This is where we'll post themes and insights that emerge from each month's conversation.  Feel free to post your own thoughts and suggestions here.  You can also visit the Thrivability Montreal Facebook page for more photos and conversation. 

November 2011 Conversation
>> Mohawk Perspectives on Leadership: What is possible when we bridge worldviews?

It is probably no coincidence that today’s most pioneering and powerful leadership approaches share much in common with indigenous wisdom and traditional practices. But it is not enough to try to apply those practices blindly in our organizations; the underlying philosophy must also be embraced. Indeed, on a larger scale, many believe that all peoples (indigenous and non-indigenous alike) must reconnect with these values if humanity is to survive.  

To these ends, two local Mohawk community leaders have graciously offered to share their stories and insights with us.  After a traditional opening ceremony, we will hear from Kevin Deer, a tribal elder and director of the Mohawk immersion school in Kahnawà:ke, and from Steven Bonspille, a former Chief and Grand Chief of Kahnesatake. Then, after a brief question-and-answer period, we will explore the following questions together:

-         In what ways do indigenous perspectives answer unmet needs within ourselves, our organizations and the world?
-       What if we integrate indigenous perspectives on leadership within mainstream organizations?  What might that look like? 
-        What would that integration change - inside and outside our organizations?  And what would it take to make that happen?


October 2011 Conversation
>> Deep play as a powerful technology to create a new "business as usual"

"The opposite of play isn't work - it's depression."  - Brian Sutton Smith

Our guest speaker will be Belina Raffy of Maffick - a company in the UK that helps organizations improve their adaptability, creativity and collaboration.  She has generously agreed to join us while she's in Montreal to present at the Balance/Unbalance conference.  Specifically, she will guide us in exploring:

- What is the role of play in relation to thriving both personally and in an organization?
- Why is play in organizations so important now?
- How do we make sure more of it happens in organizations?                                                           
Based in England, Belina grew up playing in the forests of the US, Canada and Mexico.  Her career started in NY and London as a project manager in one of the top global banks, where she experienced first-hand how the 'business is a machine' mentality, fear and a total emphasis on command-and-control affected people in preparing for Y2K compliance.  She did an MBA to relax, and studied with some of the best improvisation teachers on the planet. She set up Maffick and works with blue chip companies around the world to bring in serious play as a technology to transform business.  Her secret mission is to “use improvisation to save the world.”  
Here's one participant's blog post about the October 2011 Conversation:


September 2011 Conversation
>> What if our organizations were designed to support the mindful practice of authentic dialogue?

This month we'll welcome guest speakers Jean-Philippe Bouchard and Valérie Lanctôt-Bédard, coaches and consultants in the art and science of healthy, effective communication at work or at home. Through their company, Spiralis, they teach the very practical skills of being aware of one's own core needs, expressing them effectively, and listening with empathy to the needs of others. That's the science. The art comes in bringing those skills into every interaction, in the moment, and in unpredictable circumstances. To Valérie and Jean-Philippe, the art and science together form an ongoing life practice, much like yoga or martial arts, in which we grow continuously through the practice. To them, this practice is most powerful – and effective - when it is based on a deep reverence for the life that flows within each of us. Their vision is that someday every organization will be a space in which each person is able to grow through the mindful practice of authentic dialogue, and that it will be abundantly clear that this is a necessary path to organizational thrivability.
After sharing opening comments, Valérie and Jean-Philippe will guide us in exploring these questions: 

What does it mean to make authentic dialogue a life practice in all our relationships - especially those at work? 
     - What does it require? 
     - What does it challenge?
     - What is at stake?
     - What is possible?
Here's an article describing the September 2011 conversation: 


May 2011 Conversation
>> How can we move beyond traditional marketing to engage our customers more authentically, passionately and - most of all - effectively?

To get the conversation started, Michelle Holliday of Cambium Consulting will share a few inspiring stories from her own clients and research.  Then, in small groups, we'll test out what we've learned on several real Montreal companies that have offered themselves up as guinea pigs. Will your group come up with the most thrivable marketing ideas? Join us to find out.  There will be prizes at stake!  But most of all, there will be the pleasure of rich conversation and shared learning.


March 2011 Conversation
>> "Thrivable" leadership
In particular, we'll explore the concept of a leader not only as a manager of individuals but also as a steward or host of the emergent level of life that is the whole team or organization.


February 2011 Conversation
>> What is the role of money in a “thrivable” organization?

In last month’s conversation, it became clear that there’s not an easy answer.  Many of us want to reject the greed and self-interest of the outgoing era, but does that mean that money itself is bad?  Is it OK to pursue profit?  How much is enough?

To help us explore these questions, we’ll hear from several forward-thinking company directors, who will share their views and experiences “talk-show” style.  They'll take questions from the rest of the group.  The whole group will then split into tables of four to talk about our own views and what we learned from the company directors' comments.  We'll finish by coming back together as a group to discuss what themes and insights emerged from all the conversations. 
Our February conversation focused on the role of money in a thrivable organization. The topic came up because we were sensing that many who wish to tranform business also seem to believe that money is somehow bad - that it is, in fact, the root of all evil. We wanted to dig into that a little deeper. 

Through our digging, we gained some valuable insights, especially from our opening speakers: Arnel Javier of Culture & Language Connections, Tolu Ilesanmi of Zenith Cleaners, and Julian Giacomelli of Crudessence. These speakers have generously offered to continue the conversation for a time on the Facebook page. 

In the meantime, here are a few highlights from the gathering:
The core message from each of the directors was that money is neutral. It's a tool or a means. But what _can_ be healthy or unhealthy is our _relationship_ with money. 

Tolu offered the perspective that every venture is a social venture. And if it makes more profit, it can invest more in its social activities. "Money doesn't make sense unless it is connected to some purpose," said Tolu. "It helps us fulfill the reason we exist." He also felt that money is not something to keep; it is something to spread and share. At the same time, caring and cashflow "seem to contrast with each other." There is a need for balance. And this tension is sometimes hard to explain to the staff of his cleaning business. 

Often in companies that are guided by social values, there is a feeling of community that seems to be at odds with a profit orientation. Julian explained that he had to offer his colleagues at Crudessence the clarification that they _are_ a community - but one that chose to be a company. "That's the form we have chosen," he said. And so there is the need to generate sufficient revenue. This was not easy for everyone to accept. 

Julian then shared a Buddhist meditation that can be applied to our relationship with money: neither crave something nor be averse to it. Many people either crave money or are averse to it. The healthiest is neither. "This is as tough as any other meditation and may be the toughest," Julian observed. "It takes a lifetime to develop." 

Arnel explained that he creates a certain distance from money, letting his wife manage that part of their business. This allows him to be creative and nurturing of both the language school's students and staff. 

There was a question from the group about dedicating a percent of profits to a philanthropic cause. The response from the three directors was that this is a fine approach, but it also seems to limit the opportunities to live the values of the organization in everything they do. None had chosen this approach for their own organizations. 

The group then divided into tables of four to discuss the questions: What is the role of money in an ideal organization? How is this different from what exists now? What will it take for money to bring us all good things and none of the bad thing that create discomfort and efforts to get rid of money? 

As we came back together as one large group, it seemed that the small discussions revealed very diverse opinions and had generally focused on individual perspectives. There were questions of money's role in shaping our individual identity, for example. I wondered if this confirmed Tolu's comment that it's not easy for individuals to embrace the needs of the collective - or did it just mean that a different way of asking the questions was needed? Or does it point to the need for changes in perspective at the individual level, first and foremost? All of these are probably true.

In all, the conversation seemed to be an important step toward understanding what "thrivability" might look like. 


January 2011 Conversation
>> "Thrivability" 
How our organizations can be more “thrivable” – successful and sustainable themselves, but also deeply fulfilling for the people involved, enriching for the communities they serve, and in harmony with nature. 
January's conversation was about the concept of Thrivability in general, exploring what already nourishes us in our organizations and what else could nourish us even further. Themes that emerged:

- There's a need for personal evolution, self-mastery and individual responsibility.
- There's a need for greater community, connection, relationship. 
- There's a need for us to connect more fully to our wholeness, as humanity, as part of the whole of life. 

There was some discussion about whether we're waiting for an inspired leader to show us the way, or whether we're the ones we're waiting for. 

In all, it was an inspired, passionate conversation. People said they felt "nourished" and "refreshed." It wasn't the first time they had talked about these topics, but people appreciated having a space - and a community - dedicated to that conversation. 

There was a small amount of restlessness and uncertainty: Where are we going with this? What are we supposed to do differently when we leave? One participant later commented that it was like a movie without a closed ending: it lingers and you keep thinking about it. It planted a seed. 

In all, it was a great start to the series. And we'll continue to explore how to make it valuable and thrivable itself.