We set out this evening to take advantage of a break in the rain and explore the city during the Vivid Sydney festival.  There’s a celebration of Lachlan Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth in Macquarie Street (where else).  It is 200 years since he arrived in Sydney and, among other achievements, implemented a visionary public works program across New South Wales.

Old Conservatorium

Photo acknowledgement:  University of Sydney – Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The Conservatorium of Music building (originally stables and servant quarters to Government House) serves as one of the palettes for the beautifully executed Macquarie Visions light show.  Here are some snaps of the Conservatorium building taken from my mobile phone.

St Mary’s Cathedral, Hyde Park Barracks, the Mitchell Library and the Old Mint are also on display.  After dark, Macquarie Visions is on until 20 June.

Lynn Walsh – workshop facilitator – Sydney

Lynn Walsh – workshop facilitator – Sydney

Lynn Walsh – workshop facilitator – Sydney

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Great Ideas.jpg
Hugh MacLeod (@gapingvoid) is the author of Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity.  Early this year he started sending out Hugh’s Daily Cartoon on an email subscription service.  I recommend you drop by Hugh’s website and sign up.  Every day there is a new wonderfully ‘scribbled’ thought.

Resistance is everywhere.  An idea emerges from someone else or from our own head and we begin to ask all manner of vocal and silent questions.  Can we afford it?  Didn’t we try that once before?  How will things change for me? How will it work?  How can we sell this?  How does it fit with what’s happening now?

In The Answer to How is Yes: Acting on What Matters, Peter Block pays particular attention to the question “How?”  He begins with an excerpt from his book – Stewardship.

“There is depth in the question “How do I do this?” that is worth exploring.  The question is a defence against the action.  It is a leap past the question of purpose, past the question of intentions, and past the drama of responsibility.  The question “How?” – more than any other question – looks for the answer outside of us.  It is an indirect expression of our doubts ….

Peter Block says that we find ourselves giving in to our doubts “instead of settling for what we know how to do, or can soon learn how to do, instead of pursuing what matters to us and living with the adventure and anxiety that this requires”.  [..]  We often ask ourselves the question of whether something is worth doing by going straight to the question “How do we do it?”” He suggests that if we were to go for six months without asking the How question something might shift.  We would focus more on why we do what we do – and create space for conversations, room for discussion about purpose, (room for great ideas) about what is worth doing, about what matters.

There is value in sitting quietly and welcoming the space of uncertainty and allowing yourself not to be distracted by other things. Distractions are resistance at work.  Hugh MacLeod’s first chapter is Ignore Everybody.  Include yourself in that advice.  Resistance is everywhere!

Lynn Walsh – workshop facilitator – SydneyLynn Walsh – workshop facilitator – Sydney

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Bas Reus ( @bottomup ) says we need to stop acting like we have control over what will happen in the future in his post Everything is Emergent. Outcomes are unpredictable.  No-one can know what the influences will be from one day to the next.  We can’t even know all of those influences that led us to the present.  “Dealing with short-term goals combined with iterative processes is a good first step towards completely letting go of control and accepting that everything is emergent”.

Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator – Sydney- business and strategic planning – team conversations

Lynn Walsh – workshop facilitator – Sydney

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Where do I start?  How about anywhere?

This morning began as it often does – a cup of coffee and a check-in to the blog reader. Don’t ask me how I got to today’s ‘end point’ because I didn’t track my movements.  From one place, I whizzed off to another site and then another and before I knew it I’d forgotten what got me where I was.  In no particular order here’s what has emerged for me.

Following on from thinking about complexity (see my last post), I dropped in on Johnnie Moore’s blog and watched a PBS video on Emergence. How do bird flocks, fish schools and crowds of people behave so that the behaviour of the whole is the sum of the parts.  How does that work?  These are complex adaptive systems where there is no leader.  Whatever emerges is related to how connected the parts of the system are to each other. Out of apparent disorder, order emerges.

In 1986, Craig Reynolds plugged some steering rules for flocking creatures into a computer simulation he called Boids.   They were:

stay aligned – steer towards the average heading of your flockmates

maintain distance – steer to avoid crowding your local flockmates

cohesion – steer to move towards the average position of your flockmates

Somewhere down the rabbit hole, I found an additional rule.

avoid obstacles – steer away from predators

I ended at the amazing New York Public Radio’s Radiolab site listening to a 2005 broadcast about Emergence.   The broadcast, which you can either stream or download, is an hour long.  If you haven’t that much time, it’s split into three parts.  The broadcast is rich with questions, great production quality and links to the guests.  Here are my takeaways.

There is no leader or conductor for fireflies that somehow know how to light up in complete and silent synchronicity with each other.

There are no instructions for ants.  Their behaviour is a series of accidents driven by the need to find food and survive.  Each individual appears to know what it’s doing, but it doesn’t.  One ant accidentally falls across a food source having left a chemical trail.  Another finds the same source (accidentally) and strengthens the scent trail and so on.

The most interesting and vibrant cities, towns and neighbourhoods form in the same way, from the bottom up through a series of accidental or unplanned decisions.  Everybody and nobody creates them.  How do similar businesses like florists end up co-located?

With birds and bees and fireflies, there is no leader.  There is no plan.  There is mystery, beauty and order in the group.  When planning rules aren’t handed down from the top, wonderful places can emerge.

What if the only rules we humans had were the steering rules? I’ve had a little play with Craig Reynold’s rules.  “Boid” rules for people if you like.

stay aligned - have a shared purpose for being and staying together.

maintain distance - give each other the space to think – physical space – silent space – respectful non-crowding and listening space.

cohesion - be average – we don’t need to do something wildly different to succeed – trust that the group wisdom will emerge with what they need

avoid obstacles – look after each other and notice what’s getting in your way

I’m off now.  On another tangent to explore collective intelligence.  I may be some time.

Lynn Walsh – workshop facilitator – Sydney


Throw a stone or two into the water and see where the ripples go.   It’s an image that’s sitting with me.   One that emerged from a reference to the Cynefin Framework at Crumbs, a workshop led by Johnnie Moore and Viv McWaters.  A stone in the water.

Complex environments call for you to probe, sense and then respond.

Do something.  See, hear, feel what happens.

Then respond with something.

Something small.

It requires trust in yourself as a facilitator.  Trust in your instincts, your first response.

Trust that the ripples will have an impact, even if you don’t know what that impact will be or what it was.

You cannot not influence someone.

HT to Shawn Callahan at Anecdote for the Cynefin Framework explanation.

Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator – Sydney- business and strategic planning – team conversations

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Come to the edge

We might fall

Come to the edge

It’s too high!

Come to the edge!

And they came

And he pushed

And they flew

Christopher Logue

Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator – Sydney


Patricia Ryan Madson over at her Improvising our Lives blog has been posting every day about every day things – about noticing the every day objects in her life.  On Day 35 she gives us a delightful diversion that both celebrates the joy of gibberish and sends a small warning at the very end. Enjoy.

Shawn Callahan at Anecdote builds on a list post by Troy White – Storytelling for non-story tellers. “To get to a story you need to get to a time and a place“.

Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator – Sydney

Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator- Sydney

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Thanks to April K Mills at Engine for Change for generating some thinking for me.  April builds on a Tim Sanders post about the problem with devil’s advocates.  She proposes circumstances where a Yes, if … option could work instead of the Yes, and… reference in Tim’s post.  I can see applications and opportunities for  Yes, if …. as a transition activity to or from Yes, and…

In a previous post, I quoted Patricia Ryan Madson. “Blocking comes in many forms;  it is a way of trying to control the situation instead of accepting it.  We block when we say no, when we have a better idea, when we change the subject, when we correct the speaker, when we fail to listen, or when we simply ignore the situation.  ….. Saying no is the most common way we attempt to control the future.”

Thinking on that further, I remembered that recently I introduced a group of business partners to a Yes, and….Brainstorm.  Through playing the game, one person realised that his automatic response was to block any idea (no matter if it was in play or real life) that didn’t fit with his perspective or vision for the business.  It was a powerful moment for him, one that opened up deeper conversations in the team and resulted in them working together to create a new decision making model for the business.  Yes, if…. in that particular circumstance may not have lead to that breakthrough.

Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator – Sydney- business and strategic planning – team conversations

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