Archive for Systems Thinking – Page 2

Day 3: Conversation Space

In this last conversation space gathering of the conference, we took up the questions Tom and Sharon had raised in the morning’s weaving and talked about what we would bring with us in the transition back to “home”. After some popcorn-style conversation we went around the circle, answering “What question will you be bringing home with you?”

Here is an image of our answers to that question:


It was created out of a vision that one of us – I think it was Teresa – shared about us sitting around the fire together here and each of us taking an ember from that fire home to put in our own grate and serve as the spark to build our own community fires, beacons to gather others around. She saw those fires, too, growing strong so that in turn they could produce new embers for others to take home to start fires in other communities.

One of the words that came from our conversation was a beautiful Sanskrit word from the popular book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert that resonated with many of us as soon as it was spoken. It was “antevassin” which means edge dweller – one who lives on the edge of the forest. That place between, where the path can be seen and is able to be shared with those others who live deeper in the forest.

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For the next part of the chronological harvest, click here for Peter Senge’s keynote.

Day 3: Morning Weaving

At the last weaving session of the 2007 Pegasus Systems Thinking conference, Tom and Sharon shared some of what they’d heard in conversations throughout this event, including many comments about the loneliness of being isolated in our organizations and how good it is to be here among so many ‘kindreds’

They talked about Van Jones, who was consciously changing the terms of the conversation by inviting groups that don’t usually sit together into a powerful conversation of collaboration that has the potential to change our world.

Van had been beating his head against the system to the point he’d collapsed, and the system didn’t even say “ouch”. This morning Tom was looking out his window (the views in this hotel are stupendous) at the water and the elevated railway and the streets below and suddenly had the realization that he was LOOKING at the system, and that we are creating a system here together. Watching the dawn arise, he noticed that dawn actually begins before there is any light. The light gradually increases, almost imperceptibly, and then the dawn chorus arrives and the vibrant bands of color that announce a new day.

“Who and what are the heralds of the new day in our lives and organizations?” he asks us, “And how can we establish a relationship with them, and the new day that is dawning in our lives and in the world?”

Sharon suggests that maybe the heralds are in our dreams, and shared an urgent communication from a young autistic child who had dreamt about us, and felt that we needed to know about ‘the yellow card’, so he asked her to share his dream with us.

Sharon described the yellow card as an imaginary strip, almost like a gauge – a line with 5 marks on it with which to measure emotions. If one were feeling angry for example, the could stop and look at the strip to determine just how angry they were and what to do about it. For example, if it said ‘1’ you’d know that you were just a little irritated and you could ignore it and walk away. If it said ‘2’, you’d be a little more irritated and probably a bit frustrated, but you could still just walk away and maybe do a couple of wall push-ups. If it said three you were probably pretty angry and would need to breath a lot. If it said ‘4’ you were really mad and would have to take your yellow card and get out of town for a while! If it said ‘5’ you’d know you were really furious and you’d probably need to go get a glass of water!

So we end the weaving with a few questions for conversation in our small groups, “What are the 3-5 images or metaphors or phrases  from this conference experience that will stick with you?” and “What is one thing you’ll do tomorrow to take this image forward in your life?"

Tom and Sharon both remarked on the progressive change of tenor in our collective conversational voice as we’ve moved through the conference. From the excited, slightly ungrounded beginnings to the deepened voice of relationship, of old friends, today.

We’re left with two more questions to take away “How do you make this experience part of “home” for you?” and “How do you imagine home will be different because of your time here?”

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For the next part of the chronological harvest, click here to hear about the last hosted Conversation Space.

Day 2: Evening

We co-hosted an informal pre-dinner reception this evening with our friends and colleagues at Berkana Institute and Art of Hosting. The room was bursting with the energy of the conference (Van Jones had just spoken) and the sense of friendship and collaboration.

In lieu of a formal welcome, an impromptu story began to weave between us, amplified by two little hand-held microphones and our deep listening as we heard of World Cafés in Saudi Arabia, China, Japan and Wisconsin, Berkana learning centers in Zambia and Art of Hosting in indigenous British Columbia.

We heard about conversations of hope – in hospitals, in business offices and jails, online and in person – and as the microphone wentaaround and the stories poured out, I experienced an ever-increasing sense of shared purpose weaving between us all at the macro-level. The form in the stories we told were quite different, but the willingness to step into the conversation about things that really matter was the same in all of them.

After the reception, many of us continued the conversation at dinner, weaving the web of relationship ever more strongly and beautifully.

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To continue reading the harvest of the 3rd and last day, click here.