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Archive for guidance

Introduction to Magic in the Middle – Part Six

By Finn Voldtofte, 2005

Authentic Leadership
Each of the nine practices can be learned, trained and improved, so that I can grow in my ability to contribute to the magic in the middle.

If I am to take on an authentic leadership that engages the magic in the middle of my organisation, it requires competence within the nine practices at three levels: personal experience, process design and process guidance.

Metaphorically seen, magic in the middle can be understood as social technology at the level of the operating system. If I want to use a computer to write a letter or make a budget, I need to know some targeted applications, as Word or Excel. But I also need to know the operating system of the computer, which is the platform for the applications.

In the same way, if I want to achieve robustness and community around idea and intention in an organisation, I have to make use of targeted processes for realising strategy. If it happens on a platform of process that engages magic in the middle, it is possible to create results that to a higher degree draw upon the collective intelligence of the organisation.

I believe that many of the processes we make use of today, in order to lead and transform organisations, could get a radical lift by engaging magic in the middle of the organisation.

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This is the last 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 4, or Part 5.

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.

World Café Services: An Update from Deborah Goldblatt

With the launch of our new website on June 1st, World Café Services moved into high gear with a flurry of inquiries from all directions!

During the month of June and July, I enjoyed many conversations with people from a variety of public and private sectors:  education, energy, forestry, sustainability, entrepreneurship, immigration, climate change and health.  

World-cafe-services-logo What is so encouraging for me about World Café Services is being on the frontlines of the World Café world hearing about the diverse communities and businesses who are curious about The World Café – not just as a method or process but as a practice and way of being in all our communications – and are wanting or are already implementing an approach of “learning together through inquiry” in life and work today.

World Café Services, through our professional network, is serving community and business clients everywhere– whether that’s by having a half hour conversation with myself and others looking at the possibilities of convening very small or very large groups in a new way or exploring ways to renew or deepen the conversations they’ve been hosting internally within their organizations.

One of my favorite stories from this month’s World Café Services work is helping an organizing team for a conference in Arusha, Tanzania to find some guidance and support to co-create their World Café design.

The other day I checked in to see how the team’s needs and aims had been met through our consulting services.  This is the response I received:  “She was delightful to work with and gave just enough input.  I have been saying that the World Café is not rocket science, but we needed to have a rocket scientist come and reassure us that that was the case!”  Our service provider had this to say: “I hosted a mini café with 9 participants (10 with me!) and they just loved it!!  We spent a good chunk of time working through the harvest method, table set up, talking piece etc., followed by an hour working through the questions. We agreed on the gist of the questions and a smaller team of 2-3 will refine the design with me between now and October. They are a really open, smart, thoughtful, committed, fun and deeply experienced group – it was an honor and pleasure to work with them.”

On the corporate side of The World Café Services (WCS) work, a successful half day Café was recently convened by a group of transportation and logistics contractors for an energy company who have been engaging The World Café process and methodology for some time now.  Our WCS’ host had this to say: “I think the folks who experienced the café (yesterday) really liked what it can do and now can begin to see possibilities.  I received a lot of positive feedback from both the contractors and the folks who attended.  They love being able to participate and apparently they are the only energy company who invites them in like this.”

Immediately following the Café, the graphic recorder Mike Fleisch shared what he captured, to the amazement of everyone in the room:

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A couple of interesting snippets from my communications came from one of our service providers:

“What I have found with some HR/OD folks is a perspective that this is just another tool to have in the toolkit.  They seek a "cookie cutter" approach – a step-by-step process for how to do this, without wanting to really learn what lies beneath.  What does it really mean to host a cafe vs. facilitate?  How do I host through emergence vs. push through an agenda?  How do I really listen for what is bubbling up from the ideas/conversations/lists of things that are emerging?  How does hosting well help emergence/innovation/creativity to come through?”

Another on another topic…

“I work with many organizations who now have incorporated World Cafe into their board meetings – looking for boards to become more engaged as board members.  The questions are around strategic business decisions that have to be made and they love the process and they love being engaged.  Our community has really found itself wanting to be connected and engaged more through their experiences with World Café.”

My gratitude to everyone who helped seed, grow, develop and implement World Café Services long before I came on the scene.  It is wonderful to have the opportunity to share some of the learning, questions, appreciation and challenges that accompany this work with you.

Thanks,

Deborah Goldblatt