Past Meetings

24 February 2017

Please join us as
Alain Gauthier, BASOL co-founder 
reflects on
nearly two decades of organizational learning

To access Alain’s slides please click here

Alain Gauthier, a co-founder and steward of Bay Area SoL, is moving to Portland, OR, primarily to become a more present and active grandfather to Sylvie who is 7 years old.

We have invited him to reflect with us on what we have learned over the years that would be most helpful in turning a city into a vibrant, conscious, learning community, in these times of profound civic, social, and economic challenges. Alain will share with us his own reflections and experiences on developing evolutionary co-leadership across organizations and sectors, both here and abroad, and lead us into a dialogue where you will able to bring your own aspirations, experiences, questions, and reflections.

Alain’s most recent book was published as an Ebook on under the title Actualizing Evolutionary Co-leadership – Evolving a Creative and Responsible Society.” 

We hope you can join us for this special session as we wish Alain all the best in Portland.

Important note: We are meeting at 343 Sansome St., Suite 500, not at our usual Chronicle building location.

27 May 2016

Applied Ontological Designing
with Manuel Manga

Our modern world and the industrial age, was designed by mindsets several hundreds years ago, when the earth was considered big and with infinite resources, including fossil fuels that our modern civilization depends on for its existence. The challenge today is for leaders in all sectors of society to design and make a better future that is systemically just and sustainable.

In this session , Manuel Manga co-founder of the Institute for Evolutionary Leadership will explain the philosophy and applications of Ontological Designing, as they apply to leadership, organizations, and social –natural systems. We will learn several practices for dealing with design challenges and opportunities, and engage in useful skill-building activities to improve our capacity for ontological designing

Session Overview and Outcomes:

  • Understand the philosophy and key principles of ontological designing, a new foundation for design.
  • Get exposed to how ontological designing has influenced the design of technology, organizations, architecture, social systems, and even ourselves.
  • Learn and practice several exercises that will put you in the role of ontological designer of organizations cultures, and social systems.
  • Learn how to apply the principles of ontological designing to other domains of life.
  • Expand your understanding of design, beyond our current fads and techniques.


Attending this session will benefit you if:

  • Your work environment is complex and dynamic, changing, and you want to influence the design of its future.
  • You want to improve your role as a conscious designer of organizations and social systems.
  • You want to expand your horizon of possibilities and make a difference.
  • You want to collaborate with others in designing a better future.

Manuel Manga, is co-founder of the Institute for Evolutionary Leadership, based in Oakland, CA. He is a founding consulting member of SoL , and an international consultant and coach.

Recommended reading: Understanding Computers and Cognition, A New Foundation for Design. Terry Winograd & Fernando Flores.

Design Futuring. Tony Fry.

Sustainability by Design. John Ehrenfeld.

29 April, 2016

Using Improvisation to
Build a “Yes And” Community
with Lisa Safran 

Building a “Yes…And” community involves creating a dynamic culture change that takes commitment and practice. How do we move from being problem solvers or looking at what is not working, to moving a story forward and being highly supportive and collaborative?

In Using Improvisation to Build a “Yes And” Community, Lisa Safran will share observations on how using this simple phrase has helped children develop literacy, and corporations develop communication, leadership, and collaborative skills.

In this session, we will work together to strengthen our own BASOL team of practitioners as well as learn how we can use improvisational strategies with our clients.

Session Overview and Outcomes:

  • Learn the tenets of Improvisation
  • Participate in improv exercises that will help us get to know each other better, improve communication, our ability to ideate, and build on ideas
  • Participate in debriefing exercises and conversations to help synthesize what we have learned and how we will apply it

Attending this session will benefit you if:

  • You want to improve your ability to think on your feet and find creative solutions
  • You want to improve communication and strengthen collaboration
  • Your work environment is needing a positive overhaul or change in mindset
  • You are looking for new strategies to engage clients or teams
  • You want to have fun while learning an innovative approach to team building and communication training

Bio & Presenter Links:

Lisa Safran, President of Improv Consultants develops & facilitates professional development programs around the world using improvisation to build strong leadership, communication, and collaboration. Lisa has worked with a range of clients including Microsoft, Sephora, & Kaiser Permanente. She also provides executive coaching helping her clients develop confidence in their approach to communication and leadership. Lisa is the author of two books. Reading & Writing Come Alive: Using Improvisation to Build Literacy supports teachers in learning how to apply improvisation to build literacy. Executive Presence Improv Style! helps individuals in applying improvisation to building leadership skills.

Optional Advance Preparation: 

Here are a couple of articles and a video that would be helpful to get a sense of what applied improvisation is and how it supports building a Yes And community.

How Improv Can Open Up the Mind to Learning in the Classroom and Beyond by Linda Flanagan

Why Improv Training is Great Business Training by Jesse Scinto

Applying Improvisation: The Power of “Yes…And” by Paul Jackson at TEDxLSE


25 March, 2016

Play Your Way To Better Decisions
with Talia Dashow

Having a seat at the table does not mean having an equal voice in the meeting. Too often the diversity of thinking available in a group is ignored, and innovative ideas are never discovered, because people are not able to participate fully. It’s hard to bring up new ideas when we risk judgment and humiliation in the process. We need a way to make it impossible to fail, a way to access those thoughts that are elusive and hard to pin down, and a way to make every voice at the table equally important. Thus, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® came to be.

In this workshop we will:

  • Play with a purpose
  • Think with our hands – and access parts of our brains normally left untouched
  • Learn how to hang a story on the bones of our models
  • Collaborate to meld all our voices into one story

You will experience:

  • Greater understanding of your peers
  • Better mental picture of the topic we discuss
  • Appreciation of the diversity of thinking within the group
  • The whole model will be greater than the sum of its parts

Attending this session will benefit you if:

  • You are part of a group that needs to make a decision together
  • You want to bring play into the work place
  • You know the answer is in the group and you need to coax it out

Talia Dashow has over 20 years experience as a Play Professional helping creative people get unstuck, non-creative people become creative, teams bond and thrive, and businesses increase innovation. She has expertise in mediation, group facilitation and management, and playful engagement. Talia got trained in the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitation methodology in 2013, from the only authorized trainers in North America, located in Vancouver.

Learn more about Talia here.

 29 January, 2016

There’s a new game in town: ASK MATT!
Game for mapping and Strategic Planning
with Steve Wallis, Ph.D., Danny Ceballos,
and Pamela Rich

Everyone knows the importance of strategic planning. They also know that planning is difficult and the resulting plan may not be of much use. While data is critical, it is only one side of the coin.

Imagine you have a big list of all the cities and highways in America. Plenty of data – but absolutely useless for navigation. There is no way to see on that “map” how to get from one place to another (or where to stop along the way for a good bite to eat). Now imagine you have a graphic map of the country – with dots for cities and lines for highways. That map is useful because it has the information – AND because the information are connected!

Please join us in a presentation and play of the new ASK MATT game. This game helps teams create a map to navigate more effectively. ASK MATT helps you to unravel wicked complex problems, make difficult decisions with greater success, and show where collaboration will be more successful. Better than work-flow or mind-mapping, this game is a great way to lead clients to more effective operations. And… it is a lot of fun!

This session will benefit consultants, managers, and coalition-builders.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • How to create strategic plans that are more useful/effective.
  • How to see “bind spots” in actionable knowledge.
  • Directions for creating more functional coalitions.
  • How to predict the potential efficacy of decision-making models


Steven E. Wallis earned his PhD in 2006 at Fielding Graduate University, focusing on the rigorous analysis and integration of conceptual systems (such as theories and policy models). He has a decade of experience as a facilitator and organizational development consultant in Northern California. An interdisciplinary thinker, his academic publications cover a range of fields including ethics, management, organizational change, and policy.

Danny Ceballos, Principal and Chief Unleasher at Unleasehed Consulting, has over 20 years experience in training and leadership development. He holds and MBA and an MA in Organization Development.  Danny has worked with organizations across the country to strengthen their effectiveness in leading and managing others through supervision and motivation best practices and strategies.

Pamela Rich, Director and Founder of Rich Solutions, is an education activist and experienced teacher. She holds an MA in Organization Development which she uses to build the capacity of non-profit organizations to become healthier, more efficient and more effective.  Pam is versatile in cutting-edge Organization Development strategies including Action Research, Process Mapping, Appreciative Inquiry, World Cafe and Design Thinking. Her deep commitment to lasting and positive change inspires her continual passion of moving clients to determine their own rich solutions.

End of Year News and Announcements
Thanks for a Terrific Open Mic Event!

Thanks to everyone who attended our first Open Mic event.
Our speakers were:

Fedor Ovchinnikov
Tom Long
Eric Babinet
Jim Best
Dixon de Leña
Peter Wolff
We will most definitely host another open mic event in 2016!
Learnings from the day:

Six speakers at 45 mins each with 30 mins for lunch was too ambitious an agenda. Nearly everyone needed more time, including more time for lunch – people like to talk to each other and like to encourage that! So next time we’ll have five presenters and a longer lunch.

Thanks also to those who were unable to make it who gave us advance notice that they would not be there – we were able to fill your seats. Unfortunately, we had six people sign up who failed to show up which means six other folks who wanted to be there lost that chance, and we had a lot of leftover pizza. Although was no charge for the day, please remember that registering for a seat means we are counting on you to be there.

The Hub is Moving!
There will be some changes coming our way as The Hub moves to the Mission. We do not have full details of when the move will take place, but we’ll alert you as soon as we do.

Announcing The Institute for Evolutionary Leadership
As Fedor explained during his turn at the mic on Friday: Evolutionary Leadership is the capacity of a leader to consciously redesign cultures and institutions for a more just, sustainable, and flourishing world. As soon as you declare this as your purpose, you become an Evolutionary Leader. Our job is to develop and support Evolutionary Leaders through education, consulting, mentorship, and community building.

Several BASOL members, including Antoine Moore, Fedor Ovchinnikov, Ken Homer, Peter Stonefield and former BASOL Steward Manuel Manga are involved in this project. Learn more here.

Bay Area Liberating Structures Meet Up
Jim Best, who led a great interactive process on Friday, is the Bay Area coordinator for Liberating Structures. Jim hosts a monthly Meet Up in Oakland. This Thursday, Dec 10, features Jeff Aitken who will talk about The Art of Hosting. Highly recommended! Point your browser here for more info.

Presenter slots are open in 2016!
If you or someone you know is interested in presenting to BASOL, please reply to this email and let us know. We accept a wide range of proposals. Not sure if your topic is relevant? Read the next paragraph to see if it fits.

BASOL’s purpose is to study, share, and practice learning principles in the fields of organizational change, social, institutional and environmental sustainability, and educational transformation – while consciously developing our individual ability to embody and reflect our values of trust, respect, compassion, and free expression.

We have a proposal on the table from BASOL members Pam Rich, Danny Ceballos and Steve Wallis to share a game called ASK MATT that let’s people create a map of their organization. We’re trying to schedule this for January or February, but the Hub’s move is making it a tad more complicated than usual. Stay tuned for details!

The Paris Climate Summit
BASOL Steward Alain Gauthier, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Patricia Ellsberg and over 800 other people are engaged in an experiment for creating a field of intention to support the Paris Climate Summit. Here’s a description:

The Amplifield site activates the “field” of our collective intention and consciousness. It engenders “psychic activism” by influencing underlying subtle reality to support social action. It connects the passion and power of the peoples of Earth in real time. The Amplifield is an infant nervous system of our newborn planetary culture turning on.  It can become a Field for the New Narrative – the Story of the Rising Culture of Earth.


  1. Go to The Amplifield and share your intentions
  2. Spread the word to friends and colleagues
  3. SHARE on social media
  4. Use the Hashtags #EarthLoveCOP21 and #EarthLove

Our plan is to generate a wave of expressions of hope and vision for the highest positive outcome for the conference. We hold the knowing that future generations will look back and say, “This was the Great Turning.”

Some Thoughts on Attention and Learning

“Everything is getting better and better
and worse and worse faster and faster.”

I first heard the above saying in 1999. The profound truth of it is borne out every day as we witness the most amazing breakthroughs in science and technology occurring against a backdrop of increasing disparities in wealth and well being and the weekly reports of mass shootings. To say we live in challenging times is the epitome of understatement.

The rise of Daesh – please don’t call it Islamic State – has captured the attention of the “if it bleeds, it leads” media. The  24/7/365 broadcasting on multiple channels of horrific images is fueling a tremendous fear in people the world over. It seems we are helplessly watching the growth of an encroaching darkness from which we cannot and dare not turn away.

As a facilitator, I learned a long time ago that when you direct a group’s attention towards something, whatever is focused on, grows in their consciousness. I’ve noticed this personally as well, and of course the research on well being has repeatedly shown that if you take up a gratitude practice, you are far more likely to enjoy your life than if you focus on what’s missing.

We are faced with a daily barrage of messages directing our attention to matters that make us feel helpless, afraid and angry. It’s been noted often by psychologists and OD practitioners alike, that when people are afraid and in defensive postures, they cut themselves off from their ability to learn. And, if ever there was a time to be learning, this is it!

We are entering into the darkest time of the year. It’s the time, as the light dwindles outside of us, to bring up the fires from within to light our way. As you gather with friends and loved ones this holiday season, here’s a learning experiment you might like to try. Whenever you notice that fear has commandeered your conversations try steering people’s attention towards what is good and right and working in their lives, their organizations and the world. Notice what you learn as you do this.

May whatever holidays you observe be filled with the light of wisdom and the warmth of compassion,

The BASOL Stewards

Alain, Claudine, Jim and Ken

Friday, December 3rd

Our first ever Open Mic event!

Friday, October 23rd

Building Trust in the Wake of Destructive Behavior at Work
with Beata Lewis, JD, MSC

We’ve all experienced it: behavior that breaks trust. It stops us cold or burns us up. It feeds cynicism and defensiveness. Moving forward, an openness and creative willingness are lost. What makes rebuilding trust worth the trouble? Let’s look at what restores and sustains collaboration and key relationships at work.

In theory, trust is the foundation for all creative collaboration; it is essential for conscious leadership and culture growth. In practice, our relationship to trust can be ambivalent, paradoxical and trying.

We know trust breakdowns in business and workplace settings are costly. But we can easily miss seeing that “breakdowns” are even about trust. Or we can be at a loss for what to do that would really help restore what matters.

Who do we become when creative tension or conflict arise? What can we do to restore trust, even in the face of enduring difficulty or difference? What skill and conscious choice are necessary for evolving our thought, language and action so we can be more at our best in necessary yet tough interactions?

In this experiential session we will take a mindful and honest look at trouble we have with trust. We’ll identify telltale signs for an undercurrent of trust erosion. We’ll reveal pitfalls of “blind” trust and explore useful distinctions of “transactional” trust. We’ll play with ways to redirect the energy so you can better rely on trust as the ground beneath your feet and move forward building what you’re really there for.

You will come away with a new sense of possibility and options for helping yourself and others “move the needle” where you now hit your limit. We’ll experiment together to sense deeper into what’s necessary for restoring trust in several situations:

1) trust with others where you’re part of the breakdown,
2) trust with others where you inherit a breakdown and
3) trust in yourself.

As we call greater truth, wisdom and compassion into the workplace, our capacity to lead in trust must also evolve. Join us as we get to the heart of being more of the change we wish to see in the world.

About Beata:

Beata C. Lewis, JD, MSC, Principal Bridging Lives
As an Executive Coach and Change Consultant, Beata provides guidance for masterful leadership, collaboration and sustainable growth in business. She brings nearly two decades’ experience specialized in trust, presence and communication dynamics working with highly accomplished professionals leading innovation, especially in science, technology and the arts. Certified through the Strozzi Institute since 2004 as a Master Somatic Coach, Beata takes an integrative and presence-centered approach to professional development. A mediator and former attorney, she leverages the vital and dynamic nature of agreements, ethics, and conflict for more creative and productive partnering. Applying a systems-oriented, multi-disciplinary approach to leadership, group dynamics and sustainable enterprise, Beata also served as faculty for the former Green MBA Program of Dominican University. Multi-lingual and with overseas work experience, Beata seeks out the wisdom in diverse perspectives and across boundaries. An artist herself and former instructor of alpine skiing, Iyengar-style hatha yoga and piano, Beata teaches to inspire and share what she loves. For more information, please see

Friday September 25th, 2015

Social Presencing Theater
with Mery Miguez

Developed by Arawana Hayashi, Social Presencing Theater (SPT) grew out of the Presencing and Theory U work of MIT Professor Otto Scharmer. SPT is a new synthesis of theater, embodied presence, dialogue, stillness and presencing. Drawing on the arts and contemplative traditions, SPT allows participants to gain a clearer sense of the relationships, hidden dynamics, and emerging possibilities inherent in a team, organization or larger system. The word theater is of Greek origin and literally means “a place for viewing”, or “to behold.” SPT allows the co-creators of an organizational system to view themselves in exciting new ways and to behold the hidden dynamics woven into the web of their collective interactions. In so doing, SPT sets the ground for creative action and opens up fruitful avenues for collective change.

Participants in this day’s gathering will apply Social Presencing Theater methods to their specific personal and leadership challenges. Outcomes for the day include learning how to:

  • Create the conditions that enable a sense of collective “presencing”
  • Identify “the emerging future” and get to a commitment to action
  • Heighten a sense of connection and interdependence with the group
  • Increase awareness and letting go of preconceptions
  • Tap into the greatest potential of a situation

Important: We will be exploring how to tap into the wisdom stored in our bodies and we’ll be engaging in movement and stillness from a variety of positions: sitting, standing and laying down. Please wear loose comfortable clothing and bring a yoga mat or blanket to ensure your comfort.

Mery Miguez is a Social Presencing Theater facilitator, performing artist, and theater clown. Her passion is to facilitate transformative learning experiences, where groups get in touch with their highest potential through accessing individual and collaborative creativity. In her experience, she finds that when we are able to  tap into the collective awareness, the result is profound innovation. Mery loves finding ways to support people open up to their gifts and be more of who they really are. She is convinced that as each of us find our place in the puzzle of life, society becomes more whole.

A native of Argentina, Mery moved to New York City in 1997 to pursue her love for acting and theater. In 2001 she found yet another love in meditation, which became her principal focus ever since. She has been practicing, studying and teaching meditation at many weekend programs, as well as month long retreats, for over 12 years. In 2013 she completed her studies of Advanced Social Presencing Theater under the auspices of MIT’s Presencing Institute with Arawana Hayashi, one of her long time meditation teachers. Sharing the power of SPT practices with individuals and organizations, has become Mery’s main passion.

Friday, June 5th:

Organizational Dynamics Constellation

with Ellen Raboin

Have you ever wanted to understand more of the dynamics of the organization as you navigate? With Systemic Constellations you’ll find a rich and robust way to engage people while helping to uncover often hidden patterns that once exposed allow people to generate a broader range of options than their current constraints allow.

Imagine being able to:

•  gain insight into interactions

•  safely inquire into dilemmas and bring clarity to alternatives

•  see a way to manage an engagement more productively

•  test out ideas, create a visual of a working solution

•  spot potentials and identify resources in the system to increase your chances for success

Systemic Constellations are an experiential modality that access what we already know in our gut – enabling a practical view of complex relational systems. Systemic Constellations have been used broadly in Europe to aid business leaders in decision making in complex organizations. The BASOL environment offers a low risk opportunity to experience this way of inquiring into the relational systems that impact our work. Together we will explore the systemic rules that are active in human organizations.


Ellen’s experiences span the scholar-practitioner scale. She began as a chemical engineer implementing change in industrial automation, then moved to business process where she engaged in complex system changework, Her most recent work is with collaborative work systems in hospitals and is co-author of A Field Guide to Collaborative Care. Ellen is current President of the Board for a nonprofit that cares for families of critically ill children. She is a Ph.D., advisor at The Taos Institute, holds a Ph.D., in Human & Organization Systems, Masters in Organization Development from Pepperdine University, and is a Systemic Constellation Facilitator.


Friday March 27:

To Learn = To Create = To Transform

With Beatrice Benne, Ph.D.


The purpose of this workshop is to engage in a collective exploration of the relationship that exists between learning, creativity, and the transformative process. As Aftab Omer, President of Meridian University, once said to Beatrice, this is “one of the most best kept secrets.” Indeed, this relationship cannot be appreciated from a purely intellectual standpoint. Similarly to the fact that one cannot read one’s way to leadership—leadership is learned by doing and practicing one’s skills—the processes of learning, creativity, and transformation are experiential in nature, embodied and contextual.

Our inquiry, therefore, will be supported by activities grounded in embodied, mindful and open-ended reflections, in which body and mind have been brought together. In this way, as noted by Varela, Thompson and Rosh in the book The Embodied Mind, “reflection is not just on experience, but reflection is a form of experience itself—and that reflective form of experience can be performed with mindfulness/awareness.”

Through individual reflections, collaborative sharing, artistic expressions of insights, and a Bohmian Dialogue, we will aim to:

  • Weave further insight from our own transformative experiences
  • Use a creative process to further transform a prior transformative experience
  • Deepen our understanding of transformative patterns
  • Nurture and further develop our capacity for learning, creativity, and transformation


  • Deeper capacity to:
    • Listen and to remain present
    • Engage in co-learning and co-creativity
  • Greater appreciation of the power of collective wisdom
  • New insights about the individual and collective processes of learning, creativity and transformation and how these processes relate to one another

About Beatrice Benne – Sense Maker, Strategist, Architect of a Better Future

Beatrice founded Soma Integral Consulting in 2010 with a mission to facilitate the resolution of adaptive challenges while focusing on the well-being of social and environmental ecosystems. Beatrice brings to her clients a broad range of skills and expertise including strategy development, leadership capacity development, a holistic and collaborative approach to problem investigation and resolution, work process performance improvement, and other organizational development services. She also assists local governments, communities and cities with the design of regenerative approaches aimed at addressing socio-ecological challenges.

Beatrice co-founded Transformative Sustainable Solutions, Inc (TSSI)—a Portland, OR start-up—where she served as Product and Marketing Manager for ProjectDX, an innovative web-based service enabling governments and NGOs to meet their environmental and sustainability goals through a community-wide engagement approach. At TSSI, Beatrice worked with new customers to understand their stormwater management, energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and advise them on how to prepare for the launch of these programs in their community.

More information can be found on her LinkedIn profile


Friday February 27:

Evolutionary Leadership Journey:
Becoming Conscious Designers of Worldviews, Cultures, and Institutions for a More Just, Sustainable, and Flourishing World

with Fedor Ovchinnikov and Antoine Moore
(co-created with Manuel Manga)


As humans, we all are engaged in creating our worldviews, cultures, and institutions often without realizing it. In this intensive one-day seminar, we will explore frameworks, insights, and capacities that can support us in being conscious designers of our systems and effectively working together to build a just, sustainable, and flourishing world.

During the workshop, we will explore seven competencies of Evolutionary Leadership identified by Manuel Manga in the form of a “journey” that starts with an invitation to explore principles of Ontological Design as a gateway to conscious social evolution and eventually leads to designing and building systemic sustainability.

A combination of teachings, exercises, and participatory engagements will allow us to become more aware of some traps that keep us from successfully transforming social systems, to practice new, and to lay the groundwork for further exploration.

Who Should Attend

Social entrepreneurs, consultants, activists, policy makers, and nonprofit leaders are some of the groups that would find great value in attending. Whatever your sector and background might be, if you are committed to changing our social systems through your work, this workshop is right for you.

Some Takeaways Reported by Past Participants

  • Insights and frameworks for looking at problems in a new way
  • Deeper understanding of how to use language to inspire change
  • Tools to make real choices instead of unconscious ones
  • Networking with great minds and spirits interested in changing the world for the better
  • Affirmation of the at times challenging work we do in the world

If you would like to learn more about what participants took away from a similar workshop, here is a collective narrative created from individual reflections. In addition, here is a brief video from the workshop.


Fedor Ovchinnikov

Fedor is a co-founder of the Institute for Evolutionary Leadership – an emerging community of practice that develops and supports leaders for conscious social evolution towards a just, sustainable, and flourishing world. As participatory process designer, consultant, and facilitator Fedor has worked with local and international clients including UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, California Institute for Integral Studies, Institute of Noetic Sciences, National Dialogue Network, Conversation Collaborative, Transition US, Impact Hub Bay Area, Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity, the City of San Jose, Citymart, Uptima Business Bootcamp, BayBucks, and Empowerment Works. Prior experience also includes curriculum design and teaching at Lomonosov Moscow State University, as well as founding and running the Center for Intercultural Communication through which he educated 200+ executives, entrepreneurs, and business professionals in cultural intelligence.

Fedor has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Asian and African Studies, both with honors, from Lomonosov Moscow State University where he studied resilience of complex socioeconomic systems of Asian and African countries. He has also studied team dynamics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Business Strategy at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and social innovation through courses and workshops offered by the Presencing Institute, the Society for Organizational Learning, the Art of Hosting Fellowship, and other communities of practice. Fedor is a member of the Stanford Executive Circle, the In2In:Thinking Network, and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation. He also serves as Director of Practitioner Empowerment with the Academy of Management Practice Theme Committee.

Antoine Moore

Antoine Moore is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Catalyst for Growth, a coaching, training, and consulting practice committed to helping individuals, groups, and organizations put their talents and strengths to optimal use. He is also an Art of Hosting practitioner and a participant of the first Evolutionary Leadership Bootcamp hosted by the Institute for Evolutionary Leadership. Driven by a multilevel, integral vision of holistic wellness, Antoine has a passion for individual, group, and community development, having done various forms of human development or capacity building for 20 years. Antoine’s particular specialization is in leadership development and helping people learn how to live more meaningful and impactful lives. He also has a strong interest in helping groups harness their full potential while honoring and bridging the individuality of all members. In addition to consulting, Antoine also works as a facilitator of Interpersonal Dynamics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Antoine has a BA degree from Pomona College, an MPP from UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy and an MA from the California Institute for Integral Studies. He is a member of the Organization Development for Social Change network and has a strong interest in fostering community dialogue and collaborative projects that target reinventing our social systems and pioneering new social institutions.

Manuel Manga (mentor & co-designer)

Manuel is a co-founder of the Institute for Evolutionary Leadership. He brings a wealth of experience in leadership development, strategic conversations, team building, systems thinking, organizational learning, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability, working with such organizations as Fair Trade USA, UNDP, USAID, World Bank, Anglo American, Allianz, Conoco, Cemex, Chrysler, Grupo Maseca, Givaudan, BankBoston, Ben & Jerry’s, Oxfam, CARE, Plan International, Import Products, EPA, Herman Miller, State Street Bank, Westinghouse, Genzyme, and NYDEC. He has used his extraordinary experience and insights to develop the concept and model of Evolutionary Leadership – a valuable resource for leaders committed to building a just, sustainable and flourishing world.

Manuel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanistic Psychology from the University of Massachusetts and a Master of Education in Social Psychology from Boston University. He studied with Humberto Maturana and Fernando Flores, pioneers in cognition, communication, and management. He has studied leadership with Ronald Heifetz, and learning organizations with Peter Senge. He is a member of The Society for Organizational Learning. He is an adjunct faculty in the Leadership for Change program at Boston College.

Friday January 30:

Engaging Intelligent Teams:
Moving from an Ego to an Eco System

with Marita Fridjhon, MSW, PCC, CPCC, ORSCC


Most 21st century leadership models speak to the movement away from top-down-leadership. The majority of consultants and coaches working in the corporate market or have Leadership Development as a niche adhere to the same philosophy and yet… When we listen to the language used, when we observe the methodologies in play, there still is a lot of “expert” and “individualist” visible in these interactions.

The challenge for professionals and business leaders and employees are very similar. How do we indeed move from the “me-centered” to the “we-centered”? And how do we even begin to consider moving from me to “we” to “It” – the team or organizational system itself? What does it take to wake up to the fact that the team itself, the team entity, has a voice and wisdom beyond the individual opinions and expertise? What would it be like for you the consultant/coach/leader to relate to the system as intelligent and generative instead of being frustrated by the foibles of individual team members?

In this interactive workshop Marita Fridjhon CEO and Co-Founder of CRR Global and the ORSC model, will invite you on the journey of shifting from an ego-centered model to an eco-centered model in the discovery of Intelligent Teams.


  • Deeper capacity to BE that which we aim to have our clients evolve to
  • New theory and research backing this evolution
  • New skills and tools to use with clients immediately
  • Appreciation for the wisdom and skill that lies within our own professional circle
  • FUN and laughter

Speaker’s Bio

Marita Fridjhon, MSW, PCC, CPCC, ORSCC – Co-Founder & CEO of CRR Global, Inc.

Marita, is co-owner and CEO of CRR Global. She is a consultant to several large organizations and mentor to a large number of practitioners in the field of Relationship Systems Intelligence.

In addition, she designs curriculum and operates training programs for coaches, executives and teams. She came to this work from an extensive background of Clinical Social Work, Community Development, Process Work, Family Systems Therapy, Business Consulting and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Marita has an international mentor coaching practice of individuals, partnerships and teams. Her primary focus in coaching is on systemic change, leveraging diversity, creative communication, deep democracy in conflict management and the development of Learning Organizations.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cultivating Conflict Competence
(Just in time for the holidays!)

with Ken Homer


A few years ago, Craig Rundle and Tim Flanagan authored a book called The Conflict Competent Leader. In it they say they’ve been asking the following questions of leaders for several years:

  • What words come to mind when you think of conflict?
    – 80 to 90% are negative words.
  • How do you handle conflict
    – Most said they avoid it at all costs.
  • How does that work?
    – Not very well.
  • Why don’t you do better, try something else?
    – We never learned how. No one showed us, taught us or modeled it for us.

In study after study, good leadership is correlated with the ability to handle conflict skillfully. Fortunately, “skillfully” is the key word here, because learning to engage well with conflict rests on skills that can be learned.

Please join us for a fun-filled exploration of some basic skills that will help you to become more comfortable, confident and competent at coping with the varying levels of conflict in your life.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes for the day:

  • Distinguish between five levels of conflict
  • Learn how to undo past conditioning around conflict
  • Practice staying grounded and centered in the midst of conflict
  • Develop a personal success strategy for coping with nearly any conflict
  • Cultivate an attitude where you see conflict as a rich source of creative energy

Please prepare by selecting two or three ongoing and persistent conflicts that you have with a person in your life that you’d like to resolve, and be willing to share them with a partner or two.

Ken Homer is the founder of Collaborative Conversations: Include More Voices – Make Better Choices. Collaborative Conversations are those that bring diverse people together and provide them with the maps, tools and guidance needed to define and create a mutually desired future. A certified Integral Coach and decade long member of the team that created the World Cafe dialogue process, Ken works at the intersection of language, emotions and bodies. He has been a Bay Area SoL member since 1998 and a BASOL Steward since 2002. More information can be found at

Friday November 21 2014

Wisdom Leadership

with Bernice Moore, Ph.D.,

and Nicola Amadora, Ph.D.

During this session, participants will:

  • Strengthen your capacity to be present
  • Draw forth personal & collective wisdom
  • Practice skills that improve communication
  • Experience what builds healthy working relationships
  • Invoke brilliance for dealing with challenging system conditions


Leading with Presence

One of our greatest assets as leaders is the ability to be present. Presence is an embodied experience of being attentive and vibrantly alive, able to respond appropriately to whatever conditions arise. We’ll engage in mindfulness practices throughout the day to evoke presence individually and collectively.


Creating Healthy Relationships

Many difficulties arise because of unhealthy relational dynamics. We create healthy relationships with hearts that hold compassion and with skills that build connection. Participants will have the opportunity to refine communications skills, such as relating with deep listening, respect, authenticity and responsiveness.


Embodying Systems

Participants will experiment with interconnectedness, evoking and exploring a systemic perspective and understanding. We will have the opportunity to create a dialogic container for exploring a system condition that lives in our hearts, bringing presence into the conversation so that brilliance can influence our thoughts and actions.


About the Presenters

Bernice Moore

Since 1990, Bernice has worked in the field of organizational learning and development, acting as an internal or external consultant for Fortune 50-500 companies. She is currently the co-founder and president of the Wisdom Leadership Institute and faculty in the School of Organizational Learning and Transformation of Saybrook University. Bernice has led organizational learning programs, developing curricula and delivering classroom and online courses to employees of all levels. She has coached executive leadership teams, transforming conflict into collaboration and guiding executives to lead organizational change. Bernice’s focus is on collaborative leadership, organizational transformation, and mindfulness practices that expand individual and collective capacity.


Nicola Amadora PhD.

Nicola is a Leadership and Relationship Educator, Psychologist, Consultant and Mindfulness Teacher. For 30 years she has worked internationally with organizations, communities, families, couples and individuals. She has extensive experience in facilitating cross-cultural groups of different ages and backgrounds, has led a non-profit organization and holistic educational center. Nicola has developed a successful women leadership training program and mentors young women in leadership positions. Presently she is the co-founder and president of the Wisdom Leadership Institute. In all her work, Dr. Amadora offers a rich banquet of life experience, high-level professional expertise and a deep well of wisdom to contribute to positive personal, organizational and global transformation. More information can be found on her website:


Friday, 31 October 2014

“ME” to “WE”

Making the shift from survival of the fittest to the age of wisdom

with Peter Stonefield

Slides from Peter’s presentation can be found here

Greed, environmental degradation and unproductive conflict are widespread. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review 80% of all the problems organizations face are related to human relationships.

One of the root causes of all these issues is excessive “ME” first ego driven consciousness—self-centered independence and excessive competitiveness. Issues born of “ME” first consciousness are a major source of problems in couples, groups, organizations, communities, cultures and among nations. To address the extraordinary challenges we face today we need to accelerate the evolution of consciousness from “ME” to “WE.” In this session we will explore ways to engage others in a way that can facilitate the evolution of consciousness. This way we can maximize our contribution towards co-creating a world that works for everyone.

Carl Jung puts it this way. “In the history of the collective as in the history of the individual, everything depends on the development of consciousness.”

Program Overview:

  • Experientially explore the effects of “ME” consciousness.
  • Understand the mental models associated with the “YOU,” “ME,” and “WE” levels of ego development and consciousness.
  • Explore ways to facilitate the evolution of consciousness in others.
  • Provide an opportunity for attendees to share their approaches / knowledge.

What you can expect to learn:

  • Understanding one of the primary root causes of most problems in organizations.
  • Powerful approaches to solving problems in a way that can facilitate the shift in others.
  • Specific strategies to loosen attachments to mental models in others.

Bio & Presenter Links:

Peter Stonefield, BSEE, MA, PhD. is President of Stonefield Learning Group. He was an electronic systems engineer before becoming a psychologist.

He completed over 200 consulting engagements and coached over 300 executives and engineers. Some of the training programs he developed are Self-management, Managing Innovation, TQM, Agile Leadership, Agile Communications, Knowledge Management, Managing Change, Creative Thinking and Architecture for Teamwork. He also facilitated the development of 10 global knowledge leveraging “Communities of Practice”. His client list includes Apple Computer, Baxter Laboratories, Dow Chemical, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Intel, Motorola, Stanford University, Sun Microsystems, startups like Plaxo and several agencies of the US Government. He was the principal consultant to the winner of the US President’s Quality Award for Managing Change in government and the GSA Administrators Award for Managing Change. e-mail:

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Play the Wrong Note:

Daring Adventures in Learning, Failure & Creativity

with Dr. Lisa Chu

In our quest for mastery, institutional validation, and brand-building as experts, how do we create the space for true learning to occur? When we are called to improvise, we stand squarely in the rawness of not knowing, and we have the opportunity to embrace the richness (and the terror) of just being.

In this session, we will co-create a space of deliberate vulnerability and spontaneous creativity, using the vehicles of sound, voice, and music. Activities will include deep listening, sonic meditation, collaborative free improvisation, and vocal exercises integrating the body, breath, and mind.

“Play the wrong note”refers to the four most compassionate words I ever heard from a teacher. These words blew open my mind, body, and heart, catapulting me into the vast territory of the unknown, after more than thirty years of focus on playing all the right notes, all of the time. I will share the story of this moment of being blown open, and lead the group in a variety of self-reflective and collaborative exercises designed to create an environment of courageous self-expression, learning, and mutual support.

Outcomes for participants:

  • gain direct, embodied experience of the power of sound, voice, and music as vehicles for self-regulation and group energy transformation
  • learn several practices to continue the experience at home or with other groups
  • learn ways to incorporate musical and sound elements into group process for enhancing creativity, collaboration, and trust
  • gain insight and awareness into your own “edges”of vulnerability and where you may have opportunities to expand creatively

No prior music experience is expected. In fact, this session is perfect for you if you have ever been told you are “tone deaf”or if you consider yourself “musically untalented”. Be prepared to be surprised!

Bring a blanket or cushion to sit on if you prefer (optional).

Bio & Presenter Links:

Dr. Lisa Chu, M.D., is a musician, life coach, bodyworker, and visual artist. Lisa’s varied forms of expression all converge around the themes of healing, transformation, and creativity.

Her life experience as daughter of Chinese-Taiwanese immigrants, classically trained violinist and pianist, medical school graduate, former partner-level venture capital investor, and solo entrepreneur, enable her to relate directly to many of the experiences her clients are facing during times of career transition, dissolving of ego identities, and letting go of deep cultural conditioning.

Lisa’s formal trainings include Sound Voice and Music Healing Certification from California Institute of Integral Studies, Life Coach Training with Martha Beck, Real Speaking Facilitator Training with Gail Larsen, traditional Thai massage trainings in Thailand, Bali, and Laos, and Breema bodywork. She also has an A.B. magna cum laude in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University and an M.D. from University of Michigan Medical School.

Lisa lives in Half Moon Bay, California, with her partner Randy, a cat and three chickens, and is a co-creator of the acoustic rock duo Chinese Melodrama, and creator of the blog Bad Asian Daughter.

Dr. Lisa Chu



phone: (650) 325-2194

 Additional Links to  Enjoy Before the Presentation (optional, but very fun!):

Conan OBrien on failure:

Conan OBrien @Google – Start Improvising

JK Rowling Harvard commencement speech on failure and imagination:

Harvard Business Review paper on how Pixar fosters collective creativity:

Creativity: A Prescription for Doctors:


Friday, May 23, 2014

Mindful Systems Inquiry©

with Bernice Moore

Bernice’s slides can be accessed here:

Mindful Systems Inquiry is a process that integrates three components: mindfulness, systems dynamics, and inquiry. The process is designed to help a group explore a complex system, gain clarity about the system’s behavior, and inquire into what’s going on and what may evolve through a dynamic simulation process.   During this Session, participants will:

  • Explore and discover how a complex system works
  • Develop basic insights into systems dynamics
  • Experiment with changes that create more fluidity in the system
  • Participate in a generative, dialogic process
  • Learn how to become present when things are chaotic


Mindfulness prepares the ground for exploration. It clears the mind, deepens concentration, and evokes presence. Presence brings bodies, minds, and hearts into the moment.  


We are rarely able to see a whole system when we are in it. Simulating a system brings the whole system to life, giving a larger perspective. Participants embody and give voice to different parts of the system. As the parts interact, interconnections and interrelationships become clear.  


Inquiry involves how we talk and learn together. Through language we develop relationships and create our world. Through dialogue about a complex system, new understandings and possibilities emerge.

For more about the process, see Dr. Moore’s blog on

The attached white paper about Collaborative Inquiry provides additional background information: collaborative inquiry white paper-071013

About our presenter:

Since 1990, Bernice has worked in the field of organizational learning and development, acting as an internal or external consultant for Fortune 50-500 companies. She has led organizational learning programs, developing curricula and delivering courses to employees of all levels. She has coached executive leadership teams, assisting and supporting executives in guiding organizational change. Bernice’s organizational change efforts have transformed organizational culture toward greater inclusion and collaboration. Bernice’s focus is on collaborative and conversational leadership, organizational transformation, and mindfulness practices that expand individual and collective capacity.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Deep Order:  Alternative Causal Models for Organizational Development

with Pravir Malik

Pravir’s slides: BASOL 042514 Distribution

Notes on Pravir’s presentation by Mitchell Friedman: Deep order and causal models 42514

Pravir has a new website:

Note: This was a fantastic day – very thought provoking conversations, do read the slides and notes and check out Pravir’s website when you have a chance

Rapidity of change, the pressing together of previously distinct areas, and the concrete surfacing of drivers that are reluctantly considered to be in the realm of organization and system thinking, necessitate enhanced organizational causal models.

In Deep Order:  Alternative Causal Models for Organizational Development, Pravir Malik will share some of his learning, thinking and practical applications of fractal reality that intimately connects individuals, teams, organizations, and markets.

In this session, we will reflect on emergent properties that will be required to interpret and navigate the changing complexities of our times, and we will experiment with some way to apply these insights in your daily work.

Session Overview and Outcomes:

  • Explore repeating patterns, time, space, and emergent properties that suggest a deeper framework for organizational development
  • Explore, in our personal laboratories, the structure of emotion, as an instance of the fractal imprint of the structure of Deep Order

Attending this session will benefit you if:

  • You are part of a rapidly changing environment and feel that current organizational development causal models are inadequate
  • You feel that how you are being can change what you are experiencing and want to explore that a little more
  • You enjoy stretching your view to see things from different perspectives


Pravir Malik is a fractal savant with deep experience in organizational development across a variety of industries.  Pravir has been on the Leadership Teams of A.T. Kearney India, BSR Advisory Services, and Stanford Hospital & Clinics Human Resources.   He has balanced pragmatism with risk-taking to follow his inspiration in developing a fractal-based organizational development model being enumerated in a series of books and a couple of start-up companies. Two recent books include Connecting Inner Power with Global Change and Redesigning the Stock Market, which elaborate the shift in consciousness required in solving a range of formidable global problems.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Language of Value Explored

with Pat Hehir

Economic Value is a concept that is ubiquitous in the business community. However it is one of the most difficult to explain, and most subjective topics that exists in all businesses. What is of value to you is often very different to what is of value to me. There has been much research done to bring greater clarity to the language, however much of it never comes close to the foundational aspects that Adam Smith (the Grandfather of Economics) covered just briefly in his work the Wealth of Nations, published in 1776.

Having started installing Quality Management Systems in the late 80’s, I have shifted over the past 15 years, to put a different Value Based flavor on them and it makes quite a difference in terms of business impact. I then began doing some deeper level research in 2006 (which is still continuing), through value negotiations workshops and 3000 people later, we have come up with some very robust underpinnings to the language and philosophy of value

Method and Outcomes

This workshop will be more of a hands on working session versus death by PowerPoint. We will have deep interaction on the subject with many breakout sessions on elements that will be immediately valuable to you in the promotion of your business.

Attending this session will benefit you if:

  • You have to explain the value of your offering or proposition to your clients
  • You would like to get greater insights in what exactly occurs during a business exchange or negotiation
  • You would like to be able to help your clients to begin to think differently about THEIR OWN value proposition to their clients

Bio & Presenter Links:

Patrick Hehir

Patrick founded Business Value Group Intl LLC in 2009 after dedicating 25 years improving the business performance of multinational companies. His passion centers on developing deep and practical wisdom around value based business management systems and company cultures. He believes that to improve an organization’s business performance it is imperative to focus on its overall organizational effectiveness.

He began his career in support engineering roles and advanced to senior executive-level positions. He is a life-long learner, balancing practical, hands-on experience with formal studies for over 20 years.

Patrick is a specialist in architecting and implementing large-scale transformational change/turnarounds and building company cultures based on Value Based Management Systems. Patrick earned an MS in Org Development at Pepperdine and an MBA from San Jose State University. He also received a Certificate in Lean Systems from the University of Kentucky. His undergrad work was done at the University College Cork, University College Galway, and Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, all in Ireland.   1-408-904-8195

Friday, 28 February, 2014

The Linguistic Turn in Project, Team and Leadership Consulting
with  Stephen Heffernan

Projects are the principal unit of work for generating the future of any organization. But, the record shows that most large-scale projects fail to realize their expected benefits. Why is that? And, what can be done? Traditional “change management” places attention on communication and the soft “people-side” of change but is often seen as a poor step-child of hard project management discipline. Current arguments in favor of “change leadership” have produced little more than rhetorical flourish without much distinction or impact.

Throughout my 30 year career in management consulting I have studied many discourses familiar within the SoL community especially the work of Gregory Bateson, Humberto Maturana, Martin Heidegger and Fernando Flores. I have been designing frameworks and adapting my consulting and coaching practices to be coherent with what I have learned. The work I will share is intended to build connections from the insights of these thinkers to the pragmatic design of innovations in consulting, coaching and training.

At the core of what I’ve learned is that there is no “people-side.”

  • Projects are an entirely linguistic construct which exist only in the context of conversations between and among human beings.
  • Teams are constituted by the presence or absence of shared commitments generated through these conversations.
  • Leadership might be called for from anyone, at any time: to initiate a missing conversation; to make a request during a meeting; or, an offer after a breakdown.

My teacher Bob Dunham names a ‘Human Moment’ and I believe these are the moments that call for leadership: the awareness to see what action/conversation is missing, the competencies for engagement with another human being and the integrity to be personally responsible that it happens.  It is the moment where sound philosophy can generate embodied leadership practices for producing projects that succeed and teams that flourish.


In this workshop I won’t present fixed solutions but offer a few interpretations and frameworks developed to provoke interaction and open a sequence of design conversations in groups and with the whole. We will quickly assess the blindness underlying conventional approaches for project consulting, dive more deeply into possibilities for reconstructing the discourse and designing new consulting practices, and, together explore viable paths forward.

Participating in this session will benefit you if:

  • You are a consultant or coach looking to enhance your offers to executives and managers facing change initiatives
  • You are yourself a project manager or you lead a project team
  • You have been challenged with translating abstract ideas into concrete practices, and
  • You will benefit me if you fully participate, challenge, discover and invent along with me

About Stephen:

Stephen W. Heffernan has over thirty years of management consulting experience specialized in leading executive and management-level teams to plan and execute large-scale strategic change and performance improvement projects. He has partnered with organizations large and small and with top consulting firms (including Accenture, Price Waterhouse, CSC Index, Oracle and SAP) to ensure successful outcomes in change, renewal and transformation projects such as: global deployment of enterprise-wide information systems; business process redesign; performance improvement initiatives; organizational restructuring; and, merger integration. His corporate work has supported his ability to give years of pro-bono assistance to organizations in Latin America and Southern Africa leading projects for sustainable development and self-determination.

“My passion and commitment is to continually innovate and expand my own leadership, consulting and coaching competence so I can better help organizational and community project teams be successful – and to flourish while doing so.”

Stephen W. Heffernan

(510) 506-0725

Friday, 24 January, 2014

The Art of Invitation:
A Learning Lab for Mavericks in the Middle
with  Mitch Saunders 

Here are  Mitch’s slides: BASOL Presentation012414

We often find ourselves in situations where key individuals, (or perhaps an entire organization) may sidestep what the poet David Whyte calls “questions that can make or unmake a life (or work).” At other times, we are asked explicitly to help come up with creative responses to defining moments—when an organization’s survival is on the line. In both situations, others rely on us to help frame and set the conditions for courageous conversations about issues that resist easy answers, and where challenging the status quo is a given. This is easier said than done.

Keeping in mind that many of us operate from “the middle”, without the benefit of formal authority or resources, we will explore a particular kind of vulnerability and presence that makes this possible.  We will practice cultivating the kind of leadership that invites people to step through a threshold into something bigger and better—both beyond ourselves and yet more of ourselves at the same time.

Program Overview:

  • Unique opportunities for influence available at pivotal junctures
  • What it takes to get others to join you at the frontier
  • Tapping a group’s collective intelligence—to generate and test ways to mobilize support and overcome organizational inertia
  • Personal agility and specific ways to increase the chances that you bring the kind of presence needed in these high stakes situations

What you can expect to learn:

  • A powerful approach for diagnosing complex situations, so you can quickly discern amidst the drama what’s happening and needed next
  • A proven practice for accessing your most resourceful internal states (takes less than 60 seconds)
  • Opportunities to develop and practice a compelling invitation
  • Specific next steps and practices to implement back home
  • Potent methods and tools you can teach others

About Mitch:

Mitch Saunders is a pioneer in the areas of innovation, leadership and collective wisdom. He helps leaders and organizations realize their aspirations. He also helps them to reinvent themselves and the ways they create value. Earlier in his career, Mitch led research and taught at the Center for Organizational Learning at MIT. He has catalyzed breakthroughs for companies, public agencies and nonprofits.  He has also served as the architect for multi-sector projects such as conversion of a military base into a public university, and creation of a new form of conflict prevention in the Middle East.

He also serves as a Director for The Alliance of CEOs; and is the Managing Director of The CEO Studio, a program for early stage entrepreneurs sponsored by Silicon Valley Bank.

To learn more about Mitch’s work see:

Friday, November 15, 2013

A BASoL Community Conversation:
The Future of BASoL –
Revisiting Our Mission and Vision

Whether you are a BASoL member or not, if you have attended a BASoL meeting in the past, and plan on visiting with us again in the future, we invite  join us at The HubSF for a participant-driven conversation about BASoL’s mission and vision, and how, together, we can lay the groundwork and practical steps for achieving our aims.

In 2006 the BASoL Stewards created a vision for BASoL that still resonates for many of us. However, we have fallen short of actually realizing  some aspects of that vision. With your help we’d like to revisit that Vision and take steps to realize it more fully.

During this meeting we will invite you into an inquiry about:

1) BASoL’s purpose – What are we about really?

2) Our mission and vision – what exactly are we in service to and are we going about it in ways that work?

3) How BASoL can serve the Bay Area Organizational Learning Community more effectively?

4) Expanding our outreach – how do we ensure that BASoL is not just a fractal of Global SoL, but of the Bay Area Organizational Learning Community as well?

5) What practices we need to undertake to realize our objectives?

6) What commitments we will make to work together?

We’ll draw upon the wisdom of each participant as well as what emerges from the whole group, using principles and practices from a variety of facilitation approaches.

There will be no charge for this meeting – after all we are asking you to work!

We look forward to seeing you,

The BASoL Stewards:

Alain Gauthier, Claudine Fiebusch, Jim Martin, Ken Homer, Manuel Manga, Mari Pearman

Monday October 14, 2013

Exploring Evolutionary Co-Leadership
with Alain Gauthier
Founding Member of SoL North America and Global SoL 

You can view and download Alain’s presentation here: Gauthier BASOL Oct 13

In recent years, a few books and articles have been written on “evolutionaries” and evolutionary leadership, but their focus has mostly been on individual leadership. The purpose of this session is to explore together what it means and what it takes to transcend and include individual leadership in moving toward a next developmental stage: evolutionary co-leadership. Co-leadership is intrinsically evolutionary, because it accelerates the development of both people and organizations – and their contribution to evolution – in a virtuous loop.

Participants will be invited in a joint inquiry about:

1) What is evolutionary co-leadership?

2) Why is it urgently needed at this time?

3) What are some integral practices that enable its embodiment?

4) How can it catalyze the emergence of a co-creative, co-responsible, and resilient society by calling forth large numbers of co-leaders in and across sectors?

We will experiment with some of the practices and share examples of communities that are on the path of building an evolutionary co-leadership capacity.

Alain Gauthier is Executive Director of Core Leadership Development in Oakland, CA, and a Principal with MetaIntegral Associates. As an international consultant, facilitator, coach, educator, and author – he focuses his work on developing co-leadership and partnering capabilities in and across the public, private, and civil society sectors. He is passionate about integrating the inner and outer dimensions of co-leadership – both at the individual and collective levels – in the service of a new development paradigm. He graduated from H.E.C. (Paris), and is a Stanford M.B.A. Early in his career, he was a senior consultant with McKinsey & Company.

Gauthier has served a wide range of clients on four continents for more than 45 years. He is the author of a new ebook: Actualizing Evolutionary Co-Leadership – to Evolve a Creative and Responsible Society (which is available now, see below), has contributed to five collective books on leadership development, and is a visiting professor at Paris University II. His other publications are available at He is a co-founder of SoL North America and SoL France, and a Steward of Bay Area SoL.

You can download Alain’s newest book:

Actualizing Evolutionary Co-Leadership – To Evolve a Creative and Responsible Society

by visiting this link:

Monday September 23, 2013

Project 10X:
Growing Self-Evolving Organizations Fit for the Future
with Max Shkud and Bill Veltrop

 To view the slides presented at this meeting, visit:

Preparation: pre-reading and viewing:

Watch: Gary Hamel’s video: Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment

Read: MIX M-Prize article: Project 10X: Growing the DNA for 21st century leadership in organizations

In his not-to-be-missed, highly evocative and fast-paced video, “Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment,” the celebrated management thinker Gary Hamel paints a vivid picture of what it means to build organizations that are fundamentally fit for the future — resilient, inventive, inspiring and adaptable.

The challenge for organizational leaders is four-fold:

  1. How to build a company that can change as fast as change itself?
  2. How to grow a company where innovation is the work of everybody, all the time, every day?
  3. How to develop an organization where people are willing to bring and fully contribute the gifts of their initiative, creativity and passion?
  4. How to grow highly distributed, adaptive leadership capable of successfully addressing increasingly complex, whole-system challenges like the three above?

‘Project 10X’ is a strategy, approach and developmental framework designed to address these critical capacity-building challenges. For most companies, this involves a major paradigm shift in their managing culture — their well-established patterns of thinking, relating, leading and organizing. At the heart of the Project 10X approach is such paradigm shift — bridging what we call ‘The Great Culture Chasm’ — that gap between organization as a well-oiled machine and organization as a conscious caring living system.

Project 10X is low cost, can start small, and is designed to become self-managing and self-propagating early on — with benefits growing exponentially over time.

On September 23, BASoL will give you a chance to learn about and play with Project 10X concepts guided by Max Shkud and Bill Veltrop, co-founders of GlobalGEA.

In this session Max and Bill will engage the participants in:

1) analyzing the effectiveness and importance of organizational learning in their systems

2) experiencing 10X commitments and co-creative coaching trios

3) exploring how they might introduce this possibility in the system(s) they serve.

Intended Outcomes

Participants can expect to leave with —

  1. A clear understanding of the distinctions and breakthroughs implicit in ‘generative design thinking’ and generative approaches to learning and change (contrasted with more traditional, mechanistic approaches)
  2. A generative way to think, dialogue about and design for breakthroughs in organizational learning
  3. A possibility of multiplying their lasting contribution to the organizations they serve
  4. One or more connections with allies who will support them in their 10X commitments

Methods We’ll Use

  • Mostly interactive and participative organizational exploration, including: modeling, co-creative coaching trios, harvesting ‘learnings’ and commitments, offers and requests
  • Some theory generation
  • Minimal presentation

Max Shkud and Bill Veltrop developed Project 10X because they were convinced that the future wellbeing of life on this planet hinges on our organizations’ growing their capacity to consciously self-evolve — to become ever-more-effective at learning and changing — to become ‘stewards for the future.’ Surviving, much less thriving, in our VUCA world demands that our organizations master the art of ‘generative learning and change.’

Friday June 21, 2013

Evolutionary Leadership for Systemic Sustainability

with Manuel Manga

To download a copy of Manuel’s powerpoint deck click here: BASOLEVOLUTIONARYLEADER

What type of leadership is required to build a just, flourishing and sustainable world?

In the next decades humanity will confront a series of adaptive challenges of great complexity and systemic in nature, including population growth, climate change impacting rising seas levels, and other unexpected environmental changes, potential mass migrations, water scarcity, the widening gap between rich and poor, species extinctions, and energy crisis. These challenges when seen systemically equal an evolutionary crisis.

This evolutionary crisis presents both a great danger as well as a great opportunity for all institutions, societies, and for humanity as a whole to consciously design a social evolution toward a just, flourishing and sustainable world. This is an opportunity for ontological designing, for technological innovation, for educational transformation, for organizational evolution, for a cultural evolution, for cross-sector collaboration, for a global citizens movement.

No organization or government alone can solve this evolutionary crisis. We require a different type of leadership, and because our problems are systemic and interconnected, we need a different way of perceiving, being, living and working together. Everyone is invited to become an evolutionary leader and contribute based on whatever they have to offer.

In this session you will:

~ Distinguish Evolutionary Leadership from other types of leadership models.

~ Become familiar with the seven competencies of an evolutionary leader.

~ Identify your personal evolution stand, purpose, commitment.

~ Expand your horizon of opportunities where you could make a difference.

~ Learn how individuals and organizations are working together to create a sustainable world.

Attending this session will benefit you if:

~ You want to bring innovative ideas and sustainability to your organization.

~ You want to bring evolutionary leadership to your life, organization, and community.

~ You work in an NGO or Institution that wants to contribute toward a just and sustainable world.

~ Your work is about innovation, human development, organizational development.

~ You want to apply the seven competencies to your work, collaboration, and social change.

Recommended pre-reading is linked here.

About Manuel Manga:

Manuel Manga is an organizational consultant, facilitator, and leadership coach with international experience consulting to large and small organizations. He has worked throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, Africa, India, Asia, Middle East, and Europe in both private and non-profit organizations. Fluent in both English and Spanish, Manuel’s work focuses on leadership development, strategic conversations, team building, systems thinking, organizational learning, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability. As a consultant and coach, he focuses on human and organizational transformation in the context of creating sustainable systems that work for all stakeholders.

Manuel’s clients include: Anglo American, Allianz, Conoco, Cemex, Chrysler, Grupo Maseca, Givaudan, The World Bank, BankBoston, Ben & Jerry’s, Oxfam, CARE, among others. A frequent speaker at conferences, Manuel has presented to: the Brazil Learning Organization Conference, The World Future Society Conference, and The Organizational Design Conference, and the Guatemala management conference.

More information can be found here:


April 12, 2013


With Ken Homer

What makes makes for a successful change effort?

Every year people and businesses spend billions of dollars searching for answers to this question. Most of us have encountered people or organizations who have identified a significant change effort, have a high degree of motivation to change and yet, in spite of good intentions, careful planning, strenuous efforts and large expenditures of time and money, the change they are working toward never quite materializes. What is going on here? Why is change so hard?

Harvard researchers Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey have been studying the change process for over 30 years and they’ve developed an approach that has contributed to successful change efforts for both businesses and individuals. As they state on their website:

“The Immunity-to-Change™ (ITC) approach is specifically designed to help individuals, work teams, and organizations make those personal and collective changes that are most important to them – but have proven resistant even to thoughtful plans and heartfelt intentions. The approach first generates a customized picture of something which is usually invisible – the way our current mindset produces exactly those behaviors which prevent progress on the goal we most want to achieve. This is the immunity to change. Once we see the real source of what has been preventing change, the approach guides us on a new path to accomplishing it.”

Last year, Ken Homer longtime BASOL Steward, traveled to Boston to take the Immunity-to-Change™ facilitator workshop taught by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey. Please join us as Ken leads us through their process.

In this session you will

~ Identify a specific personal* change effort that is important to you.

~ Work through the ITC process, discovering your own immunity to change.

~ Develop a clear understanding of how your psychological “immune system” is preventing that change.

~ Leave with a clear set of ideas on how to approach your change effort in new ways.

*Note: before attempting to explore change efforts related to teams and organizations, it is best to start with understanding how the ITC process works for yourself, so we will focus our attention on individual change today.


Imagine you are participating in a virtual 360 feedback session with your closest colleagues, friends and loved ones. Choose people who care about you and want to see you succeed. Once you have assembled your team, consider what their reply would be to the question:

What’s one or two optimal arenas that, if I were to improve in, would lead me to be even more effective than currently am?

Jot down their replies and answer that question for yourself. Bring this information with you to the session.

About Ken Homer 

Ken Homer founded Collaborative Conversations after a decade of collaboration with the founders of the World Café. Concurrent with his work at the World Café, Ken earned a certification in Integral Coaching© through New Ventures West – where he created their Graduate Department and where he currently serves as Adjunct Faculty. He also headed up the Institute of Noetic Sciences Worldview Literacy Project, developing an architecture of engagement and a year long curriculum for creating greater personal awareness, increased social skills and more effective collaboration among diverse groups.

Ken works with clients to build their competence to design and convene conversations that include all relevant voices, address complex issues and make wiser decisions that enjoy widespread support. He has been a featured speaker at several conferences including: the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation, Pegasus Systems Thinking in Action and CADCA. His clients include: Genentech, NASA, Nike, The Center for Interfaith Relations, The Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and the National Park Service.

Friday 14 December 2012

An Introduction to Design Thinking: A Process for Collaborative Creativity
with Scott Underwood

Scott’s slides from this presentation can be found here: BASOL 20121213

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to solving organizational problems, creating business impact through inspiration, empathy, brainstorming, and prototyping. Its application comprises products, services, spaces, processes, strategies, and experiences in all kinds of organizations: consumer, technology, healthcare, government, academic, and nonprofit.

Design thinking starts by insuring we are solving the right problem, and it continues to ask questions at every step we make towards a solution. It is not primarily concerned with aesthetics, except in balance with all the other factors of a successful solution. Design thinking is best practiced in teams by all decision-makers, rather than “lone geniuses.” It holds that all of us design in our work and life all the time.

A valuable part of organizational learning and development, design thinking values non-hierarchical collaboration and promotes a different set of leadership skills, embracing failure as a necessary part of learning. Design thinking can help to break down silos, align business goals, and improve processes.

The best way to learn design thinking is through a workshop, in which we will:

  • find usable insights by conducting observations
  • effectively brainstorm and collaborate as a team
  • use prototypes to test ideas and communicate solutions

Further Reading

Tim Brown, “Design Thinking,” Harvard Business Review, Jun 2008

Bill Moggridge, “Dear Don…” Core77, Aug 2010 (a blog post in reply to a Don Norman entry)

David Kelley, “How to Build Your Creative Confidence,” TED Talk, Mar 2012

Scott Underwood leads design thinking workshops around the world. His clients include startups and Fortune 500 firms, academic and nonprofit institutions. He spent over twenty years at IDEO in a variety of roles, giving workshops, tours, and talks for internal and external audiences and contributing to many IDEO publications. He lives in El Cerrito, California. Website: email:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Coaching Evolution – Co-evolving Team, Leadership and Culture
with Peter Stonefield, President of Stonefield Learning Group 

NOTE: We are changing venues and days. BASOL will sometimes meet on Mondays at The HubSF – see below for details

To remain viable in the emerging “Creative Sustainable Economy,” organizations must continuously change, innovate, adapt and execute synergistically. How? By exploring insights into the organizational members’ collective, unconscious minds which are already trying to self-organize creatively. This practical and repeatable form of sensing reflects the philosophy of “Presencing.” In today’s world, there are always some new adaptive success strategies trying to emerge in all living systems. Unfortunately, few look for them until there is trouble and chaos which tends to beckon more power than insight.

The focus of this session will be on exploring, through case studies and experiential exercises, a creative self-organizing inquiry methodology that loosens identification with existing mental models and generates self-discovered collective insights into the co-evolution of strategy, culture, leadership and consciousness.

Self-discovered insights help both individuals and teams make shifts in mental models, behaviors and identity without lengthy discussions and unproductive conflict. Creative insights, in the form of images and symbols are narratives that have immediate psychological traction as illustrated in this pdf. They become fractal like “attractors” that organize the various means of the mind to their ends.

Session Overview and Outcomes:

·   Explore a systems psychology model.

·   Explore a universal success strategy for all living systems.

·   Explore the creative thinking process.

·   Explore a technique for facilitating the discovery of what is already self-organizing in the subconscious minds of organizational members.

·   Discover what is self-organizing in you.

·   Create a story to tell about what’s emerging based on your insights.

This session is for members of Bay Area organizations who want to learn more about creative, systemic evolution.

Attending this session will benefit you if:

You would like to explore a universal success strategy for all living systems.

You would like to discover a practical repeatable way of sensing what is already trying to emerge in the co-evolution of parts in a human system.

You would like to discover what is currently self-organizing in your psychological system.

You would like to better understand the creative process.

You would like to create a story to tell about what is emerging.

Bio & Presenter Links:

Peter Stonefield, BSEE, MA, PhD. is President of Stonefield Learning Group.  He was an electronic systems engineer before becoming a psychologist.

Peter has completed over 200 consulting engagements and coached over 300 executives and engineers. Some of the training programs he developed are Managing Innovation, TQM, Agile Leadership, Knowledge Management, Managing Change, Creative Thinking and Architecture for Teamwork. He also facilitated the development of 10 global “Communities of Practice.”  His client list includes Apple Computer, Baxter Laboratories, Dow Chemical, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Intel, Stanford University, Sun Microsystems and several agencies of the US Government. He was the principal consultant to the winner of the US President’s Quality Award for Managing Change in government and the GSA Administrators Award for Managing Change.  email:

18 May 2012
Saybrook University 

Creating a Both-And World: Sustainability & Organizational Learning
With Debbie O’Brien Krackeler and Stacey Smith

The corporate sustainability movement is, at its core, about working in new ways so that we continue to meet our collective goals of wealth creation and economic development while also diminishing the negative impacts to segments of society and our natural resources.  Some call this shared value creation.  This is what we mean by both-and – continuing economic expansion and bringing those benefits to an ever widening circle of people and ensuring that we do little/no harm.  Ultimately this will need organizational changes and visionary leadership over the long term.

Please join us for a participatory session led by Stacey Smith and Debbie Krackeler from Contigo Partners.  Our goal for the session is to further our collective understanding and skills in helping companies and organizations address sustainability impacts in positive, lasting ways.  Contigo has created a change model to be applied in organizations working on sustainability challenges in a committed way.   Marrying deep expertise on sustainability impacts with organizational change disciplines, we will explore ways to help organizations create the long term changes needed to operate in a sustainable manner.

After a brief sharing of the change model, organizational learning disciplines and core sustainability issues, we will work in small groups with scenarios drawn from current media that illustrate some of the social and environmental challenges we need to diminish (or eliminate).  These scenarios will deal with issues such as:

  • Human trafficking,
  • Labor rights violations,
  • Water contamination
  • Resource depletion.

In this session, we will work together to explore when and how to best intervene in a corporate system using our change model and organizational learning disciplines.

Attending this session will benefit you if:

  • You are working with organizations ion issues of social and environmental sustainability
  • You want to improve your ability to be a change agent for sustainability
  • You want to improve interactions and enable collaboration across the private and civil society sectors
  • You work with for-profit or non-profit companies

Bio & Presenter Links:

Debbie O’Brien Krackeler and Stacey Smith founded Contigo Partners to work with companies and organizations who are committed to shifting performance toward positive social and environmental outcomes.  We have over 30 years of combined experience as practitioners, facilitators and consultants.  We have been in corporate board rooms, factories, farms, and conference centers all over the world.  And we are ready to bring our passion, experience, and our approach and tools to you in service of the outcomes you need.  For more information on Stacey and Debbie, and Contigo Partners, please visit our website at

21 March 2012 6:30 to 9:30 PM

Power and Love
A Special Presentation by
Adam Kahane and Jeff Barnum
Co-Sponsored with The HubSF

“The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor.”  -Bill O’Brien

Successful change efforts require both effective methodology and the presence of mind and heart to effectively lead and facilitate social change.  Reos Partners presents Adam Kahane and Jeff Barnum who utilize proven methodologies and inner practices to help business, government, and civil society leaders work together to address their toughest challenges.

Adam and Jeff will speak and share from their experiences with Reos Partners around the world, focusing especially on how the inner, personal aspects of social change efforts help make the difference between a waste of time and a society-changing intervention.  They will share stories, methodology, insights, and tools, and engage in Q&A and dialogue with the audience.

This session is for you if:

  • You want to know more about best practices in social change methodology;
  • You want to learn more about the personal and individual basis of social change;
  • You are wondering how you can be more effective in your social change efforts.

Bio & Presenter Links:

Adam Kahane has worked in more than fifty countries, in every part of the world, with executives and politicians, generals and guerrillas, civil servants and trade unionists, community activists and United Nations officials, clergy and artists.  His latest book, Power and Love: A Theory and Practice of Social Change, shares his observations and learning about how these fundamental social drives can and must work together.


Jeff Barnum has worked for twenty years at the intersection of art, social change, and the development of inner capacities for both.  He co-founded Reos Partners in 2007 with a vision for a socially artistic company that harness human goodwill and creativity for social change.


Session Overview and Outcomes:

  • Hear stories about how the Reos methodology has been used around the world.
  • Understand the interior condition is so crucial to the success of the intervention.
  • Receive helpful tools and strategies.
  • Opportunity to ask questions and engage with the presenters.

27 January 2012

The Upward Spiral: Bootstrapping Systemic Change
with Elizabeth Doty

Slides are posted below the description

As we head into 2012, many of us have a sense of emerging possibility — if we can rise to the occasion. Many systems are at tipping points — from our organizations to our economy, our society and the environment.

In times like these, it matters immensely how each of us shows up.

If we fall into downward spirals of cynicism, distrust, and blame, we threaten our ability to address our most important challenges and act on our visions of a better future.

Yet it is also possible to spark an upward spiral, even in the most difficult situations.

If downward spirals describe deterioration, the upward spiral is a metaphor for growth. In the natural world, many organisms grow via a spiraling pattern. As a metaphor, the upward spiral suggests a way to raise one another’s level of aspiration, commitment and action — even those with whom we most disagree.

If you knew how to spark an upward spiral, what would you attempt? Mobilizing your team around a new mission? Achieving full engagement among your staff?  Building more collaboration with peers? Infusing your organization with higher values and integrity? Building a society that works for all?

Please join us as we explore the upward spiral as a guiding metaphor for bootrapping systemic change.

Our intention is that by the end of the session, you will:

  • Renew your energy and clarity about a change you would like to see
  • Identify hidden resources for change in any situation
  • Learn the “action-signal” method and three simple rules for building upward spirals
  • Plan a 30-day upward spiral experiment, and work with peers to get it started

Elizabeth Doty is the founder of WorkLore, a leadership consulting firm. Organizations such as Cisco, Intuit and Stanford University hire her to help them build cultures of commitment and action. Roy Shapiro of the Harvard Business School says, “No one in the world is better than Elizabeth Doty at creating the conditions for upward spirals of trust, collaboration and excellence.” Elizabeth is the author of The Compromise Trap:  How to Thrive at Work without Selling your Soul, which teaches leaders ways of reversing unhealthy workplace pressure.  She has given speeches and workshops at The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, the OD Network, and the Business Ethics Network.  She is a board member of the Berrett-Koehler Authors Cooperative, and earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Recommended Reading – What is An Upward Spiral?

Click here to view Elizabeth’s slide presentation

9 December 2011 – slides from meeting are posted below the description

Coaching from a Systems Perspective with
Miriam Hawley, Jeff Clannon,
Heidi Sparks Gruber and Jeffrey McIntyre
Note: Presenters will be appearing via video link 

Systems Thinking has been evolving since the late 1800s. Across a wide range of disciplines, there is an emerging consensus on the systemic nature of all things; a greater recognition that we are all parts of a whole. Research has demonstrated that performance isn’t always just about how hard a person works or how smart he/she is. Sometimes individuals find themselves in systemic structures in which they behave in particular ways in response to the system. No matter how hard they try (from their usual approaches) they are challenged. Looking from a “systems perspective” can provide opportunities for learning and being that may not be seen from an individual (or parts) perspective.

The session will cover:

• The Butterfly Model of Complex Human Systems

• Coaching in the External System: actions, emergent learning, leveraging organizational systems

• Coaching in the Internal System: intentions, internal narrative, mental models, underlying stories

• How the external and internal systems impact our interactions with clients and self as a system

• How this model can complement other coaching models

Attending this session will benefit you if: 

• You are a coach and want to deepen or enhance your practice with a greater systems perspective

• You are a manager and want to learn new ways to approach the coaching relationship

• You are interested in learning more about approaches to coaching and possibilities for integrating them

• You are a person who is interested in continuous learning and development

While this session is built around sharing a model that has been developed through the work of systems professionals and members of SoL, we will bring in other perspectives on coaching and explore the interconnection. We anticipate that the session will provide all participants with some new knowledge and practice that can enhance your work and enrich your life.

Bios & Presenter Links:

Miriam, Jeff, Heidi, and Jeffrey are partners in Systems Perspectives LCC As members of SoL, they have many years of experience working in the US and around the globe. As experienced coaches and consultants with backgrounds in systems, they developed the Butterfly Model of Complex Systems. By deepening and broadening the ability to coach from a systems perspective, they help client leaders see themselves as human systems working and living in larger systems. “When leaders understand those systems and how they operate, they are better able to achieve their goals”. Their bios can be found at

Coaching from a Systems Perspective was developed by eight members of the SoL Global Coaching Community, part of the Society for Organizational Learning. We welcome experienced coaches who are committed to expanding their capacity to coach individuals and teams from a systems perspective. The course is approved for 29 ICF Continuing Coach Education Units (CCEUs). A course certificate will be granted to all participants who complete the full course and follow-on certification requirements. The Course is being offered for open-enrollment in the US and in other countries. It can also be delivered the program in your organization for internal coaches, internal consultants, and leaders who employ a coaching approach.

For Recommended Readings: Click Here

Recommended pre-reading is Dancing with the Butterfly

Slides from this meeting are here. CSPslides12-11

4 November 2011

Igniting the Flame: Inspiring Others to be Inspiring

With Keith Merrin, Ph.D.

So much is written about leadership and so little is understood.  Even worse, what is known about great leadership is rarely enacted.  In the area of leadership, the gap between what we know and what people do is huge.  This is due to a large extent to the fact that the focus of research and writing about leadership is on the skills and traits of leaders and not on the deeper elements that make the biggest difference.  In the book, The Little Prince, the fox is quoted as saying, “what is meaningful is invisible to the eye.”  This is true about leadership.  Leadership is not an action–it is a place where you come from when you act.  Leadership is about inspiration.

Based on this premise, for the past two years, Dr. Merron has been conducting in depth interviews with dozens of remarkable leaders throughout North America to get at the heart and soul of what extraordinarily leadership is all about.  This research forms the basis of his recently published book called The Golden Flame: The Heart and Soul of Remarkable Leadership.  In this presentation and exploration, Dr. Merron shares his personal quest to understand the essential ingredients that make up great leadership and invites participants to explore its implications for coaching, consulting and being a change agent.

This presentation highlights the three most important factors that define great leadership and differentiates great leaders from the rest of the pack. 

Once understanding the forces that shape remarkable leadership, we will focus on one of the biggest and most important challenges facing coaches and consultants:  How do I inspire others to embody A Golden Flame?  In other words, how do I inspire those that need to be inspired?  At the core of this question is: Am I inspired myself?  The remainder of the exploration will focus on the state of being and the kinds of actions that invite inspiration to come forth in the people we are coaching and the organizations we are consulting to, and to do so in a way that produces meaningful and lasting transformation.

Key Takeaways

  1. A clear awareness of the forces inside oneself that one needs to embody in order to be a great leader and a great coach or consultant
  2. A clear understanding of what inspiration is and what it requires to producing meaningful transformation
  3. Examination of the areas where one is uncertain as a coach or consultant and an understanding of what to do to address these areas
  4. Heightened ability to assess whether others have the potential for great leadership success
  5. An understanding of what one can do as a coach to support and encourage others in the organization to become stronger leaders (and the ways we unwittingly discourage it)

Bio and Presenter Links

Keith Merron is the founder and Managing Partner of Avista Consulting Group, an organizational consulting and leadership development firm.  He has more than 25 years of experience assisting executives and managers in business, government, and education.  Keith has designed and led some of the most innovative leadership training programs in the country. He received his Doctorate from Harvard University in 1985, where his studies spanned the fields of human and organization development. He is the author of four books on human and organizational change.

To learn more about Keith, see:

Also see the following websites to learn more about his consulting, writing, and speaking:

24 June 2011

The Collaborative Leader: Leading Through Complexity

With Bernice Moore, Ph.D.

Everything is interconnected, interdependent and increasingly complex. We have challenging situations to work through, situations that require collective rather than individual effort. This calls for new leadership capabilities to engage with complexity and expand our ability to create the future we want together.

In The Collaborative Leader: Leading Through Complexity, Bernice Moore, Ph.D. shares her invaluable insights and experience in the areas inquiry, systems thinking, and collaborative practices. Her research on complexity, neuroscience and the benefits of mindfulness translate into useful tools that enhance leadership capability.

Attending this session will benefit you if:

  • Your work environment is complex and dynamic, changing and moving fast, and you want to be your best and support others.
  • You want to improve your ability to gain clarity and insight in the face of complexity.
  • You want to improve interactions and enable collaboration.
  • You deal with multiple stakeholders with complex and changing requirements.

In this session, we will explore and appreciate the complexity of our work situations. We will learn and practice simple exercises and engage in useful skill-building activities to improve our collaborative leadership.

Session Overview and Outcomes:

  • Explore complexity and its impact on us and our relationships.
  • Understand the systems we are in and how to use our energy to improve them.
  • Recent findings in neuroscience can improve our leadership and help us have a beneficial influence.
  • Learn simple exercises that will help us integrate and understand information and aid decision making processes.
  • Learn the three steps of conversational skills that enhance leadership capability and collaboration.
  • Practice using reflection to ignite learning.

About Our Speaker:

Dr. Bernice Moore is President of ICO Consulting providing consulting services, leadership and organizational development, and online offerings that develop collaboration. Dr. Moore has implemented large-scale organizational change and vital programs that have inspired employee engagement and performance while deepening customer relationships and satisfaction. Bernice has provided conflict resolution, team development, and individual coaching for executives in China, Sweden, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Dr. Moore is also a long time member of Bay Area SoL and serves on our Circle of Stewards. We’re delighted to have her as a guest speaker and we look forward to an enlivening and engaging session.

For more information please point your browser to:

29 April 2011

The Action Collab Process:
A Design-Thinking and Discovery Process

With Lisa Petrides, President & Founder
Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education

We’re excited to welcome Lisa Petrides, President and Founder of ISKME (the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education) host BASOL in the Action Collab process.  Lisa is an educational pioneer who has contributed important research to the ways formal and informal education can foster the creation and sharing of information, and is at the forefront of understanding how  open source and social media are impacting educational practice and policy.Lisa will facilitate a dynamic and creative 4-hr Action Collab, a collaborative design-thinking and discovery process, which will include brainstorming,  prototyping, and ultimately, creating new and actionable solutions to a particular challenge.

The Action Collab process was developed as part of ISKME’s Big Ideas Fest, which focuses on the ways in which education can be made relevant to learning by sparking innovation and breathing new life into seemingly intractable challenges at all levels of education.

The heart of the Action Collab process is a “design challenge” that engages and challenges participants.  Lisa and the SoL Stewards are currently cooking up a design challenge “juicy” enough to engage the full creative capacity of the Bay Area SoL community!

Please come prepared to explore, improvise, and design together….

Lisa Petrides, Ph.D. is president and founder of theInstitute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education  an independent, nonprofit research institute in Half Moon Bay, CA. Dedicated to improving the practice of continuous learning, collaboration, and change in the education sector, ISKME conducts social science research, develops research-based innovations, and builds capacity to improve information access and knowledge sharing. Petrides has led research that contributes to the ways in which those in both K-20 formal and informal education foster the creation and sharing of information, apply it to well-defined problems, and create knowledge-driven environments focused on improved learning and organizational success. Shealso brings extensive experience as an innovator working at the forefront of understanding how developments in open source, social networking, resource use, and social media can impact—and already have impacted—educational practice and policy. This includes the creation of OER Commons,  an open source teaching and learning network that supports and facilitates the creation, sharing, and modification of open educational resources, and Big Ideas Fest, a unique three-day immersion into collaboration and design with a focus on modeling cutting-edge thinking in K-20 education.

18 February 2011

Vision 2050: Building a Path Towards a Sustainable World
With special guest host Bob Horn

Cast your mind a mere four decades out into the future…

Imagine it is the year 2050. Our small planet is now home to some nine billion people. Do these people dwell in a world of restored ecosystems, living in relative comfort and abundance, enjoying high quality lives of meaning and purpose or is it their fate to live a more meager existence filled with lack, scarcity and strife?

Vision 2050 is the product of The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a CEO lead initiative that spent several years seeking to answer the question: Is a sustainable world possible by 2050 with 9 billion people all vying for a share of the Earth’s resources? And if so, how do we map a path to get there?

As Bob will tell you the answer to the first question is a definite “maybe.” And some answers to the second are to be found in the info-mural that Bob created in his role of visual synthesizer for the project. Encompassing some 350 elements, the Vision 2050 mural presents a pathway that just might lead us to a viable future for humanity and other species. But getting there is going to require enormous amounts of research, innovation, cooperation, collaboration and more than a little bit O’ luck.

Chief among the steps to bringing forth the world envisioned in Vision 2050 are “40 Must Haves” -elements that are critical to the success of our collective efforts. In our meeting today, Bob will focus on some these 40 areas and engage us in conversations on how, in a “nobody in charge world” we can begin to attract people’s time, attention and collaborative energy to successfully realize these goals for humanity.

We’re delighted to welcome Bob Born back to BASoL. His previous visits have always been illuminating and this session promises to be very thought provoking. Please join us and please spread the word among your networks – we’d love to have a larger turnout for today’s session.

Robert E. Horn is a political scientist with a special interest in policy communication, social learning, and knowledge management (especially in biotechnology and national security affairs). For the past 7 years, he has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information. His career has been widely interdisciplinary, leading a team (in the 1960s) that developed an information system covering 400 federal programs on education and training, editing a standard reference work that evaluated over 1,500 educational simulations in 35 academic disciplines (in the 1970s), and creating, while he was a research associate at Columbia University, a widely used methodology for the analysis of any complex subject matter. He turned this research into an international consulting company, specializing in knowledge management, called Information Mapping, Inc., (in the 1980s) which he founded and was CEO of for 15 years. He has taught at Harvard, Columbia, and Sheffield (U.K.) universities

For more information on Bob, please point your browser here.

17 December 2010

A critical inquiry into sanity, disappointment, and optimism:
Inviting presence into reflective conversation

Presenters: Nancy Southern, Bernice Moore & Elizabeth Doty

During our November BASOL meeting on Evolutionary Leadership, a provocative sub-conversation emerged about optimism and discouragement, especially in light of the political, economic, and environmental challenges that have rippled through the world and touched all our lives. This sub-conversation seems to echo larger questions about whether and how we engage in appreciative versus critical thinking, how to relate to disappointment while retaining our sanity, and the value of taking an optimistic or hopeful outlook on life.

To pick up this conversational thread, Nancy Southern, Bernice Moore, and Elizabeth Doty invite our community into a conversation about the past year’s challenges and the future’s emergent possibilities. What better time than near the winter solstice to reflect on the darkness many of us have experienced and welcome the brightness of lengthening days as we renew our sense of optimism? Here are the questions that we hope will guide that reflection:

  • For you, is this period different from other times? If so, how?
  • How has your personal experience of this past year been shaped by our times?
  • Where have you struggled?
  • What do you feel might be trying to emerge?

Please join us for this critical inquiry into the assumptions and beliefs that have shaped our experiences and relationships, the new meanings that are emerging, and how we are transforming to meet the challenges we face. During the day – organized loosely around the “U” of Theory U, we will be invited to experience presence individually and collectively. Presence can inform our thinking and relationships, deepen our inquiry, and clarify our reflection as we sense into what has been and what is emerging.

Intended Outcomes: Participants will reflect and regenerate and be in community with BASOL. We will be invited to learn and practice critical inquiry, individual and collective presence.

About our presenters:

Bernice Moore a long-time member and Steward of Bay Area SoL, focuses on creating greater collaboration across distances and differences. ICO-consulting develops cross-cultural leadership effectiveness and helps people work well together to fulfill their aspirations and accomplish their goals. Bernice is a senior student in the Diamond Approach and has been practicing Buddhist meditation since the 1970s.

Nancy Southern is also a long-time member and Steward of BASOL.Her work is dedicated to creating communities of learning and practice that seek to understand complexity, appreciate difference, and promote responsible action toward a sustainable world. She teaches graduate students in the Organizational Systems programs at Saybrook University who are interested in applying systems thinking and design to complex problems, using inquiry and dialogue as a way to support transformative learning and change.  As a consultant, she works with executives and management teams to build cultures of collaboration, through systemic organizational assessments, retreat design and facilitation, change management and organizational learning strategies, and leadership development. See ICO-Consulting for more on her work.

Elizabeth Doty is the author of The Compromise Trap: How to Thrive at Work without Selling your Soul, as well as a long-time member and Steward of BASOL.She has taught organizational learning concepts and systemic thinking to her clients at UC Davis, Intuit, Archstone-Smith, and Hewlett Packard. She is particularly interested in areas where constructive approaches to conflict and saying no can influence systems for the better. See for more on her consulting work.


5 November 2010

Presence-Centered Evolutionary Leadership in Vibrant Communities

Conducted by Alain Gauthier and
the Global Transforming Ensemble

Click here to download Alain’s slide deck from this presentation

Alain is the Executive Director of Core Leadership Development and Founding Elder of The Global Transforming Ensemble and. In this interactive session, Alain will invite us to explore experientially some of the dimensions of PCE Leadership, and present preliminary research results about the quality of leadership in vibrant communities – including for a subset of Bay Area SoL participants who responded to the survey.

We invite you to participate in this research by taking a 20 minute survey on line for one or two groups or communities that you are part of – use the following link:

One of the groups you choose could be Bay Area Sol – if you have participated in its activities a number of times – another one could be your current organization or an organization that you closely work with. In order for your input to be taken into account for the November 5th session, please take the survey no later than September 15. Your individual information will be treated confidentially.

The session will address some of the questions: What new qualities are requested from leadership at this time? How does collective leadership differ from individual leadership? How do we experience and describe presence? What conditions and practices can help develop and actualize presence-centered evolutionary leadership? How can we contribute to the dissemination and adaptation of these practices?

Intended outcomes

Participants will gain:

  • An understanding of how qualities of presence-centered evolutionary leadership – at both individual and collective levels – are essential for responding to the new challenges of our times
  • An experience of a few integral practices that enhance presence
  • An appreciation of what is already happening in vibrant communities, through initial research results
  • A perspective on how to contribute to the adaptation and dissemination of this work in various contexts.

About Alain Gauthier

As a senior international consultant, facilitator, coach, and educator, Alain Gauthier focuses his work on developing co-leadership and partnering capabilities in and across the public, private and civil society sectors. He is passionate about integrating the inner and outer dimensions of human experience, both at the individual and collective levels.

A graduate from H.E.C. (Paris), Stanford University M.B.A., and former senior consultant at McKinsey & Company, Alain is currently Executive Director of Core Leadership Development in Oakland, California. Over the last 45 years, he has served a wide range of clients, from large American, European, and Japanese corporations to three UN Agencies, global foundations, healthcare and educational systems, as well as other organizations in the for-profit and non-profit sectors.

Alain has adapted and prefaced in French three of Peter Senge’s “Fifth Discipline” books, and is a co-author of “Leadership is Global” and “Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership”, as well as of two books on coaching and leadership development in French. He is a co-founder of SoL and SoL France, and a steward of Bay Area SoL. He is also a visiting professor for the Coaching/Personal Development Master’s Program at the Université Panthéon-Assas Paris II.


Thank you in advance for sharing your reflections!

How Do I Take the Survey?
Go to

How Do I Find Out More?

Read this attached article: GLD_SummaryPaper or email Alain Gauthier to find out more.

The Global Transforming Ensemble initiative is a collaborative effort between senior researchers and consultants that focuses on developing and actualizing presence-centered evolutionary leadership in communities and organizations – across all sectors of society and all continents.Our belief is that this new form of leadership is already at work in various parts of the world, yet needs to be more consciously practiced and collectively disseminated – through personal contacts, exchanges, and larger-scale experiments – to reach a tipping point in humanity’s evolutionary journey.Our approach is to involve, connect, and support community and organizational leadership through a web-enabled Global Leadership Commons that we are in the process of building.If you would like to learn more about the Global Transforming Ensemble and their research, please contact Alain Gauthier

17 September 2010

Synergic Inquiry—Enhancing Cross-Cultural
and Collective Capability

Nancy Southern & Bernice Moore

Using our differences to create greater organizational performance is a critical success factor for leaders and organizations in the global economy. Often the differences between people, different ways of working, and different cultural backgrounds create conflicts and barriers to success rather than enhancing collective capability. By inquiring into the nature of our differences, exploring what they are and how they affect us, synergic inquiry releases the energy of conflicts and differences and channels that energy into positive, collective action.

In this workshop, practitioners will have an experience of synergic inquiry, a process developed by Yongming Tang, Ph.D. The inquiry entails a four-stage process:

~ The first stage is self-knowing, when one reflects on a personal situation or experience, surfacing one’s assumptions and beliefs about the experience.

~ The second stage is other-knowing, when we learn about someone who is different from us, and through deep listening and by reflecting back the other person’s story, we gain the ability to understand another’s experience with empathy.

~ The third stage is differences holding, when we learn to value our own experience and another’s as equally valuable and relevant experiences. This enlarged perspective is gained by embodying and reliving both our story and another’s as if we were inside the experience.

~ The final stage of synergic inquiry is differences-transcending, in which limiting patterns and beliefs are transcended and we create new approaches to dealing with challenges and dilemmas, approaches that are free from limiting patterns and assumptions. New meanings and ways of being emerge and differences are transformed into positive action.

Nancy Southern’s work is dedicated to creating communities of learning and practice that seek to understand complexity, appreciate difference, and promote responsible action toward a sustainable world. She teaches graduate students in the Organizational Systems programs at Saybrook University who are interested in applying systems thinking and design to complex problems, using inquiry and dialogue as a way to support transformative learning and change. As a consultant, she works with executives and management teams to build cultures of collaboration, through systemic organizational assessments, retreat design and facilitation, change management and organizational learning strategies, and leadership development.

Bernice Moore-Valdez’s work focuses on creating greater collaboration across distances and differences. Her programs have engaged and inspired employees, maximized profitability, and uplifted customer satisfaction. Working collaboratively with clients, Dr. Moore-Valdez enhances cross-boundary alignment and collective action; her coaching and learning programs develop cross-cultural leadership effectiveness and helps people work well together to fulfill their aspirations and accomplish their goals.

Friday July 30, 2010

Using Compromise to Diagnose Employee Engagement Issues:
A systems thinking approach to improving engagement, effectiveness and quality

with guest host: Elizabeth Doty – BASoL Steward

Studies show that highly engaged employees exert more “discretionary effort”, increasing productivity by up to 25%. Yet these same sources find that engagement tends to erode over time within an organization, with all of the unintended consequences that implies for the organization’s effectiveness, quality, customer relationships, safety and risk standards.

Why does this happen? Unfortunately, it is often because unintentional systemic patterns and “commitment drift” leave employees feeling pressured to compromise important promises, standards, and priorities. They disengage rather than suffer the “wounds of commitment”. Fortunately, knowing this can help us target exactly where to take action.

Please join us for this interactive session where Elizabeth will introduce the business side of her book The Compromise Trap, and invite you try out a new tool called an “Opportunity Scan.” The Opportunity Scan allows leaders and teams to periodically review where there may be pressure to compromise in their organization and identify actionable opportunities to realign commitments, improve quality and effectiveness, free up time, and focus innovation. We look forward to an engaging conversation and practice session.

Desired outcomes:

Participants will gain:

• An understanding of the links between employee engagement systemic patterns,compromise, and organizational results
•  Experience with Rev 1 of the Opportunity Scan tool for identifying pressure to compromise and the most likely leverage points for action
• Practice applying the Opportunity Scan to a specific organizational setting

We suggest you view this video before arrival:

About Elizabeth Doty:

Elizabeth Doty is a long-time member and steward of Bay Area SoL, and author of The Compromise Trap: How to Thrive at Work without Selling your Soul. She has taught organizational learning concepts and systemic thinkign to her clients at UC Davis, Intuit, Archstone-Smith, and Hewlett Packard. She is particularly interested in areas where constructive approaches to conflict and saying no can influence systems for the better.

Visit Elizabeth’s website: Worklore to learn more

Click here to download the slide deck from this meeting.

June 4

Navigating Complexity:
So Your Changes Stick, & You Get the Desired Results!

With guest host Jean Tully
(long time Bay Area SoL member now living in Colorado)

In today’s world of increasing complexity, more and more factors influence our ability to create deliberate and sustainable change. Often these factors are a result of past decisions, but we do not recognize the connection because they happened so long ago, the players have changed due to leadership changes or organizational restructuring, down-sizing, right-sizing, or off-shoring – or we simply haven’t had the time to reflect so we can learn from our past actions!

In the face of these challenges, how do we successfully navigate complexity so our changes stick and we generate the results we want?

Join us for a highly interactive and practical session with seasoned practitioner, Jean Tully, as we explore not only the patterns that create messes but their POSITIVE variations which allow us to work with realities of today’s climate in constructive, effective ways. We will explore the ten archetypes outlined by Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline plus their POSITIVE counterparts as developed by the MHA Institute in Canada. Some examples include:

  • Shifting the Burden (-) vs. Bite the Bullet (+)
  • Drifting Goals (-) vs. Stay on Track (+)
  • Accidental Adversaries (-) vs. Cooperative Partners (+)
  • Tragedy of the Commons (-) vs. Collective Agreement (+)

Working at the storyline level, using characteristics that describe each archetype, and showing how the archetypes feed on each other, you’ll quickly see the higher, and often uncommon, leverage options for creating sustainable change. For those who have worked with systems thinking/modeling in the past, we will NOT be creating the more traditional variable-based causal maps, like you may have seen before.

Whether you are lucky enough to be experiencing hyper-growth in today’s economy, are maintaining stability, or are in serious trouble, these archetypes are definitely a contributing factor to any organization’s performance in any stage of evolution. Recognizing they are at play in a system can significantly help your odds at creating lasting improvements and change.

The session will be most effective if you bring a system issue with you that you’re currently struggling with: something that is chronic, you’ve tried to fix before but it keeps returning, especially if it is cross-organizational. We’ll pick several to work on in small groups, so you get a real sense of how the process works.

Jean Tully’s Bio:

Jean brings her background as an engineer, organizational learning/systems thinking expert and teacher, and world class sailboat racer, to her work helping individuals and teams navigate changing environments while improving their operating performance. From her thirty years at Hewlett-Packard and twenty-five years racing her Hobie Cat 16′ sailboat (4th WW), she has learned valuable lessons about trusting one’s intuition, and the influence of intuition on technical know-how. Since leaving HP in 2002, Jean has worked with Fortune 50 companies on various strategy creations; a 22,000 member urban school district on a whole system change effort to significantly improve scholastic performance; building systems thinking as the cornerstone for the mid-level management leadership program for a global bank system; and on numerous DoD projects to identify multi-country collaboration strategies to address security threats through multi-disciplinary approaches. Her greatest satisfaction comes from watching groups shift from divergent, fragmented collections of individuals to teams that consider the interdependent nature of their efforts, as well as the impact of unintended consequences over time, so that their actions are aligned and generating the desired results for their organization.

March 12, 2010

Leading in uncertain times – Listening into the future

with: Patrick McNamara and Kathy Gower

Please join us for a one-day exploration of “Theory U + Presencing” – the social innovation ‘technology’ from MIT that builds collaborative leadership for profound innovation and change.

We’ll cover the basics of the process, which includes: rapid-results prototyping, reflection, listening from the future as it emerges, etc. We’ll also look at how we can apply the U to solve complex problems and to support our own professional growth and inner transformation.

We’ll explore how to navigate uncertainty, generate more business/money, invent social venture ideas, and expand our leadership style when we’re under pressure. More specifically you’ll have a chance to practice this social innovation process by addressing a leadership challenge or goal you or others are experiencing.

This should be a fun day where we connect with other like-minded folks to create a learning community together. Required reading: Executive summary: Theory U. found at:

Patrick McNamara of Reos Partners and Appreciative Inquiry Consulting is an Innovation, Sustainability and Change Consultant. Focusing on organizational transformation with organizations that value a positive social impact. He is a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management.

Kathy Gower, PhD works with several non-profits, particularly with education based organizations for the underserved in Oakland, Ca.  She holds a PhD from CIIS in Learning and Change in Human Systems and is an inveterate pilgrim.

Both Patrick and Kathy are graduates of the Presencing Institute.

The online toolbox:

January 22, 2010

Collective Wisdom and the Transformation of Social Fields

With guest host: Alan Briskin

If we are to disentangle the extraordinary challenges that we face today, in organizations, communities and nations, we must transcend our divisions and develop solutions together.  But what enables us to collectively make wise decisions and sound judgments instead of splintering apart?

Alan Briskin, coauthor of The Power of Collective Wisdom: And the Trap of Collective Folly, led us on an exploration of the research that led to his book – an inquiry of social fields – how they can be experienced, noticed, and transformed.

About our Presenter: Alan Briskin is an award-winning author, a pioneer in the field of organizational learning, and co-founder of The Collective Wisdom Initiative. His newest book, co-authored with Sheryl Erickson, John Ott, and Tom Callanan, is The Power of Collective Wisdom: And the Trap of Collective Folly. His other books include The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace, and the co-authored Bringing Your Soul to Work: An Everyday Practice, and Daily Miracles. Alan’s work as an organizational consultant and interest in groups and collectives extends back to the early 1970s, when he was part of an international community in Israel. He is a founding member of the Relationship Centered Care Network, which advances the marriage of compassion and clinical excellence in health care, and for nearly ten years was the primary consultant to the George Lucas Educational Foundation. He has given keynotes and conducted workshops on collective wisdom throughout the United States and in Canada, England, and South Africa. Alan is an organizational practitioner with twenty five years of experience and holds a doctorate in organizational psychology from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA.

About the book: The Power of Collective Wisdom: And the Trap of Collective Folly

Peter Senge notes in his foreword to the book: “The authors show that  rather than being a ‘feel good’ concept with little tangible impact, wisdom is all about results, and especially what is achieved over the longer term…. Throughout this book are examples of how collective wisdom arises and is shaped precisely through people’s engagement with real problems, and through learning how to achieve lasting outcomes that matter.”

All the reader reviews on both and google books give The Power of Collective Wisdom five stars!

October 30, 2009

Engaging Local Communities in Learning Conversations for Sustainability

With guest hosts: Nancy Southern and Larry Tackett

In bridging the gap between organizations and communities, the question arises “How can we use the principles of organizational learning to create local communities that are capable of engaging citizens, policy makers, government institutions, and non-governmental organizations in the design and creation of sustainable learning communities?”

Citizens and cross-sector organizations are creating new ways of living and working together that protect the environment and foster thriving communities.  To do this effectively, they need to increase their capacity for community conversations, planning, and collaborative action.

This session explored how to bring SoL resources to a generative conversation to support and enhance the work of creating thriving communities. Through this collaborative engagement we hope to spark interest among SoL members to get involved in local community efforts and bring their knowledge and skills of organizational learning to facilitate conversations, share ideas, address challenges, and create sustainable change.

Integrating some of the work being done by the Pachamama Alliance to foster greater commitment to sustainability, Nancy and Larry shared stories of efforts taking place in San Rafael and Novato to create sustainable, thriving communities and discuss the tensions, challenges and opportunities of this work.

About our presenters:
Nancy Southern is a Steward of Bay Area SoL and research member of Global SoL. She co-chairs the Organizational Systems programs at Saybrook Graduate School.  Her work revolves around integrating organizational learning, collaboration, and transformative change to support thriving communities.

Larry Tackett led the People-to-people Initiative in the United States to generate a conversation for taking care of our own. He is currently an “Awakening the Dreamer Changing the Dream” facilitator and Development Director for Sustainable Novato. His volunteer work focuses on designing the future to create the world we want by inventing and generating conversations that make a difference.

Here is the graphic map of the meeting as drawn by Julie Gieseke of mapthemind: (click for full image)
Suggested reading:Info Gathering: Clues in the Context for High Performance Charrettes Rafael Climate Change Action Plan The Five Core Principles http://
Additional web resources:

Awakening the Dreamer,


Pachamama Alliance,

San Rafael

Sustainable Marin

Sustainable Novato

25 September

Creating a Ground for Virtual Dialogue

Land-based practices and facilitating meaningful dialogue in a virtual environment.

With guest host: Glenna Gerard

Note: This was a “Virtual Meeting”

A growing number of important conversations in both our personal and professional lives are taking place virtually. Paradoxically, as our technology advances to the point of providing us with many different ways to be in virtual conversations our human capacity for virtual conversation remains somewhat limited. We know how to gather virtually, but can we create meaningful, engaging and satisfying virtual conversations that yield results and build relationships?

In this session Glenna helped us explore an issue of interest through a virtual dialogue, incorporating land based reflective practices with dialogue principles to create a meaningful dialogue where we:

  • Experienced being fully engaged in a virtual conversation versus watching our attention move “in and out”
  • Experienced the impact of integrating one or two land-based reflective practices as a way to create more presence and a sense of “embodiment” in a virtual format
  • Created a different rhythm of conversation that facilitates deep listening as a collective
  • Experimented with building a container for more meaningful virtual conversations through a specific format/process

About Glenna Gerard

My work is my art is my life is my play…

I wrote a book with Linda Ellinor entitled DIALOGUE: Rediscover the Transforming Power of Conversation, which has been translated into Portuguese, German and Chinese. I have also contributed many articles to a variety of international publications. I partner with consultants, leaders, individuals, and groups, in the private and public sectors to develop ways to make the principles and practices of Dialogue more accessible to people in practical forms, in their individual practice, in a business, in personal relationships, in interfaith and intercultural communities. In my emerging work I find myself partnering more fully with the Power of Place and the Rhythms of the Seasons, weaving Presence Walkabout experiences within the landscapes of New Mexico.


24 July 2009

Experiencing Systemic Group Dynamics

Working with Organizational Constellations to find

surprising resolutions to challenging group dynamics

With guest host: Volker Frank

Changing organizational behavior and group dynamics is difficult and serious business – whether you are a business owner, manager, consultant or team player. Even when there is overwhelming agreement about the challenges, there are often as many explanations and suggestions for solution as voices around the proverbial table. We have access to great systemic models and theories that describe behavioral patterns, and yet in practice they often don’t help us identify the actions with the most leverage. They are useful when we are looking into the rear view mirror to learn and appreciate what finally made the difference.

Volker helped us to explore how the felt sense of stepping into our “appropriate place” within an organization can guide us to resolutions of stubbornly persistent group dynamics and challenges. We used the organizational challenges and real life situations that participants brought to the session to surface underlying group dynamics in a non-judgmental and respectful way. The day was well received and quite intriguing.

About our presenter:

Volker Frank works with small and medium size businesses that face difficulties reaching their goals, managing organizational change, and resolving leadership issues. He supports his clients to increase their effectiveness and ability to learn and adapt quickly to internal changes and external demands. As a former software consultant he focused on how people work, which shaped a conviction that working with social dynamics is key to increasing organizational effectiveness. Today he offers leadership coaching and works with teams and organizations to develop new ways of collaborating, planning and innovating. He is inspired by self-organizing and emergent solutions that bring out the best in people at all levels of the organization.

Please visit: for more information.

29 May 2009

New Dimensions of Being a Leader
The Art of Putting Our Differences to Work

With guest host – Debbe Kennedy

Organizations and individuals all over the world are discovering that knowledge and know-how for putting differences to work is a critical skill and the most powerful accelerator for generating new ideas, creating innovative solutions, executing organizational strategies, and engaging everyone in the process. Debbe led us through her take on:

  • The new dimensions of being a leader
  • Five qualities for leaders and innovators at every level at this time of great challenge and opportunity.
  • A proven step-by-step process for creating powerful teams based on difference.

About Debbe Kennedy:

About Putting Our Differences to Work:


Global Dialogue Center Brochure:


Ethical Dimensions of Organizational Life:

Influencing Organizations Toward Integrity

A Conversation with Art Kleiner, Elizabeth Doty and Marvin Brown

BASoL hosted a special with three authors working on this the ethical dimensions of organizational life. Together we explored:

  • What does it mean for an organization to have integrity? Who is accountable for corporate misdeeds – the company as a whole, or the individual within? What is the distinction between ethical individuals and ethical corporate cultures?
  • How do we cultivate organizations that act more responsibility and ethically with transparency? How would organizations have to change to make it easier for their managers and leaders to be open and transparent? How can awareness of the nature of organizational life lead to a higher standard of ethics?
  • What role can “heretics” play as they confront the ethical dilemmas in their company?
The conversation was very lively and several people indicated a desire to continue exploring and weaving the threads on this blog. If you are among them, please click here to go to the page with the graphic recording of the event.
Our guests were:

Art Kleiner

Art is the author of the critically acclaimed The Age of Heretics (2nd edition, Jossey-Bass, 2008) and the editor-in-chief of strategy+business, the management magazine published by Booz & Company. A former editor of The Whole Earth Catalog, he is also the author of Who Really Matters (Doubleday, 2003), a co-developer of the “learning history” process at MIT’s Center for Organizational Learning, and the editorial director of Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline Fieldbook series.

Elizabeth Doty

Elizabeth is a long-time member of Bay Area SoL and author of the upcoming book The Compromise Trap (Berrett-Koehler, 2009). Her firm,WorkLore, is an organizational learning consultancy that helps individuals and organizations generate extraordinary value by helping them harvest the insights buried in their own experience. She is particularly interested in what individual’s stories about work have to tell us about cultivating organizations that act with integrity.

Marvin Brown

Marvin teaches organizational ethics at Saybrook Graduate School and the University of San Francisco.  He is the author of Working Ethics (Jossey-Bass, 1990), The Ethical Process, Third Edition (Prentice-Hall, 2002), and Corporate Integrity (Cambridge, 2005), which in 2006 was awarded Outstanding Academic Title in Philosophy by Choice.

Below is the graphic produced during the meeting – thanks to Julie Gieseke of

27 March 2009

Marc Lesser: Integrating Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence to Increase Creativity and Team Learning in the Workplace

“The self is not a fixed entity, but a dynamic process of relationships….People are equipped to experience the sacred, to have moments of elevated experience when they transcend boundaries and overflow with love.”
~ David Brooks, Article entitled: The Neural Buddhists, New York Times, May 13, 2008

Marc led an interactive day to explore mindfulness and emotional intelligence practices as a way of increasing our ability to be more creative, as well as be a great team member, team leader, and develop our understanding of how to influence creativity and team learning. Mindfulness and emotional intelligence are practices for increasing our field of awareness.  A basic assumption is that we are already creative and highly motivated.  We merely need to remove the obstacles to uncovering and bringing forth these qualities.

Marc Lesser is CEO of ZBA Associates LLC, a company providing executive coaching, seminar, and facilitation services and is a developer and instructor of a program at Google called Search Inside Yourself – Mindfulness/Meditation and Emotional Intelligence for leaders. Marc is also the new facilitator of the Saybrook Dialogues (formally Presidio Dialogues). He is the founder and former CEO of Brush Dance, a publisher of greeting cards, calendars and gift items, with spiritual themes and artwork.  Marc was a resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years, was director of Tassajara, and is a Zen priest.  He is the author of Less: Accomplishing More By Doing Less, and Z.B.A. Zen of Business Administration: How Zen Practice Can Transform Your Work and Your Life. He has an MBA degree from New York University.

30 January 2009 John Renesch, author of Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing.

John is the founder of The Presidio Dialogues and is in the final stages or completing his new book, tentatively titled The New Human. John facilitated an interactive dialogue on the subject of dysfunctional systems and transforming them into fully functioning, life-affirming systems, be they organizations, communities or societies.


John is a businessman-turned-futurist with over thirty years experience as an entrepreneur and business owner. He served as Managing Director of a real estate investment company, President of two NASD broker-dealer firms, and managing principal for several other enterprises. In the early 1980s, his interests shifted from a local to a global focus as he discovered systems thinking and organization change theory. He became impassioned with the unrealized potential of human beings and the organizations in which they struggle to function. Since then he has become one of the most outspoken writers and speakers in the world about the human condition, organization functionality and social transformation.  He is not the kind of futurist who predicts or plans scenarios; John challenges, provokes and nudges people into thinking differently now so they can shape the futures they want instead of simply accepting whatever unfolds.

For more information visit the following websites:

Optional pre-reading:

Renesch 2006 article from Philosophy for Business

Renesch newsletter from 2000: “Why Real Change Programs So Often Fail”

5 December 2008, Managing by Agreement: The New MBA

Stewart Levine, J.D., presented his unique process for creating agreement, empowerment and sustainable collaboration in the most challenging circumstances. These agreements improve productivity while saving the hidden real cost of conflict. His innovative work with “Agreements for Results” and his “Resolutionary” conversational models are unique. The models create a quick return to productivity when working relationships break down between individuals, team members and working groups of all kinds.

About our guest: Stewart Levine, J.D. is a widely recognized authority on conflict and collaboration.  Stewart improves productivity while saving the enormous cost of conflict using “Agreements for Results” and “Resolutionary” conversational models. As a lawyer he realized fighting is ineffective in resolving problems. At AT&T he learned why collaborations fail: people do not create clarity about what they want to accomplish, and how they will get there. He has worked across the organizational spectrum – Fortune 500, small, government and non-profit.

Download Stewart’s materials:

slides-120508 (.ppt)

communication-toolbox (.pdf)

culture-of-agreement (.pdf)

Other paper cited on Mediation (.pdf)

Website:More information is available at Stewart’s website: ResolutionWorks


26 September 2008, Open Technology:  A Strategy for Organizational Empowerment

Anthony Fortenberry shared his experience modernizing the City of Northglenn, CO, as well as the challenges he faced in managing the associated tech-driven organizational change. In 2002, Anthony created a roadmap for modernization at the City of Northglenn based on transition to a network-centric work environment.  What ensued was a two year uplift of the City’s computing infrastructure, resulting in an unprecedented (among local governments) rapid modernization and increased ability for the City personnel to understand and leverage emergent technology.

Anthony Fortenberry is the former Director of Technology (CIO) for the City of Northglenn, CO, and the Founder/CEO of Open Solutions For Government, a non-profit organization providing education and technology in the public. Anthony is the can be reached via email or visit his website at:


July 18th, 2008,   Jeffrey Conklin, Ph.D., author of Dialogue Mapping: Building Shared Understanding of Wicked Problems.

Dr. Conklinshared with us his unique process for making visible the often hidden elements and attachments in our conversations, and how awareness of these things can lead to innovative and more deeply satisfying outcomes for people engaged in exploring complex and challenging issues. Dialogue Mapping is a new approach to project work in which collective intelligence is achieved through framing powerful questions and conducting a comprehensive and creative exploration of their possible answers.


Alain Gauthier

May 23rd, 2008, Alain Gauither presented the research findings from his Generative Leadership Project. This was a very informative day with a great mix of lecture and interactive components. If you missed the meeting you can download both Alian’s pre-reading and a copy of the slides he presented.



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