AoPL Croatia 2017 harvesting

Wonderful group of people gathered in Croatia, Opatija 05 - 07 July 2017 to learn, practice and explore what is new and special about Participatory Leadership (PL), how to host and harvest meaningful conversations and and how can this help us to be the leaders we want to be. All together 29 people from 20 different organisations and 7 countries created magic together. It was special to witness that right after welcoming and framing and good checking in and sharing individual motivation, suddenly we saw what collectively brought us here! Sense of belonging, trust, inspiration and curiosity around what we can create together emerged between us... If it happens so easy and fast and strong and beautifully with the group of people that didn't know each other before and came there with different reasons and different backgrounds (HR specialists, sales directors, managers, consultants, regional and executive directors, software engineers, quality managers, marketing specialists, entrepreneurs, coaches, etc.), and have brought very diverse organizational cultures and work context (corporate, private sector, public administration, NGO), how can it be that we struggle with talking and listening to each other and finding meaningful solutions in our "regular" work where we are day by day present with our colleagues and partners and clients and other stakeholders? How can it be that we are looking for the ways to bring back sense of belonging, trust, respect and inspiration to engage around what makes sense and is important to us? Is it time to see our organizations as living systems and take responsibility to support / facilitate / host the change and transformation which is normal and happens constantly in every living system...? Participatory leadership and hosting and harvesting meaningful conversation can help us to move from old understanding and rules that does not work any longer. It can helps us to create safe space for learning, transformation, development and doing our work in more natural and more meaningful way... so let's practice together!!!

This harvesting site is structured around training headlines per days with intention to reconstruct the flow and process of learning. It contains photos of people and flip-charts/papers created by hosting team and participants. Hope it will remind you on tangible and intangible outcomes and will become useful resource for your further learning and practice.


Day 1

Why PL in business and organizational context?

Welcome and framing

Opening words about inspiration of hosting team to offer this learning opportunity, invitation process and purpose that brought us all here (Jasmina), participatory work and art of hosting background (Jan), leadership input - lead from where you are (Cate).

Checking in

Introduction to Circle practice (Blanka): listen with attention, speak with intention, take care of the whole! Adrijana hosted wonderful check in with Points of You cards: remind you of your motivation when saying yes to this training, pick up the card and think about what is your motivation of being here? And speak in the circle when you are ready...

Leadership culture and Four fold practice

Cate offered perspective of different leadership cultures: dependant, independant and interdependant and in what kind of organisations they fit and why. Leaders who are keen to see their organisations work along Teal practices, need to role model the behaviours associated with: self-management, wholeness and purpose. Participatory leadership methods support these practices and can accelerate the progress forward. It was hard to stop conversation in the circle around what works in our organisations and what kind of purpose they have and why some leadership culture work and why not. It was so obvious people are "hungry" for conversation about leadership, what works and why and what is our "leadership dream".

First mental model offered in this training was "For fold practice" (Jasmina) with the purpose to understand why leadership and hosting "walk hand in hand". Participatory leadership is based on the Art of Hosting practice whereas hosting is a systematic approach for giving attention and care to all aspects of people’s work together - we host people in coming together, being engaged, innovative and successful. Hosting meaningful conversations means creating space for exploration, exchanging ideas, offering resources, creating innovative solutions and learn individually and collectively. In order to become learners and move toward community of learners and community that learns, we have to develop consciousness about different roles in implementation of participatory leadership, roles which are folds or perspectives of the same approach and have to come in front of our organizational positions or business functions. Being truly present (hosting yourself), engaging skilfully in conversations (participating), being a good host of conversations (hosting others) and engaging with others in co-creation (co-hosting) are all practices or skills that are easily understood, but it takes continuous practice to sharpen and enhance these skills. This is the essence of the "Art of Hosting" and basic practice underneath all methodologies and tools which we use in PL. Four fold practice input was used also to invite participants to step into the hosting practice during the training - hosting matrix was offered as a place to sign in!

Living systems

As framing for the world café conversation, Jan shared input about living systems which he started with the what if question: What if, we when we are in our organisations, are a living system? Some elements that constitute living system, can be used as sense of knowledge to understand “what is mine to do and what are the dynamics in an organization that we might need to pay attention to”. These elements are: living systems are in constant change, living system exists with its neighbours, living system pays attention only to what is meaningful here and now, living system only accept its own solutions, living system cannot be controlled—it can only be teased and nudged to see things differently, living system is capable of self-organizing. We know our world has become extremely complex and we cannot control what will happen or predict outputs for complex challenges. So what if we stop looking at our organisations as the machines, organized in silos of our expertise, and start to see our organizations as living systems?

World Café

Finally it was time to practice conversation and to experience how it works when all people, being part of a larger group, can talk in a way that all contribute to what is important and meaningful, in a safe space and encouraging environment. World Café was perfect for inviting everybody into the conversation about leadership. The World Café is a method for creating a living network of collaborative dialogue around questions that matter in real life situations. It is a provocative metaphor. As we create our lives, our organisations, and our communities, we are, in effect, moving among ‘table conversations’. Connecting it to Jan's input, Miljenka reminded as of different leadership cultures and that something already works in our organisations, so if we want to develop leadership capacity, being a living system, we have to start finding deeper questions. We had 5 rounds of wonderful conversation guided by following questions:

  1. What type of leadership works in your experience?
  2. What do you dream leadership could be? What is missing?
  3. What are your burning questions?
World Cafe flipcharts and papers

Closing day 1 + Preparation for hosting on day 2

After closing of world cafe, day hosts (Jan and Jasmina) shared evening news (Choco crash invitation, preparation for hosting tomorrow) and closed the day 1. All people who signed up for hosting gathered around landscape to understand the purpose of next day and how their parts fit into the training design. It was wonderful to see people who have met for the first time this morning, work together as a team and prepare for hosting which is also new to them... - such a great energy and inspiration to the whole group...!

Day 2

What are the underlying patterns of PL?

Check in

Day 2 started by welcoming and framing (day hosts Adrijana and Miljenka), and then first hosting team of participants stepped in and hosted wonderful check in. So creative and right to the purpose!! Thanks Marija, Elizabeta and Magic!


How to ensure that process outcome has a real impact?

After Jan's input on harvesting and how to ensure refeeding of the system, harvesting team (Simona, Lara, Iva, Katarina and Martina) hosted process of reminding ourselves what are individual, collective, tangible and intangible outcomes of day 1.

Methodology exploration through story telling

World Café (Jasmina), Open Space (Adrijana), Appreciative Inquiry (Jan)

Leadership DAC

Direction - Alignment - Commitment

Leadership exists if Direction, Alignment and Commitment are present and in balance - if one of those pillars is missing, leadership will be disrupted (it's like three-leg-table). Direction refers to vision and purpose, Alignment to principles and culture and Commitment to self-management.

Open Space

Open Space Technology is a methodology guided by "passion and responsibility" that enables self-organizing groups of all sizes to deal with complex issues in a very short period of time.

The goal of an Open Space Technology meeting is to create time and space for people to engage deeply and creatively around issues of concern to them. The agenda is set by people with the power and desire to see it through, and typically, Open Space meetings result in transformative experiences for the individuals and groups involved.

Purpose of this open space was deeper exploration of burning questions about hosting and participatory approach and complex issues from our "real life", using all of our resources and experiences to support each other.

Great hosting team (Bruno, Sanja, Maria Claudia, Goran, Vedran) and interesting topics: Disengagement (lack of commitment)? WC,OS, AI - do's and don's, what to choose and for which issues? How we can build commitment to challenge status quo when it's not "burning"? How to chose "right" methodology for different situations/issues/problems, what are criteria/principles? How to make humans human? Questions for different phases or needs?

Open Space harvesting

Closing Day 2 - Pillow question

...we couldn't sleep much with that kind of question...

Day 3

How to design for application and implementation?

Welcome, Check in, Harvesting

Blanka and Cate as day hosts opened and framed day 3, last day of our training...

Marko and Iva woke us up with "1 - 2 - 3" check in exercise - so funny and right to the purpose (to be ready for action)!!

Katarina guided us through harvesting matrix (tangible, intangible, individual, collective).

Reflection on hosting practice

AoPL training is specific as from day 2 participants have opportunity to step into the hosting role and become part of the hosting team. it was beautifully to witness courage, energy and inspiration in this group as all of the available places were signed so fast.... As feed forward to "new hosts" and to the whole group, we offered space to reflect on hosting practice from 3 perspectives:

  1. host (how was for you to be a host? how you felt?)
  2. participants (how was for you to participate?)
  3. coach (what was good? what could have been better?)

Great conversation took place in the circle and we all have received valuable inputs that will encourage us to do more of this work!!

Design for wiser actions

Framing by Jan: design for wiser actions is methodology based on working with template that contains basic check points needed to design participatory process (need, purpose, core team, etc.). For those that have a project, this template serves as "action plan" and outcome of the process. For others who participate and help project owners to develop their projects, the outcome is learning and inspiration to think about new ideas / projects relevant to their context.

Wonderful hosting team (Robert, Rochele, Maria Claudia, Andrijana, Simona, Lara, Elizabeta) led us through the process very smoothly!

DWA projects

Sales team in NGO (Goran), How to raise accountability / engagement in organization / within leaders (Sanja), Hiring HR in IT company (Bruno), Breaking the silos in organization / Communication across silos (Vedran), Positive business lab (Dijana), Engaging team in redefining decision making process (Katarina)

DWA reflection on hosting

Closing of the training

Adrijana - Points of You - from my motivation to commitment to myself!


Whoever comes are the right people...!

Andrijana Filipovic, Bruno Alfirevic, Dijana Galijasevic, Elizabeta Sarjanovic, Gordan Novak, Iva Maksimovic, Josua Lerga, Julija Skoro, Katarina Vitezovic, Ksenija Kovac, Larissa Winter, Maria Claudia, Marija Agic, Marija Selesi, Marjana Bonaca, Marko Marinovic, Martina Tunukovic, Mirna Rotim, Robert Jenovai, Rochele Melo, Sanja Jasprica, Simona Frumen, Vedran Vukotic.

Hosting team

We had great time in hosting this group and learning together with you...! Thank you from all of our hearts! Adrijana, Blanka, Cate, Jan, Jasmina and Miljenka

Beautiful Opatija


When it's over, it's over...!

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