Change

I help people work with change more effectively, in ways more fit for human beings and our collective future. I try to help a shift from mechanical thinking to new ways of working with natural wisdom, relationships, interconnection and new qualities of progress. I believe that to take care and grow whole systems, it is important to start as whole selves.

Today I work on different kinds of personal, organisational and social change project, helping to support deeper, positive change that combines working with Nature, adopting whole system approaches, looking to age-old wisdom and working with more adaptive methods of learning and leadership, including Action Research and Appreciative Inquiry.

I have worked with these approaches with people from across large companies such as Unilever, innovators such as the Finance Innovation Lab, change catalysts such as Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK and academic groups such as Imperial College’s MBA programme.

In 2016 I will be working on a few dream projects, including the shift from consumerism to citizenship with the New Citizenship Project, a new project to take care of the North Sea as an international ecology (called the North Sea Neighbourhood), and work with a large bank seeking courage in sustainability and purpose. I will also be running more workshops on themes ‘The Power of Presence’ and ‘Leadership inspired by Nature and Earth Wisdom’.

Excitingly, at Way of Nature UK our Philosophers’ Camps are also a way of helping people dive into some of the biggest questions of our times.

A Practical Example: Unilever in the UK

Unilever are working on an important transition towards sustainability. I helped to design a process to help the UK business roll out this vision out in a more engaging way. To do this, we set out the principle that engagement is greater through meaningful conversations than a ‘one size fits all’ message, cascaded through the organisation. So we moved away from plenary, theatre style presentations and instead helped a group of ‘sustainability champions’ explore and share their own ideas about sustainability – and the common grounds and the differences. From there, they were able to choose different workshops to deepen their understanding with different experts, based on their own needs. The champions then designed their own way of sharing the vision and messages, in a way suited to their part of the business. The process was a hit – but also a big challenge to the way ‘top line’ wanted to cascade a message through the organisation. This is the kind of process that we must keep developing to build more dynamic ways of working towards change. (I’m grateful for Robert van Noort and Arne Gillert, two friends and former Kessels & Smit colleagues, whose model we used for this process.)

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