A Short History of Myth – Karen Armstrong

I remember buying this , quite short, book after glancing across a few of its pages and seeing a few references to ‘archetypes’.

Archetype extraction was an early additional part of many of our Cognitive Edge based narrative workshops at English Nature. Dave Snowden instilled in us an interest and an adherence to many anthopological approaches especially that of the importance of myth and ‘sense of belonging’ stories.

Here are three quotes from Karen Armstrong’s book which I feel are particularly relevant and interesting:

When an Australian goes hunting, for example, he models his behaviour so closely on that of the first hunter that he feels totally at one with him, caught up in that more powerful archetypal world.

The story of the Golden Age, a very early and almost universal myth, was never intended to be historical. It springs from a strong experience of the sacred that is natural to human beings and expresses their tantalising sense of reality that is almost tangible and only just out of reach.

The myth was not simply an exercise in nostalgia, however. Its primary purpose was to show people how they could return to this archetypal world, not only in moments of visionary rapture but in the regular duties of their daily lives.

The Guardian review of 2005 can be found here.



TWIRL – The Wolverhampton Integrated Respiratory Lifestyle


This is one (of seven) of the offspring that emerged from the successful Coventry RIPPLE Project. The Press release from 2016 can be found here.

I facilitated the ‘Launch’ workshop at the Wolverhampton Racecourse back in February 2016, which brought together as wide a range of interested groups as we could. Instead of directly copying the use of a church hall as hosting location we looked at the assets we had and, fairly obviously, but not at that time guaranteed, the Wolves Football Club, Molineux Stadium was suggested, and so it came to be.

This was one of the first ‘social based’ workshops where I successfully introduced the Oxford Creativity – TRIZ Nine Box Thinking method. The use of scale (Individual – Community – Society) and time (Before diagnosis – After Diagnosis – Later) worked particularly well in exploring and generating creative ideas.

wolves02This was one of six sheets produced. Note that at this stage, top left, we were still exploring delivering this initiative as a ‘Breathing Bus’.

I love the way each project is creating its own identity and acronym, TWIRL is great, whilst building on the assets that they have rather than forcing a structure and rules on each other.

Pictures above are taken from the Output Report produced after the workshop.

“The future of knowledge management: how will project management respond?”

I am looking forward to running a session at the forthcoming Association for Project Management (APM) – Knowledge Special Interest Group (SIG) event in London on 6th July 2017.

Full venue address: Grange Fitzrovia hotel, 20-28 Bolsover Street, London. W1W 5NB

The world of work, the nature of organisations and people’s expectations are all changing, and Knowledge Management is changing too. What does this mean for Project Management?

If you’re a project or knowledge management professional, join us to find out more about current and emerging knowledge management ideas and how you can improve the way you work.

Having had a chance to understand these ideas and possibilities, we will discuss what they mean to us and how PM could usefully adapt as a result.

Speakers line up (subject to change) and additional speakers’ information

  • Ron Young CEO, Knowledge Associates, will give us an introduction to his ‘Five Dimensions of Knowledge & Innovation’ and follow this with an interactive group discussion and activity.
    Here delegates will have an opportunity to review and discuss their own knowledge and innovation issues in the context of these dimensions and should gain new valuable insights into how to understand and make progress with them.
  • Ron Donaldson, freelance Knowledge Ecologist, will run an interactive session using narrative inquiry, storytelling and sense-making techniques, where all attendees will participate.
  • Judy Payne, Knowledge Management & Learning specialist, will explore the past present and mostly future of Knowledge Management.
  • Rob Leslie-Carter of ARUP will present on the findings of their new ‘open source’ publication about the future of Knowledge & learning in project management, created in partnership with the APM.

Benefits of attending
As ever, we will be encouraging and expecting engagement and participation from you as attendees and very much value your contributions. There will be the opportunity to meet a host of industry practitioners and thought-leaders; and exchange your experiences with other knowledge managers, project managers and network with like-minded people.

Booking information can be found here.

I was introduced to the work of Joanna Macy during a memorable exercise facilitated by Chris Seeley at one of the Narrative Leadership gatherings I attended in Stroud.

I bought the book, full title ‘Coming Back to Life – The updated guide to the work that reconnects’ and discovered an amazing parallel world of explaining complex systems, emergence, attractors but without any of the ‘difficult language’. It also includes dozens of practical exercise for workshops that can be used separately or as a longer sequence.

Given my recent interest and connections with Robin Lincoln Wood who has written an entire book called ‘Synergise’ (more on that in a later post) I was most interested in her definition of ‘synergy’ very early on in the book.

Synergy – The first property of living systems. As parts self organise into a larger whole, capacities emerge that could never have been predicted and that the individual parts did not possess. The weaving of new connections brings new responses and new possibilities into play. In the process, we can feel sustained – and are sustained – by currents of power arising from our solidarity.

In her 12 guidelines, on page 60, for a ‘good’ workshop I particularly empathise with the following four, and will reference these in later posts as I describe a few of my workshops.

1. Attune to common intention

2. Welcome diversity

7. Believe no-one who claims to have the final answer

11. You do not need to see the results of your work

My last quote from this amazing book is directly about a ‘good workshop’.

A good workshop is a highly participative venture. One of the greatest gifts that a guide (facilitator) can offer to participants is the opportunity to listen to themselves and others.

Always take the pulse of the group to find out what is happening. This act of checking in helps people feel more engaged and responsible.

Narrative Fragments


Having recently stepped over the threshold of three score years on the planet I am beginning to reflect upon the influences, stories and turning points that have inspired and changed me through the years.

I really don’t have the patience, attitude or necessary skills to write a book or make a series of videos. This blog has been allowed to dry up and become overgrown.

I will therefore initially, begin this journey in a form, suggested by Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge, all those years ago, that of ’narrative fragments’. These will be in no particular order and may take the form of quotes, reflections, photographs etc. My intention is to provide a collection of sign posts, gateways or pathways for others to explore.

My intention is to reflect and revisit many of the stories, books and experiences that have had the greatest influence on me over the years and have shaped my approach to facilitation, sharing and indeed how I live my life.

Feedback, in the form of comments, additional resources etc, as always, is very welcome.

TRIZ Inventive Principle 26: Copying

I saw this in a car park in Knaresborough, Yorkshire on Monday. What a great way to deter people from parking in an area that needs to be kept clear, by way of copying a real garage.

TRIZ Inventive principle 26: Copying
A. Replace unavailable, expensive, fragile object with inexpensive copies
B. Replace an object, or process with optical copies.

If you would like to learn more about TRIZ we run regular courses for both engineers and our brand new course of ‘TRIZ for Dummies’. More information here.

ecology of knowledge – this year’s model

I am quite pleased with this overall concept model of my ecosystem based approach.

Each hexagon contains a separate aspect/force, the size and importance of which depends upon the situation.

The cycle begins with Participatory and progresses clockwise.

The green hexagons are those most coherent with Ecology and are inherently emergent.

The blue ones are more knowledge based and lean more towards things that can be learned.

A sustainable, resilient, adaptable, living, refreshing and exciting ecosystem, in my view requires all eight of the above and my workshops and master-classes go some way to bringing each of these essential forces to bear, whatever the problem or situation.

Applicable to new initiatives, business issues, idea generation, knowledge management, change, innovation, learning, reviewing …