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Creative Organisational Learning: Developing Awareness of Self and Place

by James on June 22nd, 2012

Last week I facilitated a workshop for PhD students on the Ashridge Doctorate in Organisational Change.

The ADOC programme describes itself as one which ‘seeks to establish an active community of practitioners who, individually and collaboratively, contribute to the body of knowledge in the field of consulting and change…’ and who ‘Appreciate and demonstrate the ethical aspects of influencing in organisational settings as they apply to the individuals engaged, the organisation involved and the wider socio-ecological systems.’

My workshop aimed to give the participants an opportunity to combine different media in the interpretation and documentation of the local environment at Ashridge, developing multi-modal approaches through which to become more fully aware of their relationship with their environment, via a cycle of exploration, documentation and reflection.

I had put together some reading in advance on creative place-based approaches to learning, and how these can enable us to grow in confidence and self awareness, whilst supporting the development of greater empathy for others and an enhanced environmental awareness.

On the day of the workshop I shared images of similar work with teams of teachers, and with artists and community group leaders, and from my own individual practice, as an artist and consultant researching the value of creative, place based learning.

The group were then invited to move out into the Ashridge grounds, paying attention to their senses, their body, their emotions and memories, as they explored, and to combine photography, text and found materials to produce a piece of work that documented their multi-layered experience.

Lastly, we reflected on those experiences, with each member of the group sharing their work and their thought processes, drawing links between the methods used, the feelings and thoughts that emerged, and their own individual practice/research.

2 Comments
  1. Mike Skerritt permalink

    It’s not clear to me how an exercise of this type complements an individual’s ability to consult and implement organizational change, except that it does require initiative, imagination and creativity, and a willingness to share an individual’s personal thought processes and actual work with others, an effort that can only happen when an idividual is trusting and self-confident, two personal qualities that are de rigeur for a consultant. I’m impressed!

  2. Thanks Michael, I appreciate you getting in touch, and your positive feedback.

    I think key to what we were aiming to do in my workshop and all the others taking place, was to give people the chance to develop an awareness of themselves as innately creative, and as capable of learning through those innate capacities.

    It was about exploring and learning through their bodies, imaginations and emotions as well as their intellect – ‘becoming whole’ both in their sense of an individual self, and as part of a socio-ecological system

    I think if we are to enable people to work within organisations and effect changes which support those organisations to become more environmentally sustainable, then we need to give them the tools to experience themselves as integral parts of ecological/social systems, and, as leaders, to support others to do the same.

    So in that sense I guess its about people developing the ability to participate and to reflect on their actions, within a synergistic system, each part unique, but all aware of their relationship to and impact on, the whole…

    ‘Because the elements of a synergistic system support each other, they also support the functioning of the system as a whole, and the performance of the whole is improved’ (Russel, P – ‘The Global Brain’)

    I hope that makes more sense?

    Hope to meet you in person one day soon, its been wonderful getting to know your lovely wife…
    Warm wishes,
    James

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