Daring to hibernate
  • A couple of months ago I received an intriguing note in my inbox from The Berkana Institute. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Berkana, you might know one of it’s founders Meg Wheatley, a well-known author who writes about applying living systems theory to organizations and communities.

    The note from Berkana begins by announcing that the organization is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary, so I naturally expected to read on that they were planning a big party or some other kind of commemorative activity. Instead, I learned that they would be marking this occasion in quite an unconventional way, by retreating into a phase of hibernation for an indefinite period of time.

    We were quite intrigued with this unorthodox organizational decision and so got in touch with Aerin Dunford, a core member of the Berkana team, to learn more.



    (18 minutes in length)


    UPDATE: In 2015, after Berkana emerged from hibernation, we recorded a follow-up podcast with Aerin to find out how things were going.


    May 31st, 2012 | Podcast | 3 Comments

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3 Responses and Counting...

  • Tanapaddock 05.31.2012

    Aerin, this is a comment from Carly Tanur in Cape Town. She was having some technical difficulties posting it, so sent it to me via email…

    “I wanted to thank the Berkana Institute for sharing their experience. As I listened to it, I resonated so much with what was shared. I have sat at times in our organisation with teams who have been feeling stuck. In a recent reflective process, I asked the team members to describe their team as a garden – to see the team as a living entity, to see what is living in the team, what is feeding the team, and what is weakening the system. It was interesting to hear what people shared…. Some of the team members have worked together for 7 years – and I couldn’t help but wonder, as mentioned in the talk, whether sometimes programmes and relationships need a rest from each other for something new to be born. I was really inspired by this podcast. Thank you for sharing.”

  • Thanks so much for your comment, Carly.

    The responses Berkana has received in regards to our decision to “bed down” have been overwhelmingly positive. I have this sense that so many of us can resonate with a feeling of exhaustion and deep weariness. I just received an offer from a gentleman in Iowa, US offering our staff a stay at the retreat center he is starting at a rural farm.

    Again, I so appreciate your comment and love the idea of comparing our organizations to our gardens (I often do this actually!) If you would like to read more about our decision, you can check out this blog post I wrote in March 2011: http://www.berkana.org/2012/03/berkana-steps-into-a-bold-experiment-in-living-systems/

    Thank you.

  • Hi Aerin. Testing 1,2, 3. Trying to fix the comment bug so that you receive comments from future posts. Please send me and email if your receive this. Thanks!

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