From a collaborative Huddlecraft to a co-owned Huddlecraft?

🐍 Shifting shape, stepping back, spinning off, scaling deep, sharing openly, shedding a snake skin, sssss…

Zahra Davidson
Huddlecraft
Published in
11 min readSep 14

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1/ In summary:

Dear Huddlecraft community, collaborators and friends…

🗞️ I have some news to share today: the time is coming for me to step back from my role as Huddlecraft Chief Exec, to make way for another chapter, for Huddlecraft and for me. At the end of March 2024 I will leave the (excellent) core team, as Huddlecraft arrives at its 7th birthday. I plan to find my place in the governance and will be cheerleading from my new position (and potentially doing some freelance work as I transition out). You can read more about my decision below, and I’ll be opening up the personal experience of this transition, in collaboration with Sarah Weiler (Knowing When to Quit podcast). We’ll share an open audio conversation along the way. Listen to the first part and subscribe here.

⛰️ The potential of Huddlecraft feels as rich today as it ever has. There is no question that we face the steepest collective learning curve in human history, that stands between us and a regenerative civilisation where our descendents can thrive. The question is: when human ability to learn is essentially infinite, why should it be beyond our grasp, to learn how to live together on a finite planet? Huddlecraft creates collective learning ‘infrastructure’, to amplify the efforts of purposeful individuals, organisations and movements who are building this future. There is so much work for us to do, and so much we want to offer.

🎁 Our offerings continue to evolve towards our purpose:

  • Huddles. Purposeful peer groups who learn, create or take action together, supported by tried and tested structures. Huddles are at the heart of our work, and are (almost) infinitely adaptable. See our open Huddles, here.
  • Huddlecraft 101. Our flagship training programme with an updated focus: learn to apply the power of collective learning to amplify the change you’re designing. Individuals and teams can join the November cohort, here.
  • Studio collaborations. We design and deliver collective learning processes large and small, from workshops to journeys to networks to bespoke partnerships. Check out our full menu of offerings, here.
  • Money Movers. Our movement of 264 women who, so far, have moved £1.9million for the planet. Friends of the Earth and Huddlecraft are exploring how Money Movers might set sail as an independent entity, so it can continue to grow its impact. Find out more, here.
  • A ‘surge’ of collective learning: We’re developing a proposal (the next version of this) that will seek funding and partnerships to scale and deepen collective learning infrastructure for purposeful movements and communities. Watch this space!

🎢 To facilitate the continuation of this work, our intention is to transition to a fully co-owned-and-governed Huddlecraft. We are exploring the structural and cultural possibilities, including looking into employee ownership, and Dan is stewarding a collaborative enquiry process over the coming months to answer the key questions about how this can work as I step back. Whilst there are many conclusions this enquiry might reach, we can be certain that we will learn a huge amount from the process.

🎂 Reaching our 7th birthday will be a milestone, and a great moment to celebrate the distance we’ve travelled. I’ve made a start on this celebration below, and we will continue by making a 7-year-book, to follow the 3-year-book we made in 2020, which sparked our change of name from Enrol Yourself to Huddlecraft and open-sourced our learnings. We’ll be creating another beautiful artefact to bottle up and share our magic potion! You can help us make this a reality by pre-ordering your copy here.

💌 All of this news couldn’t come without some invitations… Here’s a summary of ways to get involved and support the team:

  • Follow the personal experience of letting go, through an open audio conversation between me and Sarah Weiler, here.
  • Support our transition by pre-ordering a copy of our 7-year-book (and/or making a donation), here.
  • Follow Huddlecraft for news and updates (newsletter, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter).
  • Feel called to ask a question or offer support to me or to the team? Or perhaps you’ve spotted a way we could partner up? We’re here for it! Please reach out with any offers, questions or reflections: zahra@huddlecraft.com
Big love to everyone who showed up to find out more and show support ❤

2/ More about the personal story behind this decision

The decision to take a step back came in slow motion. Whilst I’m sharing the news publicly today, in the core team we have been planning this for some time, and as Anneka helped me realise, I have been laying the groundwork for a co-owned Huddlecraft by working in a collaborative and distributive way since the beginning.

My feels span the whole spectrum. Sharing this post feels edgy and vulnerable, and making this move feels scary. But at the same time it feels like a totally natural step to be taking, and I feel a lot of energy for what it will make possible, both for Huddlecraft and for me.

Huddlecraft has continued to develop in directions that excite me, delight me, and challenge me, and I remain as fascinated by the power of peer groups and collective learning processes as always. I am SO behind Huddlecraft’s purpose and trajectory, which has made it that much harder to accept this decision as it has appeared out of the mist! Despite my commitment to Huddlecraft’s purpose, my own path is unfurling in a different direction, at least for the time being. So it’s time to acknowledge natural cycles, and that nothing lasts forever.

For now, I need my attention back. I need to find out if having a family is something written in my stars, and my body tells me that now is the time to find out! I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’ve spoken to women with wildly different views, and I don’t feel I want to juggle my role at Huddlecraft at this juncture. My intuition says that my timeline and Huddlecraft’s are no longer in alignment. It says that the next lesson I’m called to learn is how to let go. It says that batons are there to be passed! It says that I’m nearing the completion of a cycle. It says I should take this step into the unknown!

After >7 years I am ready to shed my skin. I’m beginning to feel what I imagine a snake might feel when they’re ready to shed theirs: a bit crispy and a bit itchy, anticipating the relief and the discovery of a new skin underneath! This snakeskin has been enlivening, beautiful, unexpected, hilarious… and at times it has been hard verging on heartbreaking. I’m not burnt out, but I am bruised.

At times this journey has felt like being in the boxing ring — the knocks just keep on coming. I’ve discovered my resilience and that I can bounce up again and again and again… Sometimes I’ve wondered with trepidation what on earth this experience might be training me for!! And whilst I’ve bounced back, this is not to say that the repeated impact has left me unscathed. I have some cuts and bruises. I’d like to take some time and space to heal them up properly, and to borrow from Sophy Banks at a recent event, to ‘turn them into medicine’.

However wonderfully patterned a snakeskin, eventually nature demands that it must shed and make way for newness and new beginnings.

I’ve been through phases of self doubt and self blame to reach this decision. I have wished I could run away to Mexico and not deal with it! But I’ve come to accept it, and more than that, I have come to feel energy for it: for the new beginnings that it will make possible, and for the learning opportunity that this transitional moment presents us with. It feels very rich. We will learn so much from intentionally making these changes, wherever we end up. This excites me.

And speaking of learning… I’ve learnt much more than I ever intended to!! When the first Huddle began in 2016 I didn’t know this would lead to such a huge chapter of my life. I feel like my internal processor is backed up. I’m like an office with piles of paper or a mounting inbox! My processing capacity just isn’t enough to integrate the experience of this chapter without a more fundamental pause and a change.

I’m doing two things to support the personal side of this transition. Firstly, I’m joining the Fear Factor Huddle, to provide a container for leaning into these scary changes. Once again I will lean on the Huddle process that Iacob and I originally designed to help us change our lives. I know that a peer group will help me find the joy and creativity within this process (especially when I get lost in the admin). The dates line up perfectly with the Finish Line weekend happening as I step away from the team at the end of March 2024. Spooky.

I’m also opening up the personal experience of this transition, in the form of an open audio conversation that you can listen along to here. So often, when something comes to an end, people only reflect retrospectively. It’s so rare that people share the messy middle. Plenty of people have cautioned me against opening up such a vulnerable process, lest we lose control of the narrative! But an equal number of others have encouraged me, and I choose to follow their optimism. I understand that for larger and more complex organisations it would be harder to take this approach. But we are small and experimental, so we have more licence to play!

I’m feeling so grateful to be part of a team that wants to see Huddlecraft continue. I’m so curious to see what happens next. And I’m thankful to everyone who has been part of this story. I hope our paths continue to cross.

3/ Celebrating 7+ years of Huddlecraft and 6295 co-learner relationships

It’s hard to know where to start with this! There have been so many personal highlights, magic moments and milestones. From cycling home on a sunny evening in London after the first Huddle kicked off, feeling fully alive. To the time I was invited to showcase Enrol Yourself at the Alternative Art School Fair in Brooklyn and I travelled to NY in the spectacularly beautiful Fall. To working closely with Anneka and Dave as they hosted the first Huddles which weren’t hosted by me. To Special Guest happening at Huddle Camp in 2021, when so many people spontaneously sang or performed (and wondered afterwards where the hell it came from!).

On Brooklyn Bridge feeling like I won the lottery

I’d like to celebrate the role of place, and one place in particular. My family have generously shared their home with the Huddlecraft crew since the beginning. Iacob and I designed the first Learning Marathon whilst staying there. We hosted multiple Finish Line weekends, Huddle Camps and team away days there. Iacob was also staying there with me when the decision to step back was really landing fully at the start of this year. I wrote this blog post from there.

The birthplace and refuge of Huddlecraft!

I also want to celebrate the many, many things that have happened:

  • Across our Host Fellowship and all our collaborations we’ve sparked and supported 55 Huddles! Which equates to about 550 participants. With another 14 currently in the pipeline that will take this total to 69, and about 690 participants. These Huddles have taken place locally and online with hosts based across the UK, in Brazil, in Germany, in Israel, in Rwanda, in Denmark, in Canada.
  • Every one of these participants has ‘carried’ a learning question. And so many amazing projects and works have been made in response to these questions, let alone the shifts that these questions have triggered. For some examples, head here.
  • Through Huddlecraft 101 we have trained up 115 people in taking a peer-led approach to learning and change, and they’re all out there in the world propagating approaches that centre agency, responsibility and strong peer-to-peer relationships.
  • So far Money Movers has supported 264 women to move £1.9million for the planet, by moving their pension, current account or investments, and they’ve planned a further £3.9million worth of actions. Money Movers has partnered with Triodos, Deloitte, Interactive Investor, Ethex and Anthemis, amongst others.
  • Across Huddles, Huddlecraft 101 and our various projects and programmes, we’ve sparked 6295 co-learner relationships! We calculate this using an equation to figure out the number of meaningful connections made via our model.
  • There have been so many experiments in distribution of power and agency, and so much bravery from so many people in doing so. From every Huddle host, to every participant who has gone on to replicate peer-to-peer principles in their life or work, every one of these people has taken a leap of faith to give away power and distribute control.
  • We’ve collaborated with so many organisations and individuals that we respect and are inspired by, including DEAL, Canopy, Friends of the Earth, CIVIC SQUARE, JRF Emerging Futures Team, the RSA, NESTA, Barrow Cadbury Trust, the Jo Cox Foundation, Tumelo — and more.
  • We crowdfunded £15k during a pandemic to create our Abundancy Fund that provides bursaries so that more people can access our offerings. We continue to contribute into the Fund via our events today.
  • We changed the name of our company and our company structure, which trust me, is a whole thing.
  • We made our 3-year-book and we’ve written 117 blog posts telling our story and sharing our learning!
  • We’ve been shaped by 6 full-time team members (including myself, Anneka Deva, Sarah Adefehinti, Katie Slee, Daniel Ford and Anna Garlands) and many freelancers (including Kate Weiler, Dave Heinemann, Rebecca Birch, Alana Bloom, Imani Clough, Ellie Osborne and many more), each of which has made an enormous contribution that has made Huddlecraft it is.

I want to continue this celebration in several ways: by hanging out with Huddlecraft friends this year at Huddle Camp, by creating a 7-year-book as described above, and of course, with some kind of party in March 2024. I hope you can celebrate with us!

4/ Towards a questions and answers list

I’ve started collecting some of the questions which are coming up. In the spirit of doing things in the open I’m going to see which other questions pop up as I share this post, before working on the answers.

  • How can I support the team?
  • Can you say more about what the next chapter of Huddlecraft will look like?
  • Why might employee ownership be a good route forward for Huddlecraft?
  • Can you say more about the collaborative transition process that Dan is stewarding?
  • What or who is informing the way you’re going about this transition?
  • I’m a partner organisation working on a project with you, what does this mean for me?
  • My main connection to Huddlecraft is through you, how will I keep this relationship?
  • Will it be the same without you?
  • What will you do next?
  • How does all of this feel, for you and for the team?

A huge thank you if you’ve read this far. And a massive thank you to everyone who has been part of shaping this post and shaping the way we’re going about these changes. I appreciate you!

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Zahra Davidson
Huddlecraft

Chief Exec & Design Director at Huddlecraft