It was the November gathering of the Thrivability Montreal conversation series.  Close to 40 of us had gathered in Kahnawake, a Mohawk reservation just outside Montreal.  We had the rare privilege of being invited to a local Longhouse to learn about indigenous perspectives on leadership.  It was an evening of storytelling, tribal dance and emotion.  And it’s taken me more than a month to sort out my thoughts about it. Read more

When most of us think about improvisation, we think of theater.  We think of acting in a role that isn’t connected with reality.  We think of the need to be funny, even silly.  At best, it’s frivolous and fun.  At worst, it’s anxiety-producing.  (“She’s not going to make us do role-playing, is she?” several people asked with considerable dread when I told them this month’s Thrivability Montreal guest, Belina Raffy, would be speaking about using improv in organizations.) Read more

Last week’s Thrivability Montreal was a fantastic gathering, full of energy and important insights.

We had gathered to explore the question: What if our organizations were designed  to support the mindful practice of authentic dialogue? Read more

I have the best conversations with my kids when they’re supposed to be asleep already.  As they’re lying in bed in the darkness, they relax and their minds seem to open up.  It’s then that I get a glimpse of their surprising wisdom.  And it gives me immense hope for the future of humanity. Read more

Last week, under a gentle August sun, a group of five people gathered at my cottage for two days of rich conversation. We ate every meal around a picnic table on the sandy beach, looking out over the lake and mountains.  In between us and the lake, circling the base of three white birch trees, was a wild blueberry bush that was almost as blue as it was green. Surrounded by this vibrant scene, we excitedly imagined a global movement that would usher in a new organizational story – a story with life solidly at the center of its plot.  And though they seemed to form only a lovely backdrop to our conversation, it turned out that the blueberries had important insights to share. Read more

I should have been fiercely focused, preparing for the event I’m hosting in a few hours about how to nurture diverse contributions within a thriving organization. But… I couldn’t resist a quick peek at the royal wedding of William and Kate. Just a few minutes of the ceremony, I thought (with more than a little guilt).

But when I opened the official wedding site, I was surprised that the first thing I saw was the perfect closing quote for my event. “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” It was the opening line of the Bishop of London’s sermon.  Then, as I read further, I was astonished to find that the entire sermon offered inspiration for my event.  Only a few adaptations were needed: where he talked about “marriage,” I substituted “organization”; where he talked about the Holy Spirit, I preferred the animating spark of life. Read more

I talk a lot about organizations as living systems and about aiming for thrivability.  But what exactly does this mean?  How does it work?  And how do you know when your organization is “thrivable”?

To explain what I’m talking about, let me share a beautiful story of thrivability at work here in Montreal. Read more

When you’ve lived in in nineteen cities (in seven countries), you don’t really get the concept of “home.” People ask me where I’m from, and I don’t know how to answer. “But where do you think of as home?” they ask. And I choose whichever city pops into my head first. It’s easier to make something up than to suffer the strange stare of incomprehension that follows if I insist that I have no concept of home. Read more

For the past ten years, my research and consulting work has focused on the basic pattern of all living systems.  I see that same pattern at play in the Middle East now, and I think it offers an interesting lens for understanding what’s going on there. Read more

This discussion originated in a conference call around the Humanity 4.0 slideshow. The call was hosted by FourYears.Go.  It continued in a series of incredibly rich emails among participants, and I thought I’d move it here in the hope of sharing what we’re learning and inviting others into the conversation.

Recently, several people have asked whether I thought the term “self-organizing” was more appropriate than “self-integrating” (the term used in Humanity 4.0 to describe the role or activity of life within a living system). Read more