It has been a while since we updated you all on where we are with Beyond the Basics. As we move into 2016 we have been reflecting on the three years of development and offering we have done together and what comes next for us all. We are in a period of internal reflection, learning and integration. Here’s what’s going on.
After our last event in Kingston Ontario we hired Gabrielle Donnelly, a developmental evaluator and someone who knows our work, and attended the gathering in Mahone Bay. She helped us design and deliver an evaluation process to give us a sense of what we were learning and how BtB was being received. We want to thank the hundreds of you that answered the survey! We were overwhelmed with the support and the feedback that we got and it taught us a few things.
We don’t want to overwhelm a blog post with detail, but among other things we learned that:
- The program was well received in general, and that it delivered some content that was new and inspiring to most people that attended.
- Some people found the group sizes to be too big in some locations
- While we had high ratings on our design and curriculum, there is a tension and a balance between delivering content and engaging in participatory processes. Although we decided consciously that we would be trying out a more “teaching heavy” approach to our work, the balance is tricky to strike between “expert and participant culture.” Many people appreciated the balance and focus on the teaching and some preferred more time for participant dialogue. This is an ongoing inquiry for many of us in this field. We all seem to want and need both.
- Many participants who attended made great connections and developed work and projects that are still flowing.
- A higher number of people in Europe expressed a strong need for a community of practice highly participatory gathering
- Our simple framing of Depth, Breadth, Power and Friendship was valuable for people, and where we pulled away from that as our program developed, people missed it. We brought it back in Ontario, and it felt like we had come home to something.
The four of us took a few days in December to discuss the evaluation and decide what we are going to do next. We spent time in retreat reflecting on our work and the experience. This was a set of deep and powerful conversations and they continued to emphasize for us how the Friendship pillar can be the hardest to work with at times, and also how much we value that piece. Working together over time and difference is hard. It needs time, attention and deep practice to be sustainable and the pattern of busyness is good to pay attention to. We were grateful to have spent the time together and to go deeply into our own relationships with each other. The conversations were not always easy. They were serious, courageous and vulnerable and it’s a testament to our friendship that we are able to hold these conversations, challenge and support one another and stay committed deeply to the value of staying in relationship, learning and work together. We are appreciative of the honesty and the depth of insight that we gifted each other.
We feel it is helpful in our field to be honest about how hard and challenging this work can be. It’s to be expected that we will hit deep groan zones in growth and development and it felt like that was where we were in December, even though we are coming off three years of developing and delivering a new program that got high ratings from a bunch of our peers.
So what do you do in the groan zone, especially when you are committed to staying together? You shift from content to exploring perspectives together. And that is just what we are doing for 2016.
We realize that we have some good skills and experience to be able design and deliver programs and workshops. This is something we’;ve become good at over the years. But we also know that we can fall into a trap of simply doing more of what we know how to do without reflecting on what the next chapter of our work is together. So for this year we are consciously not offering BtB workshops. Instead our plan for this year looks like this:
- Pause our event offering work and reconnect as a team, and reconnect to the core of our work and learning together.
- Commit to time and space for our co-learning and coaching each other to continue to support each other’s work and learning and also to see what emerges. We continue to be interested in our ability to articulate a new or “next level” practice offering based on what we’ve been putting into Beyond the Basics.
- Holding the possibility of future events or other offerings together - to be periodically considered together. One harvest of our conversations over the next year could well be a new set of workshop offerings, so we’re looking out for areas of high potential.
- This year we are also doing strategic client work together, in different combinations. In fact we are open for work if you think that our team or any combination of our team members could be useful in your own strategic work.
This plan is allowing us to ground some of our ideas and theory that we have been working on for the last four years, with an eye to possibly rolling out another series of workshops in 2017.
And we will be blogging here and continuing to share our learnings, thinking and new resources in this space as well as on our own websites. We hope you’ll continue to join us on this journey, and we especially hope that our own inquiry as experienced practitioners will invite you to consider your offerings in this space as well, including offering some blogs to the BtB site. We are all trying to figure out how to do this better, what we can add or create that is new and helpful and how to sustain the work of participatory leadership in the midst of our deepest strategic challenges.
Stay tuned! And join in!
What are you up to with regards to your learning and practice connected to Beyond the Basics? Send us your news and we'll publish it here on the blog.
Chris, Tuesday, Tim and Caitlin
Upcoming learning opportunities
- Chris Corrigan, Rowan Simonsen and Amy Lenzo are offering an online course starting in March called Harvesting & Collective Sense-Making: Moving from Dialogue to Action & Learning. Learn more with this little introductory video.
April - December 2016
May 19th to 21st, St Paul, Minnesota
- Chris Corrigan is offering a 2 day Open Space Facilitator Training, open to all experience levels. More info and registration Chris will also travel with this training on request.
- Caitlin Frost is offering a year long deepening practice program in The Work - Transforming Limiting Beliefs and Personal Leadership Year Long Program. Includinging person retreat, web-classes/practice groups, partnering, coaching and group forum. Limited group size. By application. Email for more information: Caitlin.Frost@gmail.com
Tuesday and Caitlin are riffing on a pilot web-offering on this topic.
Email for updates if you are interested. Caitlin.Frost@gmail.com