“The worldview exploration – touches on who I am,” Jaime Smith told me in a recent conversation about her experience with Worldview Intelligence during and since her participation in a program in Halifax, Nova Scotia a year ago. “For me, it is a leadership development journey and it impacts my work in community.”
In the past couple of years, Jaime has stepped into a very different part of her life journey as she started her own consulting company. She is a planner and facilitator who worked as a Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners with organizations like the New Brunswick Department of Environment, the Halifax Regional Municipality, the New Brunswick Rural District Planning Commission and most recently for the Pictou County Health Authority as a community health planner.
She founded Marram Consulting in 2013 to bring her skills, talent and leadership to a variety of groups, organizations and businesses, to help them navigate challenging spaces with innovation and discovery. She has a passion for healthy communities and embraces a population health approach to community development. She is a person who can activate in community and can bring a leadership perspective from a 30,000 foot view. She told me, “Worldview has been a powerful and uplifting experience in bringing these two things together.”
“The worldview training gave me an opportunity to think more deeply about what I do – for the first time really.” Jaime is a young mother and a volunteer in addition to running her own business. She has a very busy schedule. “I didn’t have the time to think about things – like, how did I become the person I am today and how does that influence how I am in the world and what I do now?”
Worldview is a lens through which we each look out at the world, usually without an awareness of how that lens influences and shapes what we see and how we act. Reflecting on her experience, Jaime said, “The worldview framework you offer gives me a different way of thinking about my experiences, how my experiences inform how I see myself and what I reflect out into the world. The program was powerful.”
Jaime describes a very typical scenario of a small business owner. “I’ve gone through challenges with my work, trying to navigate my own path while working with what’s emerging but still wanting control of my destiny. My background and education is in urban planning, environmental studies and design.” Jaime acknowledges that urban planning is about working with policies and regulations and it is not straight forward or black and white. She became a practitioner in the Art of Hosting Conversations that Matter which gave her a piece of the puzzle she was seeking and left her searching for more. That’s when she came across the Worldview Intelligence program.
“The six dimensions of worldview gave me an opportunity to look at myself and my work in a different way. It is a holistic approach that invites the different pieces of you to work together. My creative side can work with the side of me that is business and planning oriented and it doesn’t have to be either or. The framework provides a tangible process that is respectful of many different points of view. I was blown away – in a reflective way. It stuck with me. It is foundational and informs so many of the other pieces.”
In Jaime’s view and experience, the academic rigour behind the Worldview Intelligence framework is a key aspect of this work. The framework builds on the study and research of Leo Apostel, a Belgium philosopher, who brought together other philosophers and scientists three decades ago to create a mechanism to bring integration to what they saw as an increasingly fragmented world. Jaime identifies this research and background as essential to the success of Worldview Intelligence. “The world still works this way, still wants the background, the theory behind the patterns, practices and methods that grounds it and makes it both explainable and justifiable to clients in business, government and community.”
Jaime shared one of her stories about impact on her work with her clients. She described one particularly difficult engagement where there was a clear need to look at a variety of perspectives but participants were challenged in doing so. Her own knowledge of worldview and the value of having many different perspectives visible and shared enabled her to find ways to invite and bring all the perspectives together to find a different way into that discussion, without ever having to use the word or specific language of worldview.
She said, “Worldview offers something people can connect to more quickly than some other processes. It provides the leadership and space to have conversations differently while connecting with existing structures to do our best work together. It doesn’t amplify divides in a community. It provides a way to connect across differences.”
When I asked her why someone should take this program, she said, “Anyone who is working with community, with change, investigating their own leadership – this will strengthen and deepen their experience. Worldview can be married with other processes, like IAP2 or Art of Hosting and produce an even better experience.”
“If more of our community and business leaders and politicians would have an opportunity to look at their own views and deepen compassion, we could really make a difference for the people we work with and for. At the end of the day, organizations and society are made up of people. Worldview is a very humanistic and person centered approach. Community health and development tells us this is how we build more effective and resilient communities.”
Jaime is coming back for another round of Worldview Intelligence which now includes a social systems component – new since she took the program a year ago. She is excited to investigate the social systems piece. “It will help me develop new questions about creating meaningful impact.”
Jaime cares deeply about Nova Scotia and noted, “This province is in a time of great change. When stakes are high, we hold onto our views tighter. Worldview Intelligence offers a way to create the space to talk about what we value and to heal trust in communities.
If you are interested in learning more, take a look at the upcoming Worldview Intelligence Program in Halifax at the end of May. We would love to see you there.