As the public face of the group I fell quickly into the role of “host”. It really was like hosting a party – for much of the time I was focussed on introductions, making sure there were enough chairs, and keeping things on schedule, so I missed what was being said.
“Host Leadership” author Mark McKergow was in the room, by the way, as were Clean Language leaders James Lawley and Penny Tompkins and Enlivening Edge’s own George Pór. A great guest list!
In my kick-off comments I quoted Timothy Leary. Controversial? Probably. The RSA has the ear of government, and so isn’t the kind of place where you expect to hear from hippy gurus. But Leary hit the nail on the head:
“Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on a conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…”
We’d structured the evening to include lots of conversations, enabling everyone to connect around shared interests. Doug and his fellow facilitator Francois Knuchel kept things moving.
We also heard four five-minute “provocations” from people who are “doing it”: Julian Wilson of engineering firm Matt Black Systems; Shaun Smith of IT consultancy Verseworks; James Archer of Public World, who are bringing the Buurtzorg model of healthcare to the UK; and Andrew Haynes, a grassroots “Culturevist” within a large broadcasting company.
What did attendees experience?
Let’s hear from a few attendees:
Dunia Reverter, business transformation consultant:
You could feel the enthusiasm vibrating in the room. It was a very open and interactive session, where participants were bonded by an emerging theme: self managed organisations that take us to a whole new level of freedom, human achievement, and purposefulness.
Julian’s own story on how Matt Black Systems successfully transformed into “teal” was such a nice breath of fresh air, and inspiration to all.”
Business owner Steve McCann: “I was surprised that some people thought that Julian would have had the most to lose by taking his company Teal. They weren’t noticing that what he actually lost was being force-fed responsibilities that staff should have been taking for themselves.”
Executive coach and former financial services executive Katherine Bryant: “I was prepared for interesting debate but the sheer diversity of the group, their motivations for being there and their varied insights astounded me.
“Having spent 18yrs in financial services I admit to having strong scepticism about whether self management could be implemented into existing organisations, particularly in the city. As this is where most of my clients are now, I am happy (and surprised!) to say that as a result of this enlightening evening I can see a chink of light, ways that perhaps just some of the principles can be integrated for now and then built upon for the greater good. In fact I think it’s critical for their evolution and survival.”
IT Consultant Ian Webster: “Insightful, thought-provoking – and some good company. I particularly enjoyed hearing from Julian: it’s really good to hear from somebody who has walked the talk and actually done it.”
Penny Tompkins, co-author of Metaphors In Mind:
I learned more about the leading-edge topic of self-management in organisations in many ways. Firstly, people who have already changed the structure of their businesses to be self-managed told us how they did that. Secondly,in small groups we discussed how we would like the Network to evolve.
What happens next?
Go to Enlivening Edge for the full version.