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.

Q&A

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.

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Calling the Art of Humaning

as you take a step back to listen

to what is alive now

as you take a step back to listen

to the whispers

can you slow down

walk and see

what life is whispering

to me

to you

what is being called

into existence?

 …

as I take a step back to listen

in the sounds

at the heart of the noise

I hear the echo of something old and true

as we are in turbulence

emergence is what we breathe

can we learn to be in it

fully

and consciously

and with generosity

and grace

recognize it

and thrive

and become?

can we learn

to host each other

in our capacity to become

the best humans we can be?

can we discover

our collective muscle

and learn to flex

in service of all that is alive

all that was

and all that will be?

can we learn together

and practice

being better ancestors?

can we name together

the complexity of here and now

and craft our weapons of love?

 …

why do we need this

art of humaning?

we cannot change

the systems we are

when we stay where we are

addicted to the

already known

the predictable

the fragmented

and the linear

I want to learn to hold

movement and stillness

I need to see

the parts in the whole

can we learn

the subtle art of listening

for the patterns

that guide us to what needs to be?

can we become

in awareness

of the systems

of power

that shape and constrict us and

the field where we breathe

and feel

and find nourishment

and pain?

can we learn and practice together

to see and name

what we are up against?

and with the force of our stillness

move into action?

why do we need this

art of humaning?

calling

our power to work beyond

our structures of ego

to discover our future as eco

to co-create

to reconstruct

and discover

what we can truly do

calling

our future as co-sensing

and practicing grace

as we call out for collaborations

we cannot see yet

what happens when we put together

our whole capacities of fully sensing

human beings

in the service of a shift

towards eco-system conciousness?

what can we learn to sense

collectively?

what can we shift when we

discover and enter

our full collective power?

 …

I need to see the art of humaning

and inquiring about the world

and ourselves

as we enter in the questions

we listen together

the art of humaning

finds stillness

in nature

I breathe

I take a step back

I see life

I see the art of humaning

to help usher an old culture

where we can listen think and act wisely

as the multitudes we all are

where power and love are the

anchors of the inquiry

and experiences

and stories

connect us

and help us see the future

and the complexity

that moves us

act in complexity, wisely

try the art of trying (shit out)

try the art of listening

be strategy

I listen to the whispers

of the present that is yet to come

I want presence

I want my steps

to discover the new paradigm

of the alliance of humankind

with life

in my steps in the new snow

I see our ability

to see one another

for the miracles we already are

I call for the art of humaning

I call for our gift of sensing together

what expects to be born

in the places we work

in the places we live

in the places we love

something is simmering

and awaits to rise to its possibility

I call for our capacity to call

I call for our capacity to hear

I call for our capacity to dance

I call for our capacity to love

and sustain life

I call for our capacity to do together

what can’t be done

and yet is done

countless times, everyday, forever

I call for our capacity to hear the screams

beyond walls and borders

with clarity

in the chaos

in the noise

I call for our capacity to dream together

and grow in dreaming

and grow in humaning

and grow in gardening our connections

and our learnings

and our heartbreaks

and our joys

I call for our freedom in the face of complexity

I call to see and be seen

in the web of life and change

what is the discovery path

we are carving for ourselves

and how will we care for each other

on the way?

there is

so much to learn

and to ask of ourselves

and of others

asking for help

is the kind

and wise

thing to do

as we are practicing

creating

world making

to unlock the potential

of the human field

to unlock the power to call

conversations that matter

what is the conversation you are craving?

if this is about life

then let the world be part of the conversation

then let imagination flow

in all its human

and non-human

shapes

what becomes possible

when we learn together

to be present

to the world?

a community

sensing and practicing

together

change as a constant part of life

this is not about you

you are just practicing

modeling something

in honesty

and vulnerability

calling is

letting go

of old patterns

and old ideas that are not in service

of the work

calling names

what is non negotiable

what is not negotiable

is allowing space for paradoxes

to live

what is not negotiable is

the humanness in nature

and the nature in humanness

what is not negotiable is

practicing in honesty

and openness

and transparency

what is not negotiable is

space to fumble

and work out loud

through our tensions

and our paradoxes

what is not negotiable is

talking about money

and value

what is not negotiable is

kindness and learning

what is not negotiable is

walking the line

between openness and boundaries

what is not negotiable is

conversations about complexity and power

within ourselves

within our communities

what is not negotiable is

the art

in the art of humaning

together

we invent the dance

of what good work is

and feels like

we dance in our bodies and our hearts

we dance our new structures

of possibility

and belonging

and in the dance

we hold each other

in learning

in growing

in exploring

in grieving

in trembling

we are learning to be

the archeologists of our future

what can we dream together?

are we breathing new worlds yet?

where is our center of gravity

in all of this?

what will hold the new together?

what holds us back?

I am calling

a life full of meaning

and work that makes me feel

alive

I am calling the revolution of humaning

can we live it yet?

I am calling

the revolution

of humaning

 

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Invitation : 5 to 7 Series Tasting our practices, January 23, 30 and February 6, 2018 Montreal

Workshop-Percolab-Montreal-2018

INVITATION

  • Location

    Montréal, Canada

    ECTO, 936 av. Mont-Royal Est, 2e étage, Montréal H2J 1X2

  • Date

    January 23, 30 and February 6, 2018

  • Hours

    5:30 PM

  • Organizer

    Percolab

In January, percolab is offering a series of gatherings to help you put the human at the center of your work and (why not?) join the revolution of organizations. A learning & networking event in one, light and enjoyable with drinks and snacks after work, to share a few practices that we use at Percolab daily.

#1 (January 23) – Opening. How to open up to new possibilities? Energize your practices to open and close your meetings well.
#2 (January 30) – Emergence. How to respond to what is emerging and live with uncertainty? Adjusting with agility and listening to what is there.
#3 (February 6)- Decision. How to converge on a collective decision that allows us to move forward. Practice consent-based decision making.

Cost: We invite you to engage with the shared economy. (We openly share the costs associated with running the event, and as a group we share those costs and look at value openly. The last time we hosted an evening workshop like this people contributed between $15 and $50)

More information about our experiences using this model:
https://medium.com/percolab-droplets/there-is-more-than-one-way-to-price-a-workshop-experiments-in-shared-economy-2c36f25ea0c7

  • Organizer name

    Meghan and Laurence

  • Contact

    meghan [at] percolab.com,  laurence [at] percolab.com

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Pulling on the self-managing thread: The Regitex experience

Lisa Fecteau

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon in October, we sat down with Lisa Fecteau, founder and owner of Regitex, to ask a few questions about her company’s approach to self-management. As we settled into her cozy kitchen with a cup of tea, she was curious about Percolab and why we wanted to interview her. We shared that Percolab has been self-managed since it’s inception, and as we are continually growing, we’ve made our practices and structures more explicit. We even train other organizations as they make the shift to self-management. We are always hungry to learn from other self-managed organizations, especially in other sectors. Regitex is just about as different as it gets from Percolab.

Lisa founded Regitex with her brother in 1998. Regitex manufactures yarns used in the production of protective garments (think firefighter’s uniforms), technical yarns for medical purposes (think bandages), and high-tech yarns used for a range of other purposes (like hosiery). Regitex does straight-up industrial production: raw materials come into the factory, machines are used to transform them, finished products come out of the factory, and then shipped all around the world.

When I think of this kind of industrial structure I think of foremen and plant managers. I think of a boss and the boss’ boss and of the boss’ boss’ boss. My imagination might even conjure a cigar-puffing owner living on a yacht somewhere far away: totally disengaged with the people who work for him and totally engaged with the profits they generate.

I seem to have a very narrow and staid (maybe even stale) view of what it means to run a factory. And Lisa Fecteau, with her unassuming manner, was turning that view on its head.

Regitex’s move to self-management did not happen in a burst of inspiration. It was a long, slow progression of small steps that carved out a self-managing path for the organization’s functioning. In the intervening years between the company’s founding and shift to self-management, Lisa bought out her brother’s shares in the company (thus becoming sole owner) and the company made the move from manufacturing yarn for fashion and furniture (its first market) to the protective textile focus it has now. As the manufacturing capacity and number of employees grew, Lisa decided to connect with her employees directly. For a period of 2.5 years she did rounds of interviews every 6 months. Sitting down with teams, and sometimes individuals, Lisa would ask questions so she could learn about their perception of the company. Sometime after the 5th round of interviews she realized that she had heard enough about the dissatisfaction and issues that were arising, and that nothing had significantly changed between round 1 and round 5 of interviews.

She had no idea what to do but decided she would just sit with it for a while

It all started to unblock with the need to hire a new Director of Production. After a long and unsatisfactory search for the right person, Regitex’s Director of Human Resources presented Lisa with an interesting alternative: what if instead of hiring a single director of production they created a Production Team comprised of existing employees who carried production know-how because of their work within the company.

Within a short time it became apparent that the team approach was more efficient and led to better decision-making because the Production Team had direct access to the information they needed to run things smoothly. Lisa and her HR director started experimenting with creating more of a team-based approach within the company to see how this would work out. The enthusiasm for self-managing practices was spreading across the company.

So Lisa left.

I didn’t expect that turn in the story. Lisa explained that had been sensing that she was still too much at the centre of the company and that instead of gently propelling it along towards self-management, her presence was holding them back. She completely withdrew from all operations and administration and didn’t set foot in the factory for months. “It was painful,” she confides, “I felt like I wasn’t needed anymore.”

Upon her return they decided to abolish all titles and job descriptions, including those in upper management, and move to a role-based system. They determined which were the functions that needed to happen for the organization to run smoothly, and then invited employees to self-nominate for the roles they found interesting. The roles were adapted to the logistical challenges of a company that works with day, evening, and night shifts, and the obligations outlined in their collective labour agreement.

Because, yes, Regitex is a unionized workplace.

While we were surprised and intrigued by this information, Lisa seemed unfazed about our union-related questions. For her, a key element to self-management is about trusting people’s common sense and ability to make thoughtful decisions – if you just give them enough space. In recent months, Regitex had a couple of grievances filed against them – not by internal employees, but by the union’s syndicate head office. At a formal meeting between herself, Regitex’s internal union reps and the syndicate’s official representatives, the grievances were quickly withdrawn when the Regitex employees made it clear that they had complete decision-making authority over their working conditions.

As a new collective agreement is in the works for early 2018, a strategic planning committee has been created to ensure that both Regitex’s interests and its employees’ needs are reflected in the next contract. Participation in the committee is voluntary (like everything else at Regitex) and those who have stepped forward to steer it also happen to be the company’s internal union reps. Which, in essence, means that the company’s administration has entrusted its unionized employees to make key decisions that directly impact the company and that unionized employees are considering the company interests and well-being while planning its side of the collective agreement.

As the daughter of a unionized blue collar worker, this reality is worlds away from the divisive power struggles and politicking I imagine when I think of contract agreements between unionized employees and the boss’ boss’ boss. I remember my Dad white-knuckling it through collective agreement processes in the 80’s that did not for a moment consider the interconnectedness of either the employees’ or employer’s ecosystems.

So what’s next for self-management at Regitex? They are investing in internal training for more employees to learn how to coach each other, improving the communications and other organizing systems, and exploring how profit-sharing could be done in a clear and equitable way. For Lisa, her personal next steps involve connecting with what is quickly becoming an international movement around self-management (Percolab’s own Samantha Slade is writing a book on the topic) to share Regitex’s experience.

When asked if she has a nugget of wisdom to share with us about her experience with Regitex, Lisa responds without hesitation: If you want to shift to self-management do less, not more. Don’t try to create all kinds of new initiatives. Pull back for a while, observe, watch, create space, and leave this space open for newness to emerge. That’s when stuff starts to happen.

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Renewal of the competency framework for the HR chartered association of Quebec

Context

The Human Resource (HR) profession needs to step into its future. The entire HR system in Quebec is build around the competency framework; university programs, admission into the chartered association, inspection, as well as professional development.  By improving and updating the competency framework the whole profession will be carried forward. The chartered association chose, for the first time, to do this via co-creation. They invited in HR professionals and people interested in the future of HR to go beyond thinking through what they wanted and also to contribute to its production.

Percolab’s role

Percolab designed the co-creation process in collaboration with an HR professional. The process integrated multiple voices in the field in a creative and constructive way, mixing wisdom and experience of HR professionals with inspirational examples, creative thinking, conceptual frameworks of the future, and collective sense making.   

A radically creative process that had three phases:

  1. Capture what is useful in what already exists and reveal the possibilities and dreams, for both the format and content of the framework.
  2. Iteratively develop the new structure of the guide via a series of workshops with the HR community.
  3. Validate specific sections of the guide with targeted stakeholders

To support the entire process, particularly with the context of participants coming in and out of the process, a visual strategy was put in place. Over 200 people contributed to the different steps of the process and were aided by an evolutive mural.

The workshops and the facilitation and the visual tools were all Percolab’s responsibility. The strategy, writing, and presentation of results were a shared responsibility with the client.  

Impacts

 

  • The creation of a simple, practical competency guide
  • A guide that has the support and pride of the HR community and will be well used from inspectors, to university program design, and HR professional development & certification.  
  • An example of a competency framework for HR professionals in Canada and the world  
  • Integration of two new domains of HR competence – innovation process and technology

 

 

Evolutive mural by Paul Messer, Percolab

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The city of the future is the one people narrate together

Guest Author: Mary Alice Arthur, Get Soaring

If you’ve ever been to Montreal, you will have experienced the vibrant hum of the city. It is a city that has distinctive neighbourhoods and an international flavour, and it is also a city committed to exploring and vitalising diversity. 2017 marks 375 years for Montreal and the city is helping to mark the celebration by making a public process of community storytelling.

Imagine, if you will wooden circular structures popping up in the midst of St Catherines walking street or in your local neighbourhood. They look very much like an open basket, because that was their inspiration.

Their intention is to create a network of points in space that transform people’s narrative about where they are and how they inhabit the space. Although they appear like little separate pods, they are all connected to the element of surprise and forming community, enabling people who sit in them to imagine space in a different way and create possibilities that were not there before.

They are called Nacelles, a French word meaning the basket of a hot air balloon, but conceptually pointing to network or multiplicity. In a tangible, physical way, they create a commons, a place to gather and share. By their very shape, they create an interesting bounded object in a public space in the shape of a circle. You’re exposed like you would be in public space, but you have a container of intimacy, and intentional collaborative moments in conversation. The nacelles create intimacy while you’re outside.

Each Nacelle is a set of pre-fabricated pieces which are easy to build together in about 20 minutes. In fact, the very act of building them starts creating community. They are about 12 feet in diameter, and seat around 12 – 15 people on two tiers of benches with a small table in the middle. But they are also permeable. People can stand outside the structure and lean in, making it possible to take part in something, even if you’ve just arrived.

Using these structures for public dialog and storytelling is the brainchild of French-based group Comm1possible. It fits seamlessly into Montreal-based practice Percolab‘s approach to dialogue and storytelling. Cédric Jamet explains: “We need more ways to connect people than social networks. The “smart city” as we think about it, is not enough. We need structures that allow us to do this in a real and physical way. That’s how Nacelles emerged.

“There was a consciousness around the circle as a way to connect people that informed the structure of the Nacelle. The idea of the city of the future is a city created by the people who live in it. Nacelles become a physical representation of that.

This project around inclusion is also around sharing individual stories, and what comes up is a common story of inclusion.

“When we think about it, this project around inclusion is also around sharing individual stories, and what comes up is a common story of inclusion. Nacelles help create a commons. The original idea was how can we experiment to create urban commons and cities as commons. That’s where it came from and where it’s headed. Really at the heart of the project is the idea of what becomes possible when we build the spaces we live in together.”

“The physical structure invites curiosity. And when you go over the threshold of curiosity it invites in relationship,” says Elizabeth Hunt. “One of our upcoming projects is around diversity and multi-culturalism with a borough of Montreal. Around their multi-cultural citizen day, we will be working with storytellers in the nacelles and then we will invite citizens with their own stories of how to shift the dominant discourse from integration to one of inclusion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It’s about building this together, shared responsibility. People show up with strollers, walking their dog. When a whole bunch of different kinds of people are there, you have the permission to go see. It’s a strange attractor. You enter the structure as strangers and emerge as allies. We are continuing to ask ourselves how we can use Nacelles as a collective sensemaking structure.”

Cedric chimes in again: “It shapes a bunch of things, experimenting with the Nacelle as a natural way to inclusion. We all have a relationship to this theme, whether we are born here or not, came here or not. I was hosting during the storytelling process – the storyteller was indigenous and his theme was around what it is to welcome and host people in. I was thinking ‘I’m an immigrant here. I’m French originally. I have a colonial background in me.’ Everyone who participated and shared stories verbalized their connection to this place in ways that were not anticipated. There’s something that happens when story gets shared and space gets held. Holding space is the condition for emergence. Something special happens.”

Elizabeth agrees, even though her story is completely different: “I’m born and bred in Montreal – same hospital as my dad – 11 – 15 generations each side. Those streets I’ve walked as a child, my parents, my grandparents also walked. I graduated from University on those steps over there. I had supper with someone there a few blocks over. My relationships to this space – what else is possible in my relationship to this city – is forever transformed by being there with the nacelles. We can transform an area into a storytelling platform, what else can we do in terms of moulding this city?”

Percolab has been partnering with French company Comm1Possible, which developed the concept and has used the nacelles in France and Morocco. Percolab is their only North American partner, but it seems obvious that the nacelles are far more than a way of creating community conversation and storytelling.  Even the way the two organisations are working together is seeking to create a commons out of the application of nacelles.

“Nacelles help create a commons,” Cedric tells me. “Then there’s the whole aspect of how we work together — if our purpose is to create commons, then Nacelles itself has to be a commons. That’s what we’re building on with Comm1Possible – how do we develop the system supporting Nacelles that is thought of and lived as a commons? Yes, there’s the object, but there’s a whole philosophy and business model that goes around it.”

Elizabeth continues: “We haven’t explored the questions, but the physicality of it invites the questions – how do we share this? Who does it belong to? How do we share the decisions? What is our vision for greater social change? We’re trying to work a commons based agreement – our working relationship is a commons relationship.”

In the end, it comes back to the magic of creating a space for people to narrate their common future.

As Cedric says: “The more people there are in the Nacelle, the more the Nacelle becomes invisible and it becomes a circle that’s about people. When we were using them on St Catherine and I walked away for a few minutes, I could see a conglomerate of people, but you couldn’t see the Nacelles. It was like a bunch of grapes but you can’t see the stem. It is an architecture that is holding people together but that you can’t see when its working well – it becomes invisible. That’s a metaphor for excellent hosting work.”

 

Find the original post by Mary Alice Arthur

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