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Innovate and Collaborate

What makes great dialogue: conversations with depth and delight

Thinking about facilitation. I ran a session at Sydney Facilitators Network last month. The question was “What nurtures great dialogue?” We ran a ‘fish bowl’ role play with seven people conducting a dialogue, the rest of us paying close attention to the dynamics. The instruction to observers was to stay more alive to process than to the content. When the role play finished I asked for two observers to debrief each di
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What makes a great conference?

At the end of the first day, feedback from some table hosts was not good. “If we keep going on this, we will lose them tomorrow”. It was a critical point in the conference. Five star hotel, beautiful food, an ample budget, 200 smart people, great hospitality staff, and in imminent danger of going off the rails. The convenor made a snap decision to reshape the table topics, and respond to specific requests. The next d
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I offended someone yesterday

“All life is meeting” Martin Buber I offended someone yesterday. After a workshop, a woman came and told me that I had embarrassed her in front of colleagues and subordinates. I apologized. She left quickly, still unhappy. She was also a senior officer in the organisation for which I was working. As I cleaned up the training room, I pondered whether to go back up in the lift to reception on the next floor, ask for he
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Urban and Regional Revitalisation

The success of major projects relies on a complex mix of planning, politics, community and business. A strong partnership approach that engages key stakeholders smoothes the way. We have worked with small businesses, big business, government ministers, agencies, local councils, artists, shopkeepers and students to bring energy and focus to revive local economies.
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Getting here from there – the paradox of the future

A tourist in Dublin asks a local resident for directions and gets this reply “ahh you can be getting there well enough, but I wouldn’t be starting from here”. Matt Taylor, who invented the ‘DesignShop’ methodology (for more detail, see below), encourages ambitious change agents and innovators to “start from there, not from here”. In other words, get clear about the future before the doing the planning, problem-solvin
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The Gospel according to Mark – grounded questions

“Human beings are both full of dignity and broken.” My ears pricked up. I am not accustomed in everyday conversation to an acknowledgement of human complexity, and especially, of the darkness in us. I was listening to a presentation by Dr Mark Strom at the Sydney Facilitators Network. Mark is an Australian, residing in the UK, with a history in senior consulting and change roles, including as CEO of an NZ private col
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Solutions Focus

I stood and up and invited my colleague to walk out of the room. She looked surprised and a bit anxious, but complied. We were practicing a role play on solutions-focused coaching in a workshop run by UK consultants Paul Jackson and Janine Waldman. I was determined to shift things, break up the fussiness of the conversation, and happy to try something different. We walked in circles outside the training room. Then my
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Models for collaboration

Do we have models for 21st century collaboration. In the internet age, are we doing it differently? I recently attended a seminar organised by the Australian Centre for Social Innovation. It featured Tonya Surman, founding executive director of the Centre for Social Innovation, based in Toronto. She offered a simple model that captured something I had been struggling with. For collaborative activity across a number o
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Simple frames for deeper conversations

I helped facilitate a community conversation on sustainable communities last week. It was in a cafe at night. The process was a light touch combination of world cafe and Theory U. World cafe puts different questions on different tables, allows people to choose their topic, then rotate to another topic and a new table group. It is very interactive, and encourages warm networking among strangers. The piece from Theory
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The two sides of collaboration

collaboration: act of working jointly act of cooperating traitorously with an enemy that is occupying your country I once worked with a woman who refused to use the word collaboration or collaborator. The Nazi occupation of European countries during the second world war relied on the venality and fear of local ‘collaborators’ and, for my work colleague, this invocation of the word had contaminated it forever. While c
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