“How to transform yourself to catalyse transformation in organisations”
What is the interrelation between personal patterns and organizational dynamics? How can we shift our energies in order to be able to catalyse change? What are small, individual habits that help to navigate in next:land? These are some of the core questions 21 next:travellers are exploring during the first modules of our interactive learning LAB next:pedition. This 1-year-journey started in November 2017 – participant Marcus from London took some time to reflect with the three next:guides Gerald, Matthias and Gerhard in Malaga. Take a look behind the scenes and join the birds singing during the interview:
Listen to the full original audio-interview (~ 21 min.):
Or feel free to read a short version of the interview here:
What’s the purpose of “next:culture”? What are the specific learning intentions?
next:culture – our focus in module 2 of the next:pedition – is all about exploring the different dynamics and cultural patterns that we observe in organisation. Also, next:pedition is a dance between practice and practitioner. We encoded into the module a sequence of interventions, that is designed to really focus on the different energies we have in ourselves and how to shift them: To learn how to transform them in order to be able to catalyse transformation in organisations. So it is about organisational patterns on the one hand and individual patterns on the other hand. Understanding that there is an interrelatedness between those two and if I want to catalyse transformation, I should be aware of my patterns, distortions and energies in order to be able to either use them or don’t let them interfere too much in the way we work with organisations.
What did you notice during these 3,5 days with regards to the interrelationship of the practitioner and the practice?
One core element was the casework: How to ask questions, how to use curiosity in order to produce new insights for the case-owners and for the ones they ask. That threw them into a very deep reflection about their own patterns and how they view their situation in their organization. I think it was, for some of them, really touching – also sensing into new aspects of themselves and of the organisation that they hadn’t been discovering before. It was some kind of insight a newness that was quite emotional to some of the case owners. It was quite relieving for the people, not just looking at people and say it’s your fault or they should do better. The relieving part was recognizing that there are patterns at play and you are played or are part of the game you just played.
How did you actually play, intervene and act – in your role next:guides?
We want to provide various learning opportunities for individual learning abilities or interests. Our intention is that everybody has his or her chances to make a step on his or her way into next:land.
For example, when we are observing people that are having a harder time to connect with others, we are just asking them during the breaks how they are doing, to which persons they feel more drawn to, and to use the opportunities in pairs or group work to approach them directly. So, also sensing into what people need and talking with them and proposing pathways, how could they leverage the exercises in order to connect with himself or herself or the group in a different manner.
Learning also means trespassing your limits and that’s tough work. We had situations here, where we got in contact with some of the participants and they reflected back to us that it is now really shaking them. It’s really something they have to digest and it’s not always about providing a reliever instantly but bearing with them, have the capacity to hold the question with them, accompanying them, so that they have time to process that next day or next step in the design. To be here, as a companion and building trust in the competences to further loath.
How would you describe this module in terms of a metaphor, a song, a book or a quote? One word about the “Gestalt” we don’t see?
The first image popping up is like having a meal – maybe dinner with three or four courses. Each one is really different, like sour or sweet, and each one of those tastes or pieces are distinct and hopefully overall fitting together, building on each other.
It could also be kind of an Olympic discipline where you have three or four disciplines. You are maybe good in one and so-so in the others. Now you are basically thrown into it and then you just gotta do it and learn on the way. There are various different disciplines but overall it’s a combined sports – “Decathlon” or whatever it is. It requires totally different competences and capabilities to run through these disciplines.
If it was a movie, which one is it?
“Shuttered Island”. A movie about a guy who is quite clear about what’s going on there and finds out that it’s all about him and his way of perceiving things.
It’s about a struggle, the struggle to move away from now:land-thinking to next:land. We talk a lot about next:land, in terms of the practicing, the cultures and all the lovely and golden future. Then again, almost on a daily basis, I catch myself in a moment where I am stuck in a now:land thought pattern, in a limited thinking, in making assumptions, in battling with my own demons.
How do you perceive that struggle from a bird-like perspective? You are guides and you have the right intentions and want to pull us all to next:land. But what are these now:land struggles you see?
Sometimes I know how to do it and then I say “Stop, wait a minute.” No, THEY have to prototype it, in order to experience it themselves and maybe I am fully wrong. It is always a struggle between “I know the things” and I am quite aware that I am very experienced and so on and so forth and then I say, “No, I am not experienced, I am on my way, I am on a journey. So let loose and create new things, create a container for that, let loose of all things, which have made me experienced and good in my work.”
The first step is to create the difference. To make it visible, there is hot and cold. Otherwise, you cannot distinguish between hot and cold if you don’t have a feeling of the difference. So distinguishing at least on a theoretical level now:land and next:land (like we did in the next:land manifesto) and making it explicit. I love that story of Dalai Lama, who was asked once as enlightened “Are you not getting angry anymore?” and he said “Of course, but ever shorter”. I think this is what’s about. There are of course reoccurring patterns that all have been encoded in our DNA for years and decades. That means it takes some effort to constantly choose – first of all, you have to be aware that there is a choice. Either pick this pattern or pick that pattern.
It’s like playing Tetris game: Once you have reached level one, it’s to get a bit trickier and so your thought patterns become a bit more tricky in terms of “Well, I understood that – but is it really the right thing to go for?” Then you are immediately back in the judgement mine, saying this is right and wrong. I think this is the tricky stuff: To continuously observe where your distortions kick in again and again and again.
How do you do that, to block that autopilot in now:land and move towards generating a different choice?
With a clear intention. So for example, while showering I start the day with an intention, which is: “What is it that shows up here and now what’s needed?” If I sense into the tune of that group or that day, what is needed. There is always something emerging and I inform my entire body with that.
Another thing that I used to do was putting an eight (8) everywhere where I felt that old patterns kick in. This eight, in German it’s “Achtsamkeit” stands for “acht – die Achtsamkeit – awareness”, being aware that your thoughts will shape your reality. So if you have a phone and there is a little post-it with an eight on that, before you pick up the phone, what is the thought pattern that’s activated? Everywhere I got stuck into thought patterns that I felt are not triggering emotions that I find helpful or functional.
Another individual practice, which is to me very easily applicable, is: Use every doorstep to change or shift your energy if needed. Once you cross the doorstep, you are entering a new room. What is the energetic quality of that room you would like to enter? In terms of create the shift here and now, it’s just a choice and reconnect with that energy within you.
So, last question: The following module will be focusing on practices of next:land. What’s next? What’s your advice?
One thought comes to mind immediately, which is: “Don’t think yourself into a new way of acting, act yourself into a new of thinking.”
Start doing things and learn from them quickly. I think the biggest enemy to next:land practice is procrastination and, you know, the thinking of “How could we do it and how should we do it and what’s the best way?”. I think the only way to walk through that is to get started and to take tiny small steps.
Celebrate your failure, so do it and be happy when you fail!
Want to find out more?
- Blogpost about Module 1 in Vienna: “Unlearning stuff is so much harder than learning stuff.”
- Blogpost about Module 2 in Malaga: “Act yourself to a new way of thinking”
- Blogpost about Module 3 in Amsterdam: “On taking your mask off, roller coasters and love in business”
- Join our next learning LAB yourself!