Archive for November, 2010

University of Democracy

Sunday, November 28th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Last week I was in a workshop with the senior civil servant team of the Ministry of Health and Social Services in Namibia. People were reflecting on what they had learned over the past couple of years when we had helped them to cope with their leadership challenges better and more as a team. Like their counterparts in Indonesia, they talked about concrete outcomes on the ground, but also about their transformed relationships with each other (from mistrust to trust) and with themselves (to a higher level of presence and self-confidence). They also talked about having become better listeners and communicators. One of them referred to the Leadership Development Forum (a parallel learning structure in the form of leadership retreats every 4 to 6 months) as our “University of Democracy.” Democracy? Yes, because every voice and experience is heard.

I thought that was a really interesting term they used: to describe a governmental leadership learning structure as a “University of Democracy.” What if we could connect, leverage, and develop such an university of democracy across all ministries and sectors in all countries?

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Indonesia: the power of a tri-sector leadership journey

Monday, November 22nd, 2010 | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

A few days ago I returned from a workshop in Jakarta with an amazing group of leaders from all sectors of society (government, business, civil society). The same group came to MIT earlier this year at the launch of this nine months U process program. The group includes CEOs of medium-sized companies, founders of social justice organizations, deans and professors from the University of Indonesia, editors of major newspapers and news channels, senior civil servants from several ministries, members of the national parliament, the governor of a provincial district, and others. Here are a few highlights of what the group reported and reflected on during our concluding workshop last week:

(1) Each participant had experienced transformational change both individually and also as a group. They had discovered deeper ground and a deeper “source of being” within themselves. They also reported receiving multiple positive feedback from others about being better listeners.
(2) The process they went through as a group was described with these words: “We went from mistrust to trust, from trust to love, from love to knowledge, and from knowledge to action.”
(3) Several of them have made significant organizational progress toward transforming their organizations, although that journey is still early stage.
(4) Every team had accomplished two things with its prototype projects: some real impact and some hands-on learning. For example, one team that focuses on corruption went to a particular region far outside of Jakarta. On this learning journey they found that most of their assumptions about corruption in that place were wrong. They had to change their assumptions about corruption and its main drivers, and change their ideas about what needed to be done to improve the situation. They involved all stakeholders in the process of understanding the situation and inventing better ways of providing government services. The result, as we heard from a stakeholder who is doing business in that community, is a better, faster, more transparent, and more efficient government.
(5) The main takeaway for me has been to see the field of inspired connections that they – that we! – share with each other and that allows everyone who participates in that field to access their better selves.

I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to prototype this country-level tri-sector leadership program in Indonesia over the past three years. Indonesia, with its diversity on so many levels, with its deep spirituality, and with its history that makes it a microcosm of all major global issues, is probably the best possible place to launch a new way of transforming society from ego-system awareness to eco-system awareness. Reflecting on some similar efforts currently under way in other countries, I wonder what this whole web of cross-sector innovation platforms might look like a few years down the road. Can we turn this effort into a globally networked “” that allows young people to join the platform and add more quickly to the global web of prototyping initiatives?

The would be a global action leadership school that convenes, connects, and co-inspires leaders and change makers across sectors, generations, and cultures. More on that later…


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Connecting the dots

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The past two weeks were amazing. It feels as if we’ve stepped into a new space. Five years after the first co-initiation meeting for the Presencing Institute and about ten years after starting to create a set of living examples, tools, and capacity building mechanisms, as well as research results, we finally took a significant step towards the primary intention that guided us from the very outset of this journey: forming a global action leadership school that convenes, connects, and co-inspires change makers across generations, sectors, and cultures. The purpose of the school is to cultivate the “inner condition of the intervenor,” to shift the inner place from which we operate. It will be an instrument for catalyzing positive change on all levels of society (from personal to global) and shifting from ego-system to eco-system awareness by creating an economy that works for all.

We have been prototyping the core components of the school in a variety of places – but we had never created a global core group of master practitioners who would be at the heart and frontline of the project. Last week we did. We launched the first Presencing Institute Masterclass (“Presencing-in-Action Lab”) with 75 participants from 24 countries and all continents. This amazing group represents an inspiring microcosm of change initiatives that are currently are under way around the world. The Masterclass will meet four times from Fall 2010 to Summer 2012 (for about a week each time) in order to help each other deepen the impact of these change initiatives and function as a global field of inspired connections. The members will also continue to generate new ideas, connections, initiatives, and collective creativity.

Launching the Masterclass (Lab) was one big step (pictures).

Presencing-in-Action Lab

The other one concerns Social Presencing Theater. Social Presencing Theater is a practice that links awareness, embodiment, constellation principles, practical applications, and theater. The Masterclass was the first place where we used social presencing theater as a principal diagnostic tool in cases brought by the participants. The results were stunning. Powerful stuff. Seeing this line of work – which Arawana Hayashi has been pioneering at the Presencing Institute over the past few years – rise to the very center of our application and capacity building work was the other breakthrough that made my heart jump for joy.

Energetically, it feels as if we have crossed an important threshold as a community of change makers. The global online community now includes more than 4,500 individuals from many cultures. For example, last week’s Presencing Foundation Program in Boston took place with more than 90 participants (oversubscribed more than a month earlier). I get the same response in other places and communities. In workshops and discussions with leaders from the World Bank in D.C. and the UN in Europe earlier this week I felt the same opening. It’s so evident to most of us that “more of the same” simply is not an option. That premise opens up a whole new territory of awareness and conversation.

My main insight from these last two weeks is something very simple: until now I had thought that creating the new school would be something we would do “in the future.” But now, with the help of some close colleagues and friends, I am starting to realize that maybe we ARE ALREADY operating the school: the Masterclass (Lab), the various Foundation Programs, Global Classroom courses, the tri-sector leadership development work for countries (ELIAS/IDEAS), as well as the various practical applications, are all vibrant aspects of the emerging school.

More on this sometime later this week.

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