David Sibbet | Process Theory
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I woke up this morning thinking about freedom and independence, not just because it is the celebration of the United States freeing itself from England, but also because it is the anniversary of my freeing myself to create my own business.

DSFirstLogo - Reflecting on Independence DayThat was back in 1977 when I set up a personal consultancy focused on organization development, communications, and graphic & design. My logo was a bright yellow spot, looking a bit like a light bulb. Here’s the image. (Note: I don’t live on 6th Avenue any more.)

Looking back the feeling of excitement about declaring “independence” didn’t last very long. I wasn’t very “free” in those early days, in the ways that mattered most. Deciding to be “independent” I was also deciding to take on a new set of responsibilities. I now had to do my own marketing, selling, writing, fulfillment, invoicing, and all the other things that make a company a company. My little startup was really nothing more than idea, and the next three years were a slide into challenge after challenge as I struggled to figure out how to run a business.

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For months I’d been looking forward to a special meeting in New Mexico at the Village of the Shining Stones near Abiquiu called the First Peace Gathering. It promised to be a very unique and inspiring event, initiated by an organization called Ehama, the teaching vehicle of two traditional elders named Rainbow Hawk and his partner Wind Eagle. They anticipated elders from the Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, and Native traditions plus youth from Europe to explore how their traditions have been evolving toward a common interest in peace. There would be lots of meditation, storytelling, ceremony, and of course eating and social time. This photo, called Skypainting by Sabrina Whitelynx, reflects the beauty of New Mexico that was calling me.

Skypainting - Choices

 

 

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Upon reading a George Lakoff critique of the “framing” in eco America’s new report on global warming (see recent post) I experienced a flash of insight in regard to a puzzle that’s been nagging at me since hearing Otto Scharmer talking about Theory U at a recent Thought Leader Gathering in San Francisco (see my post on Theory U). TheoryUGraphic - Thinking About Frames: Is Process a Swoop or an Arc? The graphic visualization of Theory U is what I would call a “swoop”, a compelling little visual shown here. Why did Arthur M. Young, my teacher about Process Theory, insist process should be visualized as a “turn” or “V?” as illustrated below? In our study group with Arthur we would often argue with folks who wanted to visualize it as a smooth arc rather than 90o. Thinking About Frames: Is Process a Swoop or an Arc?

This may seem like an abstract puzzle, but Lakoff’s article suggests otherwise. He states without qualification that cognitive scientists agree that “frame circuits” in the cortex and nervous system guide our sense perceptions, and that these are held in place by values. The frames that keep getting reinforced in our experience become hard wired. They become the window through which we look through when we see—the directional microphone through which we hear—the guide to what we touch and sense.

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Otto Scharmer ignited the Thought Leader Gathering at Fort Mason, San Francisco, today with his sharing about the application of Theory “U” to social transformation. Craig and Patricia Neal, the Heartland Circle sponsors, expanded the meeting to 110 people because of the interest in Otto’s work.

As a conversation starter, Otto’s job was to catalyze our thinking and conversations in wisdom circles and a larger group circle dialogue that followed. He really delivered. (He’s the third from the right.)

OttoScharmer - Connecting With Source—Experiencing Theory

 

In a nutshell, Otto’s work is building off of his prior research around “presencing” and the importance of re-connecting personal intention, purpose and being to work in groups that are trying to address our times and future.

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