The future of work should be like this

These are the Percolab’s principles of ways of working that we apply at Percolab right here, right now. We think everyone should work like this.

Principle #1 — OPEN

Keeping secrets slows things down, being open speeds things up. 
Opaque and secretive ways invite in scheming, homogeneity and insular thinking. Openness invites inclusion, co-learning and integrity.

Principle #2 — ENLIVENING

Forget systems that are mechanistic, everything we do is alive. 
Directive, plan and control work can drag on and produce flat results. When work integrates our autonomy, spirit and creativity it can be full of ease with kick ass results.

Principle #3 — CO-CREATIVE

Individual genius is overrated, the future is created together.
When leaders try to figure out for others it breeds apprehension and singular thinking.
Co-creation builds attuned pathways with legitimacy and collective energy and wisdom.

Principle #4 — HUMAN

Work doesn’t just solve problems, it develops human beings. 
Treating human beings in extractive ways generates disengagement and suffering. When we trust and work consciously we grow and develop into more reflexive and capable humans.

Principle #5 INSIGHTFUL

Knowledge doesn’t come from one source, it comes from all around.

Siloed and linear approaches are unable to deal with complexity. Tapping into the myriad and multi-dimensional ways of listening leads to insightful breakthroughs.

Methodologies and tools:

Drawing like a child

Growing up, noone remembers the first time they drew. We were given crayons, pencils, pens, paper and encouraged to draw. From simple marks on the paper, to representations of our home, our family, our world we saw. We were encouraged and supported to make more.

We learnt from it, we better understood our world through it, we got feedback from each stroke, each picture, each adult (or sometimes) children who saw it. It shaped our understanding and learning. Helped us see our place, that of others and to break things down into simple component parts.

We were liberated, free, without guilt or questioning our abilities. It didn’t matter what we drew, it helped, aided us in our understanding. It wasn’t art, it was what it was. Adults encouraged us, proud in the development they saw. We were given different tools, found new ways of marking the paper, paint, different pens and colors. We explored the mixing of colors, we reflected the world and chose colors that supported the understanding to us what it was, green for trees, blue for sky. We drew to tell stories, we brought life to the pictures, they served a bigger intention than just doodling. But then we stopped, we wrote, we clicked. Drawing became the tool of creatives: artists; designers; architects etc.

But, what happens when we draw like a child in our adult world?

What happens when we draw our system, map out the elements, their relationship to each other. What happens when we listen to a group and visualise the connections, provide feedback to groups through visual scribing? Or when we use visual metaphors and visualise frameworks to better our collective understanding?

Welcome to the world of Visual Thinking.



Methodologies and tools:

The joy of a bilingual event


* Article originally written in Montreal Art of Hosting Website, July 2013


I love Montreal and its intermixing messiness with French and English. It seems natural that the Art of hosting trainings here are bilingual. But this needs to be done with care, as Montréal is a city where language gets talked about a whole lot; there is much playfulness, but also sensitivities.  For the January 2013 event, we created moments of exchange where people can be in their own language. There were french speaking, english speaking and bilingual groups. We opted for informal whispering translation rather than formal translation services.

For Raquel Penalosa, whispering translation was a positive experience.

Translating helped me be mindful and present. I had to be very aligned, listening to the message and how it was being received. It is an act of generosity.

Raquel ensuring whispering translation for Toke.

Toke Moller, international co-host from Denmark was there to remind us that:

This work is about being humans and transcending our differences. Language is a detail that cannot hinder that.

Working the world around, part of Toke’s stewardship is to remind us of the higher need we are serving, all the while honoring local traditions and language.

Elizabeth Hunt, a bilingual Montréaler and participant at the January 2013 event, appreciated the inclusiveness:

People were insistent on translation, often more out of concern for others than out of need for themselves. There was a real awareness. People were making sure that everybody understood and nobody felt left out.

Elizabeth has a wish for the upcoming October event:

We should create even more opportunities for people who are bilingual to step up as a way to help host others.


If you have never experienced it though, it can be hard to imagine.  Here is an email exchange I had recently with a potential participant for the October event:

Question: Can you let me know how the bilingual session is run?  Is the training in English with French slides, in French with English slides, …?

Answer: Last time the language « issue » flowed less as an issue and more as a gift. People are invited to speak in English or French as they feel comfortable. Participants volunteer to do whispering translations for those who need it and make it known. Small group work is done in the language of choice of the groups. There are no slides – everything is produced live on site. The explicit training is offered by the team of trainers in smaller groups that function in English/French or bilingually and participants are free to attend with the group they wish.

Question:  Small group work is done in the language of choice.  I’m assuming the rest then is in French – is this correct?  Can you tell me roughly what percentage is done in a larger group (and presumably French)?

Answer: The large group work – is led in the language of the person speaking. Because we are a team of 13 who start this off and then the training participants join in on days 2 and 3, it is not really possible to put a percentage on that.  I can say that our three international hosts will all be intervening in English as they do not speak French. Some local people who do not speak English will be intervening in French. And so it will unfold with some of this and a bit of that. All I can say from the January experience is that we all found that the language flow really added to the event – about embracing diversity in a positive way.

From where I stand, participating in an event with two languages helps us cultivate our humanity in a multi-lingual world and that is very much part of the art of (inter)action.



Methodologies and tools:

Trois astuces pour aborder un enjeu complexe

Est-ce qu’il vous arrive de tourner en rond autour d’une problématique? Vous faites peut-être face à un enjeu “complexe”  qui défie la mise en application des solutions existantes. En général, nous avons développé un grand savoir-faire pour résoudre les problèmes évidents ou compliquées. Lorsque la situation est complexe, les approches classiques ne semblent plus donner de résultats. Les relations entre les causes et les effets ne sont pas discernables et nous perdons souvent pied. Penser et agir dans la complexité demande plus que le recours à l’expertise ou l’utilisation de pratiques exemplaires dans l’élaboration de solutions. Elle demande la mise en œuvre de nouvelles façons de faire les choses. Les théories de la complexité suggèrent une approche et une posture différentes qui reposent sur trois composantes clés :

emergencePhoto Credit: Roberto Verzo

1. Travail en mode émergence

Face à la complexité, il faut se défaire de notre habitude de penser que l’on peut tout planifier pour obtenir une solution rapide. Travailler en émergence suppose la création d’un espace de réflexion et d’action qui s’ouvre à l’exploration de nouveaux sentiers, à la créativité, à la prise de risques, afin d’accueillir de nouvelles opportunités ou des pistes de solutions, parfois imparfaites mais porteuses.

cocreationPhoto Credit: Paxson Woelber

2. Co-création

On gagne à aborder un enjeu complexe dans un esprit de recherche collective qui inclut une diversité d’acteurs et qui s’appuie sur une approche systémique. Le travail en silo prive trop souvent les organisations de l’apport de leur écosystème élargi. La mise en place d’une stratégie collective, ouverte et transparente constitue donc un outil puissant pour avancer dans la recherche de solutions inédites.


Photo Credit: ~lzee~bleu~not~really~all~here~

3. Expérimentation et apprentissage

À défaut de procédures connues et établies donnant les résultats attendus, travailler dans la complexité suppose l’expérimentation, par le biais de pilotes ou de prototypes, comme moteur de découverte. Car c’est à partir de petits projets menés dans des situations concrètes que l’on peut mieux détecter les tendances et les patterns qui permettront d’établir et d’ajuster la stratégie et de creuser davantage les dimensions prometteuses.

Pour en savoir plus sur la théorie de la complexité : David Snowden, Cynefin model :


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Methodologies and tools:

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