For the past 15 years or so a small movement has been afoot in the world. In the late 1990s several World Cafe hosts from Denmark began asking the question "What if learning was the new form of leadership we needed now? And what if that new form of leadership was actually hosting conversations that matter?" Since that time a global community of practice has emerged over this practice that we call the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter. Over the years, the practice has morphed and grown and expanded and sometimes been renamed. Those of us who have been stewards of this practice have deepened our ability to host meetings and have been called to bring participatory process into larger and larger contexts and scales. We have designed new tools and processes and shared them widely. Many of us have been learning how to take the core practices of the Art of Hosting and extend them into all aspects of strategic initiatives that work with complex and intractable problems. We have gone Beyond the Basics. And we have learned a ton.
This team I get to work with - Tim Merry, Tuesday Ryan-Hart and Caitlin Frost- have all become more and more specialized and masterful in their practices. Part of why I invite people to come to an Art of Hosting Beyond the Basics is so they can experience some of that mastery distilled into teachings and conversations and experiences that will shake up your own practice. Sitting and talking with Tim about the large scale engagement work he has been involved in is inspiring. From the Nova Convention Centre in Halifax or the award winning engagement nwork done on the Halifax Public Library to the radically inclusive youth work, the social entreprenuership and the outrageously fun use of art, music and poetry, Tim's work shows that deeply important strategic process do not have to be divorced from fun, inclusion and leveraging the wisdom and intelligence of the margins. I'm looking forward to Tim's further explication of his Collaborative Advantage model, especially since he has changed a big piece of it from shared purpose to shared work.
Tuesday has been my friend and teacher on the path of understanding new ways to understand power and authority and the dynamics of race and privilege, and she's the one that has inspired this move towards shared work. Hosting and harvesting is a beautiful art, but it is undertaken in a context where race, power and privilege have created a history that has serious impacts for the kind of change that we want to make. And just as papering over our differences doesn't serve us, neither does getting lost in the endless debates about shared analysis that seem to so characterize so much of the social justice work I have been a part of that has failed, come apart and disappointed. Tuesday is leading some seriously interesting thinking at the intersection of social justice and participatory process that is truly game changing and that is having results in systems including US national homelessness policy, local food systems and education. At BtB she shares her recent thinking on power creating a container for some of the most important conversations we're not having in the world of strategic facilitation and participatory leadership.
And Caitlin, my business and life partner, brings an incredibly deep and incisive personal practice that helps leaders to work through the limiting beliefs and stress and suffering that stops so many of us from taking our leadership to the next scale. She is a highly experienced practitioner of The Work of Byron Katie and is recognized globally as a leader in that community of practice. Her clients include everyone from high level executives, elite athletes and artists to social justice activists, faith community leaders, local business people, folks struggling with addiction and trauma and parents. What Caitlin hosts for us at BtB is a deep dive into how this practice of radical self-hosting can bring our leadership in line with the challenges that we are called to address. Over the last year, Caitlin has been diving into the theory behind her approach and continues to refine and describe the ways in which our minds hold us back and what we can do to address that.
As for me, I've been diving deep into complexity theory and cognitive neuroscience, inspired deeply by the work of Dave Snowden and Cognitive Edge, known perhaps most widely for the Cynefin framework. This framework has become deeply influential for my practice of the strategic work of hosting and harvesting, sense-making and taking action that takes dialogue practice into the realms of decision making and evaluation. Every BtB gets a Cynefin teaching and in this next round you'll see some new harvesting strategies and implications for project design.
When we started out last year to deliver this series of workshops we started from the premise that depth, breadth, power and friendship are four important strategic pillars for taking participatory leadership to systemic and longer term initiatives. That remains true, but have been in this exploration for two years now, what I am learning is that a key reason you should come to be with us is to see these folks in their mastery, sharing deeply from more than 70 years of collective experience of designing, implementing, documenting and understanding how to do this work.
Won't you join us?
Minnesota, USA (Minneapolis) - May 6-8, 2015
Europe (Leicester, UK) - July 8-10, 2015
Ontario, Canada (Kingston) - Oct 21-23, 2015