Credentials as Practice

I loved the Open Space experience I had last week on the Vancouver Island, Art of Hosting. One group was called on credentials. It began as an inquiry into what it takes to do this kind of hosting work. Had some of that feel of “what training?” It really came alive for me as it shifted to “what practice?” Chris Corrigan offered a few points. The group reflected on some. It fed the list I was noting in my book and helped me to see at a next level, a new paradigm for credentials.

1. Credential as Practice — An older kind of thought would be credential as certification. As bestowed. Yes, there is value in this. I get the part about integrity of training and learning, etc. I get the part about key skills. Yet, there is also immense freedom to think of being credentialed by our practice. By our doing. By our “here is what I’ve learned lately, incomplete as it may be.” It is a nice shift into emphasizing the learning process rather than the learning event.

2. Work with Friends — Lots of friends. Practice together. Learn together. Feed off of each other to sharpen skills to see at the next level. To notice at the next level. To act from what we see emerging.

3. Offer Something — A harvest. A story. A poem. A question. An invitation to work together. An invitation to create together. The shift in paradigm includes re-relationing from the authority of an institution into working within a web of people, into a community of practice. From “is it my place,” sometimes restrained by organizational form into “gift to offer” that can then be received by those ready for it within the community.

4. Learn in Public — Make it transparent. Open. Like the physical office windows or doors in many well-designed contemporary learning organizations. Learn as you go. And in front of people with you new ideas. Half-cooked ideas. Learnings. Insights. Learn on behalf of the whole.

5. Have a Presencing Practice — With my friends at The Berkana Institute, I learn that this work is about emergence. It is about how we are creating the conditions for emergence within human systems. This is closely connected to learning about next levels of consciousness. It requires an ability to notice the seemingly invisible. The way that the whole of the room is speaking on behalf of any of the individuals. I find this to be a different kind of noticing. It requires me to be comfortable with stillness. With uncertainty. Presencing practices help me to hold myself and others better in that noticing and uncertainty. Meditate. Chi Gong. Yoga. Tai chi. Journaling. Something that helps you know enough stillness to hold self and others in chaos.

6. Examine Core Beliefs — Keep this as an active conversation. For example, one of mine is the innate need to create. It riffs off of what I’ve often heard from Meg Wheatley about humans in living systems — “People support what they create.” My sense is that the desire to create — solutions, innovations, structures,, clarity — this is innate for us. It is a need, as strong as a need for food, shelter, love. I’ve discovered a few core beliefs along the way I’ve let go of. I’ve found a few new ones too. Credentialed by the ability to let go and construct fundamental beliefs.

7. Learn Global. Connect Regional. Act Local — Another one I learn with friends at Berkana. It is good to learn together with people at conferences, in person, around the world. Amazing to think how we are changed by meeting the hearts of others. And to connect in regional efforts often is to strengthen courage. All for acting local. Doing the work in front of us.

Gratitude to the eight or so people that helped to created this learning.

Harvest — Vancouver Island Art of Hosting

Photos — a few faces and flipcharts that turned out well.

Credentials as Practice — a list of seven ways to enter and participate in hosting work as a community of practice. Inspired by an Open Space group.

35 — What is powerful and important to move out of here?

“35” is a simple process of converging learning. Each participant writes a key insight on a 3×5 card. Here, the question was the one above. Cards are exchanged randomly. You let go of your own. When the music stops, you choose a partner to compare cards. You assign 7 points to the two cards (7, 0; 6, 1; 5, 2; 4, 3). The music starts again and cards are exchanged randomly again. Five stops creates the opportunity for a card to receive a maximum of 35 points. Its a good way to get a quick read, generated by participants, on what ideas are more widely shared. The top ten and ties are below. The full list is here. For me these are quick reads into what happens at an Art of Hosting that has gone particularly well.

Practices bring human heart and authentic community together.

Participation in the process creates ownership.

Hosting conversations with intent and presence is natural and powerful and should be shared — we can all do it!

The spiraling out of a collective consciousness towards positive communication and change.

We create “conditions” / spaces for honest, authentic dialogue & conversation…the sources of innovation & creative resolution (wholly expressed!!!)

The importance of how simple yet deep the processes are to stimulate “friendly” community around purpose.

Connecting whole ly with mindfulness of self and openness to other.

I / we don’t need all of the answers.

Fearlessly making magic.

Bring hearts & hopes. To possibilities. To actions.

Working from open heart, open mind, open will.

10 Principles for Practicing Conversational Leadership

In late August a team of us (Toke Moeller, Helen Emerson, Glen Lauder, Mary Alice-Arthur, Peter Cowley, Jacqueline Benndorf) completed hosting an Art of Hosting training in New Zealand. There were 92 participants. For three days we had been through much learning together about hosting and harvesting conversations as a strategic approach. Conversational leadership as a strategic approach.

On the fourth day, two participants, Peta Joyce and Viv Maidaborn, hosted us in collecting content insights and gems from the full days together. I loved the commitment they brought to noticing what we could know together that was different from what we knew individually.

The headlines as principles for practicing conversational leadership are listed below. They are tips and insights for all of us as practitioners. They were born from the essential commitment of noticing what is emerging, a core competency in all conversational leadership.

Principles for Practicing Conversational Leadership

1. Give and Take What Matters

2. From Trust, Action

3. Notice Interconnection

4. Don’t Be Too Hard On Ourselves

5. Share Responsibility

6. Create Our Own Best Living Space

7. Be Bold and Playful

8. Do One Thing Differently That Makes A Ripple

9. Clarify Intent, Hold Opposites

10. Celebrate the More of Me that is Available Because of Us

I’ve also written an article and posted it here that includes:

– short paragraphs of description for each of the principles

– a next level harvest on more principles that emerged from the community of participants

– links to additional resources including the design overview of the event, Wordle Illustrations of the principles, and related blog links

From the Trail

Living and working in networks and communities of practice makes a lot of really helpful information available. Emails. Websites. Stories. Reports. No shortage whatsoever of great stuff.

My friend Chris Corrigan has taught me what to do with this. He gives attention to several RSS feeds and provides links on his blog to that plethora of good stuff. He calls it “From the Feed.” Go see and subscribe if you haven’t already. I’ve picked up many gems from those posts that I’ve used and forwarded to clients and friends.

I’m beginning to play with that practice today. I’d name two containers for these links.

– stuff that is just interesting. Lots of room in that.
– stuff that furthers the practice of hosting conversations that matter, or as my colleagues and I explore in Berkana as core brand issues: 1) in support of healthy and resilient communities, 2) in support of emergence, and 3) in support of life-affirming leadership.

The intent is not more mass of information. It is more sharing of information / tools through good relationships centered in an identity of leader as host.

Abraham-Hicks Emotional Guidance Scale — A list of 21 emotions intended to move to the energy of joy. Each of these serve as an interesting base from which to ask powerful questions. E.g., What brings you joy? I’ve asked this kind of question and seen it shift a group. Similarly to ask something “lower” on the list. E.g., What do you fear?

Six Degrees of Separation from Reality — A blog post by Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute on the seriousness of global climate change.

The Shield — An exercise shared by Max Neill from the Art of Hosting listerv on helping groups to check in with imagination and dreams.

Feeling Connections — A blog post by my friend Ashley Cooper who just moved from Seattle to North Carolina. Ashley has a gift for noticing and inviting wholeness. She offers some guided meditations too. Her blog is a good read. Subscribe here.


– “Far more powerful than any dogma is an awakened organic collective and its capacity for contagion. That’s what makes it so terrifying to the status quo.”
Louise LeBrun, friend of my AoH Colleague, Allister Hain in Ottawa.
– “If I took psychadelic drugs I’d be in Google Earth all the time.”

Wayne Knox, a colleague in men’s work in New Zealand
– “The call, rather, is to enter the flow more deeply. To become the instrument of knowing in action. We are the harvest, and it us the universe’s deep yearning to know itself whole that is it’s immanent volition.”

Glen Lauder, hosting colleague in New Zealand