As a facilitator, I’ve spent a lot of time over the years experimenting with how to create organizational gatherings that feel especially vibrant and meaningful. Although I love this work, it has been feeling a bit stale to me lately, and I’ve had a hard time understanding why.
This morning, I had something of an ‘aha.’ I realized that I’ve been feeling less and less drawn to facilitating special meetings – strategic visioning, evaluation, organizational change initiatives, etc. – and more called to explore meeting as a daily practice.
How can we manifest the energy, meaning, and connection that so often come from a well designed and orchestrated retreat in the more clunky and mundane meetings we move in and out of on a daily basis – from formal staff and project meetings to the informal encounters we have as we work together?
So many organizations treat meetings as a necessary evil, things to be reduced in frequency and length so that the real work can get done. It’s an odd way to think about something that really should be seen as a gift. A meeting should be a time when we can reconnect with each other and create together. Why do meetings so often feel like chores instead?
At Kufunda, I’ve been noticing a lighter, more joyful quality to meetings. They are not drastically different in form. It has more to do with shared intention- that when we come together, good things will happen. We will understand more, we will create something new- something that none of us can create on our own, and that is exciting.
People also seem to enter meetings with an unusually generous and exploratory spirit, knowing that their work will be easier or better because of the differences in opinion and perspective they will encounter: “I wonder how Allan is going to disturb my universe today?”
And there is a lot more silence and listening to each other and to what surfaces when no one is speaking. Silence does have a sort of voice of its own and I think a lot of wisdom is passed by when we override it with chatter.
There are reminder rituals, like using a bell to open and close meetings and passing a talking piece, but these are lightly held and not always followed. Just the other day, Rennie, having forgotten the bell, whacked a nearby metal grill with a big tree branch to close our weekly checkout meeting with the youth.
What I like about the way that Kufunda uses these intentions and rituals is that they are not treated as sacred. Sometimes they are used, other times they are not. Sometimes they are almost lost, but are then brought back. If they were used all the time, they would probably lose their effectiveness because we would take them for granted. It is the meaning we give them that matters.