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The Art of Collaborative Leadership Training 25-27 September
Belgium, September 2010 Many of us are leading transformative initiatives in civil society, busin
Tasting the Future
London, since April 2009 If the world lived and ate as we do in the UK, we would need three planets
U-Process & Sustainable Innovation
The Netherlands, 31 March-2 April 2010 Sustainable Innovation in Complex Systems Together wi

Transitioning to sustainable material flows

October 2009

Plan C (Transition Network for Sustainable Management of Materials) is an ambitious network in Flanders of people from the private, civil society, academia and public sector that share a common vision of a world that manages its usage of materials in a sustainable way. Natural Innovation was invited by I-Propeller , a lead partner within Plan C, to design and facilitate the innovation studios at their annual gathering ‘Plan C accelerates’ in October.

The innovation studios focused on developing green music festivals and local economies centred on local material flows using new technologies such as 3D printing.

E-campaigning forum 2009

March 2009

The E-campaigning forum is a global network of (and for) practitioners of campaigning / advocacy using a growing range of electronic / digital media, initiated by Fairsay. Together with Sophia Bustamante we facilitated this year’s 6th edition. Using open space and twitter we created a thriving peer learning environment for e-campaigners from around the world.

Key note speakers included Sam Graham-Felson, Chief Blogger and Director of Blog Outreach for the Obama Campaign, who gave us an insider view and illustrated what an important role story telling, creating opportunities for participation online and offline have played. From the open space sessions we learned that campaigning is also becoming more and more about community building and participation.

Evolving Education Systems

one planet educationMarch 2008 – March 2009

Together with Reos Partners we supported WWF-UK with exploring the possibility for initiating a multi-stakeholder change lab in the English Education system. After having worked for many years with change initiatives on a local level, WWF felt the need to bring together the disparate initiatives and initiate a system wide movement. With the purpose to shift it from a 20th century education system geared towards a industrial society towards a more holisitic education system, responsive to the environment and a changing post-industrial globalised world. A first step of convening such a project consists of deeply sensing into the need that exists within the system and finding potential allies. We conducted in-depth dialogue interviews with stakeholders across the system and facilitated several 3-day U-process workshops for WWF to develop a comprehensive strategy to achieve their ambitions. Click here to read the synthesis report from the interviews, ‘the primacy of the personal’.

Co-designing a new work environment

IMG_2617February – March 2009

How to do you co-create a new work environment and culture that encourages collaboration amongst a team of over a hundred staff, make the majority happy with less space and more people in one office? A sub-division of Siemens came to us with that challenge. We designed and facilitated a human-centred collaborative design process, inspired by the U-process. A core team of 10 staff was formed, which represented the diversity of the whole team in terms of gender, seniority, time spent in the company, type of work etc. After a one day vision building for this process and interview training, the team interviewed a majority of their colleagues to get a more systemic perspective of the needs and requirements for the new office design and working culture. People said afterwards they really enjoyed interviewing each other as it allowed them to get to know their colleagues better and understand their context more. In another workshop of 1.5 days, we mapped all the issues and discovered the underlying patterns and themes together; we developed and proto-typed new design concepts and work methods. The new design concepts co-created by the team became the basis of the new interior design and working culture of the department. The division has now moved into the new office and people are happy with the result.

It was interesting to see the pattern of the design was not too far from how tribal villages were constructed: a round kitchen (fire place) and meeting spaces at the center with access to the garden, teams to sit together, the whole space to be personalised and with more warm but calm colors, plus a ‘cosy corner’…

A network for muslim professionals

October 2008

The Institute of Strategic Dialogue and the Salzburg Seminar asked us together with Reos Partners and Create2Connect to facilitate a conference to incubate a pan-European network for Muslim Young Professionals in Salzburg Germany. The four day gathering resulted in the succesful establisment of a new professional network called CEDAR and its sister network EMWI for European muslim women of influence.

Art of Hosting trainings

Since 2006 we have been calling and co-hosting trainings on the Art of Hosting (AoH) meaningful conversations in Germany, Belgium and the UK. 

The Art of Hosting is about engaging the collective intelligence of diverse groups through dialogue that leads to wise solutions and actions for the future.

It is a living pattern, a network of practitioners, as well as a training experience for deepening competency and confidence in hosting group processes in Circle, World Café, Open Space and other forms, that support groups to go from strategic conversations to wise action and systemic change.

It is a response to a world that is becoming increasingly complex and fragmented, where true solutions and innovation lie not in one leader or one viewpoint, but in the bigger picture of our collective intelligence, in the wisdom between us.

To read more about the AoH www.artofhosting.org

How we can help your organisation

we support your organisationWe support organisations to build their capacity to innovate and learn on a systemic level. We design generative and safe containers or ‘labs’ where the collective intelligence and creativity that exists in a system and its people can be harnessed to tackle a particular question or challenge. To do that we incubate and host learning and innovation spaces where a social ecology can come together, experience and learn about itself and the wider systemic context of its challenge. From there we provide support and empower the participants to innovate, co-create and implement the life-affirming solutions that they themselves believe in.

These cross-sector or interdisciplinary labs can be short lived (several days up to several months) and focussed on a clearly defined challenge such as a strategic review, a conference, workshop or a design challenge. Or they can be (semi) permanent and focused on a broader theme such as a sustainable financial system or urban agriculture.

In each case we will make use of a combination of participatory research, design and innovation approaches to convene, design and facilitate these spaces, such as: the U-process, art of hosting, story telling, bio-mimicry, systems thinking, action research, improvisation theatre, nature retreats, deep democracy, rapid prototyping and embodied learning.

Projects we initiate

we create imaginative and entrepreneurial projects

We live and breath what we believe in. We are serial collaborative social entrepreneurs, committed to  constantly be on our learning edge, making our hands dirty and taking risks to co-create new experiments to further the evolution of humanity and our planetary home. This takes different forms from artistic experiments and action research to developing multi-stakeholder change labs and spaces for social innovation. Examples of projects we co-initiated include The Hub Brussels, the  Finance Lab and we are working on several other projects. Stay tuned by checking the ‘project’ category on the right sidebar.

Developing New Capacities

we build new capacities for transitionCollaborative innovation is both ancient and new, inspired by practices as old as humanity as well as cutting-edge social technologies.  We are committed to the evolution of our field of practice. We believe our practices need practising, exploring, questioning and evolving.

We do this by sharing our skills through trainings and workshops on the one hand (click here for recent events), and co-initiating and supporting collective inquiries and action research into the new capacities needed to tackle the worlds most pressing challenges.

Social innovation and social exclusion

March 2008

In partnership with the Hub London we supported the UK cabinet’s office InnovationExchange in facilitated a 2 day sensing journey around socially excluded young people. During the workshop participants from across the sector and the UK visited several innovative organisations and initiatives focussed on the issue after which were invited to develop new social business initatives.