Building Sustainable Partnerships at the Edge of Chaos

Summary Description

Building sustainable partnerships among diverse stakeholders is particularly critical in healthcare, education, other community services and business organizations that have to reinvent and sustain themselves at the edge of chaos. This session will powerfully engage participants in exploring experientially how such relationships can be created and enhanced through the design of a learning field. Participants will learn to draw upon complementary disciplines such as dialogue, community building, complex systems thinking and embodied intelligence; they will also gain insight in what it takes to foster collaborative learning across organizational boundaries for the benefit of the larger community.

Anticipated Learnings

In this program, participants will:

  • Increase their skill in building sustainable partnerships within and across organizational boundaries in chaotic times.
  • Explore how a bold combination of disciplines can create a learning field that generates joint inquiry and a sense of community spirit among potential partners.
  • Learn how to consciously tap, individually and collectively, into the energies of embodied intelligence when dealing with chaos.
  • Discern emerging roles and competencies of leadership in piloting organizations at the edge of chaos.

Course Outline

Participants will first be asked to reflect on what chaos means to them in their work life, and to recall personal attempts to build a partnering relationship in a chaotic situation; they will share their insights and questions with other participants.

Then the group will be introduced to key distinctions about chaos and to a preliminary map — exploring the interconnections among complexity science, living systems thinking, community building, dialogue, generative listening, and participatory philosophy–to stimulate a dialogue on the meaning and complementary nature of these specific approaches in designing “chaordic” learning environments.

Participants will also be engaged in experiential exercises to explore how our “embodied intelligence” can be tapped to better deal with chaos and manage the stress it puts on our partnering relationships.

Next, small groups will be asked to use the map and the exercises specifically to brainstorm the conditions for co-creative participation in their own field of activity (healthcare, education, business). We will also ask participants to come up with a few key design specifications that would meet those “initial conditions” so that this enlarged concept of a learning field could be effective in their own organization.

Finally, we will invite them to share in open forum their insights, questions and feelings resulting from the small group work, and to reflect on how the “chaordic” nature of the process used during the session can be transposed to other learning experiments.

Throughout the session we will point to and elicit from participants’ examples of sustainable partnerships.

About Alain

Alain Gauthier’s current focus as an author, consultant, facilitator, educator, and coach is on evolutionary co-leadership development and collective learning as prerequisites for cultivating deep and lasting change in and across organizations. A graduate from H.E.C. (Paris) and an M.B.A. from Stanford University, he has served over the past 45 years a large variety of client organizations in Europe, Japan and North America. He first worked as a senior associate of McKinsey & Company in Europe, then as a partner of a Paris-based consulting firm, and is currently Executive Director of Core Leadership Development and Founder of the Global Transforming Ensemble, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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