I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the nature of individual reflexive practice, and how reflexive practice manifests when it’s active, alive, and well in large highly structured organizations such as municipal government.
These are important questions that form the foundation of what I believe my work to be in the next several years. Next year at the beginning of July I’m presenting in Berlin about reflexive practice in municipal government at a joint conference of Attractor- a Danish based organizational consultancy, and the Taos Institute, an academic association with a focus on social constructionist theory and practice.
It’s an outstanding opportunity for me to not only present on an international stage but also to be among colleagues far more experienced than I, and to learn. What makes it thrilling is to be able to talk about the practical application of reflexive practice in government. I’ll talk about what some of my breakthroughs have been, where I’ve discovered some of the pitfalls, and offer insights into organizational reflexive practice.
I’m interested in exploring how organizations can learn to be both the participants in delivery of services, adapting to an ever-changing landscape, while at the same time being active observers of themselves as an organization in process — being in the process and outside the process at the same time. This goes beyond program development, implementation, and evaluation to a place were the organization itself becomes more conscious of how it’s own ‘talk’ influences the process itself and indeed its own future and that of the community. Organizational reflexive practice allows time and space for its members to thoughtfully consider what they are thinking about as an organization and the language they are using. Why those thoughts, why that language, why that behaviour? What are the effects of those choices conscious or not? Organizational reflexive practices goes far beyond the crafting of services and the measurement of their success. It’s not an analysis of the doing – it’s consideration of thought and behaviour and how it affects the organization and the future of the community.
What are the techniques we can use to ‘hold a space open’ for ourselves to consider how our language, in all of its forms and the way we use those forms, creates the future of our community? Indeed, words do create worlds.
My first section will explore purpose and its role in conversation. What constitutes purpose? How can we learn to recognize statements that masquerade as purpose? What is the difference between action and purpose? What may happen when compelling purpose is clear?
Other sections might include:
- A look at how quickly organizational change can happen once the organizational language begins to change
- The role of kindness in conversation
- The damage that fear and anger may cause and what can be done
- The importance of narrative
- The role of doubt in conversation
- The beauty of uncertainty and certainty
- Inspiring conversations
- The remarkable power of invitation
- Choosing a path with the clearest view
- Being a whole leader for others
- The strength in grace
- Drawing strength from personal reflexive practice
- Systemic congruence, the effect of one conversation on the whole
- Holding up a mirror
- White space, the value it creates in processes and how it helps shape the big picture
- Why one word is important
- Time to think, to be, and to do
- Colour and texture of envisioning.
It’s with excitement that I embark on this journey and I invite you to join me. I’ll share bits and pieces of the work as I continue to develop my presentation and accompanying writing. I look forward to questions, thoughts, suggestions, and comments.