I just got back from co-facilitating my first Fusion, an amazing two day event in Mill Valley, California! (We modeled it after the Fusion retreat I attended a few weeks ago.)
The framing was intended to address the question many of us are asking at both personal and organizational levels today –
How do we shed old frameworks and practices (both cognitive and emotional) that are not serving us anymore, increase our ability to communicate, build our capacities, form dynamic and high-performance teams, and become more collectively intelligent?
So to answer that question, we gathered almost 20 high integrity futurists and systems innovators from our network to do a deep dive in trust, and actually start DOING IT in order to discover how. This was about kickstarting the process of going from a community of talk to a community of practice and action.
(Thanks to David Hodgson, Kirstin Ohm and Adam Scislowicz for rallying together with me and getting my flight booked, the space rented, invites sent, and the Fusion process co-created in just three short weeks!)
Below is the outline we developed, with an overview of the various exercises. Because the experience was pretty intimate, names and specifics won’t be revealed, but the process should give you a general idea of the types of questions to ask when the intention is to foster personal and organizational development/growth/transformation.
As you’ll notice, there is a lot of self-analysis and reflection, methods for embodiment, and experiential design woven into this. In my opinion, this is a necessary step in the process of coming to increasing alignment and coherence as a group. Before we can start seriously talking about ‘collective intelligence’ or genius-level organizational dynamics, there’s some “personal awareness” work to be done. “Social awareness” then comes after that.
So, our intention with Fusion is to create a safe space for healing, to unpack ourselves, shine a light on and address what’s actually going on, and then together take the necessary steps to move from a fear and scarcity-based mentality to one of abundance, cooperation and kicking ass together.
In my opinion, the future of work and organizational health must include the development of these “technologies of awareness,” not just more efficient topical business practices or tools.
In all, we had an amazing response from the group, and are already planning the next Fusion – possibly traveling around the country to the other clusters where our community is located to curate more of these “peak experiences.” 🙂
The co-created outcome of the group on the second day was an inventory of skills/resources we’re willing to make available to each other, dubbed the “community fridge.”
(After all, if we want to engage in capacity-building, we have to reveal the resources and skills already available among and within us. No more reinventing wheels!)
So we created an asset map that’s already a huge step forward in understanding how we can help each other across our disciplinary boundaries, while still achieving our individual goals and initiatives.
The technology involved was pretty advanced — sticky notes, markers, and a posterboard. 😉
What we’d like to do next is take the asset map info and put it into an easily shareable software tool. For the time being, it’s a google spreadsheet. We’d like to port that into a data visualization, and are currently looking at Gephi and other options for that. I’m also aware of a startup called Assetmap that sounds like it may provide this functionality, but I don’t know if the product is yet available. (Nathaniel and the Assetmap peeps – if you’re reading this, let us know if we can be an alpha tester group!)
Either way, we’re becoming self-aware as a community, calling forth and mapping our own skills, strengths, capacities and resources. Collective self knowledge, for the win!
If you think you might be interested in attending such a gathering, send me an email at emergentbydesign at gmail dot com and I’ll keep you posted of our 2012 schedule. If you have questions about the below process, feel free to ask.
Onward and Upward!
Fusion: Day 1
Welcome & Orientation
- frame the flow for 2-day session Grounding → Expanding → Integration
- set expectations for holding and honoring space – private, safe, non-judgmental, and open to all perspectives and viewpoints
- Everyone seated in circle, brief introduction of yourself, your general perspective on the big picture, what projects you’re working on and what roadblocks are currently preventing you from achieving your goals
Scenius Visioning Exercise
- What is the culture we want to cultivate?
via kevin kelly’s blog on Scenius, or Communal Genius:
Scenius is like genius, only embedded in a scene rather than in genes. Brian Eno suggested the word to convey the extreme creativity that groups, places or “scenes” can occasionally generate. His actual definition is: “Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.”
Individuals immersed in a productive scenius will blossom and produce their best work. When buoyed by scenius, you act like genius. Your like-minded peers, and the entire environment inspire you.
- Group reflection on the day’s insights, patterns & themes
Fusion: Day 2
Welcome & Recap of Prior Day
Grounding / Clearing Exercise
- In 100 words or less, describe what makes your heart sing. What drives you? What’s your “soul’s purpose”?
(My heartsong: WISDOM with COMPASSION in SERVICE for the highest good of all.)
Animal Spirit Infusion Exercise
- animal totems are symbolic objects that help us get in touch with qualities we feel a deep affinity toward. Discover your animal(s) and write down the qualities you associate with them.
(My animal: snow leopard. qualities: mystique, patience, strategy, solitude, isolation, curiosity, majestic, elegance, grace, wisdom, beauty, power, confidence, resolve)
Asset Map – Desires, Offers, Fears
- Surfacing the things we desire (professional needs, personal development, emotional/spiritual/relational, etc); the offers of skills/connections/resources we are willing to make available to each other (the “community fridge”); and our fears (challenges/fears/risks around open collaboration/innovation, sharing, and shifts in cultural beliefs and behaviors)
Closing Circle, Thanks, and Commitment to Next Steps and Action
This was a super valuable experience for me both as a facilitator, and also as a member of the community I was facilitating.
Unlocking potential and accelerating innovation!
As always, would love to hear feedback about resources I should check out or suggestions for improvement!
Carsten Hucho said:
Venessa, this sounds like a very successful event that obviously leaves you even more dynamic than before.
As you might know I am ‘a bit’ critical of a too rapidly evolving ‘phraseology’, which – to my untrained ears and brains – is scaryly reminiscent of sales-speak. One line made me lift an eyebrow (or two):”..talking about ‘collective intelligence’ or genius-level organizational dynamics”. I hope I just missed the ironic tone.
– and the Snow Leopard … sure you were not, unconsciously, primed by one big e-brain manufacturer? 🙂
as always, however: very interesting read!
Venessa Miemis said:
thanks carsten. there was a bit of irony to the phraseology. words like ‘critical thinking,’ ‘collective intelligence,’ ‘innovation,’ and ‘social _____’, are so overused at this point as to be rendered meaningless.
i am worn out from snake oil salesmen and ‘next big thing’ hype cycles.
what i’m trying to do now is simply lead by example. i’m sharing the things i’m learning, through direct experience and practice and experimentation, via my blog posts. i hope others gain some insights and take some tools and methodologies and go adapt them for their own purposes and communities.
there is nothing being ‘sold’ here, only the idea of a different way of doing things.
and i swear, i fell in love with the snow leopard from a discovery channel show, not my mac screensaver!
ps – i appreciate your criticism. keeps things honest. 🙂
Looks like a fantastic experience, Venessa ! Makes me also think of the asset inventory that Dan Robles is cooking. Very difficult to give feedback on this 2 day retreat based on your blog post. It looks like a purpose quest. If so, you probably need a longer journey than 2 days for 20 people to dive deeper. My experience is that there is still lots of room to “hide” your true self in 2 day workshops. It sounds a bit too “upward and onward” 😉 I am missing assets like vulnerability. And the fears described are mainly outwards looking. Maybe add some more personal introspection to the list. But very curious how this will develop. Trust your antennas 😉 Petervan.
Venessa Miemis said:
thank you peter. yes, i think a purpose quest is a nice way to put it. i was impressed with how much we covered in 2 days, but sure, as you say, not nearly enough time to really go deep. i think it was a good start, and i saw vulnerability there. at one point, david hodgson said, ‘a community is a place you can go for help. where it’s safe enough to ask, but also safe enough to say no.’ it’s been a personal learning experience for me to shift from the “let’s collaborate!” general sentiment, to “these are my needs and fears. can you help me?”
Group safety is a strange animal. My experience is there is never enough. And the lack of group safety is the ideal excuse not to jump. How much group safety do you need to jump? It will never be 100%.
After time, I started defining “group safety” as one of the best excuses to blame the world outside of me for not jumping myself.
On the other hand, your last sentence is about something quite different: it is about taking PERSONAL leadership aka responsibility and accountability for your own needs. Fear is an emotion, a negative emotion. It is an emotion telling you that some needs are not fulfilled. Traditional non-aggressive communication: here is a trigger, it triggered this emotion, sign that this or that named need is not fulfilled. AND attached a request (not demand) to your peers on what they should do to better fullfil your needs.
Maree Conway (@MareeConway) said:
Venessa, thank you for sharing this. I do admire your passion and commitment to doing this. Finding the space and committing the time to sit down, open up and reflect as an individual and as a group is one of those things that we have let go of as the world around us gets busier – even though as the world gets busier, it’s something we need to do more often.
Deep dive or not, any dedicated time to just stop, really think and share ideas, fears and hopes about a topic/issue/ourselves is to be welcomed with open arms. And, the sharing and group building component of the outcome is perfect – love the metaphor/image of the community fridge. Congratulations, and maybe one day I will be able to attend one (long way to come from Oz though!) Or maybe you could come here… 🙂
Venessa Miemis said:
thanks, maree. would be lovely to come to oz again. i enjoyed attending the Gathering that @davidahood held this summer.
will send out the intention to find my way there again soon.
also dying to see new zealand!
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Ria Baeck said:
The only tool that i know that helps in this kind of endevour in the circle practice. It has a few agreements and some principles, and when tending to that – in synergy with a real good inspiring question you can come to some truly generative space. Circle practice can be found when googling PeerSpirit.
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