What do groups, projects and organisations need to work together effectively and sustainably?
One of the most fundamental things that makes the difference between a group thriving or falling apart is its living social systems. By “Living Systems” we mean the ongoing ways of handling things like making decisions, engaging with conflict, or organising support. These may be clearly agreed and spoken about (explicit), or just the way things happen (implicit). A Living System is 3 dimensional and dynamic - more than just policies or procedures. Agreeing good ways to handle stuff like decision making or conflict is one of the most useful things we have seen for supporting a group to fulfil its purpose, navigate power and look after its people.
We are offering a 9 week programme to support groups to develop systems that support them to do the work they do. Registrations have now closed.
One way to think about Living Systems:
People generally try to set up their beds/bedrooms before they get tired, and their kitchens before they get hungry, because we know that we’ll keep getting tired and hungry every day, and because it’s harder to set them up when we're already really tired or hungry. Knowing that we are going to be encountering some aspect of life - whether that’s sleep or decision making -, how do we set up the things we need for it in ways that work for whoever is involved, so that we’re ready when we need them?
We have been working with individual groups to develop their systems and agreements for these areas, one at a time. With this programme we want to support more groups through a process of developing their living social systems to be what they want them to be, in line with their values and purpose. We are inviting people from different groups to come together to explore, learn about, and develop their systems, through weekly calls which will include teaching, coaching, space for reflection and mutual learning. The idea is that people come from multiple organisations, and go back to their contexts and work on specific aspects of their systems between the sessions. The programme is designed to give you perspectives on systems, and specific options that you might want to adapt that have worked for other groups or organisations. It will also offer pathways to engage in the process of developing and agreeing the systems with everyone concerned.
The programme will include:
“What are Living Systems, why are they important, and how can we develop them?”
We will draw on principles from multiple processes and systemic approaches including: Restorative Circles and the Dialogical Systems work of Dominic Barter, the organisational systems model of Miki Kashtan, Self-Organising Systems (Sociocracy and Holacracy), Convergent Facilitation, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and the work of Frederic Laloux and others on Reinventing Organisations.
There will be 9 sessions in total, starting in September. Every week we will have one 1.5 hour session together. Dates 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th September, 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th October, 2nd November. 19:00 - 20:30 BST.
Recordings will be available to anyone who registers and questions can be asked in-between sessions.
Please register by the end of the 31st of August.
Overview of sessions
The first session will offer an introduction to Living Systems and will lay out the basic principles and understanding of what we’re working with. Having this shared understanding in a group can be super useful for the system development work that will follow. This means that we’d like to encourage as many people as possible from any group to join this first session.
During the remaining 8 sessions we’ll move together through the 6 fundamental systems, as well as exploring the importance of clear purpose and ways of navigating power dynamics and imbalances.
Who is this programme for?
This programme is for groups, projects and organisations working for environmental and social justice. If you’re not sure if you fit this, please get in touch and tell us about your group. It is also intended for groups, projects and organisations that are just starting out and figuring out how they want to work together.
Navigate works primarily with groups in the UK. As this is an online programme, we are happy to make it available to groups outside of the UK. However, as we’re most familiar with the cultural context of the UK, we’ll be providing input from that perspective. There is currently no limit on how many groups join the programme.
What do we expect from participants?
We’d ideally like to see 2 people from each group attend the full programme so that you can support each other bringing the learning and the exploration of what we’ll be exploring to your group. If it’s not possible for you to have two people come, we are willing to accept just one person, but would encourage you to get whatever support you need to be able to do the work we will be exploring. We would like this programme to be practical and lead to real change, and we’d like you to commit to work through all the sessions. If there are more than two of you that wish to join from a group - great! we really welcome that - as long as you’ve all attended the first session (so that the basic principles are clear). There is no limit on how many people from your group join, and we request that you let us know if more than 5 are planning to attend ongoingly.
Between each session you’ll need to make time to work with your group to integrate what you’re taking away. Ideally you will have the clear support of your group to do this work with and for them, but you don’t need to. This is all a fairly big commitment, but we think it’s really worth it, and this is our attempt to make this work accessible to many more groups than before.
We want to make this programme accessible to as many people as possible, as well as contributing to our own sustainability. To do this, we are offering a sliding scale. It is your call to determine what your group can contribute - the numbers on the scale are a rough guide of what we guess might be an amount that feels good for specific situations - from £20 for unfunded voluntary groups to £200 for large, funded organisations. You only need to pay once per group - and we're not asking for a higher contribution from people joining with more than two people from one group.
If this sliding scale still seems like a financial barrier to joining the programme, please let us know. We have a number of places that we’d like to offer to groups without any financial means - and as it is important to us that there's a commitment to take part in the whole programme, we're asking you to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration and Payment
Registrations have now closed.
We’ll be meeting online on Zoom. A link will be circulated to those who register. The recordings of the sessions will also be available to everyone who registers.
Who are we?
Navigate is a facilitation co-operative that’s been working with social change groups to develop their living systems for a number of years now. Find out more about us here.