Three weeks ago I was in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at a leadership conference. I was asked to be a theme-weaver. One of the things that I loved is that the conference planning team recognized the need to evolve the large conference format. To more interactive, active sense-making. Theme-weaving was part of that.
What we created, that I offered at plenary level, was three parts in a short 45 minute period, just before the conference closed.
First, some dialogue poetry. These dialogue poems are a kind of art form I learned from / with my friends / colleagues Tim Merry in Nova Scotia, Chris Corrigan in British Columbia, and a few other lovely artists and wordsmiths along the way. The poems are words and phrases that I caught as I listened to keynote speakers (Margaret Wheatley, Scott Ginsberg, Daniel Pink, Chief Elijah Harper & Chief Guy Lonechild — Daniel Pink, Chiefs Harper and Lonechild are here) and those introducing speakers. Fun to play with and offer. Those poems are below, in audio file and with links to the text.
Second, a couple of views of themes from the conference. The overarching theme of the conference was “conversational leadership.” The intent was for people to learn and experience everything from the practical to the emerging new ideas. I worked with a team to come up with themes that had significant energy. The intent was not a list of everything (though everything on that list would have been important). The intent was to notice and name themes that emerged with particular energy. I offered a narrative that included the underlaying context that organizations are living systems that self-organize. Again, fun to offer this basis that many of us have been working with for some time.
Third, the opportunity to turn to one another. This is a basic that I use often, from the title of one of Meg Wheatley’s books. The invitation was to have the audience turn together in pairs to witness a bit of what they could see — a practice of conversational leadership, a first next step, a killer question that gave focus to their experience from the conference. It is good to hear offerings of themes. And, the intent here was to have people source their insights back to themselves, to offer and receive a bit of witnessing before leaving.
Really a fantastic conference. A treat to be a part of.
Welcome (2:07) —
Karen Hayward, Margaret Wheatley (Text)
Hero to Host (3:37) —
Margaret Wheatley (Text)
Approachable Leadership (2:23) —
Scott Ginsberg (Text)