Worldview European Connections – European Commission and Leo Apostel Center

“What if there was a new way into, and through, our most challenging conversations? What if there was a simple guide to learning how?”

These were the calling questions for the half-day Worldview Intelligence offering at the European Commission (EC) in Brussels on February 24, 2015, attended by EC Art of Participatory Leadership (AoPL) Community of Practice members and by some who had just finished six weeks of ULab Hub Belgium.

Leadership and hosting experience in the room ranged from deeply skilled to relatively new and everything in between. People arrived with mild curiosity and left with a deeper curiosity and enthusiasm, steeped in reflection of and appreciation for what more is possible.

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In what is rapidly becoming a multi-faceted, multiple offering Worldview program and curriculum, Jerry Nagel and I shared with the group the most basic aspects of both the personal and organizational worldview explorations including:

  • The six dimensions of Worldview we have adapted from the Apostel framework for both personal and organizational explorations
  • The role of systems thinking in shaping worldviews and in identifying organizational intervention points, and
  • Our application of Theory U to this exploration.

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The conversation throughout the afternoon and in the check out circle was rich and affirming for the Worldview exploration we are in. Some reflections from the participants include:

  • This is a new capacity we need to be developing for our time and we are ready for it – this invites a search for common ground as a platform for searching for and recognizing diversity
  • This worldview exploration is a systemic approach that provides the structure and opportunity for reflection not so readily available in AoPL
  • We might be able to move some things that have been stuck by using this approach
  • This puts worldview in the middle, makes it explicit, invites people to become construct aware and is value neutral – it just lets it lie there in the center of our conversation and exploration
  • I appreciate the different elements that allow us to work with worldview, how we look at our own worldview – it is brought alive by the lived stories you share – you are living the content and sharing it fully
  • The individual and small group exercise helped me dive into the subject
  • This is a valuable approach to know and work with, misunderstanding of worldview leads to so much of today’s conflict – I want to learn more
  • From a Commission perspective, we are a totally multi-cultural environment and we need to grow our awareness of how to work with this consciously – this should be incorporated into advanced training
  • The European context is changing – 50 years ago it was based on peace on a large scale coming out of the war, but young people now have no connection to that – we need a new narrative
  • Appreciate the connection to Theory U and the ULab and seeing a new application and experience of Theory U

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Prior to the Worldview offering at the European Commission, we visited with people from the Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium. The Apostel framework is the one Jerry adopted for his PhD dissertation on Worldview, the Art of Hosting and Social Constructionist theory, that we are now adapting for the Worldview Intelligence curriculum. The Center was quite intrigued by our work, told us at the moment we are more actively working with worldviews than they are, noting that they are not aware of anyone else translating this into practical application.

This trip to Brussels enabled us to illuminate the weave of the evolution of this work from the origins in Europe through Apostel’s work, our practical offerings in North America to this first offering in Europe. The deep reflective space, the exploration of possibilities and the excitement and enthusiasm generated through this exploration is inspiring and fuels the ongoing evolution of this work.

Gratitude to Michaela Sieh for spontaneously inviting us to the EC CoP and ULab when she heard we were coming to Brussels and to Andrea Erdei for arranging the space for us to work in and sharing photos from the gathering. Also, to Michaela and to Ria Baeck, for helping co-evolve the calling questions and to our AoPL mates Helen Titchen-Beeth, Ursula Hillbrand and Ian Anderson for sharing in the experience and offering us beautiful insights into what more is possible.

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