On a recent trip to New York I had the pleasure of co facilitating a workshop with my friend and colleague Laurie Webster of QED Insights. Laurie had an invitation to work with a group of people who were interested in understanding more about complexity and how to apply it in their thinking and approaches to their work. She suggested that we might do this together as I could add another perspective to their experience. The group were from all backgrounds….marketing, IT, Agile community and engaged enthusiastically with what was offered. The session was designed to be hands on and stimulate discussion to enhance learning. Their engagement was such that at the end there was lots more we could do and they were keen to have another workshop to extend their thinking in the field of complexity.
In May I worked with the second group of librarians participating in the INELi Oceania project. As part of the evaluation process I facilitated workshops in Fiji with representatives from Australia, New Zealand , Fiji, Timor Leste and Papaua New Guinea. The evaluation process was one that took into account the complexities of learning and leadership. It also put the participants at the centre of their experience as they are best placed to say what impact the learning is having for them. Narrative collection and sense making played a big part in the process. Light touch facilitation consistent with the principles of complex facilitation were also applied so as not to influence the thinking of the participants but rather to allow insights to emerge.
This process of evaluation is particularly relevant for human centred approach where the complexities of human experience are prevalent.
So how do you change an important community service? One where there is a lot of emotion attached and where there are multiple perspectives, ideas and knowledge? Creative Cognicion recently worked with one such service. It was a large community serviced based in Gippsland Victoria and covered a large area geographically. Previous work had been done around service changes but the recommendations that came about largely put the consultants in the role of the expert rather than listening to the various perspectives and harnessing the wisdom of those within the system.
The chosen methodology by Creative Cognicion was methodology developed by Cognitive Edge which is specifically designed to work with complex issues. It puts the people in the system in the centre of the decision making process, allows all voices to be heard and encouraged insights and ideas for resolution to emerge.
In this particular instance there were local councilors, the Board of the service, staff of the service, community members and the CEO of the service. No ones voice was more important that the other. Narrative techniques, emergence and refinement of ideas was undertaken with the end result being a compilation of everyone’s voice. Participants expressed a great deal of satisfaction with the process as they were all energized and able to contribute from the perspective of their experience.
Last week I participated in an event called Creative Melbourne. This was the second year Creative Melbourne had been held with this years event being co created by a small group of participants from last year. As part of this group I had several questions about the co creation process including how it linked with my work in complexity. And the answer to that is there is a close link with co creation being the harnessing of diverse perspectives and experimentation among other things.
The event involved people from NASA Cirques du Soleil and the Catholic University in Lille and was a truly international event supported by Intelligent Answers based here in Melbourne. Participants were also from Australia and from overseas. We worked together for four days exploring ideas, collaborating and developing relationships and beginning got co create projects to move forward during the next twelve months. This is a unique event which aims to try to do things differently in a complex and ever evolving world.
I have been mentoring students undertaking their Executive MBA at RMIT recently. The unit is Consultancy where they undertake a real life consulting project working with a client and with a mentor who provides support and learning from their industry experience as a consultant. It is a different way of learning but has some direct translation to real life practice and transfers the paradigm from academic to practical and experiential. The learnings are around developing a consultancy project, understanding the client/consultant relationship, questions of ethics, collaboration and understanding the issue and questions of expert. Saturday was their presentation of recommendations to the client which is followed up by a report for the client. The process is of three way benefit, students, client and mentor.
Reflecting on the latest leadership challenges in terms of the election of the new President of the USA, the Brexit vote and the movements in the Australian political field, the question of power and influence and the the authority of leadership raises its head.. How do we as leaders tap into what is really going on with the various groups in society. Are we so cognitively entrained by our groups of peers that we are unable to listen and see what is happening? And how does our own group of peers effect our behaviours as leaders and determine our actions?
A significant level of EI is needed by leaders today along with an ability to shift and move our behaviours and thinking………and maybe even an escape plan from our own thinking and group influences.
To assist leaders in addressing these issues, Bespoke Results and Creative Cognicion are facilitating a one day workshop at Airlie on March 3 next year. This is a highly experiential workshop and has been run on a number of other occasions with groups who have found it thought provoking and challenging.
Registration can be made through the attached brochure. ( there is a considerable discount for registrations prior to Christmas!!!) Power Authority Program Brochure March 2017 copy
Over the last two years Creative Cognicion, as part of the Complexability group, has been working with a group of librarians across the South Pacific. They have been undergoing leadership development training which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Part of the development of the program was to rake an existing world wide program and adapt it to the specific needs of participants in the South Pacific. So rather than wait until the end of the first Cohort and then evaluate the program and hurriedly make changes for the second cohort, an impact evaluation was undertaken which could give real time feedback. The methodology was based on Cognitive Edge techniques including the use of their software Sensemaker. This was chosen for several reasons. One is that it is appropriate for the complex nature of learning and development. It provides experiences of the participants, and contextualization reached through the participants making their own meaning of their experience. This gives rise to insights which can be turned into actions for change. The actions can be designed by either the Steering Committee or the participants. Secondly, the methodology is consistent with reflective learning as participants are asked to record experiences and then make their own meaning of the experiences. This is similar to the requirement of the course to keep a reflective journal, so participants are being provided with the opportunity to undertake reflective learning in a number of ways. And thirdly it is consistent with the development of innovation capability, one of the outcomes of the program, as it is a “different ” way of undertaking evaluation and encourages participants to think and plan about change.
Cohort 2 has just commenced with the program incorporating changes emerging from the experiences of Cohort 1. And it is expected that Cohort 2 will again influence the development of further programs.
During a recent visit to Hong Kong I facilitated a chat cafe with students so they could practice their English with a native English speaker. During the session a recording crew were present as they needed footage to place in a new promotional video for the College. It is now available on Youtube through https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4coiqi4p2e0.