The Basics: What I Do

Meeting Design & Facilitation

For many years, I looked for words that could describe what I do. Simple enough to get it. And yet honest enough to reflect the depth of what is happening. I am a facilitator. I design meetings and retreats. I coach people on designing their meetings. To help people be smart together. To help people make good choices. To help them get energy behind what they care about.

In board meetings.
With teams.
In networks beginning to come to life.
In large conference design.
It’s short presentations, 
coaching sessions,
half-day workshops, 
one day planning events, 
and multiple day / multiple event initiatives.

Strategic Visioning

Open Arms activity kneeling in room with collaborative group in from of paper diagram

Some of the work that I do is strategic visioning. Creating the conditions for people to think innovatively together. It is less about the details of strategic planning. It is more about helping people touch their core of purpose in response to needs. There is an African proverb that I like to reference: “If you want to go faster, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.” Strategic visioning is about getting to the strategy that people in a system can stand behind. I do this with stakeholder engagement initiatives, community movements, change programs.

Participative Leadership

All of the work I do is from a participative format. Helping people to engage with each other. Many times my friend and colleague Margaret Wheatley taught me an important perspective.

“Who we are together 
is always different and more 
than who we are alone.” 

I use a lot of Open Space Technology, World Cafe, Circle, and other innovative ways for people to listen well together and to share their stories. Telling stories and asking questions with each other — these are two primary learning strategies.

The Art of Hosting (Open Enrollment)

I was involved in the first AoH offered in North America. Since the early 2000s I’ve been helping to steward the Art of Hosting. Invitation Sample (Leading Change Through Dialogue and Action) — The challenges of these times call for collective intelligence. We must co-create the solutions we seek. When human beings are invited to work together on what truly matters to them, they take ownership and responsibility for moving their issues and ideas into wise actions that last – learn how Art of Hosting provides a framework to help support and facilitate this process.

The Art of Participative Leadership

Invitation Sample (For Transition and Resilience Initiatives) — The Art of Participatory Leadership, now practiced and offered worldwide, is an intensive 3-day event where you will experience and practice a set of simple, yet powerful, processes for building community, facilitating powerful conversations, building strong partnerships, and leading change.

Pop-Up Workshops (Zoom)

tenneson woolf pop-up workshops evolving facilitation practice to something better

I’m a rather hungry learner in my craft that is facilitating groups to more wise, kind, helpful, and life-giving experiences. Pop-Up Workshops are my way of bringing real-time learning to others — particularly group-process people or team leaders or managers or humans — that need insights and stuff to try as they evolve how people go well together. Pop-Up Workshops are 90 minutes on Zoom, faces and participation required. Held in English. Cost is a sliding scale of your choice. Each workshop includes: welcome, an exercise, harvesting, check-out, followup email with workshop design. I think the world needs more simple and more purposeful now. I hear people craving it in so many domains of work and community. I crave it. And I hear people hurting from its absence. True for me too. 

August 2023 — Leading With Passion & Gifts
September 2023 — Deep-Diving With Circle & Story
October 2023 — Using Poetry to Create Potent Questions for Groups



QT is one of the gatherings that I most enjoy, co-created with my friend and colleague Quanita Roberson. It is a bit of a natural extension from earlier work on The Art of Humans Being. It’s a format with some key components woven in to a Friday through Sunday container. QT’s meaning isn’t set in stone. But “Quality Time” is one of the meanings that I like most. Sample Invitation.

Developing Partnerships in the Workplace

developing partnerships diagram on paper

Invitation Sample — I loved creating this workshop with Jean Ogilvie and others in the Ottawa area. I love the direct focus on building partnerships needed from this context of organizations being under pressure. Pressure is an opportunity for real change. Most of us know the intractable challenges. Yet many of us also know the irrepressible dreams we hold. Real change calls for a new kind of leadership.

The Artistry of Convening Within Faith Based Communities

framed art piece hanging in corner

Invitation Sample — In most faith traditions, a core part of the work is convening. Coming together to worship, to work for social justice, to work for personal and communal transformation, and to know and be known by others. Faith traditions rely on the strength and memory of community. They yearn to improve collective discernment, to serve marginalized communities, to form partnerships with emerging communities, to animate a future uninhibited by current obstacles. This workshop helps answer the questions of how to lead together when we don’t know where we are going.

Healthier Healthcare Systems

DSC00326 (Medium)

Invitation Sample — Healthcare is in crisis. Most of us know the intractable challenges. Cut services. Demanded productivity. Decreased accessibility. Runaway cost. Exhausted leaders. Lots more. Yet, many of us also have high hopes for healthier healthcare. We have beginnings of irrepressible dreams for a healthcare systems that thrive. For a system committed to wellness. For simplicity that doesn’t deny the complexity, yet responds well to it. Crisis is an opportunity for change. Real change calls for a new story and practice of leadership. 

Harvest Document

12 Principles for Creating Healthy Community Change

12 Principles

This is part of a kit created by The Berkana Institute. Contained within it are 12 principles for creating change. I’ve also used them as principles for design. Principles for freedom. Working with core leadership teams. Each principle is accompanied by a few questions to help focus leadership and social engagement. One of the reasons I love these is I feel a deep embodiment of them. I’ve been living in, applying, and learning some form of these principles with many friends through The Berkana Institute since the early 90s.

Flow Game

FLow Game

I’ve heard it said numerous times, “There is nothing as useful as a good question.” I attended a Flow Game training in 2009, a game developed by Toke Moeller, Monica Nissen, and their other Danish colleagues. Played in the form of a game, it can be experienced in a couple of hours or a couple of days. It can have a general focus or be for a very specific task. Through exploring useful questions together the purpose is to create a kind of clarity and life-affirming flow and action for participants.

Further Description.

The Art of Humans Being

Invitation Sample — These have been very unique events, developed largely with my friend Judy Wallace. They are a version of something that is beyond the basics of participative leadership, more rooted in the focus of re-activating, re-patterning, and re-storying. There are many of us living with awareness that human beings are called to be something different and more in these times as we re-pattern ourselves to meet the call of this era. The Art of Humans Being is for all who sense the new story of how we can work together. For all yearning to activate that story. 

Resource Book