Do Not Expand Your View. Instead, Pay Attention.

One of the books I enjoyed reading as a kid was Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. It was because of the detective stories and his magic deduction powers, of course, but I do remember one thing about Holmes’ character that was oddly impressive: his ability to focus his attention in what he wanted to learn .

This might not be a guide for learning, but made me think in the advantages of thinking deeply on what matters to me and trust the ability of others and their learning on many other important things one can care about.

After I wrote about Paying Attention in Portuguese a couple of weeks ago, I’ve got the results of it: paying attention on paying attention I came across others reflecting on similar things.

Here is the article translated into English and at the bottom the few things I stumbled upon after that.

  • Pay Attention, it’s important;
  • Not everything that deserves attention can be measured;
  • Expand our view can hinder our ability to see.

What do you pay attention to?

Everyday millions of events happen around us and most of them we don’t even notice. Lucky us.

If we’ve already have lots of things processing in our minds everyday, imagine if all that was available would become conscious. Certainly stress at 10 in the morning.

To change new things we have to pay attention to new things.

It is only on the things that we pay attention to that we have conscious influence for change. If we want to make things differently, we have to start paying attention to them. In the same direction, if we want to change new things, we have to pay attention to new things.

Measure and Analyse

One of the interesting ways to change is to measure and analyse. Measure and analyse are gifts for us humans, but they rely on looking at the past and planning the future. They use your attention of the present to travel through time. Even though knowing how to measure and analyse is a fundamental learning for life in society, there is more on the horizon.

Not everything that deserves attention can be measured.

We just have to be careful not to be carried away. Analyse can highjack and monopolise all your attention. If practised all the time, they are practices that constantly take us away from the present. Measure and analyse less, pay more attention.

Do not expand your View

Change the focus of our attention is to change our view. Expand our view, in the sense of paying attention to more, is a pathway to undermine your ability to see.

Look at few things with great attention.

On the other hand it is essential to change our view. Not to expand it, but to change your view from time to time, expanding the number of views you experience. It is like knowing how to tell many versions of the same story, like inviting yourself to look again.

The best way to change your view is by truly being with the other. By looking at others we change our way of looking. It is in contact with other worlds, result of being with the other, that we look with other eyes and learn new stories.

Attention Requires Energy

Which does not mean people can’t pay attention to more than one thing at a time. I personally can’t, but I know aliens that have a fantastic parallel processing unit, all in one single brain!

But even for those crafty multi-taskers, in the end our attention requires energy and there is a limit for what we can take and give. If you deal with many things in parallel you will quickly cease to pay attention.

Paying Attention on Paying Attention

  • Store energy to pay attention to what matters.
  • In a world that information is abundant, learn how to ignore the ones that distract you.
  • From time to time pay attention in the way you pay attention.
  • Pay attention in a few things at a time.
  • Always consider changing what you are paying attention to.

Read more

from wikipedia

Imaginal Cells | The Caterpillar’s Job to Resist the Butterfly

When I told Elisabet Sahtouris that we were having a retreat program called Butterfly Connection in her native Greece in 2009, she wrote back saying “it is interesting that your message downloaded right after I wrote two emails on butterfly metamorphosis.” Good timing!

She shared a version of the Butterfly Story which we then obviously explored in our program:

My favorite metaphor for the current world transition, first pointed out to me by Norie Huddle (Butterfly, 1990), is that of a butterfly in metamorphosis.

It goes like this: A caterpillar crunches its way through its ecosystem, cutting a swath of destruction by eating as much as hundreds of times its weight in a day, until it is too bloated to continue and hangs itself up, its skin then hardening  into a chrysalis.

Inside this chrysalis, deep in the caterpillar’s body, tiny things biologists call ‘imaginal disks’ begin to form. Not recognizing the newcomers, the caterpillar’s immune system snuffs them as they arise. But they keep coming faster and faster, then linking up with each other.

Eventually the caterpillar’s immune system fails from the stress and the disks become imaginal cells that build the butterfly by feeding on the soupy meltdown of the caterpillar’s body.

It took a long time for biologists to understand the reason for the  immune system attack on the incipient butterfly cells, but eventually they discovered that the butterfly has its own unique genome, carried by the caterpillar, inherited from long ago in evolution, yet not part of it as such (Margulis & Sagan, Acquiring Genomes 2002).

If we see ourselves as imaginal discs working to build the butterfly of a better world, we will understand that we are launching a new ‘genome’ of values and practices to replace that of the current unsustainable system. We will also see how important it is to link with each other in the effort, to recognize how many different kinds of imaginal cells it will take to build a butterfly with all its capabilities and colors.

— Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D., evolution biologist, lecturer and author of EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution

The conversations around the role we are playing in this world and how we are playing this role are central themes of our dialogues. Although we do not focus on exploring theories, we obviously are alert of the patterns and insights that come out of our time together. There is a couple of patterns that we have been exploring with participants of these retreats.

It’s the caterpillar’s job to resist the butterfly and the butterfly’s job to become stronger because of the opposition to its advance.

It is the job of the system in place to resist the emergence of a new system – this resistance supports the strength and validity of the new system for the time when the shift happens. During this transformation, one is constantly challenged by the old system – acknowledging that this is at service of the new invites to a place of understanding rather than a place of opposition or duality.

The system emerging will, at its own turn, be build to last and to resist following emergences. We are stepping into this flow that will continue beyond us in the future. We are at the same time aware of our vital importance at this time and our transient influence at the no-time.

Acknowledge the job of the old system in resisting the new invites us to look at this transition as what it really is, a transition, and not a fight. This acknowledgment goes beyond focusing on actions to intervene in the old or the new, it rather looks at the service performed by our choices and actions.

One of the questions we explore in a Butterfly Connection retreat is: what actions am I doing to be at service at this time?

In the case of the caterpillar, its immune system kicks in because it does not recognize the second genome [of the butterfly]. Before the discovery of the second genome, this was a major puzzle.

It is completely normal to be puzzled by a time of major transformation. The old system clearly cannot sustain the current situation and the system emerging is yet not clear to us, difficult to be named using today’s words.

Co-create the language of this new system requires a space of exploration both of the self and while relating in community. To be supportive of local conversations emerging, Butterfly Connection aims to create and inspire spaces for this inquiry, understanding the critical role of the chrysalis, the silent space in between the two worlds, a space where although there is apparent stillness, it is where the real transformation is happening.

This story was told as part of the Butterfly Connection programme.

Read more:


Building Trust for a Sustainable Society

I was really pleased to see a video presentation of my favourite approach to sustainability¹ talking more openly about building trust as a necessity for social sustainable societies.


Even though I remember trust being mentioned within the community, I’ve always had a sense that they could be entertaining the idea that we should find universal social principles for too long.

Why I think generic social principles are an illusion

I was really impressed when I read the work of the Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef² and what is behind his list of basic human needs.

His work makes interesting points on Self-reliance at the Center of Development and the economic use of satisfiers. He claims that we can identify a taxonomy of fundamental human needs. For some people those fundamental human needs could be a starting point for setting up universal needs and generic social principles.

All We Need Exhibition
Although a research on human needs might bring a great set of topics to inform the dimensions of being human for group conversation, basic human needs in bullet points do not work as principles of social sustainability in the same way natural principles do³. I argue that the way we relate to the natural world and our social world is different when we are talking about design and intervention.

Universal human needs might provide a framework for conversations but are not a strong base for systematic decision-making. This is because social principles need to be explored in community conversation (and in some cases, agreed upon by the community) for the sake of both process and content:

  • For the sake of content because, different from natural principles, it is by re-interpretation that we re-create them in our context. Social principles are interpretations on how to be-in-the-world and cannot be set independently of human interaction. Without conversation and spaces of participation, principles that impact us socially are meaningless⁴.
  • For the sake of process because what feeds social fabric is trust. Without a process that open space for trust to be co-created among the community, principles are useless for collective decision-making.

For social sustainability our social systems should be designed in participatory ways³.

Design social systems by participation and trust

As a species we have never designed a natural system. The most we have done was try to manage natural systems, although without success as a broad perspective have been showing. Nothing that we have ever designed shows, for instance,  intelligence and adaptation like a living organism does.

It is understandable that we use living-organism metaphors to inform systems that we can design. By doing that we can emulate resilience and adaptation shown in natural systems, but also these metaphor can be misleading in taking us to believe we design living systems.

As an example, people really want to connect concepts like autopoiesis to the organisational context. While autopoiesis can support us to create another narrative of how we would like to organise ourselves, no system designed by humans is autopoietic, even though their creators, people, are autopoietic systems⁵.

A social system can be a purposeful agreement made for people or between people to live and act together.

We can design social systems to be supportive of our collective needs and ask natural system to inspire us, but there is no ‘self-creation’ of human-made systems, only replication of a story that we have previously created. Participation in creating this story is key in designing social systems.

It is important to notice that the word design can also be misleading. Design is commonly understood as creation, but social systems require recursive participation, a system that contains space for re-design.

Re-design is key to check both context and purpose of a system over time. Spaces of design and re-design build trust among people and between people and their systems. Many institutions and organisations are examples of social systems that have lost track of its end purpose or are trapped into a now out-of-context initial design/story. Some that are made to be at service and support people end up becoming means of authority over people.

If we feel coerced or alienated from a system we are part of, we obviously do not trust it. Trust is what makes social systems work and realise their potential as instruments of collective human aspiration. Trust can only be created and sustained if we have spaces of participation.

More about this?

¹ Learn more about The Natural Step Framework.

² Read about Human Needs in the works of Manfred Max-Neef et al. and other social psychology studies.

³ Read Participatory Backcasting from Principles.

⁴ What’s the meaning of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Watch [~30min] Escaping the Universal Declaration of Human Rights>.

⁵ My claims seem to be against what Niklas Luhmann understood from social systems theory and more towards the work of Jürgen Habermas. I am reading more to learn about their work. My brief exploration of Luhmann’s work in here.


Speak the World: Creating Ourselves as We Speak

Monologues don’t exist.

But sometimes we speak to ourselves, don’t we? And thinking? Isn’t it a kind of monologue? Some other times we apparently speak out in what seems to be a one-way communication. Even if we can argue that monologues do exist, this perceived one-way communication clearly don’t.

That’s because our ability to speak and write are not disconnected to the interactions we have had with the World and other people, other eyes to the World.

The act of communication never starts (in the sense of being born) but rather is an interaction of influences from past and present getting together in an understandable unit at a certain moment. The act of communicating feeds a network of ongoing communication, never starting anew but also never completely repeating itself.

The act of speaking is a contribution for generating the World.

We not only speak to describe, but also to become

‘Speak to become’ means that by communicating we are refining our own understanding of the World, relating with/through/about it, but also we refine what we are in the process.

The act of speech is always a two-way. It changes or maintains the World around us as much as it changes or maintains ourselves.

When we look at the World, we are looking at a mirror

Monologues are not a one-way communication act, but can be a mono-consciousness act. That reinforces the importance of dialogue. Dialogue as a meeting of consciousnesses imply in bringing together multiple, connected but still possibly autonomous views of the world.

Communicating the/our World we can find Ourselves

So we arrived at this: the process of communicating the World tells as much about you than the World you are communicating. When we look at the World, we are also looking at our own Self.

I am reading the book Deleuze, Education and Becoming and came across the quote below, by Laurel Richardson, that explores writing as a way of self-discovery, something I feel represent my process of writing to you now.

Writing is a method of discovery, a way of finding out about yourself and your world. When we view writing as a method, we experience ‘language-in-use,’ how we ‘word the world’ into existence… And then we ‘reword’ the world, erase the computer screen, check the thesaurus, move a paragraph, again and again. This ‘worded world’ never accurately, precisely, completely captures the studied world, yet we persist in trying. Writing as a method of inquiry honors and encourages the trying, recognizing it as emblematic of the significance of language.

from blogs.rue89.nouvelobs

Searching for What is Truth at this Time | A Lesson from Václav Havel

Vaclav Havel

Václav Havel passed away today. There is a great story I heard from a good friend who had the pleasure to meet and talk to him about his activism and work.

The story was told and retold and I remember sharing it with the delegates of the World Spirit Forum in Switzerland when we were talking about peaceful activism some years ago. Here it is, not sure how faithful, but definitely a great story:

There was a time during the Soviet influence on Czechoslovakia, in the land now split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, that dissidents of the regime existed but could only meet in the dungeons of the city where they would host their talks and publish their manifestos. Mr. Václav Havel was one of them.

The control of the regime was absolute, so Mr. Havel had no hope that it could be overthrown or that anything could possibly be changed by a group of unhappy citizens. Nevertheless, not seeking revolution but searching for what was truth for the time, great conversations happened and impressive written material was produced and published by underground presses.

As more people would get in contact with the words from the dissidents, more would join the conversations and read the publications.

One day somethings extraordinary happened. Someone working for the regime got in contact with the material and got puzzled and interested by its content. He managed to join some of the conversations and read some of the texts while still working for the same regime that was being criticised.

Personally, the man was comfortable working for the regime, but yet there was something calling him to explore what the dissidents were talking about. His motivation was not revolution, but the search for the truth at that time.

After this first man others came – they did not start a revolution themselves, but they did anonymously feed the new story emerging, the one that was closer to the reality of the time, the one that triggered the Charter 77 movement and the Velvet Revolution.

Read and Listen:

from wikipedia

Why #Occupy? – Beyond Political Democracy and Anti-Capitalism

#Occupy Poster

I am really isolated from the urban centres. All I have heard about #Occupy has been from friends and the media. I have been asking about the place, the conversations and the feeling of being there, all to get a closer understanding of what is happening.

Only with these vague impressions, I imagined an #Occupy that might not be the one out in the streets, but one that could be. I imagined public spaces being occupyied (!) by people to generate conversations and opinions about topics of public interest, topics that are many times hidden in meetings behind private doors.

I imagined a participatory and critical way of understanding how our society has been functioning. What for many has been a space for protest, also for me it’s a space for broaden understanding. The conversations at #Occupy not only seem to be exploring the new as much as criticizing the old, but also creating the new as the movement matures – friends have said that people or movements that come with ready-made alternatives quickly realize they are in the wrong place.

The power resides on people having a space to ask themselves if democracy as we see it today is a reality or an illusion.

One thing is a fact – never before we have recorded a number of syncronized public spaces being held to talk about our society and our modus operandi. Never before we had so many spaces where participants of political democracies feel there might be something else to be said, to be understood, to be part of.

And yet those places are not defying democracy, but are surely defying what some call “democratic illusion”, the idea that public participation is restricted to the political sphere and that an individual’s contribution and choice relies on scattered democratic vote or by joining a political party or movement.

I believe that great power of influence of #Occupy also goes beyond the criticism of our capitalist society. The power resides on people having a space to ask themselves if democracy as we see it today is a reality or an illusion. Both people who are camping and others following from other places are people who have multiple but clear motives to at least question the way our political democracy has been going.

And what would happen if we become disillusioned with democracy?

It is impossible to predict what could happen if a critical mass becomes disenchanted with what the world might call in the future “a restrict model of participation”. If there is a possibility of going beyond this model, a disenchanted group or political flag won’t suffice, what is essential is that people disenchant together.

#Occupy seems to be a collective preparation that might lead to another form of social participation, a model that will have the face of the collective and yet have no face. Perhaps it is the first of many other forms that will redefine how we organize our society.

by Mark Fischer

Framework Lock-up: Framed in Simplism

In so far as my body is the center of action, it cannot give birth to a representation. H. Bergson

Recently I wrote an article about how much I like frameworks. Frameworks can support us in organizing things without giving fix recipes of what to do or where to go. Those conversations can be about:

  • the future: this is when we want to coordinate our intentions and actions in order to bring a possibility into being;
  • the past: in a way that we can interpret what happened by reflecting back on the action and its response.

What’s in Between Past and Future?

There can be no authenticity if you are holding a conversation while holding a framework.

The dark side of frameworks is that they cannot frame the present – and framework lovers (like myself) wish they could. No need to say that if your mind is on a framework, you have yourself in another place that is not here and in another time that is not now.

There can be no authenticity if you are holding a conversation while holding a framework. With this I’m not saying you should not use frameworks to design a conversation in alignment with your intentions or to capture the fruits of that conversation in an organized and insightful fashion. What I’m saying is that there is no authentic conversation if your are constantly paying attention to frameworks.

And guess what? We need more authentic conversations.

Framework for Presence

I finally understood what the process artist Marvin once told me during one training: don’t keep thinking on all those theories of how groups work, principles and techniques. He used to say that if you did your homework well, you should not be thinking in a reactive way like this – just be there.

I had my mind pondering if all those principles would then be useless after all. Perhaps their usefulness would be the very block of authenticity, the block of the flow of discovery, inquiry, life.

For now I’m happy with this: if you are in a functional space – the one created to perform a function – you will need to step into the world of principles, hypothesis, frameworks and interventions. But even for purposeful spaces like this, a time will come when neither you nor the group will be able to frame what is going on and the best way to go is to surrender yourself to the chaos. A messy feeling, I know, but I believe – and lived – the very authentic moments of the group coming from those times.

friendship, not intervention

But wait, there is life beyond those functional spaces, life that we will hopefully experience: times of being together, times that are about friendship and authenticity. This is crucial in a community, where we need “friendship, not intervention” (@dfrieze).

Why Do Feel Like Locking Ourselves?

I can make sense of the world only by reducing the number of its meanings- which are potentially infinite- to a restricted set. M. Holquist

I don’t know. I think the world is more understandable when we draw a boundary around it and so we tend to do it often. It might be an unavoidable feeling of safety while having the illusion of being in control.

In group work I blame us, the facilitators and hosts, who sell expertise by framework knowledge (and, worse, framework copyright).

I’d say that the drive to frame everything is more than naïveté, it might be a personal defence, a way to avoid being there and authentic, to be a human voice rather than the teacher. Many people fall in love with ‘facilitation’ because they want to hide behind the working hat.

How Do You Work?

For me the only way to grow out of the simplism of framing is to be available for the other in real relationships. Perhaps we need more time as part of a community, to have the chance to be you right here right now. I don’t have a framework for this 😛

What can we do to be more skilled rather than more knowledgeable?

by michaelcheek

Decision-Growing: When Content and Process Come Together

When we are part of a community, some decisions are made that impact the way we live and interact with each other – it’s not just about the content being decided, but the process that took us there. On the other hand, there are issues that need to be dealt with, and avoiding them only hurt the community that people want to preserve.

Content-driven People Take the Picture when They Should See the Movie

Usually the content-driven is the one who likes to solve the problems and move on, put things in paper as agreed so community lives in peace. A passion to quickly solve a question simply disregard the fact that most of community life is about communicative action: how we learn to better interact with each other and act together by that same interaction.

The act of solving a problem the easiest or quickest way might mean that important conversations have been shortened, important people were not present, and whatever is decided – although might solve the immediate problem – generates the ripples of disaffect that will end up in more future work or permanent group frustration.

I have heard that this might have been imported from purely business settings – where there are, of course, more functional things that can be solved in a minute. But even in a business group, if misplaced, decision-making totally focused on the content generates pure power relationships that are famous to make Monday mornings the worst day of the week.

Process-driven People Discuss Why the House is Burning Instead of Getting Out of the Building

Usually the process-driven is the one that pays great attention to how the community or group get to things, to make sure that everyone feels unhurt and every voice can be promptly heard. A passion to care about people, their rights and their opportunities, may cloud the same issues that make people feel unwell. The action resumes in avoiding or masking decisions that postpone the real issue, a receipt for future disaster.

Community and consensus lovers are stereotyped examples of this – hurt by the world dominated by problem-solving, people tend to care about the process of being together and don’t tackle the big elephant that might be sitting in the circle. With some hot water bottles, they ease the conflict to maintain the ‘stable’ society.

These groups might disappear sooner than the other ones – as the conflicts pile up behind the scenes, when they come out of the closet they are so big (and hairy and scary) that the sensible way to deal with them is to run away to fake relationships or, if possible, to start another community somewhere else.

Decision-Growing: When Content and Process Come Together

It is clear that life in community goes beyond solving problems and other functional actions we collective take. It also goes beyond people staying happily together as a family. Living in community is more like tending to a living organism that wants to remain alive, it is to conserve our faith in being together.

Perhaps decision-making, that allow systems to function should be complemented by decision-growing. To grow a decision is to re-visit a conversation that is crucial for the community, is to tend to what keeps people together rather than the problems that might break them apart.

Here both the functions of a system and the richness and beauty of being together are present: one that requires decision-making, the other that happens by the simple fact people come together. When acknowledged, both become a group of people constantly growing decisions together.

Do we decide, individually or collectively, how our relationships should be?
Do we just let things happen as long as everyone and everything seem ok?
Or should we grow our decisions together, tending for the relationships but letting them flow?

by Eustaquio Santimano

We Can Do Without a Conductor – Why Society Needs Less Leadership and More Social Resilience

I went to listen to Schubert’s “Tragic” Symphony this week in a local music festival here in the UK. Before the beginning of the play, one of the violinists, Timoti, came to tell us that no one would be standing in the centre of the room – they play without a conductor.

Cohesion – Hierarchy – Democracy

Even though I’m far from being a music expert, it was obvious the high level of communication between the musicians during the performance, a beautiful movement of body, eyes, vibrations. Sometimes there was a feeling that the first violin was the reference in maintaining tempo, but the looks and connections did seem to flow between everyone.

Musicians stayed after the performance to talk to the audience and answer some questions. When someone asked about how decisions are made in an orchestra without a conductor, the answer was: democratically. And went on: but democracy based on the good ideas that come, ideas that can be shared by everyone and that are drawn from the musical text itself.

It was interesting also to hear that equality does not mean that there is no hierarchy of instruments as in any other orchestra, but could mean hierarchy is and instrument of collective cohesion rather than a display of difference in value.

The group works hard in rehearsing and performs just one piece per concert. I assume that playing without a conductor would be much harder if many pieces had to be prepared and just not enough playing together could happen – a conductor would then support the cohesion of music instead of a patchwork of instruments.

On the other hand, by choosing to work in one piece and to interpret the music as a group, the diversity of musical worlds generated a collective identity that would be impossible for an individual to achieve.

Besides, a group with many centres and worlds is more resilient than a centralised one, it can see and feel more of the music than a single person. The orchestra also makes an active invitation for the audience to be part of this diversity – the last surprise of the concert was the whole orchestra coming down the stage to play around us – I could listen to a cello in front of me and surrounded by the other instruments as if I’d be there playing with them – and indeed I was, in a way.

I liked the group for their boldness to experiment and their passion for live music. You can learn more about them (and maybe get to listen in the future) visiting Spira Mirabilis.

We Can Do Without a Conductor

I appreciate maestros and conductors and believe that a real maestro is the one that can see himself/herself as of the elements of the group rather than the one that conducts. I’ve seen some excellent maestros in action – in music and beyond – and would like to see more.

What I saw this week was a group that seemed more resilient and lively than an ordinary orchestra. It was free and relational but at the same time committed by the boundaries of world-class classical music.

I think our society can do without a conductor. It is slower, requires patience and more collective work, but resilience and community remains while conductors and leaders go.

Next page shows some interesting videos I have received as a contribution to this article. Watch them here >>

by Phil Manker

Creating and Re-Creating Frameworks

This was back in 2007/2008 when I was living in Sweden. One day talking about some of the work with systems we used to do in our Spirit in Business group in Brazil¹. One particular thing that people found interesting was a 2×2 matrix to support decision-making in face of complexity.

The Matrix to Support Decision-Making

The idea was to invite people in management to identify when they were trying to use a style of decision-making that would be suitable for simple but not complex situations — and therefore repeatedly fail in their most competent efforts. I also use it to inform the complexity-lovers about the advantages of a simple cause and effect — not every situation needs to be looked at as a complex system².

André e eu (2007)

By separating the concepts of simple & easy and complex & difficult we could make more sense of the situations we face. I remember André, a mentor and participant of the group, exploring this topic over and over. To tackle a ‘complex issue’ with a ‘simple solution’ is one of the most common mistakes in management — he used to suggest.


I don’t know if our group ever presented the idea in the format below, but later on I found myself sharing with others like this:

A Matrix to Explore Different Questions

As a framework for action, instead of blindly putting an issue in one of the boxes, we used to look at the specific context and have a conversation about how the question would relate to the concepts and later inform our collective actions.

The Cynefin Framework

Last week I’ve got this video briefly explaining the Cynefin Framework. To date, I don’t know anything more about the framework than what is present in the video below — so my connection is superficial, but I believe justified.

I really don’t know how much they have in common and if they are inspired by a common background or not. I am sure that our work does not contain all that is explored in the framework, but I’d say it’s very likely that the other way around is also true. Even if one would encompass the other, it’d not make any difference for the heart of the matter which is the fact that

You Should Like Frameworks Too

I like frameworks — both for making sense of previous data and for organise the sense-making of data as they emerge. I think frameworks are fundamental for people who like to support decision-making because they provide a common starting point, but not a direction or a ending point.

But the skill of using a framework does not substitute the insight of creating them. The ability to identify patterns and then create frameworks and methods (or perhaps re-create them) is part of the self-training and internalisation of insights to actually make the most out of frameworks.

So how about keep creating and re-creating the frameworks and models we use? Import them from someone else might help but is very limited. Work your insights into a framework, preferably in conversation with others, and this can take you to another level of understanding of what is behind and supportive about them. You may even come up with your own version.

Stumble Upon the Web: Speed Geeking

It is not about who invented it, but how you get to them. One that came while browsing the web:

During the same time in Sweden I was faced with the challenge to design a process so myself and colleagues could present about 3-4 specific ideas to our whole class. The design was simple:

  • We had each one of us in the group to read about one of the ideas;
  • Each one served as a host of the specific idea in a small circle;
  • Participants would initially divide themselves by choosing one of the circles;
  • A bell would ring so they could change and get to visit all circles.

Nothing particularly amazing about that — despite the fact that I found out months later that I was not actually using my own design, but speed geeking. I’m glad I did not know that, otherwise I might have decided to use something else. Geek, me?! 🙂

Even though knowing more tools would allow me to come up easily with this ‘method’, I’d have to carry an immensely heavy toolbox to face all the different scenarios that are out there. Besides that, I would think less about what is behind the actual process by just fitting a tool to a situation in the end.

Fact: Most people just fit tools into situations. Tools are finite, situations are endless. Sometimes it just won’t fit – that’s why groups get blisters.

Re-Create the New and the Old

It is great that many methods and frameworks are out there, mapped and named — that means more people working on stuff that matters. On the other hand, we have to keep our eyes open for our dependancy on frameworks and methods, specially the ones people copyright or baby-sit too much.

It is like the old story: musicians should love music through their instruments and not the instruments alone.

There is a lot of space to use methods and frameworks and just not enough to create (or re-create) them. Fair enough if the only thing you want is a disposable result — but far from sufficient if you are dealing with more complex issues and specially if you are interested in process, facilitation and hosting.

Allow some time to create with others your own methods and frameworks. Allow some time to re-create and give new meaning to the old ones.