Archives for December 2013

Learning and Leading in the New Year: New Resources

photoLife-long Learning is the mark of an emergent leader, so I thought I’d share some new opportunities that are in line with the EMERGE Leadership Model. To that end, I’ve just updated the EMERGE Resource List to include a couple of books I can’t put down. The books include Otto Scharmer &  Katrin Kaufer’s Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies, and Rotman on Design: The Best on Design Thinking from Rotman Magazine.  Both are filled with nuggets that I’ve underlined, starred, and annotated with marginalia.

One taste from Scharmer & Kaufer:  “We cannot solve the problems with the…ego-system that created them.”  Yes!  One of the main goals of an emergent leader is to create the space for shedding mindsets that no longer serve us! Scharmer is originator of Theory U, the theoretical framework for change processes such as transformative scenario planning (and Kahane’s book on that subject is also on my reading list).

And a pearl offered by Jeanne Liedtka and Henry Mintzberg from the Rotman compilation: “Conversational design challenges leaders in ways that formulaic and visionary design do not. Business cultures that centre on hierarchy, expediency and authoritarian leadership get in the way of good conversations…(and R)ecognizing the role of conversations in exploring new possibilities can produce dramatic innovation.”

I’ve also added a few TED Talks that were featured at SPARKS, the annual TED-like event sponsored by Puget Sound iSMA, as well as several that were recommended by EMERGE participants at the last workshop.  The video topics range from strengthening body language to urban guerilla gardening, but the messages share the same intent: To inspire and equip us individually and collectively to more strategically and effectively intervene within and through the systems we find ourselves.


EMERGE Leadership Family Continues to Flourish and Nourish

This past weekend, 26 participants and faculty convened at the Islandwood Environmental Conference Center for the 7th EMERGE Leadership workshop. Once again, it was in the words of several attendees — magic!  From BC to Tucson, parts North, East, and Western Washington, we laughed, cried, and most definitely learned!  Designers, contractors, developers, analysts, technical consultants, entrepreneurs, planners, outreach and marketing specialists provided diverse DNA at the gathering and join over 100 others who have now gone through EMERGE Leadership Workshops at Islandwood, Naturebridge (Sausalito) and Earth Advantage (Portland).

Team - Cooperative Business2I was particularly impressed at how clearly many participants were able to articulate the leadership focus they were bringing to the workshop — while I always appreciate the humility of individuals who come bearing the simple (not so simple!) question of “what” IS my leadership focus…who am I to become?   Individuals and organizations that attend are usually undergoing a transition — either self-assigned or life-assigned.

Scenarios,  this time, included a business development ideas,  a cross-sector policy initiative, a succession plan, and development of a company’s sustainability program.  The teams outlined practical steps for advancing these ideas, while explicitly observing their process and absorbing emergent leadership concepts along the way. Although the lesson of EMERGE is that anyone who wants to lead can learn to lead and serve, I cannot deny that very special people seem to be drawn to our workshops.

Kelly-Dec13A huge component of the success of EMERGE Leadership workshops are the guest faculty that bring their experience and courageous examples to the table: In this case, Kelly Lerner and Alli Kingfisher shared their dedication to participatory leadership and were willing to practice it on us!  In a “Bill Moyers-like” format, I interviewed David Eisenberg for an hour. We all got to hear his incredible and humbling leadership story, which continues to reveal itself right before our/his eyes!  And John Cunningham, who comes from such a different world — electrical utility linework and the union hall — proved once again that you can be a big white-haired guy working in a very conservative environment and still practice servant leadership to advance restorative justice.

I, personally, am so grateful to have been offered this opportunity once again to serve with and for such wonderful people. How can work be so much fun!!!

If you are thinking about joining this “sangha” of smart, beautiful, talented, caring group focused on the work of creating a sustainable society through our built environment practices, please note that the Earlybird deadline for the next scheduled workshop in Portland is December 15th. For more information see Or email me at