Ending 2010 with an inspired harvest

Posted by  GeoffBrown —December 23, 2010
Filed in Facilitation, Just observations

One word that sums up 2010 for me is …

This year I have designed and delivered training and events with talented and gifted people like  Chris CorriganJohnnie MooreViv McWaters and Anne Pattillo – and collectively we are known as ‘The Slips’ (see Simon Kneebone’s cartoon of us below).

And others including Euan Semple and David Gurteen. I have learned so much from each of these people, both in working alongside them and reading their blogs. Bring on more of this in 2011.

Another significant word I associate with 2010 is …

I harvested beautiful fruit and veg from my home garden this year too, but the harvest I refer to here is best defined as …

Harvest … There is no point in doing work in the world unless we plan to harvest the fruits of our labours.  Harvesting includes making meaning of our work, telling the story and feeding forward our results so that they have the desired impacts in the world.”  written by Chris Corrigan (with the help of the Art of Hosting community) in this Chaordic Stepping Stones paper.

I started 2010 with a vague understanding about the concept (and importance) of a harvest in relation to my facilitation work. I ended 2010 with much greater clarity … which came through practice, by pushing the boundaries and by taking risks. My growth was also inspired by my friend Chris Corrigan … and from you I have learned so much.

Here are a few links to blog posts describing ‘harvests’ that came from my work in 2010 …

ACAPTA Flashpoint Forum – a video created by participants

Show Me The Change Conference – a visual summary of the whole 3 day conference

Coast-Action, Coast-Care – a video and treasure trove of blog posts telling stories from the field

And finally, to yet another brilliant harvest from poet, musician and part-time facilitator Chris Corrigan. You can read his full post here (and make sure you read and listen to Chris’ poem), and I really liked his wrap up about the harvest at the end …

It is not enough to do work in the world without adding as much beauty as we can.  The power resides in the songs, the poems, the images that we use to capture our collective experiences and to throw a light on how important they are to us as human beings.

Enjoy the harvest.”

And here’s a taste from the World Cafe and the graphic facilitation that flowed …

In 2011 …

So next year, let’s explore new ways of ‘adding beauty’ to the insights, questions and ideas that emerge from conversations. This is not about capturing everything on post-it notes and flip charts – because this ends up about as inspiring as minutes from a meeting! It is more about the creative process of designing something together that captures the essence of our experience – it tells a story and engages those outside the room.

A Harvest could be a poem, a song, graphics and pictures, improvised performances (captured on video or not?). A Harvest can be a big deal that takes time and effort and engages groups in dialogue at deeper levels … it can also emerge spontaneously and be something very small. Whatever it is, it illuminates the collective experience.

And even though a Harvest may be intentional and be part of the design, it should flow from the group and be owned by them – it’s their work after all. Whatever we co-create should emerge from questions. A Harvest should not be a ‘commitment ceremony’ or ‘action theatre’ as described here by Johnnie Moore. Chris suggests questions like these (again from the Chaordic Stepping Stones paper):

*What are the forms of harvest from our work that best serves the need?

*What intentional harvest will serve our purpose?

*What are the artefacts that will be the most powerful representations of what we have created?

*How will we carry the DNA of the our work forward?

I am also constantly grounded and brought back to reality by Viv McWaters when speaking of Harvests. Viv has an inner voice that often says “Danger, Will Robinson!” and whenever I see that ‘look in her eyes’, I try to open up my mind to new ways of thinking and seeing things. Viv describes our fixation on the need for ‘tangible actions and outputs’ here

“Still, some people complained at the end that nothing happened except talk. “Without tangible actions the day would be a waste.” Since when did engaging in conversations about what’s important to a business classify as nothing? Since when did building relationships with new colleagues and strengthening existing ones be seen as a waste of time?

A very recent post by Viv points to another way of describing Harvest (for me anyway) …

“I’m reading Bill Isaac’s book Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together. He writes: “We need to become conscious of what we are doing so that we can refine and share it. This does not mean that we must make a theory of dialogue formal and explicit, but that we in some fashion make it understandable and usable to others.”

So how can we help groups to refine and share their collective experience? The sharing part is also about producing something that is understandable and usable to others.

Signing off for 2010!


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