Listen for… change your bias, change the future
The story behind the game
A listening card from the game Listen For…
Listen For… is a storytelling game that is creating impact in organisations and communities around the world. Knowing the backstory of the game can bring a whole new level to your experience.
It begins with some questions. Where might we start to change the norms and habits we have taken on that aren’t really serving us anymore? How do we go about shifting our mindsets? At Percolab, I work on local and international projects that deal with change, complexity, and co-creation. The work invariably involves developing skills for participating in complexity, be it an organization wide culture change initiative or a multi-stakeholder process. While I teach learning design for system change at university, how might we develop these skills in more indirect, natural ways, beyond courses or formal education?
After years of applied research I wrote the book Going Horizontal for people who want to change how we are doing things, but get stuck or are overwhelmed. Going Horizontal is a business book, in which I explore how the natural and healthy ways of functioning already existing within us, might be better brought into the work world with all its constraints. The theory of change is that by changing one practice at a time, you can change yourself, and ultimately systems. Although Going Horizontal is very practical and accessible, it speaks to people who are already on a journey of change. I wanted to reach an even wider audience, to breakthrough to a way to develop skills for participating in complexity where it doesn’t feel like a work or learning experience. Maybe it could even feel like play and be enjoyable.
Percolab team in Montreal, Canada playing Listen For…
With my colleagues at Percolab, I have built on the content of Going Horizontal to create Listen For… It’s a game to meet individuals in their longing to get to know each other better, to experience more connection, acceptance, better listening and even to offload. These needs have always been both important and under addressed in teams, organisations, communities and classrooms and they have come to the forefront with the COVID-19 pandemic. The game is meant to be a delightful and nourishing experience, that you would play for playing sake. At the same time, three serious things are taking place without you even realizing it:
- sense making around day to day life in complexity,
- development of key capacities for partaking in complexity, and
- reflection upon key aspects of shared leadership.
And it works. People are saying, that Listen For… is “Unassumingly light and yet has so much depth to it,” “It’s not boring!” (said with surprise) and “I feel so much better after playing.” Others refer to the “magic” of the game.
But there is another story behind Listen For… I come from a lineage of broken stories and I made a story game. As it is for so many families who have experienced war, my family story is broken. My family fled Spain in the midst of civil war. My mother grew up in London amongst a community of refugees. I can imagine the struggle and even guess their political views, but it is all assumptions, because no one has ever spoken a word to my mother and neither has she told me. Some families share the stories of their trauma and pain. Not mine. We have held it all in, wanting to protect the children to grow up without thinking about the horrors of the world. To focus on the peace.
There is such beauty and kindness in this. At the same time, the stories that get passed on from one generation to the next, stories that weave the learnings and relationships are not shared. The decades of silence pile up, so much so, that the history is lost, the relationships too. And so I do the only thing I can think of, return to the source and focus on stories.
I regularly visit Spain, soaking up the land, the smells the views, willing it to seep into my soul. To anchor me. This is where I come from, I tell the immigrant, nomadic me. These hills, this sea. I struggle to find my own voice there, to let anyone know I am anything but a North American tourist. I know about the collective burial sites. The thousands of lives lost for the way a person might think. I look to the horizon to stay connected to my own peace.
The mountains of Malaga region, Andalusia, Spain (personal photo)
Because of all this, I long for stories. I made a storytelling game that creates a safe non-judgmental container for stories to flow, so that we loosen up and share our stories. Of course it’s good for the workplace, and for human connection in general, but it is also nourishing for me and my family. I want to heal our broken stories and to reconnect with ourselves as storytellers, coming back into community, collective learning, and anchoring.
This is why I created Listen For… This personal part of me seeking inner peace and soothing meeting the professional part of me that wants to build capacity to participate in complexity. The two intertwine, and play together, and help to reclaim our wholeness, and my wholeness.
Discover : Join a Listen For… community game. They take place every month online for free.
Strengthen impact: Listen for helps to develop 21 inner capacities for participating in complexity and towards sustainability, based on the new international framework: Inner development Goals. We are documenting this impact. If you are using the game and are willing to be interviewed contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Go deeper: Take the Listen For … training to dive into the theoretical foundations, game facilitation and strategic use in system change processes. Read the book Going Horizontal upon which it is built.
Reach out: If you want to inquire about bringing Listen For… to your events, organisation or community, contact Percolab at email@example.com.