The Art of Collaborative Leadership: cultivating our capacity for hosting Systemic Transformation

West Lexham, June 9-12, 2011

 

Written by Vanessa Reid

Over the weekend of June 9-12, 2011 a group of twenty-six social innovators and change agents from the UK, Europe, Middle East, Canada – and from the Finance Innovation Lab itself – came together to explore the Art of Collaborative Leadership. We stayed at West Lexham, itself an ambitious, innovative model for rural social enterprise, a hub for community renewal and the homeplace of the founder and his family. And together we asked, What is the leadership needed to envision and host the fundamental systemic changes we seek for a sustainable future?

Initiated by the Hara Practice Collaborative, in partnership with the Finance Lab and Tasting the Future, this was an incredible opportunity to take a deep dive into what we have been learning together in this work – and to invite others to learn with us.

Using a wide range of methodologies, we explored the forms of relationship, organizing patterns, conceptual models, hands-on practices and processes that catalyse and support systemic shifts that will sustain people and planet. We shared real-time projects, including the learning from our work together these past 2 years in the Lab and Tasting the Future, but also from nascent seedling projects to the real-time organising in the revolution in Greece. More than a training or a workshop, it was a participatory enquiry into the diversity of all of the participants’ experiences, projects and movements.

What did we see together?

We need to be prepared to transform ourselves. Hosting this work changes us from the inside out – and the deeper we go with our own transformation – the deeper and wider we can hold systemic transformation,

Systemic transformation is about relationship. The level of relationship we have with ourselves and with one another in our core teams will determine the depth of, and level of complexity, we can work with “out there.” Cultivating core teams that operate from a deep level of commitment and intimacy can hold the depth and breadth needed for wider transformation.

Structures and processes create pathways for change. Transforming human systems needs process architecture and design that focuses on convening people and creating a minimal/optimal structure that cannot ensure specific outcomes but invokes the highest impact possible.

The capacity to learn together is essential. Learning is a core capacity for any kind of sustained systemic change – if we are not learning, we are not changing so cultivating learning and practice grounds for successes and failures.

We look forward to our next “deep dive” – stay tuned for more learning programmes with Hara, the Finance Lab and Tasting the Future this fall, 2011.