Why Leaders Can’t Solve the World’s Problems (and How Art & Play Will)

June 28, 2017

Once upon a time, I helped leaders change societies. Or so I thought. But deep in the fabric of every stuck problem is an invisible cause that we couldn’t touch. You. Multiply yourself by 5 million (a city), 60 million (a midsize country), a billion or more (a continent). There are a lot of YOUs…

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Leadership’s Next Jump: Meta-Creativity

June 27, 2017

Woman in Infinity Room, an art installation by Yayoi Kusama, at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles.   When’s the last time you or your team struggled with “people problems?” Disagreement, ego, culture of fear, meanness, power-over… This morning, maybe?   Now think of a huge, messy challenge you care about: climate change, racism, political…

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Inner and Outer

June 21, 2017

  We are so used to thinking of “inner” as “subjective” that we forget that everything humans make begins as an inner picture. The inner life of the human being is the inner aspect of the world — not only when we appreciate nature, but even when we determine what is real and what is not. We…

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Paying Hell for Creativity: Why “Failure” is Actually Good

June 14, 2017

“When you’re down, when you’ve been kicked down in the street and then kicked a few more times until you’re bleeding and your teeth are out, then you only have up to go. You get reborn again, and expectations aren’t so great because they’ve taken you away. It’s beautiful to be down there. It’s so…

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Feel the pain and do it anyway

June 10, 2017

  Developing creativity means walking through the flames of uncertainty. But if you get so far, rest assured, you are fortunate. Those flames are opening your eyes, mind, heart, and will, so you can do your best work. Your best work needs a vessel, and it is preparing you to be that vessel. Learn how…

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Lighten Up. Play The Fool

June 8, 2017

  You’re going to do stupid stuff from time to time. You’ll make mistakes and you’ll go down dead paths for years on end. Don’t sweat it. Whatever you do, wherever you go, you do it and you go there for some reason. Discover that reason, and let yourself be the fool. You could be…

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Find the right inspiration for your creative work. Source really does matter.

June 8, 2017

  Every creative person has to make decisions about their source. We love Basquiat and Bacon (sounds like something yummy, right?) but we choose not to draw from their same sources. We also love Rembrandt and Twombly and Gubaidulina; we endeavor to draw from their sources. Source is a key question in creativity of all…

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Why I Left My Dream Job

June 5, 2017

Between 2007 and 2014, I apprenticed to a man who helped South Africa transition out of apartheid, Colombia find the road to peace, and an alliance of North and South American countries change the war on drugs. He works in the background, well out of the public eye, facilitating high stakes dialogues. As his apprentice,…

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How to Improve your Creative Abilities (and Help Save the World) — Part 2

May 24, 2017

In Part One we mentioned KH Kim’s research about plummeting creativity levels in America and offered five ideas for developing creative abilities in the form of artworks with explanatory paragraphs. This week we have five more works (#s6–10) with corresponding morsels about how creativity works and why it’ll save us all.   #6. Feel the…

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How To Improve Your Creative Abilities (and Help Save The World)

May 19, 2017

In her book The Creativity Challenge, KH Kim presents her research about plummeting creativity levels in America and the long term impact this will have. Educational policy since the 1980s is part of the problem, since more standardized testing means less creative thinking, and more recently, Trump’s stance on immigration is part of the problem…

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The Sun Wins Through — Eventually!

May 15, 2017

    This is a video showing a series of artworks by Jeff that is really one painting going through its metamorphosis from unfinished to finished. In somewhat typical Jeff style, you can see a bunch of pictures are layered over, any one of them could have worked as a finished piece. But clearly Jeff was…

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Training for Social Labs on Chicago’s South Side

March 10, 2017

In 2016, we helped Roller Strategies train the team leading the Grove 3547 project.  Grove 3547 is a “social lab,” a multi-year effort designed to enroll, train, and support young leaders and entrepreneurs in the Bronzeville area of Chicago, located approximately between 35th and 47th Avenues on the South Side. In support of this effort,…

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Supporting Democracy Scenarios in South America

March 9, 2017

In 2014 we mediated a conversation between two facilitators who were experiencing intense pressure during a year long scenario project with top leaders to envision the future of democracy in South America.  The team had reached a possible breaking point; relations were precarious and the team members were unsure if they could continue to work…

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Collective Prosperity in Colombia

March 9, 2017

We were invited to help leaders from all across Colombia decide whether they could work together to create “collective prosperity” across the national economy. Some of our participants had been on opposite sides of ideological battles and in some cases the opposing sides of the civil war — so tensions were extremely high.   We had one…

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Helping Society Embrace People with Intellectual Disabilities in Canada

March 7, 2017

When’s the last time you saw someone with intellectual disabilities in a public place?  And what was your first reaction?  Many people view these folks with fear or even revulsion.  Which is a shame, because they add a rare power of love, meaning, and richness to their families and communities. We’ve been supporting a handful…

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Training Executives in the Outback

March 6, 2017

We designed and led, in partnership with Reos Australia, an offsite training in leadership presence for Executive Directors at Telstra, Australia’s largest telecom. One of the central aims of the program was to explore the inner journey of becoming a leader.  We were fortunate to travel into the Outback, where we had the amazing privilege…

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Platforms and Presence in the Netherlands

March 5, 2017

While many organizations in the Netherlands embrace social innovation, leadership transformation, and responsible business practices, their efforts seem inadequate relative to the scale and urgency of the country’s economic, social, and environmental challenges. Two stories from Holland come to mind.  The first is from PLUK, a platform designed to support leaders from a variety of…

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Teaching Creativity to Social Innovation Pioneers

March 4, 2017

Getting to Maybe is a “social innovation residency” named after the book of the same title by Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman, and Michael Patton.  The programs occur in summer at the beautiful Banff Centre, in and among pristine lakes and snowy mountains. Westley invited us to teach participants about creativity, and given the setting, we…

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Breaking the Cycles of Violence in Oakland, USA

March 3, 2017

The problem of police violence against young African-Americans is one of the most visible, best known social issues today, thanks in part to Black Lives Matter.  We helped the Numi Foundation establish a unique approach to addressing violence in Oakland, California (USA), in the ACTION project. ACTION stands for A Creative Transformation In Our Neighborhoods.…

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Bridges to Sarajevo

March 3, 2017

When snipers and militia surrounded Sarajevo in the early 1990s, we felt a peculiar calling to aid and support — and in 1996, we had a chance to go there ourselves.  We jumped at the opportunity, though there were still mines in the fields and forests.  Long grass grew from burned out cars; tall buildings were…

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Protecting Children in Austraila

March 2, 2017

Protecting at-risk children is a complex social challenge: a child suffers an act of violence in a single moment, but that act occurs in a complex context defined by multiple causes, some of which are far apart in space and time.   From 2009-11, we helped leaders from government organizations, social services, lawyers, judges, communities,…

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Increasing Innovation in Disability Services, Canada

March 1, 2017

The Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) is one of the Vancouver partners we support in their efforts to mainstream social acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities.  Before we began that larger work, we helped BACI get the most of their team. There is always a drive at BACI to drive innovation in their service…

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Hosting Thousands of Change Leaders

February 28, 2017

One of our very first adventures in this work was at Castle Borl in Slovenia. An ancient castle overlooking the Drava River, Borl is a “grail castle;” a thousand years ago, the Holy Grail was revered within its walls.  Older still are towers within the towers — some of them originate as far back as 2,000…

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Envisioning the Future of Health Care in New Zealand

February 27, 2017

We’ve supported many positive change projects over the years, but sometimes something happens that packs in a great learning experience.  This is one. We were asked to facilitate a few workshops in the healthcare sector around Auckland, New Zealand.  One of those workshops was specifically designed to harness the insight and creativity of Maori communities.…

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Supporting a Food Startup

February 26, 2017

You never know what difference a small intervention can make. A year after spending an afternoon with sibling startup entrepreneurs Arielle and Paul Moinester, Arielle let us know that our conversation had been pivotal. We helped the founders identify blind spots they hadn’t realized were holding back their partnership and their business. They were able…

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The Future of Energy in North America: the WECC Scenarios

February 25, 2017

We assisted the Western Electricity Coordinating Council’s (WECC’s) scenario development project for the United States Department of Energy, for which representatives from industry, state, provincial and national government, tribes, environmental groups, and technology and consumer groups comprised a multi-stakeholder group responsible for developing the scenarios. The focus question of the scenario exercise was: How will demand for…

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Restoring the World’s High Risk Fisheries

February 24, 2017

We were asked to help 50in10, an ambitious, international initiative to restore fifty percent of the world’s fisheries in ten years, course correct after relationships among key stakeholders grew fragile. Between 2013 to 2016, we supported the participants and funders to progress the effort, which ultimately developed a number of tools and resources to aid…

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Co-founding Reos Partners

February 1, 2017

In 2007, we co-founded Reos Partners, a leading social innovation consultancy supporting systemic change around the world.  With Reos, we served and led projects on five continents, focusing on a wide range of issues with diverse clients and partners and supporting the global community of partners and clients.   At Reos, we honed our craft…

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The Secret to Conquering Busyness, Overwhelm, & Burnout

May 30, 2016

Hello and welcome to Magenta Studios, your source for tools and know-how for growing your inner capabilities for impact and success. So many of us are doing too many things, taking on too much, juggling lists of to dos… It’s incredibly challenging to find focus and carve out the time to work on what matters…

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From Fear to Creativity in an Organization Or System

April 11, 2016

Last month an electrical failure took out a portion of one of California’s main public transportation rail systems.  In response, the agency issued a remarkably honest and telling tweet: “BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality.”  We’ve…

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The one essential condition for success with any new project

March 10, 2016

If you are doing anything creative — and that includes leadership, entrepreneurship, and change-making when you’re doing something challenging and impactful — setting up for success can make the difference between impact or flop.  Every creative endeavor needs the right conditions for success.  A writer needs pen and paper, a computer, maybe a printer.  And a quiet place…

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Five Simple Lessons to Boost Your creative leadership

March 10, 2016

We define creativity as the ability to generate something valuable without a blueprint or instructions. IBM’s landmark study of 1500 CEOs across the globe in 2010 identified “creativity” as the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through the extraordinary complexity of the world today. What did they mean by this? Today’s…

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Social Creativity: An Intro

December 9, 2015

“I need to be able to read the room and know exactly what they should do next. I need to be able to depart from the plan with 100% confidence and intuit accurately where to go.”  That’s a super smart social entrepreneur with ten successful years behind her, telling us about her challenges when facilitating…

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Leadership or Dominance? Wise lessons from Nature

November 19, 2015

I’m sweaty and hot, gravel is painfully digging into my foot inside my sneaker, and the horse on the other end of my 12 foot rope is eyeing me with deep skepticism. “She doesn’t know what you want; you need to be clearer in your phases!” calls my teacher as I vainly try to get…

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Why you should read LaLoux’s Reinventing Organizations, even if you’re not an organizational consultant

September 18, 2015

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer How do we create changes in behavior across a distributed organization with many people and many moving parts?  There are as many organizational development consultants as there are people asking this question—and then there is LaLoux’s recent book “Reinventing Organizations”…

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