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60. Playback Theatre

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

60 sarah halley and jonathan fox

Playback Theatre

—Dwike Mitchell

Sharing Personal Experience

Imagine a stage with two chairs off to one side, a combination of wooden boxes and simple colored fabrics center stage, and a variety of musical instruments on the other side. The occasion is a staff recognition dinner, with about 100 staff members from affiliated nursing homes and senior centers in the audience. The actors, conductor, and musician enter in a way that evokes the artistic and ritual feeling of a theatrical performance.

The performers begin as themselves, with a song, and an introduction that models the selfdisclosure and public sharing that is a necessary component of Playback Theatre (figure 1). The conductor, who acts as a kind of master of ceremonies, sets the stage by welcoming the audience and saying a few words about what Playback Theatre is and what people might expect in the next hour or so. The conductor then begins to invite audience members to tell short moments, feelings, and experiences that are played back by the actors and musician. The process continues— the conductor asks questions, audience members respond, and then actors embody the story on stage.

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3. Preparing to Mix and Match Methods

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

3 peggy holman

Preparing to Mix and

Match Methods

Great leaders are identified by their ability to perceive the nature of the game and the rules by which it is played as they are playing it. In other words, the act of sense making is discovering the new terrain as you are inventing it.

—Brian Arthur

A question that often arises when working with whole system change is: Can you use multiple methodologies together? While the simple answer is yes, the practical answer is much more involved. Mastering the art of blending and innovating new practices looks easy on the surface, yet it is a lifetime’s work.

The work begins with preparation. Preparation is vital because change work affects people’s lives and livelihoods. It is an awesome responsibility to support organizations and communities who wish to engage people in shaping their future. We, as practitioners, do so by creating “containers,” energetic and psychic spaces that support people in learning and working well together. Well-prepared containers are grounded in purpose, engage a relevant diversity of participants, and involve mindfully chosen processes and environments that serve the purpose and people well.1 Such containers “create circumstances in which democracy breaks out, environments in which it just happens.”2 They enable people to take control of their own situations, compelling facilitators and traditional leaders to move more and more out of the way. As projects involve more people and larger systems, the stakes get higher and the choices more complex.

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37. Large Group Scenario Planning

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

37 gilbert steil, jr., and michele gibbons-carr

Large Group Scenario Planning

The revolutionary idea that defines the boundary between modern times and the past is the mastery of risk: the notion that the future is more than a whim of the gods and that men and women are not passive before nature.

—Peter L. Bernstein

Real-Life Story

Keeping air traffic moving efficiently while preventing midair collisions is a lot more vital and imperative than deciding on computer software standards for the next decade. So it came as no surprise in February 2003 that the Chief Information Office (CIO) of a large aviation administration was falling behind on its commitments to an “Enterprise Architecture.” Making things more difficult was the fact that all of the operational information technology departments—the groups that would implement any new strategy—lived within fairly autonomous divisions of the agency. Their autonomy was based on some excellent reasons: the critical real-time nature of controlling national airspace, heightened security needs in an era of increasing terrorism, and the rising sophistication of cyber attacks. At the same time, the agency was about to face the implications of an Electronic Government Initiative, begun at the highest level of government, to increase productive use of electronic technology while simplifying the applications that already existed.

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1. The Big Picture: Making Sense of More Than Sixty Methods

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF


The Big Picture

Making Sense of More Than

Sixty Methods

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.

—Albert Einstein

Whole system change methods continue to increase in recognition, variety, and use. The first edition of this book included 18 methods and just a few short years later, there are more than 60 methods in this second edition. This creative explosion provides great opportunities for reaching further into organizations and communities to engage people in making a positive and productive difference.

So, let’s say you need to make a change, you have looked at a variety of methods, and you come across this compendium of more than 60 methods. Where do you start? What’s the difference between one method and another . . . how do you make sense of them all? How do you speak intelligently about them . . . helping clients, coworkers, employees, community members, stakeholders, leaders . . . understand the distinctions? WHAT DO YOU DO? This chapter defines seven characteristics to help you see the whole of the methods available to support your work.

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32. Dynamic Planning and the Power of Charrettes

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32 bill lennertz

Dynamic Planning and the

Power of Charrettes

The foundation of democracy is faith in . . . human intelligence and in the power of pooled and cooperative experience . . . to generate progressively the knowledge and wisdom needed to guide collective action. . . . [E]ach individual has something to contribute, whose value can be assessed only as [it] enters into the final pooled intelligence constituted by the contributions of all.

—John Dewey

Case Study: Transforming a Parking Lot into a

Transit-Oriented Village

Prior to the building of I-680, the Walnut Creek area in Contra Costa County, California, was predominantly bungalow and ranch homes nestled among orchards. Residents were either associated with the walnut industry or had relocated from the urban San Francisco Bay area. The arrival of the highway interchange, adjacent to the local Pleasant Hill BART (Bay Area Rapid

Transit) station, began to transform what was once a quiet agricultural valley into a regional transportation hub.

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