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Where Are You Orienting From?July 12, 2017

It’s 2001 and I’m standing on an elevated ridge in the White Mountains of Maine in the United States. My map is laid out in front of me on a flat rock, and with compass in hand I’m triangulating our group’s location. We are about to immerse our team into a thick deciduous forest for about 15 miles. The orienting calculations we make now have everything to do with our success of getting to our extraction point before we run out of food and fuel. It’s these fine measurements here on this ridge that will allow us to be successful later on. And with the right understanding of our location right now, we can calibrate each bearing, shoot from tree to tree, and plot an accurate course through the forest. (more…)

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The Liberating Question We Don’t Ask OurselvesJune 14, 2017

 

A few years ago, I was asked to work with the board of a housing co-op who were having issues around workload equity. Resentments were brewing because a few members had become burdened with the lion’s share of the work. Before our first meeting, I was warned about the board’s ‘problem child’: a longtime member who often derailed meeting agendas with her combative style and strong opinions. (more…)

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Leveraging Our PastJune 7, 2017

 

“Let’s have a working lunch so we can make sure to get through all the content.”  

When a client says something like that to me, I experience contraction and agitation. Why? Because this frame places a premium on the “content” (or the “it”). I am now simply a “content” dispenser and the groups I’m working with are passive consumers.  I momentarily imagine myself sitting in front of the group reading aloud from a large book. (more…)

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Who’s Tugging at Your Shirttails?May 31, 2017

In a recent conversation with a participant from the Integral Facilitator Certificate Program, we talked about taking a facilitation risk at the front of the room. The voice of the inner critic came forward. At least we thought it was the inner critic.

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The Developmental Imperative For Coaches and ConsultantsMay 24, 2017

Geologists have identified five mass extinctions in Earth’s history. Yet as the vast majority of life has been wiped out, our planet has continued to adapt and generate conditions for life to flourish once again. Unfortunately, many experts consider us to be living in a sixth mass extinction right now. And although we can situate this in a historic pattern, our current predicament is also a novel situation. Never before has a single species been almost entirely responsible for a mass extinction. Yet this is precisely the reality we are faced with today.

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Want to Change? Go Further UpstreamMay 10, 2017

Recently I was hired to work with an intact team whose presenting issue was poor communication, with associated breakdowns in collaboration and decision-making. They knew they “needed to communicate better,” and by all accounts, they were absolutely right. (more…)

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On Getting Comfortable With Our EmotionsApril 27, 2017

In this short video clip below, Diane Musho Hamilton shares her wisdom about how emotional maturity increases alongside our willingness to feel our own difficult emotions such as fear, confusion or anger. Moreover, the degree to which we can be present with others’ emotions depends on how comfortable we are with our own.

This video offers a glimpse into what you can look forward to in our new live online training, Willing to Feel:  Essential Skills for Emotional Maturity, which started April 25th. Even though the course has begun, it’s not too late to register!  This inspiring course will support you to learn to ride your emotional swells in service of more meaningful and empowered relating, leading and collaborating.  You can find out more or register here.

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Harvesting and Wielding the Gifts of Poetry in LeadershipApril 19, 2017

 

 

A poet is someone
Who can pour Light into a spoon,
Then raise it
To nourish
Your beautiful parched, holy mouth.

~Hafiz

Over time, I’ve encountered many gifts that the study of poetry can offer to my capacities in leadership; of these, three stand out: concentration, inspiration, and play. (more…)

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Learning to Flow With Our EmotionsApril 17, 2017

In this 1-minute video clip below, Diane Musho Hamilton shares her insights about the fluid and dynamic quality of emotions. She describes our human tendency to either repress our feelings or wallow in them, and how we can instead learn to receive their energy and wisdom as they flow in and out of our lives and relationships.

This video offers a glimpse into what you can look forward to in our new live online training, Willing to Feel:  Essential Skills for Emotional Maturity.  This inspiring course will support you to learn to ride your emotional swells in service of more meaningful and empowered relating, leading and collaborating.  You can find out more or register here.

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The Poetry of Facilitative LeadershipApril 6, 2017

Great poetry and great leadership both have the capacity to open our hearts to the wild immediacy of this very moment. Both have the capacity to arrest our attention into startling contact with the aesthetic beauty and living truth of our shared being. Both have the capacity to create bridges that communicate information and meaning, and – beyond that – to transmit an ineffable aliveness that can touch our deepest longing.

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For those of us interested in adult development, too often we tend to focus on stages.  In particular, we zoom in on those higher, more complex and seductive forms of maturity that presumably are waiting for us to discover their beauty, added power and desired relief. They reside “up there” in the heights of our preferred hierarchies.
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Your Instabilities Are a Good Thing, and So Are Other People’sMarch 23, 2017

For many of us, the experience of adulthood involves what I call  “completion projects” in The Elegant Self.  Completion projects are our unexamined drives to become (or appear) more whole and complete. Because they are unexamined, they are the unseen agendas that appear to have most of us. (more…)

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Feedback Fuels Our GrowthMarch 14, 2017

Twenty years ago, I made my debut as an organizational psychologist.  Perhaps influenced by academics and my former life as an accountant, my envisioned ideal was a neutral, even stoic, helping professional.   But I failed spectacularly; I have always had preferences and get very passionate around values, ethics and methods in organizations and leadership. I’m also sensitive to dynamics and emotions in the room, find myself contracting when conflict and stress arise, and become deeply touched by the lives of my clients. (more…)

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The Two Poles of Relating – Receptive Listening and Penetrative ExpressionFebruary 28, 2017

Some of us tend to orient towards listening and reflecting others, while some of us are more comfortable with expression.  In this video clip, Diane Musho Hamilton talks about how the ability to express ourselves with penetrative clarity hinges on how well we receive and listen to others–and vice versa.  Skilled communicators are not confined to wherever their habits or strengths orient them. Instead, they are able to fluidly move between both poles of penetrative expression, and receptive listening, in service to what is needed in the moment.   

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Next Stage for Self-Management: Skilled Facilitator TrainingFebruary 21, 2017

A big ah-ha from the field: Successful self-management depends on this.

Many teams and organizations, especially in the last few years since the rise of Holacracy and the popularity of Reinventing Organizations, are transitioning to self-management—or at least sniffing around the possibility. (more…)

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Free To Go Off ScriptFebruary 15, 2017

I needed a breakthrough. Two important group facilitation events loomed in my near future. While I felt excited about them, I also felt terrified. As a lifelong writer who is more comfortable in the writing cave and in one-to-one mentoring situations, the very thought of guiding a group of writers gave me a chill. This was something I had veered away from religiously. But now, doors were opening and I felt called to step across the threshold. I could no longer say no. (more…)

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Bridging the Gap Between Personal and Cultural EvolutionFebruary 9, 2017

Different streams of evolution flow at their own pace. For example, the responsive movements of culture are more dynamic and exciting. By contrast, genetics develop at a rate that no human lifespan sees, with changes unfolding over the course of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years. While we may see advances in editing and augmenting genes for more healthy and adaptive human beings, until now this remains only a possibility.

Meanwhile, the rate of individual development straddles the middle ground between culture and genetics. Here we see a series of personal transformations spanning throughout our childhoods, turbulent adolescences and the many diverse forms of adulthood we traverse through our lives.

The social and political currents in the United States are a perfect example of this cultural flux. For some, President Trump’s rise to power is precisely the advancement they have been hoping for. For others, the past 18 months represent a regressive backward turning of the clock.
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Embodying Presence into The WorldOctober 24, 2016

Why Does Sitting Meditation Help Facilitation?
The question came up in our last public Integral Facilitator call about how the practice of sitting meditation contributes to being able to DO something differently. Certainly, it helps to unwind the nervous system, develop focused attention, and relax the tight grip of self-identification. But while It may support individual well-being, it is hard to see how in the middle of a tense or confusing meeting, the practice will help us act in a fresh way that makes a difference to others.

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Liberation and Fairness are in the Here and NowJuly 29, 2016

For me, as a consultant on diversity and inclusion (D&I), “Diversity Work” is a radical call to embrace difference. It is a means of challenging our conditioned patterns, biased views, and unjust practices.

Fundamentally, it is about liberating ourselves from old patterns in order to care more deeply for each other, and creating fairness in our relationships that allow us to discover new and dynamic collaborations.

When I communicate with the companies I work with I assert that legislation and policies are necessary (whether that be new hiring processes or putting cameras on police). But, I am also clear with them that that is not sufficient, because legislation and policies only regulate bigotry, unjust practices, and institutional oppression — they do not end it.

For long term, positive culture change we must include inner transformation to end bigotry and institutional oppression. And there is a crucial orientation we must take, I believe, to successfully support the organizations and people we work with in transforming.

We, as consultants and facilitators, must orient our clients and teams to the interpersonal dynamics in the here and now.

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The Intelligence of ConflictJuly 21, 2016


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Your challenge isn’t high performance, it’s culture designJune 28, 2016

Thanks to Google’s recent analysis of high performing teams, the popular press on leadership and innovation is abuzz with an interest in “psychological safety.”

According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, psychological safety (her term) is present when members of a team or group believe that they will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.

Google’s research found that psychological safety is key (maybe the key) to high performance, matching Edmonson’s findings that it drives an organization or team’s ability to learn and innovate—particularly for people working in fields that are rapidly changing, uncertain, and ambiguous. (In other words, all of us.)

“Psychological safety” can sound clinical to some—in our work, we understand it as a description of a generative and safe group culture. Therefore, if you wish to improve performance, start with culture design. By designing a more accepting, tolerant, adaptive, flexible culture, you will increase safety, support, and influence the performance indicators you care about.

In order to help clarify what you can do to positively influence the culture you’re in, let’s take a closer look at the building blocks of a psychologically safe culture.

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Diane Musho Hamilton on Practice & EvolutionMay 27, 2016


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We’ve Flattened the Hierarchy—Now What?April 27, 2016

Increase transparency. Share power. Create self-managing teams. Become a learning organization.

If you’re an evolutionarily-minded leader and you want to embrace the future of work along these lines, how do you do it?

Are all self-managing systems of governance more or less the same, or are some better suited for your existing culture? Is your job to select the “best” (Most popular? Easy to understand?) approach for evolving your team or organization, and stick with it long enough to reap the rewards? (…Is Slack really all you need?)

How do we really change the way people work in meaningful ways?

While it is certainly true that changing the way we organize, make decisions, and share power will influence the way we understand and approach our work together, exterior innovations are only half of the change story—at most. Whether you’re trying to change a life habit or an organization, it’s tempting to orient to change as an exterior problem to solve. If I just do this behavior, things will improve.

Transparency, power sharing, distributed leadership and self management are all behavioral adaptations to complexity. We’ve hit upon these adaptations precisely because the current way isn’t working. But whatever the current way is—it isn’t merely what we’re doing. It’s how we’re understanding; thinking, making meaning, feeling, imagining, envisioning and identifying.

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Protected: IF Graduate Mastery Certificate in Evolving WorldviewsApril 11, 2016

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Letting Our Differences Have Their Way With UsApril 5, 2016

In my experience, any time we engage in a conversation about our differences with an intention to prove the other side wrong, we’re heading for a dead end. When we take a right-wrong stance to any conversation about difference — whether it’s about race or gender, politics or religion — it reveals that we’re more interested in affirming our positions (and our sense of self tied to those positions) than anything else.

Engaging this way also rests on a hidden belief: that the tension between our differences can be fixed.  Even if by some miracle – by simply pointing out why “my” difference is right and “yours” is wrong – I do convert you to my side, this at best creates a false harmony. False, because it keeps our psyches untouched, our perspectives unchanged, and our ways of being with one another limited. The only real victory in this case is a shallow truce that avoids a greater complexity and, ultimately, a greater intimacy, in favor of a more complacent sense of safety.

As a facilitator, I’m interested in working with groups that are keen on developing themselves. I’ve found that one of the most essential ways we can foster growth is through engaging our differences. Consciously engaging our differences is transformational for our ability to learn and grow through relationships.

As I experiment with different ways to support curious, keen-to-grow groups, I’ve come to rely on some basic orienting frames for engaging differences in a way that has the greatest transformational impact.

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The Truth of Trump—Every Perspective is True and PartialMarch 29, 2016

It is quite an election year. We’ve got a belligerent capitalist, a pervy tea party candidate, an insipid moderate, a self-serving woman, and a raving socialist. The polarities are so extreme that violence is bursting out at the seams at Trump’s rallies, and the Bernie people treat Hillary supporters like traitors to the cause. It’s kinda crazy out there.

And yet, it is the most energized election we have seen since 1968. And it is a prime opportunity to use the Integral practice to capture some of the energy, and open awareness to deeper parts of ourselves. How are we supposed to make sense of all this? It’s one thing to be a television announcer and just pose questions, but it’s another thing to try and find a path through the mess—let alone to actually weave genuine conversation or generate some understanding so that you can vote with integrity.

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Leadership Spotlight: Sergio RojasMarch 25, 2016

Sergio Rojas is the Head of Project Management and Business IT for Riksgalden in Sweden. He is also the Chairman of the Global Association of SoL Communities. In this video, Sergio shares a high level perspective on the role of leadership in a globally connected world and the inner skills leaders need to gain to work with fear, conflict, change, and diverse contexts. Sergio is a graduate of Integral Facilitator’s 3-day Next Stage Facilitation Training.

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How to Leverage Creative Tension for GoodMarch 4, 2016

If there were a word for our chapter in history, it might be “interconnected.” Organizations, teams, movements, individuals, economies, ecosystems. Is there any part of our lives untouched by accelerating connectivity? Our curiosity and imagination—aka, advance into novelty—is weaving us together. And as we get closer, we can’t avoid experiencing the uncomfortable and exciting paradox of our differences and our similarities.

When we bump up against each other, we get more opportunities to delight in the new and different. And we also get more bewilderment, non-understanding, not-knowing or downright conflict. Whether you desire it or not, interconnectedness brings more contact, more friction, and therefore more creative tension.

So, what?

Well, if we add to this observation the findings of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, we get some very compelling implications. Especially for the worlds of work and leadership.

Here’s the Harvard study In a nutshell: “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.” (That’s a direct quote from Robert Waldinger, fourth director of the now 75-year long study of adult development.)

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Understanding Evolving World ViewsFebruary 15, 2016

Many of us live very interconnected lives, working and traveling across cultural and geographic boundaries. With this greater ability to bridge distances, comes increased challenges of difference and diversity. Our differences are exciting, but can be incredibly stressful—and for good reason. In our evolutionary history, humans were far more likely to be killed by another human, usually from a different tribe, than by any other predator. Hanging together ensured our survival—and we are still sensitive to difference as a possible sign of danger.

A significant difference that occurs between us in our work lives, loves lives, and social lives—one that Ken Wilber has repeatedly pointed out as being of great significance—is differences in world views. How we see the world, and the interpretations we make about it can result in enormous divisions. Something like Beyonce’s performance at the Super Bowl can be seen as creatively courageous or as a step backward historically. Agreement about what’s good and how we ought to live can look more and more impossible.

It is important for anyone in leadership positions today to understand how our world views evolve, and to explore how these differences can be worked with. We use a simple map for exploring world views: The Ego-centric stage with its emphasis on protecting the self, and the danger of narcissism; the Ethno-centric stage with a strong sense of community, safety, and stability which may stagnate in its conformist values; the World-centric stage which brings an immense expansion of identity, but global scale problems, and the Kosmic-centric view which frees us from the boundaries of space and time, but also insists that we re-engage the other levels.

Understanding worldviews affirms the notion that with greater maturity, comes greater perspectives and an increased capacity for care. Our identity can become more fluid, which leads us to empathize and join with others more freely—even when on the surface our differences appear significant. As we develop, our view of the world can outgrow the limitation of black and white thinking, and prejudice and fear decrease. Because our identity isn’t so rigidly fixed on ideas about “us” and “them,” we can meet others with curiosity whether or not they understand us—or agree with us. This brings along an invaluable ability to empathize, connect, relate, and bring people together for coordinated action.

Being willing and able to join with others across differences makes us a more stable, trustable influence, which is ultimately what skillful leadership rests on. For those leaders and change-makers who are wrestling with our most complex challenges, bringing people together is an essential skill that requires empathy, compassion, and the ability to integrate differences without rubbing out the creative tension of diversity.

Diane Musho Hamilton
Co-Founder and Lead Teacher, Integral Facilitator®
Author, Everything is Workable, a Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution.


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What’s the flavor of your collaboration?January 11, 2016

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.

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Ten Directions & Meridian University CollaborationJanuary 7, 2016

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:

  • Integral MBA in Creative Enterprise
  • M.A. in Psychology
  • Ph.D. in Psychology (meets the educational requirements for psychologist licensure in California).
  • M.Ed. in Educational Leadership
  • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership

How it Works  (more…)

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Facilitator Neutrality—Not What You ThinkDecember 4, 2015

Judges, referees, mediators and facilitators are trained to be neutral. But neutrality is often misunderstood. We think neutrality looks like a distant, overly rational character with horned-rimmed glasses sitting back like a pondering judge, or the oh-so-nice peacekeeper in comfortable shoes smoothing everything over to the point of obsequiousness. The word neutrality can be conflated with the idea of being neutered; that is, lacking life force, energy, or being just plain bland. And the truth is, nobody wants that person in front of the room leading a discussion, particularly if it is about something you care about.

Actually, true neutrality is completely enlivened state of mind. It is not detached, emotionally removed, indifferent or static. Rather, this neutrality involves an acute ability to identify with each perspective in a conversation, to see the truth in each comment, however partial or incomplete it may be. At the same time, it is fluid; true neutrality is equally able to detach from an idea or let go of a position in order to include more truths. In this way, neutrality is a form of flexibility involving the art of picking up the truth, then shifting gears and letting a perspective go momentarily in order to keep the conversation moving.

This is one way in which neutrality when facilitating groups is a practice akin to meditation. The practice of meditation is not absent of experience. Rather it is a full experience of experience—and then the experience of letting go. When we are truly neutral, we can engage viewpoints and pick up perspectives. But we don’t react to them, and we can set them down just as easily when the next moment calls for something different.

True neutrality is dynamic. It requires full, embodied engagement. Nothing is left out. Not our mind, our emotions, not our body. Neutrality requires us to feel. The more we feel, the more we can let go. We learn to bring our feelings online; our sensitivity to energy, engaging from position of involvement rather than observation. In this way we engage our own life force as a facilitator — our own dynamism — which in turn enables greater participation and involvement from everyone around us.

Diane Musho Hamilton
Co-Founder and Lead Teacher, Integral Facilitator®
Author, Everything is Workable, a Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution.

Listen to the recording of a Ten Directions’ live call with more on this subject: Neutrality is Not What You Think

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Getting Real About PowerSeptember 30, 2015

The heroic leadership model has been on the decline for years. Increasingly it is being replaced by an interest in collaborative and facilitative leadership practices. What does this shift mean for our understanding of the distribution of power, and for how well we work with power dynamics?

Our archetypes of heroic leadership are shaped by concepts of power. Heroic leaders wield the power of command and control. This model of leadership is most outstanding in its efficiency, and often in effectiveness. Sharing power is slower, unwieldy, requiring more communication and process, and is therefore at odds with hierarchical structure.

In contrast, collaborative leaders are expected to distribute power. Their perceived strength is derived from their ability to “empower others,” to influence the quality of groups and teams such that each person can make a unique contribution, feel valued, and share in the ownership of the mission.

This is why collaborative leadership is also facilitative. Facilitating collaborative engagement requires generosity, people skills, shared values, and an understanding of systems. It also demands true openness to the unknown, and a mindset that values the creativity and the mess that sometimes entails.

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