Insights From the Field

by Ten Directions

Insights, essays, perspectives, and lessons learned while working in the field of facilitative leadership. Authors include our staff, as well as guest contributors.

Featured Articles

blog
Rebecca Colwell

Facilitator’s Dilemma: Owning our mistakes

Today, I’d like to share some feedback on an interesting dilemma that’s come across my desk.   As you read this, see if you can find in your own experience a moment when this might have been true for you. You might also engage in thinking about your immediate response and whether you’re “listening to fix

blog
Alana Felt

Innovation, Freefall and Not-Knowing

“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.” ~Chögyam Trungpa A friend shared his definition of innovation with me the other day. Innovation, he said, means we are going somewhere new and when we innovate, we never know how we

All Articles

Bias
Terra Soma

How Unconscious Bias Holds Collaboration Back

As a collaboration facilitator, the vast majority of the work I do is with software development teams, which are notoriously male dominated. In the last few years, the tech industry has become hungry for more women and is throwing a lot of money at “the problem.” Intel announced that it is investing $300M to attract

agility
Simon L'Ecuyer

Increasing Energy, Usefulness and Efficiency in Everyday Meetings

In my work as an Agile ”Scrum Master” and Team Coach, I’m often confronted with the problem of how to spice up routine technical meetings and create genuine engagement among team members. Although there are very good reasons why the Agile/Scrum framework encourages routine meetings, the “shadow” aspect of everyday meetings is an all-too-familiar experience

Coherence
Brooking Gatewood

Using conflict as a group thermostat

Every facilitator knows that conflict in groups can actually be a good thing. It’s often a healthy sign that a group has established enough basic trust to raise tensions. Skillfully navigated, conflict can build trust, strengthen relationships, and enhance the effectiveness of team functioning. Poorly navigated, conflict can be a real setback for group effectiveness.

Facilitating Drama: When to impersonate a chicken

I’ve always thought of myself as a no-drama type of guy, but when it comes to group facilitation, I think it’s actually the drama that lures me in. A while ago I saw a TED talk by Andrew Stanton (screenwriter best known for “Finding Nemo” and other Pixar hits), where he quoted playwright Richard Archer

Cultural mastery is the new frontier for project management

For most of my career I’ve been involved in the Project and Program Management fields. In 2002, I attended the first PMI Certified Project Management program at the University of British Columbia, and following that I earned numerous certifications in that discipline—from PMI, Agile, and Scrum to Queen’s University Project Leadership Certification and Negotiation and

Facilitator as Space-holder Or Conduit for Group Energy?

For the past ten years, my work as a facilitator has primarily focused on diverse groups where multiple stakeholders need to come together around a shared purpose—often large international non-profits or multiple organizations. A year ago, I had a client situation where two people had an intense conflict during a gathering I was facilitating and

Courage
Lauren Tenney

Facilitation can set you free

When I facilitate, I’m usually scared. Excited, curious, engaged. But definitely also scared. Scared of being obtuse and failing to deliver what the group needs. Scared I’ll offend someone. Scared something will happen that I can’t handle and I’ll freeze, revealing my incompetence. In short, I’m scared I’ll get booed right off the stage. Standing

Collaboration
Rebecca Colwell

Meeting Complexity with Receptivity

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

Collaboration
Lauren Tenney

This idea should die

Is there an idea that you think should be taken out of circulation? A commonly held notion that’s holding us back, that’s outdated, or that you wish would just fade out of use, to be replaced by a more helpful idea? I’m asking (sincerely) because of a podcast I recently enjoyed that was focused on

authentic leadership
Rebecca Colwell

Being a Tuning Fork for Collective Intelligence

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

agility
Lauren Tenney

Availability—Inviting the “bigness” of you

“When you can relate to the present moment, make choices and distinctions, and bring those into the collective—that is where the facilitative and the leadership role really meet. When that happens, you’re able to help a group have the capacity to relate to presence and be available to what is emerging. That’s the interface that

Fuel inner growth. Drive outer impact.

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