Designing for Aliveness

I am in the early process of designing a 2-day event for about 20 executives from different companies. They are coming together to investigate various aspects of Business Agility. As I have that event rolling around in the back of my mind, I am also listening to the video lessons from Diane Musho Hamilton called Inclusion 2.0 (affiliate link). Diane has been one of the most influential teachers in my career. Going on several years now, I am still learning the depth of what she would probably consider basic lessons about facilitation, diversity and conflict.

Here are some of the insights that are influencing the way I think about designing this event:

Sameness and Difference. We humans see difference as exciting, and also as a threat. If the threat “warning light” goes off, people will be coping with their own nervous systems and not truly able to move forward together. So, some sameness is needed. Some soothing of the system to build a basic sense of safety and belonging. But too much sameness and it gets sluggish, boring — new ideas do not come. I’m thinking about this concept as I design the whole event — where will we have moments of creating sameness, moments of catalyzing difference? I’m also thinking about this for the small and whole-group facilitated conversations we will have. During these, I want the facilitators (myself included) to have our radars up to detect the level of sameness and difference at any moment, and to bring the one the group needs.

Coherence and Differentiation. To get a group to move together, they need to have coherence. Their minds all need to be present to what is happening… right …now. I’m thinking of ways to create coherence, especially just prior to moving into conversation with one another. I often see really low quality conversations and I want these conversations to break that mold. Maybe some solo work or silent group work to allow people to gather their thoughts before starting to speak. Maybe a minute of silence and inviting people to pay attention to their breath to bring them into the current moment. These are some thoughts cavorting in my mind.

I’ll keep adding to this post as I go through the video lessons. Maybe some of my insights will be useful to you.