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If you are a person that seeks both better meetings, and, yearns to be in the questions as much as the answers in the name of more humane systems everywhere, let’s consider some work together, shall we.

All of my life, I’ve been the kind of person that has had as much interest in the unseen as I have had in the seen. I’ve had interest in the mystery and the mystical, with an inherent hunch that things are not as they seem, despite the human ability to concretize belief systems and leadership practices.

I am a consultant, facilitator, workshop leader, coach, teacher, and writer. I am committed to improving the quality of collaboration and imagination needed in groups, teams, communities, and organizations — to help us be in times such as these with consciousness, kindness, and learning. My work over 20+ years has been to design and lead meetings in participative formats. From strategic visioning with boards to large conference design to communities just learning to listen again to one another.

Three orientations — living systems, self-organization, and emergence — inspire and inform all of my work. So does emptiness, breath, and a freshly-picked garden tomato. My approaches are framed to integrate the inner with the outer, and the present moment with the longer arc of time. All of that so as to create sustainable and vibrant systems of human beings doing well with what they most care about.

My education background includes an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in organizational behavior. My work lineages include The Berkana Institute with Margaret Wheatley, The Circle Way with Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea, and The Art of Hosting with Toke Moeller and Monica Nissen.

I am originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I now live in a small town where urban meets rural in Lindon, Utah, in a high desert valley at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains.

Smarter Together

Consulting & Training
(Methodologies & Frameworks)

All of my work utilizes participative leadership methods, whether with small teams or large organizations, to help access more of the wisdom already present in a group, and, to help groups be smarter together. I have 20+ years applied experience in numerous settings with The Circle Way, Open Space Technology, The World Cafe and other forms nuanced to particular circumstance. More on Methods.

Behind methods are always frameworks and world views that amplify impact and purpose. Learned and practiced with colleagues over years, I count on several well-trusted orientations. “Two Loops,” “Cynefin,” “The Chaordic Path,” “Divergence & Convergence,” “Visual Harvesting,” “Chaordic Stepping Stones,” “Hobbit Tools,” “Asking Powerful Questions,” and “The Four Fold Path.” I also love creating and evolving new frameworks, both to bring to groups, and to create with them. More on Frameworks.

Coaching and Guiding

Much of my coaching happens online utilizing Zoom for video connection. Sessions are typically 60 minutes for individuals and 90 minutes for teams. I utilize a process of inquiry that integrates external observation with internal relevance, and vice versa. And that explores beneath the surface of relevance for the immediate moment that is connected to the longer arc. My coaching is very much about creating an environment to help people and groups deeply ground the “what,” the “why,” and the “how” of their work. My coaching is a commitment to both the detail of participative design needs, and, the depth of personal awakeness and leadership inquiry. It is very much about creating spaciousness and expansion in what can so often be compressed and contracted.

Reflection & Writing

It’s typically between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. when I most often wake, whether to morning sunlight or remaining darkness of night. First, when able, I journal privately to catch morning insights that have grown naturally through night sleep. Sometimes dreams. Second, even if just for five minutes, but more typically 20, mediation. My body, my mind, and my heart need to know this spaciousness, particularly in the busiest of times. I continue to learn that I can’t take people to spaciousness in their work if I don’t know it in me. Third, writing. Because that’s how I particularly find more of the inner that helps make sense of the outer. It’s practice.

I post insights on my daily blog, Human to Human. It’s journalling and learning in public, Monday through Thursday, in which I post current learnings (taking sporadic weeks off to write longer pieces or to rest). Posts are 300-500 words, often with photos, intended to be read in five minutes and inspire reflection, individually and communally, on varied aspects of participative leadership practices, insights, and human to human depth. You can signup to received new posts by email.

I also enjoy writing articles, thought papers, poems and the reflection that is participating in conversational podcasts. More on My Articles & Newsletters. More on My Podcasts and Videos. More on My Poems.

In March 2020 I published A Cadence of Despair: Poems and Reflections on Heartbreak, Loss and Renewal. This isn’t a book about facilitation. Rather, it is a book about coming into relationship with despair, including some of my experience with descent and ascent. It’s highly personal material that maps the personal to the universal.

About

The Basics: What I Do

It’s meeting design and facilitation. It’s strategic visioning. It’s participative leadership. It’s workshops to multi-day retreats. It’s coaching individuals and teams. Helping us be smarter together. More on The Basics.

The Subtle: Underneath The Basics

The subtle here is a reference to what is underneath. It is true to me that there are some basics. Maps. Methodologies. Models. These are very important. And, if I did not speak about the subtle, I would not be being totally honest. I often use the language of hosting. Or convening. Underneath that, what I believe we are really hosting and cultivating when working with groups is consciousness, wellness, wholeness, and resonance. More on The Subtle.

Theory

“Make sure that whatever processes you choose to use or create comes from a deliberate underlaying theory of change.”  This was the advice offered to me from two important early mentors, Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner Rogers. It was a commentary on some of what we were seeing group facilitators do that sometimes felt confusing to participants. Since then, it has always felt important to me to connect facilitation to theory. Not so much extensive detail. But as root, or bedrock, to clarify criteria for choosing what to do and what not to do. Theory is the story that helps make sense of the past, and, discern what is useful now and into the future. I often speak of the three theory bases that inspire my work. 1) Living Systems — that organizations are living systems. 2) Self-Organization — that groups of people experience “order for free” when centered in clear values. 3) Emergence — that insight and change happens from what arises when a system encounters itself. More on Theory.

Client List

I have so enjoyed working with such a range of groups and systems over the last 25 years. From faith community councils to university-wide senior leadership. From labor unions to corporate leadership teams. From health care practitioners to school teachers. In contexts ranging from coaching explorations to meetings to retreats to large conference redesign. Client List.

Partners

I have made it policy to most often work in partnership. The work is so much more than mechanical check lists from the front of the room. I’ve worked with really fantastic people all of my life. People I trust. In the last few years, these include Quanita Roberson, with whom I co-created a 16-month cohort program, Fire & Water Leadership & Rite of Passage, QT Retreats, Circle Workshops, and a bunch of virtual and in-person client / community work. Amanda Fenton, with whom I continue to host retreats, intensives, online classes, and advanced practicums for The Circle Way. Chris Corrigan and Caitlin Frost, with whom I continue to host a university-wide participative leadership program. Roq Gareau, who remains one of the most thoughtful and insightful people that I know. Additional Colleagues List.

Kind Words

I’m grateful for kind words offered, appreciations from things very personal to institutional. A few of them are here.

Human to Human

Learning From Lilacs

And then, there is the generosity of lilacs. Gonna stay with that for today. Massively fragrant. Beautiful. Giving. Inviting. Yup, I could learn quite a bit from lilacs in how I carry myself as a human being.

Choose To Be

Well, it’s been quite a week in the United States. Primarily I’m talking about demonstrations and riots in support of equity and justice. George Floyd, a black man, was killed a week ago in Minneapolis by a police officer, a white man. That white man faces murder charges in criminal court today. The demonstrations and …

Contact

The first step is always a conversation. To meet by phone or video conference. To hear or share a bit of the story about hopes and challenges, purpose and possibility. To start with wonder and some skilled wander.

Email


Phone

801 376 2213

Mail

Tenneson Woolf
PO Box 1271
Pleasant Grove, Utah 84062