Chautuaquais named after a lake in New York state. Native Americans used to gather in tents pitched on the shore each summer to teach and learn from each other. The Meta Network is an online community of organisation development people. Every month or so they invite an author to host a "Chautauqua" session in an online version of the Native American tradition. In June 97, Lisa Kimball, a founder and organiser of The Meta Network invited Tony Page to host a Chatauqua session. It produced 120 postings during the month long on-line dialogue covering diary method, reflective learning, personal and organisational and change.
Chautauqua Item 39
||You are Tony Page.|
|Tony Page's Diary of a Change Agent|
Tony's is a very unusual and personal book. It's about consulting, it's about change, it's about reflection and learning, it's about creating value, it's about relationships ... I suspect that it ends up being "about" what each reader is strugggling with in their own practice because the book invites the reader's personal reflection.
The form of the book is that of a diary with entries and reflections over a three-year period. One of my favorite aspects is that these entries are sprinkled with hand-drawn illustrations which made the entries seem very alive to me.
"I started making dialy entries on my laptop in January, 1993. Soon I found myself recording quite remarkable events that might previously have passed in the background, almost below consciousness. The diary quite quickly began to give me a greater sense of control and confidence. I suppose this was why I kept it going. From time to time I would look back at earlier entries and notice themes or patterns in my behaviour. I also started to notice moodes. I noticed how a mood of optimism or pessimism could colour everything and how long the mood would endure. I found that once I expressed worries and concerns in the diary, I often became free of them. Those that persisted I could sort of interrogate, find their roots and then identify some positive actions or intentions that would propel me forward, out of my previous sense of 'stuckness'. I noticed how there is a spill-over from home life into work and vice-versa." - Tony Page (page 8)
You can get a sense of Tony's ideas about change in an article called "Consulting With the Flow"linked to Tony's home page.
Thanks for joining us here, Tony!
I want to spend some time talking with you about change,
and many of the other themes from your book.
But, to start with, I want to talk with you about the
diary process which
seems to have been so rich.
Had you kept journals previously? Are you still
keeping a diary? What
was the balance between writing entries for yourself (that perhaps only
you would understand) and writing something that could be shared? How
did you deal with being so vulnerable and exposed to colleagues and
It's a sunny Monday morning in Hampton Wick, South West
sitting in my home based office. My son is about to leave for school. And
I'm taking a few minutes before I start work to start this Chautauqua.
Hope to return again a little later today to continue,
then I'm in
Edinburgh, Scotland for 2 days where I'll try to continue from my hotel
Thanks for your intro Lisa and for the questions.
Have I kept a journal before? When I was 18, in the
summer I left school
I was amongst a group of four lads who drove round France, Italy,
Switzerland in a wreck of a car. One of us, Mick, brought a little red
book which he started using a a record of where we went, who we met, how
we were getting along with one another, the general mood. Quite soon it
extended from Mick to the rest of us and we were each taking turns
writing the journal. One of us seemed constantly to be sleeping,
uncommunicative, or in a bad mood, but he joined in with the journal, and
it freed things up a little.
I kept a jouranl briefly at another point in 1988 when I
was leaving PA
Consulting and going independent. This was a difficult time, a
rebalancing of life. I was trying to work less and be more present at
home with Helen my wife and my one year old son. I was also trying to
start up a business.
So this was both about regaining distance, perspective, and about fiding
energy for personal change/development.
Yes, I still keep a diary. I do not do it every day now
but as the need
strikes me, perhaps a couple of times a week. I donwload my thoughts and
feelings into my Psion, a palmtop computer. This helps me get centred,
clear of distractions. It is also a creative space where I find and
capture solutions to those problems that are incubating, below
consciousness. Every month I print off the diary and review it. I still
get surprised by the review: how much has happened, what a distance has
These entries have been for me not for others. Writing
the book Diary of
a Change Agent required editing, providing some explanations and
exercises to make the content and the method interesting, accessible,
engaging to others.
I'll come back to the vulnerability question.
I would be interested to hear from other people who have
diary/journal method and what their experiences have been. I am really
keen to explore these themes with others so if you're reading this please
I think for me vulnerability is an important part of the
years I became expert at being objective, emotionally detached and
invulnerable. What I have been seeking are ways of being present,
AUTHENTIC, more fully engaged, communicating more deeply and therefore
more powerfully with the client.
I have received a lot of support, (but not 100%!)
from clients and colleagues. This has helped to diminish my sense of
vulnerability. I have been invited to lead various public events (talks,
workshops and a couple of conference keynote slots). Published reviews
include "unputdownable", "best book I read in 1996" etc.
Now what about the downside? One client whose support I
"but I don't understand why you wrote it!" and "it's not the kind of book
I like to read". Some people have said they wished they had written it
first. But I have no way of knowing what most people think.
At first I did feel very vulnerable but less so now. I
hindsight it was something I NEEDED to write and publish.
I also felt it was needed by the profession. Plenty of
theory has been
written - this book is about the real, tough practice of learning deeply,
of double looping (Argyris), of seeking to build emotional intelligence
(Goleman), personal mastery (Senge) or whatever you like to call it. You
can't do this stuff without making yourself vulnerable can you?
Do others share the view that vulnerability is part and
parcel of opening
yourself to learning???
Hoping some of you can engage with this thread. I'm off
to catch my plane
now. Back on Wednesday. Byeeee!
When I think about writing a journal, I associate it
with two types of
experiences. One, as you described by your trip abroad, would be a
journey that is especially noteworthy that you expect to be a positive
experience and you further expect that you will want to revisit it
throughout your life.
The other experience is one when you are going through a
experience and the journal is used as a coping mechanism. I have kept a
journal at two times during my life. One was a trip to Nicaragua where I
was a delegate to a confererence with a sister city project that I was
involved in. And the other was in high school which was initiated by my
parents separation. Both experiences, in different ways, have had
implications for me that have hindered my desire to keep a journal again.
Anyone that has kept a personal journal usually benefits
from doing so. I
just never thought of doing one professionally--I see why people have
said that they wish they had thought of it!!
My question to you is, how do you think the introduction
such as computer conferencing as we are doing here will play a role in
professional journaling? It seems to me that by participating in online
conferences, we are keeping a journal possibly without even meaning to do
so. I sometimes have a reaction of vulnerability when I write a response
in an online conference that I don't seem to have when speaking face to
face to a group. Do others?
I kept a diary during my husband's illness, and for the
few months after
his death. I edited it for publication, and while no one seemed to want
to publish it, a large number of people found it helpful. A couple of
Hospice groups used it in their training programs, a hospital chaplain in
Illinois uses it with it people, an analyst here in DC uses it with some
of her clients.
I have just built a Chautuaqua Guest Bookstore, which we
hope will grow
in coming months, and you are the first author in there. Clicking on the
picture of Diary of a Change agent takes you to the Amazon site where you
can purchase a copy. They are very reliable.
So, please check out the Bookstore at http://www.tmn.com/books/
"As I write this, I'm aware that the diary activity sounds lonely and isolated. I actually found it a brief and pleasant interlude in a busy and gregarious life. My dialouge with the diary helped me to take in and transform many pressures and problems that life throws up, instead of ignoring them. It also added a positive stimulus and productive direction to life. Through the diary-based learning, I felt less fixed in my viewpoint, freed from some of my prejudices and able to see reality more clearly with all its inherent complexity and contraditions. It was like a heightened awareness." - p. 9
Does the process of writing put you in a relationship with yourself ... perhaps your inner self ... which you don't have when simply "thinking" about what's happened in the course of the day?
Amy - thanks for your comments. I appreciate the 2
of a journal you describe. In your second use, coping with a difficult
experience, you describe how keeping the journal somehow got mixed in
with the distressing experience itself, hindering your desire to continue
with a potentially useful practice.
A pity...but I think I can understand your
feeling...from my own
experience I know how profoundly distressing events like
separation/divorce/death that can colour all of the other experiences
that surround them.
Coming now to your question. YES I had not thought of it
this way before
but computer conferencing is a sort of dialogue, a sort of social form of
journaling, a means of finding our deeper values, assumptions and
beliefs, and opening them to others, to question and allow them to
evolve, in other words, a means of DEEP LEARNING.
And as in the personal journal, there is a record left
behind us that we
can return to and review/reflect and learn again. My friend and mentor
Garth taught me the value of REFLECTING ON YOUR REFLECTIONS to access a
And YES again to the point about vulnerability. In a
face to face
dialogue we make gradual advances in candour according to the other
person's reactions. There is a sort if INCHING FORWARD towards deeper,
authentic exchanges of truth, meaning.
When we're online we are engaged in a similar process,
but robbed of the
real time encouraging cues from the other person. So we take a risk, we
speed things up, we offer up what is meaning and truth for us, but
without the benefit of gradual encouragement and reciprocation from the
So we are vulnerable, risking rejection/disapproval from
others in the
online conference. Have you noticed sometimes online, when a person's
comments are not valued, or are met with hostility, how the dialogue
stops, the person withdraws, or if the contact continues it is at a more
superficial level, adversarial debate, fisticuffs, attack/defend.
Robbed of non-verbals, like many others I am still
learning how to
communicate and learn with others online.
Thanks for your thoughts Amy. Now for my question to you
Would you like to share any more about how you cope with the
vulnerability, and how you get the best out of online
I just wrote you something but it got lost in the
process of posting so I
wonder if we'll see this twice?
Thanks for your input and Lisa for your response with
Diana, I am pleased your diary is proving helpful to
hospices and to that
analyst. Helen my wife went through the death of her sister last year and
I know it is tough to find a way to reach people who are going through
bereavement. I suspect your diary is helping people greatly to understand
and release their overwhelming and confusing feelings, coming to terms
with what is happening.
Lisa, on the question of inner self, Vincent Hill a
(Assagioli) therapist made contact with me recently after reading Diary
of a Change Agent. He spoke about higher self, or Self watching self. He
said cultivation of Self throughout life can be greatly enhanced by diary
keeping. He also said that not everyone is interested in such a
developmental journey, some preferring to ground themselves totally in
the pragmatic details of their daily lives.
I tend to think of it like this. That inner self is not
emergent from the INTERPLAY between what's there already and what life
is offering up. Happiness, proactivity, authenticity, personal
powerfulness and leadership can all be enhanced and developed by allowing
that interplay to occur through reflection.
Some people seem to accept this without difficulty,
whereas others feel
uncomfortable with reflection, or look on it critically. I sometimes
sense that it is OK to be extravert, working and networking all the time
with others. BUT that it is NOT-OK to be devoting time to reflection.
Paradoxically, instead of reflection leading to
self-obsession, I find
that it reminds me of the importance of being OTHER-CENTRED and achieving
a healthy balance between reflection and connecting with others.
I would be interested in your views (Amy, Diana, Lisa,
others?) on this questions of OKness.
I checked out the Chautauqua Guest Bookstore and I love
it! It's great
that you were able to put the book cover there, and to make it into an
Amazon button. Thank you.
Tony Coyle! Hi Tony!
I'm pleased you have joined us. I was thinking of
EMailing you to invite
you in, but no need now. Yes, as my CLIENT, you were the source of
several dilemmas (!) and you helped me with several others. Our work
together was helping me to find and trust my voice as a CONSULTANT.
Your comments on finding the inner, deeper VOICE are
past those distracting voices. I also recognise the scorekeeper voice in
myself and I still find it hard at times to get beyond it!
I'm interested in your question about becoming
more and more reflective
as a practitioner. Tony, are there some specific parts of the book where
the theory of this becomes clear?
Just for now, I'd like to share a few thoughts on
reflective. When learning 3 years ago to meditate I was quite blocked by
the question "AM I DOING IT RIGHT?". Seeking that special relationship
with yourself through writing, or becoming more reflective as a
practitioner, may not be very different.
I used a simple EXERCISE at some recent talks and
workshops, that offers
a here and now experience of reflecting. It focuses on 2 simple questions:
1. What's going on in your life today?
2. How do you feel about it?
You get 5 minutes individually, followed by a 5 minute discussion in
pairs using 2 different questions:
3. What was most memorable about the last exercise?
4. What, if anything, have you learned from it?
The silence for the first 5 minutes can be tense for me:
typically I am
anxious, wondering how people are taking the exercise. Then when I shout
time, the pairs exercise starts and the energy in the room builds slowly
to an exciting noisy buzz after a couple of minutes. Ending the pairs
exercise after 5 mintues requires a loud voice, walking amongst people to
win their attention.
In the debrief afterwards people say INTERESTING THINGS
revealing/rewarding/memorable it was, how much you can gain from 5
minutes simple reflection, why don't we find time to do this, the
objection that we don't have time is ridiculous when such value can be
gained so quickly.
My point is that I know that this exercise may not
instantly with their "voice", or the best, most powerful method, but its
UTTER SIMPLICITY tends to silence the critic's voice (am I doing it
right?). Is it possible to do it wrong?!?
Once you start reflecting, as with meditation, if you do
you start to develop a confidence about how you want to develop the
practice to make it most powerful and effective for you.
That's enough chatting for now! It's lunchtime here.
I would be interested to learn other's experiences of
starting to engage
in reflective practices. What reflective practices do you employ? What
gets you started and what encourages you to continue? Is there an age, a
lifestage at which reflection starts to become more important?
I'm aware of a lot of my input today being somewhat
abstract. I was
wanting to share some of my experiences from Scotland. Sometimes this is
my reason for wanting to write my diary - I feel sort of full up with
experience that is unprocessed, slightly occupying me in the background,
consuming/draining energy, pulling my attention away.
I'm also looking forward to continuing these discussion
keep joining in!
Thanks Lisa for keeping things moving along.
Being in Washington, DC it feels like we're in a culture
at the high end
of the working/interacting/doing curve without a lot of reflection space.
This is true even in comparison to other major U.S.
cities ... for
example, in New York (which is also pretty intense) you are much more
likely to have someone bring up and discuss being in therapy of some kind
where there's at least that 40 minutes of reflection time. It used to be
very dangerous here to admit to such a thing (it might come up in your
Senate confirmation hearing) and, tho it's probably loosened up a bit,
it's still not really something you'd mention in many social circles.
Practicing meditation or other more personal forms of reflection rarely
emerges in conversation.
I wonder if that means that it's not happening or just
that it's not
The other bit which struck me in that same response
(39:10) was Hill's
notion that some people were interested in pragmatic details of their
daily lives rather than in the sort of developmental journey enhanced by
diary keeping. How does this fit with a kind of "chop wood, carry water"
perspective where there is a form of meditation in the doing of the daily
life details themselves? Perhaps we don't want to put those things in
opposition but rather seek ways to life differently all the time ...
I tend to agree with chop wood, carry water, meditation
in the doing. I
found this when I was repointing brickwork on our house (boring,
repetitive job) after a day spent consulting - instead of being tedious
this became a welcome opportunity to let my thoughts flow freely.
It seems daft for activity and reflection to be in
opposition - after all
they are both part of living and learning. Perhaps we all need a variety
of tasks, some more mentally challenging and some more repetitive
Most of the corporate cultures I have known seem to
value activity ahead
of thought, but perhaps that is just me, a reflector, measuring them
against my own preference? Or maybe this is a reason for having job
rotation and tea breaks.
If I ever visit Washington DC I'd better bear what you say in mind!
Meanwhile Ive got to dash to produce some training
afternoon. Irony! Life's a bit of a production line sometimes!. Chop-chop
busy-busy work-work bang-bang!
I have always liked polishing wood and ironing because
they seem to allow
so much head time.
Anyway, Tony, you said: "Some people seem to accept
difficulty, whereas others feel uncomfortable with reflection, or look on
it critically. I sometimes sense that it is OK to be extravert, working
and networking all the time with others. BUT that it is NOT-OK to be
devoting time to reflection."
Seems to me that the only reason that it is perceived as
'ok' is that it
is the extroverts who vocalize the standards. After all, it's a lot
easier for an extrovert to interupt or assert views over an introvert
then the other way around!!
Thanks Diana and Hope for your comments on moving
meditations. Hope, will
you tell me what is the Miracle of Miondfulness? Is it a book? Who is it
Thinking more about your comment Lisa on the differences
WASHINGTON DC and New York. I wonder what you noticed in Africa?
I reckon in Britain we're a lot closer to Washington DC
than New York,
valuing action before reflection, rather than seeking to balance and
integrate the two....
And I wonder whether there is a sort of new, quietly
emerging spirit of
the times that is different, wiser.
I went to OD97 yesterday and read through the strand on
and dialogue. It reminded me of the importance of CONTEXT, social and
historical. It made me wonder what is the context for my/our interest in
I thought of the sheer PACE OF LIFE over the last 3-4
learned a couple of weeks ago that one of my great grandfathers was a
ginger-haired giant called McCloud from the Isle of Skye in Scotland. He
moved south, met and married an Irish woman. Their daughter Constance
Daisy was my gran, born in Reading, about 30 miles due west of London.
My gran lived through 2 world wars and produced 4 children. One of them
married a GI and went to live in California. Another was my Mum.
Then when I trace my context through my father, he was
the son of a
French woman and an English civil servant of Welsh origin. (It's
surprising how much the national cultures mixed!). My father was a
statistician for 20 years then in the sixties got heavily involved in
personal growth: T groups, Encounter Groups, Gestalt, you name it. I
suspect at that time, with the Beatles, Flower Power and a little postwar
prosperity, this was the breaking of a sort of long silence, an opening
of new dialogues and exicting possibilities. It was a time of ICONOCLASM.
My father's interest in personal growth sent shock waves through his
marriage and his family. But that's another story...
Piecing this all together is about finding my context.
Somehow I feel a
lack of context often, and I am hungry to extend my awareness, to have
the joy of realising, or making connections. This deeply felt need is
satisfied both through conversation and through diary-writing. I know I
am not alone in this need. Someone told me it is existential, the NEED TO
EXIST, to prove you exist to others and ultimately to yourself.
Is it fundamentally healthy and healing/therapeutic to
allow people to
tell their stories? I think so. And is it not part of community building,
(=culture building in organisations) for the people in a community to
devote some time to telling and hearing stories, to develop a SHARED
SENSE of past and present life, to share possibilities about the future?
Why is this not part of normal organisational life? Or
is it? My
experience says that community building tends to happen in times of
change, where there is a crisis and a need to refocus, but otherwise is
rather NEGLECTED and happens sometimes but largely by default. In SOUTH
AFRICA I'm told they say that "battles make you brave, but telling
stories about battles makes you wise". I think this STORY TELLING is just
reflection under another guise.
And the more I go on about reflection, the more
IMPORTANT it seems to me
to be, and sadly the lack of reflection and knowledge/wisdom-building in
many of our post-downsizing, lean and mean, DILBERT-STYLE organisations
becomes all the more apparent.
I would be interested to know how other people feel
about the place and
the extent of reflection, dialoguing, story-telling etc in our work
Tony, I so appreciate making your acquaintance.
Already for me I had to
reread this twice and take a break and just walk around a bit. I started
being reminded of how I learn best as you wrote and how my upbringing is
so contrary to today's society.
My nature is very reflective and I have always had to
live life with more
quiet than most. My grandfather was a mystic and student of the Kabbalah
in Russia and he brought this with him to the US. My father was not only
a restauranter, but a community leader among trades people and at a very
early age, he mentored me in what some call the gift of gab, but others
have shown me is actually learning and dialogue. My father's trades group
of business people were an early form of socially responsible community.
One of the men in his group actually was instrumental in forming Stride
Rite Corporation a leading socially responsible business.
Success in my work has only come from building the
environment around me
that works. Fortunately in the Corporate World that has produced some
sitations that led to very solid revenue growth. But the most intersting
project I ever worked on was an early form of "conscious downsizing" that
I wrote up in a case study and the ingredients for my success came from
creating an environment that resonates what you are writing about that was
not everyday a way of life in the rest of the corporate system. I was
fortunate that I could build some protection for myself, taking on a
business problem I liked and wanted to learn from taht no one else wanted
to touch, so I was left alone to do it by asking the people I work with to
engage in what we know call dialogue.
I hope you will visit the item on Appreciative Inquiry,
I am very slowly
building in OD97 as time goes on....I would enjoy your input.
Diana, what a gift your journal must be. I want to
say through my
learning and the inspiration of Robert Farnquist, a learning partner,
he paralleled the loss of a job or downsizing experience to a hospice
experience. His was one of the first people to really comprehend the
importance of Bill Bridges work to corporate settings and job loss. I
think Bob could have in a sense as I read what you and Tony wrote be
acknowledge for experimenting with the learning of corporate hospice.
Guess you could say I'm a journalist at heart,
though. I'm certainly one
who spends lots of time in reflection. And, I'm very much intrigued by
the comments about on on-line journaling, especially the issue of
vulnerability. Over the dozen years now that I've been active on-line,
cyberspace has been by far the most important resource in self-discovery
and figuring out my place in school change work.
In fact, I've done quite a lot of work with a concept I
journaling - setting up a continuing relationship between a "journalist"
and a small group of critical friends. The first time I ever used this
approach, I followed two teachers over a 2-year period. It was fun and
amazing to watch.
I am gaining from this ONLINE CONVERSATION some of the
value I gain from
writing my diary, although it is different, more social, in that I am
thinking a lot of the time about what to say that might be interesting to
talk with others about, and I am coming to this conversation fairly CLEAR
rather than using it as a place for offloading/clearing emotion.
Hello Lavinia! I've justed visited your OD97
Appreciative Inquiry site
and posted a message there. You are developing something there that looks
set to become very interesting and significant. Thank you for your
comments. I'm pleased you joined us and I would like to learn more,
either here or there in OD97, about your experiences of creating HEALTHY
ENVIRONMENTS within corporate systems.
Gary, thanks for your comments. I had a quick look at
your home page and
the Learning Options menu. Your work in online journaling looks very
interesting and I'd like to hear more about your experiences of this.
And yes! Gary, I'm sure PERSISTENCE does have some kind
of part to play
in journaling, but I would like to add that few of us, least of all me,
would continue with a practice that does not deliver up real BENEFITS or
rewards to us.
When I started my diary, it was as if there was MORE TO
SAY, more to
discover in myself than was possible through many of the conversations I
was having. And... as I started to express how I was feeling more
honestly and accurately to myself, I gained in confidence, I felt myself
STARTING TO GROW. If the practice had not made me on some level feel
better fairly soon, then I suppose like you I would have stopped.
This point reminds me that last summer I was reading
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE by Daniel Goleman. Goleman quotes a paper by James
Pennebaker, presented to the American Psychological Society in 1992.
Pennebaker conducted research with people on the BENEFITS OF WRITING DOWN
FEELINGS. He discovered enhanced immune function, fewer health centre
visits, fewer days missed from work and improved liver enzyme function!
I was stunned when I first read this because I
previously had a very
strong intuitive sense of benefits, but here was some EVIDENCE. And
Pennebaker went on to reveal that those whose writing showed them most
evidence of turbulent feelings, had the greatest improvement in their
A specific pattern emerged in Pennebaker's research as
the HEALTHIEST WAY
to ventilate troubling feelings:
1. First EXPRESS a high level of feeling (sadness, anxiety, or whatever
the troubling feeling is)
2. Then over the course of the following days WEAVE A NARRATIVE, finding
some meaning in the trauma/troubling feeling.
This is a little like "being your own
therapist". It confirmed my own
answer to a question people have often asked me "WHAT DO YOU WRITE in
your diary?". My answer is to write whatever you feel most strongly about
at the time, and express the range of feelings, both
positive/joyful/optimistic and the darker feelings too.
As I write this I am thinking that if we lived in a
really HEALTHY WORLD
then feelings would get expressed authentically and acknowledged by
others as they arise, rather than building up and seeking expression
later through diaries, dialogues and therapies. And I would like to live
in such a world and to transform my world to be more healthy....
...but perhaps the diary just helps me to keep my head
(between the healthy oases) in today's real, more HOSTILE WORLD, and
helps me to unlock more energy, to see more clearly, to discover
direction and to move forward more postively.
Beyond the solitary practice of my diary,
and LINKING WITH OTHERS, both online and face to face, are crucially
important to me. I think the diary helps me to be more honest, authentic,
to know myself and to have more energy available to others. I think it
helps me build more fulfilling and effective relationships. It stops me
from polluting those healthy oases!
So for me it is not EITHER DIALOGUE OR DIARY, either
social or individual
learning, it is both-and!
Reflection on this strand: the Diary Method was never
for me just about
feelings, it embraces other forms of learning, sort of holistic/whole
brain/whole person stuff, but clearly this feelings element is rather
important, and interesting to try to explain/express!
Thanks Hope for seeking out that reference.
Byeee for now!
I really appreciate and connect with what you just said:
When I started my diary, it was as if there was
MORE TO SAY, more to
discover in myself than was possible through many of the conversations
I was having. And... as I started to express how I was feeling
more honestly and accurately to myself, I gained in confidence, I felt
myself STARTING TO GROW. If the practice had not made me on some level
feel better fairly soon, then I suppose like you I would have stopped.
I know that part of the reason I've never stuck with the
process in any sustained, continuous way is because there is so much to
say. It's like facing such a big job that you don't know where to start.
The reason I do better in this interactive environment is that the
conversations and the contributions of others create a starting point.
There's sort of an irony that's a bit like my experience
as an art
teacher. I spent all day helping kids with techniques and creative
blocks, and when I got home at night I had no energy left to work on my
own stuff. Likewise, I've spent a number of years helping school folks
use networking and conferencing to engage in reflective practice,
journaling, etc. but I've never had an interactive journal to call my
I imagine there's much more for us to reflect on about
journaling as a process so let's continue that thread ...
There's another thread i'd like to pick up on as well
which is about
authenticity. I sense it's related to vulnerability which we touched on
earlier. What's it like as a consultant to take the risk of not putting
up a front with a client?
Earlier, we talked about how some cultures didn't seem
reflection. In one of the exercises in T ony's book there's a list of
feelings; happiness, arrogance, sadness,surprise, anger, keen interest,
vulnerability, fear, envy, complacency, boredom, worry, lonliness,
security, sympathy ...
It strikes me that some of these are a lot more
"acceptable" to express
in the context of a consultancy. But if a consultancy is also a
relationship ... hmmmm ... wouldn't it be inauthentic to fail to express
such feelings when they arise. Does it seem like some of these OK and
others NOT OK? Are some feelings OK to express in our diary but not to
verbalize with our client?
When computerized voice dictation becomes feasible and I
can talk to my
journal as easily as I converse, then I shall produce prodigiously.
I first started journalling when I was kid, by
expressing my feelings
in drawings and writing stories. As I got older, I recovered that
experience when I lived on the Island of Nantucket over the weekends.
To me becoming quiet and contemplative is key to
journalling. I do it the
best when I live somewhere rural.
I find my self thinking and defining for myself the
process of journaling
as capturing on paper (or wordprocessor) one’s feelings and thoughts,
almost like a string of frames in a movie. The process of capturing
involves a certain amount of interpretation. The internal dialogue is
easy to capture, all we have to do is write down the string of words
swirling in our heads. But one’s feelings are so much more difficult to
capture. After all we have to stop and think and assign a value and what
we believe to be an accurate description of that which we are feeling and
which may not be at all clear and describable. Pictures and colors may
offer a better recording mechanism in situations like this.
Observing this dialogue no doubt influences the dialogue
itself. But the
process of having to slow down enough to record my thoughts brings in the
element of bias, interpretation and lost momentum. And then there is an
occasional case of being so impressed with one’s inner dialogue that all
kinds of embellishments and concerns for the written style overtake the
original thoughts and feelings. It becomes art, as opposed to an honest
description and analysis of the original substance.
I have often wished for a process of being able to
one’s internal dialogue. Sort of a running log of what one is thinking
about. This would eliminate the difficulties I am referring to above. Why
shouldn’t this technology be with us in the near future, after all, what
are thoughts but packets of energy? Haven’t we been able to sense and
interpret the footprints of distant galaxies, recording events that have
taken 100s of millions of light years to reach us? Why is it so difficult
then to record in a meaningful way that which is happening only inches
A person living under those circumstances no doubt had
opportunities to engage into open, externalized dialogue and debates
about the legitimacy of one’s government, one’s church, one’s social
order. Therefore keeping a secret journal, whether a written one, or an
internally ‘spoken’ one would have been the only method of reflecting on
the events, the conflicts, the self-doubts. A journal - even a temporary
one in the form of a picture drawn on the sand with a branch, a carving,
a confession with a trusted priest or friend, a fairy tale - would have
provided the only safe form of relief.
Contrast this with our times of complete disclosure and
transparency. In public we can openly communicate on almost any topic,
and with a shrink on ANY topic. Furthermore, listening to the reflections
of others, which are constantly aired publicly on television, radio,
newspapers; contained in books, biographies, and on the web we can
clarify our own internal dialogue. Thus the nature of self-reflection and
journaling may indeed be changing within the context of our society,
technology and self-understanding.
Joshua, I appreciate your comments - it's never to late
to join in! I'll
come back to some of your points in a minute.
Gary, just read (or rather scanned quickly) your
interesting! The time it takes to get to authentic dialogue, your
encouragement to Linda (?) to notice the shifts in her mindset, her
passion later to bring about a paradigm shift in relation to the notion
of 'gifted' education. I was impressed with how the online medium helped
you to capture this transformation and how your write up clearly helped
to bring out both the experience and the meaning/relevance for others.
Yes there is so much to say isn't there! And I relate to
your sense of
irony too! I remember an early psychologist (William James?) described
the experience of a baby as a "BLOOMING, BUZZING CONFUSION". Well, I
think many of us old adults notice something similar as soon as we
disengage from activity into reflection. I think of this as shifting
atteNtion from FIGURE to GROUND, or as Lou Tice says, using our
lock-on/lock off mechanism.
While writing Diary of a Change Agent and trying to
reflective practice can lead to personal development/transformation, I
came across this quote from Marilyn Ferguson, in her book Acquarian
"The beginning of personal transformation is
absurdly easy. We have only
to pay attention to the FLOW OF ATTENTION itself. Immmediately we have
added a new perspective. Mind can observe its many moods, its body
tensions, the flux of attnetion, its choices and impasses, hurting and
wishing, tasting and touching."
Lisa, responding now to your questions about
AUTHENTICITY, I suppose I
felt that role playing, the inauthentic ways of behaving and relating
with others were in my case so deeply ingrained, as least in the
corporate setting, that I needed to do some personal work before
authentic contact with others in a work setting was really possible. So I
felt such a HUGE SENSE OF RISK, in not putting up a front that the diary
method provided me a low risk of moving towards greater authenticity,
sort of edging gently but accurately in that direction.
I do not see why authenticity might be easier in the
CONSULTANCY, but then maybe I am not appreciating something that blocks
authenticity in other non-consultancy work relationships??
I attended a seminar last month in London with Dr
Marshall Rosenberg, a
clinical psychologist from Detroit who now travels worldwide from one hot
spot to another: Rwanda, Croatia, Ireland, Israel etc. He said we all
face A CRITICAL CHOICE about how we communicate. We choose either to be
GIRAFFES, using language of the HEART (feeelings and needs), or to be
JACKALS, using the language of the HEAD (adversarial debate,
bureaucratic, formalised, analytical...).
When we talk about being authentic, I now think of using
language, which is simple to describe (it is being assertive, adult,
clear in your observations, feelings, needs, requests and in your inquiry
about others observations, feelings, needs and requests..), but NOT
NECESSARILY EASY to do.
And yes Lisa, when is it OK to write feelings in a diary
verbalise? I would like to live in a Giraffe authentic world where we
could deal here and now with people's feelings and needs. But, sometimes
we just have a job to get on with. There is a HUGE PRESSURE in most
organisations today to achieve fast and drive performance on.
Until recently Helen also worked in a highly demanding
There were days when I went home, weighed down by the day and so was
Helen. I found this was not a good position for me to be a parent or
partner from. You need a certain level of energy, or FREE ATTENTION to be
able to be authentic. When you are both "needy", if only of a listening,
supportive ear, you can easily fall into painful conflict rather than
meeting each others needs. When I am needy there is the risk I will be
PROJECTING my feelings onto others. Keeping the diary has helped me to
gain a greater sense of when I am in deficit, carrying something TOXIC
from a previous setting and when you are reasonably clean, better able to
be human, interactive, supportive, light.
Oh, yes, Barry, and keeping the diary using a key board
has helped to
develop my manual DEXTERITY!..but they're getting there now with voice
recognition aren't they?
Like you Lavinia I like the rural peace. We have a
beautiful large park
at the end of our road where Henry VIII used to hunt deer. I go there
sometimes, to walk or cycle when I feel I need space, to be quiet. I
quickly gain a peaceful, more relaxed and less stressed feeling.
Now finally to Joshua. I was interested in the idea of
USING PICTURES and
colours to express feelings, although I have not really tried this. I'm
still recovering from what my art teacher said about my pictures when I
was in primary school! The cartoons in my book were a big breakthrough,
so maybe real pictures and colours are my next step!
A RUNNING LOG might be very interesting, but I do
believe there is a
value in labelling feelings and breaking the flow. Life has lots of
stop/starts anyway and stopping through choice, breaking flow, moving
into observer role can be very useful to do, bringing new perspective and
Yes I agree there is the risk of EMBELLISHMENT in
seeking to express
something. For me that would be no less a risk in the picture/colour
medium. It is down to your conscience. At some level we all do it, and
probably anxiety about how we appear inhibits all of us. When we notice
this tendency/PATTERN in ourselves and label it as anxiety, this newfound
AWARENESS offers us a degree of choice we did not previously have!
I'm very interested in your comments about the longer
CONTEXT, which I
think in Celstine Prophecy Redfield called "the longer now". I do believe
we are discovering new possibilites in our new age of openness. Our
interest in diary/journaling, dialogue etc evident in this Chautuaqua, is
very exciting. Through this inquiry we open up the best, the highest
possibilites for ourselves, our relationships, our world. I do not
believe much of this was possible in my parents generation let alone
further back. If it existed at all, it is becoming much more accessible
now. It feels to me as if a new wave is breaking!
As we continue I would like to start exploring what new
there are in a corporate setting. I am starting to feel that Appreciative
Inquiry, Diary, Dialogue, Meditation etc, in other words reflective
methods, are becoming more important in organisations. In fact are
reflective methods the new consulting, new communicating, new
self-managing, new learning tools that people get taught when they join a
corporation? Probably not yet? But what are the possibilites? And what is
actually happening now?
He says: "In that non-stop squalorama, indeed, a
progression can be
traced: initial sturggle to overcome depression by ridiculing depression
itself; experiments in feeling unafraid; and finally, daring to embrace
optimism. Neutralizing inner demons in the solvent of art became a habit
. . .."
So at what time does the journaling start interfering
with the living?
And when does Writing interfere with journaling? I've been an irregular
journal-keeper since I first learned to write, and I'm currently in daily
journaling mode. But I do find both that when I'm living I sometimes
think about journaling it, and when I'm journaling I shade sometimes
I, too, am looking forward to automated voice
transcription as a tool for
capturing ideas. It appears that I'm on the same wavelength as Joshua
considering the possibility of tapping directly into the energy packets
(but, if you think that wire-tapping is nasty business, wait til
mind-readers are on the market? <grin>) I've also wondered about
reversing the process, translating information into energy packets to
speed up the process of absorbing new info.
But, enough of this diversion. I need to get back
to work (the old
fashioned way). I, too, am curious about the question that Antony raises
- the connection between individual reflection and organizational change.
It's an area I've worked with intuitively (I call it finding two voices
- the individual and the group) in my work with school and school
district leadership teams.
This ties back to authenticity, btw. My work is
all developmental work.
I present the two-voices to clients as one of my key "Growing Into
Schools of the Future" theories. Any grounding or parallel development
that I can point to would be helpful (and reassuring) for my pragmatist
I am very interested to see continued discussion about
the emerging role
of reflection in organisational processes. From my experience, the
biggest hurdle to overcome is the value most organisations still attach
to activity, which generally means a focus on process instead of
outcomes. I find I am fighting an uphill battle in attempting to get
folks to shift their focus, but ever so slowly, I am making inroads. I
truly believe that it will take a major shift in the paradigm through
which we define "work" before the true value of reflection is realised.
I do believe, however, that the information revolution occurring in our
work places is acutally providing the framework or infrastructure,
whatever you want to call it, for overtly productive or "culturally
acceptable" reflection. I can only see this trend continuing - this is a
good thing! I, by nature, am an extremely reflective person, and the
challenge for me has alway been to translate that reflective activity
into productive outcomes - visible to others in the organisation as a
value-added "activity" if you will. Once you can weave the benefits of
reflection into organisational processes, things that benefit the "stuff"
of daily work, then you've got the ball rolling - you've acutally got
former activity junkies interested in deep thought and hence - lasting
learning experiences. I don't know if this has added to the discussion
on organisaitonal relfection, but 'd really like some feedback from
others on their experiences in these types of organisational
Most recently this past month, I was called by a
trial company to look at the breakdowns in productivity. While on the
phone, I was told that my recommender was logged on her computer so she
could show her management that she was working while she talked to me on
Tony, if I understood your correctly you are suggesting
that upon our
disengagement from the activity stream of our daily life we re-experience
a state of babyhood, which was described as a ‘BLOOMING, BUZZING
I quote you: “WELL, I THINK MANY OF US OLD ADULTS NOTICE SOMETHING
SIMILAR AS SOON AS WE DISENGAGE FROM ACTIVITY INTO REFLECTION.” But I
beg to disagree! When I was a baby I WAS a ‘BLOOMING, BUZZING
CONFUSION’. I just did things, without much reflection on the source of
my feelings; the larger picture; the consequences on my own life and the
life of others; repeating patterns, the ego; the value system of the
community at large; the authenticity of my thoughts; feelings and
behavior, etc., etc. I do find that these are the thoughts and questions
running through my head when I am reflecting (diary, mediation, therapy).
It is as if by definition reflection preempts in me any chance of
experiencing a ‘BLOOMING, BUZZING CONFUSION’.
45 minutes after I wrote the above paragraph, as I am
re-reading the text
one final time before positng it online, I realized that you may have
meant something different, perhaps you meant: reflection withOUT analysis
and judgement enables us to observe the BUZZING CONFUSION within. This is
the concept of Zazen, or sitting meditation, where we try to find a state
of ‘blankness’ or complete disengagement with our thoughts. We are still
observing the thoughts if and as they arise, but without actively engaging
them, or judging ourselves for having them, simply allowing the thoughts
to pass through us like shadows of passing birds and clouds, shadows
which we notice but don’t try to grasp.
By the way, the most difficult dimension of reflecting
for me isn’t
stopping to reflect but knowing what to pay attention to; how much
significance to attribute to these observations; formulating strategies
to test whether my interpretations are indeed accurate; and most
importantly not letting the reflecting get in the way of living in a
state of a ‘BLOOMING, BUZZING CONFUSION’.
On the question of authenticity. Tony, in my consulting
days I often
found it difficult to decided whether my ‘authenticity’ was in fact
appropriate. For example, in Japan I was amazed at the contortions my
colleagues would go through inorder to save face of an associate or a
client. Western standards of ‘call-it-as-it-is authenticity’ simply
didn’t apply. In other less extreme situations I found myself being
authentic only to find out that it would have been a more effective
learning experience for the group to continue down its ‘inauthentic’
path, fall over the cliff, and hit the jagged bottom. The ‘hard fall’ may
have done more good in precipitating the change in behavior than my
efforts to prevent the pain by shining the light on the ‘truth’.
Have you had similar dilemmas? How do you deal with
them? Perhaps it is
not ‘what we say’ but ‘how we say it’ that makes the difference between
productive ‘authenticity’ and disruptive ‘authenticity’?
Tony, I really appreciate your example from your life
with Helen. I dare
not ask of your current relationship / marriage status with Helen. Were
you able to act on your awareness and analysis in time to change things
for the better?
I find myself in a similar situation in my one year old
marriage. We have
been so challenged professionally over the course of the last 6 months
that we are both looking to the other for salvation, understanding, and
care. The problem is we are BOTH needing ‘treatment’ from each other at
the SAME TIME. It is like two wounded doctors needing relatively simple
medical care but unable to help each other because they are both sick at
the same time. Breaking out of this cycle demands incredible trust,
faith, and ability to dig really, really deep within one’s heart and
Tony, you mention your desire to explore how reflective
methods - diary,
dialogue, meditation - are becoming more important in organizations. I
would like to take you up on this. Lets examine a case of the US Air
Force’s recent handling of the an adultery case involving a young woman
pilot. Here is a young woman, 26 years old, passing at the top of her
class the physical, intellectual challenges of becoming an elite pilot.
The first female pilot to fly a B-52 Bomber! This young woman, Kathy
Flynn, is her name I believe, was stationed in a small northern town, far
away from her family, friends, and the civilization. She finds herself in
a very small ‘box’ - unable to date men below her in rank, unable to
socialize with the wives of other pilots, finding it difficult to
socialize with other male pilots (the old boy’s club). So she falls in
love with a young MARRIED civilian.
What does the military do? It orders her to stop seeing
the man. When
Flynn disobeys this order (which her commander apparently was in no
position to make) the military takes her off pilot duty, it threatens her
with court-martial, it interrogates her lover, and in the end it
dismisses her without honor. The young woman’s dreams and a lifelong
commitment to fly military airplanes and the space shuttle are erased
So Tony, where is the military commanders’
anticipation of the emotional crisis a young, single, woman pilot would
experience under such circumstances. Where is the trust, the faith, the
love, the respect of the complexities of human life, mind and heart?
I used this example, but there are many others in
wide. The more we read about instances like this the more we shut our
selves off from the process, afraid to be blamed, to be isolated and
extinguished. Is there room for open reflection in corporate settings?
Peace - DennisE
Thanks Diana for that story. My local newsagent here
doesn't stock the
New Yorker (!) but I think you've already given us the flavour. I gained
a strong sense of how for a child surrounded by squalorama (lovely
word!), a rich inner world and inner dialogue can develop.
I'd like to move on to the area Tony (ie Antony) is
raising, that is the
nature of CHANGE.
Tony and I worked intensively together in '93/4 on a
programme in a healthcare company, then in the summer of '94 I attended
with clients/colleagues from the company a one week meditation and
well-being course run by Bhuddhists in Scotland at a centre called
Tharpaland. Somehow the combination of diary, real-life consulting
experience with Tony/others and meditation provided a very fertile base
from which INSIGHTS ABOUT CHANGE burst forth during autumn '94!
I was conscious that 60-80% of corporate change
prgrammes were said to
fail. I had seen an article about BPR with the appalling title GETTING
THE TURKEYS TO VOTE FOR CHRISTMAS, which seemed to express very well how
confused some consultants and leaders were becoming about the human
I think we were seeking means of WAKING PEOPLE UP and
getting change that
was motivated, from people's hearts rather than oppressive, top down,
The new emerging insights were shared and developed in
CONVERSATIONS with Tony, linked to his work challenge of engaging people
in corporate change. We saw these insights as a sort of emerging new
paradigm which we called FLOW THEORY.This was transformational stuff,
overturning our previously held assumptions about how to do change in
Here are a few of the many INSIGHTS to give you a
- Flow Theory defines the human conditions needed for change
- Flow Theory recognises a rigidity in human behaviour where there is
- When people are in Flow together they open out revealing their deeper
thoughts and feelings, inviting learning, change and growth
- Flow takes place easily, constantly and naturally between people
provided honesty and freedom exist
- The Change Agent's art is to observe change energy, notice where Flow
exists, where Flow is blocked/disconnected and assist connections both
within and between individuals.
(described more fully in an article we wrote that you can read by going
to my home page www.tmn.com/~tonypage).
Instead of leaping straight into wild, new but
vision-building, we stressed the value of first seeing and hearing
current reality, connecting with "WHAT IS", then seeing what energy
emerges, like in Appreciative Inquiry, looking for where the life is, for
what really matters to people.
It seemed that the role of the consultant was to hold
TRANSFORMATIONAL SPACE in which the client and their people could have
new conversations, entertaining new possibilities, speaking beyond the
orthodoxy of the current corporate culture/worldview. Hofstede makes
reference to culture as collective mental programming or corporate
hypnosis, suggesting its nature can be oppressive, closed and blind.
With hindsight it is clear to me that these thoughts
were also inspired
by Bhuddist thought, by Robert Fritz, Richard Pascale and Lou Tice.
When these insights "arrived" they caused me
not a little embarrassment.
They felt "soft". I felt they would be seriously counter-cultural in
organisations I worked in. There was fear of criticism, and some
reluctance to share but combined paradoxically with a sort of obsessive
excitement, conviction that these were exciting and a strong desire to
tell the world.
Conversations with Tony helped crystallise and develop
the insights and
develop a confidence about including others in the dialogue about them,
using the insights perhaps to open some more of those transformational
spaces I referred to. So we wrote our ARTICLE "Consulting with the Flow -
Change Management for Real"!
That's all for now.
I'm interested Gary in your notion of 2 voices, which
might help to
clarify what we are grappling with at the divide between individual and
Susan, thanks for joining in - yes any more thoughts on
reflection into the stuff of daily work? Here's one from today. A
colleague in an executive coaching firm I met today was keen to get his
people journaling and sharing, saying this is how we build our
intellectual capital/knowledge base and, at the end of the day that's all
we have isn't it! I suggested he join this Chautauqua dialogue (!) to
gain a sense of the kind of dialogue that may be possible in his firm.
Hope, I'm becoming more conscious since your last entry
of the living,
journaling, writing divides. They do blur a bit don't they!
Bye for now!
Today I was delivered the first day of a new 2 day
Navigating Change. I'm feeling a little tired but happy. This Chautauqua
dialogue is giving me confidence to be more spontaneous and less
well-prepared than I usually would be. Now I find that I like consulting,
facilitating and training best when there is something real, spontaneous
going on, life, an energy transfer.... I'm feeling happy about being
Hello again Joshua! Hello Susan and Dennis! My last post
yours so I'm cutting back to what you were saying.
Joshua, I was interested by your reflection on various
in your daily life and in your comment "What happens in the outside is a
reflection of what happens on the inside and vice versa". I relate to
this and it seems to capture the value of journaling very well.
Journaling allows a FULLER ENGAGEMENT for me with life, enabling me to
bring more to and get more from life.
The blooming buzzing confusion part was maybe blooming,
confusing!. Are we in violent agreement? Your second interpretation seems
close to what I was intending. At the risk of adding to the confusion, I
notice that there's so much complexity, and scope for alternative
explanations when we REALLY look as a dispassionate observer at anything
Also that the ACT OF NOTICING and bringing attention to
whether in a more reflective or more active mode, is motivated from some
inner need, and reveals that need. For some reason we usually pretend we
are noticing a solitary event on a dead, tranquil landscape, something
that is going on "out there".
With authenticity, yes I agree it's a challenge and I
think I understand
your dilemmas over inappropriate authenticity. Beyond what we say and how
we say it there is also timing, WHEN we say it.
Yes, thanks for daring to ask: Helen and I are still
very much together!
I like your image of two wounded doctors. That described us very well!
Now we're adjusting to a new life stage where we're older, kids need us
slightly less, we're slightly less driven and H is doing parent/school
governor/victim support/caring for elderly parents and other
miscellaneous unpaid work. There's still the risk of her compassion
fatigue colliding with my exhaustion or neediness!
Regarding your example of badly treated female pilot,
underlines how ROBOTIC behaviuor as opposed to reflective practice is
still widespread, tolerated and even encouraged in so many organisations.
Susan, your earlier comment about encouraging reflection
junkies is pertinent here. And your later response to Lavinia about the
inversion from loose at the top to TIGHT AT THE TOP I find interesting.
To facilitate the shift towards this, do we need to
refine and develop
our reflective methods as reliable, truthworthy ways for people to cope
with a more uncertain world. Does this imply we need to present/offer
reflection dialoging and journaling etc as new and better information
processing methods. And then how do we capture the TIME AND SPACE needed
to employ such methods???
Dennis, great to hear your peaceful message from beautiful Alaska!
That's all for now. Looking forward to more postings.
Has anyone tired
online journaling in a corporate setting, ie within a single
Tony, you described from personal place about some of
the life changes you
have encountered with Helen and reflected on your way and how that can
get in the way.
I am in a time right now where there is so much change
occurring in my
life, indeed I wake every morning with a level of vulnerability and
the walls I build for myself at a very intense level.
I recall thinking about how all the change efforts I
have helped architect
in health care and high tech and how parallel to the business process, my
personal process always got pushed.
This raised my very long standing question about change,
how do you build
an environment that gives permission to personal and organizational change
I think intuitively my work has always reflected this,
but rarely have I
have found a business setting that can appreciate this. Would you or
others care to comment
Tony your comment:
"Does this imply we need to present/offer
reflection dialoging and
etc as new and better information processing methods. And then how do we
the TIME AND SPACE needed to employ such methods??? "
got me thinking and reflecting .... I am not even sure
what it is
specifically that I am thinking about. Samples of my thoughts follow:
What evolutionary advantage would self-reflection have
offered the human
being? How and when in human development did self-reflection start? What
was self-reflection like in the ancient man? What are the earliest
recorded examples of self-reflection? What would my mode of
self-reflection be like had I not read diverse works on the nature of the
mind, the soul, the body, thought, etc.?
I suppose that in the society so highly dependent on
and transfer; a society so able to destroy itself through undustrial and
military action, self-reflection is even more important now then it ever
was. How do we teach self-reflection? Shouldn't is start when we are
young? Does the Western culture provide enough 'room' in the commercial
vortex of NBA, NFL, MTV, Nike, Coke, etc. for meditation,
self-reflection, inner connection?
Lavinia, you write:
"I recall thinking about how all the change efforts
I have helped
architect in health
care and high tech and how parallel to the business process, my personal
always got pushed."
I am not sure I understand what you mean. With respect
to your work you
say "I have helped architect", wording which implies control, intent,
purposefullness. But then you say: "my personal processes always got
pushed", wording which implies being out of control, having something
imposed on you by someone or something else. I am sensing a something
here but not sure what exactly? Can you elaborate?
Again Lavina, I am intrigued by your comment:
"... how do you build an environment that gives
permission to personal
and organizational change in unity?"
What do you mean personal and organizational change in
meaning in the lives of the people working in the organization that is
undergoing change? OR 'Personal' as in your own life, the life of the
change agent driving the change in the client organization?
What is the difficuly that you are refering to? Why wouldn't the personal
and organizational change be mutually compatible and in fact desirable?
Tony, I'd be really interested in how you think the
course you're doing
now on Navigating Change is different from the one you would have taught
in pre-diary days?
In your article on Consulting with the Flow, you talk
about how you
became increasingly dissatisfied with the mounds of material you'd been
collecting about change. Are there new resources which are more in
keeping with a flow perspective on change?
I've been in several organizations undergoing the
revolution of email. Do you see that as a sort of organizational
journaling, particularly when it takes the form of conferencing and
d-lists? That has certainly been the case in at least one, and perhaps
two, of the three places where I've participated in e-mailization.
Why did you set your context as diary of a CHANGE
AGENT? What about
other roles and scripts in your life?
Tony, I'm glad to hear of your interest in the "two voices" idea. I'm going to take that as a prompt to revisit and dig a little deeper into my own thinking about and experience with the two voices. It's been a while since I've done any work on that piece of the "Growing Into Schools of the Future" theory. Now, I know it's time.
Funny you should mention Bhuddist thought. Just last night I was viewing James Burke's Connections 2 from The Learning Channel. One of the segments was making the connection between Bhuddhist thought and Einstein's theory of relativity. Burke was describing the shift from Newtonian science to Einsteinian science, making the point that in order to know anything, one must know one's point of view. Somehow, in my personal history with the study of history, I had missed this connection. But, maybe in the cosmic scheme of things, that was so the connection would have more impact in conjunction with this conversation.
In any case, it's that point of view thing that I'm trying to understand better (and advocate more effectively) in working with schools and school disctricts. In this context, the two voices idea is about knowing one's personal point of view and knowing one's organizational point of view. School folks are so deeply embedded in the paradigm of classrooms, lesson plans, teachers/students, tests, etc. that it's next to impossible to know the point of view or how it affects what one sees.
I know you work with different kinds of organizations than I do, but does this problem statement match with your experience. Does that connect with what you're trying to do in "navigating change?"
p.s. there's another interesting "connection" here with your use of the term "navigating." One of the projects I'm working on is called "Flagships." It's built on a metaphor of exploration and navigating uncharted waters. Here's a quote from the intro:
Systemic change in education is a little like sailing in uncharted waters. Someone has to venture out from safe harbors (current practice) in order to chart new courses (the change process) and to discover new ports of call (innovation). These explorers must have good tools of navigation in order to accurately chart their courses so that others can follow.
I'm not completely comfortable with the leading/following thing, but I am certain that innovative schools documenting their work and keeping track of where they've been (and where they are) can be of value to others. What are your thoughts on the leading/following thing, i.e. does each person/organization follow a unique path or are there times and cicumstances when one can follow other's charts/maps?
Something about this 'two voices' dialogue made me think
idea of "soi de souci," the ethical care of self. He talks of
"technologies of the self" which make possible the social construction of
personal identity ...these technologies could be processes as well as
hardware (computer conferencing seems like a nice combo) and so could
include journaling and interactive journaling.
Thanks to you all for continuing to stretch and advance
I've been reflecting on what we are doing here, prompted by something you
said Lavinia in OD 97 about the need for a PURPOSE in any inquiry.
Our emerging purpose as I experience it seems to be to
PRACTICE (diary, journaling, online etc): its relevance and various
forms/methods we have experienced. This purpose is evolving in more
recent entries to explore CHANGE in both a personal and organisational
And Lavinia, I suppose like you I have been struck by
how personal and
organisational change rarely happens in unity and how badly alienated,
fearful and lost I can feel, and I sense others feel also wherever there
is organisational change going on. I sense that this represents a huge
and cumulative HIDDEN COST in many organisations. Alot of my work is
striving to find some better ways of engaging people in organisational
change. I'll come back to this issue in repsonding to Lisa and others in
Joshua, as ever I find your thoughts stretching and
valuable in providing
a broader canvass/context against wihch to understand now (as you say, a
society dependent on knowledge creation and transfer and able to destroy
itself through military or industrial action).
You ask how do we teach reflection? In a way Diary of a
seeks to teach and inspire others to undertake self-reflection. The book
contains questions, exercises and examples. But to add to that, when I
work with groups, I like gently to introduce self-reflection using simple
questions that activists/pragmatists can relate to without too much
- What do you find most memorable in this meeting so far?
- What are you learning?
- How can you apply that learning?
When you facilitate discussion of such simple questions in a group, you
can start to feel that something of immediate and high value is being
created, beyond individual reflection/learning: you are unblocking
communication, building shared knowledge and starting to establish a
habits reflective learning in the team. Susan, is this anything like what
you do with activists?
Lisa, you asked is my course on Navigating Change
different from one I
might have done in pre-diary days. Good question (ie. it stretches me!).
Yes. Pre-diary I did design and teach a course called Creating Change,
and I would say it was a good course but focused from a consultants
perspective and somewhat fixed, predetermined, task-centred, mechanistic,
By contrast Navigating Change concentrates more on
engaging your heart
within the realities of your business/organisational context, and
exploring what is involved in engaging others' hearts. We encourage
people to be present and authentic, to discuss the issues that are real
for them. The course is in 3 parts:
- you are the CEO (= whole business viewpoint, strategic context)
- you are you (= whole life, being)
- you are engaging others (mobilising).
Last week we had 7 people on Navigating Change all from
companies. I was reminded how deeply difficult change is if you are a
link in the chain, as we all are, impacted by change but needing to gain
others support and commitment. There was real FEAR of your job being
outsourced or located to somewhere else in the world where people will do
it for less eg. as in BA moving accounting to India.
I was reminded of how hard (time, energy, resource wise)
it is to get
back on top after you have lost your position as number 1 eg IBM,
I was reminded of how long it is possible as a manager
to survive in
denial, being reactive, hoping change will go away.
Yes Lisa, there is a new resource pack called Navigating
contains a presentation with script, a holistic process for engaging
stakeholders, worksheets, bibliography... etc.
Hi Sanyakhu! And Hope. Yes there are problems with
those you mention, such as who will read it and SELF-CENSORING. I have
realised during this dialogue that a diary can perform a quite different
function to on-line journaling. When the diary is just for you, and is
secure then there is little or no risk of it becoming "writing", or
becoming diluted and corrupted by the need for social approval or
whatever. If it is for you alone then SELF-DECEPTION IS POINTLESS and it
can be deeply honest and more penetrating than is possible in any social
or quasi-therapeutic setting.
There is a huge difference over whether we are talking
PUBLIC OR PRIVATE
journaling. When I started the diary, I felt the need to "go inside" and
do private journaling. Now I'm in a stage where I maintain the private
practice at a lower, less intense level, but I am now excited by this and
other opportunities for a form of public journaling, making connections
and learning with others.
Gary, I think in Navigating Change we have been coming
at the two voices
idea perhaps from a slightly different angle, but similar in that we
explore the organisation/business level and the personal level then
encourage participants to create a new, integrated person-business view.
So yes, I think it does connect.
Regarding LEADING AND FOLLOWING, it strikes me that
everyone involved in
change has a piece of work to do which you could call "making meaning out
of what is happening". Sort of to do with stepping back, gaining
perspective, and then reconnecting with life on a new, clearer, commited
basis. This applies whether leader or follower. I suspect that as more of
us come to work with this kind of viewpoint, change become more a sort of
co-creation, a multidimensional and emergent phenomenon and less linear
moving from leader to followers.
Hello again Barry. Thanks for your occasional snippets here!
Peter, welcome. You ask why Change Agent? If you read
job ads over here,
many of them are looking for people to be agents of change. It seems to
be a strong theme. For the last 20 years I have worked in some sense as a
change agent, ie facilitating and helping others who lead change. And I
have started to want to connect up the dots in the puzzle a little. If
you do see the book you may be struck by how it bridges across the
usually separate worlds of the personal, the corporate and the
So Peter, I hope I am recognising my many other roles
and keen to explore
these too...but you can't put them all in a short book title can you?!!
Time to go. Speak to you again soon.
Earlier it was mentioned that change is something
"good" so why should it
be a negative experience. I need to be respectful and read the
particular response, but I have been carrying around this question for a
few days. It is very relevant to my work. It is often asserted that a
doctor fails when a patient dies. I think part of the incongruity in
organizational learning and personal growth relates to when paths become
separate. We are not good at building links for people and organizations
I will return here in the next bit after I pull up the
made me reflect this way.
This may not be what you meant by that phrase, but I am
all too familiar
with the upset that comes, even when plans work out beautifully and
things go as you want. Libido is still drained from the system and it
takes time to replace it.
I have different ways to write my journal. One is
by writing to my
parents every week a 2-page letter in the past 24 years (that makes 2400
pages). The other is thru painting (like Lavinia I think) or writing in
a private diary. I found that I always write to a reader. It is a bit
upsetting since I cannot be entirely sincere not trusting that no one is
going to read my writings.
Netiva .. do you keep copies of your letters to your
parents (or do they
keep them?) What an incredible read that would be! My father wrote long
letters to his parents when he was in school in England just as WWII brew
up. Luckily, they kept them because it's fascinating to see what he was
observing then. Sometimes, our writings here are a bit like letters to
One of the most powerful tools of change in an
organization is to perform
'brain surgery' by 'rearranging the neurons' that is, simply reassigning
people and assembling them into different groupings. There are, of
course, many other tools to change the collective psychology.
Those people hesitant to participate, or suspicious of
the process, are
they being actively encouraged and assisted in dealing with their fears?
I tend to compare the process of shared journaling to
reading aloud for
the first time in school. For some children this is easy, they have been
brought up by parents who have read to them, surrounded them with books,
encouraged public performances in front of other kids and parents.
Compare this to the upbringing of other children who may have been
brought up in relative isolation, without books or being read to, made
acutely aware of the impressions they make in public, driven into a state
of shyness and hypersensitivity.
There are so many possible reasons for resisting the
process of shared
journaling, especially over a network. How are these factors being
identified and managed in your organization?
Thank you for sharing with us. Joshua
Geoff has a chapter in his book about "Passon at Work" which I found very powerful:
"One definition of passion is 'an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction.' How does this definition fit with your feelings about your own work? What powerful or compelling emotions do you experience in the pursuit of your work? Another definition is 'strong amorous feeling; love.' Test that against what you feel at work. The word
passioncomes from the Latin pati, to suffer or submit. How does that fit? Notice the feelings passion arouses in us as it pulls on our emotions, or arouses us, or causes us to suffer. All of these definitions together express an array of feelings that can be associated with the passionate path of work - work as powerful emotion, submisison, and suffering. These interwoven themes snake along the work path bringing agony, ecstasy, and meaning." - Geoff Bellman, Your Signature Path, p. 107
Whew! I had to catch my breath after reading that.
While reflecting on passion ... i felt a connection to some of what you wrote, Tony, about moving from an activist pattern (i KNOW that pattern personally *really* well) to something more authentic .. which reminded me of Krishnamurti ....
"We consider living to be a positive action. Doing, thinking, the everlasting bustle, conflict, fear, sorrow, guilt, ambition, competition, lusting after pleasure with all its pain, the desire to be successful_all this is what we call living. That is our life, with its occasional joy, with its moments of compassion without any motive, and generosity without any strings attached to it. There are rare moments of ecstasy, of a bliss that has no past or future. But going to the office, anger, hatred, contempt, enmity, are what we call everyday living, and we consider it extraordinarily positive." - Krishnamurti
I sense that the diary process, like the dialogue process (a la Bohm) puts us in a different state than the one you describe as your life at the beginning of 1993 (pre-diary), "I felt I was racing through life - like driving in the outside lane of a motorway at 90 mph, the scenery was flashing past. I had very little sense of control and a rather low awareness of what I was leaving behind me."
The origin of the word "passion" which Geoff
gives us has a "letting go" feel to it which would imply that to be
passionate in or about our work is something other than a lot of DOING things
... which would surely require a more reflective being than most of us enjoy ...
Welcome Geoffrey! I read your Chautauqua a little while
ago. I think I
just lurked but I was left with a strong and comforting feeling that we
were both wired up in the same kind of way! I was very interested in the
challenges you described of finding BALANCE in your life and overcoming
A few months ago I was in a library and Roffey Park
Management Centre and
I picked up your book called "Consultant's Calling - Bring more of Who
You are to What You do". Have I got that title right? I stood there for
an hour reading!! Your book sort of sucked me in! It struck a chord. Now
I find that when I talk about AUTHENTICITY, your title describes what I'm
driving at! Glad you overcame your hesitation and thanks for joining us.
Lavinia and Diana referred to "good" change.
This troubled me a bit and
got me thinking. Here's what came up:
I find it hard to catagorise change as "good"
or otherwise. Before
thinking about CHANGE, I prefer to think about LIFE and what are the
healthy rhythms, patterns, movements, signs of life.
By contrast there is a narrow, unbalanced, fast,
that can be exciting that is not what I call life but is more like an out
of control CANCEROUS growth. Maybe the first (LIFE) is "good" and the
second (CANCER) is not..but when you're in the middle of it its not easy
In school here they teach an acronym MERRING that
defines the 7 processes
in a living organism:
Irritating ie sensitve to outer environent & vice versa
I was excited recently when I heard this is now taught,
daydreaming in this lesson??) and I wondered how to apply it to us, our
teams and our organisations.
Each time I think about change I first like to think of
organisation or whoever as a SIMPLE ORGANISM in its environment. Is this
also the way you think Netiva? I like to ask what c
ontact/information/value is flowing across the interface. Then I like to
think of many orgsanisms, of a larger ecology, a landscape of many
interdependent but different organisms. Is it a stable, sustainable
ecology or is it doomed with some species threatening to eradicate
Oh well. These kind of thoughts help me gain distance
Maybe I'm just a frustrated biologist. It never was my strong subject at
Run out of time. My son wants to play on the computer.
I'll try to come
Until then, Tony
Diana, I liked your story of the Greek woman...loss of
something bad but
still honouring the part of you that you lost. It challenges the simple
monchrome, black-white, good-bad thinking we sometimes slip into.
Susan, yes, making the hidden cost tangible helped you
to draw attention
to it and get the ball rolling. I also agree its a process that you have
to LEARN TO TRUST..and perhaps guard against the illusion that you are
contorlling it, or that any on person or group is. Its a whole complex
mix of actions, reactions and interactions! This is why I like to reflect
on the ecology of it all.
Netiva, you made me think about paradigms and mindsets.
experience a trickle or a torrent of information entering our little
worlds from our outer environment that largely confirms our attitudes,
values, beliefs and assumptions. But every now and then there is
SOMETHING PROFOUNDLY SHOCKING that causes us go through the classic
letting go cycle and in due course to rearrange our mental furniture.
In 1997, we expect these profound shocks to hit us more
say 30, 50 or 100 years ago. So profound, double-loop, reframing,
paradigm shift type learning is becoming a SURVIVAL SKILL. And, as you
put it, "stepping off the boat", diarying, jounraling, writing your
letters home, or painting, these practices are important for making
meaning from the confusing but interconnected actions, events and
relationships in our lives.
Barry, your comments about collective personality and
interesting. Someone yesterday in a sales driven telecomms organisation
commented glibly that basically everyone is driven by FEAR or GREED. This
sort of upset me. It is not the kind of world I wanted to live in, or
organisation I would like to work in! So I reckon there was some kind of
collective patholgoy going on here. Is this the kind of thing that you
Brain surgery in this context sounds rather ugly to me.
It made me
reflect on labotomies and brainsurgeons in the 50s using the knife
without fully understnading what they wre doing...but accepting the
dilemma that a distressed patient might as a result become more placid,
apparently happier or less dysfunctional.
I am drawn toward methods like Dialogue, Appreciative
Search that create a possibility space and a taking up of control by
those affected, those living/working in the organisation.
Susan, I'm a little concerned from your comments that
these methods work best on reflective types like us and leave out the
activists from the important work of creating/transforming/renewing their
organisations. I've started to get interested in finding FAST DIALOGUE
tools to give activists a sense of whats possible here. I'll try to
describe what I mean by this later. Maybe these will help include those
who do not find journaling their cup of tea. Or maybe you're right and
once you gain momentum ewveryone gets drawn in somehow.
Joshua - interesting thoughts on reading aloud linking
the epxereince to
shared journaling. And I'm glad you appreciate this space.
Lisa, thanks for giving us the quote about passion. I
want to come back
to this in a bit. I'm thinking about the notion of CHANGE ENERGY...but a
little rushed now.
Thanks everyone. Let's keep this space bubbling! Good night. Tony.
The question of traditional organisational boundaries is
interesting given the extraordinary attention that has traditionally been
paid to hierarchy and segmentation in this organisation. This forum is
relatively free from class issues. Those who are hung up with levels and
status, generally, don't participate in the dialogue (they lurk - or
ignore the process altogether hoping it will just go away) As far as
actively recruting resisters to participate, the organisers of the digest
have taken the "seat on the bus" approach (there's a seat on the bus for
everyone - get on or get left behind) Ultimately, the true test of
survival of these types of process will be in the delivery of desired
results for the organisation.
Tony, this ties in with your mention of reflective
processes as survival
skills. If they are, then orgs that engage in these processes will
flourish and those that don't won't. To the acitvist - results speak
volumes. I was particularly interested in your comments on FAST DIALOGUE
and would be anxious to hear more about it. Sue
Perhaps this is why every organization should have a
group of people who
reflect on change from a meta/systematic perspective. This group thinks
about the unique 'pockets' of people (segmenting them along numerous
axis: age, culture, language, education, etc.) taking into consideration
each segments deeply held assumptions, values, beliefs, experiences,
expectations and tools, all of which then gets digested in the context of
the newly introduced change. In fact with more and more complex change
looming ahead, we may need multiple tiers of support agents. With each
tier of meta thinkers in fact thinking about the compleixities and tasks
about to be faced by the tier before it.
Thus the case of online, company wide (in this case
would/should bring with it support systems which
would be tailored to the different groups of hold-outs. Some for language
reasons, some for reasons of organizationional (mis)trust, still others
due to ineptitude with the technology, etc..
If the true initiative is designed to stimulate sharing
practices, not the formation of the 'new elite - the digiratti',
would you want a key front line employee in one of your foreign markets
to avoid sharing the experience because he/she is computer illiterate, or
a slow typist, or shy about her use of English, etc.? I bet not!
Lisa, thank you for quoting Krishnamurti. It makes me
want to go home and
pick up his book. Also, the introduction of Geoff's book/theme about
passion of one's work is so well timed. It amazes me how our
discussion originating in Journalling has zig zagged its way across so
dimensions of thought and life. Passion in one's workplace has been,
perhaps without us saying it out loud, an underlying theme in all of
this. It makes me think of other participants' comments about
organizational change and personal change taking place in harmony with
There is something metaphysical about all of this.
Tony, I just reread your comments about the
gather you are
thinking of the ecosystem as a model for some aspects of our life, work,
change management, etc.. I am wondering, can you think of an ecosystem or
a microenvironment in an ecosystem that is or has been faced by similar
degree of change (magnitude, frequency, intensity) to the one humanity is
currently experiencing? If there isn't the parallel between the two
worlds, then should one be used to model the other one? Perhaps, as
always, it is a matter of degree ..... not absoluteness.
My meeting this morning it with a colleague in a
Tomorrow's Company which is committed to an INCLUSIVE APPROACH to running
a business or organisation, balancing the needs and interests, short and
longer term, of all the key stakeholders ie beyond shareholders, to
customers, staff, suppliers and wider community. Quite a number of large
companies are now signed up to this and we are exploring how to work with
a few of them on a journey towards greater inclusiveness, and therefore
towards superior performance.
This work is very EXCITING for me. It is a connection
between some of the
aspirations many of us share and today's real hard-nosed business world.
My PASSION for this work arises I think from the way it
expresses by beliefs and values, which curiously has not previously been
possible in the (many) organisations in which I have worked.
This brings me round Susan to FAST DIALOGUE. What I seek
to do is through
a variety of methods create conditions in which people can safely
express what is important, what really matters to them, in other words
their beliefs and values...but not just to express, but to listen to
others expressing and be open to understanding alternative and apparently
opposing viewpoints of work, life, the world etc.
My interest in fast dialogue arose from a mini-workshop,
a sort of
breakout group I ran for 90 minutes at a conference last summer. I spoke
for about 20 minutes about values: how I think they form in an individual
with examples from my own life, using a sort of caterpillar/cuccoon/
butterfly metaphor. Then about the self-contained compartments or worlds
in our lives (eg work, career, home, social life, health and fitness,
money....) each of which contains a more or less coherent, congruent
value set BUT between which there is often incongruence or dissonance.
After this talk there were short pairs exercises built
the question: WHAT REALLY MATTERS TO YOU IN THIS WORLD? with a simple,
repeated follow-up probe AND WHAT REALLY MATTERS TO YOU ABOUT THAT?.
Within a few minutes of starting the pairs work the
energy in the room
went Whoosh!!!, the pairs dug deeply in, exploring differences,
incongruences and finding areas of common ground. It was very hard to
bring the exercise to a close, as you might imagine.
Months later a participant described this as like TWO
STRANGERS IN A
RAILWAY COMPARTMENT and as a form of FAST DIALOGUE, achieving in 5
minutes or so what hours even days of teambuilding or dialogue often
fails to deliver. I know it is 1-1 and therefore not dialogue in a full
sense, but it is a seed from which I want to grow something larger.
I was invited in March by one of the pairwork
participants to run a
seminar about this exercise and its implications for 150 top managers at
Islington Council in London. After this challenging session I was told
that the questions asked by managers felt more real and sincere instead
of political, and that the seminar had helped create a new deeper level
of engagement and commitment to the council-wide "Leading Change"
Now I have evolved a larger number of simple FAST
DIALOGUE tools, most of
them absurdly easy to understand and engage with, but aiming to create a
DEEPER CONVERSATION without leaving individuals feeling vulnerable,
exposed or violated by the degree of disclosure involved.
These include SIMPLE REFLECTION, FEELINGS, CASE FOR
ENERGY, GOAL-SETTING, SNOWBALL...all of them about finding connections
inside to self/values and outside to others. So I suppose there are about
PASSION and alignment of self-with-others and person-with-organisation.
I'm late for my train.
Joshua. Thanks for participating so generously in this
session. I can't
do justice with a fuller repsonse at the minute but...on ecosystems,
where I'm coming from is that as humans WE ARE AN ECOSYSTEM and we
participate in many larger ecosystems. Beyond modelling, this is a way of
reframing and challenging our human arrogance, our view of being
superior, our tendency to destroy nature and not to understand what we
are interfering with...
Finally for now I'm pleased at the way you and Susan are
starting to make
contact. I hope that by the end of the month there might have occurred a
kind of shift in the mode of discussion where instead of this being
multiple "one to ones", we might evolve to a "MANY TO MANY"
style of conversation. Is that possible here???
When I come back later I want to ask a few questions to
stimulate us all
REFLECT on the ground we have covered together over the last 2-3 weeks,
and to see what MEANING we are getting from it, giving us time to explore
SO WHAT? questions next week before we draw this to a close.
Tony, I understand your comments about the ecosystem.
You are absolutely
right about the need to reflect on the whole system, and recognize the
gift of being a member of this system. Unfortunately, the understanding
that our presence here is 'gift' hasn't penetrated deep and wide enough.
We still arrogantly work from the 'control' paradigm.
I really like the concept of Rapid Dialogue and Deeper
Would be interesting to know how you have been able to apply these to
those 4 or 5 topics you made reference to in your last message.
Your comment about the many to many dialogue also struck
a cord with me.
I was reflecting on this over the course of the last few days, thinking
how this may be difficult to achieve in an asynchronous environment,
unless of course you have a group of people working towards a specific,
well defined and mutual goal, for example, a business plan, or a policy
document. Something that required JOINT responsibility for a well
defined outcome. Clearly this is not the case with this dialogue. We are
all sort of flirting with each other, perhaps on a higher level, but
still flirting. This makes makes me think of a poignant proverb: What is
the difference between a chicken and a pig? The chicken is INVOLVED but
the pig is COMMITTED.
Well, we are all chickens here, laying an egg here and there.
I agree, it will be interesting to reflect on the ground we have covered.
Sue, I carefully read your response and understand what
you mean about
the need for moving the process forward. I am now thinking of a military
scenario, where an army is moving forward in a long column. Without
driving forward there is no progress, however, if the front gets too far
from the middle and the middle gets too ahead of the rear, then we will
have fragmentation, we will lose momentum, morale will drop and we will
be vulnerable to an enemy attack. I wonder if this metaphor/analogy is
applicable to our organizational scneario.
Can it be elaborated upon some more..the statement
"learn to trust"
how is that done in an organization? I gathered that this there were some
steps to that?
Last week I said I wanted to REVIEW this dialogue and
others to, to see what it leads you to in this final week and after we
finish, in terms of "So What?" or "action as a result of being here". So
I printed off this Chautauqua over the weekend and sat down today to
review it. 36 pages! What a lot we have generated! And what interesting
I know I will always remember and return to this from
time to time. There
has been a huge PLEASURE for me anticipating what will be posted, then
feeling the challenge to look inside, finding then trying to
express/share what is true and meaningful, and at the same time in
receiving from others, taking in, seeking to understand and integrate
different views. This is LEARNING with a capital L! Vivid, engaging, real
in its effect on me and I hope us.
A few recollections that are quite memorable for me:
- Lisa's putting the ball into play, inviting people in, keeping us moving
- Abby setting up the Guest bookstore
- Anthony/Tony getting beyond the scorekeeper
- All sharing experiences and inhibitions with journaling
- Lisa on activist Washington and therapist New York
- Amy on OKness, extravert and intravert
- Hope on mindfulness, self-censorship, living/journaling/writing
- Diana's journal and her stories of Greek woman and "squalorama"
- Sanyakhu on Caucus, wrong hands, yahoo search on your name
- Lavinia on conscious downisizing, drawing, stories, quiet
- Dennis beaming in from the savage beauty of Alaska
- Gary's interactive journaling, online transformation article, 2 voices
- Barry's occasional (staccato!) inputs, voice recognition, brain surgery
- Susan's activity junkies, hidden costs, corporate journaling, tight at
- Joshua's longer now, 2 wounded doctors, evolutionary advantage, flirting
- Lisa again on ethical care of your self, Krishnamurti
- Netiva's weekly 2 page letter home for 24 years
- Geoffrey's hesitation, then posting, passion
- Joshua and Susan's interchanges, army column, active inclusion
- Peter, Lavinia, Gary, Joshua and others just enjoying being here!
And what LEARNING has this left me with?
- A clearer sense of the value both of connecting with self (private
journaling) and connecting with others (social/corporate/online
- The problem of trusting that a private jounral will remain private
- The great possibilities for social journaling in companies to build
knowledge base/community and between individuals like this
- Confirmation of how personal reflection and corporate change are
- The challenge of including the activity junkies: reflectors get active!
So that's where I've got to. I would be really
interested in knowing from
1. When you read through this Chautauqua what is most
2. When you reflect on that, what LEARNING are you left with?
3. So what? How can you USE/APPLY apply that learning in your work/life?
I haven't got to question 3 yet but I'll work on it and let you know.
Meanwhile I'd like to comment on a few loose strands
Sankayhu asked about "learn to TRUST". Was
this a reference back to one
of Susan's earlier postings? I do not know the steps. Perhaps Susan does
but I would comment that trust is about knowing you won't be hurt, about
being sure you are SAFE or that you will benefit from what is happening.
Such conditions are unusual in companies in 1997.
Our Flow Theory described the conditions I believe we
need to create for
trust, and therfore learning and change. They are conditions in which we
engage with others, we open ourselves, making ourselves VULNERABLE,
knowing we do not need to be defensive. In a sense we have been creating
these conditions in this dialogue.
The learning part of "learn to trust"
probably means trying, making
yourself vulnerable, getting it wrong, reflecting, learning then trying
again until it starts to work.
I see this as less to do with "steps",
implying a linear path, and more
to do with evolving together, creating an environment that is TRUSTWORTHY
for people who enter it.
I said earlier I wanted to comment further on
PASSION. As a consultant
early on I was taught the CHANGE EQUATION as follows:
EC = AxBxD > c.
Which reads "Effective Change is possible of the
combination of A Vision,
B Dissatisfaction and D Knoew First Steps is greater than the perceived
costs". It has been difficult tracking down the origins of this but so
far I have found that it beuild from Kurt Lewin's Force Field Analysis,
Beckhard and Harris published a similar equation, it has been linked to 2
other names, from MIT? David Gleicher and Milon Tribus. If anyone knows
more please tell me.
Anyway, when I first came across this equation it seemed
to express in a
curious way something quite powerful that is often neglected. It was a
sort of clue about where to look for passion.
Now building from common sense and ideas by Robert Fritz
and Lou Tice, I
think PASSION for change comes from a combination of two forces,
REPULSION (desire to leave here) and ATTRACTION (desire to go there). The
repulsion piece is about PAIN, hurting so badly now, or anticipated pain,
expecting to hurt badly soon. The attraction part, I can get to most
meaningfully through What Really Matters questions and through
So, and this brings me Joshua to a fast dialogue method
called CASE FOR
CHANGE. Making meaning for any of us involved in change requires us to
seek meaning, connecting ourselves into the forces/sources of passion
that operate with and between us.
The Case for Change route to fast dialogue is based
around these simple
questions wihch derives from the thoughts I've just been through:
1. What is the current state? And what is wrong with it?
(ie. what pisses
you off? What is giving you pain or will give you pain?)
2. What is the desired future state (ie. what really
matters to you, what
would you like to create/bring about, what moments from the past that
made you feel alive do you want to live again in the future?)
3. How to move forward? What are the first steps? (ie
what can you do to
make this happen?)
4. Looking at this whole thing, what will it cost you? and is it worth it?
I suggest working these questions individually, with a
between stakeholders, in groups/teams/organisations to align personal
with organisational change and multiply the energy.
As the critical mass starts to develop I believe it is
important not to
encourage people to cut themselves of from their hearts through fear and
to support individuals in their decision-making, with fair and
non-punitive options about whether they want to continue here or exit
into other worlds. I'm talking here Lavinia about PARTING, which you
referred to earlier.
Well, it's time for me to continue with other work now.
Let's keep the ball rolling this week. I love the way
the learning sort
of builds. So please keep joining in and reacting to each other. And
perhaps reacting to my own conclusions. I wonder if you agree??
If any of you do feel inspired to reflect on those 3
share your insights here.....
On your three questions Tony - I have to say that the
one thing i'm going
to take away from this is something that has been a budding thought (a
gestating egg?) in my mind for a while:
I feel from time to time that my mind too easily slips
into neutral. I
go about my business - work and pleasure - in a state of disengagement,
knowing what's going on but not really taking part or being a real
participant in the occurances around me (like maybe lurking in this
But then once in a while something happens and suddenly
the NOW is very
real - I feel strongly aware of my surroundings, of my feelings, of who I
am and what I want and all my thoughts are clear.
On one level, this happens to me on a daily basis (too
much coffee, or
just a great debate or a very awake state) and on another, it is a
life-long thing. I felt very alive and awake and aware for instance when
I was travelling throughout Europe - and strangely enough, it was when I
was writing daily in a journal.
In this case I think the journal was more an effect of
the level of
engagement, but I can really see how the journal can be a way of
increasing the level of engagement - of *waking people up* and making
them really THINK about their surroundings and their role within them.
thanks Tony et al.!!
Tony, 60 miles on the bike in wind and rain. I used to
know how that
feels, having done many a century. Once in Japan participated in a 300 km
time trial. A long, grueling ride though morning cold, mid day sweltering
heat, and then evening cold again. There is nothing to challenge the
brain like a long, solitary, difficult activity. It is amazing just to be
aware of one's thoughts, and how the body reacts to them. From the pain,
feelings of why am I subjecting myself to this, to feelings of amazement
at one's will, the exultation of digging really deep and finding stuff
Tony I will have to review the material in this
conference to consolidate
the impact. It will be interesting to trace the thread of the
conversation. Your FAST DIALOGUE on the methodology / process of actively
nurturing change is so incredibly timely for me. As I was reading and
rereading it I kept walking thought the steps in the context of my
current challenge. This may indeed help me see things clearer.
Mike, thank you for your comments. I am glad that we
you out of your meditation into a brief moment of out-of-body experience.
Perhaps your method is better! Isn't your way the very essense of Zen?
As Arnold Swartznegger threateningly said in Terminator
1: "I will be
For me to come to closure here, I feel I really want to
to connect by next weekend my thoughts before Lisa or Tony say this
conversation with this group in this space and time has come to a close.
I will also look forward to what others bring here in terms of reflection.
Tony, and everyone I am curious if you there are
journals you have read
Some great learning for me here,not least the way you
the conversation Tony and brought your own reflective and authentic
presence to this space and to all of us here.
The thing that keeps coming up for me has to do with
centered,returning to my centre...I spend too much time being
off-centre,being away from my centre,living in my head not my body,and
missing my presence in the moment.From an energetic perspective,my energy
tends to concentrate around my head in this wonderful expression of
blooming,buzzing confusion.The energy is not in my feet,there is a lack
of contact with the ground or earth,and it is not in my tan tien or hara
or stomach.I am so tuned into whatever I'm thinking about that I lose
awareness of myself and my centre.More and more I feel this as a loss,as
a self-inflicted "fall from grace".And more and more I'm trying out
different ways to return,to re-center myself-and even to avoid leaving
center in the first place.Journalling does and doesn't work for me.It
does work because it brings me back to my deeper self,it slows me down,it
faces me with the blooming and the buzzing.It doesn't work because it
keeps me in my head,it puts even more energy into my head as if I needed
or wanted any more than I already have!I want to move the energy down,to
rebalance between heaven and earth,as the Taoists would describe it,and
to give up the belief that I can think my way into a state of vibrantly
alive being,here right now.This is where other modalities become
important for me-practising chi kung or meditation.
So what?So,I'm wondering what for me is the best way of
practices...?I know that journalling is very necessary for me and that by
itself it is insufficient.I would be glad to hear of your thoughts on
Just checked in here tonight after an e-mail from
lisa. I can see I am
going to want to keep track of these Chautauqua's more regularly.
Just a couple of smattering thoughts. I too think
that vunerability and
authenticity go hand in hand. At least I don't think it's possible to
get to the later, without the former. And, of course, as someone
mentioned sometime ago, this is all heavily culturally based -- very
different standards and norms in Japan.
For the last two years I have been in an on-line
doctoral program, now
housed here on Metanet and the text based dialogue in these conferences
within a learning community isn't exactly the same as journaling -- but
it is the same, only more powerful because of the force and depth of the
dialogue -- at least at times. It has been a transformative experience
For some months now I have been locked in my own sets of
an organizational reinvention process for a 25 year old nonprofit which I
co-founded and which I have served, since the beginning, as Executive
Director. A month ago, I received a birthday gift from the universe
(yes, actually on my birthday) when I realized that the way for us to
move ahead was for me to recommend that the position of Executive
Director be abolished within about six months and that the organization
reconstitute itself as a partnership nonprofit. Doing this, as an
internal change agenct, is certainly calling on all of my capacities
including heavy doses of authenticity -- and I could not have done it
without the journalling/dialogue which has changed my consciousness and I
doubt that I would be able to stay the course without that same support.
I've ordered your book Tony, it looks excellent.
I'll now follow this
discussion until it runs out next week!
I'm sure that those lovely published journals were carefully edited.
One of my most recent favorites it "Operating
Instructions: A Journal of
My Son's First Year," by Anne LaMott. It's whiny, self-absorbed, and
narcissistic, and quite wonderful in part for precisely those reasons.
First I'd like to say that I've ordered Diary of a
Change Agent and I
can't wait to consume it!!
The most meaningful part of this dialogue for me has
been seeing how Tony
has woven all of the input into the fabric of the discussion as a whole -
this is a fine example of ACTIVE INCLUSION - that, in and of itself (for
me anyway) has served to reduce the vulnerability felt with contributing,
it adds authenticity to the input, identifies it as valued and deserving
to be said (and recognised)
Here are a few other reflections that struck me:
- I really liked the concept of jouraling as a record of
traveled. Sometimes we forget from where we've come and therefore fail
to fully appreciate where we are.
- The chop wood, carry water example as a pathway to
meditation helped me
to put into context why I enjoy my 1 1/2 hour commute (each way - DC -
Lisa will appreciate that) and why I dislike group commuting (too many
people in my space, getting in the way of my thoughts and reflection)
I've tried to explain this to people before, they think I'm nuts.
- I was quite intrigued by Joshua's comments in 39:27
about wishing for a
process for automatically recording these PACKETS OF ENERGY swirling
around in our heads. He touched on pictures and colors as recording
mechanisms, and I think this (swirling packets of energy) is the essence
of creativity -of innovation - of art - art as a manifestation of
thought. For example, I weave baskets. Do I have a dialogue with myself
about the basket before I weave it? No. It's energy, it just emerges,
- Referring to item 39:39, if possible, I'd like to get
a reference for
the article "Getting the Turkeys to Vote for Christmas" - that's great!
It reminds me of a quote from a member of an organisation going through
massive (budget driven) restructuring. This is how she explained the
state of the orgnisation to her staff - "Santa quit, they've outsourced
the reindeer, and the sleigh is empty" Step out of this mutually
supportive environment, and frequently that is what we are working with -
and we've got to make it work.
- Another thing that struck me was how much "went
by" without comment,
that deserved comment, but for one reason or another, the dialogue took
another path . . . so much fertile soil . . . any number of branches
could have evolved. It was interesting to observe the evolution of the
- Finally, I'd like to comment on LEARNING TO
TRUST. I view trust as a
gut thing, not a head thing - you trust in trust - have faith in the
process. I see the benefits of outcomes (or consequences), both good and
not so good. I trust by knowing, really knowing, that whatever happens,
it is part of the process, it's developmental. Trust is about passion,
about generating faith, mobilising a following (disciples of development
- if you will) it's about forward movement, lasting growth and deep
learning. For me, trust is not something you learn, it's just something
you do, you just do it.
That's what I've taken away from this forum, and for me,
it has daily
application - it's life.
Looking forward to crossing paths again.
Great to read your responses. There's lots of Wow!
Positive energy here.
I love it!
Glad you joined us Mike. And thanks for giving us your
Yes, I share your view that a journal can WAKE YOU UP, make life more
vivid, stir the desire to participate more fully in events.
Joshua. 60 miles felt like enough for me last Sunday.
300km timed. Wow! A
killer. Glad its powerful. Looking forward to your return!
Hi Lavinia. I feel that we're rushing you here which is
not what I
intended. It's just that the month is up on Monday. Please TAKE THE TIME
you need. Is that OK Lisa?
Sheila. Thanks for joining in. It must feel weird
looking back at what
you experienced so long ago. And is there a sense of GUILT, that your
diaries were slanted to inner events? I think that's OK, that's how it
was. Many published diaries are the reverse, focused on events in the
outer world aren't they?
You;ve reminded me. When my book was in draft form I
gave a copy to my
Dad to read. He had just had a stroke so was very slow and found it
difficult to communicate his response, but he did tell me a BIG SURPRISE,
that he had kept a diary throughout his adult life! I had no previous
knowledge of this. And I've known him for over 40 years!
When I asked him to tell me more, he said his diary was
an account of where he went, events and details of his life, OUTER LIFE
rather than feelings/inner. I asked him waht he intended to do with them.
He said he expected they would be burned when he dies. I wanted to say
SHOW ME THEM, let me read them! But this did not seem appropriate somehow
and the man remains an enigma to me. Oh well!
I read Diary of Anne Frank years ago. It gripped me at
the time but I do
not remember it well now. I dipped a little into Samuel Pepys but mine
was an abridged version without the spicey bits! Really interesting to
gain a sense of history from the detail he records of his life. The Alan
Clark Diaries are a best seller here. AC was defense minister and
philanderer in Thatcher government - apparently very candid, acute and at
times cruel observations of colleagues ...but I have not read it myself.
Antony/Tony. Reading your posting what sprang to mind
was the slogan on
the NIKE advert for trainers "mind in the stratosphere - feet on the
ground". Your role, like mine can be a difficult one, challenging, using
our heads, bringing abstract knowledge down to a pragmatic level for
others?? We do this with and on behalf of others.
Tony, I'd like to respond spontaneously now, without
thinking too deeply
on this. I'm wondering if there is a paradox here?? The harder you try,
the more keenly you seek that centred/grounded state, the more elusive it
may be?? The critic/scorekeeper can engage and perversely prevent what
you are seeking. That the state you seek might arise from a LESS KEEN,
LESS EAGER FOCUS. From relaxing, giving yourself permission, believing it
might emerge spontaneously, in its own time, through a lesser more
Might this state arise more easily for you in MOVING
wood/carry water, etc as Diana, Lisa and Hope referred to earlier (items
12, 14 & 15) or in conversation/dialogue rather than in journaling ?
One additional remark Tony. In a dialogue today the word
PLEXUS came up.
So I looked up Solar Plexus in the dictionary. It said a sort of complex
nerve centre, in the PIT OF THE STOMACH. Why do I say this? For me the
practice of recording what I was feeling in the pit of my stomach was
part of the diary practice. I also am quite unaware of this until I ask
myself or someone asks me. It is ELUSIVE for me also, and something I am
still keen to develop.
Bob, thanks for giving us your WOWs! and for telling us
about your gift
from the universe. Hope you enjoy the book!
Thanks for joining us Harrison, for making the link with
for your encouragement. I'm interested in your work. Is there anything
more you'd like to share with us here?
And Hope. Good to hear from you again!
Got to go now. That was 45 mins not the 15 I intended.
You can get sort
of carried away here can't you!
I'm in random thoughts mode as i'm getting ready to head
home tho i know
it's horrible humid hot out there so i'm not hurrying ...
Yes, it sure is OK to take advantage of the medium's
rather than feel pressed to get in under some arbitrary deadline ...it's
not over til it's over ... Time does provide a container for energy.
We've found it useful to design time-based pulses into the abstract
online environment to create a little positive tension but the choice to
ignore boundaries is always possible!
One of the positive aspects of journaling may be quite
subtle. I find
that the possibility that i MIGHT take a stab at expressing something
online focuses my thinking about my experience ... I often find myself
driving along rehearsing how i could express a feeling or a thought in
one or another virtual communities ... and, then it doesn't really matter
whether i actually get around to writing the response or not in terms of
the value to ME. I imagine writing in a journal .. or thinking about
writing in a journal might have the same effect.
But I realize that i probably have some resistance
around journaling i
don't generally admit to. An entry in Tony's diary is about going to a
rather edgy-sounding training in Scotland about some forms of meditation
and the slight tension (which got resolved) with Helen when he returned.
It reminded me of a danger i associate with journaling ... (or perhaps
this is just a personal fear of mine) which is that a deep reflective
process can get you out of synch with others in your life - partners,
colleagues, friends, family ..who for whatever reason don't or don't care
to explore chakra attunement or whatver are the subjects of your own
reflection ... I don't really have any need to evangelize to others yet i
do feel a loss of connection to people in my life who think a lot of what
i'm into is pretty weird. I think maybe i am afraid to jump down the
rabbit hole because i could imagine it leading me to some very different
places and it feels like there could be consequences i don't want to
think about. There are a lot of reasons change can feel scary ...
Well, now i had to change the time at the top of this
note several times
as i'm here longer than i expected ... carried away ... I'm imagining
each of you around this "room" and glad to be here with you.
Since my last entry, I received the book - I love it!! I
reading it while I was driving home. Shame on me. I was sitting in
traffic -honest. I read some more on the NordicTrack and I'll pick up
again after I put the kids to bed.
One thing that strikes me about diaries (logs,
journals)[and now I have
ordered Tony's so I can be legit here]is their lack of freedom to explore
the messier side of life. they stay coherent, conventional. I have always
been fascinated by how Freud really did free association around his own
dreams but always had to tell us there were parts he couldn't reveal. but
he knew it. It amazes me how many analysts have never (dared? Bored?
Lazy?)covered a single page with real free associations. In a few seconds
we could strangle a child rape a dog kiss a friends mother and then go to
the icebox for some ice cream. But we settle for TV and then the ice
Ice box? Does anyone call it that any more?
Your point is?
2. Without repression there is no art.
3. The work place is not generally the place where
art is committed.
With this in mind, perhaps such expression might be acceptable.
4. With this in mind, who wants to work
there? There are different
individual tolerances for the expression of others' emotions, & it seems
more than a tad like a police state to suggest that everyone has to be
receptive to everyone else's productions. We have flush toilets so as
not to be on the receiving end of all physical productions: surely there
is a non-physical parallel here.
I sense some heat on this one and as a somewhat
conflict-avoiding and over polite Brit, I would like to comment.
I find the themes of EXPRESSION VS REPRESSION very
should I try to put that in a Viennese accent, zat is verrry
Recently I attended a talk by Jean Hutton from The Grubb
Institute on the
subject "Organisation in the Mind", and it might have been called THE
She noted that 2 people from the same organisation often
different views of it, in other words different internal maps of it. She
drew from the work of Melanie Klein to explain this. The argument goes
When I work in an organisation, I INTROJECT, or take
into myself aspects
of what is happening to me from people and events to form internal
OBJECTS or symbols. These objects whilst "real" to me are not the same as
the "real people and things" in my environment. OK so far?
Next step: some of these objects give me PLEASURE, and I
tend to keep
these front of mind, others give me discomfort or PAIN and I tend to
suppress them into unconsciousness. But, if I suppress them, they are
still objects in my inner world and they still affect my behaviour. How?
Wellll, we are taken SURPRISE sometimes when we find
angry, guilty, pleased or excited and we may not know why. We also
trigger unexpected reactions in others which can either be constructive
or destructive. This is leakage.
Klein explains that suppressing stuff can lead to
tension between the things we love and those we fear or hate. This can
then lead to a polarised view of our environment, in which we idealise
some "good" things and despise other "bad" things, which Klein calls
Anyway, that's enough of that theory for the moment. The
stating it is that it provides a context for the expression vs repression
issue. I find that I have no concerns at all that ART might disappear
because we express too much! I think life is tough, the temperature is
high, we all have the experience at times of cooking in the heat.
(Charles Handy spoke about boiled frogs!). So like it or not, plenty will
get repressed and lots of creative art will come from that I have no
But what bothers me.. oh sorry I feel stroonnngly about
from my book:
"We now live in an era of unprecendented turbulence
triggers our inner emotions. Yet our awareness of inner change is lo hs,
mid-life crises, divorce, violence, crime, drug abuse...it is
very easy to list the signs of problems in people's lives. In the US the
huge cost of stress-related illenss is starting to be quantified. In the
UK doctors and hospitals are beginning to realise just how much of their
workload is due to stress and psychological factors....."
..and it continues..."we have been naive, applying
first aid to people
through the health service after their predictable life crises instead of
teaching them to anticipate and adjust in advance. We give no lifelines -
no learning about how to digest life experiences, how to deal with
emotion, how to reframe and transform problems. Tragically people are
both afraid of, and are being denied the liberating benefits of
"We need to discover for ourselves, then develop
and teach a new
competence, empowering individuals to digest their own life experience,
regularly readjusting and recovering quality of life in the face of
external turbulence...we can start to feel good about our new found
ability to reframe, adapt, evolve and learn."
Well that's a personal viewpoint I know. Is it all that
crazy? Does it
help to explain why I have argued for the diary practice?
I am saying that if I note slight feelings of
discomfort, not only does
this make me FEEL BETTER at the time, but in looking back I notice THEMES
that give me clues to deeply held beliefs and values that I have a CHOICE
about: observe them or challenge them. I don't think I am the only person
who can gain these benefits!
The interesting thing is that the more you do of this
diary stuff, the
more you experience a sort of strength to cope better with what life
throws at you...and a willingness to bring into awareness the stuff you
were suppressing from earlier in life, which is itself part of becoming
more proactive and gaining choice about the direction of your life.
So yes, I see the diary as a place to think the
like Freud, there are LIMITS to what I write even in my private diary and
I know what they are. It just gives me space to express (much) MORE THAN
I USUALLY WOULD and I do feel the benefits of this. It brings the smile
to my face more easily and the spring back into my step!
And yes, there is a difference between where these
LIMITS are set if I'm
doing private or public journaling. And I don't think anyone else can
tell you WHERE TO SET YOUR LIMITS..this is part of the usualy set of
judgements you make as an adult, a function perhaps of your hunger for
development, you needs for social approval, privacy, etc...
By the way, if I were speaking this, there would be a
TREMOR in my
voice,.... I can feel my heart beating slightly FASTER which tells me I'm
expressing something that connects deeply inside me!!!!
That's all for now. Time for tea. Bye for now.
Just read your last posting Lisa. YES! I agree with
comfort making room
for the less comfortable.
Do you notice the tension in my last posting. I lost my
I must have been picking up the same T E N S E feelings. It's interesting
to notice how tension spreads. I wonder what's coming next???!!
Oh, and hello Bob, thanks for joining us!
Thanks Barry for pointing out to the societal or group
change. I was
only thinking about individual change which needs a trauma in order to
But you are right. People can grow and blossom if surrounded w/ certain
people or can be stifled by others. Society can be changed by different
groupings of people, or by one person alone...
Thanks so much Tony for fostering such a great
discussion in here.
Didn't get to read most of it, but looking forward to doing so on my next
long trip next week...I think you will make a great radio show host...
Later I'm off to Binder Hamlyn Fry (part of Arthur
Andersen) to discuss a
prof dev course they want for their consultants, and this evening to the
Civil Service College to run a one hour session on "Experiences of a
Change Agent" (I'm planning to use the Case for Change fast dialogue
tool) followed by dinner.
But before I start on chopping wood I want to do my
radio show host bit
here! I'm aware that we've run past alot of RECENT CONTRIBUTIONS without
comment and each one of them tends to gerenate some kind of reaction in
me that I like to share if I can as part of building something together
that is interesting and meaningful. I really enjoy doing this, and I
suppose that is why I'm putting off chopping wood!
Susan. I did enjoy your REFLECTIONS on this dialogue
(item 82). Thanks
for noticing the active inclusion work I have been doing here. I like the
PACKETS OF ENERGY also. When I was writing my book my musician brother
told me that while he was making a CD (long slow job), he reminded
himself that even if the CD remained unsold on the shelf for years, his
creative energy was stored safely in it, and whenever anyone played it,
his energy would be released. This made him relax and not worry about
commercial success...which with hindsight (low sales achieved!) was
probably very wise!
Sorry Susan I've looked for that "Getting TURKEYS
to Vote for Christmas"
article and can't find it. I think it was in the glossy journal
Management Today in 1994 but the title was more interesting than the
article itself which sort of went over that ground about why BPR is hard
to implement because its fundamental work redesign stuff and in the end
its people who have to want to do the implementing.
YES LOTS GOES BY! Each time I re-read this stuff more
leaps out at me.
More reactions come up, more new thoughts and possibilites arise.
Lisa, thanks for sharing some of your deeper
journaling. And yes I recognise the risk of getting OUT OF SYNCH with
others in our lives. We are into some pretty wierd stratospheric stuff
And there is distance even between people who are very
close, that used
to worry me, but now less so. I was VERY WORRIED at first about
publishing Diary of a Change Agent and it was important to me that Helen
was the first to read it in edited form. Her initial reactions were
something like relief and reassurance. She said she was surprised I
thought so much of her and I suppose in some way she was less concerned
after reading it that I was flying off to another planet....if that makes
My father pursued some PRETTY WIERD late 60s personal
growth stuff which
my mother was not into. He felt he had to evangelize and include her.
This undoubtedly put a huge strain onto their relationship. I prefer that
I have permission to follow my heart with regard to development/career
etc and so does Helen and that we inquire alot, share, seek to understand
one another without stopping each other from growing for finding
equilibrium. Sounds easy doesn't it....and its not!!!!
I like the idea of imagining us in a room together. It
preconceptions of time and space! But this conversation IS to me about
energy flow, that happens beyond the usual constraints of clock and
geography thanks to this technolgy.
Drive carefully Susan! Read the book when you get home!
Sheila, Douglass, Diana, Hope and Mike. Reflecting on
strand, I suppose I did not feel this was complete for me yet and I
picked Goleman's Emotional Intelligence book off the shelf this morning.
It opens with Aristotles challenge:
"Anyone can become angry - that is easy. But to be
angry with the right
person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose,
and in the right way - that is not easy."
I felt we were all allowing a little anger to break to
the surface, sort
of gently, with a degree of self-control without shouting at each other.
But it's interesting doing it in this medium isn't it, robbed of the
usual confirmatory or interpretive cues...so this is just a wild
unsupported hypothesis on my part... but I'm choosing to go more with my
intuition these days!
Then as I flip through the chapter headings I feel this
book has so much
to teach us: What are emotions for? Emotional hijacking. When smart is
dumb...Managing with Heart etc.
On your point Mike about extremely intelligent people
problems..it's that narrow definition of intelligence that we've been
brought up with, seduced into by our education, that left brain,
rational, critical reasoning, analytical, unbalanced, fragmentalist,
reductionist, devil's advocate, partial, one-sided, adversarial,
emotions-in-denial viewpoint. That's bound to be unhealthy isn't it???
You can see why I like the Goleman book.
...but on a more constructive note perhaps...Mike I
think it is worth
understanding the nature of the "shut-off thinking valve". This can if it
exists in one form be suppressing, holding emotion down,
stress/anxiety/unhappiness building, leading to psychological problems
later....and in another form... Goleman describes emotionally intelligent
shut-off valves and education programmes that are balance/happiness
building and sustainable. WHICH FORM OF SHUT-OFF VALVE it is may be
Sheila, I also use Goleman's EQ as context for
understanding your comment
that "expressing my emotions did not work". That finding the right
environment IS what we each need to do, and that what appears COMPLEX is
not necessarily so when we can find the simple organising principles, or
see the wider, whole system.
I suppose I'm always looking for these organising
principles and where I
think I find them I'm keen to use and share them! Ultimately perhaps we
all have to find our own, but I'm sure we can help each other through
these kinds of explorations.
Barry thanks for your DOLPHIN. I love the remarkable soothing effect!
Susan, I was afraid after your reflection in an earlier
item that was
your big finale so I'M GLAD you keep dipping in here...
And Netiva, perhaps a VIRTUAL radio show host??? Yes,
you'd better keep
those letters. Maybe publish them even if they NEVER become famous! I
wonder what Lisa thinks about the book idea? It makes me think about how
to provide other people I work with access to this or a similar forum and
what follows from this...
Time to chop wood now!
Well by now, Tony, you're probably fast asleep after a
long day of chop
wood carry water! It's kind of fun thinking of you in dreamland while
we're experiencing what you've written and integrating it with whatever
is going on in our waking life.
I'm thinking about the book idea ... and it made me
think of something
from the "reflection on the reflections" part of the book about the
transforming conversation - "a way of reaching deeper-level needs and
arousing higher level hopes, aspirations and expectations." That's a
pretty good description of what we hope to achieve in a dialogue like
From what I could tell of your coaching style from
reading your book i
could see it as developing transforming conversations with your clients.
What makes a transforming conversation possible? What would we need to
do here to create the conditions which would support transforming
I'm reflecting on conversations I've been a part of
transforming for me ... As I recall, most of them were a surprise in that
i didn't enter into them expecting a transformative experience so i'm
thinking the key may be in letting rather than making them happen ...
Friday 3.40pm. It's still raining here. We had weeks of
drought in April
and May with hosepipe banns threatened and now it's Wimbledon tennis time
again the weather's cold, wet, miserable! Sorry to go on about the
weather but we do that here!
Really busy day yesterday. Interesting session at Civil
Consultants on course are somewhat CHANGE FATIGUED and insecure due to
downsizing - realising that cost-cutting will not magically stop under
the new government. Also they are used to writing reports but unused to
implementing recommendations therefore unhappy/inexperienced with notions
of motivating, aligning people around change.
Interesting moment when we inquired about how change
fatigued staff might
react if their managers announced that they were PUTTING CHANGE ON HOLD
and initiating a period of stability/consolidation. Answer came clearly
from the group that management would not be believed and staff would be
concerned that not changing would leave them even more vulnerable. Tough
old world isn't it!
One of the course tutors sketched cartoons throughout my
session and gave
them to me afterwards! Speaking to her over dinner she has an image of
the change process as a JAPANESE CLOCK in which a bucket balanced on a
bamboo pole fills slowly with water. When full the pole tilts and bucket
empties WHOOOOOSH! She thinks of change as gradually filling the HEAD
like the bucket but nothing visible happening for ages until eventually
the discomfort/pressure becomes too great to maintain and whoosh, the
pole tilts, the bucket spills and the water rushes downward and fills the
On the way to Civil Service College call on my mobile
from BBC asking if
I would be interested to appear on evening Newsnight porgramme about
management consultancy. Please understand, this has NEVER happened to me
before and may never again! So big thrill at first.
Then finding out more... they had someone representing
one of the big
consultancy firms saying how great they were and needed me to put the
other side and criticise the profession. I felt suddenly cautious. I had
just come from a meeting at Binder Hamlyn/Arthur Andersen after all, and
I did not want to criticise my client in public. INTEGRITY issue but what
would be AUTHENTIC for me here?? So I was forced to look inside and
express what I do really think on this issue. This I discovered was:
The WORST side of consulting is something like this:
- client and consultant can get into a sort of continuing COLLUSIVE
co-dependency relationship in which the client needs the consultant for
complex reasons and the consultant needs the fees
- in a big firm this worst situation can be amplified because the
consultant has a REVENUE TARGET to make, which clouds their judgement,
motivating them to plan extensions to the work and bring more and more
- important LEARNING (knowledge base) that is gained through solving
today's most pressing problems tends to accumulate in the consultant
rather than in the client....spiral downwards!
In the BEST case:
- the consultant helps the client to WAKE-UP, prevents them from living
- helps ACCELERATE their learning about what is happening around them,
helps them find the positive energy to move forward and align with
others...client spirals upwards, consultant moves along
- most likely to happen if consultant values learning and service ahead
of growing their business revenues.
Anyway, that's where I got to in a split second last
night!!!.. but it
was probally too balanced and not SEXY or ANGRY enough so they phoned me
back later to say thanks but no thanks. Oh well!
Transforming conversations, hmmmmm...like you Lisa, the
ones I wrote
about in Diary of a Change Agent sort of JUST HAPPENED, and when they did
the feeling was WOWWWW! But they do seem to happen with a GREATER
REGUALRITY now and I do agree it is something to do with LETTING THEM
happen, removing the obstacles to their happening....or to put it another
way, opening the space in which they can happen and HOLDING THAT SPACE
I think the conditions we don't need are....I have the
image of an animal
in defensive mode, in fight, or flight, ... rabbits freeze, hedgehogs
roll-up in a ball, humans go foetal, and I think these are good metaphors
for what we do as humans when an adversarial debate or skillful
discussion is going on: we close ourselves, protect, withdraw and attack
the other side when we see a chance to win a point.
What we do need for creativity, generativity, dialogue
are conditions in which we are able to reach down DEEP INSIDE ourselves
and then express, sharing with others what we find, knowing with some
confidence that what we have expressed has been listened to, taken in by
others, inhaled deeply by them.
We seek to create conditions under which we OPEN
deeply-held values, assumptions and beliefs, WITHOUT THE FEAR of being
wrong or challenged, knowing we are trusted to speak what is the truth
and what holds real meaning for us, making ourselves vulnerable to attack
because we know we will not be attacked.
These conversations at the time tend to be GRIPPING, and
PLEASURABLE... but a "fly of the wall" or someone walking in and
listening might wonder why it seems a little SLOW, rather INTENSE and why
the pattern of concentration is not more regularly broken by jokes and
After a while, WEIRD THINGS can start to happen, like
other people in the
group saying what you were going to say,...and trust and confidence can
start to build so you feel very close to the others, you become less
eager to shove your point of view across because you know the time and
space will become available....you get blissful moments...and you get
deep learning, exciting creativity, lasting change.
But I feel that instead of EAGERLY CHASING these kind of
they will not be the same every time, what you are doing is just what you
say Lisa, letting it happen, allowing people to come together, to relax,
to open, ENCOURAGING THE ENERGY GENTLY to move, APPRECIATING what is
happening NOT EXPECTING anything specific to happen and as Susan said
TRUSTING THE PROCESS to produce whatever it will....but later relfecting
on this, noticing the product of the conversation, the feelings and the
process that seemed to produce it.
I'm getting a little carried away here with fond
memories of these kind
of conversations!..., and time is getting on. I'll go now.
If any of you do want to come back with reflections on
the dialogue we
have been having here during the month of June, I think it will be
interesting for all of us. Like Lisa said a few items ago, WE WILL NOT
RUSH closure here, we'll just see what comes over the next few days or
so...and I hope the process will round itself out nicely.
B ythe way I feel divided here, knowing we'll come to a
feels necessary, but at the same time not really wanting to...
Bye for now,
This has involved both some preparation, face to face
meeting time and
some fast action activity. It also involved an adjustment on my part to
be careful to differentiate how to approach some new relationships in
consideration of the culture, possible language barriers and visionary
hopes and dreams.
It was intersting as I reflect now how I brought myself
to this activity
as a result of this inquiry.
Last night when I returned home, I did catchup and read
dialogue as a way to quiet myself before retiring for the night. The
mood that has been created for me is an example of "restful thinking".
I have really valued from this conversation in two
ways. One just by
being part of the inquiry. Two, by letting this inquiry further deepen
both the inquiry that has built the company I founded (WorkEcology) and
opening a series of questions to be with .....and dialogue with. For me,
this means I am building a link between this inquiry and my life passage
for which I can feel forward progress, relevance and application.
In rereading this journal, I returned to the purpose
that Tony observed
emerging in Response 50.
"Our emerging puprose as I
experience it seems to be to explore
REFLECTIVE PRACTICE(diary, journaling, online etc.): its relevance and
various forms/methods that we have experienced. This purpose is evolving
in more recent entries to explore CHANGE in both a personal and
What are these new passages for me?
1. One relates to my vocabulary and
the opportunities that others
here have opened for me. The words I thought about were reflection,
narcissism, private, self-involved and what they imply.
Sheila, Amy spoke about private versus open
journalling. Brought into this conversation were threads
about narcissim and self-involved thinking.
It made me
think about the distinctions between reflection
versus the style of communication we have built in t-group
activity or other modalities of communication where we
inviting people to express their "feelings."
discovered that to me "reflection" implies active
listening and a commitment to include observation that links
your internal thinking with your external world so that you
can link relevance. When I chose to reflect, I chose to be
with information or experience that is relevant to gain clarity
or define a strategy that will move to a mode of creativity
(to build into activity that builds into creativity).
Often I find
what others view as self-involved or narcissistic
or private is a closed door. It is much like the myth of
Narcissus....where the boy can only see his own image and not
connect with any other reality.
reality check is to find out if the person is willing
to open the horizon to include others in his/her picture.
I think here I am now thinking about the play between
reflection? Years ago, I remember in an open space meeting provoking a
lot of anger out of my desire for what others viewed as activity. In
fact, I did not communicate my frustration tied more to relevance than
I did not see as how a group of OD professionals could
benefit by talking
on and on about philosophy and process if we did not build in our
opportunity to build activity that would help us apply what we learned
through our reflection. There was no not in the open space forums of
purpose of gathering./.....the purpose could have merely been to chat, to
collect information....I was unable somehow to surface the importance to
me of relevance and application and desire to build learning laboratories
This is why often I find talking or dialogue to give me
where my mood or internal conversation becomes a broken record that
repeats, "this is useless."
What type of environment is appropriate for the design
journalling and what is the role of the leader and od specialist
supporting this evolution?
Tony, in item 96, summed a quote from his book......that
begins with "We
now live in era of unprecedented turbulence .......We need to discover
for ourselfes, then develop and teach a new competence, empoewring
infividuals to direct their own life experience.......to reframe, adapt,
evolve and learn."
This in fact sums the purpose and journey of WorkEcology
and all of what
is being created by those who have joined in this inquiry. So Tony I
welcome your partnership to this inquiry from your corner of the world.
I have experienced great convergence and synergy here in
what is actually
a very short time. Because of a commitment to relfection I have linked
community of knowledge that has forward my personla productivity and the
productivy of the organization I lead to discover new depth to our
purpose that implies a discovery for tools that will empower greater
God bless all.....thank you for your stories, the time
you gave this and
the shared learning.
I had a long plane trip today and it gave me an
opportunity to reflect on
this conversation and I was thinking a lot about the notion of turning
what we learn from reflection into some kind of activity .. applying it
to life in some way. That led me to think about Peter Vaill's recent book
about "learning as a way of being" and i'm wondering if there's something
in that to change our perspective on what we mean by application. Are
doing and being both ways of applying learning?
I forget who said "the unexamined life" is not
worth living (Descartes?).
I certainly agree with that sentiment. The journals I have kept over
the years have been like friends to me. Curling up with my journal, my
cat and a cup of hot tea was a source of great comfort. I'm reminded by
this conversation that taking the time to put things down is committing
to an examined life. There are other methods that I find to do this
(meditation, spiritual practice) but none that helps me as much to
articulate my inner journey and the issues it raises for living
AUTHENTICALLY (to add a yes, yes! to Tony's oft-repeated desire) in the
world. I have let this practice wane in the past couple of years and now
have food for thought about why that is.
Many, many thanks to Tony and Lisa and the others who
here. Wish I'd been able to join you sooner. But it is fortifying to
know, about compadres seeking to understand how to connect personal
transformation with organizational transformation. The latter cannot
take place without the former, in my view. But the former needs the
space and nourishment of transformed organizations to fully and
constructively build outward into the world. Hope to catch many of you
on this journey in other venues.
It's time to at least pause and take a breath and notice
that today is
the scheduled "last" day of this Chautauqua. But i just have this
feeling that it will linger on in this form and in our other
conversations in other places both on the net and off.
THANK YOU TONY for taking on this wonderful
journey. Your attention and
generosity have made a difference to us. I imagine that our learning
will continue long after we're finished here.
One of the lovely things about the asynchronous medium
is that the door
is still open and others who want to comment more ... or those who come
along later ...are welcome to do so any time ...
Til then ..
Thanks to you ALL for participating to make June 97 a
month and thanks also to all you LURKERS there for being interested.
I was describing yesterday to a group of consultants
what this experience
(online conferencing) had been like and well...I was full of ENTHUSIASM
about it, describing the sharing of experience, my learning about the
potential of this medium, the wows, the comfort, the tension, the
The others were surprised to find this was as ENERGETIC
in its own way as
face to face..and so much easier to find time and space to participate.
So we've planned our own little on-line exchange over the next 3 months
before our next meeting. We're going to conference on the "role of
FEELINGS in today's workplace".
Thanks Lavinia for your last few postings - they have a
feel and there are some really interesting thoughts in there... and well
they made me think even more about some of your earlier comments about
RELEVANCE. I don't always know what is relevant until I have had the
chance to express an issue, thought or question and explore views with
others...but then the point comes and a strong desire to GET ON AND DO
SOMETHING. Which brings me to WHAT NEXT?
I was pondering over the weekend WHAT IS THE JOURNEY I'm
on, what with
being a consultant, writing Diary of a Change Agent, running sessions at
conferences, now this Chautauqua...where is this leading me?
With hindsight I notice some phases in this:
1. Consulting in a "hostile-to-people"
business world, but learning the
language and culture of that world
2. Reflecting, writing my diary and the book, to sort of
find myself and
probe for ways forward
3. Exploring and building networks (= the phase I'm now in)
But in phase 3 I feel sort of unfocused, thinly spread,
talking to lots
of people in diverse worlds but in a way wasting my energy, hanging
loose, exploring possibilites rather than taking commited action. This
develops my earlier point about "Reflectors get active"!
So I think phase 4 will be about FOCUS, COMMITMENT and LINKAGE.
My commitment now is about OFFERING MY ENERGY TO MAKE
THIS WORLD A PLACE
WE (& OUR CHILDREN) WANT TO LIVE IN AND TO MAKE WORKPLACES PLACES WE WANT
TO WORK IN. And so far my plans towards this are:
CLOSE THE GAP between my corporate consulting work and
my interest in
powerful personal learning/reflection by
- developing PRACTICAL CONVERSATION/DIALOGUE TOOLS,
methods, spaces and
cases to inspire and enable companies
- developing a WEBSITE that inspires companies and
provides generous links
- spending a high proportion of my time, FACE-TO-FACE
powerful methods in a corporate context
- continue to explore and participate in ONLINE
inquiries to push the edges of possibility including Lavinia's
And that's about all for today. I remain open to
questions and discussion
on any/all of the ground we have covered here.
I cannot leave today without thanking Lisa for her very
empathetic questions which got the ball rolling and for her steady
attention and care throughout. Thanks Lisa!
And thank you all.
||You are Tony Page.|
Chautauqua Item 39