Fellow applied improvisor and friend April Seymore showed up to Thriving In Uncertainty last week. Not only did she contribute her enthusiasm and wisdom, April picked up the marker pens and harvested from conversations that were happening in break out sessions. Great to see others doing this as well!!
Giving your ‘stuff’ away is the new economy. We have moved way beyond a world of production and protection where we sell everything to consumers. Most of us now produce stuff … we share it (for free) … we consume and remix stuff from others. Here is a classic example …
A few months ago I drew this picture – it’s simply a network of how I use and visualise my knowledge flows and social media.
And then someone (Laura Pearle) spotted it on Twitter. Laura had a presentation to give at a conference about uses of social media for personal archiving and she requested to use it. “Of course” I said. So a few months later Laura sent me a link to her presentation. Check out slides 7 and 8. Laura used my picture to ask her audience a question about their own map of personal, online archiving. So my little picture has come back to me in within a context that I can now from. That’s the Gift Economy right there!
I am currently facilitating a series of conversations between a group of people who have joined the 3 Pillars Network Active Learning program. The core purpose of this program is to connect people from all over Australia who work in the field (if you can call it field?) of behaviour change for sustainability. The idea is to promote learning between practitioners, researchers and those in policy.
Last week I drew a map of the key things I remembered from the conversations. I love creating these maps after reading books and listening to TED talks. It helps to make links between ideas and create a story. Yesterday I shared my map with a participant who couldn’t make it to the session. I took her through the map, piece by piece, and wished I had recorded it.
Today, I did record it … it a first take and I have no idea why the video is compressed into half the screen?
Last week I was part of a learning conversation with practitioners, policy makers and researchers, all interested in diving deep into the complexity of behaviour change. We started by helping each other out with current problems, challenges and questions about our work – this was highly practical stuff and focused mainly on principles and practices.
At the end of the conversation we created a map of the group’s current thinking about behaviour change in practice. I felt we were able to go beyond ‘talking’ and enter the realm if Dialogue … we were thinking together. Here’s the map I drew to summarise …
John Hagel, author of The Power of Pull, offers a definition of serendipity: “Unexpected encounters that surprise and delight.”
Here’s a screen-shot of a newsletter from a conference I am playing a part in designing and facilitating. The headline is about the musical performance and appearance by Geoffrey Gurrumul – he’s one of my favourite singers. Given my total focus on running the Aireys Open Mic Music Festival over the past fortnight, it’s both a surprise and a delight that musical richness comes together with my passion for work.
Please watch the full 3 minute video below … you will be moved, as we’re the 1000 people watching! Once Sam get’s singing it really takes off!
But first, let me set the scene with a story about Community …
It’s the Monday morning after the 5th annual Aireys Open Mic Music Festival and our community has celebrated another magical festival – with the tag line “It’s All About The Music”.
This festival attracts thousands of music lovers, but it’s not the numbers that’s important … the vibe and sense of community it supports is amazing. This time last year, the Aireys Inlet Pub closed it’s doors. Our festival was on shaky ground – with it’s infrastructure and facilities we couldn’t host this many people. Everyone wondered what Marty Maher (the idea man who dreamt up this event and runs 90% of it) would do in response. As it turned out, Marty let others respond and save the festival.
Then one day, a local consortium banded together, pooled their resources and skills and bought the pub. For most in our community, it felt like the whole town had taken ownership of it’s iconic hotel. Our festival, our main meeting place, part of our history and soul was reclaimed.
Then in October last year co-publican, Tim Wood (who features in the video below) orchestrated one of the most remarkable building projects I have witnessed. Over a frantic 10 week period, he brought together scores of local tradies to completely rebuild the inside of the pub and give the shell a transformational facelift. Our community was excited, but skeptical that they could even get close to a pre Christmas opening!
We were wrong, the pub had it’s local opening night in mid December. Not everything was done, but they had rebuilt and staffed a large kitchen, rebuilt 70% of the inside, transformed the exterior and jumped countless of licensing and red tape hurdles imaginable. Opening night was abuzz with excitement and pride. This was ‘our place’.
Since Christmas, Tim and co. have continued the rebuild. The back-room is now a full band room with a capacity to seat over 250 for dinner and many more without tables and chairs. Their is a vision to make this room an iconic live music venue on the coast … I have no doubt it will be realized.
This year’s Open Mic Music Festival was (again) a huge success and staged 180 acts on 9 stages across our town – with 20 separate acts in the back room on Friday and Saturday nights. To get a feel for what it looked like you can see pics at our Facebook page and our Twitter stream
In past year’s, our mystery guest acts have been the big highlight. They have included Colin Hay and band, Dan Sultan and this year’s mystery was none other than Tim Rogers. All were generous and performed brilliantly. This year Tim managed to captivate everyone with his whimsical charm, lyrics and unique voice.
BUT THIS YEAR … THIS ACT CAME ALONG!!
Inspired by the Gotye cover featured here on You Tube (by band Walk off the Earth), Tim Wood’s youngest son (Sam), inspired dad and older brother (Luke) to work out their own version … then perform it at our festival.
All 3 boys are humble, gracious, superbly talented and are motivated by 1 thing … an absolute love of music, family and community. The feeling in the Main Stage Marquee was joyous. Everyone was smiling (some moved to tears), beaming, shining and uplifted by a performance that drew everyone together in a single breath.
Last Tuesday night I went dancing! Not to a nightclub and not to a structured form of dance like Flamenco, Ballroom or Swing. It was a practice of dance known as The 5Rhythms. The classes have a host/facilitator to hold the space and invite participants to move, play and interact. In my case, the facilitator is a long time friend of mine, David Jurianz.
Whilst I am intensely interested in the application of improv, movement and music to my facilitation work, I didn’t attend this workshop to figure out some magical formulae of how I can “apply it”. I showed up to have some fun and learn something about myself. Simply letting-go and noticing what my body has to offer is a beautiful zone. But, my inner voice (the ego, self 1, whatever …) was loud at times, telling me that I couldn’t dance and questioning whether I was ‘doing it’ right. How much better life would be if we could learn to trust our body, our gut, heart and instinct … rather than the judging, rational self.
So here’s more of what I experienced …
Picture this, you walk into a very large (and beautiful) hall. People begin to drift in and some are talking, but most are stretching and moving around the space on their own. Then within minutes, you look up from your own stretching and the place is nearly full. The music starts – almost nightclub volume but the choice of music is both intriguing and catchy. David, looking like a DJ behind a music desk, encouraged us to move, dance and use the space however we like. Then the session really begins.
So far so good. Like I said above, I admit to feeling nervous and at times a bit awkward with my own movement. “Am I doing it right?” I heard myself saying. Soon after some calming words from David (things like), “There is no right or wrong … go at your own pace … move how you feel and stay open to change … know that everything alive has a dance, and your only task is to find and express yourself. And remember, excessive seriousness may slow you down!”
And now quoting from the session handout I picked up at the front door …
The 5Rhythms comprise a simple movement practice designed to release the dancer that ;lives in every body, no matter its shape, size, age, limitations and experience. To find your dance is to find yourself at you at your most fluid and creative level.
The five rhythms are: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness. They come together to create the Wave, a movement meditation practice. Rather than having steps to follow, each rhythm is a different energy field in which you find your own expression and choreography, thereby stretching you imagination as well as your body. Each rhythm is a teacher and you can expect to meet different and sometimes unknown aspects of yourself as your dance unfolds and your practice of the rhythms deepens over time.
In sum … I had a great night! I felt physical worked and realised how fit dancers are. As I walked away, I also felt a ‘lightness’ and a fluidity that I didn’t have when I arrived a few hours earlier. I want to go back for more.
On Reflection … the application of movement to work
“It (The New Scientist) lists lots of experiments that demonstrate how powerfully our thinking is linked to feelings and challenges the conventional idea that our body is there to carry out the preconceived notions of our brains.
It looks at a series of curious experiments, including one that suggests the physical act of smiling is more a cause of our feeling happy than the other way round.
It’s further evidence that having meetings where people mostly sit still and listen to presentations is a shocking use of our potential; movement can significantly change the way we think.”
So, Johnnie and I are both with Viv when she says …
“So in designing meetings, we should be thinking about how to accommodate our bodies, as well as our brains; how to intersperse periods of thinking and struggling with ideas and solutions, with movement and activities.”
I’ll go a step further
I agree that designing movement and games into our meetings, workshops is important – the scientific research is saying the same! However, we need to extend this notion to the broader culture of our workplace (and our lives).
I still fall into the trap of separating out the ‘deep thinking and struggling’ workshop processes with movement-based activities. I think we have some notion that they are a good warm-up or ‘brain-gym’ activity for the brain. Maybe its the integration of movement/play with rational/serious thinking that is needed. It’s why I am fan of simple activities like Walking-Talking meetings.
This integration of physical movement, activity and play also needs to be extended beyond the realm of the ‘facilitated workshop’. Our workplaces need it built into the spaces and the way we run our businesses.
5Ryhthms in Melbourne
By the way, if you are interested in trying this out for yourself, here are the contact details:
Tuesday nights : 7.30pm – 9.30pm
St Brigids Parish Hall : Corner Nicholson St and Alexander Pde, Nth Fitzroy
Off street parking is available (enter off Nicholson St) and tram no 96 stops out the front. Bring a bottle of drinking water, layers of clothes and soft dancing shoes.
Imagine a world where most people think that life’s events are largely predictable. A world where people believe that planning, expert analysis, centralized control and risk assessments will smooth out the bumps of unpredictability … and ensure that predetermined targets are hit. Sound familiar?
Now imagine a world where the universal human tendency is to ‘be prepared for the unexpected’ … because that’s life! In this world, planning is still done, but is balanced by the formation of improvisational teams – teams that emerge in response to what is happening in the moment.
In this world, the term ‘script think’ existed last century … simply because most people and moved on and understand the complexity of life! This universal human mindset creates the conditions (and permission) for experimentation, inefficiencies and duplication. In this world, mistakes are made often and are more common than the hits … but the hits can be exceptional and groundbreaking.
Creative organizations, communities and government agencies are everywhere and society is thriving. When people gather to talk about stuff that matters, they know how to listen to each other and they invite dissent into the room. People know that the best ideas emerge over time and come from diverse groups … and not from clever individuals.
When ideas emerge, groups are happy to act on them even if they are not fully understood. As a result, these groups value the surprising questions that come from inquiry and experimentation. In this world, conferences that discover new questions and problems are highly valued … even if consensus and a clear action plan doesn’t happen.
In this world, BIG, hairy and complex problems remain. The uncertainty of the future is as alive as the world that I write from. Despite the ‘seriousness’
So BEAM ME UP SCOTTY … to a world where improvisation and innovation reign. To a world where authors like Keith Sawyer are household names. Where books like Group Genius have been built upon by a generation of writers, academics and practitioners.
“Lunch was next on the schedule and as with the rest of TEDxEdmonton it was anything but ordinary. Instead of individual lunches, groups of five or six people were given a wooden box filled with sandwiches, salads, drinks, and treats and were encouraged to eat together. Most groups ended up outside where the sun was shining and the streets were packed for the Edmonton Pride Parade. It was great to see discussions happening all over the place. Kudos to Elm Café andDuchess Bake Shop for the delicious food and the creative presentation!”
Viv McWaters has been my mentor, colleague, co-conspirator and friend for many years now. Viv has a knack of seeing beyond the ‘established norms’ of facilitation and create new ways of working from out beyond the horizon – its quite inspirational.
In recent times, Viv and Johnnie Moore have been breaking new ground in world of facilitation and facilitation training. Together, they have been working at the edge and applying lessons from improv theatre, neurological sciences, psychology, systems biology, design thinking and a host of other fields. We know from quantum physics that when fields (which are intangible) intersect, new stuff (tangible and observable) is created. We can’t control it, predict it or know when/where the new stuff will emerge … and that’s the discomfort of being at the edge.
In my heart of hearts, I know that Viv, Johnnie and a whole global network of connected people (you know who you are) are collectively cracking a huge nut … disrupting the status quo and creating the conditions for new systems and ways of working together to emerge.
It’s exciting times!
Ever the optimist, Geoff
PS. Viv, by the looks of both our blogs tonight … maybe we co-discovered our Mojo’s today?