Practice

The GenderLab - listening as a premise of transformation

“Listening is probably the most underrated leadership capacity today, but listening is really at the source of all great leadership. When we see leadership failures, and today we have many opportunities to see that, very often, at the source of these failures is a lack of listening. A lack of connecting to what is really going on in reality right now.”

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?

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 Gründungsakt 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?

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.

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. 

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

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.

What is the Call of Our Times?

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.

Sustainable Consumption - Awareness shouldn’t paralyze you and it shouldn’t frustrate you

How a Dialogue Evening on Sustainable Consumption helped leading change actors to let go of frustration and anger and become more positive towards their actions.

Why do many people who try to make a difference often feel frustrated or angered because the world isn’t changing fast enough for them or that some people do not share their awareness about an issue? In this story, leading activists for more sustainable human behaviour feel that they carry the weight of the consumption patterns of 8 billion people on their backs. But this negativity only hinders their contributions for a more sustainable future. In this blog article I share with you my insights from a Dialogue Evening on Sustainable Consumption, and how it offered us some solutions.

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On the evening of April 5th 2018 a group of 9 people gathered in the Impact Hub Lausanne for a Dialogue Evening (see footer) on the topic of Sustainable Consumption, the focus of Sustainable Development Goal 12. It is a topic broadly debated in society. Can we consume sustainably? What does it mean to consume sustainably? How much can we consume now whilst sustaining our planet for future generations? During this Dialogue Evening we were asked to exchange views on our own relationship towards the consumption of food, relationships, money and more. We approached the topic from different angles: How our backgrounds and families shaped our consumption patterns, when in our lives we realized that our consumption comes with consequences or what actually keeps us from changing our behaviour.

What struck me during this evening were the negative emotions that some of the people in this group – myself included – expressed during the conversations. Anger, frustration and guilt are often connected to the topic of Sustainable Consumption. It is the feeling of guilt that comes with the consumption of certain goods and the feeling of anger or frustration that leading actors pushing for a change in this topic carry.

Negative feelings around Sustainable Consumption

Let us focus a bit more on the second group of emotions: Anger and Frustration. Many activists and leader for a change to a more sustainable society are people who bring all of themselves, all of their best intentions and loads of innovative ideas to guide the way forward for a better world. They put an enormous amount of energy into their convictions and want to share their awareness on the topic with the rest of society. However, observing the way that the world and its resources are currently still exploited by the world’s population, one participant commented that this role was challenging:

“Activists are translators of knowledge and hold the weight of the behaviour of 8 billion people.”

(Participant Dialogue Evening, Impact Hub Lausanne, 5th April 2018)

Consumption is first and foremost a personal matter. It is to some extend about consuming right or wrongly, and this is where our emotions towards the outside gets activated. Living with a permanent sense of frustration with the situation, and anger against those who are perceived not to be changing things despite clearly understood issues and solutions is exhausting and depressing for those trying to drive social change or be socially responsible. What can be done about this? Persistent negativity is not attractive, and activists run the risk of giving up, succumbing to depression or becoming passive.

Dialogue provides a way forwards

To a certain degree this Dialogue Evening was a first step for a change. While talking and connecting on a deeper level with each other, the group became aware of the anger and frustration in the room. The people present became aware of their emotions and started to question their attitude. Other persons offered support as they saw them struggle to let go of the negativity.

“Activists really struggle with anxiety. I want to contribute to make them feel better.”

(Participant Dialogue Evening, Impact Hub Lausanne, 5th April 2018)

Another participant said: “Awareness shouldn’t paralyze you and it shouldn’t frustrate you”. This sentence made quite an impression on me. I often catch myself in situations where I observe other people’s unsustainable behaviour which angers me. Or another moment where I eat something that my sustainable consciousness wouldn’t actually allow – which produces guilt. But these reactions don’t really change anything: It only frustrates me and if I show this feeling against the other person he or her might get upset.

What do we take away from the Dialogue Evening?

Everybody left this Dialogue Evening with a good feeling. There was no frustration, anger or guilt produced. We listened carefully to each other’s perspectives and experiences. All the people taking part had the chance to reflect on their own behaviour and the feelings coming with it. Everyone took something with her or him and left the evening either motivated, felt understood or maybe just a tiny bit more aware of themselves and their surroundings.

“I want to support the emergence of a more sustainable future but with a positive feeling and attitude!”

(Participant Dialogue Evening, Impact Hub Lausanne, 5th April 2018)

Where do we go from here?

We decided to make another Dialogue Evening on June 12th where everybody in the room agreed on taking someone with them that wouldn’t have come her-/himself. Either because they do not care much about the topic or are just not attracted by the format. We will see if and how different the conversations will be. But I am sure that if we approach the new people in the group with the same openness and positivity, a similar positive atmosphere like on this last evening in Lausanne will occur.

 

Intrigued? Join one of the #cohe Dialogue Evenings or contact Sidsel if you want to organise a Dialogue Evening around a specific topic in your community or municipality.

 

On Dialogue Evenings:

A Dialogue Evening is a format that allows a group to exchange on personal and local experiences of a societal challenge. It is all about the quality of listening and speaking. And therein lies the way we can change relationships between us when we dare to deeply listen to others perspectives, ideas and experiences.

The author:

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Isabelle Ruckli is communication manager at collaboratio helvetica. She is highly interested in the nexus of human behaviour, sustainable development, democracy and governance. She wrote this blog article after visiting a Dialogue Evening in Lausanne on the topic of Sustainable Consumption. 

Prototyping the future of job searches and hiring: get to know the person before deciding to hire them

In December 2017, collaboratio helvetica (cohe) began to recruit some new team members to join its core team. The process was unusual: Over one month, around 25 people were brought together in different spaces, from whom 2-3 were subsequently selected to join the team. Why would cohe do this? Cohe is an organisation dedicated to creating spaces for open dialogue, experimentation and collaboration to create the Switzerland we want to live in. It is an organisation that tries to lead by example: trying new methods and approaches, and learning as it does so. It is also a very small organisation, juggling many commitments, projects, contacts and trying to do big, complex things on a small budget. Therefore, the right team members are crucial.

Storytelling - Kollektives Lernen von Geschichten

Am 15. Februar 2018 kamen in Bern 250 Menschen zusammen, um das Sustainable Development Solutions Network Schweiz SDSN zu lancieren und um die Schweiz einige Schritte weiter in Richtung Agenda 2030 zu bewegen. Selten genug treffen so viele Menschen mit so viel Wissen und Erfahrungen zusammen. Diese Chance galt es zu nutzen. Aber wie? Das Hostingteam der Konferenz in Zusammenarbeit mit collaboratio helvetica hat sich für das Lernen von Geschichten entschieden. Methodisch fiel die Wahl auf das Collective Story Harvesting. Klingender Name – und was darf man sich konkret darunter vorstellen?

Gender Lab: first learnings

There are many different perspectives on this topic, and different ways to look at an ideal future. Language is important, and we need to be aware of our own blind spots when falling into the binary man/woman. It’s a topic that’s inherently systemic but never not personal. The four clusters that were formed so far: inclusive language, power dynamics, entry points/dialogue and parenting/education

How to use case clinic to pick your peers’ brains and hearts for your leadership challenges

Every now and again we bump up against a personal learning threshold, be it more or less consciously, sometimes for what feels like the gazillionth time. At times we’re hungry to find and face the next one to level up self-awareness, other times it can leave us feeling vulnerable to share what can touch upon deep confusion, self doubt, frustration or alike.