En-courage…

These are times… more than most times, I believe…when the curiosity, courage, and compassion needed in the world… are calling us to explore… to wander… to ponder the story of each and all… to wreck the journal of what has been… and write the journal of what could be…

A couple of years ago, when I visited the remarkable Olana state park and estate in New York’s Hudson Valley, I went to see the equally remarkable Wander Society tent and installation Keri Smith had built there for us all. And there, I met explorers… wanderers… visitors who came upon this thing and knew not what it was. And I did my best to explain, and show them. En-couraging them to open every drawer, look in every folder and book… and find the gifts carefully placed within.

And that day, I also was so fortunate to see the last day of the also equally remarkable Wander Society camp for young kids. I saw the art the kids had made, met and talked with the 7-8 year-olds who had been through this journey together, and talked with the teachers who had guided them all in Keri’s vision.

And now, this day… we must wander… explore…en-courage… each, and all.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/08/24/how-to-be-an-explorer-of-the-world-keri-smith/?fbclid=IwAR2jA-EpshIVJ_TZXtGpzAb5NRuOacfsFURqJQT4dkS7Jsb-pFdK-EduH08

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Join the FIRST EVER EAST COAST LIBERATING STRUCTURES EXPERIENCE!

Well HI THERE fans and friends of Liberating Structures in the GREATer Philadelphia area… Yes. . . it HAS been a while… AND. . . well, a lot has been happening with our Yes, And…Philly group.


So YES, AND. . . it is time again to CONNECT | COLLABORATE | CREATE as we join with other great Liberating Structures facilitators to bring you the first ever joint EAST COAST LS EXPERIENCE!

On behalf of our great LS communities and their organizers in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Washington, D.C.; New Jersey; Montreal, Canada; and the Greater Philadelphia areas…

Do you have CHALLENGES right now? In your organizations? Your communities? Challenges that may be complex or even chaotic at times, and where no expert knows a certain solution? The set of unique methods known as LIBERATING STRUCTURES offers ways to open up and include all voices, all ideas. Ways to do better together. If you have experienced Liberating Structures before, you know they are EASY TO LEARN, EASY TO IMPLEMENT, AND GENERATE RESULTS.

Today, with the unique and complex challenges we are all experiencing, LS are needed more than ever. This is why a group of LS community leaders have come together to offer this unique online LIBERATING STRUCTURES EXPERIENCE.
SO JOIN US… as we guide hundreds of participants – and YOU – through a series of Liberating Structures both familiar, and… emerging. Learn the WHAT, HOW, and WHY of these remarkable collaborative methods.


WHEN: NOVEMBER 18th
TIME: 8-10p.m. Eastern U.S. Time
COST: This one is FREE, thanks to the efforts and contributions of our JOINT LS EXPERIENCE organizers Mentioned above.

Over 75 people have already registered, and we have a limit of 250 for this event. Please click the link below, and REGISTER TODAY to secure your spot at this first-of-its-kind event.

Registration link:

https://forms.gle/aZPS3aVvhmQDbSyf7

Stay well, friends, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!

For Yes, And. . .Philly,

Bruce

Bruce Waltuck, MA, C, C, and C

Organizer/Leader

Yes, And. . .Philly

The Philadelphia Area Group for Liberating Structures and. . . 

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In the Beginning: Without Form

We know there are fundamentally different kinds of situations we experience in life. From simple, clear stuff, to more complicated technical ordered stuff. From the seemingly disordered complex stuff, to the truly chaotic.

And in the center of it all… “tohu vabohu.”

What? Not familiar with this primordial state? Each year, Jews around the world read the Books of Moses one section per week. And tonight marks the opening reading “Bereisheit” – In the Beginning..

And the opening words are translated as the universe being “without form, and void.” In Hebrew, “tohu vabohu.” Which is also linguistically related to “chaos” and “confused.”

So… in the darkness that preceded the light… our first perceptions are of chaos, disorder, formlessness. And from the confusion… the first day. Of light. Life. Possibility. Of all domains of order and disorder. Of clarity and complexity.

As the magicians say, “abra-cadabra,” also from ancient Hebrew… “it is created as I speak.”

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Adopt and Adopt- Together: Supporting Entrepreneurship Now And Always

A couple of thoughts about Adapting.. inspired by my exchanges with friends and colleagues in the 1 Million Cups Organizers’ Summit today.

Rooted in my more than 20 years of learning, applying, and teaching concepts from the field of Complex Adaptive Systems.

..we humans encounter several related bu different kinds of situations. Some are simple or obvious- we all know what to do (like getting a flat tire fixed, perhaps). Some are complicated and technical, like fixing your transmission or getting a root canal. Experts might have slightly different approaches but it is still pretty certain they can fix it. But some stuff is complex… like the impact on small and startup businesses by a historic pandemic. No expert knows what it is exactly, or how to assure the desired outcome. Some stuff we experience is just catastrophic and chaotic.

..there is research and consensus on the optimal sequence of what to do in response to each type of situation or challenge. In the complex stuff, the best we can do is to try promising ideas, observe and learn from what happens, and keep the good ones and stop the ones that don’t work. (See Snowden and Boone HBR 2007).

..as entrepreneurs and as 1MC organizers (an entrepreneurial effort in itself), we know things aren’t always going to go according to plan. Is there stuff we can learn that will help? How do my feelings about what happened impact my ability to respond? Do I have the courage and curiosity to keep exploring options even though I know some will fail?

..as we all journey on in this… can we be Flexible enough to change? Can we Adopt good ideas from others and Adapt to what is happening around us- even if whatever it is is unclear? Can we be Resilient- absorbing the impact of unwanted circumstances and still keep moving ahead?

We can help entrepreneurs and our 1MC community… by hearing all voices…sharing promising ideas, failures and successes… supporting each other…caring for and about each other.

Just my 99 cents worth for now.

What do others think?

See you soon,

Bruce

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T. Irene Sanders on “Being President In a Complex World”

I first encountered complex adaptive systems science in 1998- literally a life-changing moment for me. One of the people whose work I found early in my complexity learning journey was T. Irene Sanders. An early student of complexity, Irene has worked particularly in applying insights and methods to the work of public policy, and military intelligence analysis. About 14 years ago, I hired Irene to be a featured speaker at a conference in D.C. that I organized on new insights for government improvement.

Over the past few months, I have been on dozens of Zooms with literally thousands of people from around the world on complexity, and leading positive change through this pandemic. The other night I revisited my bookshelf, and two books almost leapt into my hands. One was Irene Sanders’ 1998 book “Strategic Thinking and the New Science.” Re-reading the book, I found Irene’s “Futurescape” methodology to be enduring, and needed now.

A quick stop today at Irene’s website for her “Center For Complexity and Public Policy” led to me to a link for an article she wrote on “being President in a Complex World.” The article, written after the 2016 election, but before the 2017 inauguration, has interesting insights known and knowable then, and… points us to the reflection and retrospection we may make of the last four years from our perspective today.

Click to access being-president-in-a-complex-world.pdf

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Repairing The World – The Work of “Tikkun Olam”

On the seventh day, the Holy One of Being rested. They had contracted their infinity to make a tiny point from which the universe we know today began. Through dimensions of emanation, creation, and formation, to our human world of action.

And while the creator of the universe might have made us complete and perfect, they did not.

Our ancient wisdom traditions tell us that we are responsible for “tikkun olam” – to repair the world. We are, then partners in the completion of creation in this universe. We can not fully know the Infinite Source – the “Ein Sof.” We can know they are there, breathing life-energy into our expanding universe.

And we can open our hearts and minds to the capacities for curiosity, courage, compassion, and caring. . . for all.

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Complexity in Human Systems Symposium : early reflections and questions

The first (annual?) gathering ended last night. Here, my first thoughts:

Early reflections and questions from the remarkable Complexity in Human Systems Symposium. More to follow.

So…

The nature of our cognition, discernment, and actions results in the domains of order including simple, complicated, complex, and chaotic situations. The domains are a feature of our humaniverse. The pioneering work of Dave Snowden and others codified the optimal patterns of response that are also laws of the humaniverse. Centuries of Newtonian achievement wrongly applied to managing/leading organizations catalyzed and galvanized the fear of uncertainty and ambiguity. Consultants misappropriate knowledge to commoditize buzzwords.

And so… now… Dave convened many of the best and brightest complexity thinkers, teachers, and practitioners to…. what, exactly? What are we going to create? Manifestos, codes of practice, and more certification credentials? The dynamics of the humaniverse suggest criteria that are not TOO constrained as to diminish critical variation (thanks, Ross Ashby).

What is OUR story?

What do we want to do?

Why does it matter?

How will we work together?

Who needs to be involved?

When will we do this?

And then… how will we reflect, assess, adapt, evolve, and… ?

What do YOU think?

#complexity

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A Change Is Gonna Come: mission, workforce & leadership in government

There are major forces in play affecting government workforces, missions, and cultures.

Here, my reply to a post from the well-known government consultant Bill Eggers. Bill’s post suggested methods and approaches to public sector improvement.

—-

Bill, I would suggest all this, and more. We are experiencing a catalytic time of change for government work and workers. At the Federal level, and also in some states, changes are simultaneously impacting the fundamental missions, and the structure of human resource management. The challenges of recruiting and retaining competent, dedicated employees have never been greater (particularly at the Federal level).

Complex challenges require a foundation of rational cognition and discernment, the capacity to engage in generative dialogue about meaning and coordinated action, and the simultaneous qualities of curiosity and courage.

To meet the clear and agreed-upon needs and wants of citizens requires a right-sized workforce, fully funded to successfully achieve their mission, with both accountability, and commitment to continuous improvement.

All of this demands leadership that both understands the distinction between technical/complicated, and complex/adaptive situations, and which will act optimally in each domain. The knowledge, skills, and methods to succeed are here now. Whether public sector leaders have the courage to adopt them remains to be seen.

What do you and others think?

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Un-Caged: On John Cage, Art, and the FLUX of Life

On John Cage, and Art.

In response to a friend’s posting of a cartoon referencing the work of John Cage, I wrote and shared the following comments. Cage’s work purposefully introduces ambiguity, chance, and uncertainty to both performers and audience alike. The choreography of his partner and collaborator Merce Cunningham, as I was fortunate to observe one fine day, did not rely at all on the sonic or temporal cues of Cage’s soundtrack. Cunningham set his own internal order and constraints for his dancers. So too with life in organizations, as we work in complex situations.

So..

Me: I had an appointment once to do a DOL investigation at McCarter Theater, the famous venue in Princeton. When I entered the lobby, I heard unusual sounds from the theater. I went in, and it was Merce Cunningham rehearsing with his group, and John Cage sitting in the front discussing his random soundtrack. I quickly got my phone, called the theater office downstairs to say I had been “unavoidably detained” and sat in the back row alone watching these geniuses for an hour.

Them: Honestly, I consider Cage, et. al. to have participated in perpetrating a massive hoax on the public – convincing them that if you don’t understand it, it must be great art. Art, by definition, must communicate something. All too much “art” these days communicates nothing more than, “Ha, ha, ha – look how stupid you are to buy this!”

Me: I must respectfully disagree. Art communicates some variations of what the artist intended, and what the viewer/listener experiences and decides it means to them. In Cage, we see an artist who purposefully introduced elements of randomness and chance into his work. His “composition” in which the pianist comes out and sits playing nothing for around four and a half minutes, works to transform what we think of as “music.” For me, such work is powerful and important, and I greatly appreciated the work of John Cage.

Them: Bruce, & I must respectfully disagree. To me, 4 mins. however many seconds is just total bullshit.

Me: All I can say is experience it as Cage intended. See and hear all that emerges around you in that time and place. Not what you expected. Other than what you may have wanted. Yet human and unique every time.

So… what do you think?

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United, We Might Fall. Divided, We Might Adapt. on civility and disruption in the face of significant power differentials

A very interesting piece. I have been thinking this year about how to catalyze shared meaning among otherwise divided people, such that respectful, generative dialogue and coordinated action can occur. I believe there are basic capacities a person must have in some minimum quantity, such that rational sense-making and learning occur. Such that opinion, belief, and action are informed by fact and knowledge. So dialogue can and will take place.

My belief, and concern, is that too many are currently so overcome with the fear born of ignorance, and manipulated by the power-seekers, as to make learning and dialogue impossible. We have seen it this week. Facts and clear public acts be damned, they will refuse to believe what their eyes and ears take in.

So… civility and disruption. Civility would seem to be predicated on some set of shared values and intentions. Those afraid of “other” to the extent that they deny fact and knowledge, are not likely to embrace a civility that just might cause them to confront differences of opinion, belief, and intention.

Disruption is a wonderful tactic to change the patterns of behavior in a system, community, or society. It is especially useful in truly chaotic situations, where no one really knows what is going on or why things happen as they do. In the face of complexity- significant uncertainty and ambiguity – purposeful disruption is likely to have unintended consequences.

“Other” can topple the status quo. We see the consequences of that in our headlines right now. People who feel disenfranchised or wronged can certainly act to disrupt. Act without “civility” and cause. . . ?? Turbulence? Space for new meaning and possibility? Confusion? A forceful and even repressive response?

Are there other ways to make the change in the world that we want? Would the methods in “Walk Out, Walk On” be helpful? Do we necessarily need everyone at the table to have the life and world we want (perhaps not the obvious question it might seem to be)?

I don’t know just where and when we should act to be disruptive. For myself, this year, apart from socio-politics, has been a year of purposeful disruption- in the view of some. Inspired greatly by Brené Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness, I began “speaking truth to bullshit. . . with civility.”

Ahh. . . There’s that word again.

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Civility-only-serves-the-already-powerful-13083284.php

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