A World Cafe for fellow Fielding doctoral students and faculty

My friend and fellow doctoral traveler Bart Buechner hosted the November San Francisco Fielding Cluster meeting at the VA center in Yountville just north of Napa Calif. We had two faculty that came in to deliver a workshop on Critical Theory and I was to host a World Cafe after lunch. I did make it down but it was an arduous trip. I got to the airport in Redmond Oregon at 5:30 am and the plane was delayed and did not leave until 9:15. I got lots of reading in at least. I did make it down to the Bay Area and after picking up a car made it to the meeting at just after 1 pm, 4 hours late. But I did make it in time for some of the workshop, lunch, conversation, and then the delivery of the World Cafe. Most of the participants, 14 in all, had not experienced The World Cafe and one of those who had did not have a good experience so I was excited to introduce the fantastic dialogic process to the group.

We as a group came up with a question which focused on power differentials and the Obama election and whether Obama could make a difference and what our hopes and dreams had been in supporting the Obama election. We had a short amount of time so I did a quick philosophical introduction to The World Cafe as a dialogic process and then set 15 minute rounds and a 10 minute harvest. The conversation was outstanding and again based on the results it was clear that the power of dialogue is what can drive the healing of the world. Although it was a short meeting for me, the trip down was invaluable.

At 3:45 I hit the road to go to Woodside to have dinner and visit with my friend Deborah and her husband Stephen at the home of one of their dear friends. After driving in pouring rain the whole way I got there at 6 pm and stayed until just after 8 pm. Wonderful conversations with Deborah and the hosts. Let for the airport and got to the terminal at 9 pm. Noticed that my flight was delayed, thank God, as it had been scheduled to leave at 9:05. I have no idea how I thought that it left at 10. Well it was delayed until 10 and then until 11 and by the time I got home it was 1:30 am and I was exhausted. But it was well worth it.

The trip although a busy, was a reminder of how important dialogue is and how important gathering in friendship is to us. Have wonderful conversations and a great holiday season.


November Systems Thinking Conference in Seattle

Another wonderful systems thinking conference produced by Pegasus Communications. This is my third year attending the systems thinking conference and it is a time to connect in conversation with friends and associates that I do not have a chance to see face to face during the year. The key note presentations this year were not only insightful but inspiring. In particular I enjoyed Peter Senge’s presentation and that of David Whyte, an author and poet whose message was heartfelt and transformative. Another presentation that I really enjoyed was from Linda Booth Sweeney as she wove her conversation into participation with the audience. The last key note was presented by John Seely Brown and he provided extraordinary insights into the transformation of our communities and the role of technology, gaming, and social networking. He really opened my eyes to the talents and capabilities of the generation that have these technologies as native to them. Graphic recording was excellent during the conference and weaving was provided by Gary Malkin between sessions. His beautiful voice certainly helped set the tone for the conference.

The conference theme was courageous conversations and as we progressed through the several days together, each speaker wove this theme into their conversation and by the end of the conference I began to fully appreciate the need for courageous conversations to not only set the tone for the future but to create the future that we envision.

As well this conference gave me a chance to delve deeper into the conversation community and meetings with The World Cafe team were powerful. What a committed, talented, and passionate team of people. I was disappointed to miss the national SoL meeting as I was involved in The World Cafe meetings. There simply is not enough time to do it all.

I left the conference with a new sense of connection to the greater conversation field and new friends and partners who all are dedicated to this wonderful work that we do.


Pegasus Conference 2008

This years conference created some very interesting insights for me. I reconnected with friends that I had not seen since last years conference, engaged in numerous conversations, and participated in some outstanding learning sessions. I will certainly join the conference next year.

As I explore the field of systems thinking and learning organizations, I am often frustrated with my inability to capture and use all that I study. An insight that I gained in a conversation with Tom Hurley of The World Cafe jarred me into a new framework. I had been locked into a framework of seeking wisdom from others and Tom suggested that I should quit looking outside of myself for the answers and look inward. One of the things that I truly appreciate about the power of conversation is that you can gain so much from someone you trust if you only open your heart and listen. And that I did.

I have made some profound changes in the way that I study now. I am accepting that I have wisdom and am embracing my elderhood, a concept that I explored in a session with David Isaacs of The World Cafe. I now am going back through my texts and articles in the field of systems thinking and learning organizations and capturing key learings and concepts in a leadership journey journal which is helping me internalize what I need to know to become an expert in a field that I love. I am astounded with the depth of learning I am experiencing with this new learning method. I have already used new Theory U concepts to deliver a powerful healing session with my church leadership and pastor, driving deeper levels of conversation and creating a place for healing to take place. If I had continued down the road that I was on, I very well might have missed this critical opportunity. The answers are inside of me. I do have the wisdom and my confidence has greatly increased. Getting the feedback directly from Tom was a blessing and I am also grateful that he was willing to reach out and provide such direct and impactful feedback.

I feel that you have to be in conversation to experience deep learning as I did in my conversation with Tom. I also feel grateful that I was able to convene so many heart felt conversations at the conference and I hope to be able to do the same for others as my work unfolds in this extraordinary world of ours.

Keep up the conversations and thank you for visiting.


New Squidoo Lens on Beauty and Technology

This new squidoo lens focuses on tools and resources that help bring beauty to your part of the online world. Not just for online communication designers in building websites, blogs, newsletters, wikis, & other online spaces, this will be a valuable asset to anyone with a social networking profile (FaceBook, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc.).

Amy not only is a wonderful online communication designer, she is the technology genius behind The World Cafe. Amy comes to her work with an intimate understanding of conversation and the power of community to change the world. I do not know of anyone else who has this unique perspective and is able to bring that to her clients. As I explore social networks and the role of learning conversations, I am struck that I know so little yet have come so far. I value Amy and her ability to help me grasp the extraordinary opportunities of building communities of practice bound together through conversation. Certainly check out Amy’s work and if you are looking for a resource, engage her in a conversation and see what happens.

Continue the conversations.


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Pegasus Conference

I attended the Pegasus conference from Sunday October 4th through Wednesday October 7th. The conference title Amplifying Our Impact: Strategies for Unleashing the Power of Relationship was well defined. The speakers, the break out sessions and the tone of the conference fully honored and supported conversation as the foundation for change in our world. And over and over again, I gained perspective on how I could personally amplify my impact on our world. In particular, I found the partnership with The World Cafe and the Society for Organizational Learning to be very powerful. I had the opportunity to participate in meetings and sessions with both organizations and came away from the conference with renewed hope for our world. I also came away from the conference with new friends and partners, all focused on the work that I love.

There were about 1000 participants at the conference all focused on building communities that focus on learning, systems, and conversation. What an extraordinary experience. I could not have asked for more from a conference. Some of the personal highlights for me included Otto Scharmer, Peter Senge, Juanita Brown, David Isaacs, Nancy Margulies and her wonderful graphic work and then Van Jones who is proving that we can change the world through a focus on solutions rather than problems.

I have provided a link to The World Cafe Blog where Amy Lenzo of The World Cafe has done a wonderful job of capturing the tone and essence of the conference. I will not even try to replicate this fantastic work. I highly recommend that you go to this blog and not only review this post but sign up and participate if your love is around creating conversations that matter.

One of my personal insights was about the emerging field of work around conversational leadership, see my Conversational Leadership model that I talk to, a field that I am fully engaged in and focused on. I first defined this field of work in my paper on conversational leadership, Con versare: To Dance Together, in my last year of my masters program in late 2002. It was so gratifying to know that this field of study is begining to gain some recognition.

Pegasus has another conference scheduled for next year in Boston on November 17-19, titled Systems Thinking in Action, a conference I will surly attend.

I wish you the best and keep the conversations going.