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Introduction to Magic in the Middle – Part Four

By Finn Voldtofte, 2005

Transformative Power
To be in a field with magic in the middle transforms those that make up the field. In principle two things are transformed: my ability to be myself, and my ability to be completely present in a meeting with other people. It is always possible to become better at being myself, and it is always possible to become better at meeting with others. Maybe the two are prerequisites for each other.

The transformation takes shape as a gradual degeneration of whatever keeps me from being myself completely, and whatever keeps me from being completely present in a meeting. What that might be for the individual, and how it is gradually degenerated, dissolved and overcome, I do not know – I only claim that it happens.

The power to transform may reach further than to the people that make up the field, if we place the ability to think together for a cause, and something wise results from it. To be able to engage the magic in the middle of people in an organization is a means to transform that organization.

* * *

This is the fourth of six weekly posts taken from an Introduction to Magic in the Middle written by the late Finn Voldtofte in March of 2005 (click the following links to go directly to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5, or Part 6).

Finn was one of the original co-founders of the World Café. He worked tirelessly with Juanita Brown to distill and articulate the World Café Design Principles that underlie all World Café practice. Finn was an amazing human being who inspired and touched many, many people on a profound level. His articulation of the “Magic in the Middle” is still one of the most evocative descriptions of what makes World Café “work” and we are honored to publish his words here in this crucial time, when they ring as truly & eloquently as ever

 


World Cafe is “Stepping In” on a new level – increasing our capacity to engage most effectively with the challenging issues of our times. Here’s an overview of what we’re envisioning and some of the priorities we’ve identified to start. Please join us and contribute what you can to support this important work.


This blog post is one response to an open invitation to our global community – to step up & express what the gift of the World Cafe means to YOU. We welcome your posts, as well as your comments and shares on this post.

Parent Cafes: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Lina Cramer, one of our Stewardship Council Members, shares her experience with World Cafe in her work with parents and families:

I was introduced to the World Cafe a little over 10 years ago. I was searching for a way to impart information to parents that honored their commitment, respected their knowledge and encouraged them to keep loving and learning. I knew a lot about child development, had studied various parenting curricula – even written a couple, yet I was never truly satisfied with the many approaches that assumed that parents need to be ‘trained’ or ‘taught’. And, as a parent myself, I was well aware that parenting is a continual on the job training opportunity. Kids are different, times are different, family life is often a ‘juggling act’.

Parents know a lot, do a lot and care a lot. Yet, no parent has it all figured out all of the time.  Most parents always carry a long ‘to do’ list in their heads – only to be matched by a ‘worry list’ about all the things that aren’t working or what they should have done. In truth, we parents are our own worst critics.

I wanted something different. Something that would engage parents in ways that foster learning and sharing. In Summer 2006, I invited a colleague and friend Lisa to work with our Design Team of Parent Leaders who had accepted the challenge of creating an innovative way to share information about protective factors with parents. Protective Factors are qualities in families that contribute to keeping children safe and families strong. Early in our work together, Lisa suggested we create Parent Cafes to share our information. She held up her book: The World Cafe: Shaping Our Future Through Conversations That Matter and said we could adapt the World Cafe to work with parents, i.e. Parent Cafes. We were intrigued; none of us were familiar with World Cafe. That same day, Lisa hosted a Cafe with our team to explore the protective factors. We were amazed – we laughed, we cried, we shared stories, worries and hopes for our families. We had never had such a deep conversation together! Inspired, we set about designing conversations that would elicit the wisdom and desires of parents about keeping their children safe and their families strong.

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Introduction to Magic in the Middle – Part Three

By Finn Voldtofte, 2005

Collective Intelligence – Collective Wisdom
Intelligence here simply means the ability to think – that is to reflect, consider, examine, learn, be absorbed, distinguish … .

The shift in awareness, from the individual to the magic in the middle of a group of people, is also a shift towards paying attention to the emerging ability to think together, the collective intelligence of the group.

A collective intelligence has the possibility of thinking at a different level than we can individually. The characteristics of a collective intelligence can be described intuitively with the words “higher”, “deeper”, “broader”, “bigger” … .

What we gain by making use of this ability to think together, we could call collective wisdom. Collective wisdom is thus a form of knowledge that we, in principle, do not have access to individually, but that can only arise in our common field. As such it is not knowledge that we have in common; it is knowledge that only emerges in communities.

* * *

This is the third of six weekly posts taken from an Introduction to Magic in the Middle written by the late Finn Voldtofte in March of 2005 (click the following links to go directly to Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, or Part 6).

Finn was one of the original co-founders of the World Café. He worked tirelessly with Juanita Brown to distill and articulate the World Café Design Principles that underlie all World Café practice. Finn was an amazing human being who inspired and touched many, many people on a profound level. His articulation of the “Magic in the Middle” is still one of the most evocative descriptions of what makes World Café “work” and we are honored to publish his words here in this crucial time, when they ring as truly & eloquently as ever

 


World Cafe is “Stepping In” on a new level – increasing our capacity to engage most effectively with the challenging issues of our times. Here’s an overview of what we’re envisioning and some of the priorities we’ve identified to start. Please join us and contribute what you can to support this important work.


This blog post is one response to an open invitation to our global community – to step up & express what the gift of the World Cafe means to YOU. We welcome your posts, as well as your comments and shares on this post.