Before embarking on the journey of providing others with guidance for a process of transformation, we need to prepare ourselves in order to make sure we are stable enough to stay standing and not be eradicated when the “winds of change” will come.
This simple but crucial idea is one of the key concepts of Art of Hosting and one of my favourite practices to transmit when giving training or capacity-building sessions to teams preparing to host participatory processes at SenseTribe.
This practice is called “The Fourfold practice”. However evident it might seem in its essence, it takes a slow and deep process of introspection to really understand it. In order to really embrace this practice one needs to go beyond traditional paradigms of learning and approach it in a non-linear way that leaves room for intuition. The intuition will lead the way through the fractality of all living beings (and structures) and will enable the magic of the hosting process to happen.
“I love to see the fourfold practices like a kaleidoscope, with four different lenses which are brought together to create a whole, and what we discovered is that even though there are four lenses it’s a fractal so every lens has the other lenses in it. That’s the pattern of it, when we share it with people it can sound linear. It is not linear and when you’re learning you might need to dissect it and play with it so that you can learn it. But the real power comes from the interconnectivity of the lenses”.
If you want to host conversations that really matter, you first need to dive into the depths of your being and connect with your inner truth, and this can sometimes involve a painful and drawn-out process.
Be clear about what you need and what your personal contribution to the circle can be. Take a quiet moment to breathe in order to focus on the present. Make space to dedicate time for listening and speaking. Invite all the participants in the meeting to be present.
2. Participate and practice conversation
Listen with attention and speak with intention
Conversation is an art. It demands that we listen carefully to one another and that we offer our contributions to serve the whole. Join the conversation with curiosity and without judgment. Curiosity and judgement cannot live together in the same space. The art of conversation is the art of slowing down in order to speed up.
3. Host conversations
Be courageous, inviting and willing to initiate conversations that matter, and then make sure you harvest the answers, insights, learnings and wise actions…
Hosting conversations is not quite the same as facilitating. It means creating and holding the container in which a group of people can do their best work together. Prepare a question and know what you will do with the harvest. Hosting conversations takes courage and a bit of certainty and faith in your people.
…be willing to co-create and co-host with others.
The value of conversations arises when we listen to what is in the middle, what is emerging from the centre of our collaboration.
So contribute what you know to the mix so that patterns may become clear and the collaborative field can produce unexpected and surprising results.
The four fold practice was the first pattern that gave rise to the Art of Hosting. It is simply an observation that great conversations happen when people are present, when they participate, when they are well hosted and when they co-create something.
This practice helped me really get to the core of the hosting process and understand that one can be an expert in tools and formats. But this will not necessarily make this person a good host nor open the way to deep, enlightening conversations. The key is the fractal!
A poem by Toke Moller, one of the initiators of Art of Hosting, summarizes its essence in few words:
There are four practices that can become one.
It is about being awake
caring for each moment
It is about hosting by being conscious now.
It is about being a student listening and learning.
It about stepping up with courage
when it is my turn to lead.
It is to co create with others
for the benefit of All.
These can be practiced as one whole
In January 2020 SenseTribe supported Dafne and AEF in facilitating a wonderful 2-day conference in Madrid with 120 participants from philanthropy infrastructure organizations from all over Europe and from abroad. PEX 2020 was a place for individuals and organizations active in the philanthropy sector to meet and build an active community of support, and made it possible to kick-start a number of concrete projects and initiatives.
The plan was to meet again in Istanbul this year for PEX 2021, but with COVID the ‘road to Istanbul’ suddenly became longer than expected. Together with the Dafne team we were wrestling with the following question:
How can we bring the conference online and create something meaningful?
Although we had the advantage of people having met the previous year, we still had to solve the challenge of including newcomers and creating a similar magic online at a moment of significant screen tiredness. Despite the challenge, we somehow made it possible!
Over 160 participants enjoyed a 2-day conference that made them discover not only how to meet, but how to co-create and fully enjoy an online experience. We literally forgot at some moments that we were sitting in front of a screen.
So, how did this magic happen?
We are happy to share our reflections with you, hoping they will help you co-create your magical online events as well… Let us know what you think about these tips!
1. Trust is a key ingredient of any work relationship.
Between SenseTribe, Dafne and Ariadne there is a special bond. We deeply appreciate each other as teams, are comfortable being ourselves and make decisions together. The team delegated a big part of the decision making regarding technology and the process facilitation to us as professionals in the field. Without this trust, none of this would have been possible. Thank you team!
2. We involved a council of stakeholders in the co-creation process
The council included participants from last year as well as newcomers. This wonderful group helped us identify the real needs, desired outcomes, agenda items and strategic decisions.
3. We put a lot of care in the selection of the right tools
Both teams did their research and shared outcomes. We wanted to make things simple and bring some innovation into the space. We finally chose to combine a well-elaborated Miro board for harvesting the event journey with participants, Spatial Chat for informal spaces and Zoom for the formal and co-creation spaces. You can find a practical guide on how to choose the right tools for your event here.
4. A visual metaphor as a common thread
Quite early on we identified a metaphor together that represented the event journey and our Illustrator Marina Roa turned it into a wonderful illustration that served as a continuous reminder of the purpose along each clearly signalled step in the process.
5. We sent a physical welcome package to participants
Sending a little physical welcome package to all participants made the event real. The little letter-shaped gift with summer flower seeds, your piece of the ‘larger puzzle’ and the tree image brought a sense of connection and belonging to participants and to us hosts and facilitators.
6. Informal spaces
Informal spaces are key and we need to make room for them online as, without them, we are missing out on an essential part of any event. We enabled free mingling and networking with an intuitive platform during the breaks and before the event.
7. A mindful opening
A strong opening was the opportunity for participants to connect with others and with themselves. That’s why we invited our dear friend Vasco Gaspar, a skilled facilitator with vast experience in mindfulness, integral meditation and many meaningful practices, to join our team and facilitate a moment of self and group connection. This warm and welcoming start made a difference for newcomers as well as veterans.
8. We purposefully intended to hit the learning zone
When we design participatory events, we foresee an overall flow that allows us to intentionally hit the learning (or groan/growth) zone. We need disruptive moments in an event so participants leave their comfort zones and open up to the emergence of new discoveries. This moment is not necessarily enjoyable, but it is key for openness, new perspectives and truly collaborative creation to take place.
9. Music and sounds to bring in emotions and a sense of connection
When we are all muted we do not hear each other’s laughter or cheering. So we used a few sound effects to bring a pleasant atmosphere during breaks and self-exercises and even a few sound effects to make the experience even more real and enjoyable.
10. An artful closing
We felt it was important for this particular event to create space for art and poetry, to convey deeper meaning and activate the participants’ creative juices. We invited Marina Roa to capture key moments with visual harvesting, great poetry from Stien Michiels and a final closing song for participants. Participants could contribute by sharing insights with our harvesters throughout the event and by whispering a chorus and holding up a light during the final song. The outcome was meaningful art and a magical closing moment that helped us to forget that this all happened on a screen.
11. Wellbeing is key, especially when you are involved in offering meaningful experiences to others
You can only offer truly enjoyable experiences when you are yourself balanced and when the purpose of the event is truly meaningful to you as well. We tried our best to take care of our own wellbeing so we could offer a great experience to participants, and we had the mental and physical capacity to improvise, adjust along the way and work with what was alive in the space at the moment. Good preparation and the capacity to skillfully improvise are key.
12. Our role as hosts and facilitators
We as hosts and facilitators offer room for co-creation, the participants are the ones that fill it with life and make it all happen. So THANK YOU to all 160 participants who made this event a truly unforgettable experience!
Here are some articles written about the event by participants and contributors of PEX 2021:
Our colleague and co-worker Laura Grassi has noticed a few months ago that we kept on explaining the same principles over and over again to clients and how desperate many were with finding tools that do not look cool and inspire participants but are also easy to use and serve the overall purpose.
When developing an online event, we ask ourselves:
How can we create amazing participatory experiences that allow people to completely forget they are not in a physical environment?How can we turn the online challenge into an opportunity?
Much of what makes an event special is the time we spend together with our clients sensing into the deeper purpose, building a strong design with clear roles in the team and of course the participatory mindset and practices we apply when we facilitate.
However technology does play a key role and technologyshould be an enabler rather than a disabler 🙂
What most people fail to realise, is that any technological tool needs to be selected and used, based on the specific PURPOSE that has to be addressed.
So how can we understand the different expectations/needs that we have to address? And how can we select the right tools, based on these specific needs?
How was this guide developed? Laura Grassi has been the key author, Marina Roa has added her wonderful illustrations, Raffaella Toticchi has added a mental model and many other amazing SenseTribers have added their ideas and thoughts, thank you.
The Flow Game is a powerful tool for companies, teams and leaders who decide to take advantage of these moments of uncertainty to connect with what is most essential, spend time around significant questions, deeply explore blockages and difficulties, generate clarity about decisions to be made. In short, turn difficulties into opportunities.
Although it’s called Flow Game, it is not a game like chess, with winners and losers, it is more like the kind of play we find in Lego, where something new is made.
The Flow Game is based on a set of methods and processes, around the North American Aboriginal Medicine Wheel. Use powerful questions and images through the cards, reflection and interaction between the participants. Serendipity or chance also intervene, through the use of the dice, and the facilitation of the Flow Game Host with their coaching and hosting skills.
This moment of COVID pandemic is a challenge to the whole of society, as well as to leaders of teams and companies. Old ways of responding are not appropriate, what is needed is another way of leading supported by trust in the Emerging Strategy, (a strategy which emerges from a situation rather than being imposed on it).
The Game allows you to target specific issues you have, like:
How can we innovate in products and services, how can we take advantage of the situation, how can we reinvent our best version, etc.
In summary, the Flow Game can be useful to:
Align the team around meaningful questions and set priorities
Deeply explore blockages and difficulties
Generate clarity and set in motion what needs to be promoted, a project, a decision about the future of work.
But in addition, individuals can feel empowered through sharing experiences and ideas and participating in creating new strategies. As a tool of Participatory leadership, based on the premise that each person contains an entire universe. Each member of our teams is more than a piece with a specific role in the organization, he or she can offer much more. The Flow Game can harness collective experience and intelligence.
How does a Flow Game session work and what does it consist of?
You can play as a team or as an individual.
Each game can be adapted to the needs of the team and also to the number of participants (it can vary from 4 to 50). It can be online or face-to-face.
The structure of the game for a team is as follows:
Preparation phase: The Flow Game Host explores the need for the equipment and works until it finds the driving question.
Game phase: Between 2.5 to 4 hours long. The facilitator creates the proper framework and context to flow with the principles of deep listening, respect, non-judgment, and confidentiality.
First round with a deck of team cards, everyone who participates contributes to the common question. This round can end with a small “harvest.”
Second round with a deck of personal cards in which each person in relation to the common purpose asks what their best contribution can be.
Final phase or check-out: What do you take with you? And what has happened to you since the beginning of the game?
Harvest Phase: Throughout the process, a graphic facilitator will record the main questions, findings, discoveries and conclusions that emerge during the game visually. All the information will be collected in a document that will be shared with the team after the session to reinforce the learning.
SenseTribe regularly organizes Flow Game sessions with facilitators with extensive experience in the area. If you are interested in organizing a session or have more information, do not hesitate to contact us.
History of the Flow Game:
More than 20 years ago, a group of professionals, people committed to the environment, participation and peace, began to wonder about the need to create useful tools to train leaders in a type of leadership according to the future that they would like to achieve. This is a true story, these people were meeting in Denmark for almost a year, exchanging ideas, tools, reflecting on new paradigms, and when they believed that they were approaching the design of the best training for Leadership, they discovered that what was emerging was something else: It was a game! A game that had to be taken very seriously, as it concentrated powerful ingredients to bring clarity and be able to make important decisions, activating individual and collective wisdom and awareness. Flow Game had just been born!
In 1998 they had the first Flow Game prototype ready and it was played for the first time in San Francisco in 1999. From the beginning the game was designed to be facilitated by a “Flow Game Host”, it could be played individually or for a group. Since then it has been played in many different contexts and on all continents of the planet, for individuals, small groups, large groups, for leaders of large companies, with employees, in personal development sessions.
SenseTribe regularly organizes Flow Game sessions with facilitators with extensive experience in the area. If you are interested in organizing a session or have more information, do not hesitate to contact us.
More info and inscriptions:
Next session dates: The next sessions will take place::
If you want to organize a group on a specific date, contact us:
Contact: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Who is this workshop for?
Flow Game sessions are intended for both individuals and teams.
Mariana Ruiz Lobera:Sociologist and facilitator of participatory processes.
Extensive experience in training and facilitation in large companies (Iberdrola, Atresmedia), NGOs (Greenpeace, Doctors of the World, Action against Hunger). He teaches at the Autonomous University of Madrid on Participatory Leadership, Collective Intelligence and Conflict Resolution.
Marina Roa: Visual thinking and facilitator of creative processes
Marina has extensive experience designing processes that bring us closer to collaborative, innovative and sustainable solutions. Graduated in Psychology and Superior Technician in Design, certified in creative thinking and passionate about non-violent communication.
In the past years, we’ve heard a lot about the SDGs. Some companies, NGOs and public institutions are using this acronym in their projects and communications, but what are the SDGs?
The Sustainable Development Goals, developed by the United Nations, are a call for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. There are 17 Goals, all interconnected, and the intention is to achieve them all by 2030. The goals address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.
At SenseTribe we believe the SDGs are a useful framework to guide companies, governments and civil organizations towards the creation of a more sustainable, inclusive and healthy society.
The SDGs will only be achieved if we work together, and at SenseTribe, we have experience to share. That is why our communications team invites anyone who is willing to embark on this journey with us in each and every work area.
There are many different ways to engage people in a conversation about the SDGs. That will depend on which segment each institution works on. Here are some tips about how to run a powerful communication campaign on the SDGs and some reflections on the impact that making this UN commitment more visible can have at both a local and a global scale.
Why is it important to communicate about SDG-related actions?
Nowadays, the sensible choice is to create or adapt products and services that will minimize negative environmental and social impact. Instead of this, the goal should be to develop a process that can generate positive impact.
A strategic communication approach on the SDGs is key to strengthening the reputation of an organisation because it connects your audience with your will to transform the way products and services have been designed for decades. It creates engagement in international discussions and will increase the reach of the information you’re sending out.
Several great initiatives have been changing their strategies regarding the achievement of the sustainable development goals and communicating about this has many benefits:
An open-minded approach can lead your communications planning to address issues on a political level, increasing dialogue with stakeholders and a wider audience;
Having communications partners focused on the SDGs can help your team during the implementation of changes in your company, and can help involve the main stakeholders in the transformation process;
Communicating openly about internal changes will help your audience identify with your brand. It makes easier for your customers to understand some of the impacts of the services or products generated during the transformation process;
Co-creating a strategic communications plan with an external communications team will allow your initiative to explore different points that can help your team to reorient not only their communications but their actions more strategically toward achieving the SDGs;
It is the role of institutions to help the wider audience to understand what the SDGs are and why it is important to act on them. If your initiative communicates about SDG-related actions, your brand is engaging with people at the same time as they are supporting the business community in raising awareness of the topic, which will lead consumers/clients to make better choices in the near future.
At SenseTribe we believe communication has a key role to play in improving the way we do business: it can help drive, guide or simply inspire new perspectives. Our collaborative approach allows our team, together with our clients and partners, to create strategies that add value to their initiatives, stakeholders and customers.
If you want to know more, please contact email@example.com with the subject ‘Meaningful Communications’. Our team will be glad to talk to you and help with your communication strategy.
Since the end of winter, most everyone on Earth has had to put up with varying degrees of lockdown restrictions in order to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the Covid-19 disease and “flatten the curve”. This has, of course, affected us at SenseTribe as well. In this blog miniseries, we’re taking a deeper dive into each core team member’s experience of this.
For this interview, we spoke to Marina. She is from Madrid and lives here, but experienced this from the perspective of Madrid’s Chinatown, where it particularly affected the Chinese New Year festival.
Other articles in the “SenseTribe on Lockdown” Series:
How did you find out about SARS-CoV-2 and Covid, and what was your initial reaction?
I think I found out from the paper, when it was happening right in China. I live in Madrid’s Chinatown, and what really made me think it was serious was that one of our potential clients was in Italy, and he called me and told me he was leaving Italy because it was terrible there. This was before we in Spain really became aware of it, I think. I live where a lot of the Chinese people in Madrid live. It was the Chinese New Year festival, and their reaction was quite hard-core, but still nobody was really taking it seriously here. I actually caught a strange flu in February after the Chinese New Year festival, so maybe I caught Covid-19 already and just didn’t know it. I’ve been thinking about getting an antibody test.
So yeah, I could really notice the reaction here. But in January and February, I didn’t really realize there was anything going on, even though Chinese people were closing their shops. They really were respectful, you know. In this neighborhood the reaction was clear. We went to the Chinese New Year festival but if we’d been more aware of this, we probably wouldn’t have gone.
I live where a lot of the Chinese people in Madrid live. It was the Chinese New Year festival, and their reaction was quite hard-core…
How did you first react when you heard of the lockdown measures that would be implemented? Did you understand the idea of “flattening the curve”?
One thing is that I started the lockdown before it was decided. People were still meeting up, and I started to isolate before most people did. Actually the people at our coworking space all got it, and I stopped going.
Did I understand? I guess not really. I’ve never been in this kind of situation before. It wasn’t until I read more about it that I understood that it was really necessary to take measures, to do something, even before anything was imposed.
How difficult was it to stay inside, not go out to see your friends, to have to work from home? What has been the hardest to deal with?
I have to say I actually enjoyed the first month, because I got into a better life rhythm. It was a relief not to have to run around all the time for at least a month. The first month was the easiest, it was even fun, to be honest, but it was also really scary.
For me the hardest part to deal with was the fact that I couldn’t sleep well thinking about others around me who were more vulnerable. What I missed the most was nature. I’ve missed sunshine on my face. I tend to get lowe mood when I don’t take care of myself. I even broke the rules a few times to sit down on a bench in front of my house because I felt like this was a basic health need for me. I really needed that.
Some of my family members have breathing and heath issues, so this was really scary for me at times. I’ve also missed being in closer contact with some of my friends whose parents have been really, really sick. But they got through it, they were the last ones to get a machine, and they’re fine, but they were very lucky. I’m lucky I had someone at home hugging me often, because I really needed that.
I cooked amazing things during this time, I became a super baker.
What tricks, if any, did you use to deal with the isolation?
Definitely some cardio. We read that astronauts do cardio when they are in outer space, it’s super important. We had a routine to do some stretching and other things. My cat was looking at us as if thinking we had gone completely crazy because we were running around the house, around every corner, and that was really good.
The thing is, when they finally let us go outside for a walk, my routine fell apart suddenly and I couldn’t keep it up. My mood changed for the worse and I got really tired. On top of all that I have a back problem, so I started to have back pains and that’s always really hard.
So for me it was cooking, as a way to disconnect and enjoy the moment, exercising, and reading. Not looking at social media too much.
How has the lockdown impacted your personal and professional habits?
As for personal habits… Now I’m doing pilates online. I realized I need someone external. So now I’m taking some online pilates lessons where someone is looking at me, and that’s really helped. I feel like I need to buy self-discipline. It’s really sad.
And I think I’m working more hours. I find many people are faced with this issue. I’m quite surprised, because I thought that as we no longer needed to travel as much we would work fewer hours, but instead we’re actually spending more time working. So I wonder if it’s because we’re being less effective or just lucky enough to have a peak of work. I’ve actually heard this is the case for many people. I think that people working in companies have to show what they’ve done, so that it doesn’t look like they’re not doing much. I guess sometimes it was harder to coordinate too. And sometimes my brain doesn’t work as well as it used to. And I’m pretty sure it’s affecting my work time. I’m not moving as much or getting as much sun, I wake up with less energy, which might make me less effective, spending more time on the same tasks and being generally less organized.
Could it be because there are just more distractions at home?
No because when I’m working I don’t tend to get sidetracked. Maybe communication is less efficient, which makes us all less efficient. To be honest I think my mood might have more of an effect. And this last month I suddenly became really anxious about the future, worrying about possible crisis, and at the same time I was physically not well. I think there might be a peak where you get stressed out, then you end up a bit down.
I don’t feel I was ever distracted. I feel like I was just less effective sometimes, planning things and trying to be aware of the effort but not simplifying it.
To what extent did you get used to lockdown conditions? Was it hard to open up again?
It was definitely hard. We actually started opening up on the last weekend of June.
And it was really beautiful to meet up with friends again. But I didn’t feel like meeting so many people, just the ones I really wanted to see. I was being selective. I was also a bit lazy, it became hard to go outside again. You get used to it and then it becomes difficult.
It was really beautiful to meet up with friends again.
As of now, have any adjustments you’ve made in your life outlasted the full lockdown?
I’ve been baking one thing a week, but these past few weeks I haven’t been doing it anymore, mostly because it’s gotten so hot and I don’t want to use the oven anymore. I’ve been buying my groceries in local stores in my area to support them. I thought that was very important. So I’ve been buying all my produce at the actual market. I didn’t used to do this all the time.
How have your fear and understanding of Covid evolved over time?
During the first stage, I was very anxious about it, I’d read about it before going to bed, and then sometimes I couldn’t sleep. I got some information from people around me who are doctors. One friend of mine sent me some information. But there were lots of memes around everywhere and all the time. In a way that was good, but then it became too much. It felt like I couldn’t forget about this for even a minute. I had to do a detox. Then I decided to go on to a social media detox treatment because I felt like it took up all my free time. I didn’t know if it was helping me anymore, it made me feel overwhelmed with information. So in time, I started reading the papers every few days instead of every day, or less often even. And I started getting more information filtered through my relatives rather than reading it myself. Now my understanding is that we’re all handling it in such different ways. What I can say is that there are still so many things we don’t know, and people take the information about it so differently. Some people are very scared, some are more relaxed… It’s good that we have guidelines, otherwise, it would be very risky.
The professionals know better, but at the same time it’s such a complex issue. There can be different strains of the virus, we don’t know when this is going to end, etc. Now we know how many people are getting sick so we can get a general idea of whether it should be more or less scary. But still, the chance is there. I think they don’t know how it’s going to affect you. If you get it, you don’t know what’ll happen.
What are your expectations for the future? Will there be a second wave and another lockdown?
I think so. I don’t know. I think after summer we’ll probably have to do this again because as it gets colder we’ll end up locked indoors more often, in homes or offices. As far as I know it’s more likely to spread in enclosed spaces, and it seems to spread really fast. In a few months we’ll be more relaxed, so it seems it’ll be more likely to rise again. But hopefully not! I don’t know. I’m just preparing for it to happen again. Just in case. I think it’ll be a long time before this is really gone.
I’m just preparing for it to happen again. Just in case.
If there is another lockdown, do you expect to deal with it in the same way? What lessons have you learned from this one and how would your approach change? What would you do the same and what would you do differently?
I hope I’ll be more aware of my need to establish a routine, and maybe I’ll get some help to maintain it. One thing I already did I would do again, is to be in close contact with people I care about. And I hope I can at least go outside and get a little sun on my face. Basically I’ll need to just look after myself, both my physical and mental health. I’ll need to be careful of what news I read, how much information I get and how much time I spend on screens.