What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?
“How do we seed, grow, and evolve enlightened communities
and inspired organizations?"
What is your personal experience of collective
wisdom in groups?
I am a founder of the Open Space Institute (US) and was
a steward of Spirited Work, an Open Space learning community for many
Whenever I work with emergent processes, in particular,
Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, and Dialogue, I see some degree of
collective wisdom appear. My experience is that the more vital the purpose
for coming together, the longer the gathering, the more diverse the
participation, the deeper the wisdom that appears.
I have had the privilege of working in many different
settings, for example, street kids in Bogotá, Palestinian teachers
in Ramallah, and journalists in the U.S. They humble me with the insights
that emerge from the field we create together.
What is it about the work in this field that excites
you and connects you to your own deepest self?
There is something that calls me; that wakes me up when
I am immersed in this work. I viscerally experience the liberation of
the human spirit, individually and collectively, when emergent processes
work their magic. Witnessing the light in people’s eyes, palpably
feeling people, including me, connect to each other and the larger whole
keeps me committed to this work. My belief is that the more people remember
their capacity to act from their deepest core – taking responsibility
for what they love – the more collective wisdom appears.
My current learning edge is around the nature of dynamic
tensions – male/female, spirit/matter, being/doing, individual/collective,
etc. I am coming to believe that collective wisdom involves growing
our capacity for being with difference while staying connected. What
shows up as conflict is often simply one aspect of a larger dynamic
pattern. By welcoming that disturbance and understanding the nature
of what it is in tension with, we can embrace the larger context from
which to draw insights and answers.
Please provide a brief storyline or snapshot of
what brought you to this work.
With a background in software development, project management
and Total Quality, I stumbled into this path through three pivotal experiences.
In 1986, I attended a series of workshops from Context Associates that
put me in touch with myself. The experience radically altered my worldview
from an outward to an inward focus. In 1994, I experienced my first
Open Space gathering and fell in love because it was the first time
I saw a collective come together in a way that the good of the individual
and of the collective were both served. From that moment, my work involved
engaging people in uncovering their individual and collective answers.
In 2000, I attended Nine Gates Mystery School. That brought the spiritual
dimension of this work to light for me, deepening my personal practice
and opening me to deeper aspects and potential for this work, which
I believe is about creating a world that works for all.
How would you like to be available to others in
I am happy to talk with others and be of service in ways
that are meaningful.
Links to this site or others:
The Open Circle
Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today's Best Methods
for Engaging Whole Systems