How can we learn and evolve as a community?

Floris Koot
Mar 19, 2018 · 6 min read
Gathering around a question instigates learning. (photo cc by Joris Voeten on Unplash)

Recently Philippe Greier and I came up with a shared learning process for communities, from villages to business, from team to glocal society. It’s born out of many conversations around Learning Societies and Edushifts United, and to be honest is now in phase 2/3 of the model. Finding out how this resonates. Involving others. Testing it, by working from it, yet staying open to iterate and reframe. :)

Many solutions end in bottom down implementation, rational models in which people do not feel themselves represented. Solutions are drafted from compiled date transformed to dashboard facts, worked through mental minds into planned steps. You know, the thing that most managers do. They think they’ve got it, because it all works on paper and in planning, yet the people feel a disconnect with their actual reality. That’s why over 80% of all change projects fail.

Theory U started opening the doors to the essence of deeper levels of understanding. Often finding what wise people and indigenous people have known all along. We grow into the new. This is a guided and shared process, not an implemented concept. So here’s our model (no great drawings yet, working on it, wait for edit #2)


0. What is the issue?

For the fans is Simon Sinek: it starts with WHAT. What is the issue we are addressing? Frame that issue. Stay open to reframing the essence, when deeper layers are unfolded. Bad education, for example, may not be solved by better testing, as some investigators think.

In the Heroes Journey this would be the Call, the incidents that spark you, and perhaps others to start the Journey.

1. SENSE: (or Inform).

What’s going on? Start with questioning, feeling, mirroring pain you feel. Get dialogues going. That people talk about it, feel either heard or get interested is essential. Scientific investigations need to be balanced with full physical sensing, as the body can know things the brain can’t frame. This all helps to gather sense of underlying patterns. Facts help and so do artistic representations of what is being felt. If the ‘What’ is correct the ‘Why’ becomes clear. Damaged values, damaging convictions, violent patterns must be addressed for a society to heal and flourish.

Realize that when you are in pain, people are in pain, some inner compass has some sense of what is supposed to be. You might consider trying to envision, dream the desired future, or presencing, as Otto Scharmer calls it. Mind that according to his model that only gets really effective around when it’s a collective catharsis. But to have a spec on the horizon may be as effective in getting people moving, as a burned down house behind them.

In the Heroes Journey this would be the finding/understanding of the Call. What is the real issue? Take peace and influx of refugees. What is the real problem? Is it the refugees, or the wars that created the refugees, or the mindset of society that brought forth those that created the wars? What best to address to help peace happen? And perhaps many aspects need to be addressed at the same time. Then find what interconnects them all, and what people most relate to, when addressing the issue. Also in this phase you need to help people gather enough courage to really address the issue and start working on solutions.

2. EXPERIMENT: (or Iterate and Play).

What!? No design phase? On aspects yes, or as rough test, but indeed no serious planning yet. This is more about facilitating experiments (you and others bring in) to see what happens. What lessons are learned? So it’s not about the model yet, but about deeper insight in what makes it work? And finding answers through play and irreverent testing as much as through careful planning. Realize that through play you already will involve many whom it concerns and if they stay away, you need to change tone, solutions, or your attitude, because you ain’t there yet.

In the Heroes Journey this would be the Journey phase. It’s initiation about everything you need to be capable and understand to overcome all obstacles.

3. CONNECT: (or Gathering and Networking).

Share your findings with like-minded people and experiments. Compare findings. This is outer connection. Outer connection can already start in phase one and two. But there it’s investigation and play. Now you are serious looking for allies. Share, talk, envision, presence as a collective. Then wait for the inner connection (Catharsis or Eureka) to happen. That’s the flash if insight what your group or you have to do.

In the Heroes Journey this would be the Allies & friends you meet on you path, and you need to solve to issue at hand. Marten Luther King couldn’t change legislation on his own. He needed fellow marchers.

4. SYNTHESIZE: (or Elixer and Solutions).

Now find how your personal or groups solution fits into the glocal diversity. Stay true to local demands, yet see how to calibrate it with global demands, realities. It’s all connected and we should stop pretending we are not involved. There’s plastics in your food and refugees coming to your town. Wonder how that’s related? If that leads to new journeys, start over at the top again.

In the Heroes Journey this would be the overcoming the obstacle. But while in movies the slaying of the dragon is an epic finale, here often you’ll find that having started to live the new reality, much changes and the hard fight may not even happen, or is a matter of many steps, throughout the whole model.

5. BE A LIGHT: (or Share and Live It).

In connecting is also sharing, but more in a safe space, with likeminded people. Now is the time to live your solutions, and show them to the world. How and what have you gained, that many others still suffer from? By walking the talk and showing it works, you gain integrity (so hard needed in current media noise), leadership, trust and become convincing. This doesn’t mean you’re perfect, nor have no other problems. You just start with the sense making again on a higher, deeper level or different subject, while becoming confident in what you found this far.

In the Heroes Journey this would be the return of the hero. You’ve entered a new reality, people look at your community with different eyes, and things get changed.


Scientific frames that prove your findings or add different perspectives to be taken into account. Offer healing to those suffering from the old system, and or try to get them involved in the community healing or action. Tech, like the Internet, new media, all help to spread the message, test and frame insights, clarify your wording. As you see in this model no mention of tech. Tech is only an approach, because good models are as natural as gathering a community in a nomadic village. New media is like a horn, or whatever means used to gather the crowd, or gossip, a way news goes viral. If we keep sight of those links to natural processes and our humanity we’ll do fine.

Let us know if you recognize this from your reality and find insights why some projects failed. Or help us expand, frame with more clarity and or point out very overlapping ideas. Thank’s for you effort and help, growing a different education, from a very different approach.

Ties in to this article on Learning Societies. And this one on building a community from scratch.

Playful Iteration is an undervalued form of shared growth. (photo cc by Pexels)

Floris Koot

Written by

Play Engineer. Social Inventor. Gentle Revolutionary. I always seek new possibilities and increase of love, wisdom and play in the world.

The Gentle Revolution

Towards a revolution we all want to dance in, for a flourishing planet.

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