Open Letters

Open letters began as a series of posts between two friends (Brian and me). Subsequently open letters became a useful way to “think aloud” and work in a transparent way. Open letters are now serving as “the next step” in various endeavours and collaborations. They are my reflections based on ongoing conversations with different people. By posting these reflections here, as I think them through, it is easy for anyone to catch up with how things are shaping up and what has gone before.

Us and “Networks as a driver of system change? ” by Catherine Howe

Hi Esther and Nikki

I thought this might interest you. To me it demonstrates much of the “heart” and the experiences we share regarding systemic change. I’m thinking of Esther within Civil Society Forum, Nikki in Dadamac Foundation, other contacts fighting similar battles in other organisations and networks, and me in what I’m doing.

I’ve given you the link to the original post, then underneath it I’ve copied a few quotes, and I’ve highlighted the bits that jumped out at me. If you read those highlights first, then you’ll see why I think you’ll relate to what Catherine Howe has written

Networks as a driver of system change?

Now for the bits I’ve copied so I can highlight overlaps.


…whether or not you can ‘control’ a network.  My view is that it is more about curating a network rather than controlling it.


networks need someone (or a small group) at the heart


helping to bring people together around definitions or form a common understanding around issues.

This role of curator was observed as one which every organisation increasingly values, yet very few actually pay for or formally recognise


There was a lot of interesting discussion about the relationship between networks and hierarchies


.. agreement around the need for generosity and reciprocitythe social side of socio-technical system change.


At the centre of this conversation is the question of purpose – and specifically how and who defines it.

So, here we have yet more confirmation that:

  • We are not alone
  • The work we all do as curators within our networks is valuable
  • Getting that value recognised and then rewarded in the kind of currency that gets us through the supermarket checkout is a battle still to be won

As I write that I think of how it works within the Enspiral model.

Something there for us to look at and rub minds on perhaps.

Meanwhile keep up the good work folks – the paid bits and the network-curation bits within the alternative mysterious value-system that draws us into its service,

Nov 16, 2016 by pamela | Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , , , ,

@dilgreen “Twitter lessons” and UK Africa Professional Educators’ Seminar

Hi Dil,

Today I tweeted:

Let’s discuss. Especially ref UAL Wikipedia FABLAB connections.

You replied:

I have no idea what this means or refers to, or how to find out! I am going to need twitter lessons.

The abbreviations

I confess the message was somewhat “coded”. I apologise for that. It was written in haste on my phone during an event today. You can think of it as a reminder to myself of something I needed to share with you later – which I shall do now.

Joanna Norton had given a presentation at UK Africa Professional Educators’ Seminar (UKAPES).  The points I thought most potentially relevant to our work with Dadamac related to her students at University of the Arts London (UAL) in collaboration with Wikipedia (and FABLABs).  I’ll tell you more when we talk.

Twitter lessons

I’m not convinced you need lessons in using twitter (at least not at the basic level I use it) but nonetheless I shall take this opportunity to talk through this example, and then I’ll have the information to hand for anyone else who is getting started.

Sending a notification to your inbox

You, Dil, got a notification that I had sent the tweet because I mentioned you when I tweeted – 

Similarly John Dada (AKA  Nikki Fishman (AKA ) and Joannoa Norton ( will have had notifications in their inboxes.


I knew Joanna had seen the tweet when I got a notification that she had “liked” it.


I did a series of tweets while I was at UKAPES.

I wanted the tweets to be easy to find, so I added the same link every time –  #UKAPES

Joanna was a speaker. She also tweeted about the event. She didn’t send that tweet to me directly but I know about it because she included #UKAPES in her message, so when I checked the #UKAPES link I found her tweet in the collection along with mine.

She wrote:

Fantastic to have been part of today. A group of teachers in the diaspora taking the initiative to develop in

By the way, in our context CPD stands for “Continuing Professional Development”, but for some other people it’s “Commission on Presidential Debates”.


I also used #dadamac so that all the information I was tweeting about UKAPES would be visible alongside other #dadamac tweets. I was at UKAPES representing Dadamac, plus Joyce the UKAPES co-organiser is a Dadamac Changemaker and so is Elfneh – who was also out the front. It’s good to get these things cross referencing each other.

If you check out #dadamac you”ll see a reference to elder care from today’s UKAPES and then, a week or so earlier, tweets that John sent about his eldercare work at Fantsuam. These tweets would just get lost in the twitter stream if we didn’t put them all together with #dadamac.

On my way home I picked up another Tweet from Joanna, which of course will also have landed in your inbox.

Lets arrange a time to meet up and I can share info. on these projects. Come to perhaps?

Joanna and I cross paths every now and again, but it’s a long time since we had a proper catch up. Now we’re on the way to arranging one, and through twitter you and John have been introduced to Joannna.

Will you join us at UniArtsLondon?

Spreading the word and connecting via hashtags

I checked #UKAPES when I started to write this post. Joanna and I were the only other person who had used it during the event, but before leaving I mentioned that I’d been tweeting and using #UKAPES.  I see that some of the people from the event have now visited #UKAPES and retweeted, which means what I wrote has been spreading through their twitter feeds.

Not only that, but thanks to information about who retweeted I’ve picked up the contact details of more people from the event who I want to follow on twitter.

Every little helps, and I like the way that if I do something on twitter it feels part of something bigger, where there is energy, where other people are joining in and where we are contributing together.


Oct 28, 2016 by pamela | Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , ,

PS – FASST Holacracy update

Hi Brian – PS to the open letter.

I shared a Holacracy update during the session yesterday.

As you know I see FASST as an experiment in collaboration, and a possible focus for exploring Holacracy and Teal Organisational structures.

The Holacracy focus began when Sally kindly offered me some free coaching and facilitation services when we were both at a Teal Practitioners meeting. We agreed to make haste slowly, breaking the proposed process into smaller steps. That approach meant that after the first step we could review the situation and decide if we wanted to take the next step or not.

We’re at the end of the first step now. Meanwhile things have changed so much. Where we have landed now is not the same jumping off point we would have expected for step two. So we have agreed that we won’t do a step two.

At the time Sally and I started to explore doing Holacracy together she was working with EvolvingOrganisation and her offer was directed to my UK-Africa work with registered charity Dadamac Foundation. (By the way, shortly before November 19th look out for the new much improved website which should go live then. Don’t look earlier at the old one – it no longer gives an up to date picture.)

There was, and still is, interest in Holacracy regarding Dadamac Foundatioan, but unfortunately at the time Sally made her offer the Dadamac Foundation focus was on other things and it wasn’t a good time to experiment with Holacracy.

Hence the emergence of FASST as a possible alternative way to experiment, but FASST isn’t a traditional organisation. In its current “early emergence” form it doesn’t fit the Holacracy mould.

Christopher and I want to start experimenting with a firmly defined organisational structure within FASST, even if only as a prototype to adapt as time goes by. We are still planning to start with Holacracy, but we recognise that with the possible mismatch (and lack of a skilled facilitator), it may well morph into something else before long.

Please don’t let our tenuous connection to Holacracy put you off your current explorations of being a Holacracy of One.  That aspect of what we are doing with Holacracy is still valid.


Oct 13, 2016 by pamela | Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , , ,

FASST face-to-face October 12th

Hi Brian

As the “at a distance” member of FASST you may like to know what “the London lot” got up to yesterday. We met round at my place.

The people

The “we” was made up of :

  • Gavin who helped me to name FASST  (and places himself more on the boundary than within it).
  • Andrew Orford who describes himself as a FASST participant, which I think is good terminology. He leads some interesting local projects. When he brings them into FASST he’s free to discuss them on an abstract level and in the context of local action related to global realities and futurist ideas. You will recognise all this as relevant to my interests in the Landscape of Change. (Regarding discussing abstractions, you may see similarities to my relationships between theory and practice regarding my practical projects)
  • Christopher Wray who is probably at the  “core of FASST” as we are interested in the details of the processes we are setting up within FASST, as well as FASST’s group identity and purpose, and how we can help each other with the complementary initiatives we are involved with in Africa.
  • Me

Our four paths cross in different ways and this was the first time the four of us have been together to discuss FASST/collaboration. We’ve had various discussions in pairs in recent weeks, so this was a kind of group update.

Starting the session

We started off in an informal social way, and then agreed a structure based on our individual reasons for getting together, and on the time we had available. We weren’t looking for agreement – just greater clarity about “where people are” and how we relate as a group.

At previous meetings here, when Andrew and I were together, and also when Christopher and Gavin were here together, we had each written a review at the end of our conversations onto a personal A1 sheet.

You know the doors to the balcony. I stuck the four A1 sheets up there for reference. We knew things had moved on considerably for all of us in the meantime, so the sheets were by no means the latest picture. They were just relevant background, and reminders of where we had come from.

We agreed that at the end of the session we’d each work independently again on an A1 sheet to record our current thinking. (At the end it was interesting to notice what topics were emerging strongly over time.)

The structure

We needed some kind of structure because we can all “talk for England”.

You know what I’m like for jumping from detail to overview, and connecting to dozens of related ideas along the way. Imagine that to the power of four. We are all interested in patterns of information sharing and added value, from present and future perspectives, in human and digital ways, and at all levels from global, to hyper local, to personal, to neurophysiological – and from a variety of theoretical and practical perspectives. We also all like to give the context for what we’re talking about, so you can imagine what our free-flowing conversations cover, even if we are only meeting in pairs. Obviously we needed to state objectives and find a way to meet them.

The fact that we all turned out to have different objectives was no problem – we were responsible for meeting our own objectives.

Christopher’s objective related to new ideas. As the session progressed he called out when he got his first new idea – minimum objective achieved – and for some of the subsequent ones. It was an interesting positive evaluation feedback process for the rest of us to enjoy. 

We decided to allocate the time by people rather than by topic.

We took turns. Each one of us had five minutes to speak about whatever we were most concerned to share, while the other three listened carefully in silence. Then we had two minutes for silent reflection. Then another five minutes for Q and A.

After all four of us had done this we had a free flowing conversation.

We allowed the last quarter of an hour for personal refection captured on our individual A1 sheets (Christopher chose to add his to his earlier sheet).

We found that wasn’t the end. We were interested to see each others reflections, and so for another session it would be worth putting time aside for this final sharing. Fortunately we did have some leeway regarding times people needed to leave, beyond the formally agreed end time.

The A1 sheets

You can think of these sheets as individual, personal memory joggers of key interests and insights that emerge during a given meeting. It’s nothing like the agreed minutes of a meeting, but it is a version of reality.

We can each use the contents of our own sheet elsewhere to say “This is what I took away from the session”. Each sheet is a personal view, valid at a specific time, and influenced by what everyone else has contributed.

I am encouraging us all to take photos of what we put up and to share them publicly on twitter, but there is a tension in doing that.  What we record is simply “thinking aloud for our own purpose” i.e. not necessarily creating something that will communicate meaning to anyone else. Andrew has a talent for laying his thoughts out in a clear, visual way, which does create meaning for others. He has set us an example in the way he immediately shares what has captured. See @orford tweet for 12th October and another “sent the same day” tweet of our August 14th discussion.

I wonder if @GCP66 and@harshcopywriter share my reticence at showing session sheets to people outside the conversation. I certainly don’t have the same talents as Andrew – but I do like to help myself to explore ideas by doing diagrams as well as by “wordifying them”

Maybe I’ll get brave and tweet you the diagram on my sheet, to talk through when we next Skype.

Oct 13, 2016 by pamela | Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , ,

Metaphors and Clean Language

Hi Christopher

Following our discussions yesterday on metaphor and “where it sits” regarding thinking and communication (and FASST) I thought you might appreciate this video by Judy Rees on Clean Language and Metaphor


More about Judy here: Judy Rees

Judy is also active in RSA reinventing work network – next event plus more information and contact details for the network here

This video reminds me that I first heard about Clean Conversation from Leon Conrad of the Academy of Oratory. Leon and his colleague Giles worked with us at Dadamac Day 2015 – see 3 minute video

Sep 22, 2016 by pamela | Categories: Connections, Open Letters | Tags: , , , , , ,

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