fbpx

THE MAGENTA STUDIOS BLOG

Wondering who we are? What we've done? How we think? Dig in. Here to learn? Check it out. Here you'll find tools, reflections, stories, artwork, and articles we've written over the last few years.

If you don't see what you're looking for, drop us a line; you might inspire us!

More recent posts are higher on the page.

Fighting the Dragons of Our Time — Can We Win?

Today’s true leaders are fighting the dragons of our time — mental health, social justice, climate change, among many others — but as a complexity consultant and teacher, I often ask: can we win? YES, screams the optimist in me. But… really? Because a sober look at any one of these challenges shows the needle…

Read More...

How to Become a Creative Force in a Dark Time

“How do we believe in the way we live if it doesn’t seem to be working? Here’s a theory: Maybe we could stop pretending that we know how to fix it. I know for me, that might bring some peace of mind.” — Ian Brown, feature writer at The Globe and Mail If anyone claims…

Read More...

Why Your Plans Fail

We’ve worked on a lot of projects, businesses, alliances, and change efforts of many shapes and sizes over the past 20 years. And we’ve seen one consistent thorn in the side of even the smartest leaders — something that thwarts, compromises, or destroys change work no matter how much energy, passion, smarts, resources, and sheer…

Read More...

Creating Healthy Society with Dialogue

One of the biggest lessons we learned in 2018 is about the importance of the “space between us”: the relational space where we find each other, make peace, challenge together the codes that shape our behavior, and shape our shared realities together. Both of our major projects this year have focused on “unlocking the space…

Read More...

Creative Process Demonstration: The Sun Wins Through

This video demonstrates three of the key principles in creative work: constant metamorphosis, the hunt and the form emerges at the end. The video begins with a pencil sketch and a small oil sketch, then shows the progressive stages on one large canvas. This canvas went through continuous metamorphosis between 2010 and 2018. The pictures seem…

Read More...

DO THIS when you’re confused, stuck, or overwhelmed

  Ever had that feeling you just don’t know what to do, that you are pulled in a million different directions, and you are seriously confused, overwhelmed, and just plain stuck? We know what that’s like and we have something simple to share with you. Simple, but surprisingly effective — possibly even profound. It’s so…

Read More...

Leadership or Dominance? Wise lessons from Nature

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…

Read More...

Frederic LaLoux’s Reinventing Organizations – Book Review

“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”…

Read More...

How to Find Wisdom in Failure

  If you’re an aspiring leader (at any age — we’re 47 and 48 as of this writing), you’re going to do stupid stuff from time to time. You’ll make mistakes and you’ll go down seemingly deadend paths for years on end. Really. Don’t sweat it. That path is going somewhere great. Truly fantastic, never-ending…

Read More...

Why I Left My Dream Job

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,…

Read More...

What is “Social Creativity?”

“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…

Read More...

Forget Art School — Creativity Will Save the World

I went to at least three different universities and conservatories in different places around the world to study music, and have had continuous music teachers in both violin and classical singing since I was about eight (roughly 40 years ago). At all those music schools, the main focus was on learning the craft and technique…

Read More...

Solving the World’s Problems? Think of Society as the Sculpture We All Create Together

Once upon a time, I helped leaders change societies — or so I thought. What I learned is that deep in the fabric of every real social problem is an invisible cause that no leader can control, and over which, even in extreme cases, s/he has very little influence. You. Most leaders and change methodologies…

Read More...

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

“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…

Read More...

Freedom, Peace, and Violence

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”  — Goethe   When the shooting in San Bernardino occurred last week (December 2015), and then a later learned the shooters were “Islamic terrorists,” I felt a new surge of disbelief: fourteen years after 9/11, we’re still buying the same old line? We…

Read More...

Creative People, Choose Your Inspiration Carefully

  Every creative person has to make decisions about their source. When we were young artists, we had to choose our sources. Many artists we loved — but whose sources weren’t our sources. For example, Jeff loved Basquiat and Bacon, but didn’t want to instill his life and work with Bacon’s horror or Basquiat’s frantic…

Read More...

Why Becoming Creative Must Crush Your Soul

We’ve been writing a lot lately about the travails of developing and strengthening your creative know-how and capacities. A theme is: developing creativity means pain. Well, yeah. It actually doesn’t have to — but it generally does, because we’re stubborn. We hold onto what makes us uncreative — what makes us repetitive, habitual, comfortable. If…

Read More...

The World is a Sculpture

The world is, more and more, changing into something else—and, for better or worse, human beings are the ones changing it. The daily choices of seven billion people (and more on the way) are changing oceans and atmosphere, shaping our global and national financial, infrastructure, & governance systems, deciding between war and peace.  The world is our sculpture…

Read More...

Training Leaders on Chicago’s South Side

In 2016, we helped Roller Strategies (now Ten in Ten) train a team of leaders working inside the “Grove 3547” project.  Grove 3547 was a “social lab,” a collaborative 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…

Read More...

Teaching Creativity to Social Innovators

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…

Read More...

Training Executives in the Outback

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…

Read More...

Supporting Democracy Scenarios in South America

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…

Read More...

Helping Society Embrace People with Intellectual Disabilities in Canada

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…

Read More...

Breaking the Cycles of Violence in Oakland

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….

Read More...

The Future of Energy in North America

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…

Read More...

Increasing Innovation in Disability Services, Canada

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…

Read More...

Prisoner Reintegration & Presence Practices in Holland

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…

Read More...

Protecting Children in Austraila

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,…

Read More...

Collective Prosperity in Colombia

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…

Read More...

Bridges to Sarajevo

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…

Read More...

Hosting Thousands of Change Leaders

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…

Read More...
logo-black-and-white

IF YOU WANT TO EXPLORE MORE OF OUR WORLD, THESE LINKS LEAD THE WAY

Sign up for our zine, media, and tools here.