Suspending Judgment

This year I have the privilege of serving on the dissertation committee for Jen Mason, an engaging and highly competent graduate student conducting seminal research into “Mindfulness, Suspension and Learning in Multi-Stakeholder Groups” for her Ph.D. from Prescott College. I am grateful for this opportunity to reconsider the importance of “suspension” in productive dialogue and collaboration. I first encountered this idea while participating in a series of International Women’s Dialogues through the Dialogue Project at … Read more…

Talking Better Together by Opening to Change

Eighty people sit in groups of four around small tables spread across a gymnasium floor. The topic is water, always a touchy subject in California. This time, however, the problem isn’t having too little water; it’s having too much. The state “owns” the water and grants rights to use it to various agencies throughout the state. There’s a catch, however: If you don’t use what you’ve been licensed to use, you can lose rights to … Read more…

The Power of Unexamined Beliefs

When we get stuck in “solution wars” in meetings, unbeknownst to us, we are often arguing about our beliefs or mental models about the world. Mental models, according to Peter Senge define “deeply engrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.” These mental models are double-edged swords. On the one hand they provide a framework that helps us order and interpret the world; … Read more…

Opening to Change

We are witnessing the logical result of people embracing absolutes in their minds and in their actions in Mali, Nigeria, Paris, Beirut, and the plane crash in the Sinai. These are acutely painful reminders of the travesties that are possible when human beings close themselves off to change and mindlessly cling to beliefs about the way the world is “supposed to be.” My rigidity and reactions to the beliefs of others is not in the … Read more…