Tangent Consulting

Archives: 'Leadership'

May 19, 2011

Am I no longer needed here?

I am sitting in the corner of the room whilst a workshop makes it’s way to a close. These people represent the polarity of an organization – people in strategy, others at the edge working with community and others who cut across the 2. Their intent is to build strategy that has a clear purpose, is co-owned and provides a framework that is flexible enough to cope with the unexpected. In this line of work we are dealing with community and natural systems, so the unexpected will happen … Often!

They are building this strategy in both a top-down and bottom-up way. There’s also a bit of side to side integration happening here. At the beginning of the week, we (me as facilitator and the hosting team) entered this series of 6 workshops with a clear purpose. Workshop 1 was a real struggle because we had no idea how our suite of processes would work – they were untested prototypes. We struggled to articulate the purpose and in some ways, the clarity emerged from getting on with the task.

On day 2, the workshop ran much more smoothly and we changed loads of things. We also removed a lot of noise. There were less frowns and groans from the group but the task remained hard work … it was a stretch. Building a shared understand about the greedy and depth of their work takes dedication and listening.

My role has been to build the capacity of the hosting team to design processes and host conversations within their organization and with their community stakeholders. So, on day 3 I was absent … over to the hosting team to take the lead.

I walked in this morning and something had shifted. The hosting team suggested more changes based on their experience the day before. In fact, they thought of things that I had neglected in supporting the group. It is clear to me know, that my job here is done.

GeoffBrown | Facilitation, Leadership | Comments Off on Am I no longer needed here?

May 6, 2011

A fantasy from the other side of the world

Euan Semple shares a fantasy at his Obvious Blog …

“A business where everyone blogs. Everyone thinks about what they are doing and writes about what they are doing. From the top to the bottom, the edges to the middle. Everyone awake and bouncing off each other intellectually as they get more and more effective at whatever they do.”

Just imagine any organisation, field or community of practice. Now imagine everyone openly sharing their observations, thoughts and ideas. Where everyone’s input is valued in a culture of saying yes more than no.

Source: Viv McWaters

Neil Perkin published the ‘blog post of the month’ recently. In it, blogger Chris Dixon writes about The 2 Kinds of People in this World

“You’ve either started a company or you haven’t.” he starts off.

Euan has me thinking of a different ‘2 types of people in this world’ … People who blog and those who don’t. Now, I could get all high and mighty about the virtues of blogging, but I’ll resist and expand in the same way Chris did about those who have started a company.

“Blogging” doesn’t mean that you just have a blog, it means that your blog is an extension of what you are thinking, learning and practicing. When you stop blogging you might even start to feel disconnected from your own mind (I know I do). It’s a living, growing, emerging space that allows you to share ‘stuff that matters’ with the world. Even though blog posts come from the individual mind, your ideas, in reality, emerge from a network of connected minds. Having a ‘living’ blog connects you to others and the space between the blogs contains all of the life and magic.

A blog is a space where you might just start somewhere and start writing … about something. Posts are often first-cut ideas that are unrefined and feel like a draft. And it’s those offerings that often resonate with the field and spark off new ideas somewhere else. Bloggers might hear comments from others (those who don’t write & publish) like “How do you find the time?” … “Isn’t it just an egotistical repository of self admiration?” Those ideas that come to us when walking or sleeping have a place to be born. The act of writing helps bring unformed ideas to life.

Importantly, your blog allows you to publish ‘edgy’ stuff that will get criticized by some and applauded by others. You put your ideas on the line with your heart of your sleeve.

GeoffBrown | Just observations, Leadership | Comments Off on A fantasy from the other side of the world

December 1, 2010

The Third Side

William Ury offers an elegant way of looking at world peace and the role we can all play. He offers both tangible stories of ‘how’ it is being done … and a model to support it. He calls it the 3rd Side and it’s also the role of the facilitator – known in some circles as the 3rd Communication Position.

The 3rd side, in the context of war, is us … all of us. As the 1st and 2nd side argue, disagree and battle with each other with a loss of perspective, ‘we’ on the 3rd side surround them and can “take them to the balcony” with us. On the 3rd side, as friends, family members and colleagues, we can remind the waring parties of what’s at stake and remind them of ‘purpose’. And like Toke Moeller says … “purpose is the invisible leader”.

Ury also helps me to build a visual image of the connectedness that we strive for in moving from Communities of Practice to Systems of Influence – this is where the big, seismic shifts in human endeavour can occur … just as new systems emerge in nature. I liked his final quote (an African Proverb) …

“When spider webs unite, they can halt even the Lion” and …

“If we are able to unite our 3rd Side webs of peace, we can even halt the Lion of War”


GeoffBrown | Facilitation, Leadership | Comments Off on The Third Side

October 29, 2010

What’s so scary?

The most common conversation I hear my clients having is about ‘Social Media’ … facebook, twitter, wikis, blogs etc. This is in the context of Knowledge Management, project management, internal communications and stakeholder engagement. Often I hear the tension between controlling it and letting it go – do the latter as it’s not that scary!

Earlier this year, Euan Semple and I co-facilitated a day of social media conversations with a few of my clients. We had a ball and our parting words were … “let’s do that again sometime”. Well, that’s probably not going to happen in Melbourne for a while so I’ll resort to sharing this post with many other clients, as they struggle to come to grips with a liquid-networked-world!

So, like a breath of fresh air, arrives a wee video of Euan sharing his own social media stories with an audience at this year’s Do Lectures. By the way, if you haven’t discovered the Do Lectures yet … check out the website as it’s a treasure trove!

admin | Creative Stuff, How Stuff Spreads & Changes, Leadership | Comments Off on What’s so scary?

June 29, 2010

2 great questions

Here’s a 1 minute video featuring Jack Thompson. He has been asked the simple question, “What is your happiest moment?”. I really enjoyed his response – HT to Katie at Get Shouty for this

The future I might aspire to – the past I remember with pleasure … life’s crowning glory is the here and now”

In this longer video, Chip Conley shares his story … when the dotcom bubble burst, Chip went in search of a business model based on happiness. In an old friendship with an employee and in the wisdom of a Buddhist king, he learned that success comes from what you count.

Second great question … “What do we count?”

Chris’ story and question, links back to a conference I was involved in running with Swinburne Uni, Sustainability Victoria and The Slips. At Show Me The Change, we even used an Einstein quote that Chris uses in his presentation. We used it in our ‘invitation’ to the field to describe our conference whose theme was ‘Evaluation of Behaviour Change’. Check out slide #4 …

What do I count? Here’s 3 things that I think are important to notice, value and count …

  1. The joy that comes from moments when I truly ‘connect’ with others – when playing Lego with my son Lachie on the weekend, we were laughing at something we created and and our eye contact, for just a few moment, was like we were looking into each other’s heart and soul … what counts is our true connection and being present with each other.
  2. The adventure and relationships that build when we say “Yes”. It is too easy to block other’s point of view and ideas and it’s a constant struggle to do otherwise. When we do let go of control and open up to possibility, saying ‘yes’ more often to more people and in more situations is another thing that really counts in my life!
  3. Solitude. Leo over at Zen Habits wrote about this recently here. He described Solitude as being the #1 habit of highly creative people.

“Creativity flourishes in solitude. With quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, you can focus.” Zen Habits.

Why is solitude important to measure? Well, maybe we don’t measure it in numbers, but we should learn to value these moments more. We hear business and government catch-cries of “being creative and innovative” but rarely do the leaders create the space for creativity and innovation to flourish. That involves releasing control and measuring staff time and activities in vastly different ways.

Imagine an organisation that allowed all staff to spend 20% of their time on anything that contributes to the business? They don’t need to report on KPI’s and justify their time … they are encouraged to work on ideas and things for which they have a real passion for. IDEO and Gore are just 2 of many companies that do it – I suggest you read Group Genius by Keith Sawyer to find out more.

Cheers, Geoff

admin | Being Present, How Stuff Spreads & Changes, Leadership | Comments Off on 2 great questions

June 1, 2009

Stories that are ‘Built to Last’

Garr Reynold over at Presentation Zen spotted this video called ‘Built to Last‘.

This 3-minute video presentation called Built to Last won first prize in The Congress for the New Urbanism video contest a few weeks ago. The rules for the contest were simple: “Create a 3-minute maximum video that illustrates how the principles of New Urbanism – density, design and walkability – can effectively respond to current environmental challenges that we face.” Watch the video.” Garr Reynolds.

Here is another great example of creative communication. Built to Last combines a great mix of music, large/bold text, images and story that helps to convey a message. In it’s own right it’s a great example and it won the video contest … BUT … what’s even more important is the ‘spreadability’ of this story. With Web 2.0 tool like Slideshare, YouTube and Blogs, we can now take ‘consumption‘ of media to a new level … that level is ‘sharing‘ with others who want to follow and be part of this Movement.

This video will not change ‘everyone’ … in fact most people won’t even watch it to the end. That’s not important though. As Seth Godin in his book ‘Tribes’ (and Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody) points out – if you try lead/convince everyone you’ll end up leading /convincing no one. Just like Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth movement, he didn’t change everyone’s mind … he simply stepped up and lead a worldwide group of people that wanted to be lead.

Clay Shirky likens the Social Media revolution to a Triathelon. Last century we were all running a single leg of the race … that leg was called ‘Consumption‘ of media.  You know … billions of hours of human thought wasted every weekend watching TV commercials (Clay calls this our Cognitive Surplus).

In the past decade, masses of people (millions and millions) have taken up the Triathelon and added 2 more legs to their race. Those 2 legs are the ‘Production‘ and the ‘Sharing‘ of media. What has emerged is an explosion of new ‘stuff’ on the internet and the creation of vast amounts of new knowledge. Wikipedia is a classic example of this. Wikipedia is what happens when people start to apply that ‘Cognitive Surplus’ to the Production and Sharing of videos like Built to Last.

In Sum

Watch (Consume) and enjoy this video …

Send it to your friends (Share) who might care about it … and start to (a challenge to you all) …

Create (Produce) your own sideshows and videos and that communicate stories for which you are passionate about … you never know, you might even start to lead a movement and make the world a better place!



admin | Creative Stuff, How Stuff Spreads & Changes, Leadership, Vizual Thinking | Comments (2)

February 13, 2009

Notes for BRWMG Presentation

I was honored to present a whole bunch of stuff to a group of people in Anglesea the other day.

I focused on Clay Shirky’s crowdsourcing, Ken Robinson’s creativity, Seth’s Tribes and a range of online tools.

Here’s a direct link to the mindmap I used to plan the session. When you visit Mind42, you will be able to click on the links which take you to various videos, presentations and information.

Presentation by Geoff Brown – 2009

Mind42 is like a wiki, but in mindmap form.



admin | Creative Stuff, How Stuff Spreads & Changes, Leadership, Vizual Thinking | Comments Off on Notes for BRWMG Presentation

November 18, 2008

It takes a ‘field’ to hold a ‘field’ – Progress toward community sustainability

I rarely write long blog posts, but something has happened in my home Shire in 2008 that I must share with you! It relates to sustainability … community capacity … government and NGO partnerships … and a project team willing to allow direction and activities to emerge over time. It’s an exciting story with even greater possibilities for the future. This story also relates to the lessons our team learned in staging the Castlemaine 500 project.

Last weekend I had the privilege of co-facilitating a sustainable transport workshop with participants in the Surf Coast Shire’s Casuarina project. In 2008, an ‘eco’ stream of the Casuarina Project has seen 17 local, community leaders come together over 7 full days and learn new skills and build the self awareness and the confidence to go out and run their own community projects. The Casuarina project started way back in 2001 and was developed by the wonderful Viv McWaters with the equally wonderful Di Mahoney cooordinating the show from the Surf Coast Shire. I was a participant in that inaugural year and feel honored to be facilitating the new crops of local leaders!

I must say we have a great group of participants this year who have really ‘clicked’ with each other. We have formed an online Collective X community and it is thriving!

Here’s a very rough 3 minute sketch of what Casuarina is all about …

Together with the Eco Casuarina participants, I designed an interactive workshop that focused on Sustainable Transport in the Surf Coast Shire. The Surf Coast Shire, together with the Victorian State Government’s Sustainability Fund, sponsored the project in 2008.

Enter the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and their Green Homes Program. The ACF have run community workshops in the Surf Coast on topics like saving Energy, Water and Waste in the home and their 4th workshop (Transport), was run by me and the Eco Casuarina team on their behalf. Eco Cas participants were able to participate in the previous workshops and ‘hone’ the skills they have learned in Eco-Cas by watching, listening and participating in Green Homes. So, in a nut shell, the national Green Homes program was adapted by local people, given a local focus and some local ownership sprinkled in.

So why is this exciting? Well, this little transport workshop has pulled together many players in a complex field … the field of tackling climate change and building stronger communities. State Government, 2 arms of Local Government (enviro & community building departments), local community leaders and the ACF have all combined their skills and resources to create a little splash … but one that could lead to many future ripples.

I’ll write more about this unfolding story in the near future.

Here is the slideshow we used (along with some funky blues guitar) to kick start the workshop and get participant’s asking questions and thinking deeply about the future of transport in the Surf Coast Shire.

Sustainable Transport Workshop slides

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: transport sustainable) – many of the slides were downloaded from existing slideshows on Slideshare and the final slide acknowledges the sources tapped into to. Geoff Brown.
Cheers for now

admin | Leadership, Lessons from C500, Sustainability | Comments (1)

July 24, 2008

Podcast – Harrison Owen on Open Space

Over at my podcast blog Winkipod, I have just posted an inspiring podcast.

Viv just recorded Harrison Owen’s book launch speech at the 2008 OSOS Conference happening now in San Francisco, USA.

The quality of the sound is poor, however, Harrison’s words are inspiring!

Harrison Owen

Download Harrison Owen’s Book Launch Speech here

Listening Tip – if you have control over the Equaliser Levels, reduce the BASS frequencies to a minimum.



admin | Facilitation, Leadership | Comments Off on Podcast – Harrison Owen on Open Space

April 16, 2008

Leadership & Classical Music at the World Economic Forum

The Core of my blog is the Improv principle ‘Yes!And’ … this podcast featuring Ben Zander is a match made in heaven! Ben Zander is a conductor, teacher, speaker and co-author of The Art of Possibility. In this podcast he reveals his ‘road to Damascus’, a time when he discovered a new style of leadership. Ben’s message, humour and presence is quite remarkable. I am sure the World Economic Forum will never be the same again. For people in a hurry – listen to the first 6 minutes and you’ll get a taste. For people who want to inspired & nourished – listen to the full 67 minutes. Podcast is here. This cartoon will mean something to those who listen.

My favorite Ben Zander quote about Leadership:

“Who am I being, that my player’s eyes are not shining?”

And now Ben Zander is on TED.




admin | Leadership, Podcasts that Rock! | Comments (10)