Reflection: Future Governance event, 4th September 2019, Elgin Town Hall

Heidi Reflection, Resource

This event was hosted by tsiMORAY as part of their Future Governance Forum. The speaker and facilitator was Robin Alfred and the focus was “Leading from the Future”.Champion & Director Heidi Tweedie attended on behalf of the Moray Wellbeing Hub and here shares her notes from the day and her thoughts on how it may apply to the social movement and enterprise.


This sounded a very attractive proposition to me as a Champion and in my role at Moray Wellbeing Hub CIC as a director and Social Movement & Enterprise Lead. This was the kind of event that had a range of people attending from local organisations, some of who found the language a challenge but yet there was a great atmosphere for trying new things and ways of working.  This reflection includes my notes from the day – I hope they make some sense to those unable to come to the day.

We started with a tree image (see photo) and Robin explaining that we would be concentrating on the central trunk of this work in “getting the plumbing moving” in terms of cultivating the imagination – “Intelligence points to all there is, imagination points to all that could be”, ( I think this quote was attributed to Einstein).

As a skilled facilitator, Robin used different tools to help us step outside of our typical way of thinking and working. This included poetry helps us go beyond the linear into the imaginative; from Robin’s reading the line, “somewhere out there the shapeless notion of an idea waiting to be pulled in.” I found very interesting. There was a discussion on some companies appointing a ‘chief imagination officer’ – someone helping to nurture what could be rather than doing the same old processes. In Netherlandsmagicians’ there is a minister of the imagination which was fascinating to learn.

We then took some time to share around the best idea we ever had and the conditions that provided this. For me, I thought about the idea of a social movement to create change that became the Moray Wellbeing Hub. Hearing from others I felt I was able to explore the practice and conditions that need to be in place for imaginative working. I heard phrases like listening to ‘life speaking’ that resonated for me –  I sort of way of saying paying attention to life experiences, trusting the intuition about what feels right. I shared that for me it was about moving between discomfort around the situations I saw in the world and experienced personally, and playfulness in what might be possible in what brought the idea of the hub forward at the time.

Another point was how do we create the conditions of accepting the unknown, seeing things from a different perspective rather than our expectations. As Robin put it, “when I meet someone I know how can I meet them afresh and see them with new eyes?” This made me think about our MWH peer practice and our core belief that everyone has a right to live a life they value and reinvent themselves. Not putting people in a box.

State of flow or being in the zone: There is no effort when we are working from this place and we can go forever. When we are tired we need to ask what is the source of the stress, this comes from our approach to what we do. If you are making a lot of effort then you will get exhausted and you are trying all the time and you are not receptive. Tip for facilitators, “the minute you think about what you are going to do next then you are lost from being present.” We need to cultivate a different way of doing. I asked about the conflict between external pressures of structure in our Western culture, I said that perhaps there are many of us working with a new more open intuition and creativity but that things were getting in the way. Robin helpfully challenged this, turning it around to suggest that much of this is our own perspective of things; if we are shut down rather than relaxed and open things will feel more difficult.

The practice of spaciousness: Robin asked us, “How are you a gardener of space”. For some this is a walk with the dog or a run, journaling etc, He did a wee demo with a cup of juice saying we fill and sill a cup and (slurp!) he drank this and said we need to digest this to give space for new ideas to come in. For me, I use my travel time for spaciousness as well as dog walks. Often I call other Champions or friends from elsewhere and ‘chew the fat’, ponder ideas or even be in silence together over the phone for a moment or two. Ideas and solutions do arrive.

Aspects of Leadership (From Bowman & Deal – see photo): as leaders, we want to be coaches, strategists, power brokers as well as magicians! We then did an exercise for symbolic (the magician’s bit) to explore this. We drew four symbols and then discussed with others – they just looked at it and gave a very fresh perspective to things. Those that I spoke to helped me to see different things in my drawings, for example, that nurture was important and that perception of time could be integrated. It was a great exercise and got me to think more about our future governance. We looked at things upside down accidentally as well and the symbols showed us different things, including seeing someone’s process diagram as a digestion system!

Robin encouraged us to take up some form of practice to ‘clean our heart space every day’. Otherwise, we are churning and churning things, we need to scan our life and look at what is keeping us busy (something unprocessed – need to take responsibility and address this to move forward). (Imagination: Needs space, not being watched or pressured and being collaborative as well as solitary. We need to be aware of what concepts we are carrying forward.

The topic of budgets came up and being creative with these. I raised the challenge of when you seek funding to gain a financial resource that you need to do a budget but it can be possible to then be flexible and protect the on the ground people to get on with meeting the need they see. Others also spoke about creativity with budgets, and Robin shared thoughts on organisations that are without budgets which Frederic LaLoux spoke about in his book on Reinventing Organisations.

Robin’s lecture was most helpful in supporting my leadership role. There was nothing he said that I had not considered in one way or another, but having him reiterate this as a time when I felt lower in inspiration was wonderful. I will be able to use many of the examples to help inspire the Champions and our delivery team.

Next steps I wanted to explore:
– The question I want to take back on imagination was how can we better create a ‘scene’ for our Champions to enable more things to emerge?
-further reading: Lookup: Thomas Hubal – dark lake of unprocessed shadow material)
– Take back the question: Are MWH governance processes authentically achieving our values?
– Look up Robin’s podcast on https://leadinginaclimatechangedworld.com/

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