IWB Sangha Call: Transformational Change in Development

Integral Without Borders Sangha Call

Transformational Change in Development

Our third Integral Without Borders Community Call will be on Dec 7th, 2013.

Our intention with these IWB sangha calls is to co-create the kind of 'integral community' we want, one that is deep and wise in its content, supportive in its interpersonal connections, and world-centric (even kosmo-centric!) in it's moral embrace. Each call will focus on an aspect of integral practice in development with certain practitioners leading on these topics and with participants contributing examples from their integral projects.

Saturday, Dec 7th, 9-10:30am Pacific Standard Time. (Find your time zone here).

Register: If you intend to attend, please be sure to drop us an email, so that we know you're intending to be on the call and also so that we can send you the audio clip afterwards.

How: The conference call line is a North American number, but it can be accessed by calling the number via skype.
Conference Dial-in Number: +1 (605) 475-4810
Participant Access Code: 988715#

Price: For now, while we fine-tune these sangha calls, they will be by donation. Go here for donations and to read more about the call.

Topic: The topic of the first part of the call will be on working with transformational change in development, using Otto Scharmer's U Process. Read below for more context about this topic, as a way to seed the discussion.

Engaging a Truly Transformational Change

In development, we are in the business of change: hoping to lay emergent ground for a transformation from one situation to ideally one that is better. I say "ideally" since often that is not what actually happens. Rather, the situation reverts back to it's initial state. An actual transformation is frankly hard to come by. The reasons why are many, but among them is the sheer fact that we humans have a tendency to resist change. We resist things that challenge our status quo, that challenge us to move out of our comfort zone, even when that comfort zone is one that provokes suffering. This is true at both in individual as well as with groups; this resistance occurs in therapy sessions, in families, in board rooms of organizations, as well as in villages and nation-states.

Otto Scharmer's U Process offers a useful tool to engage this transformational change, where participants suspend their conditioned, habitual ways of acting, letting go of preconceived notions and previously-taken actions to sit in the open and spacious state of non-doing (the 'bottom of the U'). From that spaciousness arises a new manifestation, usually one that has not been predetermined and is a truly creative expression or embodiment. It's essentially a shift in consciousness from the gross state of everyday mind into a deeper state of the non-conceptual mind and then moving back into the gross state but, ideally, this time with some wisdom, unbounded by habitual action, arising as a true transformation.

One of Integral Without Borders member, Anne Caspari, has worked with U Process for many years, and she has encountered some intriguing patterns of resistance that consistently show up. She's been compiling tools to move through those various resistances. Those resistances can be an important part of this process, as Peter Senge explains, “The gap between vision and current reality is also a source of energy. If there were no gap, there would be no need for any action to move towards the vision. We call this gap creative tension.” On our call in October, Anne Caspari covered various ways she's been going about working with resistance and using that creative tension towards transformational change. But there is obviously much more material here to work with and it seemed to warrant another call to continue the conversation. So, for the December call, we'll continue on this same topic.

We include below Anne's short paper on this, and the diagrams that go with this can be downloaded here.

When Reality hits, use its Force 

Anne Caspari - augMentor @ integralMENTORS and Integral Strategist

“The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior” M. Scott Peck

Follow the intensity of your resistance down to its source and sure enough you will find a treasure.

With transformation work, encountering and overcoming resistances is an intrinsic part of the game. In coaching and facilitating transformative change, people naturally face stages of resistance, fear and confusion. This will inevitably trigger escape and protection mechanisms of the self/Self system that come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and flavours.

Many of these take the form of well-rehearsed identities (e.g. spiritual identities, cynical attitudes, attack of coach or method, sudden shift of priorities) that are designed to ‘protect’ the coachee from the suspected pain of re-owning deeper lying disassociated parts (shadows). These defence mechanisms can easily sabotage the transformative process. In many cases, the coachee is not aware of these phenomena, but rather strongly identified with them. Kegan and Lahey (2009) define this as “Immunity to Change”, a "hidden commitment", with an underlying root cause, that competes and conflicts with a stated commitment to change. It is these hidden commitments that cause people to not change and to fail to realise their best intentions. It takes experience to spot such phenomena and to defuse or utilize any deviating construct arising in the space appropriately, in real time.
In the previous paper I listed the various stages of a typical transformative process. Now I add to that the typical resistance patterns that often correlate to the stations on the track. Fortunately, these patterns tend to have a recognizable sequence.

An experienced coach can identify them and knows how far or deep a group or an individual is on their way through the process and what is still ahead of them relative to their goal. The good news is that there are plenty of extremely good tools available.

Tool boxes

Based on more than a decade of practical experience with coaching transformational change processes in adult development, combined with the application of integral theory on facilitating change in personal to global strategic projects, I have started to map out recognizable patterns that show up consistently as indicators of specific stages of the transformation process in individuals and groups. Resistance patterns or pathologies can of course vary in flavour and form depending on the kosmic address or altitude of the group or person in the process. If level-specific mechanisms show up, they are best addressed with tools and approaches that correspond well with that specific developmental level. Escape patterns and pathologies in different states of consciousness are harder to recognize and require, as always the full experience and presence of the coach.

These diagrams are intended to provide hands-on practical information that is hopefully useful to practitioners dealing with transformational change. I have listed a number of tools and methods that have proven appropriate and extremely useful in coaching people back on track in their movement through transformational processes.

Resistances are treasure indicators

In transformation work we encounter a lot of fear and collective shadow around resistance and blocks, not just in the coachees, but also with some coaches and trainers. These tensions can and should be harvested. It requires some cleaning up and practice, like mental aikido training, to recognize obstructing, attacking or resisting forces as forces to work with and as pointers and key indicators to the most important acupuncture points for change, much like a treasure map. Furthermore, if the transformational process is designed to prototype new ideas, listening to the information sitting on resistances and fears can actually provide the breakthrough that is called for. Then, working with resistances can even be like a fun ride in a roller coaster or like a ride on a sail boat using the resistance to propel you in the direction of your conscious choice.