Organisations play a central role in supporting individuals and groups to come together to learn, act and have an influence towards social, economic and environmental justice. When they work well they multiply our influence, they channel energy, and they promote creative and innovative action. Yet organisations face numerous challenges from sustaining themselves financially, to dedicating time to reflection and learning, and to managing diverse points of view and skills.
Many grassroots organisations reject hierarchies in favour of flat structures and systems, but can suffer a loss of responsiveness, continuity and scope for innovation. New approaches to organisations can help solve those problems. Others theorise about swarming and the power of non-linear dynamics, but often fail to apply them beyond critical moments of spontaneity. The right balance of structure can enable agility and spontaneity, whilst supporting longer term purpose. More traditionally hierarchical organisations often seek to benefit from adopting new self-management methods (like those explored in Frederick Laloux’s Reinventing Organisations), but too often applying these approaches merely mask the old hierarchies. This training will explore these kind of challenges, give you an overview of the field, and build your confidence to find evolve organisations that are agile, resilient, effective and able to embody their values.
Many organisations rely and thrive from successful collaborations or partnerships, and social networks and social media are supporting even greater connectivity between organisations. We will look at how to build valuable and empowering connections between organisations – to create supportive and beneficial relationships. These connections form an important part of strategies for resilience when societal, economic and environmental challenges are deepening.
This course aims to explore some of the key elements that underpin organisational effectiveness and resilience including:
• balancing autonomy and cooperation
• supporting both innovation and conservation
• honouring diversity and commonality
• being rooted in an evolutionary purpose and values
• selecting the structure and systems that will lead to greatest creativity and effectiveness
• providing meaningful work and relationships which enable individuals to flourish
• contribute to healthy working culture and work life balance
The course will explore questions such as:
• How can organisations, networks and formal groups ensure that they are effective and resilient in supporting social change efforts?
• How can our organisations empower individuals and synergise their efforts?
• How can social change organisations ensure that they don’t replicate faults with the business as usual approach?
• How can individuals best contribute to forming, sustaining and ending social change entities without burning out?
• How can our organisations keep learning and evolving?
Who is it for?
• Those who are setting up, or have set up their own organisations, networks or formal groups and wanting to building their understanding of how to ensure their entity is resilient and supports their vision
• Those who advise on or manage aspects of organisations, networks, or groups and would like to explore this area with others, and consider how to best influence change
• Those working in flat structures and taking an active role in improving how they work
• Those interested in, or researching, the area of organisational development within social change
• Those practising mindfulness and interested in how mindfulness or broader contemplative practices can support social change entities.
During the course we will look at a range of organisational methodologies such as Sociocracy and Holacracy, examine systems approaches to organising (as in the work of Margaret Wheatley), unpack case studies and take time to explore how to apply different learning in our own situations.
This training is hosted as part of the Ulex South Project
Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations (2014)
Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems – A primer (2008)
Patricia Shaw (2002) Changing conversations in organizations. Routledge.
Adrian Maree Brown (2017) Emergent strategy. AK Press.
Social Presencing Theatre: Conversation with Arawana Hayashi
- Scharmer & P. Senge (2017). Teoría U