OUR FORMAT.  In the 60 minute RoundTable, we allot 5 minutes to readings, and 55 minutes to hearing individual comments–time distributed equally among all present. We rotate the facilitator role to experience different facilitator styles. In one short hour, we hear twenty-plus points of view around topics of interest. We believe that just as we break the sound barrier when we travel faster than the speed of sound, we break the communication barrier when we hear 20 authentic viewpoints in 60 minutes (and 5 different facilitators over the week.)

OUR PURPOSES. – We use a leader’s guide and some basic readings–RoundTable Guidelines–for three main reasons: 1- We cover a great deal of information in a very short time. 2- This leaves maximum time for each of us to present our ideas. The result is we hear everyone’s point of view on a topic. Finally, 3- we experience rotating, distributed leadership, a real-time democratic practice.

GUIDELINES FOR LISTENING. Listening to the 5 minutes of readings allows us the opportunity to quiet our minds and silently reflect on the  topic, the readings,  our inner thoughts, and our work and lives. Listening to each other’s comments, we experience and appreciate a great variety of viewpoints. Also, we consciously shift our attitudes from “evaluation” to “valuation,” from critiquing to appreciating, from problem-solving to ideal-seeking–towards one another and towards ourselves.

GUIDELINES FOR SPEAKING.  At your turn, please say your name, country, field of work, and your presentation time and day (if you are presenting this week). Please say something about today’s topic, or anything else that is on your mind.  Let’s each take only one turn to speak and limit our time, so we can offer everyone a turn.  Or, if you prefer, pass your turn and just listen today.

GUIDELINES FOR RESPONDING.  We say “thank you” after you speak.  In the interest of time and purpose, please save all other responses to each other until after the RoundTable session. We don’t want to divert ourselves, or each other, from our own individual learning.

A SOCIAL SYSTEMS THEORY RATIONALE.  Bureaucratic models assume all parts of a social system are designable. Laissez-faire models assume no parts are designable. Boulding’s 9-level social system (illustrated right) clarifies that specific parts of a social system are designable others are not. Frameworks, clockworks, and “thermostats” (levels 1-3) are designable to externally-prescribed criteria. Open, blueprint, internal image, and symbol-processing parts (levels 4-7) are not designable. These undesignable parts, humans, have fixed boundaries, but act according to internally-prescribed criteria–needs, abilities, perceptions, choices–of increasing variability. Social and transcendent levels (levels 8-9) with changeable boundaries, are even more variable. Hence, the RoundTable scripts, topics and timing are tightly designed to leave maximum time for variable individual comments.


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