Past Gathering: Monolithos 2017
Monolithos, the place and it’s inhabitants that host us in their former school building and community house, three family run taverna restaurants, village houses and apartments, and the Thomas hotel: run by a young entrepreneurial couple exploring and living the next stage of genuine and authentic hospitality. It truly took a village to host a gathering like this.
Visible and Sense-able Harvest
Much of what we take away is intangible, internal, and difficult to express in words and pictures: new relationships and connections, inspiration, and allies for our next moves in our organizations. Teams and initiatives forming. The feeling of being supported and not alone in our endeavours. Fresh opinions and advice from sacred outsiders to our systems. Real experience in a self-organizing a gathering of professionals from business, government, NGOs, community experiments, entrepreneurs, and seekers. And for now, we present the more tangible and visible parts of our harvest for those who were there, who were not there and/or who will be there in our next gatherings around the world.
"The Next Stage compared to what? Compared with traditional organizations as we know them."
Overview of the Week
Arriving & diving in. Meeting each other and the village. Developing our questions and exploring them in a pro action cafe and on the questions wall.
Diving deeper. Telling and listening to our stories in a collective story harvesting. Exploring and weaving the patterns of learning and insight.
Self-organized day. We explore Rhodes and the Monolithos community, deepening our inquiry through our self-organized activities and spaces.
Open Action Space. We integrate our learnings and explore our Next Stage practices, projects, and questions in an action-oriented Open Space.
Arriving & Diving in
- Check in and meet
- Walk around the village
- Circle: exploring our quests and questions
- Pro action café
- Refining our questions
- Harvesting “Questions Wall”
- Check out
Welcome to the circle. I am here because I know what I don’t want anymore, in my organization, in my world. And, even though I seem to know or feel deep inside what I want to create in the world, I don’t know yet what I really want, or how I can do it. Is that true for you too? Let’s work on that. After this welcome and introduction, we started the day with a check in, noticing that some of us have come with very concrete questions about how to move the organization towards more self-organization, while others bring the inquiry of how organizational structures can support our evolution as human beings better. And yet others are seeking a retreat from their usual surrounding to attend to their own personal and professional growth in a field of culturally highly diverse and still like-minded people that are on a similar quest. Some come as teams, some alone.
Participants settled in the space and a web of connections started spinning. Each of us crafted a first version of a burning question related to personal development and the next stage of organizational development. A walk in the village around us stimulated the initial conversations, while our questions starting working on us. Walking the talk of a complex system embedded in a community under the mediterranean sun.
The next versions of some of our questions were brought into the proaction café, where 12 people invited others to work with their burning questions. What is the quest behind your question? What is still missing? What is my next elegant step? After moving from table to table and question to question we came back into our full circle to iterate our initial burning questions and go a level deeper into our quests. The next versions of the questions were collected and clustered on our “wall of questions” by the group.
Our checkout question of this day: How is elegance emerging among us?
A social evening with conversations in the taverna and some delicious Greek food, wine, and hospitality closed our first day together. All this, while a smaller group of so-called participants and hosts met in circle to design together what the next day would look like.
Burning Questions we Brought
Diving deeper into Questions and Stories
- Check in
- Collective Story Harvesting
- Exploring the patterns from the Stories
- Opening the Space for the self-organized day 3
- Check out
The second day was dedicated to learning from each others existing experiences and stories. What implicit knowledge and lived experiences do we have to make some collective sense around the topics that really matter to us? In order to find the patterns of what we already know and want to make explicit, we did a collective story harvesting. 10 people told their stories to smaller circles of people, responding to the invitation to “tell a story about a time when Next Stage organizing made something possible that wouldn’t have been otherwise”. People in the different circles took on the same specific listening lenses through which they paid attention to particular elements of the stories about which we want to learn more. Those so called ‘story arcs’ derived from the 6 cluster groups of our burning questions, which the harvesting team had put together in a secret night mission on day 1. The purpose: to distill insight from our stories that are concrete and relevant to the questions that are alive in the group right now.
Our Listening Arcs:
- Sensing within ambiguity, or, knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do
- Letting go, stepping back, letting die, and getting out of the way
- What is the next stage of leadership?
- Preparing the ground for the next stage journey
- How inner wholeness makes a difference for the whole
- Listening and responding to the call of evolutionary purpose
- The witness.
Stories were told and listened to across the village, as participants spread to sunny outside spaces, tavernas, and apartments. In the afternoon we gathered and called for circles among people that listened to the same arcs and aspects. Every story lens group brought back their insights on patterns from across all stories, which were presented to everybody and visually captured in the full circle on a large graphic recording as well as on video by our video team.
Insights from the story arcs
Sensing within ambiguity, or, knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do
Observing the ambiguity, going through it, holding it strong, keeping it moving. Some people like to “strike back” and to test and see what is happening. Or the Japanese culture way: Knowing there is a light behind it that will eventually shine through, a cultural strategy of trust. There can be a strong knowing without knowing. Resting in trust, clarity and a path often will emerge and reveal themselves. Stepping back from our woundedness to lighten the ambiguous process up.
The role of leadership when ambiguity shows up: the one who goes through ambiguity and keeps it light and moving becomes a role model that others look at. There is a catalytic aspect in it, when clarity emerges and becomes collective.
Letting go, stepping back, letting die, and getting out of the way
We are conscious of our letting go. Fear is involved in stepping into unknown territory, but there is the sensitivity and sense for potential. If we don’t go, there will be no knowing. Letting go of control and trusting in people and their organizing to go the invisible way is key. This is only possible if I am aligned with the purpose and I am well. Because I need something that gives me the energy to move through difficulty, not knowing, and ambiguity – even if I sense that it is the right way to go. Stepping back or getting out of the way is not a passive thing, because I need to be in tune with the system I am are stepping back from: reading the system from the helicopter view, seeing the monsters on the ground, staying in love and relationship with it, building trust, keeping up the mutual support on both sides, if needed. Stepping back doesn’t mean that I can lay back and do nothing, but that I am prepared to take the opportunity to bring things to the next stage, as soon as the opportunity occurs.
What is the next stage of leadership?
Preparing the ground for the next stage journey
Good to know that the ground has always been there. The trust in the evolutionary purpose is showing up as a big pattern in all the stories. From there beautiful things emerge. Metaphors, like natural organizations and natural farming, can fertilize the ground for the organization. Relationships and building an intimate space within the organization as the journey progresses are critical aspects, that can be building blocks for a bigger shift in the system. Friendships and keeping ourselves and our intention always open is important, and in many cases structures and deep foundations for interventions are really important too. It is a matter of sensing when each is needed.
How inner wholeness makes a difference for the whole
We notice a lot of overlap with the group of letting go and stepping out of the way as well as the groundwork group. This was about how inner wholeness makes a difference for the whole – it abso(freaking)lutely does! Because how we hold on to our inner certainty or inner core purpose, how we show up in ourselves and in our team, shows up the field or in our organization. So how we are as leaders in an organization matters. Some ingredients that came up in the stories are: connectedness with everything, how am I with others, and, there are no others (meaning: we might have judgements about others that make us interact in certain ways, like with trust vs. control, but in the end we are all connected with each other and are parts of the system). This speaks to the absolute coming from an inner stance of connectedness with the earth and everyone in the organization and authenticity. The capability to endure how it is, moving on from where things are tough and transforming, and becoming authentic and more open are key. How that is modeled in the organization has an impact. Be whole and know your limits, being open to ask and being vulnerable, ask for help and offer what you can: that humility in a leadership role creates a space of possibility in an organization. Trust trust trust is a key ingredient. For a leader to trust others, and to let go, and to walk away if necessary. What if there is no trust? Because it is so broken and in despair? Then collective healing is needed, it is essential to start building trust in order to move forward in an organization or other system.
Listening and responding to the call of evolutionary purpose
A few insights to ponder out of this rich inquiry:
Founders seem to be the first ones to sense purpose. The energy with which the founders start, meaning what is the pull that they sense (rather than what they are running away from), is later spelled out by the organization as ‘the purpose’. So energy is first, purpose statement second. A founders connects to the own soul, so that the soul of a collective is included or connected through the own soul. Purpose is that trajectory connecting several souls.
What does purpose do? What are the effects of purpose being present? One is that it brings clarity and freedom from choice. If you have a purpose, there is nothing to choose. Another aspect of purpose as a connection to practice: the practice of being with purpose enables transcending and including. The evolution comes from being in the practice of purpose, as purpose pulls us beyond status quo. For those who have a chance to, pursuing purpose gives a sense of autonomy and wholeness. Purpose can be quite effective although it might not be explicit. It is more the presence of purpose that is important, and that it is sensed. Then it already creates alignment.
A conversation emerged: How can we connect with evolution herself?
We witnessed a lot of common threads among the stories. We saw people listening and receiving with respect and an open heart, while we listened from a place of hovering over the conversation like a bird, honoring soul, source, and inspiration. Inspirational stories were quite contagious and we saw people really leaning into and getting involved in the conversation. The story tellers came from a place of humility and through the intensity of listening the stories told resonated with everybody’s own story.
As a transition into the next self-organized day of the gathering, the space was opened for everybody to call for and post day 3 activities on our open action space market place. Afterwards, we checked out and the Greek evening had us again. A good opportunity to relax together from a very moved, active day, bringing to the surface a lot of our knowing and not-knowing. A day of groaning and growing and finding our places in a group that self-organizes to a large extend and walks into unknown territory together. And, we made it through!
Self Organized Sessions
This was a day of deepening our inquiry in all our own self-organized ways. And it was also what can be called a coffee percolator moment, the moment and space when the learning sinks in. Some of us stayed in the village, while others spend time walking and being in the beautiful nature of the island, and yet others embarked on a trip to the organic farm and the old town of Rhodes together.
Sessions that were posted in the open action space were:
- Natural and organic farming: visit, explore, and experience natural and organic farming by meeting a Rhodes farmer on his land. Experiencing relationships and structures of both, organic farming as well as natural/next-stage organizations.
- Rhodes Old Town: visiting together the old, old historic sites of the island’s main city. A drive along the scenic roads. A relaxing afternoon and a warm evening.
- 2 Flow Games: come with a wicked question you are seeking some insight on.
- Design circle: prepare our flow for the open space day on day 4. Welcome to co-create!
- Complexity & reading systems: learning to read and navigate systems. (Who can teach us?)
- Becoming an evolutionary leader: co-exploration of the competences that evolutionary leaders need, including managing complexity and mastering systems thinking.
- Beach party
During the organic farm visit we were hosted by Jannis, the local farmer, and Shiro & Yuko, two pioneers of natural farming from Japan. Innumerable lemon and orange trees, vast fields of all sorts of fruits and vegetables that make the organic heart beat faster. While looking at the naturally supportive combinations of plants, moving shade patterns during the day, and cabbages hidden in the grasses, Yuko explains: “Know the structures and relationships, then plant, then let g(r)o(w)”. What of that applies in “natural” and next-stage organizations?
Open "Action" Space
- Check in
- Open Space
- Harvesting circle
- Check out
- Celebration dinner
- Inner journey at the Castle
In the morning, led by our experienced Australian community developers, we deepened our connections in what, by then, felt like our temporary next-stage community. Through questions relating to head, hand, heart, heel, and human connection, more of our passions, speciality topics, practices in case of overwhelm, and practices of keeping connected came to the surface.
Afterwards, the open action space market place quickly filled with sessions offered by the group. Here you find an overview of what we have worked with. Contact us If you are interested in detailed harvest of a particular session.
Open Action Space - clustered sessions
Connecting and mapping
- Staying connected: share stories, “nursery for partnerships”, and mutual support
- Joint development: how can we share and collaborate to build our personal business footprint? Purpose and platform.
- Contributions and projects map: map our system and feed it forward
Mapping our movement(s): developing and maintaining an interactive web-based map of NSW projects and other transformational movements
Embodiment and sensing
- Constellations: explore our questions, ‘reading’ inner and outer systems in practice
- Connecting body and mind: yoga, movement, aikido
Next stage teams, practices, and organizational structures
- Road map to ‘teal-ish’: one possible playbook of how to take your organization from a more traditional way towards teal.
See some visual harvest here.
- Teal team whisperer: how to support a self-organized team with focus on wholeness and purpose? Working with a swarm team in my organization.
- Forming a next stage core: what can the community do to find people for my ‘teal’ organization? People on the intersection of next stage thinkers and my organization’s purpose.
- How to work, earn, and live for purpose: making self-organization, wholeness, and purpose actual practice.
See some visual harvest here.
- Shamanic orgs: how mythic spirituality transforms and heals the self and the system as one.
- Serving a movement of evolution with integral practices: enlivening practices for organizations and communities, hosting next stage worlds, next stage career building
- Befriending complexity: life-enhancing simplicity on the other side of complexity, the beauty of teal, developing a workshop
- What structure will enable a discipline to change itself? A prototype organizational structure for Biocellion, transforming biology from qualitative to quantitative science.
See some visual harvest here.
- Inviting more people in: how does an organization invite people in well and explain what we do? What have others experienced and learned?
See some visual harvest here.
- How to create “hybrid” organizations, with current stage and Next Stage elements? See some visual harvest here.
- Relational intelligence: how can I improve the relational intelligence I need in order to be, act, embody next stage leadership?
- Women in/and NSW
Further NSW gatherings
- A geographically distributes NSW: how could it look like? Gatherings in the South as well as the North? NSW in Australia? If NSW in Monolithos is the ‘mother’, what do her children look like?
See some visual harvest here.
- NSW Japan: what is the evolutionary purpose of hosting this gathering in Japan?
- Is NSW a myth? Is there evidence to prove a better way is possible for communities and organizations? Or is it a fad to be soon forgotten?
Projects and support
- NSW government: as citizens how do we envisage next stage for our government agencies?
- Mediterranean food futures learning village 2018: how to design a multidisciplinary educational experience around food innovation that gives rise to tangible products/services/realities?
- Social sector, services and welfare: how to support the community to self-organize in fields that have been dominated by government? Mobilize the whole power of people in the community.
- How to make a national dialogue about nuclear power plant in Japan in a teal way? Crafting an invitation for a multi-stakeholder dialogue and scenario planning about abolishing the nuclear power affected by the tsunami.
- Next stage gardening and connecting with nature in urban areas: respect and repair soils, grow food, use teal and U to build consciousness to act
- Prototype transformational co-learning communities towards wholeness and authentic leadership: learning paces and communities for change makers to develop their wholeness and authentic leadership.
- Natural planter: ‘washa washa planter’, to change people’s awareness and realize ecosystem every day, give structure to and advance this experiment in the world
- Journey to lionesses: create a new paradigm of practice and philosophy for an ecosystem beyond human superiority. Cultivate the nature of human animals. What is the role of the human animal in relation to other diverse living beings? A journey to South Africa to explore the next stage earth and meet the lion whisperer.
- Collecting garbage in the village: leaving Monolithos a little cleaner then when we came
- Getting fresh drinking water from the spring
- Community feast: next stage eating, preparing local food from the farm, enjoying local organic wine, and celebrate.
Playing and exploring
- Flow game
- Beach time
- Visiting the old town of Rhodes
- Photo harvest: collecting and organizing our photos
- Video interviews for the NSW video harvest: filming your stories
Harvesting and Closure
- Check in
- Open Space session
- Harvesting circle: that what the We is learning about the Next Stage World
- Check out: messages from the four directions to the world
The purpose of our last day was to have all the conversations that needed to happen before leaving Monolithos, to create a proper feeling of closure, and to engage in some collective harvesting and sensemaking together. After the check in we called for one more open action space session and spread in the venue and the local tavernas for our conversations.
Back in the big circle we let the big We speak: what is it that the We is learning about the Next Stage world?
How do we think, sense, and understand the mind of the We?
The next stage has moved closer. It has arrived, or have we?
The We is composed of imaginary cells and by coming together, the next stage reveals its purpose by leaning into the future.
The We, our collective composite being, has an abundance of resources and practice and learned that humor and music and good Greek food is important and cathartic in the moments our quest and dynamic shows it’s challenges.
The next stage needed us all to meet each other and it calls us to act. New structures and gatherings are being created, new communities building the world, connecting with each other’s wholeness, embracing incredible diversity.
And in the end, we spread in the room according to where in the world we go back to, and we checked out with messages we will carry into the four directions of the world.