Going Slow to Go Far

by Tina Santiago

The Finance Innovation Lab core team and a handful of  active supporters, took three days at West Lexham to reflect on our collective learning ecology and to think about our next leaps forward.  After nearly three years of research, community assemblies, and workshops, The Lab has found itself in a position to scale.  The question that brought us all together this weekend was how to scale up (go deep) and to scale out (go far).


West Lexham’s natural surroundings offered inspiring metaphors for our work:  The hundred year old plane tree reminded us of our roots, growth and reach.  The river reminded us of our the calm and the turbulence we face in our path forward. The open sky reminds us of the generations before us and the generations to be.


The crackling of the fireplace in the ‘village hall’ was muffled by the laughter, music and intense discussion among a diverse group of people, including an anthropologist, a writer, a designer, a historian, a former banker exploring issues around money, meaning, complementary currencies, fractional reserve banking and the decentralised self.


We spent our fist day reflecting on our own learning journey, asking ourselves: What frontier is calling that would unlock our potential even more? What does this tell us about the new frontiers of the Lab? On the second day, we held an open space session that looked at the Lab’s structures, business models, core principles for the financial system, how we can prevent confirmation bias, scaling replication and how to tell the story of The Lab. Our conclusions brought us to more questions:

How can we articulate our content principles along with process principles; sharing our collective intelligence beyond the core team?
What’s the Lab’s DNA? How can we discover that? What is the seed that the Lab wants to sow?
How can we cultivate more active collaboration; illuminating what’s already in the community
How can we share our stories more explicitly?
How can we create capacity for learning by doing, creating more space to think and deepening learning and relationships
How can we cultivate a culture of chaotic action?
How can we make the system accessible by unveiling the mystery around complexity?
How can we see this as an urgent learning process, where mission is discovery and sense making?  How can we  share this with the wider community?

On the final day, we rolled up our sleeves and put our intentions into action.  We clustered around tangible projects that will help us explore these questions through action learning. Moving forward, we’ll be focusing on tools of engagement (e.g. new media tools, engaging art and design), creating capacity building program, how to scale up and out (Sweden and USA), and how to rally energy around new ideas (I.e. pop-up Lab session).

If this wasn’t enough to give you a sense of the weekend, you can listen to our The Finance Innovation Lab @WestLexham Youtube Playlist!