The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 5 April 2017

From Conflict to Creative Collaboration (Book Review)

What would a conference, workshop, or meeting look like if the understandings of complexity and chaos theories ruled?  Perhaps they would look like the meetings Rosa Zubizarreta describes  in From Conflict to Creative Collaboration.  Instead of meetings being brought to a focus point and a decision point, such meetings would widen things and would be choice-creating.  Instead of consensus, these meetings would seek diversity.

Welcome to the world of Dynamic Facilitation.  A world expertly described by Rosa Zubizarreta.  Indeed her book is sub-titled A User’s Guide to Dynamic Facilitation.  Rosa is the founder of Dia Praxis, a US-based consultancy working extensively with Dynamic Facilitation.

So, what is it?  What is Dynamic Facilitation?

Where traditional facilitation seeks to find commonality amongst meeting participants, Dynamic Facilitation seeks to uncover the differences and the diversity.  Where traditional facilitation aims to obtain consensus decisions, Dynamic Facilitation opens up an ever expanding series of choices.  Where traditional facilitation manages conflict in groups, Dynamic Facilitation encourages conflict (although not one-on-one adversarial conflict).  Where traditional facilitation creates and sticks to an agreed upon agenda, Dynamic Facilitation goes with whatever is arising at the moment.

It all sounds chaotic doesn’t it?  it is, and that is its beauty and its strength.

The world does not work in a nice, orderly, linear manner, and nor do our thinking patterns.  At times we will be solving problems and creating solutions, at other times attempting to define the problem, sometimes even when we think we have solved it.  In the next moment we may be recognising the disadvantages and pitfalls of a certain solution, and then we will be seeking further information.  Throw all these thinking patterns into a group setting and it becomes obvious that thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving, are not necessarily as ordered as we might like them to be.  The cautionary tale in all this is that when someone, or some group, attempts to constrain thinking within ordered, linear, so-called logical, patterns, then unexpected or unwanted outcomes emerge.  We may find that some in the group are disgruntled, others withdrawn, some angry and disillusioned, and yet others outright saboteurs.

Dynamic Facilitation, in the manner well presented by Rosa Zubizarreta, understands and works with the non-linearity of our thinking patterns.  Dynamic Facilitation says it doesn’t matter if one thought or expression doesn’t logically follow another – just get it down, record it.

All this is in keeping with emergence – the child of complexity and chaos theories.  Emergence tells us that when a number of factors, players, or ideas come together then sometimes unexpected, even unexplained, outcomes can emerge.  Often, these outcomes are highly creative. 

Rosa Zubizarreta has written an excellent guide to Dynamic Facilitation in an easily understood manner.  She has not portrayed Dynamic Facilitation as the panacea of facilitation, with a final chapter addressing some of the pitfalls and instances where Dynamic Facilitation may not be appropriate.

As a bonus there is a foreword by Peggy Holman who has written much about the power of emergence.  This foreword lays out neatly what the reader can expect over the following 100 pages.

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