Image

Archive for Latin America

Co-creating the Future we Desire

Eduardo
As an OD consultant, I’ve always searched for innovative forms of creating and nurturing warm and supportive spaces for small as well as large group interventions for the clients and organizations I’ve worked with.

In 1998 I had my first contact with Appreciative Inquiry and since that time I have been fascinated by the power of meaningful and positive questions. It was amazing to see the energy and commitment level of the participants when asked to take a more relevant role in co-creating the very future they desire.

As a member of the IONS – Institute of Noetic Sciences, I took part in a series of meetings in Latin America in 2001 and had the opportunity to host my first World Café and fell in love with the World Café “cause”, asking questions that really matter.

To my personal understanding and experience, World Café is a philosophy, a unique opportunity to have all the voices heard.

From 2001 to this day I’ve used World Café in more than 400 events with more than 20.000 participants in both companies and NGO’s with a great amount of energy through co-creation of their desired future and coordination of actions.

mundinho-na-mãoThe impact of The World Café in my life is tremendous and has created the opportunity for me to successfully facilitate internal or multi stakeholder meetings from 4 up to 600 people in the room, helping them in planning, disseminating and deploying strategies, new desired culture and positive change to their own environment. 

Besides buying a great amount of The World Café books in order to share and give it as a gift to my clients and friends, I’ve been making financial donations to the World Café annually as an attitude of giving back part of what I have received from The World Café Community.

As a board member of The World Café Community Foundation I have had the recurrent opportunity to listen to people telling us about the impact and benefits its use has been creating around the globe!

Eduardo Afonso(Co-Host of the upcoming Impact Café in Sao Paulo on October 16th)

 Join us in the 20th Anniversary Celebrations!

 

Interview with Carlos Mota

In the first of a monthly series highlighting stewardship of the World Café network, steward Nicole Anne Boyer from the resourcing team interviewed Latin American regional and global steward of the World Café, Carlos Mota, who lives in Mexico City. Here is an excerpt from their conversation:

Carlosmota2 NAB: What does being a steward mean to you personally?
CM:
First of all, being a Steward is a tremendous privilege and
responsibility, because it’s of course a voluntary position where you
are trying to look for the best of all worlds for this practice of
dialogue. It’s like being an ambassador, to create the conditions for
it to grow and expand and be embraced by many people in different parts
of the world. It’s a thrill, actually. But this brings with it a strong
sense of commitment to make sure the spirit of TWC is intact, that we are loyal and faithful to the intention of creating a web of conversations, that we prevent TWC from becoming a fad—a tool to be used for any purpose, and to avoid the temptation of using TWC
just for sparking the same kind the results that created the problems
we see in the world today. So being a Steward is a two-way function:
first, to expand its potential; second, to be cautious and careful and
to have very clear what TWC is not for. It’s
important to be clear on its purpose, and what we don’t want to create
because it’s so easy at this time to find another “flavor of the
month”. TWC is a very popular tool partly
because there is a tremendous sense of anxiety and dependence on tools,
techniques and formulae to solve problems, and that is not necessarily
what we want for the future.

Read on for Nicole’s whole interview with this wonderful friend and exlemplary steward of the World Café …

NAB: When and how did you first become involved in TWC?
CM:
I have been involved since it’s beginning, since it was born with
Juanita and David. But before I talk about this, I should go a bit
before this. I was a general manager for a Mexican company, and decided
to create a consulting firm with two friends. We went to the States and
interviewed several interesting people. People like Willis Harman, Meg
Wheatley, and Dee Hock. And several of them told me you should meet
Juanita Brown. It was all “Juanita Brown”, “Juanita Brown”, and
“Juanita Brown!” So that was a message to me. We finally coincided at a
Systems Thinking in Action seminar in Boston. There I had the good
fortune of meeting Juanita and David. A few months later they came to
Mexico, to Puerto Vallarta. That was my first experience with TWC.  And we have been learning and experimenting together ever since!

NAB: What is your area of stewardship and what does it entail?
CM:  I am a Global Steward of TWC
and I’m a Regional Contact in Latin America. There is a lot of activity
going on in Latin America because currently we are coordinating a
gathering for the region in Brazil. Just last week, a group of
Brazilian organizers started to coordinate this event that will happen
mid 2009. It’s exciting that this will be the first reunion of World
Café practitioners for the entire region. We will also invite members
of the Art of Hosting and the Appreciative Inquiry community to think
together on how we can promote a culture of dialogue in our region. We
are in the early stages of this, so we don’t know how many people will
be involved, but we’ll know by end of year.

NAB: Why do you think there is so much activity happening in Latin America right now? 
CM:  I would say TWC
started late in several countries in Latin America, but ever since it
started it has received lots of attention and with lots of
expectations. I would say we were ripe for a new era, with several
countries trying to improve their relationships amongst themselves. TWC
approach allows them to explore possibilities together. Latin America
is also in a very strategic position right now because we have been
fragmented for many years. There is a desire and possibility to look at
ourselves as a region, rather than as a collection of countries. NAB:
What countries in particular are working in this way? Brazil, Colombia,
Mexico of course, Ecuador and Argentina. Chile is emerging as well as
Venezuela.

NAB: What does being a steward mean to you personally?
CM:
First of all, being a Steward is a tremendous privilege and
responsibility, because it’s of course a voluntary position where you
are trying to look for the best of all worlds for this practice of
dialogue. It’s like being an ambassador, to create the conditions for
it to grow and expand and be embraced by many people in different parts
of the world. It’s a thrill, actually. But this brings with it a strong
sense of commitment to make sure the spirit of TWC is intact, that we are loyal and faithful to the intention of creating a web of conversations, that we prevent TWC from becoming a fad—a tool to be used for any purpose, and to avoid the temptation of using TWC
just for sparking the same kind the results that created the problems
we see in the world today. So being a Steward is a two-way function:
first, to expand it’s potential; second, to be cautious and careful and
to have very clear what TWC is not for. It’s
important to be clear on its purpose, and what we don’t want to create
because it’s so easy at this time to find another “flavor of the
month”. TWC is a very popular tool partly
because there is a tremendous sense of anxiety and dependence on tools,
techniques and formulae to solve problems, and that is not necessarily
what we want for the future.

NAB: Say more about what TWC should not be used for? 
CM:
For instance, in business, when it is being used to create more profits
at any rate. Yes, it’s okay to promote profits but in a much more
balanced way considering the human, economic and environmental aspects
working in harmony. In some cases, clients may ask for a TWC process with a preconceived idea of the outcome to be generated.  TWC
simply can’t be used to produce predetermined results. This would be a
manipulation of our approach to conversation that we want to avoid.

NAB: So then, what is the true intention for TWC for you?
CM:
To explore possibilities of a better way of living together, and to
identity possibilities of solutions and ideas of benefit to all of us
involved including the environment. I like to say it this way: to
co-create possibilities for life to be sustainable on the planet. This
could be an overall goal. A closer short-term goal: to be able to
realize that we need each other, and that conversation is the space
where we can create the futures we want, for us and for our children.

NAB: So why do you do this? Why is being a Steward important to you?
CM:
I think we are living at a time of tremendous transition in many ways.
I see clearly that today’s world is not sustainable. I think we are
moving in a direction that has no future. And we need to make the big,
tough decisions now that we have time. I think TWC
is the perfect human practice to realize this situation we are in, to
be conscious and act responsibly in everything we do, whether it’s
small or large. We all need to be working together in making the planet
able to sustain life so that we can fulfill our dreams. I do it because
I think this is the time to access our collective wisdom through
conversation, and to make necessary changes in our practices that
create better conditions. I hear a calling of acting now, with a strong
sense of urgency, but also with a strong sense of passion and joy
because this is the time when we need to be the best of ourselves. TWC is a fantastic possibility to do this with other people.

I
would also like to say the current financial crisis is just another
crisis on top of other crises that we are experiencing. In Mexico, at
this time, while we are talking, we are living through several crises:
an environmental crisis in southeast Mexico, a global financial crisis,
and an organized crime crisis, which has increased tremendously in
recent months. So TWC creates possibilities for us to understand that this trajectory cannot be sustained— and to ask the tough questions. Perhaps TWC brings us to a possibility of realizing what is essential in our lives?  From that understanding, TWC
plays a key role to me, as a space where we can wonder and explore,
where we can be vulnerable and at the same time find answers and create
new realities.

[An aside: NAB tells CM about TWC
she facilitated on the Texas-Mexican border in July 2008 and how
amazing it was to bring these polarized perspectives together at this
incredibly vulnerable time for Mexico.]

NAB: Switching topics a little, what would make your experience as a Steward with TWC network better?
CM:
I think exchanging ideas and experiences with other Stewards to keep
our interaction and exchange of learnings alive. And perhaps this is a
good time for a Global Stewards gathering where we can reflect, be
face-to-face, think together, and exchange the wealth we have been
witnesses to in different parts of the world. We all need to think
about the next stage of TWC in the world.  Perhaps in 2009 we need to sit down and reflect on this?  This would be very helpful to me.

NAB: What else do you need to support your work as a steward?
CM:
I would say our community of stewards is so open and flexible that
whatever we are in need of we have the confidence and openness to raise
it. One area we need to think about is how to better resource this
movement. How can we resource the different activities we engage on
this? We need different ideas on resourcing, so this is one need we
have at this point. Because it seems to me we only have sessions with
clients who are wiling and able to pay for this type of work, and these
are not necessarily the institutions where the highest needs are. We
need to bring the wealth of TWC to those who don’t have the money to pay for such designs and facilitation as well.

NAB:
Part of the purpose of this interview is to brainstorm with you about
the resourcing question. A small group of Stewards are focusing our
efforts on specifically this. So in the spirit of brainstorming, any
ideas?

CM: First, we need to start with the assumption that there is Money out there.
It’s just a matter of have access to it, and to be attractive to the
money that is already there and willing to support meaningful projects.
Businesses could be strong supporters, either as one company or a group
of companies, sponsoring a cultural dialogue. I think they could create
it like a small consortium supporting these activities around the
world. We normally think of foundations and NGOs as funders, but
businesses could be interested in supporting an initiative like this.

NAB: From your perspective, why would businesses be interested in this?
CM: Internally, TWC
could support their own community development, and externally in the
communities they serve. Communities are a key source of economic
support for companies. Any business, with the exception of businesses
that manufacture weapons— with that exception— every business wants to
have healthy communities around them. In a healthy community businesses
can flourish. One strong need is the health of communities with better
relationships between their members. So TWC
is a great way to strengthen ties and the social fabric of any society.
It’s in the best interest of businesses to have sustainable
communities. In Mexico, 30% of the population lives in rural areas, and
they are mostly under-developed communities. TWC
would be a good way for rural communities to create possibilities of
creating jobs, wealth, and create the conditions for people not to
migrate. So having a stronger Mexico is of great interest to companies.
Companies sponsoring TWC will be investing in having healthier markets in the future.

NAB: If we got a pot of money, on what things should we spend it on? What should be our priorities for resourcing?
CM:
Our priorities should be to create multi-stakeholder gatherings to talk
about the present and the future of a community. Let me just say an
example. If we go to any rural area in Mexico, and we host a series of
World Cafés with local government, with businesses, with schools, with
independent people… and in those sessions, with all these different
actors present, we explored the dream of that place in the future —what
they really want to become— and create the connections and dialogue
amongst the different stakeholders to support this dream to act in
co-ordination and harmony through TWC, then
this is tremendously viable, enhancing the possibility of a community
to dream and fulfill this dream. This could be one project. If
successful, it could very well be replicated and used elsewhere.
Because nowadays the great difficultly is in sitting down and
exchanging ideas between groups, with business just talking to
business, with the social sector focused on just social issues— and no
cross pollination among them. We are losing a great wealth of
possibilities this way. There is great potential bringing together
people who normally don’t talk to each other.

NAB: What does success look like for TWC, for you, in the future— say 5-10 years from now, what’s your dream for TWC? How can we bring TWC to its greatest potential?
CM: Instead of thinking about TWC as a process, I would like to see the results of TWC in society.  What is the impact in the world if TWC
is successful in the future? I would say people better relating to
other people, understanding the differences, acknowledging the
differences, the idea that other individuals are as valuable as me, and
being able and open to create ideas together. So in practical terms,
less dogmatism in the world, more tolerance and acceptance among groups
that think differently would be a sign of success. In Spanish we have a
word for this, “convivir.” This is hard to translate into English
exactly. But if we have a society that learns to “convivir” better and
more happily, then the TWC will have proven to be successful.

NAB: How do we realize this? How do we realize the highest potential?
CM:
I have this feeling that we are really dependent on the practical side
of things. My experience and worry is that almost all of us want to be
practical as possible. This is okay, but only at some point in time.
For TWC to achieve its highest potential we
need to dream together. When forced into the world of what’s practical
— to be held to what’s a measurable, tangible and specific result —
then we limit the huge potential of TWC.
Magic happens when we let ourselves free and have a deep conversation
without really knowing in advance what the results will be. In Spanish
we have a phrase: “necesitamos aterrizar las cosas.” To translate, we
must “bring things to the ground.” But we cannot do this with something
that has never been flying before. So to focus on visible and
short-term results would take TWC to the same level many other tools. By contrast, TWC
has a great possibility for transformation. I would say the
transformative power in many cases is subordinated to practical and
concrete results. When I say this, I realize the popularity of TWC has been in some ways because it is an easy way to get results.  NAB: So it’s a paradox?
Yes, exactly. It’s a paradox. I would raise this question to all of us.
How can we be true to the transformative power of TWC
even if we lose a little bit of popularity? Because it’s nice to be
popular, it’s always a temptation. But when your intention is large we
need to be faithful to this.

I would say the best possibility
would be to help individuals see that a better world is possible and
that we can create it together.

NAB: Lastly, what should I have asked you but didn’t think to ask?
What did we miss that’s important to talk about?
CM: To realize that what is important is not TWC, but what TWC is for.   So always having a consciousness that TWC is about something larger.  I would say we need to stress that.  The tendency of using of TWC as a tool, as an instrument, prevents us in looking for something larger that TWC
can help us achieve. I would say it’s moving in the right direction by
embracing other valuable approaches and not working in isolation. And
also that it’s important not as a trademark—that it has no ownership,
or we all own TWC as human beings because it’s part of us. I love the idea that TWC
was not designed but discovered, and that really makes it very
different from other approaches… it makes it so valuable, because its
essence is a capacity that we all have as humans, a capacity that needs
to be nurtured, elicited, invited to be practiced and explored.

Another thing about TWC
is that it’s fun! This is important. In that regard, we as Latin
Americans can help. Fun is part of who we are—our dancing and singing—
this is part of our nature and I love that. Let me just mention that
when we had the first gathering in California two years ago, we said it
was important for everyone to let their “inner Latino” out. It was
great!

Latin Palomilla April, 2008 (in English)

Dialogue Culture, Evolution, Fire and Consciousness
A photograph of the experiencie of the latin palomilla, april 2008
by Fernanda Ibarra

Howard Bloom says ‘There is nothing, absolutely nothing individual about the universe ‘ and as he says so he evokes our social essence, the form in which we stretch from the individual to the collective. From the protons which in their desire for an electron formed a circle that produced something never imagined; the atom. We have 14 billion years of surprises, much has happened since the atom, living processes continued their journey, evolution continued to discover how to organize cooperative groups every time more complex. We can all recognize what it means to have the capacity for experience, sensing, environment stimulation, correspondence, attraction and repulsion which are essential qualities which contribute to the organization, to the cooperation in between simple unities (quarks and molecules) up to the most complex (human beings) that conform our universe. Its manifestation in society was our capacity to move from the clan to tribes to villages to nation-states and from there to the possibility of expansion in a global scale, or is it universal?

In the heart of evolution we find communion, movement to more interdependence and cooperation. Human beings, conscious of consciousness search for quality in experience, rhythm, creative action, synergy, flow. We long for it to be in groups, in collectives where we can ‘operate’ from source, in favor of the discovery of our highest potential.

World Café contributes to this goal. Within the discovery of a new story, in the support of a transition that threats life to one that is life-affirming. World Café helps us to elevate the perception of ourselves and our sense of purpose. Same that builds to the intention for organizing an event for the ‘Latin Palomilla’ of World Café in April 2008. Its virtue is the exploration of ‘how to create a culture of dialogue in Latin America’. A noble and necessary effort in this crucial time in human history where we are searching for global sustainability within this evolutionary spiral that leads towards more cooperation and unity.

Carlos Morán from the Mexican academy of engineering tells us "Interdialogue is the key in between couples, families, industries, society, parties. In between children, parents and the educators. In between all instances of human interaction. Quality in dialogue makes a huge difference. In order to face our current global problems it is a priority to build a society which honors a culture of dialogue". Let’s make a first pause, what does it mean, quality in dialogue?

The voices of the Palomilla give us several components like: define spaces of listening (safe containers), the capacity to integrate perspectives, beliefs, forms of being/doing. The skills to hold difficulty in a moment and transcend it. Conscious communication that emerges from ways of listening which are creative instead of reactive. An AHA! moment was to talk about agreements, and how the goal of a dialogue shouldn’t necessarily be to reach an agreement but the opportunity for a larger understanding of the perspective and truth of the other as a way of respect to his/her freedom and expression. The questions which emerge in me are, which of the named capacities are collective? which ones begin in the individual?. If we don´t seek agreement then, how can we hold the creative tension in favor of the emergence of something new?

The limitations are sometimes invisible to the non-trained eyes. Invisible architectures like language, mental models, world views and the function of the mind/brain itself. Let me give you an example. In the most recent report of the Institute of Noetic Sciences called ‘Changing the Story of our Future’, which thoroughly explores our capacities for change, I read about a group of scientists which presented to a sample of republicans and democrats a series of contradictory statements made by both John Kerry and George Bush and asked each group to rate how contradictory those statements were. Scientist were measuring the participants brain activity while this occurred. In the results they didn’t see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning. What they saw is a network of emotional circuits lighting up! It seems that the brain can learn very little from new data when beliefs are challenged. The participants were literally censoring their cognitive dissonance. This findings tell us a lot about the need for skills in conscious communication to benefit any collective we as individuals which to contribute to. Carlos Mota names something vital "There are inner walls we need to break. They are not easy to see. They hurt more".

Let’s continue with our exploration of the event and listen to the voice of Guadalupe Martinez de León from the University of Monterrey and member of the Latin Palomilla which makes a powerful description "Quality in dialogue allows for the magic of collectivity, which is aligned to human will, to emerge". This experience was widely expressed during our time together.

When we asked Juanita Brown about the unique contribution of Latin America to the Global World Café she answered "What Mexico and Latin America can give is that this Latin cultures really understand what magic is, magic in conversation, with truth, authenticity; like the one we have when we take coffee with our families. This kind of authenticity, intimacy, human warmth can be a large contribution to other cultures which are colder. In Latin America we dialogue with pleasure, joy and sense of human warmth. The Latins can offer this soul, heart, joy and expression so unique of Latin cultures.

There was fullness and exceptional moments within the fire of divergence, where the presence was profound, the voices said "this is real", this is what we have to hold and transcend. We are a microcosm of what we see outside. Carlos Mota speaks about two possibilities in the face of disagreements; either to collapse the process or right in the boundary generate creativity. He reminds us that this is the moment to create those capacities that will help us in facing any possible scenarios. He gives us the question "Do I have what I want to give?"

There are many moments to relate. One day and a half expanded showing us the relativeness of time. When we focus, the possibilities to generate open and time contributes with a slow step. This event was a deep breath in the history of World Café. A door for Latin America.

There is enough evidence to say that a transformation in global scale is on its way. Our future awaits us. Let’s hold the lessons of evolution where communion, cooperation and diversity have been leading the creation of new forms impossible to imagine. Let’s favor dialogue and conscious communication as a process for our creative explosion in favor of human potential and a glorious future for generations to come.

Fernanda Ibarra
Collective intelligence agent
Catalyst of evolutionary projects