Sharing and building Solution Focused practice in organisations

The Paradox of Leadership with Nora Bateson, 21 April 2017, Berlin

Greetings to SF colleagues after a long while! I hope to rejoin the wonderful conversations here again. For now:

I wanted to signpost to an event my colleague Eric Lynn in Germany is organising. I have been interested in Nora Bateson's (daughter of Gregory Bateson as most will know) work for some time, and her idea of ‘symmathesy’ resonates with me:

Aside: You may find her recent satirical post on “The Ecology of Assholes” an interesting weekend read :) 

I cannot attend on 21 April unfortunately but perhaps some of you will find it interesting, especially those in Berlin or within easy reach. Here’s her blurb & you can find more on the Eventbrite link below. If any of you do go, please post your reflections! SF Conference organisers – has she ever been invited to speak or give a workshop?




“The Paradox of Leadership” with Nora Bateson

What is leadership in this moment? When we look through the lens of interdependency, it is impossible to separate individuals from their contexts of influence and experience. This blurs the ‘hero’s story.’ 

Dramatic societal transformation is taking place around the globe, and the urge to help steer this transformation toward a healthier future is strong. How do current ideas of leadership both confirm and conflict with our desire to create positive change? Systemic leadership is a process of intellectual stretching, emotional complexity, and linguistic renovation. 

Leadership is an evolving process and, as such, our understanding of what leadership is must evolve in accordance. In the past the world understood leadership as the great deeds of heroes, but now we are in another phase of global transition that requires an understanding of leadership based on our understanding of interdependency. This is where the paradox comes in. 

Each person filters their experience through the particular frame of their own lives. There are no two of us that perceive identical worlds. And yet…Is there a part of any of us that we can point to and truly say, “that is me, untouched or influenced by any of my history, my culture, education, family, religion, social life...”? Unlikely. Our task is not to solve this paradox, but to discover the productive openings within it.

In our session on leadership we will have presentations, story, discussion, exercises and the Symmathesy Lab to become familiar with the paradox. 

Two new terms we will be exploring are:

Symmathesy: An entity forming within contexts of mutual learning (a characteristic of any complex system).

Transcontextual description: The process of description to illustrate the many contexts that co-exist (in any complex system).

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