Nonhierarchical groups and complex systems

Heirarchical systems can to first order approximation be understood by linear thinking and simple cause and effect – the people at the top tell those beneath them what to do.

More nonhierarchical systems require more complex systems thinking to understand what is going, how decisions emerge. There are feedback loops of dialogue from which decisions emerge.

Different facilitation systems lead to different types of feedback loops and attractor states the group can get into.

What decisions get made can be very sensitive to small changes sometimes eg who speaks first, or how where people are seated around the table. At those points of extreme sensitivity one can the system bifurcated. One could argue better facilitation systems display less bifurcation points

Gift circles and yoga centers

One of the principles of permaculture is that various plants can be grown together as a guild to mutually support each other .

It occurs to me gift circles and yoga centers could be mutually beneficial to each other. One can have a gift circle at a yoga center. That creates community amongst the yoga students, and also provides a good mix of regulars and new visitors to the gift circle that make it vibrant

Facilitator Improv FAQ,

What is Facilitator Improv?

It is a participatory format where everyone in a group is able to facilitate the group with experiential exercises. Its a process by which a group can co-pilot itself. Traditionally we a group is dependent on a leader to guide it. Facilitator Improv is a process that allows a group to not have that dependence.

What is the basic format of Facilitator Improv?

guidelines:

  • Sit in a circle (2 to 20 people)
  • Sit in meditation until someone gets an intuition of some exercise to lead the group in
  • Optional : give some signal that you are done with exercise
  • Again, sit in meditation until someone gets an intuition of another exercise
  • Keep repeating this.

What are some examples of exercises people have led at Facilitator Improv circles?

Loosen up your jaws. Describe what icecream flavor the universe is to you this moment.  Pair up, place hands on partner shoulder and massage. Make a gesture with a part of your body that creates confidence. Text someone you have been a bit out of contact with a nice message. Create a visual hologram of an issue/problem you are dealing with, then walk around it . Ground energetically and let that energy join with others into a flower. Smell something . Meditate and watch your thoughts and emotions without judgment .Notice something that catches your attention, then move like it, Touch a body part of yours that you do not pay much attention to usually. Do kapali breathing .Look at each other as if you had power of the other, then look at each other as if you share power with. Do a 1 minute pitch about project or yourself . Mirror each others movements – Make a sound from your belly. Imagine connecting your third eye with the others third eye. Share your earliest memory. Build a tower collaboratively (with stuff in the room) . Draw a pagoda collaboratively. Find a way to join hands of the group that is not just holding the hand of person next to you . Say someone’s elses name and your own. Imagine a fire in the middle of the circle that is warming your stomach . Say a sound that a cartoon would make. Tune into your emotions and name three that you are experiencing. Forgive someone. Wear the shoe of someone else in the circle and walk around.

How do you guide a group into using Facilitator Improv?

Its easiest to start off with a short Facilitator Improv, like one around 10-15 minutes. People are then encouraged to come up with exercises that are about a minute in length during this short Facilitator Improv. This shorter length gives people a chance to sense into the group field, how to allow others a chance to lead, how to feed off each other etc. People can discuss how it went.

Can a Facilitator Improv be too talk focused?

It depends on the intent of the group. If a group would like to be more experiential, which we do suggest because it allows for a more embodied way of knowing, then this can be clarified before hand. If during the Facilitator Improv too many exercises are focused around dialogue, then someone can make a meta-comment about the situation. A group can choose a hand signal for making meta-comments if so desired.

Can you use Facilitator Improv in more specific fields?

Yes, you can for instance do an Art Facilitator Improv, where everyone leads artistic exercises. Or you could do a Yoga Facilitator Improv where everyone leads a yoga pose. You could do group collaboration groups, restorative justice, holistic health, entertainment Facilitator Improv’s.

How does Facilitator Improv create a new model for workshops?

Its an operating system for workshops that can allow a workshop to be hosted without the host necessarily knowing too much about the material.

So for instance, someone can put on a workshop “How to manage your time efficiently” run on a facilitator improv format, which means that everyone goes into silence, until someone gets a hit on an exercise to lead the group related to managing your time. Then after that exercise is led, the group goes back into silence again, until someone else gets an intuitive hit. People can share feedback as to how well the exercises land.

It allows much greater freedom and ease in putting on workshops, for one doesn’t need to prepare so much. One can put on a workshop on “Tapping into your intuition”, “Overcoming anger”, “Improving your relationship to money” etc… by simply advertising it and having a space to hold it, and then allowing people to come to help run the workshop. Its a new model, a new paradigm of what workshops are. It doesn’t require beforehand to have the teacher, and the exercises all prepared, it instead depends on emergence from people coming.

There’s a similarity to how in Open Space Technology facilitation events, where anyone can call a group, even if they do not know anything about it, and then people coming would discuss the topic. The difference to Open Space Technology here is that anyone can call a stand alone workshop, and also that there is more of a focus on facilitating experiential exercises rather than dialogue.

Can the Facilitator Improv format be used to generate spontaneous gatherings?

When facilitator improv practitioners get together they can spontaneously organize or a circle or even a longer conference of several day gathering because the facilitation exercises are emergent and dqo not have to be preplanned.

Facilitator Improv flashmobs ( Facilitator Flashmob for short) can also happen where unsuspecting people in a public location can be guided into facilitating each other in varied exercises.

How can Facilitator Improv spread cultural memes?

The exercises people come up with can be recorded on a website, and also put into an open source deck of cards. There is currently a deck of cards called Ish which contains exercises many people have come up with. Others can then by looking at the website, or using the deck of cards also use these exercises, thus propagating and spreading the facilitation exercise cultural meme

What is the relationship between Faciliator Improv and the new paradigm of leadership?

Traditionally we have a Leader as Boss. We are now moving as a society into the direction of Leader as Facilitator. The next step after that will be Leader as Co-Facilitator. Meaning everyone can facilitate. Facillitator Improv is one of the leading edge social architectures that embodies this new paradigm that allows for omni-facilitation, where omni-facilitation means everyone can facilitate.

At what stage of consciousness (in Ken Wilber’s Integral theory) does the Facilitator Improv social architecture lie at?

At the amber(blue) stage the paradigm is Leader as Boss who rules through punishment. At orange the paradigm is Leader as Boss who rules through the carrot. At green and teal the paradigm is Leader as Facilitator. At turquoise the paradigm is Leader as Co-facilitator.

What does this have to do with new political and justice systems?

Currently we have a top-down political system. A more bottom-up inclusive political system can happen when people from different demographics and interests can come together and co-facilitate themselves to understand each other, and to work together in society.

Currently we have a top-down justice system which is based on cops, jails, courts, and lawyers. A more bottom-up system of restorative justice would involve a community coming together, including ‘victim’ and ‘offender’ to listen, empathize, forgive, and make amends.

A new paradigm of workshop : participant led workshops

Facilitator Improv is a process which allows everyone in a circle to guide the group in experiential exercises.

Its an operating system for workshops that can allow a workshop to be hosted without the host necessarily knowing too much about the material.

So for instance, someone can put on a workshop “How to manage your time efficiently” run on a facilitator improv format, which means that everyone goes into silence, until someone gets a hit on an exercise to lead the group related to managing your time. Then after that exercise is led, the group goes back into silence again, until someone else gets an intuitive hit. People can share feedback as to how well the exercises land.

It allows much greater freedom and ease in putting on workshops, for one doesn’t need to prepare so much. One can put on a workshop on “Tapping into your intuition”, “Overcoming anger”, “Improving your relationship to money” etc… by simply advertising it and having a space to hold it, and then allowing people to come to help run the workshop. Its a new model, a new paradigm of what workshops are. It doesn’t require beforehand to have the teacher, and the exercises all prepared, it instead depends on emergence from people coming.

There’s a similarity to how in Open Space Technology facilitation events, where anyone can call a group, even if they do not know anything about it, and then people coming would discuss the topic. The difference to Open Space Technology here is that anyone can call a stand alone workshop, and also that there is more of a focus on facilitating experiential exercises rather than dialogue.

Conflict transformation cards

The Conflict Transformation cards are printed! They have been sourced from the many suggestions people gave when the call was put out, and also from disciplines like Nonviolent Communication, Bryon Katie’s ‘The work’, Dennis Merzel’s ‘Big Mind Process’, Arnold Mindell’s process work, somatic psychology, expressive arts therapy, and ‘Theatre of the oppressed’. Its 54 cards that people can draw together to work through situations and conflicts. You can use them like tarot, or use them as a source of exercise ideas to choose from. (You can purchase them here https://www.etsy.com/shop/ConflictTransform )

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A place you can go to – to say sorry : Sorry Circles

We were sitting in our kitchen throwing out ridiculous party ideas, and I expressed it would be funny to form a circle and have everyone apologize for something they had done. I had forgotten the idea by the time the party got going. Then at a moment when a little bit of quiet descended, soft like a leaf, onto the party, my friend, who hadn’t forgotten, said why don’t we go around and say what we are sorry for. We formed a circle, and she started by apologizing for there not being curtains in the rooms. The next person apologized for cursing someone who had cut him off that morning. Followed by a third person apologizing for introducing a political discussion (that got slightly heated) at the party. Then my friend, feeling that we could take advantage of the energy of everyone in the circle, suggested that we all say “We forgive you” to the person after they admitted/confessed/expressed themselves. We started saying that in unison, which sounded a little bit cult-ish at first. But after we did it a couple of times, it began to feel really beautiful. We were giving real forgiveness. As we continued around the circle, it felt people were coming from a more emotional place. There’s a power to be given a space in which you can express your regrets, to be released from that place where you may have become secretive with your past, wracked with your guilt, numb from your emotions, or combative with your defensiveness. As people spoke and listened, a deeper shift began to move in the room, something powerful was unfolding. After the circle some participants called people up to express their apologies….

It struck us this is beautiful, simple and powerful technique – you can do with your friends at a party, as a workshop, and while just hanging out. A Sorry Circle is a place where people can go to, to express their regrets and apologies, and experience some healing around it. A network of Sorry Circles in a town can help in transforming the community’s emotional health.
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The mathematics of Non-Violent Communication (NVC)

I was looking at functions and how they translate one thing to another, so the function f(x) translates x into y where f(x)=y, and it seemed to me there was analogy here to Nonviolent communication (NVC) where one translates a contentious sentence into a nonviolent one. And I started wondering whether there might be mathematics of NVC.

So for instance lets say we have two people Bob and Ted. Bob says ‘I feel attacked.’ The statement ‘I feel attacked’ can be translated into I am scared and I have a need for safety. So mathematically this means f(‘I feel attacked’) = ‘I am scared and I have a need for safety’

Now the reason ‘I feel attacked’ is more contentious is because Bob is implying that Ted attacked him. Ted may reply ‘I did not attack you’. We thus have two statements that do not agree each other. One statement is ‘state of Ted=attack’ . The other statement is state of ‘Ted=not attack’. These two statements do not agree with each other, and cannot exist together in the same set.

Now the NVC translation of Bob’s statement ‘I feel attacked’ – ‘I am scared and I have a need for safety’ ,can coexist with a statement Ted makes about himself.

So translated in mathematical notation
where x1,x2,a,b are statements

x1 = I feel attacked
x2 = I did not attack

a=I am scared because my need for safety is not met
b=I raised my voice because I was nervous.

f(x1) =a
f(x2) =b
where f() is the act of nvc translation

x1 and x2 cannot form a set which is consistent so you need these statements to be in different sets {x1},{x2} . The brackets {} connotes a set.

whereas you can form a set {a,b} with the statements a and be, which has more than one component.

So you can have a larger sets of statements that can coexist in NVC.

The sets of these points form topological spaces. So the set of non-NVC statements forms a smaller topological space than the set of NVC statements.

I have an intuition that somehow in understanding these topological spaces more we can understand more about how collaboration can work, and which types of collaborations are possible.

We can move around more in the NVC statement space since it forms a larger topological space. I think what this means somehow is more freedom somehow in NVC topological spaces. And it is analogical to having more freedom in our real world. By studying these spaces I think we can get a sense of what types of collaborations and ways of working together people can have, of what kind of strategies that they can have to meet everyone’s needs.

I also think this mathematical formulation may help us understand how to generalize NVC to larger populations where multiple people are making statements. Also this may have a larger possibility of generalizing to form an economic theory out of NVC. (see my article on NVC and economics https://opencollaboration.wordpress.com/…/good-communicati…/ )