Nächster Halt: Denkpause

Nora Wilhelm unter den 80 Schweizer Macherinnen in der Spezialausgabe zum 80 Jährigen Geburtstag der Annabelle! Mit nächster Halt: Denkpause fragt sie sich «Wohin rennen wir eigentlich?»

 Nora Wilhelm in der Annabelle

Nora Wilhelm in der Annabelle

In raschen Schritten durchquere ich die Halle des überfüllten Berner Bahnhofs. Ich muss mehreren Passanten ausweichen, rufe «Entschuldigung», eile den Gang entlang, die Treppe hoch, springe gerade noch in den Zug, als das Pfeifen ertönt. Uff, knapp geschafft! Mit Schweizer Pünktlichkeit ist nicht zu spassen. Sprinte ich für einmal nicht auf den Zug, sondern gehe gemächlich bis zum Gleis, so rennen andere an mir vorbei. Da fragt man sich doch irgendwann: Wohin rennen wir eigentlich?

Kollektiv rennen wir auf das Ende unserer Zivilisation zu. Die Welt, so wie wir sie kennen und in den letzten Jahrhunderten gestaltet haben, zerbröckelt an allen Ecken. An unserem ökonomischen System zweifeln mittlerweile auch diejenigen, die es erdacht haben. Weltweit steigt die soziale Ungleichheit und damit auch die politische Unruhe. Mehr als die Hälfte der Biodiversität haben wir schon verloren. Und mittendrin: die Schweiz. Unser Land, unsere Demokratie gilt als Vorbild, das Bildungsniveau ist hoch, das Wirtschaftswachstum stabil, in unseren Seen kann man baden, die Berglandschaft ist wunderbar. Wir haben es gut auf unserer kleinen Insel des Fortschritts.

Doch besinnen wir uns darauf, was es braucht, um diesen scheinbar heilen Flecken aufrechtzuerhalten, fällt die Bilanz weniger vorbildlich aus. Im Mai hatten wir Schweizerinnen und Schweizer bereits alle Ressourcen verbraucht, die uns für das Jahr 2018 zustehen, wollten wir dem Planeten erlauben, sich zu regenerieren. Unser CO2-Fussabdruck ist erschreckend hoch, beim Fliegen sind wir Weltmeister.

Auch wir stecken in einer grossen Geschichte fest, in einem Narrativ des steten Wachstums, wo sich Glück und Zufriedenheit auf den nächsten Einkauf stützen, die nächste Beförderung. Es braucht immer mehr, überall, obwohl auch Laien erkennen können, dass das Konzept des exponentiellen Wachstums auf einem endlichen Planeten keinen Sinn ergibt. Wir werden zwar nicht die ersten sein, die aufgrund der Klimaerwärmung versinken oder vor der Dürre flüchten müssen, aber auch für uns persönlich hat das Konzept des «Immer-schneller-immer-weiter»

Konsequenzen: Der Leistungsdruck in der Gesellschaft ist hoch, die Anzahl der Burnouts steigend – auch ich bin keine Ausnahme, schreibe ich doch diese Zeilen in Eile und unter Zeitdruck. Anstatt die Notbremse zu ziehen, legen wir an Tempo zu, bis die Räder dereinst aus den Schienen springen. Die Schweiz ist ein Uhrenland. In dieser kulturellen Besonderheit möchte ich jedoch kein Diktat der Effizienz sehen, sondern eine Art Wertschätzung, eine Akzeptanz, dass Zeit unser wichtigstes Gut ist. Doch Innehalten geniesst heute keinen guten Ruf. Wir zelebrieren das Machen und identifizieren uns mit unserem Tun. Würden wir hingegen innehalten, könnten wir einen Blick auf das Ziel werfen und uns fragen, ob wir nicht eine Kursänderung einschlagen sollten.

Schliesslich müssen wir uns erst eine Alternative vorstellen, bevor wir danach handeln können. Und so wünsche ich mir, dass wir uns fragen: Was sind unsere Werte, und was geschähe, wenn wir konsequent danach lebten? Wenn wir uns nicht nur auf uns selber, sondern auf die Gemeinschaft besinnen würden? Ich bin überzeugt: Dann könnten wir die Schweiz so gestalten, wie wir sie uns wünschen. Wenn wir aufeinander zugehen und in einen offenen Dialog treten, können wir Lösungen schaffen, die für viele und nicht nur für wenige funktionieren.


Co-Katalysatorin, collaboratio helvetica

Nora Wilhelm ist Co-Katalysatorin bei collaboratio helvetica. Sie setzt sich für die Aktivierung des vollen Potenzials von Menschen und Organisationen ein und wurde von der UNESCO für ihre Arbeit ausgezeichnet. Während ihres Studiums der Internationalen Beziehungen an der Universität St. Gallen übernahm Nora Wilhelm verschiedene Funktionen im Europäischen Jugendparlament.

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The PEMS model

What is this method?

PEMS is a tool/frame to help you design spaces, processes, services or other things in ways that enable a holistic and powerful experience.

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How does the process look like?

We invite you first to read more about the PEMS model:

Simply put, this is a tool to use that helps you build your workshop. It stands for:


P - Practical (doing, taking action, testing, prototyping)

E - Emotional (relating, making friends, getting to know the people you work with)

M - Mental (thinking, discussing, using facts, creating models and systems)

S - Spiritual (being inspired and inspiring others, seeing the bigger picture, asking “why”)


These dimensions represent four different ways of relating to the world. Four different sets of needs that we all have, but each one of us has a personal preference (or two). The PEMS model has been developed by Master Trainer Daniel Sà Nogueira, based on Carl Gustav Jung’s work on psychological types. Following an excerpt of his book Trate A Vida Por Tuthat was translated by Magdalena Musiala:

In this model, we distinguish four dominant preferences (P-E-M-S) that correspond to the four elements of life:

Practical (the body: DOING, Activity, Action, related to the element of EARTH):

Corresponds to someone that is earthly, active, dynamic, practical, that does a lot. In excess, these are people who never stop to consider their actions.


Emotional
(the heart: FEELING, Feelings, Love, related to the element of WATER):

Corresponds to someone who needs people, relations, who gives a lot to others and seeks affection. In excess, these are people who might be overly sensitive.


Mental
(the mind: THINKING, Analysis, Intellect, Logic, related to the element of AIR):

Corresponds to someone who values analysis, rationalisation and uses logic, and who always focuses on making the right decision. In excess, these are people who might become impersonal and cold.

Spiritual (the soul: BEING, Values, Existence, related to the element of FIRE):

Corresponds to someone who thinks that everything has meaning and a higher purpose. These are people who care very much about values. In excess, they can fluctuate too much and concretise too little.

These four logics of the mind that we have identified are also based on the four elements:

Practical - EARTH (firm, solid, stable, secure, strong, dense)

Emotional - WATER (flexible, always coming back to her-/himself)

Mental - AIR (transparent, lightweight, fast, facilitates communication)

Spiritual - FIRE (burning, fleeting, transforming, powerful)

Thus, in a very simplified manner, we can divide people into four categories:

Practical people (P) – Like to act and do!

These are the people who like action, movement. They are the ones who make the world move. As friends or clients they may want to go straight to the point, try things and learn about practical matters. The greatest fear of these practical persons is losing control! They like to feel that they are in control of the situation, of the pace of the conversation and of the surroundings.

→ HELP THEM ALWAYS FEEL IN CONTROL.


Emotional people (E) – Like to feel and relate!

These are people who love people and sharing feelings. Everything is an emotion for them. And they feel things about everything and everyone. Let them talk about their family, friends, dogs, neighbours, etc… They will talk mostly about people and what they are feeling. Their greatest fear is losing empathy. They like to feel reliable and they want to relate.

→ HELP THEM FEEL EMPATHY TOWARDS YOU.

Mental people (M) – Like to think and analyse!

These are people who like to analyse and who try to put everything into a box, into a certain perspective. They are precise and meticulous. They like detail, to study and analyse all possibilities. They don’t fear debating (quite the contrary) and discussing, they love the exchanging ideas and arguments, but they need to end up being right or get a very good explanation to why the other is right. A mental person is always striving to make the best decision. Their greatest fear is to be wrong; they like to feel that they are correct and that they are making decisions based on logic and rational thinking.

→ HELP THEM FEEL THAT THEY ARE RIGHT, THAT THEIR POINT OF VIEW HAS BEEN HEARD.

Spiritual people (S) – Like to be and shine!

They are looking for the greater purpose in things. They believe that everything has a reason, that there are no coincidences and it’s this quest that moves them. They give great meaning to every situation. The greater the significance of a task or project, the greater their motivation. Their biggest fear is to have no meaning! To not be significant or “shine” in any way. They need to feel conscious and whole.

→ HELP THEM FEEL SIGNIFICANT.

Although we all have and use a portion of these four categories in the different contexts or times of our life, one of them is predominant in us. Identifying it is important for managing and interacting with life and with others, since it is the best and the fastest way of accessing the Map of the world of someone and speaking a language that that person recognises and accepts as her own.


How to apply this model practically

Notice the structure of this method blog. It starts with the Purpose, the Why (Spiritual), followed by a picture of people in a Workshop (Emotional) and continues with some further conceptual information (Mental). So this part is about how to practically translate this model in your work.

  1. The model isn’t reality, it’s a map. Because it’s simple it’s useful and because of its simplicity it will always just be an abstraction of reality. Don’t confuse the map with the territory.

  2. Understand that PEMS is contextual: e.g. you have different preferences when you’re with your family than at work.

  3. Understand how PEMS works in your own experience: What are your practical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs and preferences? How does this impact your perceptions of what is good, right, meaningful, worthwhile? With what kind of people do you usually have difficulties to “be on the same page?” and how might PEMS give you hints as to why this might be? How is PEMS represented in the Workshops, presentations, meetings you have been part of or are still part of? What are you learning out of this?

  4. Remind yourself of PEMS in your next piece of work and see if you get new ideas.

  5. PEMS is really useful to think about different ways of engaging people. Below are  questions that you may choose to ask yourself depending on the context:

    • Practical: Do you have breaks? Is there a clear structure? What are the goals?  Are the logistics clear for you and for the participants? Do you have snacks that give people the nutrition they need without sending them into a sugar-coma? What are the concrete actions that can be taken? Can people do something with their hands at some point? When can people move? Is there an opportunity to be outside? Is there an agenda?

    • Emotional: Do people know each other's names? Have people the opportunity to talk with each other? Is there an opportunity for people to exchange their thoughts and feelings? Is there an opportunity to share a story? Can include  real-life scenarios or examples?

    • Mental: What are the concepts, theories, facts and figures that you can share? Are there opportunities to analyse them? Can you include further readings? Is there an opportunity to meta-analyse the process?  

    • Spiritual: Why does it matter? How can you help people connect their actions with the bigger picture? Is there space for the “big conversations”? What is really essential? What are you/we trying to create? How does it relate to our values/vision/purpose?

Sources and Further Literature on the topic

  • ”Trate A Vida Por Tu” by Daniel Sá Nogueira, pp.77-80 (Excerpt translated by Magdalena Musiala, taken from euforias facilitation handbook)

Wise Crowds - Peer Consultations

What is this method?

This is a simple method to harvest the group intelligence: A space where a “client” can ask for help of “consultants”. Can also be seen as a quick and powerful tool for coaching each other around specific and individual challenges.

How does the process look like?

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  1. Form groups of 4 to max. 7 people (each person will get 15min time)

  2. Present the flow and structure of the exercise to the people. Introduce the principles:

    A) Flow:
    each person will get the chance to ask as a “client” a group of “consultants” for help

    B) Structure:

    2min client presents challenge

    3min consultants ask clarifying questions

    8min consultants work together (“client” turns around)

    2min feedback

    C) Principles:

    Everyone is included

    Everyone has an equal amount of time to ask for and get help

    Everyone has an equal opportunity to offer help

  3. One person starts by being the “client” and invites others to help him/her. As a facilitator you either indicate the time for the participants with a gong or you let them be in control of timing themselves. If people aren’t used to these kind of processes it’s highly recommended to facilitate the time for the participants.

    The first person goes through the different points (15min). As a facilitator you again point out, that the “client” turns around during the 8min where the consultants work together. The reason is that this helps the client listening and learning. Additionally you may want to point further out, that the 8min consultation may much rather be about the client gaining more personal clarity about the challenge than about “solving” the challenge for the client. In other words, you may want to restrict advice and invite open, honest questions instead.

  4. Repeat that process until everyone has had the opportunity to ask for help

When to use:

The Wise Crowds is a powerful tool to use in a Workshop to achieve different purposes:

  • Help people learn to ask for help and offer

  • Gain individual clarity about next steps

  • Help people collaborate

  • Learn about the potential of collective intelligence

  • Invite cross-sectoral (beyond “silos”) collaboration and insight

  • Practice listening & trust building

Needed tools, materials, people etc.

  • Time: 1h to max 1h45min

  • Material: 1 Flipchart with instructions, paper for the “client” to take notes

  • People: 4 to >100

Sources and further reading:

Our Experience with this Method

Wise Crowds is a method developed by liberating structures and that I got to know through Magdalena Musiala, a senior Facilitator, Trainer and mum based in Malmö that has since the very beginning in 2008 supported the program development of euforia.

At collaboratio helvetica we’ve used this method during the prototyping phase of the Gender Lab. As we were wanting to transition from the personal question of “what is it that life is calling you to do?” to collective action we used several brainstorming-methods and canvases to clarify individual and collective course of action. Once these general directions started to become more tangible it was important to use the intelligence of the diverse Gender Lab Cohort. There are many different methods that serve more or less a similar purpose, known as coaching circles or supervision processes. This process is quite powerful as it offers all the individuals a high-quality feedback round in a short amount of time. And despite that, it can be quite fun!


Flying Agenda

What is this method?

To create a meaningful agenda on the fly. Sometimes we meet without an agenda. A flying agenda can facilitate the groups process.

How does the process look like?

The flying agenda is basically about facilitating a team process. The following description is very detailed not to be rigid about it, but for you to understand the thinking behind it. What matters is the spirit and the general idea of it. So feel free to adapt this to your context and needs.

The flying agenda method can be used when you realise two things: 1) there’s a meeting you are being part of that has no agenda yet and ii) an agenda is actually needed.

  1. You propose to create an agenda “on the fly” and that you can take the lead on it, if nobody objects look for a flipchart and a pen. Event better it works with post-it’s that you can move around.

  2. You ask “what is most meaningful to discuss/decide now?” and collect the suggested items - it shouldn’t be more than five. One on each postit.

    • The more specific the items are the better, e.g. collect them as finalised actions “item XY decided/written/agreed...”

  3. Then you prioritize by one of the following options

    a) choosing a person to make a proposal that then can be adapted,

    b) “dotmocracy”; each person has 3 dots to vote,

    c) ask “how long will we need to decide on our priorities” first and then let them figure it out while you time-box,

    d) Everybody moves around the post-it’s until it feels right.

    e) or any other process you know that is rather quick and doesn’t end up in endless conversations

  4. When you have the prioritized agenda items in front of you, you calculate the remaining time for the meeting

  5. Then you go to the first item on the priority list and ask, “in consideration of the time left, how much time do you think we need for this?”

  6. You keep track of the conversation by helping the group stay focused on the agenda-item and by keeping a very active awareness of the time (almost to the point of being annoying). A good question to ask is: “what is the smallest/most little decision we can take now?” (Many times it makes more sense to agree on another meeting where a detail is to be discussed rather than discussing that now)

  7. When coming to a new item calculate again the remaining time and repeat the question: “considering the time we’ve left and the agenda items we wanted to cover, how much time do you think we need for this?”

  8. Repeat until done

  9. When the announced time for the end of the meeting is coming closer, make the people aware of it and ask if a new decision is needed and possible (e.g. prolong the meeting or shift to a next meeting)

Your goal in that sense is to cover all items. Many times that is not really possible, but that depends also a bit on the mindset you as a facilitator have.


Needed tools, materials, people etc.

  • Time: according to your needs, from 15min to a day

  • Tools: flipchart and pens, post-it’s

  • People: this method works better with smaller groups from 3 to 8 people. But it can also work with very large groups when it is facilitated well.

Our Experience with this Method

This method came “flying” to us, when Erica from Impact Hub Lausanne came to our collaboratio home for a meeting we had scheduled some time ago. And, I (Osi) don’t know if this sounds familiar to you, but because it had been a while ago and we had both been very busy no one had actually prepared a meaningful agenda for our meeting. On top of it, we felt that time was short and that there were so many things to talk about that had so much great potential! So I decided to facilitate the meeting using what I then came to call “the flying agenda”. Practitioners of Sociocracy and Holacracy will probably immediately recognise the similarities.

In only 1 hour we had covered everything that we could think of and had taken many decisions that just felt right in the moment. Or differently said, the decisions we had taken truly reflected the information and alignment that was present. Everybody was a bit tired but mostly just feeling happy about the accomplishments of the meeting.

25 Apples

What is this method?

This method helps you come up with new perspectives or ideas when you  have a feeling that the creative process (of yourself or a group) is stuck or could benefit from some more creativity.

How does the process look like?

 Getting into a creative mode with the help of apples

Getting into a creative mode with the help of apples

  1. On a flipchart draw a grit of 5x5, big enough to a post-it in each box (ca. size A5)

  2. Choose a facilitator (propose yourself if you took the initiative)

  3. Have a quick conversation or decision making process so that there is enough clarity on what you want to ideate on. A “how might we xyz”-question can help.

  4. Now, if you’ve never done it before, one option is to do this exercise first with an apple before going for your actual question:

    1. The goal is to have 25 apples that all look different to each other

    2. Only drawing is allowed

    3. No discussion is allowed, and it’s one person after the other. The sequence is kept and repeated until all 25 boxes have an apple in them.

  5. Learnings: After a few normal apples people start to think “outside the box”, by e.g. drawing apple-juice or apple-cake. That’s the mindset you want to have to solve your “how might we xyz” question.

  6. Repeat now the process with your actual “how-might-we ..” question. Now it is possible to write sentences and quickly explain what the keywords mean. You may also want to have a free-flow so one person can share multiple ideas.



Needed time/ materials/ people etc.

  • Time: 20min to 45min (depends on your flow of creativity and how many times you wish to repeat the process)

  • Material: Flipchart and pens

Our Experience with this Method

On the first days of our first coworkation in August 2017 at Frohheim, Toggenburg we were still exploring the vision and purpose of collaboratio helvetica. It is one thing to define a nice statement, goal and purpose. It is a completely different thing to start exploring all the tonalities, nuances, beliefs, attitudes and ways of relating to each other that embody in the now the aspirations of the future. We started our session on the vision with some storytelling where each one of us shared an experience that is for them an expression of the vision while everyone else listened to the principles, values and other relevant information in the story. Once we had distilled and abstracted one more time what to us makes collaboratio helveticas mission come alive we stood in front of the question and now what? How does this not just stay one more nice “Vision exercise?”

Faced with this challenge I (Osi) proposed to use the 25 apples method. We split up in two groups and each group followed the instructions until they came up with 25 different apples. After that we repeated the exercise only this time with the question:

What is an action that you could undertake right now to give expression to the vision? So that the vision is not only something in the future, but that this very moment, this very co-workation is already an expression, a seed of the future we are wanting to create?

When people were done with the 25 ideas all there was left to do was to say: Ready, Set, GO!

2people and 2experiences

What is this method?

This is a beautiful method to facilitate a more personal connection between participants. It is best used rather in the beginning and can be kept general or it can also be  modified to address the purpose of the workshop.

How does the process look like?

 Sharing about personal stories.

Sharing about personal stories.

Basically, the main question is “Which 2 people and/or 2 experiences that have shaped who you are today?”. However, that question can be adapted to e.g. “2 people and/or 2 experiences that have shaped your relationship to money and success” if you have a workshop on the topic of money for instance.

The first step is to make a choice about when in your program you want to use this method and for what purposes. Knowing that there is not one right way to do it, you may want to consider the following questions:

  1. How well do people know each other already?

  2. How comfortable are people with sharing more openly?

  3. How important is it for the people to feel connected with each other more personally?

  4. Is the theme of your workshop adequate to adapt the main question of this exercise?

These questions are meant to guide your thinking. In your mind imagine different scenarios until you get a feeling for what might work best.

Process

Once you have an idea of when and how to use the exercise, you can run people through it:

  • 3min Intro:
    “We will now do an exercise that will enable us to share a bit more on a personal level with each other. It’s called 2 people 2 experiences. I will play some music and while the music is playing, think about “2 people and 2 experiences that have shaped who you are today”. Once the music stops find two other people so you form a group of three. After that, everyone will have the chance to share their stories to the extend you feel comfortable with for 5min. This will be an exercise in listening. The listeners are there to pay attention, so don’t ask questions or interrupt. If there’s silence, sit with it and enjoy :)”

  • 3-5min: play a nice song while people walk around

  • 3min: stop the music and facilitate the group building process (groups of 3, if needed one or two groups of 4, they then have 4min to share and will take 1min longer than the other groups: groups of 3 = 15min; groups of 4 = 16min)

  • 5min: Invite the first person to share. Announce that after 5min you will hit the gong. Hit the gong at 4:30 so people have enough time to end their sentence.

  • 5min: 2nd person’s turn to share

  • 5min: 3rd person’s turn to share

    —> For the Groups of 4 you either let them take care of the time themselves (easier for you as a facilitator, otherwise you have to run two timers simultaneously)

    • Optional 5min: let them share some words of appreciation in their small groups

    • Optional 5-15min: debrief in the big group, ask not to share the story again, but a meta-reflection about their experiences: “how was it to share and to listen to others?”, “what did you learn about your life or life in general?”

      Here, some people might be very moved as they got to realise the influence a certain moment or person made in their life. This is, in almost all cases, a beautiful emotion of deep gratitude.

Further info

This exercise is a powerful tool to help people open up. When you adapt the exercise to a specific theme it may change in depth. In most cases however, it helps you to connect abstract topics (like money and belief systems around it) with very tangible experiences and emotions. It is suggested that you use such an exercise when the flow and purpose of the workshop is in fact building on experiences and “embodied knowing”. If your workshop is a conceptual, abstract or theoretical discussion, such an exercise is not recommended.

Needed tools, materials, people etc.

  • Time: between 20min to 45min.

  • Material: Music, Flipchart, Gong (nice to have)

Our Experience with this Method

Originally, I have experienced this method for the first time during a training called “The Human Element”. Ever since I’ve used this method for the purpose of enabling people to connect deeply to themselves and others while practicing deep listening. At collaboratio helvetica we used it for the first time during our first coworkation in August 2017 at Frohheim, Toggenburg:

One of the mornings of the coworkation was dedicated to exploring “regenerative work”.

At that time the Impact Hub Zürich had experienced several cases of burn-out. And it was and is not alone. Wherever we look, people are reporting that they are close to a burn-out or beyond the threshold already. This felt especially disturbing given that most of us are working in the impact sector and want to contribute to a world that is truly sustainable, ourselves included. As we believed that it’s a systemic issue and not just individual cases, we felt that it was high time to take an honest look at the root causes that give rise to this phenomenon.

There are many places to look for root causes. The Integral Map of Ken Wilber with the four quadrants suggests that we can look at interior and exterior causes on both the individual and collective levels. To start our exploration we used a slightly adapted form of the 2people2experiences method:

After quickly introducing the purpose, context and aim of the session but before any real check-in in the circle we send people out to first reflect for 5min in silence and then sharing in groups of three the following question:

  • What are 2 people and 2 experiences that have shaped what work is to you?

After that we came back together in the big circle and checked-in with the questions:

  • What did you (re-) learn about yourself and about work?

Though, the workshop after this session went a bit sideways, up until then people were experiencing a meaningful way to “land” into the group and the theme of the workshop. People shared that by asking themselves where their most pertinent assumptions about work come from and by listening to others share their most impactful experiences and role-models, they already started to become more conscious about their own healthy and unhealthy thought-patterns.

In this case the adapted method of 2people2experiences had helped us as a group to connect with each other and to the topic in a grounded and yet holistic way.

4D Mapping

What is this method?

4D Mapping is an embodiment practice and is part of Theory U’s Social Presencing Theater. It is used when working with groups that want to explore their system, the embodied knowing of their bodies, to gain new insights.

How does the process look like?

Social Presencing Theater is a powerful method to gain new insights about a system that are often deeply, unconsciously or otherwise hidden. It is also a very effective way for a diverse group of stakeholders to have a shared reference point of what is happening (current reality) and what is wanting to emerge (highest future possibility). Therefore this method requires facilitators to be experienced in the Theory U and embodiment practice, hence some recommendations:

    1. Read about the Theory U

    2. Have a look at the Social Presencing Theater Page of the Presencing Institute

    3. Enroll in u.lab, a online course (MOOC) that has spread all over the world to be introduced actively in the Theory U framework and practice

    4. Ask for help, there’s a u.lab Switzerland Facebook Community where you may find support or reach out to collaboratio helvetica

In Social Presencing Theater, the word theater is used in connection to its root meaning – a place where something significant becomes visible, or where a community of people can see a shared experience. 4D Mapping makes visible the current reality in a social system, such as a school system, health care system, or government system.

Principles:

  • 4D Mapping explores how the highest aspiration in a system might come forward. We assume there is an underlying wisdom – in spite of the diverse values or goals of stakeholders in a system – that could come to the surface and be visible as we move from Sculpture 1 to 2

  • Participants apply mindfulness of the body and awareness of the surrounding space.
    4D Mapping is not about acting out pre-conceived ideas or concepts we have about a system

  • 4D Mapping is about surfacing and noticing what shifts in a system, something that might be significant in going from a current reality to an emerging future reality

  • Movement is based on what is actually emerging, not based on manipulation or what we think something should be

 Illustration of a Social Presencing Theater. Image source: https://zurich.impacthub.ch/de/event/social-presencing-theater-u-lab-workshop/

Illustration of a Social Presencing Theater. Image source: https://zurich.impacthub.ch/de/event/social-presencing-theater-u-lab-workshop/

Process:

The process consists of three phases:

  1. Definitions of Roles & Introduction of method. Also depending on how familiar individuals of the group are with each other, you may include embodiment practices such as 20 Minutes Dance, Stuck Exercise or other embodied mindfulness practices

  2. Enacting the roles and moving from Sculpture 1 to Sculpture 2

  3. Generative Dialogue

If you want to learn more about this method it is essential to engage in further reading and practice. In case you feel confident to try this method, we recommend you to become familiar with the content linked at the bottom of this article and that you choose a context where you feel it is safe to try.

Needed tools, materials, people etc.

  • Time: plan at least 90min, preferably 2 hours or more

  • Tools: a notetaker, Flipchart, enough space, Paper for the roles

  • People: 12 or more people (typically 10-12 players enacting a role and the rest of the people sitting around in a circle as witnesses)

Sources and further literature:

https://www.presencing.org/#/resource/tools/4D-mapping-desc


Check-ins

What is this method?

Check-ins are a way for people to have a dedicated space to share on a more personal level what’s happening within them. When practiced regularly and authentically, a teams purpose, coherence and trust can increase.

How does the process look like?

The process is quite straightforward:

  1. You have either an open check-in where the people are co-responsible for the time and however long it takes is right. Or you have different options to define the timing: either per person (e.g. 5min per person) or for the total check-in (we have 30min time)

  2. Then one person starts and you either go around in a circle or you do “popcorn”, where whoever feels like going next can go

  3. What you may choose to share: thoughts, intentions, feelings, facts, needs, intuitions, tensions, wants and wishes

Now beyond the process what makes this method powerful is how people are present and making use of the space. Or in other words: The inner place from where we come from.

This inner place, is according to Otto Scharmers Theory U the “collective blindspot of our time”. You can think of this inner place as the difference between waking up either feeling stressed or relaxed and how this impacts your first interactions with the people around you. This inner state of being has great influence on the quality and content of our interactions. Below, using the three dimensions of the Theory U, are some suggestions on what you can pay attention to. There exist many theories, practices and approaches to create authentic spaces of relating to one another, oneself, and beyond, hence this is not an exclusive nor extensive list of suggestion

 The different levels of attention from the Theory U (Source:  Presencing Institute )

The different levels of attention from the Theory U (Source: Presencing Institute)

Open Mind - Suspending voice of judgement (VoJ)

  • The underlying dynamic of the VoJ is to reconfirm existing mental models and world-views. It closes down the mind and tries to protect you from new ideas or information.

  • Notice your own voice of judgement. What is “good” to share? What is “bad”? Right? Wrong?

  • Suspend the judgement. That is, it is not about contradicting it or suppressing it. Rather the suggestion is to suspend it, to loose the attachment towards it.

  • The driving attitude is curiosity: “Why might this person think, feel and experience life like this?”

Open Heart - Suspending voice of cynicism (VoC)

  • The underlying dynamic of the VoC is to close the heart by being cynical about other peoples intentions or potential outcomes. It’s trying to protect you from emotionally connecting.

  • Notice your voice of cynicism and/or your body language: where are you “ridiculing” the situation? Notice self-talk that, observed from taking one step back, sounds cynical to you. Again, try to suspend that “talk” in your inner self-dialogue.

  • Play in your mind with the idea of what would be, if it actually was different? If that output would actually be possible? If people did, in fact, have their best intentions at heart?

  • Move your attention beyond your own perspective. How might the situation be perceived through the experience of someone else?

  • The driving attitude is compassion, with yourself and others. Questions that might be helpful to ask yourself are: “What changes, if I believe that everyone is doing their best possible contribution they can make in this moment?” “How can I have compassion with the circumstances that are driving our behavior?”

Open Will - Suspending voice of fear (VoF)

  • The underlying dynamic of the VoF is to shut down action and move you away from “taking the leap”. You can think of this voice as your subconscious that is sensing that “something would change” if a certain action would be taken, an assumption and its implications really accepted. The voice of fear tries to protect you from the danger of the unknown. It can activate strong reactions as we are in little or larger ways asked to let go of an idea of who we are and who we might be.

  • Notice your thoughts and feelings. Notice in what ways these thoughts might be attached to your sense of self. Notice how your feelings are making certain assumptions feel very real that, looked from one step further away, may not seem as certain anymore.

  • Depending on the kind of transition at hand, suspending the VoF may be a longer process of weeks or even years or just a question of some instances. Breath into the possibility.

  • Create the adequate space for yourself to sit with the question at hand.

  • Smaller transitions may include questions like: “can I do this?”, “Do I understand enough?” or simply “do I have enough time?”

  • Bigger transitions may be around questions like: “Who am I, if in fact I don’t care as much about XYZ as I thought?”, “What if I actually don’t want to be a XYZ?” or “What am I here for, if I really take into consideration all the implications our way of living has on the planet?”

  • In one way or another, the VoF asks us to let go of something and to let come. We can not really know what might come without authentically letting go too.

  • The driving attitude here is courage. Courage to step into the unknown and embrace the potential to change and be changed by what is unfolding.

The purpose of these further explanations is to become aware that a check-in per se doesn’t deliver the results of trust, connection, purpose, emotional and psychological safety and courageous action. It is, rather, the way we intentionally use this space that makes the difference. This said, there’s only one way to start: be curious, compassionate and courageous as you start practicing :)

Needed tools, materials, people etc.

  • Time: from 10min up to one hour

  • Setting: a circle, without laptops or a table between if possible

  • Materials: you may choose to have a check-in question to guide

Sources and further reading:

Our Experience with this Method

Check-ins are a full-spectrum-technology

Check-ins have become by now a part of my life. When I (Osi) am meeting up with friends, colleagues and new work-relationships I offer to “check-in”. A check-in, at first, is nothing more than saying, “Hey, here’s a door that we can walk through, if we choose to do so, before we continue walking the corridor we already know well enough”. It’s an invitation and opportunity to share some of our humanity (our being) before engaging with everything we can, want and have to do. Because check-ins have become such an integrated part of my practice as a facilitator, social innovator, friend and human it’s difficult to pick one experience. Hence I want to talk in more general terms about checking-in.

I’ve experienced check-ins that after that required another check-in round and another and yet another round. This were quite unique moments that have deeply impacted me and the relationship I hold to the individuals I practiced this check-in with. It was in these kind of check-ins where I was confronted just by listening to another person sharing, unexpectedly but unmistakably, with beliefs I held about the world and myself that I didn’t know. And as I was listening I started suspending what normally would have been my automatic response. In that little moment I was experiencing, just for a little moment, what life would look like if I was free from the belief of let’s say, “not being enough”.

“Not being enough” is such an ubiquitous phenomenon in our society. There’s so much I can intellectually know, understand and talk about. But in this very moment of just witnessing another person sharing in all realness and openness what “not being enough” looks, feels, tastes like and how eventually, in that person's experience, the situation shifted, helped me lower my threshold that was blocking me from experiencing that same shift. And within an instance memories came flooding where I had experienced not the same but something similar. As the round continued and also my other colleagues started to share what was happening within them in the very moment a collective moment of transformation just occurred.

Now I know that transformation is a big word. And widely overused too. But one thing I can say, I am only using this term now in the retrospective. Back then, after several rounds of sharing I was just feeling overwhelmed, unable to really focus on what previously had seemed so important but after these rounds had become largely trivial. I had judgements as to “why should we do these rounds if they keep us from working?” and more. It was only with time that I could more and more see, feel and sense the incredible effect that moments had in terms of uncovering the underlying coherence of our group that enabled us to know each other in such intuitive ways that then had immediate effects on the long-term effectiveness of our work.

This experience is hard to convey if you haven’t experienced something similar as well. My personal belief is that we all know it, because it’s just part of being human. But that we often don’t recognize it as a unique state of being, an altered state of consciousness were other doors of possibility open. We are not used to that kind of “work”.

Now, all of this has very little to do with the “method” of checking-in. And that is exactly my point. What makes this method useful and effective aren’t the technicalities. It’s almost uniquely determined by the quality of presence that the people bring to the rounds. The willingness to suspend individual and collective judgements (e.g. “This is taking too much time” or “that’s not appropriate to say”) and shift to a state of suspension were we instead of reacting observe our own process to what is being said. It’s in this space where a first door for a deeper connection opens. That door, formulated as a question, can be called “How must it be like to be in the totality of that other person’s experience?” In moments that can never be planned another door might open, with the power to create powerful shifts in conversation and the perception of Self and Other.

All this said, it’s been the rarest of things to meet and experience that kind of quality of listening and sharing. Most of my experiences in doing check-ins are beautiful and stay at a level that isn’t transformative per se though it always makes me feel more connected with the people I am in a conversation with. Which I, as a people-loving person really enjoy and have come to realise as one of my core-needs I have to deliver ordinary and extraordinary work.

Sociocracy 3.0 Decision Making

What is this method?

Collaborating in a team and community where we want to respect and consider the contribution of everyone can be a difficult task, both in theory and even more so in practice. Often, agreements are made without considering all the important actors involved or when they are involved reaching an agreement can be a lengthy and often unsuccessful ordeal.

How is it possible to come to agreements without losing our time and energy in a lengthy process full of tensions? And how can we ensure that the agreed upon decisions are clear and binding to every actor involved?

When we look at the obstacles to a smooth and effective collaboration in a team and community it becomes evident, that it is crucial to share an alignment in how to take clear and binding decisions together. Sociocracy 3.0 (S3) offers a pattern on decision making that allows each participant to contribute to the proposal in a clearly guided process.

Process

The S3 decision making process is applied in a situation where the team and community faces a proposal to resolve a tension. A tension can be any kind of situation that requires a common agreement to be resolved in a clear manner.
When the decision making process is applied a facilitator is chosen to guide the process. In order for the agreements to be effective it is important to have a place where all important agreements are logged and regularly revised. Therefore, a note keeper is chosen to write down the agreement and the comments made during the decision making process:

  1. The facilitator asks the person holding the proposal to present it to the participants in a short and concise manner. Depending on the complexity of the proposal it can be helpful to use charts to make the information more digestible or in case of a minor proposal just to present it orally.

  2. The facilitator asks the participants if there are any clarifying questions regarding the proposal. At this point no objections or suggestions on how to improve the proposal are voiced, but only specific questions are asked to understand the details of the proposal. The proposal presenter can answer the question posed by the participants, while the facilitator guides the question round.

  3. Once all the clarifying questions have been addressed the facilitator asks whether this proposal as it stands is good and safe enough to try or whether there are any objections. The participants then can choose one of three hand signs to voice their opinion: Thumbs up means “I agree on the proposal”, a shaking hand means “I agree on the proposal but would like to voice a concern” and a hand with the palm facing up means “I object to the proposal and have an idea to improve the proposal”.
    When no objections are voiced by any participant, a decision has been reached and the facilitator asks the participants with a concern to express it. The concerns are documented by the note keeper in the logbook where the agreement is kept.

  4. In case an objection is voiced the facilitator initiates another round to ask if any participant has an objection to the objection. In case there are objections to the objection the facilitator seeks to mediate in order to find a solution that includes all points of view. Once the participants have agreed on the objection to be relevant, the facilitator asks the person with the objection to suggest an amendment to improve the proposal. If the person with the objection does not have an immediate improvement the amendment suggestions can be opened to the rest of the participants. The facilitator guides the discussion to reach a new proposal that the participants then can vote on again with the three signs: Thumbs up, shaking hand and a hand with a palm up. In case another objection is voiced the process is repeated until an agreement can be reached.

Needed tools, materials, people etc.

-Each decision making round should be facilitated by one person who guides all the participants through the process. The facilitation can be passed on to another person, but should always be held clearly by only one person. A note keeper is needed to write down the agreements and the comments made during the decision making process
-There can be up to 20 people participating in a decision making round, although smaller circles up until 10 are preferred to ensure an artful participation of everyone.
-Each decision making round should be time-boxed in agreement with the whole team, while the facilitator keeps the time and steers the process accordingly.

Sources and further literature

Sociocracy 3.0 patterns

 The S3 decision making process.

The S3 decision making process.

How to take effective decisions

Taking a decision is a difficult thing to do by oneself, taking it together in a group can seem impossible. Creating an alchemy of all perspectives into a common agreement is a mastery and ensuring that the individuals then stick to the agreement is wizardry. Yet, collective decision making it is at the heart of a fruitful collaboration and we are confronted by it on a day by day basis. So how do we deal with this challenge?

At collaboratio helvetica we use Sociocracy 3.0 (S3) to guide our governance processes and organisational structures. Our team went to a training of S3 where we learned the pattern of effective decision making. Practicing the pattern in the training I was amazed on how quickly we came to agreements on difficult topics that were relevant and important to us in the situation. It was fascinating to see how a guided process everyone follows can allow for all perspectives to be voiced without ending up in a 2 hour long discussion without clear outcome. The decision making process seemed simple enough to me and I thought it would be evident to use even if we have some team members who haven’t been trained in this method.

 Practicing S3 decision making.

Practicing S3 decision making.

Reality kicked in and proved me differently. It is one thing to conceptually understand how the process works and another thing to apply it in everyday working life. And even following a process guided by a skilled facilitator, such as we did in the training is a long way from facilitating it oneself with a mixed set of team members who have a different level of understanding of the process. So my takeaways from this learning journey are the following:

  1. Be aware of when the decision making process makes sense to apply and when not. When you decide to apply it, follow through with it step by step, instead of creating morphed short cuts. This is super important to get a sound understanding and habit of using the process correctly.  

  2. When a decision needs to be taken immediately, define who is the facilitator of the decision making process. A person who clearly holds the process and time-boxes is essential to reach an agreement.

  3. In case of team members who aren’t experienced in this process, I think it can also be advisable to quickly explain the steps on a meta-level before applying them. This creates a safe space for everybody, as everyone knows what is going to happen and when they can bring in their concerns and objections.

  4. When you’ve reached an agreement make sure to immediately clarify with the team, whether this is an important agreement that needs to be logged and if that is the case decide when this agreement should be reviewed. The reviewing of agreements is as important as coming to an agreement, since it enables the team to check whether they have properly implemented what they decided on.

  5. Practice, practice, practice! The decision making process only really becomes effective when it becomes a clear habit of everyone and no extra effort has to be made to remember the steps.

In the end, we have managed to get better at implementing this S3 pattern, but we still are learning. The times we have been able to successfully facilitate decision makings were some of the most productive meetings we have had. People left the meeting with energy and aligned for the work to be done - an essential step for collaboration.

About the method

Read more about the S3 decision making in our method blog.

 

The author:

michele.jpeg

Michèle Ryatt was a summer intern at collaboratio helvetica. In her role she supported all of our domains in different tasks - mainly on the organisational level. She studied International Affairs in her Bachelors at the University of St.Gallen and obtained a Masters degree in Educational Research at the University of Fribourg. Her studies have successfully prepared her to work with socially engaged organizations dedicated to spreading educational and innovative ideas.

I thought it has nothing to do with me!

I was chosen as one of 26 participants to join the GenderLab 2017/2018 – a ride through an unknown journey of discovery and exploration about gender equality, to serve Switzerland in finding tools and ways of supporting transformative change.

To be honest, I thought I knew quite a lot about gender and diversity but what I found was that I actually still don’t know that much, which was a shock and a huge pill to swallow!

After living in an intentional community focusing on building a conscious communication and relationship culture, I thought I had already learned a lot about people’s different needs, understandings, opinions, pre-assumptions, stories and life plans.

Oh, I was so far from the truth... whatever that means. :-)

The Gender Lab journey brought me a new understanding of myself, and where I stand on my internal map of understanding humankind in its complexity. I was challenged to show myself to people I didn’t know, to break the ice, to open spaces where hearts meet instead of brains

  "My internal map of understanding humankind in its complexity"  (by Sketchy Solutions/ Filippo Buzzini)

"My internal map of understanding humankind in its complexity" (by Sketchy Solutions/ Filippo Buzzini)

But true listening with the heart changes everything. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, open up and show the reality alive inside of us - a reality that is usually well hidden, especially in the workplace - then change happens within us and between people.

I saw how participants changed their perspectives about change in general. Gender equality is not just a societal problem that needs to be addressed by society, but it is also a very personal and intimate journey of transformation and understanding.

 "The four "seasons" of the Gender Lab journey" (by Sketchy Solutions/ Filippo Buzzini)

"The four "seasons" of the Gender Lab journey" (by Sketchy Solutions/ Filippo Buzzini)

Through the 4 modules of the journey, I experienced different seasons in my outer world as well as inside of me. The first phase entailed being totally engaged in the process, wanting to contribute, thinking I already knew a lot and even knew better. Within a group process, we could call this phase "pseudo". Then it came to a phase of inner “chaos” where I realized "Dammit - I just have no idea!" I wondered what I was doing in this group, if I was in the right place. I had the tendency (internally) to fight against different opinions and stories. Oh, what a ride! And then the "emptiness" phase came. At that point, I felt I could speak out what was on my heart without the fear of being attacked. I – and others in the group – started taking the risk of speaking up. This was when the heart truth became visible, something happened in the group, a glue appeared between people. This is what we call "community".

These phases are present collectively, but also very much at the individual level, in each of us, even though we cannot always feel or see them. They happen when we are among people and very often, we just move through the first three phases and never reach the fourth phase of community.

My conclusion about the gender topic is that it is a very personal journey, which leads me back to my title. Through our prototyping at two companies, where we opened a space of sharing and listening about gender equality, there was always at least one person who said: "Gender equality has nothing to do with me. I’m fine with it." Or, "We have no gender equality problem!" But at the end of each workshop, all the participants had shifted their understanding to the fact that: "Hell yes, it is so personal!"

It is connected to our lives so deeply, that at first sight, we don’t even realise it.

So I would love to invite you to reflect on this topic for the next 5-10 minutes, with the following questions:

  • How would my life look like without stereotypes like pink for girls and blue for boys?

  • How do I feel and react personally, when I realize I have no idea about a topic?

  • As a father - would I choose to go on parental leave?

  • As a mother - how long would I stay at home with my child if there was no financial pressure of getting back to work?

I wish you a great reflection and keep in mind the following: the best questions in life are the ones that cannot be answered by yes or no, but need to cook slowly, again and again.

 

The author:

Bildschirmfoto 2018-09-07 um 15.20.27.png

Christine Dürschner, relationship coach, mentor and holistic companion at BeziehungsDesign. She was a participant of the first cycle of the collaboratio helvetica Gender Lab

Mission Impossible

What is this method?

The Mission Impossible is a fun way for a group to bond by solving a challenge together. At the same time the challenge can be tailored to the purpose and content of the workshop. Most frequently used at the beginning of a workshop after the check-in.

How does the process look like?

1. Intro “We will now do a challenge. Who knows the Mission Impossible movies?” - “so many? Cool! Now we will get to solve our very own Mission Impossible!”

2. Read the challenges on the flipchart (prepared in advance), have the time covered with a post-it so people don’t know how much time they have (yet). Don’t hesitate to make it really challenging (up to 7 challenges or more).

 Mission Impossible during one of our Community Forums.

Mission Impossible during one of our Community Forums.

Examples of challenges

  • How many stair-steps are in this building?

  • 30 reasons why it is better to be here than on holidays

  • 20 things we have in common

  • 1 drawing that summarizes your current situation as a landscape

  • 20 things you could start doing together now

  • Learn all names by heart

  • Come up with a slogan that represents your team-spirit and learn it by heart in the most exotic language present

  • Give everyone a high-five and make each other a compliment

  • Create a Love-story in 4 scenes (like in the journal Bravo). Take a picture and send them to xyxy@gmail.com - or show them at the end

3. Disclose the time they have directly (8-12min) or let them guess how long they’ll take for the challenge, and then disclose how much time you are willing to give them.

4. Play “Mission Impossible Theme Song (10 hours)” on Youtube and say: “Your time starts NOW!”

5. While people are solving the issue, you can observe the dynamics:

  • How are they making choices?

  • Who (if anyone at all) is in the lead?

  • What are the coordinating mechanisms?

  • How are they as a team building on each others strengths (e.g. some challenges require more of an extrovert attitude?

6. When the time is running out, make people aware of how much time they have left. As a facilitator, you may also want to shorten or extend the time accordingly to the speed of the group (not too much though).

7. Debrief: For the debriefing you can go through each challenge and help the group appreciate their success as well as facilitate a meta-reflection at the end:

-> What did we learn through this exercise that we want to take with us for the rest of the Workshop?

8. Learnings:

  • This exercise enables a team to learn something about their team-dynamics and collaboration-patterns.

  • It breaks the ice and gets people in a can-do mindset.

  • If the challenges are chosen well, the exercise can beautifully help people land in the topic and come up with the right framing of the theme themselves. It activates the mind to already think in associative ways about the challenges at hand.

  • Different people have different preferences of action.

Practical information (time needed, amount of people etc.).

  • Time: 20-45min

  • Material: Flipcharts, markers, music, more material is optional according to the challenges you choose to come up with

  • People: between 6 to 23

Our Experience with this Method

The Mission Impossible (MI) was, as far as I (Osi) know, invented by Arne Reis. Arne was at the time our Facilitation Trainer of the euforia Training Program. Later we took that method along when we started to work with teams of all levels (Top-Management to Sales-Teams) at Swisscom. The MI is one of my favourite methods to use because of its power to introduce the methodology of learning through experience, activating the group, breaking the ice, as a metaphor for challenges, and more.

Here I want to share quite a unique moment I’ve experienced as a facilitator practicing this method: the 3rd retreat of our Gender Lab.

In this 3rd retreat of the first Gender Lab Cycle we practiced the 4D Mapping. Which is a very powerful method to map the system in current and future reality using our bodies. As this is not a blog about the 4D mapping what matters to say is that after that exercise the energy of the group was quite low and there was a need to elevate the spirit and engagement of the people. At first, we thought “let’s wait for how things look like the next morning”. And so the next morning came and still it was quite obvious that if we wanted to end the workshop on a good end something needed to happen.

So we invented in a very short time our very own Gender Lab Mission Impossible with around 10 different challenges. Together with an encouraging but also a little bit provocative intro (“let’s see if you manage to Tom-Cruise this out!”) people just went at it and some of the people that previously hadn’t been very active in the process were participating with a high level of engagement as that high-energy-method was a better fit to their preferences. After successfully achieving this Mission Impossible together the Lab Cohort did not only feel better in the moment, something also had started to shift in terms of how some people looked at the happenings of the previous day. Just as with the Mission Impossible, things that previously seemed insurmountable started to become one more “Mission Impossible” that can be figured out if we truly work hand in hand together.

At that point the Mission Impossible had served us to shift the energy, perspective and cohesion of the Gender Lab Explorers. A person that is normally used to very slow and deep transformational process even said at the end: “It was great to, for once, just go at a speed so unusual to me! I can still feel the energy buzzing over my skin!”

Wie schaffen Mythen Realitäten?

Heute feiern wir die Gründung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft! Wir alle kennen die sagenumwobene Geschichte des Rütlischwurs, wo die Uhrkantone ein Bündnis schlossen und somit den Grundungsakt der Eidgenossenschaft festlegten. Gründungsmythen haben eine starke kulturelle und verbindende Relevanz, die nicht unterschätzt werden darf. Zum heutigen Nationalfeiertag stellen wir uns zwei Fragen: Wie schaffen Mythen Realitäten und wie sieht die Schweiz aus in der wir leben wollen?

"Mythen sind unabdingbar. Eine Nation, eine Gemeinschaft erzeugt Mythen und Traditionen, um zu existieren und zu überleben. Diese Erzählung legitimiert Aktionen und ermöglicht es, Ereignissen einen Sinn zu geben. Das gilt für die Schweiz genau so wie für alle Gesellschaften weltweit."

Prof. François Walter, Universität Genf

Der Gründungsmythos der Schweiz

Viele kennen sie, die Geschichte der drei Eidgenossen der Stände Uri (Walter Fürst), Schwyz (Werner Stauffacher) und Unterwalden (Arnold von Melchtal), welche sich auf der stillen Rütliwiese am Vierwaldstättersee trafen, um sich den ewigen Bund und Beistand zu schwören.

Die Historiographie der alten Eidgenossenschaft war zunächst geprägt von der volkstümlichen Form des Gründungsmythos mit Elementen wie dem Rütlischwur oder der Tellsage, wie er erstmals im Weissen Buch von Sarnen (1470er Jahre) fassbar ist und durch verschiedene Chronisten wie vor allem auch Friedrich Schillers Willhelm Tell stilisiert und popularisiert wurde. Die Mythen der Eidgenossenschaft gerieten bereits 1760 ins Zwielicht durch die Publikation des lange vergessenen lateinischen Bundesbriefes von 1291 und die Entdeckung der nordischen Wurzeln der Tellsage.

 Der Schwur auf dem Rütli von Jean Renggli dem Älteren: Der Rütlischwur, 1891 Luzern, Stadt Luzern

Der Schwur auf dem Rütli von Jean Renggli dem Älteren: Der Rütlischwur, 1891 Luzern, Stadt Luzern

“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth -- penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.”

― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Wie schaffte der Gründungsmythos Realitäten?

Mythen sind mehr als Erzählungen, denn sie stiften politische Bedeutung. Sie strukturieren die Vergangenheit und haben Einfluss auf die Gegenwart und gestalten so die Zukunft mit.

Das lässt sich auch in der Geschichte der Schweiz erkennen:

  • Der Gründungsmythos der Schweiz unterstützte zu Zeiten der alten Eidgenossenschaft (bis 1798) die Solidarität innerhalb der Bündnisse gegen aussen.
  • Während der moderne Nationalstaat gebildet wurde, trug der Gründungsmythos zur Bildung einer nationalen Identität bei: Die Schweiz als “Willensnation”, welche weder durch die Sprache, noch wegen der Religion eine homogene Gemeinschaft bildet. Stattdessen wurde eben diese Heterogenität, die ihren Ausdruck in der Mehrsprachigkeit oder dem föderalistischen System findet, zu einem wichtigen Aspekt der “nationalen Kultur”.  
  • Während den Weltkriegen wurde der Gründungsmythos auch für die Aufrechterhaltung der Neutralität verwendet: Mit den Alpen als Schauplatz der eigenen Gründungsgeschichte, als Metapher der Freiheit und Unabhängigkeit.

Fragen zum Gedankenanstoss:

  1. Brauchen wir heute einen neuen Mythos, um unsere Vision einer zukünftigen Schweiz zu unterstützen? Wenn ja, wie stellst du dir diesen vor?

  2. Weshalb machst du was du heute machst? Wie ist es dazu gekommen?

  3. Wie sieht die Schweiz aus, in der du Leben möchtest?
     

“We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet.”

― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth


Ein kurzer Geschichtsüberblick für Interessierte:

  • 1291 | Alte Eidgenossenschaft BÜNDNISPARTNERSCHAFTEN
    Wechselnde Bündnisse zwischen Städten und Landschaften bezwecken die Sicherung der politischen Ordnung gegen innen und der Unabhängigkeit gegen aussen. 1291 schliessen Uri, Schwyz und Unterwalden das erste dokumentierte Bündnis ab. Der Begriff «Eitgenoze» taucht 1315 auf. Im Lauf der Jahrhunderte wächst die Eidgenossenschaft durch weitere Bündnisse und durch Gebietseroberungen.
  • 1798 –1802 | Helvetik EINHEITSSTAAT UNTER FREMDER HERRSCHAFT
    Nach dem Einmarsch französischer Truppen wird die Eidgenossenschaft zur Helvetischen Republik umgestaltet: zu einem Einheitsstaat unter pariser Kontrolle.
  • 1803 –1814 | Mediation GELOCKERTE FREMDHERRSCHAFT
    Nach Bürgerkriegen zwischen Föderalisten und Anhängern der Helvetischen Republik gibt Napoleon der Schweiz eine Mediationsverfassung. Sie gibt den Kantonen eine gewisse Eigenständigkeit zurück und legt die meisten Kantonsgrenzen fest.
  • 1815 | Bundesvertrag NEUTRALITÄT UND STAATENBUND
    Nach dem Sturz Napoleons anerkennen die europäischen Grossmächte die Neutralität der Schweiz, und die heute gültigen Landesgrenzen werden fixiert. Der Bundesvertrag von 1815 fasst die verschiedenen eidgenössischen Bündnisse zu einem einzigen Staatenbund zusammen. Dieser ist für die Sicherheitspolitik zuständig.
  • 1847–1848 | Sonderbundskrieg LIBERALE GEGEN KONSERVATIVE
    Bei der Frage nach der Ausgestaltung des Bundes kommt es schlussendlich zu einem Bürgerkrieg zwischen liberalen und katholischkonservativen Kantonen. Der Sonderbundskrieg endet mit dem Sieg der liberalen Kräfte.
  • 1848 | Bundesverfassung DEMOKRATISCHER BUNDESSTAAT
    Die Bundesverfassung gewährt den meisten Bürgern – Männern – verschiedene Rechte und Freiheiten, u. a. das Stimm- und Wahlrecht (Frauenstimmrecht erst ab 1971). Auf Bundesebene wird nach amerikanischem Vorbild das Zweikammersystem eingeführt, mit einem National- und einem Ständerat, die den Bundesrat wählen. Einige Bereiche werden zentralisiert. Die Schweiz entwickelt sich zum einheitlichen Rechts- und Wirtschaftsraum.       

 

Wie sieht die Schweiz aus, in welcher du leben willst? 

Im Rahmen des ersten Collaboratio Festivals vom 18. Juni 2018 haben wir unterschiedlichen Menschen in der Schweiz diese Frage gestellt. Wie sieht deine Vision einer zukünftigen Schweiz aus? Teile sie mit uns unter dem Hashtag #visionCH!

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Quellen

https://www.swissinfo.ch/ger/kultur/fuenfte-schweiz_schweizer-clubs-haengen-am-gruendungsmythos-der-eidgenossenschaft/42354122
http://www.hls-dhs-dss.ch/textes/d/D26413.php?topdf=1
https://www.ekm.admin.ch/ekm/de/home/identitaet---zusammenhalt/identitaet/ident_natstaaten.html
Lichtmann, Tamàs (2010): Die Schweiz als Erzählung: Nationale und narrative identitätskonstruktionen in Max Frischs Stiller, Wilhelm Tell für die Schule und Dienstbüchlein. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main.
Im Hof, Ulrich (1990): Nationale Identität der Schweiz: Konstanten im Wandel. In: Schweizer Monatshefte : Zeitschrift für Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur. (70).
Quelle: https://www.bk.admin.ch/bk/de/home/dokumentation/der-bund-kurz-erklaert.html

Butterfly Check-In

What is this method?

This method is a simple, fun and powerful way to break the ice, make people move and mingle, set the frame and check-in with each other.

HOW DOES THE PROCESS LOOK LIKE?

This method is useful for purposes of inclusion:

  • Helps break the ice

  • Creates a fun/light and warm atmosphere

  • Helps people get to know each other in a quick way

  • Can also help people “include” the topic

  • Encourage people to move around which creates a different energy in the room

Forming the Questions

This is an art in itself and below you will find a guideline on the art of powerful questions. In general there are no limits to your own creativity. Here are some elements you might want to consider:

Start it light and simple

  • How are you?

  • What is the most present feeling and/or thought right now?

  • What is the most personal question you dare to ask today?

  • What would be the most beautiful thing that can happen today?

  • What have you learned about the topic so far?

To facilitate relationships

  • Why do you really care about being here?

  • What excites you about the people that are here?

  • What is the potential of this group?

  • Why is it better to be here than on holiday?

Expand on question one or go deeper

  • What surprised you about [the topic, the previous question, …] so far?

  • What is needed for [goal] to happen?

Help people build a safe space themselves

  • What is important for you to have a powerful conversation [on the topic] today?

  • What is important when talking about [the topic]?

  • What is a safe space for you?

Break the Ice // Name what needs to be named:

  • What is the elephant in the room when talking about [topic]

  • What role does [money/power/comfort/courage/…] play in this?

  • What are we not talking about that we should be talking about?

For sense-making these generic ‘flow’ questions can help:

  • What are we learning?

  • Why does it matter to us right now?

  • What do we want to do about it?

Choice of Music

This is much more important than you might think. For example, In a Workshop on Gender Equality we once played the songs “It’s a Man’s World”, “(You make me feel like) A Natural Woman” and “It’s Raining Men”. The effect was very powerful as it really broke the ice and people got much more relaxed to talk about the sensitive topic.

Tips:

  • classics from when people were young

  • ridiculous music can be appropriate (e.g. ‘It’s a Barbie World’)

  • Sing-alongs

  • Avoid the build up, go straight to the chorus

Process

  1. 2min Intro: “We will do now a butterfly check-in. So please stand up & put the chairs aside. Now, as long as the music is playing just walk (or dance) around the space and mingle. When the music stops find the person next to you. I will then show you a Question that you’ll have around 3minutes between you to discuss your answer to it. When the music starts playing again say good-bye and thank you and mingle again. We will repeat this process XX times! Enjoy!”
    - If the purpose is for people to get to know each other you might want to add something like “You’re invited to share a bit more than you usually would, but only to the extent you still feel comfortable with it”

  2. 90 sec. Play music - then instead of pressing pause just fade it out with the volume (this helps people finding their partner)
    - Facilitate if needed “find your partner” or “there should be only 1 group of 3” (if the group is uneven and there are 2 or more facilitators, it helps if one of you joins in so that you are an even number)

  3. 2-4 min Ask Question 1
    - It helps to also have the question on several flipcharts in the room or on a powerpoint where everyone can read it
    - Be attentive to the energy in the room and adapt accordingly

  4. 90 sec. Fade the next song in
    - You can do it quickly or slowly, to give people a chance to finish their sentence.
    -> Tip: If people don’t stop you can make the music rather loud and say (shout) “mingle again” ;)

  5. 2-4 min Ask Question 2

  6. 90 sec. Fade next song in

Repeat this process according to the number of questions you want to ask.

7. 1min Closing
- “Thank you! This was now the last question. Let’s find now a seat and transition into …”
-> Alternatively, if you are interested and there is value topic wise to hear some voices, you might want to do so while people are standing or when they are back in the semi circle (can be a very smooth transition into the next session if fitting).

TOOLS, MATERIALS, TIME, ROLES

  • Time: 12min to 25min

  • Materials: Music. a “Dancefloor” (enough space), Flipchart/Powerpoint with, if needed a microphone the questions

  • From 6 people to infinity

Our Experience with this Method

We at collaboratio helvetica have used this method in a variety of workshops and for a variety of different purposes. Below are some notes of my experience (Osi) in using the Butterfly check-in during a Dialogue Evening on Gender Equality:

Dialogue Evening on Gender Equality

On the 18th of January 2018 I, Osi, and Elsa co-facilitated a Dialogue Evening on Gender Equality in the co-working Space Buerolokal in Wil (SG). After a short intro of approximately 10min where we introduced ourselves, our role, the aim of the evening and some remarks about the atmosphere we were wanting to co-create, we directly without much intro transitioned to a Butterfly check-in.

The three questions we asked were:

  • What does it mean to me to be a man, woman, non-binary identity?

  • What is important to me in the discussion on gender equality?

  • Where/When do I feel vulnerable/triggered when it comes to questions on gender?

And the three Songs we choose to play were:

  • It’s a Man’s World by James Brown & The Famous Flames

  • (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin

  • It’s raining Man by The Weather Girls

Though, tastes in music can always be discussed our thinking before the Workshop was that these are quite good songs and somehow classics. And obviously, these songs have already quite a bit material to talk about in terms of Gender. Our aim was, that together with the three opening questions the music would help the participants to open up, create a safe environment for themselves, already explore in a self-responsible way their vulnerability, practice sharing and listening while at the same time relaxing.

It was a bit of a bet, as it could also have turned out otherwise. But together with the non-judgemental and really open space that we as facilitators created in our intro by sharing some insecurities and vulnerabilities we have on Gender the Butterfly check-in really helped break the ice in a beautiful way! People were singing along, smiling honestly at each other while also coming up with, holding and asking real questions that mattered to them. For me personally, it was a breakthrough moment because before we hadn’t found a way to create in the small time frame of a Dialogue Evening such a safe, honest and authentic space.

Though, this experience is not a receipt that you can copy-paste, thinking that it will always produce the same results, it surely can offer some insights into the how-to and the potential of this method.


First Cross-Women-Communities gathering hosted by WeSpace and Collaboratio Helvetica

On June 12, WeSpace invited representatives of women communities in Zurich to the first cross-women-communities event. WeSpace aimed to provide a physical space for the teams to meet, interact and share. However, we understood the need of professional expertise to be able to meet this goal, therefore, Collaboratio Helvetica was the obvious co-host. WeSpace aims to act as the home-base for women communities where interactions and collaborations can continue in the future.

 Women at the Cross-Women-Communities gathering

Women at the Cross-Women-Communities gathering

WeSpace is not only a co-working physical space for women, is also an interdisciplinary, cross-sector community. We see the need of a co-working and community space designed by women where our members feel comfortable in a shared space, where we can offer services tailored to women and where they can meet and co-create. Together we imagine a working world where feminine values and sensibilities are an asset rather than a liability.

 

We also believe in a community shaped by its members. This is why we designed WeSpace with a pilot phase prior to the opening of the permanent space. The pilot ran from April to June 2018 and aimed to gather feedback to iterate the concept. During this period, WeSpace was designed and shaped by its founding members (members during the pilot become WeSpace founding members).

Our mission is to provide a physical space for individuals, pre-existing communities and newly shaped initiatives, to facilitate the leadership journey of more women across a variety of sectors within corporations, institutions, and entrepreneurial ventures. We aim to provide an dynamic space to work, socialize and network as well as a community that empowers women.

For our End of Pilot event we wanted to give back to the women communities and representatives that had been supporting us during the pilot phase. Therefore, we designed the first cross-women-communities event, where representatives can meet each other, communicate and start collaborations. To be able to meet this goal, we approach Nora from Collaboratio Helvetica to help us create the most suitable framework for ecosystem awareness.

The event was a great success. We gather 12 different communities and 25 representatives. The session started with a great icebreaker game followed by a fruitful and inspiring introduction by Nora. The workshops afterwards enable iterations and sharing session between our guests. By the end, representatives benefited from a sharing experience and the kick-off of a long-lasting collaboration. The second cross-women-communities event will happen on 15th of August at WeSpace permanent space. the We are open to more and more women communities that want to be part of this big family. The bigger the better :) .

WeSpace will open the doors of the permanent space in September 2018. Stay tuned for latest news: www.wespace.ch

A part form women communities, can I be part of the WeSpace community?

Of course! We want to encourage women from all sectors and backgrounds who are willing to engage with the community bringing their energy and ready to co-work. Women who want flexible working environments, whether or not they have full-time desk or just want to be surrounded and inspired by other women who are willing to disrupt the existing system.

We want to gather not only women that need a space to work but also those who want to connect with women from different disciplines and sectors. Therefore, we offer two types of membership: the community membership and the co-working membership.

Further links:

www.wespace.ch

CNNMoney Switzerland LinkedIn


The author

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Estefania Tapias is the Founder and CEO of WeSpace, a co-working and community space for women. Estefania is also a researcher and project coordinator at ETH Zurich, focused on Future Cities. Estefania is an honoree of the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe list of 2018, WEF Global Shaper, Founding President of the European Institute of Innovation and technology (EIT) Alumni, Former President of the Climate-KIC Alumni Association and speaker. Estefania has been invited as speaker in different international events such as the World Web Forum, the Sustainable Innovation Forum, and the European Forum of Young Innovators – EURODOC. Estefania is committed to build up initiatives and communities that support and shape the sustainable future of societies and cities.

Epic formula to change the world

At collaboratio helvetica, one of our key methods and principles is dialogue. By ‘dialogue’ we mean the kinds of conversations that change something in us when we take part in them, and that shift something between the people who are involved in the conversation. We mean dialogues where we need  to “risk” being authentic and to co-create a space where others can do the same. We mean dialogues about challenging our habits of thought and conversation: listening with attention, speaking with intention and daring to turn the camera around to face ourselves and the roles we might have within the systems we are trying to change. 

 A group of people at a dialogue evening. 

A group of people at a dialogue evening. 

What do we see is happening

We live in a fast paced world, and as our challenges grow more global and complicated, the need to find solutions increases rapidly. Luckily we are the generations who has all  the solutions we need to change any of the current situations we face.

However we are also in an era in which systemic issues often lie at the root of those critical challenges, where the problems become counter-intuitive and in which cause-and-effect relationships are not immediately applicable nor apparent. In many cases the problems are actually paradoxes and when our focus is to solve those (perceived problems) as fast as possible, we might actually repeat or deteriorate the issue even further (Just think of President Trump's latest proposal to solve the danger of school shootings by giving the teachers the right to wear guns). Therefore a different way, a more multifaceted way, to tackle current societal challenges is needed, and such approach has been recited to us before. By people such as Albert Einstein, who said: “The problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.”

We are the first problem

The problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them. This means that we have to shift the level from where we think and deal with things. Our very own thinking is therefore the first problem. Especially as we often are not aware of where our thinking (individually and collectively) is coming from, and how our operating belief system reproduces mechanisms that makes problems continue or deteriorate.

The metaphor of the chained elephant might help us to further comprehend this antithesis. Have you ever been to the circus and seen an elephant? If you go you might see an elephant being tied to a particular pole that allows the elephant a certain range to move and with nothing else than a leash or a thin chain to hold it set on its spot. How come that the elephant does not just use its power to break the thin chain? The reason for that is that when the elephant was little and it is for the first time tied to its pole it learned that it does not have the power to go anywhere. This belief imprints itself into the animal, and so even when it has become a full grown, equipped and strong elephant it is held back by the same belief and concept that it has been used and been reminded of since childhood. The elephant is shackled by its training not by its chain.

The metaphor reminds us of what it means to become enslaved by chains we have the power to break. Even us humans are sacked not by our chains but by our training and habitual way of dealing with problems. We are so used to entering spaces with the clear focus set on the outcome, on finding the solution to our problem, on delegating responsibility for our problems. It creates in us a lot of anxiety not to have a clear plan to achieve an expected outcome, and we like to operate from the idea that the reason for coming together is to find, plan and implement the right actions as fast as possible. But how can you expect a certain outcome based on a set of assumptions and still claim to be open to challenging those assumptions, which came up with the problem in the first place? And is It possible to act out of necessity to reach a fast solution without blurring the ability to slow down and to listen deeply?

What is needed?

My answer to those two questions would be no. What I see is needed is a notion that any sustainable development and SDG (sustainable development goals) related work and efforts requires 2 kinds of spaces to prevail with their purposes. One kind of space is the space for negotiation, discussion and debate. Settings that allows for analysing results, converging strategies and effective decision making. The other kind of space is the space for dialogue. In a dialogue we can experience how letting go of our habits of truth (assumptions about what the problem is in the first place) and our personal agendas, helps the nameless tacit possibilities, the powerful connections and the deeper listening to manifest. This is why dialogue spaces are key to decompose old operating systems. The moment when there is a genuine interest and deeper understanding for the other’s perspective and story, is the moment when radical meaning creation and experimentation can shape a different, deeper and new collective solution. We have traditionally been putting a lot of attention on the results and the content of our organisations. Dialogue suggests that the process, the way we engage with each other, matters too. This blog wants to explore this suggestion.

Working with dialogue

Dialogue is part of the vision at collaboratio helvetica. Over the last year,  we have been hosting open spaces for dialogue between versatile groups of people in CH on different relevant societal issues or topics around the Sustainable Development Goals(SDG´s).

The way we have seen dialogue work is that it helps participants to engage with difficult topics, seeing their own part within the bigger system, but without leading them to feeling overwhelmed by apathetic or paralysation.

We have seen and experienced how a person enters into a dialogue about gender equality, with a clear opinion at hand, with some un-comprehensions towards parts of the “system”, and some wish to find solutions to her frustrations. And we have seen the person leaving that space again with new questions such as “If I  don’t want to move beyond the box that I like, how can I expect people to break the boxes I don’t like?”, and with the intention of working more on her own self-harmony.

We have seen and experienced a person entering a dialogue space about sustainable consumption, with an agitation towards current society, a lack of hope, and some wish to find solutions to his frustrations. Leaving that space again with a notion that sustainable consumption might be driven forward as much by someone placing an adversarial commend, than from someone throwing a metal can in nature. His next intention being to stop focusing on the sustainable consumption of the world, and start focusing on the quality of human connection in the world.

Something happened to both these individuals that they could not have encountered before entering the space, and which gave them a new level of thinking from where to approach the issue.

All that we don’t yet know

And with these approaches driven forth by a dialogue vision I, and we at collaboratio helvetica, are still carrying a beginners mind where we wish to learn and grow together around the topic of dialogue with other people who are curious and who also ask themselves the question “How to hold the space for such transformation?”

And as we hold this question, which we know is key to prevailing with our vision, others follow:

What is the right speed? How fast or slow can things move? (do we just ought to jump into the cold water from one moment to the other? or is more patience needed? (like the diver who has been deep underwater for a long time, and getting up is a meticulous process, little by little, to adapt to a new kind of pressure?)

If asking penetrating questions is what shifts thinking radically and what we wish versatile groups of people to experience, then how do we even get the right people interested? How do we get the right people into the room? How do we create curiosity if others don't understand the value before they experience it?

How do we reclaim our ability to hold and explore questions more than answers? We get educated not in asking questions but in answering questions, and the question is how do we ever shift this agenda, when the urgent “answers first” agenda is subversive for establishing an “questions first” agenda. Why is it so challenging and triggering for us when we lack the meaning or the trajectory? And is there a point and a quality when we admit that we feel incoherent, meaningless, clueless?

What might happen if such questions were brought into an open, authentic and versatile space to be explored through dialogue?

To you want to experience dialogue? Visit one of our up-coming dialogue evenings.

 

The author:

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Sidsel Andersen is from Denmark and has been connected to Switzerland every since she entered the kaospilot education. She is an experienced process leader and facilitator, and in collaboratio helvetica she works with the Dialogue Evenings and the methodology, practice and community for dialogue. 

Portraits of the mind - Why you should join the next Gender Lab

The Gender Lab as an experiential tool for self-reflection, intellectual empowerment, and collective action.

 Harvesting from the last Gender Lab retreat: "what are we learning?" (by Sketchy Solutions/ Filippo Buzzini)

Harvesting from the last Gender Lab retreat: "what are we learning?" (by Sketchy Solutions/ Filippo Buzzini)

Eleven years ago, I made a conscious decision to wear my permanent Gender glasses.

Despite pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, Rhetoric and Public Discourse at the time, when my influential university professor, Shira Tarrant, introduced me to the field of gender justice, my entire worldview drastically changed.

I suddenly found new avenues for intellectual development through the fascinating lenses of feminist theory. It was then when I decided to shift my professional journey to fit my career as a Gender Policy Analyst. My work allowed me to look at Gender from a global perspective in Colombia, the United States, Asia Pacific and most recently, western Europe.

Throughout all contexts and levels of policy and ethnographic/fieldwork in which I engaged, a consistent set of patterns emerged:

Gender is an emotional topic;
Gender is controversial;
Gender is context-bound;
And Gender is genuinely complex and subjective

Two years before joining the Gender Lab, I experienced, what our brilliant Gender Lab Colleague, Lisa Domenghino, calls, ‘a Gender burnout.’ I felt that I had no motivation left (at the time) to continue working on the Gender Field. I was tired of the monolithic discourse that prevails in the weary world of gender justice.

Even though, as an idealist and positivist, I celebrated every progressive milestone, I encountered a lot of negativity and backlash in my day to day work.  

After the burnout, I left the field and dedicated many extracurricular hours to decoding the art of navigating difficult conversations. I started asking, why is there so much discomfort around the topic?

The more I immersed myself into the world of social change through my current work in migration and entrepreneurship, the more polarised opinions I encountered.  Therefore, as I started to do personal market research on innovative spaces and organisations which are revolutionising the world of diversity, I was referred to collaboratio helvetica's Gender Lab by several friends and colleagues.

As soon as I knew that Nicole, Nora and Osi were leading the Lab, I knew that this was the opportunity to re-enter the world of Gender through a safe space.

I was told that I was the first applicant! My heart was excited about it, and my belly was on fire. I wanted to be part of the Lab no matter what. I was selected to be part of the first cohort of Gender Lab Explorers, and I felt genuinely privileged.

The Gender Lab has been one of the most transformative experiences I’ve had. As we navigate life, specific experiences intersect your mind, body and soul profoundly. For me, this is what the Gender Lab embodied.

Not only did I meet brilliant peers from the same field, but I could also share and relate to the experiences and frustrations of others through the powerful tools from the Theory U.

Each Explorer of the Gender Lab from collaboratio helvetica represents the collective wisdom of extraordinary individuals who are out there, challenging the status quo on a daily basis. We are a unison of voices from diverse corners of Switzerland who are committed to transforming our current (outdated) landscape of Gender policies and practices into the gender-ideal country we would like to live in.

In moments of despair outside of the Lab, I think, what would my fellow G-Labers do? - My answer always guides me towards a sensation of kindness, inclusiveness, and proactivity. When outsiders ask us to describe our experience at the Gender Lab, we fall short on words. Words cannot possibly capture the magic we’ve built and the enduring relationships we've forged.

One of the most significant learnings from the Lab was to understand how to incorporate Gender back into the work I do while simultaneously interlacing the impactful work of the rest of the G-Labers. Apart from the deep introspective journey I went through to evaluate my own sets of judgements and assumptions, I incorporated the learnings from the Lab into the following aspects initiatives:

A. Intersectionality at work: Through an intersectional approach, meaning, through understanding how different segments of salient identity dictate the number of opportunities that an individual may have, we would like to incorporate Gender as a tertiary pillar of operations.

  1. At one of the proud co-founders from Capacity Zurich, a startup incubator for entrepreneurs with refugee and migrant background, we work at the intersection of Migration, Integration and Entrepreneurship. The Gender Lab gave me ideas on how to move forward and conduct research on barriers that refugee/ migrant women face as migrant/refugee entrepreneurs and while trying to enter the Swiss Labor Market (a real, current problem). 

  2. Apart from adding a gender-lens focus on equal access to opportunities for our entrepreneurs, trainers and collaborators (representation of sex and gender identity) at the organisation, we implemented a family-friendly approach at work and during any of our workshops/events. Parents can bring their children to any of our activities, and we have caregivers who make sure that the children are taken care of. We also implemented agile work models in which we take flexibility at work to the next level through multiple options for virtual engagement.

B. The Imperfct Circle (TiC): Doing battle with the binary, bias and blindness! TiC is an innovative dialogic platform for new thinking and acting in the gender space. As a co-initiator of the circle, we added an LGBTQ component to our discussion rounds.

  1. We opened up our sessions for any person who would like to come and use the platform to tell their story. Sebastian and Adrien, two of this year’s Gender Lab Explorers, did a session called, ‘Go queer or go home - Our lives beyond normativity,’ and kicked off a series of discussions on the topic.

We are currently prototyping another idea within the Lab, and we have unveiled it during the Collaboratio Festival, on June 18th. It was a day to connect, co-create and celebrate the Switzerland we want to live in!

Finally, I would like to close this reflection with one of my favourite quotes:

“It has been said that pessimists are usually right, but optimists change the world. Without optimism, political change is impossible. Only optimism gives us the courage to take risks... If we are to achieve a social revolution, we have to join forces and nurture our anger, imagine change, and be optimistic enough to believe that rewards will outweigh risks”
― Madeleine M. Kunin | The new #feminist agenda
 

The author:

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Valentina S. Velandia is a social entrepreneur with a high dose of global perspectives and experiences and has been working at the intersection of Gender Policy, Migration and Entrepreneurship for the past ten years. As an avid social justice advocate, she is proud to be a member of the ever-inspiring collaboratio helvetica community and hopes to continue to co-create the colourful Switzerland in which we would like to live in. 

Holding the Question

For how long might we allow ourselves to hold a question, and what could it create?

holding the question pic.png

WHAT IS THIS METHOD?

"As we enter an era in which systemic issues often lie at the root of critical challenges, in which diverse perspectives are required for sustainable solutions, and in which cause-and-effect relationships are not immediately apparent, the capacity to raise penetrating questions that challenge current operating assumptions will be key to creating positive futures.”
- the art of powerful questions.

In our lives today questions and answers does not have the same weight or value. This partly has to do with the influence of our educational environments. Since the beginning of our educational entry point, we learn that when there is a question it means that there is an answer, and that your success as a student is tied to with which speed and accuracy you can find this answer. We do not get educated in asking questions but in answering questions.

In our everyday life we all know the experience of having a question and the assiduous tickling need of wanting (so badly) to find the answer or the solution. The mechanism is as natural and familiar as making coffee after waking up is for many. The bigger and more important the question in front of us seems to be, the more energy we put into finding the answer and the solution as fast as possible. Unless you function as a researcher, you will most likely go about this answer-finding-process by occupying your own mind. Potentially you might bring your question(s) to some friend or family members whom you feel familiar with and close, too. Or you might not even have to because right at our fingertips, google might already offer us all the answers you need.This is an completely normative process of how to deal with questions, that we all know about and use.

Holding the question is about bringing the focus away from the answer and back to the question. It is about putting as much thought into the question as we have traditionally given to answers. Holding the question is a method of opening the mind and asking life to respond. 

HOW DOES THE PROCESS LOOK LIKE?

  1. First becoming aware of the present condition (of yourself or your group), to sit with the needs that are surfaced, and from there it is about crafting a powerful question. Without giving in to any creeping urge to answer it right away, it is instead about appreciating the quality of the question in itself and to notice all the new possibilities it brings.
    1. a. powerful questions are usually made with Why, How, or What prepositions, they possibility-focused and not problem-oriented, they are open and they often evokes more questions. A powerful question invites and challenges you to reflect on a deeper level — to find the knowledge or wisdom that’s already there beneath the surface. Using a powerful question usually adds more value to the process than one that is not.
  2. When the question is there and presents itself to you, you want to decide for how long you are going to hold it.
  3. Then you will go about your life as usual, but you will be holding a question, and you will ask life to respond to give you clues and signals. Being aware of the question and not trying to consciously answer it, but rather inviting a state of mind that allows a natural flow, thoughts, ideas and images related to the question will flow into the mind. It is especially helpful to take a walk in nature when holding a question.
  4. Do not expect to find any answer before the time of the holding is coming to an end, just collect undeterred what comes and trust that it will make sense later. (Use the metaphor of a basket that you fill up with clues)
  5. When the time of holding the question is over, you sit with your question again, and you might wanna try to conduct and define an answer. However what is most likely to happen is that the entire process of holding the question long enough dismantles or changes the reason for holding the question. The process often allows the arrival of a non-dual state and meaning creation, which resolve tensions we had and helps us shift the thinking we had when we made the question. This allows us to understand the question we asked from a new depth, to find more profound answers and to penetrate and rejuvenate our assumptions. Holding the question opens the door to dialogue and discovery.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
—Albert Einstein

TOOLS, MATERIALS, TIME, ROLES

Holding the question can last from hours, days, weeks and even months. It depends on the question and the context. A person might hold a question that pops up over the lunch-break, a couple might hold a question for some weeks about where they would like to travel to in summer, a team or a group might hold a question together for a longer period about which direction their project or work should take.

The question(s) that are held need(s) to be put somewhere into writing, and there needs to be an agreement with the self or with the people, on the timeframe of how long the question will be hold and when it needs to be re-visited.

Although groups can easily use this method, we recommend to use it mostly as an individual practice.

 

Source:

Further literature to the topic:

  • Peter Block (2008): Community.
 

What is the Call of Our Times?

This blogpost shares the story of how I came to find my own calling and how I found a new work approach within collaboratio helvetica allowing me to do things differently and more aligned with a deeper intention of who I want to be in the midst of all these big societal challenges we face.

 Sidsel holding a Dialogue facilitation training.

Sidsel holding a Dialogue facilitation training.

Some time ago I came across a characteristic and impressive quote that reflects for me with what kind of work I would love to support this world.  

“What is the call of our times? I believe it is to realise that the future is already here. All the seeds, all the living examples, all the partners we need to pull this off are already here. But we need to attend to and connect with them, and nurture the deeper eco-systems of collaboration and co-creation.”

(Otto Scharmer, senior lecturer at MIT, founder of theory U)

I think it happens to every human being, that at some point in our life we are faced with the same question “What is my calling?”  I personally believe that this realisation initiates from the moment we dare to admit to ourselves that we might not know (at all) why we are doing what we are doing. And might also not be sure why it matters.

For me this realisation happened some years ago when I was a student at the university, and sitting in the study hall in Copenhagen. This day as I happened to look around, I saw people being deeply into their minds and papers, I was looking at the paper I was writing, and started to imagine how many papers like these were actually going through the KU (Københavns Universitet) education machine. So much knowledge and so little connection. Such an empty feeling and sadness for all the waste of human potential I saw in that moment entered my body. Where and how do we learn and practice real collaboration and co-creation? Where do we learn about attitudes and not only about knowledge? I could not see it (at all)?

I realized that my education has the power to influence me and change my values. In ways that goes beyond the knowledge I am taught, in ways that I am in fact blind to. As soon as I had this realization I could not deviate from it anymore. It was like a gate that had been opened, and as I continued to pay attention, it was not possible to close that gate again. In fact, it just became more open. I left the traditional education system, I went out into the world (and into the unknown) and decided on a path that I really wanted and felt I had truly chosen myself.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) beyond an abstract framework?

The limitation I experienced within my education surely instigated a big shift in my own life, but the message that I want to share from my story is that this was also a personal experience with SDG no. 4. I realized my own personal dis-connection and tension towards an educational problem or lack of real quality as I perceived it.

The problematiques represented in the SDGs are in fact present and reflected in many of our everyday lives and experiences. As soon as we open our eyes and ask ourselves how we would love our (local) everyday world and life to look like, we can see the connection to the SDGs present in the way we experience issues in our environment. Unfortunately complex issues such as poverty, climate change or gender discrimination are often discussed only in the political arena, between "important" actors and much of civil society does not feel personally connected to the SDGs.

Making the connection to our personal and local experiences are the first place to source energy and intention towards change and engagement. Luckily many people do act on these experiences. Especially in Switzerland I see (and know) so many individuals and also organisations who care, who do outstanding work and try to shape the future of this country and of their own environments.

At the same time it often seems like we do not really change things fast enough. In fact all of the solutions are there, they are in our hands, but the solutions are not always taking root as we would like them to, or the implementation of solutions do not always turn out like we imagined. So what can we do besides running faster or try harder?

What are the real problems?

The answer seems to nest in the deeper understanding of the nature of these major problems. In their nature these societal problems are systemic, which makes them counter-intuitive, complex and deeply connected to each other. And we do not fully understand how to deal with that, often we try but we do not solve anything because we do not realise that we are dealing with the consequences of problems not with the root causes, which at times makes the problems repeat themselves.

This is complicated. It is challenging for all of us to implement such complex awareness into our daily action and doings, where many of us already feel stressed from pushing, pushing and pushing for making things better. In the pursuit of making a change, sometimes the consequences might be a burn out or we simply reach a point of despair and stop caring. No wonder we leave it to the politicians and to the leaders to make the change.

How do we deal with the real problems?

“What is the call of our times? I believe it is to realise that the future is already here. All the seeds, all the living examples, all the partners we need to pull this off are already here. But we need to attend to and connect with them, and nurture the deeper eco-systems of collaboration and co-creation.”

(Otto Scharmer)

These phrases happen to also be the heartbeat that perpetuates the vision behind collaboratio helvetica. collaboratio helvetica believes that in order to address the world's biggest challenges and to elevate our collective contribution to the SDGs, we need to collaborate and to come together all of us across sectors… neighbours, friends, politicians, corporations, NGO etc. We believe that only together we can tackle the real root causes of our problems. Because only in collaboration we have the power and the capacity to work in a systemic way, to see our own role in the problem, and to solve societal problems.

We also believe that developing the skills to engage in true dialogue, understood as way of conversation that is different from the one we usually have, one that has the power to change everyone involved, is an important - maybe even crucial - element for the challenges we face. Dialogue helps us to learn more about how the world looks like from other points of views and to develop agency on topics we often feel we’re unequipped to think about, because of their complex and ambiguous nature.

This is why collaboratio helvetica creates spaces for open dialogue, experimentation and collaboration for the SDGs. During our work I have been touched and fascinated about the potential and authentic energy for change that seems to emerge when traditional debate and factual inquiry is replaced with a safe space, human connection, and a focus on our personal experiences and on the questions we hold.

My own calling

It makes me convey to the idea that the future might already be here, and if so maybe all we need is to pay attention to the quality of our connections and the conversation we have with each other. I am delighted every time I realize that the quote from Otto Scharmer IS reflecting my work. I am proud everytime I realise that I am part of an initiative that sees societal challenges and our contribution to the global implementation of the Agenda 2030 happening through dialogue-focused, collaborative and experimental approaches.

 

The author:

sidsel.png

Sidsel Andersen is from Denmark and has been connected to Switzerland every since she entered the kaospilot education. She is an experienced process leader and facilitator, and in collaboratio helvetica she works with the Dialogue Evenings and the methodology, practice and community for dialogue.

Design For Wiser Action

From the Art of Hosting

 Impressions from the  collaboratio helvetica Community Forum  where this method was applied. 

Impressions from the collaboratio helvetica Community Forum where this method was applied. 

What is the purpose of this method?

The Design for Wiser Action is a great way to co-create a project or a piece of work with the help of diverse perspectives. The process enables all participants to put their learnings and experiences in service of new creative projects. On the one hand, the process enables the project-giver to get support and advice and on the other hand it allows for the collective intelligence to unfold.

Briefly explained, a person is asked to share a project or piece of work they are responsible for (“project caller”) and invite a group of people to contribute to the thinking and design of actions that will bring it to life. Through the exploration of questions like “what is the need or purpose”, “who is the group” or “what methods will most support a wise action”, insights and solutions for the implementation of the project will be found.

The Art of Hosting community created a canvas (“harvesting template”) which outlines several prescriptions which form the building blocks for the planning activities. Everything that emerges during the group conversations is written down into the assigned blocks.

 Our example of the harvesting template. 

Our example of the harvesting template. 

How does the process look like?

  1. Invite persons to bring a project or a piece of work (a fews days in advance)

  2. Explain the method to all the participants (10min)

  3. Introduce the chosen projects (2-3min per project)

  4. Explain the empty canvases and go through the questions the participants will be working with (10min)

  5. Project design/Group work (75min)

    • The participants form groups and circle around a project canvas (5min)

    • Each project-giver briefly introduces his/her project (10min)

    • The groups ask questions and the project-givers answer (10min)

    • Co-creation: Fill in the canvas blocks with ideas that come up during the sharing of experiences and learnings (20min)

    • Peer-Coaching: The participants turn into coaches who start a discussion about the project. The project-giver steps out of the circle and just listens to the conversations of the “coaches” (15min)

    • The project-giver returns to the group and continues with the conversation based on what he/she have learnt while being out of the circle (15min)

  6. Return to the full group with all the participants and report back on the different outcomes (10-20min)

If there is more time available, the participants can shift tables and do the whole procedure for another project.

Tools, materials, Time, Roles

  • Questions that guide the conversation (“what is the need” etc.)
  • The harvesting template
  • A good work space/ good working atmosphere
  • Optimal timing 2-4 hours (depending on whether the participants work on only one or several projects)

Roles:

  • One or two Hosts: They introduce the process to the group and invite and instruct the project-givers, hosting the full group processes
  • Project-giver (“caller”): This is the person who wants helps on becoming clear and crafting focus, design and practice in action, applied to a particular event or events
  • Co-designers: Are the people who help to co-create design.