April’s Sensemaking Session
In late April we had our Point People meeting not long after the hottest Easter break on record, then as now climate is still very much in all our minds. It’s a theme that really binds us as a group and was one of the many topics we talked about…
Redefining Radical Rebellion: The vibrancy with which Extinction Rebellion has harnessed people’s passion, concern and shifted a wide sense of disempowerment around environmental issues had given many of us a sense of excitement. Within Point People we were participants, observers and outsiders to this process yet it has affected how we all think about climate change and what might be possible. For some it had prompted questions on why other climate actions hadn’t managed to garner the same energy. We were left asking the question what does radical look like? And wondering where we have been too incremental in seeking change on climate issues or whether there is a role for both approaches? We found the positive and ‘heart centred’ approach a welcome and different approach to what radical looks like.
The Future : We are looking at models of work, what farming could be, what an ambitious social sector might look like, how we can ‘fix the future’, and what stands in the way of us achieving it. We also discussed how we can take a long term view on the future, how far could we look ahead? The future can be a bit of a nebulous term, it can feel hugely radical to look 5 years down the line in some sectors, but what does it mean to step 100 years forward? One of the Point People is working on a process which supports people to do just that through a facilitated immersive experience.
Endings and Beginning: With several members of the group finishing projects we talked about what it means for something to end well, what time needs to be given to bring something successfully to a close. It’s something we’ve discussed before and probably will again. Prototypes like the one for universal basic income in Finland can seem like great news, but what happens when they stop suddenly?
It’s a fine line: Between learning and doing, between what we love to do and where we have most impact, between designing a culture and allowing culture change, between wisdom and cynicism, between giving direction and allow people to self-define.
Language and naming: Many of us are working around supporting sectors, teams and organisations with culture shifts. We discussed what role language can play in this, when people have labels or categories attached to them does this lead them to defend their corner rather than being open to change. Can language stop us moving out of our own bubbles? And how does our own language of ‘system innovation’ hinder us, it can seem very theoretical and abstract. What can we do to ground it?
Celebration: Several of us this month were creating beautiful celebrations for those we love whether 2 years old or 70 years old. They take time and effort to create but actually can give us as much pride, if not more, than working achievements for which we are formally recognised. The theme of celebration also flowed further: one member of the group was returning to doing more art outside of work, the very act of creating the art felt celebratory. Not all acts of celebration are for a person, perhaps the insight is that where we invest in beauty and care, we create a powerful experience.
Survival: How can we recognise that illness and family difficulties can stop us in our tracks? We rarely give visibility to personal issues in public discourse but it is real. People have crises, people can also be exhausted or overwhelmed. As a group we recognised how important it was to each of us to be able talk about these moments and also how rare this was. We had given ourselves explicit permission to do this as part of our meetings and it has created a very different environment for us when we meet. It’s an issue we will return to in more depth later in the year.
Finally here’s some of the things we’re being inspired by and recommending:
- Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
- Olivia Sudjics’ essays in Exposure — about how impossible it is to be a female author writing in the first person without it being assumed to be a memoir rather than literature
- Brene Brown ‘Dare to Lead’. First of her books I read. Bringing clarity to battle with imposter syndrome. Reminded me why I signed-up for teaching too. Thanks Victoria for sending.
- The Lonely City by Olivia Laing. It is beautiful and languid, And the deliberate slow pace really helps me at the end of each day.
- The Challenge of Communicating Unwelcome Climate Messages’ by the Tyndall Centre most mornings (it’s a big ‘un!)
- Do Pause by Robert Poynton
- A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas. Great quick read novel if you are interested in understanding transference!
- Franz Fanon White Skin, Black Masks — Powerful and sobering
- Frame Innovation by Kees Dorst
- Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth
- Gut by Julia Enders
- Esther Perel’s Mating in Captivity described as revelatory for long term relationships.
- Will & Ariel Durant’s Lessons of History a chance to see what is, and isn’t, still relevant today half a century later esp when compared with works like Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
- Hetty Einzig The Future of Coaching a refreshing antidote to the sometimes self-indulgent conversations about the field.
- The Trauma Cleaner — Sarah Krasnostein : how people’s physical environment, possessions and space can reflect their trauma told through the incredible personal story of the person who helps people ‘de-clutter’ and their own trauma.
Watching & Listening
- This episode of Team Human is a good background to the founding of Extinction Rebellion and this Mothers of Invention with Rhiana Gunn-Wright, policy lead for the Green New Deal
- The DropOut : The story of Theronos founder Elizabeth Holmes, fascinating on so many levels, what leads us to believe in something and how we can stop questioning. Seriously addictive to listen to.
- The audio book of Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams on BBC Sounds app
- A podcast called Hi-Phi Nation — which tells real life phenomena and then unpicks the philosophical dilemmas — first is on honouring the wishes of the dead — e.g. the fortune that keeps amassing to the Hershey legacy
- How to Fail podcast with Elizabeth Day
- Carol Cadwalladr’s TED talk