Generative Questions →

During this podcast with Michelle McQuaid (16:27), Gervase Bushe shares these tips on asking more generative questions:

• They are surprising.
• They touch the heart.
• It takes them somewhere new.
• They build relationship between people.

I’ll listen to this again and again. Gervase’s work is truly inspiring.

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Heartbreak

David Whyte: Heartbreak asks us not to look for an alternative path, because there is no alternative path. It is a deeper introduction to what we love and have loved, an inescapable and often beautiful question, something or someone who has been with us all along, asking us to be ready for the last letting go. 1 Storm: Photo © Martin Gleeson. Gough’s Bay, Victoria. January, 2012 Rest in pe…  
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Is Conversation Action? →

David Gurteen:

Conversation creates the conditions, in which actions and changes we would like to see in the world become possible.

Yes, conversation is action.

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Choosing Comfort →

Brené Brown, talking with Krista Tippett:

Yeah, make a note right now. He or she who chooses comfort — over courage and facilitating real conversations in towns and cities and synagogues and areas who need it; when you choose your own comfort over trying to bring people together, and you’re a leader, either a civic leader or a faith leader, your days of relevance are numbered.

This applies equally to leaders in organisations. A great quote from a fantastic interview.

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It's Time for an RSS Revival →

Brian Barrett, writing for Wired:

Still, the lasting appeal of RSS remains the parts that haven’t changed: the unfiltered view of the open web, and the chance to make your own decisions about what you find there.

Amen. RSS has always been a key part of my experience with the web. Hat tip to Stephen Downes for the find, not so coincidentally via my RSS feed.

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Unhurried Conversations →

Johnnie Moore, reflecting on four years of unhurried conversations:

There’s a lot more going on when we talk to each other than an exchange of information. There’s a dance of conversation, where we viscerally respond and reflect to each other. There’s more happening than any transcript could convey.

There’s some really insightful and useful stuff here. I’ve been lucky enough to experience this simple talking-piece process as a participant a couple of times and really enjoyed it.

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Yarning Circles →

Isabella Higgins, writing for the ABC:

The school has embraced the morning yarning circle, a practice that has been used in Indigenous cultures for generations, where students can share their ideas and feelings.

There are many forms of the check-in process — a simple practice that gathers people’s attention and focuses everyone. I haven’t heard the term ‘Yarning Circle’ used before. Love it! The circle is deep in all of our bones.

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How Complexity Principles Can Inform Participatory Process Design →

Chris Corrigan:

… the nature of complex systems compels us to make important design choices when we are facilitating participatory processes to do work in organizations.

Chris has also picked up on Sonja Blignault’s terrific posts on Paul Cilliers’ work on complexity. I’m a big fan of Chris’ work and appreciate these type of reflections on his own experiences working with complexity, and his astute observations. Inspiring stuff.

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The Narcissism of Employee Engagement →

Simon Terry:

The discussion is unreal: The only facts in a discussion are the satisfaction survey results. Much of the rest of the discussion is belief, assertion and opinion with little to ground that in the real world employees experience.

This resonates strongly with my own experience. It became clear to me especially during the time I was deeply involved in narrative inquiry work.

Something I learnt very early on from Shawn has stuck with me. If someone starts a sentence with “I think …”, you’re not going to hear a story. Once you notice it, it’s hard to unhear.

Even when you ask people questions that encourage them to recount their experiences and provide specific examples (aka stories), they often state their beliefs, assertions and opinions instead. Perhaps this has something to do with psychological safety, or the comfort of rationality? Whatever the cause, it seems to be ingrained in our culture.

There are some great ideas in this post for changing this dynamic. It’s not easy, but when you can engage people around their own, real world experiences (stories) to make sense of complex situations, it can be effective and powerful.

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