresses of public affairs and world issues that I stopped watching the news and reading papers. I would run the other way when water cooler conversations turned to current events. My only recourse in response to the overwhelm (read: care) was to unplug and disengage.
My struggle wasn’t that I didn’t care enough.Read more
If what you do every day is somehow trying to close the gap between the human condition and human potential, then you are already participating.
We are so aware of the many complex challenges unfolding on a global scale—rifts in how we get along, as well as disturbing patterns in how we are treating each other, other species and the planet—that we risk becoming numb.
Our purpose is to do everything in our power to grow authentic, facilitative, deeply present leadership we need to deal with these challenges.Read more
Last night I learned something I didn’t expect to learn about leadership from watching The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
This lesson comes from an old adage: “Never bring home an injured baby Tyrannosaurus Rex.”
First, replay this gripping scene in your mind’s eye:
It was a dark and stormy night. Scientist Julianne Moore warned activist Vince Vaughn, injured T-Rex in his arms, saying that taking the injured dinosaur to their trailer laboratory was “going to be really, really bad.” Even if you don’t remember this scene, you’ve already guessed (1) he didn’t listen, and (2) it was really, really bad. (Raging Ma and Pa Rex pushed the lab over the 500 foot cliff into the churning sea below. And, worse yet, I don’t think Vince Vaughn ever apologized.)
What’s this got to do with leadership and collaboration, you ask?Read more
Like most kids, when I was a little girl I eagerly anticipated the transition from school to the freedom of summer. But the real highlight for me was the opportunity to travel up the hill to the public library (much more mysterious and shadowy than our protestant elementary school library) once a week to select new reading material. I climbed the hill, pulling my red wagon behind me; I was allowed to borrow only as many books as filled my wagon, providing I returned them all by week’s end.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little greedy.
I became adept at making spatially savvy selections. I strategically selected non-slip covers and optimized book size and packing techniques so that I could maximize my ‘haul’.
Oh, how I loved pouring through those treasures…and the anticipation of what might be in the next wagon.
Fast forward to today, and my tables are stacked with books. Long lists of bookmarked sites. A contact list full of people with ideas, expertise, connections. RSS feeds, Twitter, Stumbleupon, MashUp, Pinterest etc. An almost insatiable interest in what is new, what is relevant, what is trending, and what is necessary and important for me to know—for me to be adequate to the task, to be relevant and on trend.Read more
Since our last IF newsletter, Dr. Cindy Lou Golin’s Integral Life Practice Prison Project was awarded a grant from the MetaIntegral Foundation! The funds she receives will be use to continue her ILP project with the incarcerated. Her approach includes facilitating ILPs via snail mail, developing an ILP workbook for the incarcerated, and conducting train-the-trainer programs with selected inmates.
Last week we chatted with Dr. Golin to learn more about her innovative project—here’s what she shared with us:Read more
Last week, our Integral Facilitator faculty member Rob McNamara shared a provocative perspective on preparation and planning on his blog.
“The most dangerous tool you currently have is the plan you are already holding in your hands. Why? Because the plan makes assumptions that you likely do not question every day. Every day you should be getting out of your plans such that you can adaptively respond to life in creative and innovative ways. Gain more altitude. Get more perspective.”Read more
Ten Directions programs are designed to serve the unique personal and professional development needs of exceptional individuals who seek to bring more consciousness to their work in the world.
Our deliberately developmental learning programs orient to each individual as an embodied instrument of change. This means that throughout our programs, we emphasize personal transformative practice to support the development of embodied presence, skillful perspective taking, masterful communication, compassionate engagement and fluid responsiveness to complexity.
We focus primarily on creating programs that address the domains of leadership performance, facilitation mastery, facilitative leadership, and personal development.
We attract participants who:
Ten Directions learners are mature and purpose-driven individuals who are committed to engaging complex issues, diverse worldviews and value systems in service of creating emergent, creative and elegant organizations.
By collaborating with uncommonly insightful and gifted teachers, Ten Directions is cultivating an ecosystem of consciously developmental offerings that will contribute to closing the gap between our human condition and our human potential.Read more
As an experienced leadership developer, I thought myself quite the expert at developing capacity in groups and helping leaders master new competencies, and over decades of work, I felt I’d learned the most effective ways to do that.
The learning culture I had long subscribed to is characterized by its emphasis on valuable information and knowledge combined with engaging, self-directed approaches to learning. My approach as a trainer and facilitator used tried and true rituals and forms to facilitate learning—chatty peer-to-peer activity, self-directed learning, information gathering and opportunities to create conceptual maps and theories, experiential learning, small groups that exchange ideas and test out concepts.
In many ways, my approach as a workshop trainer was to point to new information or knowledge, and devise creative ways for the information to be absorbed and digested. And back then, I would have asserted that this experience I was offering was “transformative” for my clients.
Yet my first personal experience of truly transformative learning took place in a setting that surprised me—at a live intensive with an Integral Zen teacher—which didn’t at all match the existing expectations I had about how learning “should” take place.
When I first entered the room where the workshop “teacher” sat at the front of the room, facing chairs arranged in rows, it felt really weird. In fact, it felt wrong to me—ineffective, and even inappropriate.
Because I favored the view that really effective learning is something that’s not done by someone sitting at the front of a classroom, I was quickly caught in a tumbling list of judgements and assessments about where I was and what was going to happen.
You may have noticed this happening to you in a workshop or training. Your seeking mind impatiently wants to hear about “the top three characteristics of XYZ”; or you notice your judging mind becoming annoyed because “I get this already” or “I don’t like the way this is presented.”
Of course, discernment is good and useful. However, it also orients us by fixing us to our opinions. With fixed opinions, we become less open and available to information, novelty, creativity, and less able to respond fluidly to complexity.
What surprised me was that the experience challenged my notions of ideal learning environments and engaged an entirely new dimension of me in the learning process.
My experience working with an Integral Zen teacher invited me to go much deeper than I would normally (in a typical workshop setting) for several reasons. Obviously perhaps, it actively engaged me in introspection and reflection. I instantly felt a quieting down in my body—a settling, grounded feeling as my breath slowed and my awareness ceased jumping from thought to thought.
Because the teacher offers teaching injunctions that are often just a simple phrase or question (a “pointing out” instruction), my attention is drawn to an inner dimension, in contrast to the hyperactivity of my analytical mind. Through the process, the teacher is adept at helping me to see my own inner dialogue and the fixations of my mind. Gradually, with practice and attention, I can begin to release them. As a result, my awareness becomes freer.
As an “experienced” professional facilitator, this changes the way I relate to my self, others, and the environment around me. My identification with being an expert—the authoritative figure at the front of the room—loosens. My need to have the chairs set up in a particular configuration lightens. The persistent struggle of my ego to defend me against something, someone, some facet of my experience is a struggle I can see anew, and therefore relate to. As a result, the degree of choice and the freedom I have access to expands dramatically.
Sure, it’s true—there is always a lot to do when facilitating or engaging groups. We manage time, agenda, listen for agreements. Our minds are constantly engaged, it seems, in what is happening out there. Yet what I have learned, and continue to learn, is how much is going on in here—and how vital it is for me to be able to access and use this inner awareness.
From the inside, when my presence is centered and stable, I can use my self-awareness as a resource. I am able to notice reactions, contractions and pick up on subtleties I would have missed, much more quickly. Over time, I can relax into an attitude of not-knowing, which frees up more capacity for me to be open and respond to what is arising in the moment. I can include more of myself in my facilitation, and can more masterfully give people the experience of having their contributions included and understood. I am more fluid, agile, responsive, and authentic.
When we learn how to relax the grasping and judging our minds so often engage in, we can be more fully present to our entire experience, which means we can embody inquiry, rather than having to identify with what we know and the answers we already have.
Cultivating the capacities of grounded presence and perspective taking are essential for those who wish to work moment-by-moment with the complexity and diversity inherent in group dynamics and organizations. Utilizing these capacities, a masterful Integral Facilitator® orients to the true nature of the group process, its being and becoming, and its context and environment. In my experience, Zen awareness is the domain that offers me greater access to my own depth, which is precisely the doorway to accessing more depth in service of the group.
The challenge we face as leaders and facilitators is not about merely more—more expertise, more knowledge, more skills. If we are really on the edge of our game, at the front line of our own development, then our challenge is to find opportunities where we can receive and accept the gift of being seen, choose to participate in our own growth, and open up to being an instrument for the emergence of what will most serve all of us.
How can we become more capable of working with whatever comes up in our lives in a way that actually supports the growth and evolution of all human beings?
When we cultivate presence, we are more able to work with the here and now, take more perspectives, and embrace more of our experience—including dissonance and conflict.
We have more choices, and more capacity to address the full complexity of what is happening—in the energetics of a room, in the emotional domains, in the realms of power and authority, decision making, and conflict.
Being able to open up to a deeper reality beyond our own notions of what’s going on in a group begins with three essential moves:
Often, the last move can be quite challenging.
How do we catalyze a group to become more coherent, and deepen the quality of engagement and intimacy?
One of the pillars of Flex-Flow experiences in groups occurs when individuals shift their awareness from first person experience to the experience of the group or the whole.
As facilitators, leaders, and participants, we can generate greater coherence and enhance the quality of our work together by shifting our group’s awareness from “I to We.”
By shifting our attention to others, sharing our impressions of the collective space, and noticing coherence and common characteristics of the moment we can significantly heighten our participation in the group awareness.
Here are some practices we’ve explored in our workshops that you can take into your life and work:
CULTIVATING COHERENCE AND COMMUNION IN GROUPS
Hopefully, after reflecting on these practices, you’re curious about how these kinds of techniques could be used effectively with a wide variety of group cultures and styles. To deepen your learning, you might find it helpful to reflect on these questions about your own approach:
Individual and collective development are interrelated, because as we develop, our experience in groups changes.
We become more at ease, less fearful, less instinctively competitive and self-protective. We feel more freedom to be ourselves, and we have fewer struggles with the otherness of others.
We have access to creativity, we enjoy the support of others, and at the same time, we are willing to experience more authentic challenges. We live with liveliness and vigor.Read more
Our work life today depends on our ability to effortlessly collaborate with others while executing our goals with precision and ease.
And every one of us—regardless of whether we are a leader, manager, coach, or consultant—needs to develop the awareness and skills of a facilitator in order to influence the successful outcomes of our endeavors.
As our understanding of the complexity of organizational life and human relationships evolves, many of us realize that we can no longer depend on hierarchical structures to lead the way, nor do we have the time to spend in lagging consensus or feel-good processes.
In order to help teams and groups achieve their objectives, we need to be able to rapidly assess and understand context, develop agile and effective plans, and have the skills to help a group respond dynamically throughout the process.
We need effective tools—yes—but even more, we need the presence and skill to recognize and respond to the emotion, conflict and obstacles that naturally arise in our engagements.
In order to work optimally within complex, fast paced environments, today’s innovative professionals need to be as adept on the inside as they are on the outside.
And in developing ourselves as facilitative leaders, the challenge is not to add more tips and tricks to our repertoire. Rather, it is to deepen our presence and ability to respond wisely and effectively to what is arising in the moment.
An Integral approach is a profoundly useful framework for illuminating the patterns within the complexity we are dealing with.
By addressing the deeper dimensions of group dynamics and the myriad subtleties of human interaction, an Integral approach supports us (no matter what our role) to become more effective, light on our feet, and creative in our responses to group challenges.
With practice, Integral Facilitators cultivate the capacity for presence in spite of what is going on—whether it’s anxiety, boredom in the room, or a leadership struggle.
They can flex and flow fluidly, are more creative and open, more comfortable with difference, and have less anxiety and fear.
As a result, our teams, projects and collaborations unfold with flexibility, precision and ease. Agreements get made, people follow through on their commitments, and emotion, humor and conflict can be navigated with ease.
Please join us for our upcoming Next Stage Facilitation, and the prerequisite for the nine-month Certificate Program:
More information, resources and training is available at www.tendirections.com/programs/