Continuing Conversations

Often I have a conversation with someone, and afterwards there is follow-up to be done, sharing more ideas and links. I could write a personal email, but it makes more sense to write most of it here, for anyone to read. I can send a personal email that points to the “Continuing Conversation”

Starting the next ten years of my life #XH2027

The countdown to Exponentially Human 2027 has begun. It is now less that ten years until 16-18 September 2027.

That date is likely to arrive more quickly than I expect, but for now, here at the start of the ten year countdown, I’m giving myself permission to relax for a bit, do things slowly, and see what the Landscape of Change around me looks like at this point in time.

This is an open letter to myself – i.e. minimal explanations about context. I don’t know how it will turn out, perhaps some kind of to do list. Calling it a “might do” list is probably more accurate. It’s a “no pressure” list of possibilities for me to choose from. I’ll list them as they come to mind.

First a memory jogger of what happened September 16-18 2017

Review of my 16-18 September 2017


Saturday 16th

  • Introduced Chief Gbade Adejumo to farmer pastoralist conflict content on federated wiki in addition to his own.
  • Recorded a few related “missing” Q and As on our phones while we were in the same room –  easier than the ones we’d done at a distance.

Sunday 17th

  • Met a few people at Newspeak House, mostly related to David Bovill’s FEASTzero
  • We enjoyed a “FEAST” meal and conversations
  • I introduced Gbade and Elfneh Bariso
  • Nina videoed a conversation between them about pastoralism and related issues
  • There were various “show and tell” things and related discussion
  • I was delighted when Dil showed a website (including a logo) that he’d put together for
  • Dil took a photo of Gbade with his “More and Less” notice for XH2027 “time capsule”- big ideas

Monday 18th

  • Introduced Steve Podmore and Gbade
  • Steve recorded some of our conversation, partly as a souvenir for the three of us, partly to share with others
  • Told Steve about the “time capsule” photos and he did his
  • I gave Gbade my (heavily annotated) copy of Technology versus Humanity to take back to Nigeria as he was reading it with great interest and wondering how best to get a copy – so now we have another “shared point of reference” book.
  • In it I wrote a reminder to him ref our agreement that we are both Explorers, Pioneers, Chroniclers and Guides in the Landscape of Change
  • Fell into conversation with two young recent graduates – they also recognised themselves in the description of the Landscape of Change, and our roles as Explorers, Pioneers, Chroniclers and Guides (living locally so we intend to meet again)

At a distance 16-18 September 2017

A mixture of Skype, WhatsApp, Telegram, emails, phone calls, and the DadamacConnect Contact form.


At this point the phone rang… and before that call had finished it rang again (two excellent conversations).

Now it’s two hours later and there are other things to be done today. No more time this afternoon for a “might do” list, or a reminder of what I did at a distance. I’ll leave this as it is and press publish.





Sep 20, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Continuing Conversations, Open Letters

#XH2027 A dance between fact and fiction

XH2027 reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s saying that “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life” (wikipedia)

Fiction becoming fact

Exponentially  Human Twenty Twenty-Seven (XH 2027) began as a piece of fiction and is becoming more real by the day.

The fiction began last year when I saw a call for contributions to a book about possible futures, ten, twenty or fifty years ahead.  All will be based on different perceptions of life now and what the authors see as likely (or possible, or desirable) to happen next.  My chapter began as pure fiction. It describes a particular event that happens in ten years time. It is called Exponentially  Human Twenty Twenty-Seven. It celebrates a future that is better than it might have been, thanks to all our individual small steps, shared vision, and ways we’ve supported each other in the ten years between then and now.

In the chapter the celebration marks the tenth anniversary of something that came to call itself  “Exponentially Human”. By 2027 it had become a world wide, loosely defined, network of people who had learned to collaborate more effectively. That collaboration came about partly because of better communication systems, and partly because of what the people had learned from each other and about each other.  That combination helped them to act together in new ways that they jokingly called “Exponentially Human”.

“Exponentially Human” was to be something that just emerged, but I also wanted to tie it into a special date.

My chapter is set ten years into the future.

The date for the celebration is !6-18 September Twenty Twenty-Seven.


Today is Saturday 16 September Twenty Seventeen. In my imagined future the countdown starts today.

So, how will the facts play out compared to the fiction? I’m about to find out.

What is going on?

I have a friend staying with me,. He arrived yesterday (later I will ask his permission to write more about who he is). Today  we are working on something connected with his research. I’m helping him to make it more visible. I’m using the Federated Wiki to do that. When I wrote the chapter I had no idea I’d be using the Federated Wiki. I only started to learn how to do that a couple of months ago, thanks to David Bovill and my interest in his project “FEAST”.

Tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, we’ll go over to Newspeak House. I’ll introduce my visitor to a dozen or so other people (some I already know, some who are new to me). We’ll all have lunch together. We’ll explore ideas and share individual commitments about what we’ll be doing next. During the day we’ll be working on some of those things. We’ll be learning from each other, developing skills, capturing information.

The reason we’re getting together is because this weekend also happens to be a special date for a related project called FEAST. It’s thanks to FEAST that we’re all getting together, and thanks for FEAST that there will be a shared meal.


Sharing a meal is a key element of FEAST.

When I wrote the chapter I didn’t know about FEAST. When I discovered it I wanted to know more. The vision for FEAST was like a perfect prototype of what I was trying to imagine for my three day celebration in 2027 – except FEAST was already doing some of it in practice, and was way ahead of me in knowing how it would all work.

Not only that but various dates had been discussed for a possible launch for FEAST, including 15-17 September 2017 (to tie in with a festival in Prague). In fact people had started to describe 15-17 September as ‘FEAST zero”. Imagine it. FEAST zero happening almost exactly ten years before XH2027.

I don’t know how much time I’ll have to chronicle September 16-18 Twenty Seventeen until it is over.  But when It is over I plan to do an audit of some present realities,  put them in the “digital time capsule”, and… well.. more of that later. Now it is time to return to action.

To get involved see Your photos for the #XH2027 time capsule

(I may add some more links in a few days time)

Sep 16, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Connections, Continuing Conversations, Open Letters

#LandscapeOfChange and #XH2027

Landscape of Change

People often use ideas of travel to describe life. “Life’s journey” “Following in the footsteps of…” “Being at the cross roads” “Going down a blind alley”.

So what kind of life journey are we on at present? What does the landscape look like?

We live in a time of increasingly rapid change. When people look at their lives and the way ahead it is unlikely that they will see a Landscape of Predictability. It is much more likely that they will see a Landscape of Change.

Four “Landscape of Change” roles

I’m seeing  myself in four roles connected with being a traveller through the Landscape of Change. The roles are “Explorer”,”Pioneer”,”Chronicler” and “Guide”.

I’m starting to “interrogate myself” about the roles using the classic questions “What, Why and How”

Here goes.


What is Explorer doing?

Explorer is “visiting places” in the Landscape of Change and exploring them.

Most people are too busy with their daily lives to stop and explore the Landscape of Change in a slow and thoughtful way. Explorer has been travelling around there for years, looking, thinking, and asking questions.

There is plenty to explore. It is possible to find things that are “ahead of their time, just as it is possible to find things that are “behind the times”. Exploring examples and thinking about how things compare offers new perspectives. All kinds of things come into view, things that are easily overlooked by the casual observer. Spending time to explore the Landscape of Change is a way to discover “landmarks” and to make sense of what would otherwise be unfamiliar. Familiarity with aspects of the Landscape of Change makes it easier to navigate the rapidly changing present and future.

Explorer likes looking at changes and visiting places where “the future” and “possible futures” are “in evidence”. The evidence is sometimes to be seen in practical work that is being done, especially work that challenges orthodoxy. Other “evidence” of possible futures is to be found in ideas and experiments that are being discussed.

Given that Explorer is not exploring in the conventional sense, it may be helpful to give more explanation of the places she visits.

Just like a traditional explorer, she often visits real places. She thinks of them as “material places”. These “material places” are ordinary, physical places. In those places people meet face-to-face.

She also visits “immaterial places” – ones that are accessed online, “in the cloud”. Spending time “in the cloud” is a great way to meet people from around the globe, and to explore different perspectives and emerging ideas.

Like other people who are explorers she goes to places that are new to her, but are not necessarily new to others. Some parts of the Landscape of Change are already inhabited, some are previously explored and mapped by others and some are previously unexplored. Some only exist in the imagined future. Dancing between reality and imagination is part of Explorer’s role.

It’s all about self-directed learning done in an informal way. It’s discovery learning about our rapidly changing world. It’s exploration.

Why does Explorer explore the Landscape of Change?

Like many people who explore unfamiliar territory, she is drawn to explore the Landscpe of Change simply “because it is there”. Reasons she gives include:

  1. To widen her horizons, knowledge and understanding
  2. To follow her personal interests and satisfy her curiosity
  3. To meet new people
  4. To learn new skills

How does Explorer explore the Landscape of Change?

She explores alone or with others, and observes, participates, discusses and reflects. Sometimes she’s leading the way, sometimes she’s following in the footsteps of others. If her “journey” is done with an air of freshness and enquiry and with an eye to systemic changes and the future then it is part of her exploration of the Landscape of Change.


What is Pioneer doing in the Landscape of Change?

Pioneer is working with others – being creative, experimenting and prototyping.

Why does Pioneer do that?

  1. To help her innovative friends
  2. To know how things work in practice
  3. To demonstrate possibilities
  4. To speak and write from experience
  5. To get things started
  6. To build collaborative relationships
  7. To have the integrity of “walking her talk”
  8. To learn new skills

How does Pioneer do it?

Pioneer is drawn to help with work that is original, purposeful, long term and initiated by the people who are immersed in the challenges and opportunities.  All her pioneering work is done with other people. Pioneer and her collaborator(s) may have differing reasons for collaborating with each other on a particular initiative. That doesn’t matter. What matters is the level of commitment.


What is Chronicler doing?

Chronicler is doing what it says in the dictionary – A chronicler is a person who writes accounts of important or historical events (Dictionary, Google search August 21 2017)

The Landscape of Change chronicler is writing accounts about the emergence of ideas, insights, collaborations, strategies, approaches, etc in the Landscape of Change.

Why does Chronicler do her chronicling?

  1. To clarify her ideas
  2. To contribute to the general pool of knowledge
  3. To support informed decision making
  4. To challenge orthodoxy
  5. To have evidence of work that she and her collaborators have done

How does Chronicler do her chronicling?

She usually chronicles by writing online but she sometimes contributes to publications that come out in print.

Thanks to David Bovill she has recently started to write collaboratively within the Federated Wiki community.  

The Federated Wiki is innovative online space which Ward Cunningham and some of his contacts are creating to enable a new approach to collaborative writing and the co-creation of knowledge – see The Federated Wiki: Ward Cunningham at TEDxPortland 2012. It is very much part of the Landscape of Change so when she is writing she often finds Explorer and Pioneer working there as well.


What is Guide doing?

She is doing what any travel guide does – but in an unconventional location:

  1. Helping people to visit the Landscape of Change at their leisure
  2. Taking individuals and groups on guided tours
  3. Helping people to consider their future relationship with this Landscape
  4. Preparing people to explore the Landscape of Change independently
  5. Preparing people to become pioneers and settlers in the Landscape of Change

Guide is only concerned with the needs of other people, and can therefore expect to be compensated by them for the time she gives. Guide shares what she know in ways that are tailored to their individual starting points and requirements. Guide is familiar with the territory and helps people to find their way in this amazing Landscape of Change.

Why does Guide do that?

She believes it is a valuable service to provide because:

  1. Many people are (or will be) facing futures that are disconnected from what they previously expected.
  2. People need opportunities to reflect, and to see change in their lives as part of a bigger picture
  3. Visiting the Landscape of Change provides a new perspective.
  4. People who have been helped to explore the Landscape of Change will be better prepared for making their own way through it in future.
  5. It is preferable to explore the Landscape of Change in company, rather than alone and unprepared.

How does Guide provide this service?

  • Through conversations and workshops
  • Sharing with others (individuals or groups) what she knows about the Landscape of Change
  • Exploring together what in the Landscape of Change is most relevant to their needs, interests, hopes, confusions, challenges, circumstances, uncertainties, plans, and opportunities.

Observations on the roles

Once I started investigating my four separate roles as a traveller in the Landscape of Change I noticed that the first two roles are about learning, while the other two are about sharing what I know. This self-awareness helps me to decide how to allocate my time.

On the learning side Explorer is concentrating on ideas and theory, while Pioneer is more practical.

The other two roles are about structuring and sharing what I learn. Chronicler is “wordifying” what I have learned, and “parking” it, where it can be accessed by me and by others (so Chronicler works partly for my benefit and partly for the benefit of others).

Guide however is providing a specific service to others. This is why, at an early stage, there needs to be a clarity about what is involved and the nature of the exchange between “the Guider and the Guided”. Both sides need to see value in the transaction.

Guide may be rewarded in a material way or an immaterial way, so is not always looking for financial reward. However Guide does require compensation in a way that is markedly different to Explorer, Pioneer, and Chronicler (all of whom have their own particular relationship to motivation, money, and living in the practical material world).

Some initiatives I am involved in engage all the roles, but that does not mean it is appropriate to dance between the roles without awareness of doing so.

Landscape of Change and Exponentially Human 2027

Things are coming together. All my apparently unconnected work can be accounted for within the mental framework of these Landscape of Change roles.

No wonder I’m currently wanting to do more writing and speaking. Chronicler and Guide have been overshadowed of late by Explorer and Pioneer. They have been busy with  David Bovill and team on FEAST and with fellow participants in Outlandish Academy on Federated Wiki. (Chronicler has a lot of work to do covering all that.)

I’m inviting so many different people to the Exponentially Human Twenty Twenty-Seven event (also known as XH2027). They are a mixed bunch but become a cohesive group when they are seen as the visitors, newcomers, explorers and pioneers in the Landscape of Change, who I connect with through my different roles there. Their work and lives will shape our co-created future and will give us cause for celebrating aspects of how we are living in the Landscape of Change ten years from now.


Edited since original publication

This was originally published as on Open Letter to Brian. The introduction has been removed (and copied below) and there have been minor edits to make it more relevant to other people.

“Hi Brian. Your reference to my travels in the Landscape of Change got me thinking during my holiday. Gradually the Landscape of Change theme emerged as the key to re-doing my Holacracy of One roles. Now I’m home and writing the ideas up ready for our next WhatsApp call.

Given this is an open letter I’ll add a couple of notes about the Landscape of Change. (I may come back later and add a link about Holacracy of One – but that’s not the most important idea here – Landscape of Change is.)”

Aug 26, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Connections, Continuing Conversations, Open Letters | Tags: , , ,

My answers ref: Before I Die

These are questions Olivia asked me at a Before I Die Network meeting.

We didn’t record it.

The answers might have gone this way (based on the time allocations she had in mind for the questions).


What are you passionate about working towards at the moment?


I’m working with David Bovill on something called FEAST.

F E A S T is about Food, Environment, Art, Speech and Tuning-in-to-the-radio. It’s about sharing our own local experience with local experience in other places. We’re doing that by having local events and twinning local radio stations in different places.

Right now I’m working on a radio programme that brings in people who are doing amazing projects in Nigeria and Ethiopia.
And for me it’s not just about the content it’s about the long term vision – and combining different elements of communication technologies in new ways and bringing  people together.

On top of that it ties in with a chapter I wrote recently for a book about possible futures.

In my chapter there is a fictional celebration set in 2027. Exactly what we’re celebrating is explained in the chapter – but what delighted me about FEAST is that it’s got all the elements I need for my future event – but in their 2017 versions. So working with David on FEAST in 2017 is part of  making my story of 2027 into fact instead of fiction.


You’ve set up a charity, Dadamac Foundation, written about the future of digital communities, worked to create more collaborative and value-led communities through technology…

What do you think is the common thread/theme to what you’ve been working on?


It’s related to an idea that I picked up when I was doing an Open University course many years ago – and it’s about using digital technologies to make the kind of world I want to live in.

I went on this course way back before mobile phones, or laptops, or the Internet as we know it today. The course was about computers and people.

The amazing idea was that digital technologies (which we called “computer power”) would change almost everything about the way we would live our lives – and I’ve  seen that become true – although we’re still in the very early stages.

I was taught that this world was so new that we could shape it – not just as end users but as designers and influencers.

Back when I started exploring digital technologies we had stand-alone microcomputers with very small memories, and people like me learnt to write our own programs, so we could  make the computers do what we wanted them to do. I was lucky that I was also influenced by Professor Max Clowes who introduced me to more powerful computers as well, and to Artificial Intelligence.

Things changed as the personal computers got more powerful and came with all kinds of capabilities built in so most people just became users. Perhaps in a way things are changing back a bit now with mobile phones and more people writing apps – which is something David teaches people to do. I don’t know.

The idea that links all my work is a curiosity and exploration of what it means to live with this new power. I’m intrigued by the implication of living at this point in time –  a time when digital technologies are dramatically changing so many aspects of our world and how we can relate to it and to each other. Human beings have never lived in this kind of world before. We all need to decide if we’ll play our part in shaping it, or if we’ll just leave it to other people and hope we’ll like what they’ll do. Personally I prefer to help shape it.


What’s the ultimate vision for that? (Since you wrote a chapter about 10 years into the future – what’s your bold / audacious vision for what will have changed in the world for the better in 10 years?)


The most interesting changes I think will be changes in how “most people” think. There will still be people who cling onto outmoded thinking norms of the early years of the 21st century, and some extreme versions of them, but they will be the minority. The full reality of living in a connected world will finally have permeated people’s imaginations.

We’ll also be responding to other huge technological changes.

There are lots of ideas that are around now that seem bizarre to many people, but will be mainstream in another ten years.

I could point you to all kinds of work relating to big shifts in how things will be different – not for utopian reasons, but simply because of old ways crumbling and not being fit for purpose. Things will change because there will be such a mismatch between the old ways of doing things and the new ways that are shaped by the tech that will underpin how everything is done in future.

Information will be much faster flowing, more informative, and “natural” to interact with than it is today thanks to artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and all the rest. We’ll be as comfortable interacting with people we’ve never “really” met, as we are with our face-to-face contacts, and we’ll know much more than we are able to know now.

In that kind of world, relationships are either ultra-local (easy to meet up face-to-face) or ‘beyond local’ – which means people who are anywhere in the world where you’re more likely to connect virtually than face-to-face. Virtual locations may only be a couple of hours “local journey” away, or they may be the other side of the world. On a day-to-day basis there’s not much difference.

This experience of connectedness changes our sense of identity and “local belonging” and our personal place in the world. It’s ultra-local then globally scattered.  People are people, and we get to connect with each other far more than before. This genuine personal connectedness makes a nonsense of many of our previous ideas of identity, and separation from “others” – national boundaries and so forth.

Many “realities and perceptions” will change. It’s hard to explain any of the many mind-shifts without having first had time to explain the interrelated technological, financial and social shifts surrounding them – but from my view point they are positive


Where do you think that vision started for you?


There was a book called “Technology versus Humanity” by Gerd Leonhard – which built on my long-standing fascination with the relationship between digital technologies and people.

He outlines the rate of technological change and the scary fact that “technology has no ethics”. But people do have ethics – so I started to wonder what the world would look like if we started to concentrate on becoming better at the things that computers aren’t so good at like ethics, and genuine empathy and creativity.

He’s not the only influence. I could give you a long list of the people who have influenced my thinking over the years, and the inter-related topics that have been covered – but it would just sound like a list of set books, and meetup groups, and names of friends, and it wouldn’t convey the ideas themselves so I won’t do that.

I’ve been obsessively interested in this stuff for years, I’ve done lots of innovative practical work, learned from people who are creative and original thinkers and doers, and I’ve reflected deeply on what I’ve seen and experienced. It’s all interconnected and it feeds into the vision.


What would you like your role to be in contributing towards that vision?


That’s a much easier one to answer. It’s to help people to mould the future, for themselves and for others.

My role is to find people who have a sense of the deep changes that are happening, who are attuned to the pre-shocks of the disconnect that is coming between the present-and-past and the-present-and-future and then help them. Some of them feel the disconnect, but don’t know what it is. They think it’s just that they are in the wrong job, or something like that. Often they are dissatisfied or confused and think it is “their fault”. They don’t see it in the context of the deeper systemic changes and of their transition into this totally unknown future.

I can help them to see their present from the view-point of the future I see, so they can make decisions in the light of arriving safely in that future. Other futures are of course available, and some are grim. Personally I prefer to walk in the direction of the one I describe in my “Exponentially Human” chapter – and help others to head that way and co-create it.


So – we’ve talked about the ultimate goal. Tell me about some of the key highlights / turning points / obstacles you’ve overcome so far on that journey. (What scenes would make it into the film of your story so far?)


That’s a very “Before I Die Network” question – like when you ask us to imagine getting a Nobel prize and we have to take turns saying why we’ve won it.  So – a film….

I suppose visually it would be interesting to see the development of the technology so we’d go back to the early days of programming my Exidy Sorcerer and using it with the infants I was teaching. That was down in Cornwall so we could linger on some stunning scenery as well.

Then probably we’d jump to the start of my African involvement, so you’d see me with my friend Agnita and her Nigerian husband Peter, and their children in London. You’d see Agnita and Peter and me doing various things for his “Oke-Ogun Community Development Agenda 2000 Plus” project. Then you’d see Peter leaving for Nigeria with all the equipment he was taking out there.

We couldn’t ignore the terrible time when I got the email saying he’d been killed, and I had to go round and tell Agnita.

Then it would be me on the way to Nigeria to represent Agnita and the children at his funeral, and during my time there we’d see some of the people who were to play key roles in the continuation of his work.

My shift from full time work to supply teaching (which was “challenging”) was noteworthy. It makes the point about the tension between paying the bills and giving time to the work you believe is important – work that doesn’t “tick the boxes” for external funding.

There were various adventures during my working holidays in Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya over the years – visually interesting – but to be honest they weren’t the most important part of the story. The important parts were always the relationships I was forming, the way my assumptions were being challenged, and the insights I was gaining. Both the Oke-Ogun project and  Fantsuam Foundation would feature strongly.

The UK side included work I did with Lorraine Duff and then Nikki Fishman that enabled some useful UK-Africa collaborative initiatives, including the launch of “Peoples-uni” with Lorraine Duff, Omo Oaiya and Professor Dick Heller, and what Nikki and Dil Green are now doing for DadaMac. The outcomes were good – but I’m no screen-writer and visually I don’t know what “scenes” there would be to show.

Much of the work has been where there is a need for communication and connection but the tech isn’t sufficiently developed to make it happen, or the cultural differences make for gaps in understanding. Then we do work-arounds to make up for what is missing. That is very  “time-intensive, human work” – some if it could be done better by developments in “the communications technology” and some of is it, and always will be, all about the human relationships.

Most of the story is about painstakingly developing ways to work effectively at a distance – based on what I was learning about the reality on the African side. The other side of it was recognising the communication gaps between on-the-ground projects and the “establishment” of “International Development” – big NGOs, universities, politicians etc. There are also perception gaps between interests in “technology as development” and “technology for development” (I wasted most of 2008 because of not recognising that).

So lots of learning curves, and going down blind alleys. Lots of going to free meetings in London, and joining online groups. Lots of one-to-one typed communications with people I know and respect but seldom if ever meet face-to-face.

Most of what I’ve done is visually boring. It’s months and years of hour-after-hour and day-after-day working somewhat obsessively, often in physical isolation.

But all the time there has been the experience of pushing the boundaries of communication – and experiencing a very real new kind of “community” – because of the ways we could overcome barriers of distance, and culture.

My work has always been different because of the way it has been built on relationships, and the need to keep communicating despite distance, and not giving up despite that fact that the internet only provided part of the solution. It was never just the easy stuff of communicating where the Internet existed, or staying in my own cultural silo.

Perhaps that is what makes my work special, and gives it a futuristic feel. It’s because of this imperative to communicate, a sense of people drawn together in order to rub-minds, and share our very different perspectives and resources, because of a shared purpose.

I hadn’t thought of that before – but it is having a shared purpose that connects people despite differences, and this is what will be the world changer – when we finally realise that we do all have a shared purpose (which is about enabling humanity to continue to thrive on the one and only planet we have).

In my UK-Africa and Internet work it’s like being on a journey together where we all bring something different and the differences give us our strength – when we manage to overcame the challenges that such differences and “distances” throw up.

Years of experience of working in the “online space” with mixed communities and shared purpose has shaped my thinking of how it is, and could be, to live in a more effectively interconnected world. What I’ve written in Exponenentially Human, and what I’m doing within FEAST make those ideas and realities accessible to a wider audience.


What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of that journey? (or what 3 lessons or reflections have you learnt that could help people at the start of similar journeys?)


One is about organising time.

I don’t always do it, but I’m glad I have it as a possibility. It’s a combination of “The Holacracy of One” approach and the Pomodoro Technique. But you’ll need to look them up, as they take quite a bit of explaining.

The second thing is about seeing we have two ears and one mouth – and taking that as a reminder to try to listen more than we talk – and to really listen, not just take a turn at being quiet while our minds wander elsewhere. This is like a lot of good advice I pass on – I have considerable difficulty doing it myself.

The third thing is about seeing things from other points of view. (The u.lab MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) on Transforming Business, Society, and Self is good for addressing that.)

This excellent, important and often illusive skill is illustrated in a cartoon where two people are sitting at opposite sides of a table looking at a card with a number on it. To one person it looks like a 9, to the other it looks like a 6.

I love the caption. It says “Just because you’re right doesn’t mean that I’m wrong” and of course its equally true the other way round – and we’d avoid so many arguments and and worse if only we could remember that.

Apr 24, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Continuing Conversations | Tags: , , ,

Thinking aloud about Holacracy of One roles – part 4 – conversation with Care-giver

In Thinking aloud about Holacracy of One roles – part 3 – the collaborator’s list my Whole Self (WS) was looking at the list that Role 2 had prepared. It was long. The conversation finished with W S saying:

Hmm.  I’m not at all sure I can allow all those. You’re not the only Role in my life you know. I think Caregiver will have something to say if I agree to support all that you want to do.

And I did say that I want to try for four roles this time around, like George has.

We’ll have to come back to this list and knock it into better shape. Try and have a think about it before we meet again.Meanwhile – I think we deserve a break. Time for another cuppa.

While I was out in the kitchen getting the cuppa who did I bump into but Care-giver (CG), who asked how I was getting on.

She suggested taking a break together, so here we are sitting down with a cuppa and having a chat:

CG – So how’s it going?

WS – You tell me!

You’re the one who is supposed to have the sensible, balanced, approach – the one who provides the “tea and sympathy” and generally keeps things tidy and healthy and sane around here.

I nearly got you properly written up when I was doing roles the first time around, back in 2105.  I’ve mentioned your purpose once already today: “Care-giver” a catch-all role that covers my personal-and-private life and also spills over into my Working-and-public life.

I even got as far as filling in a couple of “Accountabilities” for you:

  • Decluttering and reorganising my home to reflect and allow changing use
  • Giving careful attention in various ways depending on person/people involved

And I started on the “Projects (Fields of Exploration):

  • Home
  • Various personal relationships
  • Personal development and nurturing

You seemed so valuable that I reinstated you without even thinking about it. I didn’t even call you in for interview.

CG – Hmm!

” ‘Twas ever thus.”

WS – Okay. You got me there. I admit I do tend to sideline you.


You know the history of that quote… and, although it’s very different now to how it was back then it still hits home on so many levels…

Back then…

All those heart-wrenching, heaven-knows-how-we-manage-things-this-time, conversations over a cuppa with my next- door neighbour…

That’s along time ago. Two young mums with tough challenges to cope with..

It’s sobering to stop and realise just how hard things were then, and how the challenges have changed.

It’s easier now in many ways… so many differences and yet so much the same…

Here I am, down to the final third of the cup of tea and … out pops the quote from you, and it hits me like a completely fresh revelation. It always did. You’re right – ’twas ever thus – and on so many different levels.

What is it about getting to that final third of the cupful? Or is it just that I habitually stop two-thirds of the way through?

That’s when “it” always happened before. Back then.. the “two thirds through” was always the point when one or other of us would  realise that the problem wasn’t unique. It had come before, and it would come again (not with exactly the same details, but with a recognisable pattern) and somehow there was strength in that realisation. Knowing that we’d been both “been here before” (and so had countless others before us)… always with a challenge that seemed as new, and unique and impossible as the present one. Yet…somehow we were still here, and the impossible challenges of the past had been met… and had faded into a general memory of “getting on with things” and working them out somehow.

There we would be together: one of us overwhelmed by a problem and pouring it all out, the other listening, asking questions…. neither knowing how to resolve things, just sharing a cuppa , either at her kitchen table or mine. Well it wasn’t a proper “cup o’ tea” cuppa with us then, it was instant coffee but even so…

Anyhow, remembering those times, and the value of that friendship…

And the pattern..

Every time, we’d get to a point where one us would suddenly realise and say the words  – ’twas ever thus!

And we’d take comfort from the realisation, and lo and behold – a third of a cupful of tepid coffee would be sitting in my cup, waiting to be drunk. So I’d quickly finish it, (and I think she was finishing hers too) and then we’d go on our separate ways to “get on with things” as best we could, with a bit more confidence, courage, and clarity.

And now, after all those years you’ve given me another ” ‘Twas ever thus” moment,  and once again it took me by surprise.

You’re right of course.

CG – In what way?

WS – ” ‘Twas ever thus”

And in this context the “ever thus” is that I know you’re valuable – but I never pay you any attention.

Actually I don’t pay much attention to me either. There’s a reason why I often remember the fridge magnet that said “Take my advice – I’m not using it!”

Let’s revisit the start of this conversation.

I said “You seemed so valuable that I reinstated you without even thinking about it. I didn’t even call you in for interview” and you said, rather pointedly ” ‘Twas ever thus”..

So then I realised that I do tend to sideline you, and maybe we should have that conversation together to work out your role.

CG – I think we both know pretty well what it is.

It won’t be as long or difficult to define as the other roles… but it would make a lot of sense to stop and consider my role again.

WS – Okay, Where do you want to start?

CG – Well.

It’s getting late, and you haven’t eaten what I’d call “a proper meal” yet today – and I would like to see you in bed and asleep before midnight for a change. What if we agree to postpone going over the details of my role for now and jump to the part of the interview that is supposed to come after that?

WS – You mean the bit where I ask you if you want to keep your role name, or if you want to change it?

CG – That bit’s easy. I’ll stick with Care Giver. Do you remember what comes after that?

WS – Erm..

Oh yes.


You’ve got me digging a hole for myself to fall in here haven’t you?

The next bit is where I agree that you have a valuable role to play in my life..

CG – And then?

WS – And then I ask you what you need from me so that you can play that role.

CG – Exactly so… and what would my answer be?

WS – Well. It would be along the lines of…

“If I’m to fulfil my role then I need to be given some time to do it” and “You need to make some space in your life for me if you want me to play a role”.

CG – Exactly.

How can I be your Care-Giver if you never take any notice of me?

We’re supposed to be a team, you and me.

No wonder you have trouble working out who else you (or is it “we”?) want to include on the team if you can’t even find time to stop and have a chat with me now and again.

WS – How do you mange to say that so calmly and unaggressively?

Were you watching that “Non-violent conflict resolution webinar over my shoulder while I was getting dressed this morning?

CG – Enough of your digressions.

What did I say about food and sleep?

WS – Okay.

So – let’s agree what we’ll do next time we sit down together.

Let’s check my diary. We can at least fix a time before we go our separate ways.

Thing is I haven’t sorted out my roles yet, and until I do that it’s really hard to set my priorities.

I thought I’d get the role thing finished today… but everything seems to take longer that I expect.

And then there are the emails I meant to do today.

And there is something else I need to follow up. Someone suggested to someone else that I could usefully help them – and I do want to help if I can.

You of all roles C-G should understand how I feel about that.

A couple of messages about it flitted across my phone screen when I was coming home on the train last week – probably last Tuesday. I tried to follow up over the weekend but I can’t find the messages. I thought I must have seen them on FaceBook, but I can’t find them anywhere. I don’t want to just ignore what was suggested – but i can’t respond. I just wish I knew where to find the conversation.

CG – You’re digressing again.

How’s this for a compromise?

No more discussion of roles just now. You come with me, and we’ll get something to eat, While we do that we can “rub minds” for a bit in a “no pressure” way, or not, as the mood takes us.

We’ve agreed my name and purpose – and you have agreed that you have to give me some time. I’ll be back to remind you of that.

Come on. I’ll help you to tidy this away…



Feb 28, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Continuing Conversations | Tags: , , ,

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