A Mother-Daughter Experience From Canada and Armenia at the Horasis Global Meeting

Horasis

Photo C.G. DePineres

What is Horasis?

Horasis is a global visions community dedicated to inspiring our future.  Pre-covid, events designed to foster cross sector and cross country dialogue were held all over the world.  I was to attend my first global meeting in Cascais, Portugal in March 2020.  In preparation for the 4-day in-person event, I researched fellow panelists and topics.   I was amazed and impressed by this diverse, global community. I couldn’t imagine a more fun, intellectually engaging way to spend a week in a beautiful city.

The 2020 Horasis Extraordinary Meeting

On October 1, 2020, my daughter and I participated in the Horasis meeting gone virtual.  All attendees are also panelists.  Panelists are sought out by the chairman and founder, Dr. Frank-Jürgen Richter, a former Director of the World Economic Forum.

horasis

Frank reached out to me on Linked-In over a year ago. He thought I had a unique perspective to offer.  I had never heard of Horasis prior and was honoured to be “found” by Frank. As Horasis was seeking more young participants, I introduced Frank to my daughter, Sashka Avanyan, a young social entrepreneur, whom he subsequently invited as well.  Sashka and I were excited about the unusual experience of participating in a conference at the same time.

Virtual Horasis

Screen-shot of the Run the World platform

Screen-shot of the Run the World platform

Alas, the pandemic cancelled a beautiful experience in Portugal.  Instead, Sashka and I were confined to our current locations, me in Canada and Sashka in Armenia.

Horasis shifted to a 17 hour, virtual conference. There were over 900 attendees speaking across 134 panels, 11 plenaries, special addresses and multiple virtual receptions.  Not a single session ran over time.  In virtual conferences you are kicked out immediately when the clock runs out!  We all experienced and witnessed being cut-off mid-sentence.

Meet My Panel – Developing Deep Learning while in Isolation

Horasis

Photo, Horasis panelist, Joan O’Donnell

Panelists from left to right:  Top row: Toufi Saliba, CEO Toda.Network, USA, me, Mark Mueller-Eberstein, CEO, Adgetec Corporation, USA (Panel Chair). Bottom row:  Andrew McGregor, Founder, Oomvelt Research, USA, Lila Tretikov, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft, USA.

The Deep Learning Discussion

This panel touched on the questions:

  • How can we ensure the access to data to develop deep learning?
  • How can we judge the results of these systems if we remain isolated?
  • Are we educated well enough to judge?
  • What is Deep Learning from the human perspective?

Deep learning is a subset of machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that configures computers to perform tasks through experience.  In contrast to my fellow panelists who are all working directly with AI, I provided the human perspective on deep learning.

Human Learning

Human Learning

Photo Ed Robertson

Human deep learning can be defined as the ability to quickly master complicated information or learn a cognitively demanding skill. This learning creates value for you and for the world.

Depth is Eroding

horasis mind equity

Photo Sharon McClutcheon

Learning these days is at risk, as pointed out in Maggie Jackson’s book, Distraction, with an entire chapter dedicated to the erosion of depth in our pursuit of knowledge. We are often ceding control over learning to a digital environment. We are often not the master of our tools.  We are sometimes abdicating responsibility for learning to Google. Our heads are in screens, disconnected from our bodies.

Holistic Human Learning

Human learning at the deepest levels is holistic and, in addition to the intellectual, thinking, cognitive processing that occurs, we also process data from the five relationships that we are always in.  These five relationships are always there, whether we notice them or not.

Human Learning Horasis

Photo NeONBRAND

These are

  1. Our relationship with ourselves, degree of self awareness of physical and emotional states,
  2. Our physical relationship with Earth, as our bodies are attached through gravitational pull,
  3. Our relationship with the visible social body – other humans we are interacting with in a given moment,
  4. Our relationship with the invisible social field – the level of relational connectedness, history, opinions, affinity,
  5. Our relationship with the space, which now includes both our physical and our virtual spaces.

As humans, when we pay attention, or just notice, the five relationships, we are able to gather data from these five relationships. This allows us to tap into more than just intelligence. We have a holistic perception of our learning environment which enables both knowledge and wisdom.

Will AI ever be able to capture data on these levels?

Knowledge without Wisdom

An African proverb says, “Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand”. I believe we must acknowledge that human learning is at risk due to the emphasis on knowledge acquisition and little time spent on cultivating wisdom. We can start to protect human learning by protecting our attention. We can enable balance between the digital and the physical, the human and the machine.

It is not just about data & intellect, it is about tapping into the aggregate of the five relationships with self, Earth, social body, social field, and spaces.   Collective wisdom arises when we pay attention to the social body and the social field, as defined above.

Meet Sashka’s Panel – Post Covid Cluster Hubs

Panelists from left to right:  Top row: Sashka Avanyan, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Creopia Productions, Armenia,  Manfred Zeuch, VP, Concordia University, Edmonton, Canada, Christian Tidona, Founder, BioMed X Institute, Germany.  Bottom row:  Evgeniya Shamis, CEO, Sherpa S Pro, Russia, Pina Hirano, CEO, Asteria, Japan, Jonathan Greechan, Co-Founder, Founder Institute, USA (Chair).

Sashka

This panel touched on the questions:

  • In Covid, close socializing is not allowed – what will innovators do?
  • Will they thrive at a distance, or will they atrophy?
  • What new work mode can be substituted?

Decentralized Clusters in Armenia

Sashka, age 24, provided the perspective of decentralized innovation clusters in Armenia.

“Specifically for me, the most important thing for social entrepreneurship development is decentralization. Cluster hubs, especially in rural areas, are extremely important for growth.”

“When the pandemic hit, we gained an understanding of the fact that a decentralized world is actually a more connected world.”

Rural Area Challenges

“One downside of working in a rural area in a pandemic is the inability to meet in physical spaces to train our beneficiaries who are students. This is a poverty stricken area with average income at $100 a month. Our students don’t have the means to buy a computer that will run the software they need to learn. Now we’re trying to think of mobile models of access to hardware so students can learn creative skills. So, while social business clientele is growing in the pandemic, now our students are suffering significantly.  So we have to adapt, adapt, adapt.”

Adapting also in War

Photo Sashka Avanyan, in Vanadzor, Armenia

Photo Sashka Avanyan, in Vanadzor, Armenia

“Last week I participated in Civil Match, an online program connecting Caucasian projects with European partners. During speed networking I connected with a German, Azeri and Georgian partner. Now we’re collaborating on a mobile truck project which will have all the hardware needed to learn creative skills, traveling through three regions.  At the same time we already realize the difficulty of being so distant. The project is large and intense. We need team bonding which is very difficult through virtual only connections. And since last week we have the added complexity of war breaking out between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

Digital and Physical Balance

I don’t think that that means that we should accept only the positives of virtual connection as the norm. There is no way that we’re going to be able to create additional decentralized clusters in rural areas unless the physical connection is there as well. Moving forward, balance between digital and physical is going to be the name of the game.

In Closing

Horasis was my first virtual conference. It was a great learning experience, full of new connections and insights.  The virtual conference is a great alternative when physical gathering is forbidden. At the end of the day, however, I felt digital overwhelm.  Further, there was no sense of a real ending to the conference, with people lingering about, exiting the space in pairs or triads, saying farewell or moving-on to a restaurant or stroll on the beach.  The streaming of panels and plenaries just stopped, leaving me in a sudden, empty void in virtual space, returning to my surroundings in my empty home office in Canada.

There was the sensation of having participated in a vibrant collective, together with my daughter. Our shared experience, while it intersected in the virtual world, was vastly different because of where our feet were physically touching the ground. I was in safe, peaceful, mask-wearing Canada, worrying about Sashka in the beautiful mountains of an insecure, uncertain, at-war Armenia.  And watching either of our panels, you would never guess the underlying dialogues going on in our heads about the realities on the ground.

Postscript

Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think*?”…that on October 2, 2020, on the front page of The Globe and Mail, we learned that Turkish-made drones that included Canadian made Wescam gear, invaded the airspace of Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.  I stress, Armenia’s capital…..this was not the airspace of the disputed territory of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).  Wescam is owned by U.S. parent L3Harris Wescam and the technology is manufactured in Burlington, Ontario, 45 minutes from my house.

You can reach Michelle Moore at .  mindequity.ca

You can reach Sashka Avanyan at creopiaproductions.com

*Quote from the song “Ironic, Alanis Morissette, Canadian-American singer, songwriter

Leadership is about Attention

Leading with Attention

In August 2020 I had the opportunity to deliver an interactive virtual workshop for Dr. Anita Nowak’s Leadership class at McGill University in the Desautels Faculty of Management.

About 20 undergraduate students from various majors participated with career interests including management consulting, board management, diversity & inclusion, finance, sustainability, strategic management and business advising.

When asked about issues hindering their ability to focus these days, responses included:

  • “I am reactive and distracted. Time and resources are wasted.”
  • “I have constant stress. The hidden voice of fear, judgement and cynicism are there.”
  • “I can’t focus”.
  • “I feel disconnected.”
  • “I have burnout.”
  • “I have an unbalanced portfolio of work and experience analysis paralysis.”

Digital overwhelm and distraction were with us before the pandemic. Screens had already become an extension of our brains. Students of leadership recognize this is an ongoing problem in themselves and in the teams and organizations they will eventually lead.

Focus is a Skill

We talked about focus as a skill that can be learned. We collectively recognized that none of us had ever had formal training in how to focus, not in school, nor in university, nor in the workplace.

I introduced a simple focusing exercise called “50 Snaps”, which is taught in many U.S. elementary schools. You can do this any time if you need a break from sitting. Stand on one leg, hold out one arm in front of you, then snap your fingers 50 times. Close your eyes if this is too easy.

Students shared that their attention was directed to snapping, counting and balancing. In other words, no one was daydreaming and thinking about their to do lists!

Imagine if we could direct our focus in this way for several hours a day?

5 Elements Influencing Attention

I introduced the 5 elements influencing our attention to this group of future leaders. These are:

  1. Focus
  2. Culture
  3. Body Wisdom
  4. Tools
  5. Environment

Participants were engaged via interactive exercises and generative dialogue around their current state felt experience in relation to the five elements. Some insights which arose from the class included:

1. Focus

Many students have the goal to do up to 28 hours of undistracted, focused work per week. It is challenging to accept that the average person can stay truly focused for only about 2 hours in one day! People who have trained themselves to focus better can do up to 4 hours of deep work per day. (I recommend the book Deep Work by Cal Newport for more information on the topic.)

2. Culture

Students had discussions on how team culture influences their ability to stay focused. Aspects of culture included team values, mindsets, behaviours, and alignment on purpose. We talked about the importance of adopting a new maxim, “Attention is our most valuable asset.”

3. Body Wisdom

The idea of the body mind connection was not new. However, the importance of balancing intelligence and wisdom in a team in order to foster innovation was different. Lego Serious Play, Social Presencing Theatre, the Empathy Toy and Agile games are examples of body wisdom practices which get us out of our heads and into our bodies for new insights. Not only do these practices improve innovation, but they have the added benefit of increasing creativity, wellbeing and empathy. Students commented that they were lucky to learn about such things from forward thinking professors like Dr. Anita Nowak.

The Empathy Toy, photo 21 Toys

4. Tools

One of the easiest ways to get back attention is by using digital tools intentionally. Most of the students shared that they get 10-20 notifications per hour. One student has 150!. A University of California @ Irvine research study shows that it takes 23 minutes to get back to a task after an interruption. This was eye-opening. We also discussed the importance of having the right metrics and agreements in place to track wellbeing, effectiveness and innovation in order to understand how well a team is cultivating and protecting attention.

Photo Craig Garner

5. Environment

Finally, participants reflected on the importance of physical and virtual workspace design and its impact on their ability to focus. This included how both physical and virtual meetings can either be a big waste of time or be effectively facilitated for inclusion and generative dialogue. The topic of psychological safety and “holding space” for everyone to feel comfortable enough to participate was a great area of interest in this class.

7 Mistakes Hindering Sustained Value Creation  

The Problem.

Innovation teams must continuously sustain creative advantage to remain relevant. They are bombarded with exponential change, technology disruption and stress…..and that was before the pandemic!

Only “6% of executives are satisfied with innovation performance,“ McKinsey Global Innovation Survey, 2019.

Innovative organizations are facing three major, interconnected challenges:

  1. Improving team wellbeing AND
  2. Sustaining innovation AND
  3. Enabling team effectiveness.

An environment of digital overwhelm, increased work from home, and virtual meetings means people are high on busyness on the Merry Go Round of Distraction. Many are working on the brink of burnout. People unknowingly behave as though attention is not their most valuable asset.

“75% of workers admit they feel distracted when they’re on the job, with 16 percent asserting that they’re almost always distracted,” 2018 Udemy, Workplace Distraction Report.

woman sitting holding smartphone near laptop

Photo C.G. DePineres

In my recent ten years working with innovative organizations, I noticed that the three major challenges actually stem from one missing organizational value and seven unintentional mistakes.

The Missing Organizational Value

The missing organizational value is, “Attention is our most valuable asset.” When a fundamental belief about the value of organizational attention is missing, innovation is harder, wellbeing is at risk and high effectiveness without overtime is unlikely.

Silicon Valley inventors, revered by many, are essentially hacking our brain power as well as our effectiveness. Does your organization value team attention more than Silicon Valley does?  Their (Silicon Valley’s) most precious asset is our most precious asset, our attention, and they have abused it,” Franklin Foer, World without Mind.

Please note – I am not proposing your organization exploit attention for data acquisition as per the business models of Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. I agree with Gary Vanderchuk that attention is an asset. However, I believe attention is a human asset that must be protected in order to

  • safeguard wellbeing
  • enable creative flow
  • work effectively without overtime.

“Humans were always wiser at inventing tools than using them wisely,” Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow.

But today, team attention is under attack, not only as a result of the attention economy, but also because of our own behaviours and mindsets.

Photo Siora Photography

7 Underlying Mistakes

Mistake #1: Not knowing how much undistracted, deep work* is needed for sustained value creation.

*Deep work includes, “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push cognitive capabilities to the limit. Creates new value, improves skills, is hard to replicate.” – Cal Newport, Georgetown University, Deep Work, Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

Cal Newport

Not knowing how time is spent, per job role, per team is one of the biggest mistakes we see. If people are uncertain about what the right balance of distraction vs. attention should be, it is likely that time for focused work is not supported by organizational culture nor blocked in the calendar. This leads to overtime or working on weekends.  It is the only way people can find “quiet time” to complete important deliverables.

TIPS: Assess your value creation portfolio. Define how much deep work is required per job role. Block time in your calendar for focused work.

As an organizational leader, please model behaviours such as blocking your own calendar for deep work. Protect and encourage undistracted work time in your teams.

Mistake #2: Constant task switching by day, doing focused work at night, on weekends.

Photo www.distel.com

Though most of us know that multitasking is not possible, we continue to do it. Further, many people believe that interrupting smart phones are not something to be worried about.

“In laboratory studies, most of those whose focus is impaired in the presence of their devices later insist that they have not been affected at all. They are oblivious to the brain drain of distraction,” Maggie Jackson, Distracted, Reclaiming our Focus in a World of Lost Attention.

Personally, task switching is my biggest challenge. I very much like the feeling of constant busyness. I love the illusion of productivity it creates. Thus, I have to put technical and physical inhibitors in place to stop myself from doing it.

TIPS: Technical: Close ALL tabs on all of your monitors, except for the tabs you require for the present task at hand. For example, while writing this piece I have two tabs open, one GoogleDoc tab for writing and a second GoogleDoc tab where quotes and research for this article were collected. Physical: Put your phone in a different room. I find these two tips easier than turning off notifications.

Mistake #3. Prioritization of reactive tasks over intentional, high value creation.

Photo www.distel.com

It is normal for humans to unintentionally prioritize reactive tasks like answering emails and instant messaging in apps like Slack, Teams or GoogleHangouts all day long. Responding quickly can make us feel busy, important and productive. Receiving a quick response to what we just sent is also highly satisfying. This is the well-known dopamine effect.

Since email has not disappeared yet, let’s just talk about that. Composing an email can be a valid work activity. Thus, we may not notice its addictive effects in the same way we may be aware of social media addiction. Email is great for procrastination and we can convince ourselves we are not wasting time. “Consumers said they spend approximately five hours a day checking work email.” 2019 Adobe Email Usage Study.

Unintentional use of email causes constant task switching (Mistake #2). It takes us about 23 minutes to get back to the task at hand after pausing too quickly respond to an email. This statistic was revealed through the research of Gloria Mark, University of California, Irvine.

Thus, if you and your teams still have email overwhelm, action must be taken.

TIPS: If you haven’t already disabled all email notifications, including on your computer, do that now. Then block time in your calendar, up to a maximum of two times per day, for email correspondence.

As an organizational leader, please use your influence and set-up the email servers to batch-receive email messages on the hour instead of constantly. Model the same behaviour you want your teams to be doing. Don’t expect an instant response and don’t respond instantly yourself.

Mistake #4:  Favouring data analysis over instinct, body wisdom and the human sensing experience.

Photo Ellen Noon

Too much thinking, talking, and messaging is the norm. In the Western world, linear, analytical thinking dominates.

“In the last 20-25 years of my life we have seen the dominance of rational thought. It’s dominated a lot of our academic institutions, the media, and it’s taken away from the capacity to advance intuitive skills. Now for the first time we are starting to realize that problems are not getting any better. We have to step back and take a whole new approach to these problems. One of the challenges we have recently had in business is by going to the fully rational side and by focusing everything on near term measurement, analytical tools, we have ground out or expunged creativity from our companies and 100 billions dollars are being wasted.”Bill George, Harvard Senior Fellow, emphasized this during a 2016 interview in the documentary film Innsaei, The Power of Intuition,

We need a balance between intelligence and wisdom to sustain innovation. In my own profession of management consulting, I have been trained and rewarded for analytical, cognitive thinking skills and was never formally trained nor encouraged to apply sensing practices or intuition. This gap can mute creativity as pointed out by Bill George above.

We also need balance between the digital and the physical to sustain wellbeing and to cultivate key leadership skills like empathy and vulnerability. That is why I believe we must regularly get out of our tech and back into the body. By anchoring attention in the body, we can regain focus, just like the unicyclist in the photo. In fact, many meditation and awareness practices include anchors in the body, including the breath, as an important brain training technique.

Photo Noel Nichols

TIPS: Engage regularly, as teams, in body wisdom practices. These are analog activities done in an environment free of screens, headphones, often free of dialogue. Examples include movement, embodiment, using hands to create, silence, mindfulness, intentional sensing and play. In the innovation world, examples include Lego Serious Play, the Empathy Toy, Liberating Structures, and Agile Games.

Since the onset of COVID, these body wisdom practices have been adapted for on-line environments.

As an organizational leader, you can offer and participate in these activities with your teams. You have the opportunity to model your own comfort with uncertainty, key for everyone in pandemic times.

Mistake #5: Too much digital talk without enough human interaction.

For the workplace, I define digital talk as having a conversation with a colleague over email, instant messaging or social media. In addition, digital talk happens in the comment functions of collaborative document co-creation in GoolgeDocs, Slides, Sheets, their Microsoft equivalents, etc.

Digital talk is great and can be very effective. However, I have experienced its extreme over use, especially working in technology companies.

Too much digital talk happens when there are too many contributors to one document or when there is a contributor who just adds comments because they think “they have to” or because they fear they will be perceived as “not collaborating”. Some contributors simply participate due to FOMO, a Fear of Missing Out.

Photo LinkedIn Sales Navigator

How many people have emailed a colleague who is sitting right next to them? Digital talk is often favoured over real talking for various reasons. It leaves a paper trail. It enables avoidance of complex or difficult conversations, albeit ineffectively.

The onset of COVID has resulted in even more digital talk for obvious reasons. We are sick of Zooming and are, understandably, reluctant to schedule yet another video call. So we send more emails and instant messages. Many of us will continue working virtually. Thus, we must make the effort to enable human voice conversations and interconnectedness in the virtual meeting room. Please see my June 2020 post on this topic.

TIPS: Schedule non-video “walk and talks” with a colleague when a 2-person conversation is possible. Walk outside wherever you are with your earbuds in, muting yourself when not talking. You get the benefit of generative dialogue, exercise and fresh air.

black and silver laptop computer on brown wooden table

Photo Craig Garner

Mistake #6: “Shiny new tool” syndrome

Most organizations have “Shiny new tool syndrome”, believing that more tools we have the better we can optimize our work and be highly productive. This belief is a myth and all too common because of the Bring Your Own App (BYOA) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) cultures. Too many tools can create unnecessary complexity and confusion in the organization. Integration of tools is possible but can be complex and costly.

Authors Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever propose the Rule of Three in their book, Your Happiness was Hacked. In Chapter 8, this rule states that, “Teams should try to narrow down their primary tools and applications, beyond email, calendar and word processing, to three choices. This, we believe, will cover the work requirements for 90% of teams in the workplace today. A team’s need for more than three tools is commonly a sign of distress and trouble, though in certain cases it simply indicates that the tools for the team’s job are not integrated.”

TIPS: Assess the degree of “shiny new tool” syndrome in your organization. While the Rule of Three noted above may be difficult to implement, you can minimize the digital tool portfolio by defining it as a strategic priority.

Mistake #7: Abdication of responsibility to “we have no choice…..instant response in this digital age is here to stay.”

Many people will argue that instant response behaviour is not a mistake. I agree that instant response is definitely required in life or death situations, in all kinds of emergencies, if a written contract requires it and in certain professions where it is the only way to get the job done.

Photo Andrey Kremkov

The mistake I observe professionals making is an instant response behaviour that is “just because we can” or “just because we think we have to” or “just because everyone else does it.” It is time to pause and consider the social contracts we are creating in the world, intentionally or unintentionally, that might cause more harm than good.

The same type of thinking can be applied to fast food. If we start eating fast food for every meal “just because we can” or “just because everyone else does it”, our wellbeing will decrease greatly.

I believe we have a choice around instant response, depending on our job role, our team, our organization. We don’t need to confuse “convenient” and “critical”. As organizational leaders, we must consider that “just because” instant response contributes a lot to increased stress and burnout. 61% of employees are burned out on the job,” according to CareerBuilder. No one wants more burned out people. We need teams with high wellbeing to do meaningful work and sustain creative advantage.

TIPS: Internal Communication. Observe the current unwritten rules around instant response for internal team communication via email and instant messaging channels. Co-create a written social contract around behaviour that makes sense for your teams. External Communication. Do the same for external communication with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Evaluate what makes sense for external communication and specific job roles. Co-create, internally and externally, the best fit communication strategy for intentional response.

As an organizational leader, model the same behaviour you want your teams to be doing. Don’t expect an instant response and don’t respond instantly yourself.

In Summary, One Value, 7 Mistakes

Photo Riccardo Pelati

Embrace the organizational value , “Attention is our most valuable asset.”

Avoid these Seven Mistakes

  1. Not knowing how much undistracted, deep work is needed for sustained value creation.
  2. Constant task switching by day, doing focused work at night, on weekends.
  3. Prioritization of reactive tasks over intentional, high value creation.
  4. Favouring data analysis over instinct, body wisdom and the human sensing experience.
  5. Too much digital talk without enough human interaction.
  6. “Shiny new tool” syndrome
  7. Abdication of responsibility to “we have no choice…..instant response in this digital age is here to stay.”

Feature Photo: Javier A. Barros

Strengthening Human Connection – With the Body, Through a Screen

Virtual Meeting Overwhelm

We are all experiencing more virtual meetings than ever before. If we weren’t aware of too much screen time before COVID, we are aware of it now. How can we reduce the overwhelm, inability to focus, and feeling of disconnect? In a world of virtual verbosity, how can we strengthen human connection, with colleagues, friends and family, through a screen?

Digital overwhelm and distraction were with us before the pandemic. Screens had already become an extension of our brains. The body is often just a vehicle of transport for the head. This means we may be weakening the body-mind connection, losing out on our ability to meaningfully connect with others.

white red and yellow ceramic owl figurine

5 Relationships: Three Bodies, a Field and Space

One way to strengthen human connection is by paying attention differently, holistically. We can begin to notice the fact that we are always in relationship with three bodies, a field and space.

Noticing these relationships helps us cultivate empathy and vulnerability, even in the virtual world. These skills strengthen human connection as well as our connection to this fragile Earth. When we can sense ourselves and others, we gain new information, new questions, new insights which are not accessible to us through habitual dialogue or data analysis. When we pay attention in this way, creativity and innovation are enhanced. We may come one step closer to solving a big challenge.

Three Bodies

Every human being is always in relationship with three bodies. Some people may be completely unaware of these bodies or often notice one but not the others. Everyone is different. For most of us, this is a learning opportunity. to strengthen self awareness, awareness of others and awareness of planet Earth.

The first body is the Earth body. Without the Earth body, we would not exist. Our feet are always touching the ground somewhere on this planet. In Canada, we are working to increase the awareness of the Earth body through the practice of land acknowledgements. Land acknowledgements are a way to recognize the indigenous people who first inhabited a place such as First Nations, Métis or Inuit. Also, we can notice our connection to the Earth body through the physical felt sensation of our feet touching the ground. We can feel our body’s weight when we stand, sit or lie down. We can feel the gravitational pull holding us in place.

The second body is our own individual body. Again, everyone’s habitual noticing of their own body is very different. Some may regularly notice hunger, thirst or physical pain. Others may notice breath movement, the physical sensations of clothing, temperature or air. In today’s busy, action oriented and technology focused society, many are experiencing a body disconnect or the sensation of being “more in my head than in my body.”

The third body is the social body, the collection of people who are together in a shared space for a common purpose. Social bodies include people in a meeting, a family in a house, citizens inhabiting a city or country, shoppers in a mall, riders in a subway car, etc. The largest social body we are all part of is humanity.

The three bodies, Earth, individual and social, are all visible and have individual and collective shapes. We know the Earth body is round and we can see the piece of Earth or floor that we are standing on. In addition, we can see sitting or standing body shapes, the circular shape of people seated at a round table or the constantly moving shape of a crowd protesting.

A Field

The fourth relationship is with the social field. In contrast to the visible three bodies, we are also in relationship with the invisible social field, a web of relationships that exists between the people forming a social body in the present moment. The field is also the quality of the energy between people which can be sensed.

Space

The fifth relationship is with the space we are occupying in a given moment. This space is the physical container we inhabit like a room, an office or a backyard. These days, we are often in a physical and a virtual space at the same time. Our relationship with the physical space is tangible. We can feel the furniture and quite easily sense our proximity to walls and a ceiling. Sensing the relationship to the virtual space is a bit nebulous. We are just getting to know what it feels like to inhabit the space of a Zoom room.

Practices to Strengthen Human Connection

Embodiment and mindfulness practices are useful approaches for cultivating awareness of the five relationships. To learn more, join the experiential workshop, “Social Presencing in the Era of Social Distancing” at the online festival, Global Change Days, on June 26, 2020, 10am Eastern Standard Time. Register here. Session Code: WN-S1.

Zooming with the Distraction Monster

Most of us are working from home these days. I am in week four! I read a lot about the opportunity to slow down during this time. Why do I still feel overwhelm? Am I the only one scheduling too many Zoom calls? I doubt it. All this zooming around has allowed my Distraction Monster to get bigger again.
 
So, I try to be kind to myself and go back to the starting line of organizing a productive workday. Last night, I wrote down the major value added activities I aimed to achieve today. This included blocking time for research, reading, meditation, and device free physical activity. I will check email and Slack only twice, once in the morning, a second time at the end of the day.
 
I am hopeful about the future. I believe we can embrace technology in an intentional way. I don’t know how long we will be stuck in home and virtual work spaces. But I will take small steps to become the master of my tools again.
 
Last week, I gave an interview on this topic. A short closing thought is here. Listen to the full interview here.

Prototyping a Social, Digital, And Physical Future Workplace

ET Group’s 2019 Societal Transformation Lab

This is the story of ET Group’s (ETG) journey through the Societal Transformation Lab (s-lab).  ETG is a Toronto-based collaboration technology company that helps people work better together.

In this story we share:

  • Background
  • S-lab intention
  • What did we do?
  • How did it end?
  • The journey continues

Background

The s-lab is “a multi-local innovation journey for teams who are co‑shaping more sustainable and equitable social systems worldwide”. It is a program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Presencing Institute.

The Lab supports teams and initiatives with some prior experience using Theory U to lead a change initiative. In 2019, the program supported and connected 300 teams across 35 countries to simultaneously tackle social challenges using collective systems mapping and design processes.

For more information on Theory U, please visit their website or listen to this podcast.

ETG’s s-lab

ETG’s s-lab was born in Toronto on November 22, 2018 and was active through June 2019. During a company visioning session, team members modelled the world of work.  The group created a physical model using their bodies. The team used a Theory U tool called 4D mapping. 4D mapping is part of the Social Presencing toolkit. The model depicted a global workplace challenge.  The systemic challenge was identified by the group as:

“Change in the world of work continues to speed up, while the WAY work happens, to a great extent is not moving forward.” 

The 4D map revealed new insights, questions, and opportunities.  These culminated in a realization that some employees felt left behind.  There was emphasis on client well-being over employee well-being. Thus, the team decided to take action through the s-lab.

S-lab Intention

The intention of ETG’s s-lab is, “to nourish the evolution of organizations to meet complex challenges by prototyping the social and digital into the physical to inspire collaboration.”  We are prototyping a future workplace on ourselves, and sharing that journey with the world.

Passion led us here

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

What Did We Do?

From January to June, we participated in

  1. Forming the team and setting the ETG s-lab intention;
  2. Applying Theory U co-sensing methods (3D Mapping) and systems-thinking analysis to the ETG initiative; better understanding how all stakeholders experience the current situation – particularly those who we know the least about; learning new ways of perceiving blockages, needs and opportunities;  identifying symptoms and deeper root issues at play;
  3. Sensemaking of observations gathered in February; applied Social Presencing Theater (SPT) exercise, 4D mapping, to model the ETG collaboration ecosystem; generating ideas for prototypes;
    • Enabling Personal Connection
    • ETG Collaboration Hub
  4. Exploring prototype ideas by doing, taking concrete actions to generate feedback from relevant stakeholders;
  5. Refining prototypes through knowledge capture and narrative creation;
  6. Reflection, next steps.
people sitting at tables

Photo by Jordan Encarnacao on Unsplash

Prototyping – Exploring the Future by Doing

Prototyping is a key aspect of the s-lab. It moves an idea into a concrete action.  Prototypes do not require a lot of investment as they are an early draft of what the final result might look like. We had to remember that prototypes are disposable tools, allowing the team to play,  test, and validate ideas.

Prototypes are not pilots.  See the differences in the chart below:

PROTOTYPES PILOTS
Experiment Plan
Rapid, Iterative Phased, careful, sequenced
Fail fast to learn fast Prove why this approach works
Learning and outcomes matter Only outcomes are important
Owned by (all) stakeholders Imposed from the outside

ETG Prototype: Enabling Personal Connection

We created a story around the Personal Connection prototype as follows. The storytelling begins with the s-lab, envisions key moments and paints a picture of the future.  We invite you to read our story below.

We are telling this story because currently people are disconnected.  People, space and technology can and need to be woven together as ONE THING.  As humans, we are becoming more digital. Yet, we desire to maintain social connections. Further, we want to come together in both physical and virtual spaces.  We want to bring the soul and quality of relationships back into our organization. We can remember what is was like to create community 20 years ago. We can recapture that experience into our present moment.

With this story, we want to reach non participants, all ETG people energizing roles, clients and partners, the S-lab community and the world.  We want people to remember that social connection is important & valuable. It takes intention and attention to make it happen. Being human in community is fun and makes a better workplace.  Everyone can take part.

hands holding tomatoes

Photo by Elaine Casap on Unsplash

The story of our prototype goes like this:

Once upon a time, ETG had a certain soul.  Today, people seem distant and our physical & virtual workspaces could be more fun.  Then, our team cooked, laughed and ate together. We made music together, had parties, played sports and games. We got the inside scoop on each other’s lives.  Fast forward a few months. We enjoy fun & meaningful connection, collaboration and communication together. We rediscovered and enriched our sense of soul.

Everyone at ETG is part of this story. with the whole self, bringing their many gifts, coming together to shape our soul.  The story happens in physical and virtual spaces. It happens in eating, music and playing spaces too.

The experience is human, fun, soulful, connected, with a lot of diversity and variety.  We are infused with the vibe of fun music, laughter. Food is always present.

At the end of the year, when reflecting on months passed, we will be able to tell stories of music, fun, laughter, great food, personal anecdotes, and new connections.

green bamboo in a white room

Photo by Riccardo Pelati on Unsplash

ETG Prototype: Collaboration Hub

We created a story around the Collaboration Hub prototype as follows. The storytelling begins with the s-lab, envisions key moments and paints a picture of the future.  We invite you to read our story below.

The evolving nature of work is creating a gap between people. There’s a need emerging for a workplace that’s a collaboration hub.

Our story goes like this:

Companies struggle with real estate. Costs are always increasing and there’s pressure to make the best use of what they have. Mobile technology means that people are often out of the office. Their space is unoccupied but paid for. Meeting rooms are either over-subscribed or empty for hours.

People struggle with workplaces. They often don’t even have their own desk anymore. Noise and lack of privacy intrude into productivity. Commuting gets longer and more frustrating every year. Why even go?

People struggle with technology. They avoid video, so everyone’s a disembodied voice. Engagement suffers. Technology fails to work as expected.

Our goal was to use our own space as a continuous prototype for a better way to collaborate. What we learn from this can help others on their own journeys.

We asked ourselves: How might we live the experience that we want our customers to have?

We will hear the “voice of technology” and connect everyone – simply and easily.

We will talk and eat with one another in spaces of comfort and sharing.

We will make our guests feel welcome and inspired.

We will come back to this place even when we are far away.

We will be connected.

airplane reflection in a puddle

Photo by Marc Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

How Did It End? Individual Reflections

Two subteams convened for a reflective session on the s-lab.  Some highlights from these reflections are given below.

From this time together as a team…..

  • “We were very internally focused on space and people.  We did not spend time on the broader ecosystem.”
  • “We practiced letting go of outcomes, enabling playfulness, knowing that to impact the larger ecosystem we need to work on self, then team, then the outside world.”
  • “We learned the importance of making the time to do this work.  Some are committed to the self work, why not enable each person to do that, as part of their role at ETG.”
  • “I was surprised by some people who showed up at the 4D mapping and how cool it was to experience the participation and openness.”
  • hands on a tree trunk

    Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

    “I noticed that I can keep doing things that feel right,  without asking permission. I know that I won’t be judged for this.”

  • “AT ETG we are taking baby steps with judgement, trust, self-management…..and now there is more rope to do something beneficial. I can bitch less, have coffee with others more.”
  • “When transforming people, space and technology, the hardest thing to change is people.  I realize that some really small changes, like having a BBQ, can have a big, positive impact.  Small things can have big, positive or negative impact.
  • “The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.  I was bitter and jaded before. Then I noticed that my one, little, loud voice was heard. This was a big change for me. I learned that you have to change yourself before you can change an organization.”
  • “There is a realization that we have created a framework for change, but then there is the individual’s desire to change and exist in a new reality.  One big opportunity is individual development and acknowledging that you can’t push this on someone. At the same time, we have to accept that some people may not want to do self work.  We need to meet ETG where it is.”

We, as a team, see the following possibilities.

  • “We can sense back into the societal transformation lab’s intention and really realize it.”
  • window with ocean view

    Photo by Nicolas Jossi on Unsplash

    “ETG will be socially sustainable first.  Then it can focus on the environment.”

  • “There is power to engage with like minded companies in Toronto to have greater societal impact.”
  • “There can be two initiatives, ETG and an initiative of a group of companies.”
  • “We can create a satellite office.”
  • “There can be space in the office for socializing.”
  • “We can have BBQs and other social gatherings.”
  • ““The s-lab can live on through our playbook, the ET Group Way, as a mindset and as a collective movement.”
  • “We can introduce the symbiotic organization, to enable people to understand the importance of the evolution of the individual.”
  • “As individuals who participated in the s-lab, we can model that it is ok to develop yourself in the context of your ETG work.  ETG can invite that by not forcing people to take time off to do self work.”

The Journey Continues

The s-lab journey continues in a container, where learning is amplified, and we cultivate our social soil.

The container. Engaging as a team in the s-lab enabled us to build a container for change.  This container is the holding space for individual change, team change, organizational change and ultimately, societal change.  We are committed to continuously evolving this container for a generative social process. We recognize that this is only the beginning.

Learning amplified. We have experienced learning differently.  Traditionally, we are conditioned to learn mostly by reflecting on the past.  Now, we know that we can also learn and lead from the emerging future. Recognizing our humanness, we can sense and actualize a high potential future with the new practices and tools we have tested.

fresh soil and grass growing

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Our social soil.  We have awareness of our social field, both as a team and as part of a larger ecosystem.  This social field is the quality of relationships that result in patterns of thinking, communicating and organizing.  These patterns create practical results. Thus, we care about the quality of the ETG soil that nurtures the ETG field.

In conclusion, the s-lab lives on in our continuous evolution towards self-management.  It lives on through the ET Group Way. The continuation of the s-lab prototypes and the creation of new initiatives aligned with the ETG s-lab purpose, is held in the newly formed Teamwork & Relationships circle.

Stay tuned!

Featured image by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

 

The Business Caring Formula Podcast: Michelle N. Moore on Theory U

You are invited to listen to a conversation about Theory U via my interview on The Business Caring Formula podcast hosted by Emma Arakelyan. This is part 1 of the interview where Arakelyan asks me questions about

  • the career path that led to transformation work
  • how I discovered Theory U and what it is
  • the three most important traits a caring leader should have
  • applying a sense of humor or a positive attitude in a difficult situation

The Business Caring Formula podcast is about building a leadership lifestyle. It fosters inclusivity and action-driven leadership while taking others on the journey. In her podcast episodes Emma Arakelyan shares stories of inspirational and caring leaders who are catalysts for positive change in the world.

How I Discovered Theoy U

In part 1 of the podcast, we talk about helping organizations cultivate 21st-century competencies like empathy, collaborative learning, and creativity – all in service of humane innovation and holistic transformation. Central to this work is MIT’s Theory U, a framework for innovation that incorporates presencing practices.

Listen by pressing play above or by clicking on any of the links below:

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

Highlights from True North 2019

Collaboration, a Declaration & a Problem

True North is an annual tech conference held in Kitchener – Waterloo. This is a Canadian technology corridor that is among the top 20 in the world. Communitech curated the June 2019 conference.

I attended the conference with ET Group (ETG) to explore the state of tech and expand on the following three highlights of interest below.

  1. Barriers to Organizational Collaboration
  2. The Tech for Good Declaration
  3. The Technology Business Model Problem

Barriers to Collaboration – Legacy Systems & Culture 

The conference kicked off with Manulife’s CEO, Roy Gori. He stated that transformation is possible when purpose, capability and passion exist. Unfortunately, barriers to change exist as well.

True North ConferenceWe agree with Roy that major barriers to change are due to legacy systems and culture. Legacy systems are often not customer centric.  Further, they are rarely designed to keep pace with the digital revolution. Culture can be a larger barrier because it is human nature to resist change.  People believe that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, thus losing out on successful collaboration.

At ETG, we have an up close look of legacy technological systems and culture in the organizations we serve.  Both systems and culture limit organizational collaboration. Often, organizations invest in technology, thinking that new tech will solve all problems.  Then comes the surprise. Tech adoption is minimal, rendering a low return on the tech investment.

User adoption of technology is dependent on culture, human mindsets and behaviours.   Organizations lose opportunities when they fail to focus on these human aspects. Investing in people and culture  yields better collaboration, higher productivity, innovation and engagement. Thus, purpose, capability and passion are key on any technology project intended to improve organizational collaboration as well.

The Tech for Good Declaration

I participated in the working session on Canada’s Tech for Good Declaration when it launched at True North in May 2018. As of today, 58 Canadian companies & 56 individuals signed it. It includes six major commitments about:

  • trust & respect,
  • transparency & choice,
  • re-skilling,
  • leaving no one behind,
  • inclusion and
  • collaborative governance.

Tech For Good DeclarationThis popular phrase, Tech for Good, means different things to different stakeholders.  The Declaration has its own version as articulated in the six commitments above. Others say that it is “a community of people, making tech that addresses social, economic and environmental challenges. Further,  building that tech in a collaborative, user-led way with an end result that’s ethically right-on.” (Joe Roberson, Tech for Good, Medium, May 17, 2018)

ETG is a signatory to the Tech for Good Declaration. Further, we have contributed perspectives on Tech for Good for the University of Waterloo study, “Cultivating Ethos in the Tech Sector”.  The results will foster dialogue between business, government and users. The goal of this study is to overcome ethical challenges posed by technological innovation. The study will also inform knowledge exchange on ethics, inclusion and equity in the tech sector.

Tarot Cards of Tech at True North 2019

Tarot Cards of TechAt True North 2019, conference participants shared feedback on the latest Declaration. We utilized the  Tarot Cards of Tech.   The cards are a set of provocations designed to help reflect on important questions:

  • Are we considering the full impact of technology?
  • Do we see the unintended consequences of the tech we recommend, design or implement?
  • What opportunities for positive change does this technology create?
  • Are we applying human centred design to build technology solutions?

At ETG, cross-functional, inclusive, human centred design is front and centre.  It is exciting to introduce the Tarot Cards of Tech on the next project. The cards will enable holistic dialogue about collaboration technology in the workplace.

A Problematic Technology Business Model

Signatories to the Declaration make six commitments (noted above).  This is all well and good. Yet, there is a glaring omission in this Declaration around company business models.  I agree with the findings of the Center for Humane Technology. Many technology companies make money on the extraction of our attention.  Our attention provides data to fuel their profits.

Shoshana Zuboff also exposes the problematic tech business model in her book, The Age of Surveillance Capital also reveals this problem. Companies want to automate humans for profit.

Surveillance capitalism,” she writes, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence’, and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioural futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behaviour.”

Thus, the Canadian Declaration must include a seventh commitment on the business model.  Signatories should promise value creation for consumers and society as a whole. Attention extraction, which serves only investors, must be left behind.

True North ConferenceThe problematic technology business model was also mentioned by Kara Swisher, renowned journalist and editor of Recode. She stated that all problems link to the race to capture human attention by tech giants.  Kara detailed these problems during her summary the state of technology in the context of the following topics:

  • AI: Anything that can be digitized will be digitized
  • The robots are not killers (they don’t have to kill us to win)
  • There is still no privacy
  • The never-ending revolution (populism, lack of unity, social issues, etc.)
  • No one is responsible (for breaking rules)

The day ended at the Shopify happy hour in the original barrel storage area for Seagram’s Whiskey.

How to Use Visual Models for Future Workplace Perspectives

Four Months. 300+ Teams. One Transformation Lab.

In this second post about ET Group’s journey through MIT’s Presencing Institute Societal Transformation Lab (s-lab), a new Theory U Practice, 3D Mapping, is presented.  The s-lab is a four month program bringing together 300+ change teams across the world. Each team uses Theory U methods and tools on a project they collectively care deeply about. ET Group (ETG) has provided collaborative technology solutions to clients for over 40 years. Above all, ETG is evolving to help unleash human and organizational potential. The key is weaving people, space, and technology together.

ET Group 3D model

Current Workplace Visual Model

ETG’s intention is to help organizations meet complex challenges by enabling collaboration. Therefore, the s-lab is the platform of choice to transform social and digital experiences in the workplace. Each month, teams use Theory U tools in support of the transformation they are enabling. For example, the team created visual models using a Theory U tool called 3D mapping.

Because new perspectives arise out of 3D mapping, ETG realized several workplace opportunities. ETG can improve its own physical space and virtual experiences. There is opportunity to integrate technologies and invite clients into the journey.
 
Teams of 5-8 people created current state maps of the ETG workplace. Toys and other objects represented aspects of the workplace. For example, legos, a lemon, toy cars, umbrellas and figure are pictured in the photo of a current state map above.

Gaining New Workplace Perspectives

Once the current state model was complete, the team moved around the table and paused at each corner. As a result, they gained a new perspective and articulated what they saw from each direction.

Drawing, Presencing Institute

Firstly, teams stand in the East with a focus on feelings and relationships. Questions answered include, “What do you love? What ignites your energy?” Secondly, they move to the South for the perspective of truth and action. “What are the key conflicts and hard truths you need to face to move forward?” Thirdly, barriers which are stopping the current system from moving forward arise in the West. Finally, teams move North for the deeper purpose view.  They answer, “What is wanting to die? What is wanting to be born?”

An Emerging Future Workplace

Next, team members moved objects towards a future state of high potential. Each team member stated what the object and its movement represented in that future. The team continued to move objects around until the future state felt complete.
 
A minute of silence allowed the team to absorb a sense of their high potential future workplace. After that, they engaged in reflective dialogue about the future state. Specifics about the model structure, the model building process, and leverage points for transformation were articulated.

Presencing Institute Photo

ET Group Insights

As a result of two 3D models, new insights about the workplace experience became visible.  Similarly, new questions arose.  Insights related to A) model structure,  B) object movements, C) key interventions and D) transformation leverage points.
 
A. Structural differences between current and future state models included:
  • Objects are moving in a new common direction, versus moving in opposite directions. Fast change is possible.
  • People were no longer scattered. All face in the same direction, positioned towards new tools.
  • The workplace is now a bridge, something people use. The physical space is not a barrier. Removal of both physical and mental barriers is possible.

ET Group 3D Model

B.  The object representing virtual workplace collaboration moved first. It was placed in the middle, connected to the meeting spaces, linking physical and virtual. Therefore, barriers were removed and a bridge was built.

C. Key interventions to build the future state included bringing clients onboard. As a result there was no longer a separation between team and clients. Lots of people made the journey, with no exclusions.

D. The teams discovered leverage points to move their workplace transformation forward, including actions to
-Change the physical space
-Adopt and integrate the technologies
-Improve the Virtual space – creating more connections with existing or new tools
-Focus on the the ETG self
-Invite clients into the journey.

Next Steps

In March 2019, ETG will continue to apply Theory U practices to support workplace transformation. They will use embodiment practices called Social Presencing to access deeper collective wisdom. In the following month, the team will generate prototype ideas in related to technology and people. Stay tuned!

How to Model a Workplace of the Future – Through the Social Body

Four Months. 300+ Teams. One Transformation Lab.

This is the first in a series of writings on ET Group’s (ETG) journey through MIT*’s Presencing Institute hosted Societal Transformation Lab (s-lab).  ET Group is an organization that has provided collaborative technology solutions for over 40 years. Now they are on an evolutionary journey to help solve key organizational challenges by weaving people, space, and technology together, unleashing human and organizational potential.   The s-lab is a four month program bringing together 300+ teams across the world. Each team applies Theory U methods and tools to prototype a project they care deeply about, collectively.  

Shaping an Intention to Transform the Workplace of the Future

The intention ETG’s s-lab is, “to nourish the evolution of organizations to meet complex challenges by prototyping the social and digital into the physical to inspire collaboration.”  ETG is prototyping a social-digital-physical workplace of the future on themselves, and sharing that journey with the world.

Background

The ETG’s s-lab was born in Toronto on November 22, 2018 during a company visioning session in which team members used Social Presencing to model the world of work and workplace.  The group created a physical model with their bodies to depict a global workplace challenge they want to change.  The systemic challenge was framed as

Change in the world of work continues to speed up, while the WAY work happens, to a great extent is not moving forward.”  

Roles in the model included:

1) Highest Potential of the system
2) vulnerable stakeholder – employees
3) ETG as a whole
4) audio visual integrators
5) consulting firms
6) clients
7) technology.  

Participants Allow Feelings to Arise in the Physical Body

The Social Presencing exercise applied is known as 4D mapping.  The 4D map in this case was the world of work and workplace. Seven participants allowed the felt sense of the systemic challenge to arise in the physical body from the perspective of their role.  The remaining participants served as observers and space holders, mindfully holding intention and attention, in silence, during the exercise.

First, participants allowed the current state 4D map to arise.  Next, they physically exaggerated, or leaned into, the social sculpture and individual shapes that had formed, until the current state model transitioned into an emerging future state.  Observers and participants debriefed on the felt and seen experiences in the current state, the transitioning state and the emerging future state.

Getting out of the head and into the body

Getting “out of the head and into the body” allowed ETG to tap into collective wisdom.  Social Presencing is an insight practice ideally suited for innovation and systems change because it augments the intelligence of teams by surfacing that team’s inherent wisdom.

Too much thinking, talking, and messaging is the norm.

In the Western world, linear, analytical thinking dominates. Bill George, Harvard Senior Fellow, emphasized this during an interview in the documentary film Innsaei, The Power of Intuition,

“In the last 20-25 years of my life we have seen the dominance of rational thought. It’s dominated a lot of our academic institutions, the media, and it’s taken away from the capacity to advance intuitive skills. Now for the first time we are starting to realize that problems are not getting any better.  We have to step back and take a whole new approach to these problems. One of the challenges we have recently had in business is by going to the fully rational side and by focusing everything on near term measurement, analytical tools, we have ground out or expunged creativity from our companies and 100 billions dollars are being wasted”.

Uncovering Major Aha Moments

Thus, ETG’s 4D map exercise resulted in a deeply generative dialogue, with many diverse insights arising.  The major “aha’s” for the group were,

  • “We are so focused on the client we don’t see the employee.”
  • “The employee was so far away from the other stakeholders and facing away from the rest of the group.”
  • “Employees really want care, empathy, attention.”  
  • “Employees as individuals are key.”

New Insightful questions arose

  • “How do we bring the employees closer to other stakeholders?”
  • “How does the employee really feel about the workplace revolution?”
  • “Do we focus on the the client too much?”
  • “What’s the future that feels right for everyone?”

New Opportunities Became Clear

  • “The real opportunity  and need is with employees as people.”
  • “There is an opportunity to re-prioritize and reconnect/re-engage clients and staff/team.”

New Actions

In summary, ETG realized that there is imbalance in the amount of energy and attention towards clients vs. employees.  Employees feel that they left behind. Thus, the collective team decided to change that and created a project to innovate ETG’s own workplace of the future including its people, the space and technology.  At the same time, the Presencing Institute was launching its first Societal Transformation Lab. ETG’s application was accepted and it is now part of “a multi-local innovation journey for teams who are co‑shaping more sustainable and equitable social systems worldwide.”