Any convened meeting, gathering or even a conversation has at its core practical ingredients or “principles” that are essential to the creation of a safe and generative engagement leading to powerful outcomes that engage everyone.
As the convener, you have the unique role of creating the recipe then to lead or facilitate people through the engagement AND to introduce the essential ingredients that will inform and assist in achieving the desired outcomes.
Any great meeting like a recipe only uses the best ingredients:
Starting with positive intent, the convener approaches each engagement as an opportunity to create possibilities. Suspending certainty allows for what we don't know to come alive. We then listen for the wisdom in each voice and understand that slowing down the conversation will allow the spaces for creativity and innovation to occur. By hearing all the voices and perspectives we invite diversity and inclusion into the conversation. Then by looking for new ways of thinking and being, we are open to surprises and to new possibilities.
In October 2016, Heartland/CPL celebrated its 20th anniversary with Uber Master Coach Richard Leider. Richard, a longtime friend of CPL and best-selling author of The Power of Purpose, spoke to the top 3 lessons of the meaning of purpose:
- Purpose is a Choice
- Purpose is an aim outside yourself
- Purpose is a practice
Richard’s definition of Purpose: "Your aim or goal. Your reason for being. Your reason for getting up in the morning." In leading others to their true purpose, Richard poses these 3 questions to ask yourself for self-discovery:
- What do I stand for?
- What won’t I stand for? What are my values, boundaries?
- Who do I stand with?
Since we last saw Richard at our conference, he continues to coach and speak on finding and leading a purposeful life. At a leadership breakfast in February, Richard spoke about the power of purpose and how to activate your purpose daily. Richard also spoke at St. Cloud’s Well-Being Summit, addressing the importance of “Working on Purpose. Living on Purpose. Leading on Purpose." Later in February Richard led a Webinar on Repacking On Purpose focusing on life transitions.
cpl is fortunate to have a friend as visionary, influential and inspirational as Richard. Check out Richard's foreword to our book The Art of Convening. If you or your organization are interested in convening with more purpose, call us today at 612.920.3039 to begin your journey. For more updates on CPL and other leaders in the community, connect with us on our LinkedIn page.
With family in town, I'm thinking about how to create a positive future for all people, whether their path takes them into the business world or not. An equitable workplace is on my mind. I worry that it might not be possible to spark shifts in company cultures that dissolve the glass ceiling and create inclusion for people looking to advance. And, I hope that such corporate transformations are already happening.
This is why convening matters. Convening provides a platform for inner and outer work, critical to knowing self as an effective and enduring leader.
In this important annual conversation - relevant for anyone who is making forward-thinking business decisions, has a daughter or son or knows someone rising through the ranks, Heartland and St. Catherine University will relay how company culture impacts women’s corporate advancement in Minnesota and why having men at the table matters.
June 10th will be a day of rich learning and action-oriented outcomes. We’d love to see you there. Register here.
"Notice what you are aware of and open to. Be authentic, vulnerable and courageous. This meaningful exchange creates a connected and interdependent team. Enhanced trust and commitment to one another are a result of essential conversation."
By Rachel Harris
In a global enterprise, owning successes and setbacks as a team are imperative to long-term thriving. But, what if you are operating in the silo mindset?
One such company, a global media production enterprise, contacted CPL and requested consultation on moving from "Point A: disenfranchised, siloed work groups" to "Point B: connected, trusted and empowered staff" in three months. Sounds impossible, right?
After mapping out a game plan with a couple courses of action, our client selected a communications and team building virtual Art of Convening training. The training delivered methods to Connect - Engage - Collaborate over seven sessions, with homework and partner pair work. Here's what happened:
In fourteen weeks together, training participants courageously acknowledged patterns of resentment that had perpetuated their inter-continental meetings and media productions. By design, each participant relearned techniques for authentic conversation. The safe space created within the communications training afforded participants holistic access to learning the 9 Steps to Collaboration. Week by week, they renewed their respect and appreciation for each other. The foundation of trust and respect that developed in the training led to collaboration capacities and confidence to align across silos.
The training was a resounding success and made even more so by the commitment of the CEO, who participated in each of the training sessions. Staff left the training feeling empowered and seeing the collaboration possibilities for their own divisions! Now, two more divisions will launch the Art of Convening communications and team building training in May 2017.
For a peek at one of the communications and team building training secrets to success, we share the following 3 tips for establishing a collaborative team of your own.
- Clarify Purpose: Assess current conditions and notice what problem you need to solve.
- Create Invitation: Who are the key players needed for solving the problem? Choose a timeframe for people to partake in guided conversations. Set clear expectations.
- Engage in Essential Conversation: Notice what you are aware of and open to. Be authentic, vulnerable and courageous. This meaningful exchange creates a connected and interdependent team. Enhanced trust and commitment to one another are a result of essential conversation.
Finally, the newfound interdependency leads to collaboration. We hope these tips on establishing a collaborative team are helpful. If you would like more information, we are happy to talk with you. Get in touch with Center for Purposeful Leadership, call us at 612-920-3039 or email Rachel Harris.
by Rachel Harris
There are many key aspects in convening with purpose and productivity. To ensure your organization's meetings are highly effective for attendees, Heartland presents a list of 10 key Principles of Convening. Many of our clients use these 10 Principles to further their convening skills. One of our recent clients - a team leader in a regional engineering agency - often finds himself in interdepartmental team meetings led by people of varying abilities.
He has taken the Art of Convening training and understands there are always opportunities to take advantage of employing the Principles of Convening in meetings. In his role, he travels from building to building meeting with different teams. He also understands the Principles of Convening are great equalizers in meetings within his role.
Wanting to ensure his time is effective, he envisioned an opportunity for convening principles to be posted and referred to in meetings. Upon hearing his request, Heartland collaborated with the Organizational Development department to install the Principles of Convening Poster in conference rooms. Once added, the interdepartmental teams' ability to collaborate increased. Here at Heartland, we have created a list of 10 key principles to advance and improve the practice and art of convening.
Listen: Respect everyone’s voice; hear their contribution and refrain from fixing, problem-solving, advice-giving.
Speak from your own experience: Speak from the “I”, your personal experience creates trust.
Slow down the conversation: Allow pauses between speakers to create space for collective genius and innovation to emerge.
Speak with sincerity and brevity: Speak your truth and make each word count.
Suspend certainty: Ask yourself, “What don’t you know?” Look for the surprises.
Allow space for difference: Seek to understand, welcome the divergent and convergent views.
Explore new ways of thinking and being: Look for and expect surprises.
Presume positive intent: Be aware of your judgments.
Each person has a role to play: Know that everyone is needed and each person has come to contribute the outcome.
Any engagement can be transformed through essential conversations: Intention to speak and act authentically from a common vision can transform any meeting Heartland's 10 Principles of Convening.
Following Heartland's 10 Principles of Convening will allow for your organization to conduct proactive meetings more successfully and thoroughly. These principles will encourage clarification, engagement, and open-mindedness within your convening. If you have meetings with people of varying skill level who seek to collaborate effectively and are occasionally challenged in doing so, consider adding the Principles of Convening your conference room. Contact Heartland today to maximize your collaboration, leadership or convening capacities. Follow us on our LinkedIn page to receive weekly updates on our blog and convening skills! Contact us at 612.920.3029 for your next consultation on the Art of Convening.
Yesterday I awoke to take this breathtaking image of the sun rising through our front door over Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. May it and poem below inspire your day today!
On a gray day, when the sun
has been abducted, and its chill
I must be the sun.
I must be the one
to encourage the young
working his fathers cash register
to come up with a law of nature
that says brain waves can change
the dismal sky. I must be the one
to remind the ginger plant
not to rest on the reputation
of its pungent roots, but to unveil
those buttery tendrils from the other world.
When the sky is an iron lid
I must be the one to simmer
in the piquant juices of possibility,
though the ingredients are unknown
and the day begins with a yawn.
I must issue forth a warmth
without discrimination, and any guarantee
it will come back to me.
On a dark day I must be willing
to keep my disposition light,
I have to be at the very least
on stray intact ray
of local energy, one small
but critical fraction
of illumination. Even on a day
that doesnt look gray
but still lacks comfort or sense,
I have to be the sun,
I have to shine as if
sorry life itself depended on it.
I have to make all the difference.
~ Thomas Centolella ~
(Views from along the Middle Way)
"Reading and writing poetry can exercise that capacity, improving one's ability to better conceptualize the world and communicate it — through presentations or writing — to others."
HBR Blog Network
The Benefits of Poetry for Professionals
by John Coleman | November 27, 2012
Wallace Stevens was one of America's greatest poets. The author of "The Emperor of Ice-Cream"and "The Idea of Order at Key West" was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1955 and offered a prestigious faculty position at Harvard University. Stevens turned it down. He didn't want to give up his position as Vice President of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company.
This lyrically inclined insurance executive was far from alone in occupying the intersect of business and poetry.
Dana Gioia, a poet, Stanford Business School grad, and former General Foods executive, notes that T.S. Eliot spent a decade at Lloyd's Bank of London; and many other poets including James Dickey, A.R. Ammons, and Edmund Clarence Stedman navigated stints in business.
I've written in the past about how business leaders should be readers, but even those of us prone to read avidly often restrict ourselves to contemporary nonfiction or novels. By doing so, we overlook a genre that could be valuable to our personal and professional development: poetry. Here's why we shouldn't.
For one, poetry teaches us to wrestle with and simplify complexity. Harman Industries founder Sidney Harman once told The New York Times, "I used to tell my senior staff to get me poets as managers. Poets are our original systems thinkers. They look at our most complex environments and they reduce the complexity to something they begin to understand." Emily Dickinson, for example, masterfully simplified complex topics with poems like "Because I could not stop for Death," and many poets are similarly adept. Business leaders live in multifaceted, dynamic environments. Their challenge is to take that chaos and make it meaningful and understandable. Reading and writing poetry can exercise that capacity, improving one's ability to better conceptualize the world and communicate it — through presentations or writing — to others.
Poetry can also help users develop a more acute sense of empathy. In the poem "Celestial Music,"for example, Louise Glück explores her feelings on heaven and mortality by seeing the issue through the eyes of a friend, and many poets focus intensely on understanding the people around them. In January of 2006, the Poetry Foundation released a landmark study, "Poetry in America,"outlining trends in reading poetry and characteristics of poetry readers. The number one thematic benefit poetry users cited was "understanding" — of the world, the self, and others. They were even found to be more sociable than their non-poetry-using counterparts. And bevies of new research show that reading fiction and poetry more broadly develops empathy. Raymond Mar, for example, has conducted studies showing fiction reading is essential to developing empathy in young children (PDF) and empathy and theory of mind in adults (PDF). The program in Medical Humanities & Arts (PDF) even included poetry in their curriculum as a way of enhancing empathy and compassion in doctors, and the intense empathy developed by so many poets is a skill essential to those who occupy executive suites and regularly need to understand the feelings and motivations of board members, colleagues, customers, suppliers, community members, and employees.
"As [I rose] in business ... I felt I had an enormous advantage over my colleagues because I had a background in imagination, in language and in literature."
Reading and writing poetry also develops creativity. In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, the aforementioned Dana Gioia says, "As [I rose] in business ... I felt I had an enormous advantage over my colleagues because I had a background in imagination, in language and in literature." Noting that the Greek root for poetry means "maker," Dana emphasizes that senior executives need not just quantitative skills but "qualitative and creative" skills and "creative judgment," and feels reading and writing poetry is a route to developing those capabilities. Indeed, poetry may be an even better tool for developing creativity than conventional fiction. Clare Morgan, in her book What Poetry Brings to Business, cites a study showing that poems caused readers to generate nearly twice as many alternative meanings as "stories," and poetry readers further developed greater "self-monitoring" strategies that enhanced the efficacy of their thinking processes. These creative capabilities can help executives keep their organizations entrepreneurial, draw imaginative solutions, and navigate disruptive environments where data alone are insufficient to make progress.
Finally, poetry can teach us to infuse life with beauty and meaning. A challenge in modern management can be to keep ourselves and our colleagues invested with wonder and purpose. AsSimon Sinek and others have documented, the best companies and people never lose a sense of why they do what they do. Neither do poets. In her Nobel lecture "The Poet and the World," Wislawa Szymborska writes:
The world — whatever we might think when terrified by its vastness and our own impotence ... is astonishing ...
Granted, in daily speech, where we don't stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like "the ordinary world," "ordinary life," "the ordinary course of events" ... But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone's existence in this world.
What if we professionals cultivated a similar outlook? We might find our colleagues more hopeful and purposeful and our work revitalized with more surprise, meaning, and beauty.
Poetry isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to every business problem. There are plenty of business leaders who've never read poetry and have been wholly successful. But to those open to it, reading and writing poetry can be a valuable component of leadership development.
The word innovation derives from the Latin word innovates, which is the noun form of innovare "to renew or change," stemming from in—"into" + novus—"new".
Heartland programs are often considered an innovation or imagination super-boost.
How are you allowing time for your imagination and innate innovation to emerge?
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.
Going forward, we are convinced, the world increasingly will be divided between high imagination-enabling countries, which encourage and enable the imagination and extras of their people, and low imagination-enabling countries, which suppress or simply fail to develop their people’s creative capacities and abilities to spark new ideas, start up new industries and nurture the own “extra.” America has been the world’s leading high imagination-enabling country and now it needs to become hyper-high-imagination-enabling society.
That Used to Be Us by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, 2011
"US employers rate creativity/innovation among the top five skill that will increase in importance over."
that next five years, and stimulating innovation/creativity and enabling entrepreneurship is among the top 10 challenges of U.S. CEO’s.
Ready to Innovate New York: Conference Board, 2008
Increasingly in the twenty-first century, what you know is far less important than what you can do with what you know. The interest in and ability to create new knowledge to solve new problems is the single most important skill that all students must master today. All successful innovators have mastered the ability to learn on their own “in the moment” and then apply that knowledge in new ways.
Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner, 2012
This is our generations Sputnik moment…We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially in clean energy technology –an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people…In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives, it’s how we make a living. We need to outinnovate, outeducate and outbuild the rest of the world.
2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama
A friend sent this link not long ago. It's a light touch to a serious subject.
You don't have to go to the ends of the Earth to save the rainforest. Just Follow the Frog! The Rainforest Alliance is a nonprofit conservation organization that holds Charity Navigator's highest rating of Four Stars.
What's behind the green frog seal? Only farms that meet rigorous sustainability criteria earn the right to use the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal. These criteria address all of the three pillars of sustainability -- environmental protection, social equity and economic viability -- and farms are evaluated by independent, third-party auditors. Learn more about Rainforest Alliance Certificationand its impacts.
Continuing the journey around the Convening Wheel, we find ourselves at the 7th Aspect, Essential Conversation, which allows for meaningful exchange in an atmosphere of trust and lays the groundwork for the 8th Aspect, Creation, to be possible.
We are now ready for something new to emerge from the authentic engagement of the group.
- Margaret Wheatley says, “Conversation is how humans think together.” "Opening the circle," by allowing for reflections and comments from anyone in the group who feels compelled to speak, we can process what we have heard and allow something that is more than the sum of the parts to emerge. Conversation is most powerful when personal story telling and deep listening are present. It is also about surfacing all that arises out of the listening and sharing process in a mindful and respectful way:
- We can sense the “questions that lie beneath the questions” to let emerge what is essential.
- We can become aligned with what is at the Heart of the Matter as a collectivegroup – expressing shared core values and vision.
- In Opening the Circle we are continually evoking a WISDOM that comes through our collective consciousness.
- We are also in a practice of mirroring back what it is that has touched us deeply in what was shared.
- This is also a time for participants to feel heard, to learn how their words have “landed” for another and to have thoughts reflected back to them from a different perspective (or several different perspectives).
- It is also in this type of respectful conversation that the creative process blossoms and takes flight. We build on each other’s word offerings and something magicalhappens.
Guidelines for Essential Conversation:
#1: When someone wishes to speak have them introduce themselves beginning with, “I am... (insert their name here)”
#2: When the person speaking is done speaking have them notify the group by saying, "I am complete" or "I have spoken."
#3: Interruptions are not allowed in this form.
#4: Ask for deep listening so the group can hold the space for differences. This is the primary function of this type of conversation.
#5: Be attentive to the pace of the conversation, allowing for silence and pauses between speakers. Silence can seem uncomfortable to many, but the absence of noise also has the potential to be an incredibly generative space for new ideas to take shape.
This structure reinforces our sense of safety, and gives us the freedom toexplore new ways of thinking and being together and ultimately allows for creation to occur.
There are many ways to consider beginning a new year. The article below offers creative and generative ideas to consider.
TIM BROWN, CEO at IDEO
Great designers don’t just do design, they live design. Like them, we can learn how to practice design thinking principles both at work and at home.
As you start designing your life in 2013, here are five ways to begin:
1. Be optimistic, collaborative, and generative.
There’s something wonderfully gratifying about creating something new, whether it’s an award-winning design or a home-cooked meal.
2. Think of life as a prototype.
Conduct experiments, make discoveries, change as needed. Any process can be re-examined and tweaked. Look for opportunities to turn a process into a project with a tangible outcome.
3. Don't ask "what?" ask "why?"
Instead of accepting a given constraint, ask whether this is the right problem to be solving.
4. Demand divergent options.
Don’t settle for the first good idea that comes to mind or seize on the first promising solution presented to you. Explore divergent options—and then set a deadline so you know when to move on.
5. Once a day, deeply observe the ordinary.
Make it a rule that at least once a day you will stop and take a second look at some ordinary situation that you would normally look at only once (or not at all). Get out in the world and be inspired by people.
Mødekunst: Meeting Art
The Art of Convening book launch in Denmark
Craig has arrived in Denmark and is staying with friends and colleagues Nils and Annelise Stahlschmidt.
Thank you to the Danish Pionerer Group and to Gyldendal ASA for making this happen!
"Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world."
Turning to One Another
There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.
Ask “What’s possible?” not “What’s wrong?” Keep asking.
Notice what you care about.
Assume that many others share your dreams.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
- Talk to people you know.
- Talk to people you don’t know.
- Talk to people you never talk to.
Be intrigued by the differences you hear.
- Expect to be surprised.
- Treasure curiosity more than certainty.
Invite in everybody who cares to work on what’s possible.
- Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something.
- Know that creative solutions come from new connections.
Remember, you don’t fear people whose story you know.
Real listening always brings people closer together.
Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.
Rely on human goodness. Stay together.
Margaret j Wheatley
Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future
Additional writings include: Leadership and the New Science
"I know that the experience of being with the people closest to me will move me, one way or another, and I need to know during this powerful time, clearly, who I am and how I want to be with them."
by Cindy Wold
I'll be hosting the Thanksgiving dinner at my house again this year. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! I love the delicious food, the connection, expressions of gratitude, leftovers for days afterward (or sometimes weeks) and of course the people. As I move into this time of year, the Art of Convening reminds me that gathering my family and friends requires more preparation than just buying the food, planning the menu, cleaning/decorating the house and confirming the guests. It is now that I am accutely aware of the "inner game" of convening.
I've learned over time that when my family and long-time friends show up in my environment, so do the memories (some fond, some not so fond), old conflicts, celebrations, hurts, confusion or chaos I may have experienced with them - whether I'm consciously aware of it or not. While the Art of Convening was initially developed to help organizational leaders have more effective meetings, I have learned that the same principles that are effective in a work or organizational context are also effective when gathering family and friends - and possibly much more necessary for cutting through the clutter of our history.
I've experienced first hand how much the inner game of convening can make or break a gathering of those closest to me, more than any other preparation. Now is when I see the value of keeping a regular (or, more likely in my case, irregular) practice of exploring who I am. I go for walks alone, meditate, and reflect on myself - quietly revealing what I'm ready to discover. This kind of practice is the center of the convening wheel, At the Heart of the Matter. I'm doing this because I know that the experience of being with the people closest to me will move me, one way or another, and I need to know during this powerful time, clearly, who I am and how I want to be with them.
I remember the gathering disasters in the past (some not so distant) - either tense politeness or explosive arguments - when I carried invisible (I thought) resentments, expectations or hurts just under the surface of my awareness. Those failures help me realize how much I need to reflect on my intention for our Thanksgiving gathering. I know this is important.
When I have brought to my awareness all of the intentions or motives I can think of for my gathering, both good and not so good (showing off, getting even, reliving the past, controlling outcomes, having fun), I can consciously choose to set aside anything that might sabotage my gathering and choose to keep intentions that are in line with who and how I want to be. I like to concentrate particularly on the desire for authentic engagement with my guests. This is the practice of Clarifying Intent. I don't need to know exactly why it works. I know from experience that when I do this clarification, it makes a difference in me and others in my gathering - intention has substance that is perceived and acted upon.
(I want to note here that Clarifying Intent is not repressing or forgetting something important just because it might be negative - in fact, while doing this step I bring to mind anything I can think of that is associated with the occasion or the people there - good or bad. It is, rather, remembering and keeping MOST prominent the things that are MOST important.)
"It goes beyond the invitation itself, into my attitude, appreciation, and conviction that everyone I invite is wanted and needed."
Because Thanksgiving is a tradition, sometimes we invite certain people because we always have or we think we have to. I realize that in order to convey a wholehearted and generous invitation, I need to do more thinking about the value and precious, unique presence of each person I'm inviting. In the midst of an unresolved conflict or hurt it sometimes doesn't seem possible, but with practice I have learned to acknowledge any lingering bad feelings, set them aside for now, and concentrate on the ways in which a person is a gift in my life. When I do this I realize how much I really do want everyone to show up and contribute their presence to our gathering. This is the inner game of the part of convening called, The Invitation. It goes beyond the invitation itself, into my attitude, appreciation, and conviction that everyone I invite is wanted and needed.
As part of the ongoing invitation, a couple of years ago I started making a small paper placename for each person at the table with a little drawing on each one. I leave the option open for guests to trade places at the table if they'd rather, but having their names there - especially after I've taken the time to write the name and think about each person - provides another opportunity for sincere welcome.
So, as Thanksgiving gets closer, I am taking the time to prepare my inner game. I don't have to buy, store or cook yet. I just think, contemplate, appreciate and communicate sincerely. This is significant groundwork for my gathering. I hope it will result in a way for us to be together in as good a way as we can - and that's what's important to me.
I'll create another post closer to Thanksgiving with some other ways that the Art of Convening principles influence the way I do Thanksgiving and other family and friend get-togethers. Subscribe to the blog to get an email when a new post is ready.
Comments welcome. How do you pay attention to the inner game during holidays? Are there traditions or challenges you'd like to share? Do you have questions (for Craig, Patricia, or me) about convening during the holidays?
We'd love to hear from you, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Cynthia (Cindy) Wold is a Co-author of "The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations"
I'm savoring wonderful Thought Leader Gathering w/ Helen Wang + the TLG community-- visionaries all!.
Helen's deep reflection on the meaning of a middle class that is larger than the US population, and how to move towards connection and oneness was evocative and provocative.
Thank you, Helen!
More on Helen via her YouTube video.