When I talk about thrivability, I find that many people understand it to be an end goal – an ideal state to aspire to once the real messiness of life has been perfectly sorted out.  I’ve even encountered mild hostility to the concept: “There are people starving in the world, and we’re sitting here talking about the utopia of thrivability.”

But my sense is that thrivability is more than a destination. It is also the path we walk – a path that’s available to those starving people and to struggling organizations as well, and that is likely to be their (and our) best hope of creating better conditions.  It’s a journey of learning and connection and unfolding, of working with intention and awareness to create the fertile conditions for life to thrive. Read more

I’ve just come home from the second Thrivability Montreal gathering this month. As so often happens with these gatherings, there was something special in the air tonight. “I can’t put a word to it,” said one woman in the closing circle.  “It’s a feeling of connection.  An energy.  It’s like we experienced something important together.”  Another man’s take-away was that he realized how important it is “to surround myself with positive people.” Read more

If an organization is a living system, is it appropriate for anyone to own it?  Would it be more appropriate to see it as something we bring into the world and steward, like a child?  How might that work, legally and financially?

These questions came up recently as I was writing a chapter on living organizations. More practically, they also came up as my partners in a new venture and I struggled to find a legal structure that fits with the living systems views at the heart of our work. Read more

Last week, I wrote about a story I shared at the opening of Thrivability Camp.  According to the story, leaders can be seen as “keepers of the fire,” a powerful symbol of transformation.  Though this is a role traditionally played by women, leaders of any gender can create the fertile conditions for emergence and evolution within a group.

At the Camp, we also experienced another side to the metaphor.  Keeping the fire is not just about transformation.  Even as we strive to create the conditions for change, there’s also something about accepting – and even loving – what is.  Through a combination of truly wonderful people and an invitation to authenticity, our experience at the Camp was one of warmth and genuine acceptance.  Only against such a backdrop could we open ourselves to transformation. Read more

This is part of a series of posts about a gathering in Montreal in which a diverse group of 15 people spent four days exploring different facets of thrivability.

On the first morning of Camp, we sat in a spacious circle.  Each in turn, we walked to the center of the circle to place an object that, to us, represented thrivability.  Mine was a plant, someone else’s a seed.  Water was one person’s chosen object.  Another brought a photo of his new baby girl.

Two people held out until the end, though, when they each explained that they had struggled to imagine a physical object that could do the job.  Maybe it’s air, one of them said.  But then, that didn’t seem enough.  Maybe it’s fire, I offered, and I told the following story.  I share it here because it may have relevance for you, too, if you lead an organization, or host conversations, or parent a family, or just strive to live your life wholeheartedly. Read more

This is part of a series of posts following a gathering in Montreal, in which a diverse group of 15 people spent four days exploring different facets of thrivability.

Throughout the Camp, we were almost obsessive about learning.  It was extreme.  We set learning goals on the first morning, and then reviewed our progress at the end of each morning and afternoon.  We scribbled on countless flip chart pages and Post-it notes to document our learning.  We did all this in a variety of light, playful ways.  One afternoon, for example, we gathered in a circle and threw the equivalent of a ball around to each other; as each person caught the ball, he or she named something we had done and learned during that day. (We surprised ourselves with the number of things we had learned!)  We also approached our learning from a host of angles.  Several times, for example, we listed what we had learned that was valuable for our heads, for our hearts, and for our hands (meaning: things we could use practically, tangibly). Read more

Here’s a small but precious gem from last week’s Thrivability Camp. My co-host Belina Raffy shared some basic rules of improv, one of which was “keep the story moving.”  As our group lived out this principle in a variety of playful ways, it struck me that it would make a powerful approach to consulting and strategy development.  Instead of the standard approach of assessing an organization like a broken machine and looking for ways to fix it, imagine if we asked, “What would move this organization’s story forward in interesting ways?” Read more

“What is possible when we craft organizations as a space for life?”  This was the theme of last week’s four-day Thrivability Camp.  Within that theme, we wanted to find out: “What happens when we mix together Living Systems Thinking, Applied Improv, the Art of Hosting, Non-Violent Communication and Indigenous Wisdom” – key ingredients of thrivability, and a pretty juicy recipe by any standard. Read more

If we see an organization as a living ecosystem, what does this mean for organizational design?  Are there different principles and practices for shaping organizational structure when we recognize it as being alive?  Can it even be designed, or does the structure have to evolve organically somehow?  And is the concept of structure still appropriate, or is it all just emergent co-creation? Read more

It has become popular to declare that we need to move to a gift economy, in which we share more freely and value community more deeply, and in which our relationships are less often money-based and transactional.  Clearly, this is an important and appealing proposition.  But there’s far more wrapped up in the concept than it may appear.  To get to “the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible,” as Charles Eisenstein so eloquently implores, we’ll need to understand the full implications – and possibilities – behind the concept. Read more