Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Five Rhythms

Gabrielle Roth talks about the five rhythms of the soul – flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness, in her books Maps to Ecstasy and Sweat Your Prayers. In Maps to Ecstasy she describes some experiences she had when teaching dance and drama early in her life. She describes how her students became her teachers, and that they taught her to lead by following.

“ It was impossible to “control” 300 kids on a playground or 50 seniors, each with their own words and fixed ideas. It was impossible to impose my great plans – plans I may have stayed up half the night creating – unless they happened (as they occasionally did) to fit into their flow. More often than not, to retain my sanity, I had to drop my brilliant ideas and flow, spontaneously creating movement and dance out of the energy in the room or on the playground. I had to draw them out from where they were. I followed them into the moment, and found a magical place.”

She describes how she discovered these five rhythms by paying attention to the movements of the participants. She also describes how she danced with a group of schizophrenics – how she connected with them where they were. When I read this I immediately thought of facilitating and training. So often we are taught or shown by example that we as a facilitator or trainer should “control” the group. And it can feel like a wrestling match or cat herding when approached this way, a great struggle.

I have learned that only when you stop attempting to control, can you truly connect with people where they are -- and discover together what the energy of the group is and how best to support it. Over the last several years, I have been learning and using new ways to facilitate groups. Methods that provide a way to connect with the energy, passions, and interests of the group AND which promote discovery.

One of my favorite methods is Open Space Technology – which has enough structure to promote creativity but not too much. When facilitating discussions using this – people are allowed to discuss whatever they are most interested in at that moment. And that is a powerful and wonderful opportunity. I am already noticing how these 5 rhythms show up in groups. Thanks Lynne for sharing them with our NIA dance class. For more information on NIA go to www.nianow.com

Wholonomy Consulting llc

Monday, October 15, 2007

Transformational Presenting

In our October newsletter we shared some information about transformational presentations based on Bob Garmston’s workshop on Presenting sponsored by the Arizona K-12 Center. Here is some more information about what we learned and how we are using it.

Based on the different learning styles and preferences that people have – there are four types of audiences that need to be addressed to effectively present to a group. Here is a summary of the four audiences:
• The Professors who want to know the “what” of a topic – they like facts, lectures, and quotes;
• The Friends who want to know the “so what” of a topic – they like emotional hooks, personal stories, and hands-on activities;
• The Scientists who want to know the “why” of a topic – they like data, opportunities to process data, structure, and organization; and
• The Inventors who want to know the “what if” of a topic – they like to reorganize the information into new and different arrangements, to create and explore.

Want to know more? Check out the Presenter’s Fieldbook by Robert Garmston.

Using what we’ve learned.
I heard a story last week from another participant -- about how she shared her learning with someone who was able to use this information. In particular, she shared what we learned about the impact of physical space when presenting. We learned that a negative experience can “contaminate” the space for attendees. So when you are presenting or planning a presentation the physical layout and space must be changed, if the people attending have experienced something negative in that space previously. This information was passed on to someone who was scheduling a presentation for people who had had a negative experience with trainings in that same space. As a result of this knowledge, she physically changed the layout of the room, which contributed to a successful training.

I passed on the information about the power of reflection to a group that I was leading through a group reflecting conversation. Later that week I saw one of the attendees who told me she had already passed on something she learned.

Post a comment about how you have used what you learned at the Presenter’s Workshop.


Cycling in Hungary and the Czech Republic

Cycling in Hungary
If you have ever thought about taking a cycling holiday in Europe, I highly recommend it. I joined a group of 14 other women that cycled through small villages in Hungary on a tour run by Velo-touring. Check out their tours at www.velo-touring.hu We had a fabulous time and enjoyed our tour guide who cycled with us and our driver/chef.

Hungary has more hot springs than anywhere I’ve ever been, and we got to visit a different one each day on the cycling trip. On the last day we went to two different spas. Nothing could be better after a day of cycling than relaxing in a hot spring. In addition to cycling through the beautiful countryside we visited a nature preserve and National Park.

We stayed in small hotels/bed and breakfasts for the first few night and then a hunting lodge for the last two nights. This place was huge with rooms in the main building spanning two floors with lofts. We were told the communists used this lodge, and several women claimed to have smelled cigar smoke late at night. You could just picture men smoking their cigars after a day of hunting. We sampled delicious and authentic food wherever we stayed, and yes a lot of meat, potatoes, and paprika. Luckily when you are riding a bicycle several hours a day you can eat as much as you want.

After the cycling portion of the trip we stayed for a week in the lovely city of Budapest, which also has many hot springs all over the city including right in our hotel. If you love hot springs as much as I do, you couldn’t ask for more. There is so much to do in Budapest, and a great public transit system. The subways reminded me of the DC metro – as long as you knew which color line you wanted and the name of the town at the end of the line in the direction you wanted to go you were fine. The Opera House is breathtakingly beautiful, there are lots of incredible churches, views of and from the Danube, an amazing array of museums, the second largest Parliament in the world (second to London), and great walking, shopping, and cafes. One of the most interesting things I saw, the mummified hand of St. Stephen in the Basilica. It is well worth the 100 Forints it costs to get the light turned on - about 150 Forints equals a US dollar). Also fascinating are the caves below the Buda Castle. We were told these caves were able to hold up to 10,000 people when hiding from invaders. Our last night we took a boat cruise and saw the beauty of the city at night from a unique vantage point.


Cycling in the Czech Republic
While Cassandra was cycling in Hungary, I joined a group of 19 people to travel the Greenways of the Czech Republic. We cycled from little village to little village in the Moravia and Bohemia areas of the Czech Republic. These small villages each had their own wonderful castle or chateau—I learned a chateau is a castle without fortification. They were all so beautiful. Just like a fairy tale. It was a pretty good life if you were part of the nobility, even a 1000 years ago. Many of these small villages have been declared UNESCO sites and I am really glad that they have. Maybe it will keep them true to their original character and completely absent of McDonald’s, Starbucks or other mass marketing establishments. While biking along the Czech Greenways we learned about the countries efforts at sustainable development, and the projects the European Union is supporting to help build small businesses and keep local crafts alive. We saw what is left of the iron curtain and really enjoyed some great Czech beer. I agree with Cassandra, if you have not done a biking vacation in Europe, it is something you must try.



Thursday, October 11, 2007

Discovering your Signature Strengths

According to Martin Seligman the founder of Positive Psychology and author of Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness, we all have signature strengths. Our key to authentic happiness? Using our signature strengths.

How do you know what yours are? You can go to www.authentichappiness.org - link to authentic happiness website - and take the VIA Signature Strengths Survey to identify your signature strengths. You will find out which of the 24 strengths measured in the test are your top 5.

Here is what Dr. Seligman says about the three different forms of happiness you can pursue:

1. The Pleasant Life - you aim to have as much positive emotion as possible and learn skills to amplify positive emotion;

2. The Engaged Life - you identify your highest strengths and talents and recraft your life to use them as much as you can in work, love, friendship, parenting and leisure; and

3. The Meaningful Life - you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self.

Wholonomy Consulting llc

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Creating High-Impact Non Profits

Link to Article

Check out this article in the Fall 2007 Stanford Social Innovation Review. The authors have identified and studied 12 high impact non profits. The secret of their success – enlisting and inspiring partners outside of their organizations, rather than focusing on strengthening internal operations.

Conventional Myths of Nonprofit Management

They discovered that the conventional wisdom did not hold up, these non profits with high impact did not achieve this by building a great organization and scaling it up. They found the following myths:

Myth # 1 – Perfect Management. Although adequate management is necessary, it is not sufficient for creating significant social impact.

Myth # 2 – Brand-Name Awareness. For some of the 12 high impact non profits traditional mass marketing is part of their strategy for others it is unimportant.

Myth # 3 – A Breakthrough New Idea. Although some had new ideas, others take old ideas and tweak them until they are successful.

Myth # 4 – Textbook Mission Statement. All of the groups have compelling missions and visions, but only a few spent time fine-tuning their mission statements on paper, they are living it.

Myth # 5 – High Ratings on Conventional Metrics. When traditional measures of nonprofit efficiency were used these groups didn’t often score well – because they don’t adhere to misleading metrics such as overhead ratios. Efficiency doesn’t cause high impact.

Myth # 6 – Large Budgets. The size of the budget doesn’t correlate with impact, many of the 12 have achieved high impact with small budgets.

Six Practices of the High-Impact Nonprofits

What do they do, these high impact nonprofits? The practice the majority of the following six practices:

1. Serve and Advocate: not just one or the other. Neither provision of services or advocacy alone is enough to generate high impact.

2. Make Markets Work: tapping into forces beyond conventional definitions of charity they have influenced business practices, built corporate partnerships, and developed earned-income ventures to achieve social change on a grand scale.

3. Inspire Evangelists: inspiring supporters who become evangelists for the effort.

4. Nurture Nonprofit Networks: high impact nonprofits achieve their impact through collaboration not competition – and they help their peers succeed, build networks of nonprofit allies, and devote time and energy to advancing their fields.

5. Master the Art of Adaptation: high impact nonprofits are exceptionally adaptive modifying strategies, testing new ones, and evaluating results to identify new adaptations.

6. Share Leadership. Leadership is not dependent on one person, but distributed leadership is evident throughout the organization and among board members and volunteers.

Want to know more? Check out the full article.

Wholonomy Consulting llc