"Transcend and include... this is the self-transcending drive of the Kosmos—to go beyond what went before and yet include what went before... to open into the very heart of Spirit-in-action." Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if a group of people somewhere were for something and against nothing?" Ernest Holmes

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bringing A Wilber Meetup Back from the Brink

Gail Taylor
How many Integral Coaches does it take to save a Meetup group about integrating all perspectives? Last night Integral Coach Gail Taylor facilitated a meeting I would have said had very little chance of success. Tensions had been mounting for years in the DC Ken Wilber Meetup, a group with a vision so broad that aspects of it are at odds with itself. In a group about "transcending and including" all values, a split had evolved roughly along lines of age, with the younger members more focused on transcending and the older on including. (This is an over simplification, because we're experiencing tension on the other AQAL poles of stability/change, interior/exterior, and autonomy/interdependence with everyone committed to all those values but showing preferences roughly matching age groups.) Most similar groups around the world have dissolved over the kind of tensions our group was suffering. Dissolution was imminent.

But within two hours, Gail's facilitation brought us back from the brink. Not to say our problems were solved, but I would say we established a minimum level of trust for moving forward for three more months at which time we'll reassess.

Holocracy to the Rescue

How did she do it? Much of her approach stemmed from her training in Brian Robertson's Holocracy.  She started by asking us what level of facilitation we wanted from her, and most of us said, "medium." She put on the wall a series of prepared "cheat sheets" for how we'd proceed, including speaking from our "core values" and taking a breath before responding to each other. As we surfaced our issues, she did two things extraordinarily well: she put on paper a one-sentence summary of  everyone's input on a given topic, and she acknowledged tensions as people spoke, coaching individuals to rephrase something as a request or to notice a contraction in what they'd requested. She did this with an open-hearted humility that felt contagious. I felt heard and looked out for--and this was particularly noteworthy because prior to the meeting Gail had been working with the "transcenders" and thus could have found it difficult to present herself as neutral.

How Many Integral Coaches?

Another factor in the evening's success was how well prepared we all seemed to be. Everyone worked hard to communicate constructively and be transparent. In the days preceding the meeting, several of us got coaching from some of the other top Integral and Holocracy coaches nationwide. In a flurry of two-hour phone calls, several of us spoke with each other interspersed with calls to Gail and Beena Sharma; Ron spoke briefly with Brian Robertson, and Ron invited us to track the process Deborah Boyar will be using in working with California's Bay Area Integral.

And the Result is..

Here is the initial vision statement Gail wove together for us in 14 minutes of our three hour meeting:
“We are a community of practice (and more) in service to the broader integral community, offering great events around Ken Wilber’s (and related) work. We value fostering learning, balance, and the integration of perspectives and visions (including allowing for different perspectives and visions).”