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!

– Venessa

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

Heartsong 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!