Dear Learners and dear Bob Janes,
I was filled with compassion for the request you have made, reminding me
of many years of fear at not knowing how to come to school again with a
head empty of the 'correct answers' and since I have seen no other
suggestion arise from other backgrounds so far. This exercise though cares
not if it is first, last or somewhere in the middle since its essence, may
I dare say, sits somewhere outside the normal boundaries of time, which is
possibly it's most powerful and 'foggy' or 'fuzzy' attraction.
Exemplar 2001 and no copyright;-) but please acknowledge poor author.
15-20 Person Workshop over one day with a mixture of delegates in senior
executive and management positions mostly in large UK brand leader Plc's
Brief and Structure. Open...but the day's work should be aimed so that all
would in some way experience or manifest a strong awareness though the
experience of others a self driven personal or even collective
One Exercise we created.
Loosely based on a principle of emergence by Kevin Kelly, start simple and
keep the recursive actions going by layering, layering and layering.
Each participant was given an appropriately small brush and ink and a block
of 100 post-it notes. The brief was " fill each square with semi-continuous
or continuous marks trying to touch at least one of the edges, do as many as
possible in 45 minutes to an hour…(and do not think about it to much;-)."
At the end of the session we would group and each individual artist assemble
the many patches on a board in any way they liked according to intuition.
The variety of outcomes was very rich learning. The most interesting for me
concerned two people, both of whom went physically away from the others and
worked at the opposite corners of the room to each other.
I was very concerned about one delegate who was making marks with very
diluted ink by bashing the papers with a rock! I left her to it. In the other
corner this chap was working away at creating what looked like a forested
landscape or mindscape. We assembled and noticed certain patterns and
symbolic possibilities, the usual archetypes.
As I turned round to look at one image board 'upside down' on the floor I
happened to refocus my gaze and I saw that the guy who I'd left with his
'virtual forest' had in fact finished by creating the whole thing on the
window and he'd eft it there, like a stained glass design in yellow and black
- perhaps a bit like those Matisse designs. We all walked over to the, his,
corner. Then there on the floor below it was a 'virtual' stream of 'Post-it'
notes that the 'bashing' delegate had put in front of this 'forest image' now
stuck onto the window.
They had co-created a complex and highly original 'art work' in the form of
an installation in 3 dimensions. I asked what was the underlying motive or
idea that brought about this unexpected motif. It turned out that one had
felt that he did not want to take his 'whole' work off the glass and then
have to put it 'differently' onto boards. So, he just left it there, somewhat
worried I would moan possibly hoping it would get ignored. His co-creator in
speaking to him allied herself with his feelings about the 'imposing' of this
unwanted change and unbeknown to me she had put her own 'Post-it' sheets
looking like a rippled mountain stream (the 'rockbashing' had creased the
sheets so as to create an even stronger impression of chuckling and rippling
water) in order to protect it;-)
They seemed to be literally following the 'landscape metaphor' (they were not
so far as I know aware of the terms 'fitness peaks' and 'flat playing fields'
beloved as per Lissackian terms). So for me, suddenly there were a lot of the
metaphors of and around complexity that had emerged out of their own
happening.. What then ensued among us all was the shared question, how does
one keep such beautiful, elegant and co-operative 'sites specific' work
Perhaps that can be the basis for a 'conflict resolution' workshop. My own
semi-educated bet is that you can't, despite Heidegger's thinkings…so the
capacity to 'recreate' anew in each moment is of the essence.
The exercise to prepare this day was very simple...close your eyes and think
of one word that sums up the journey so far..my facilitation was the last of
nearly ten over four months, then keep it inside you all day. At the end of
the day after some more exercises and dialogue I asked them to make one
painting together, one sheet, one mark each. Then at last i asked them to
write in colours the words they had thought of at the start. The words all
revolved around 'caring' and 'love', the actual word 'love' appeared four
As Mr. Confucius might have remarked, The Master said, You gave them no
corners and they came back with four...this is good ditch digger, I used to
give them one and expect back three. Truly less is more.
(OK Bob I made that last paragaph up;-)
And, who was it who wrote to the effect that, It is a strange thing that the
very table at which we meet is also that which divides us?
And one for At de Lange, Why did Liebenitze say that, "A table was really a
colony of souls"?
Love and Best wishes,
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