ISSS RoundTable 2012 (draft1)

FACILITATOR GUIDE (about 300 wds, or 2.5 minutes read aloud)

(At 7:30 a.m. begin. Don’t read words in parentheses.)

1. Welcome, to our twelfth annual ISSS Morning Reflection RoundTable. My name is ___, and I am today’s facilitator. We propose to suspend judgment and experience this together without stopping for 60 minutes today, then every day this week. After the conference or on the last day, we can discuss its value for us, and consider possible revisions and applications. Is there anyone here for the first time? Welcome, we are glad you are here! (Be sure new people have RoundTable Guides). Let’s take one minute and go around the room for initial introductions–about three words: your name, country, field of work. (Cue the person on your left).
2. Thank you and welcome again to everyone. For our reflection today, I’ll suggest the topic ___* (see bottom of page). While we each consider the topic for a few minutes, I’ll ask for volunteers to read aloud the RoundTable Guidelines on the right. May I have a volunteer read OUR FORMAT?… OUR PURPOSES?… GUIDELINES FOR LISTENING? …. GUIDELINES FOR SPEAKING?.. GUIDELINES FOR RESPONDING?.. (

(At 7:35 a.m. please read…)
3. Did anyone come in after the introductions?… Welcome! (Offer a RoundTable Guide).
4. Again, today’s suggested topic1 is: ___. I would like to hear everyone’s thoughts about this topic or anything else that is on your mind. With today’s attendance, let’s each take about ( ) minutes. (We may use a timer to help.) Please speak so that everyone can hear. What you say is important to us. Who is ready to speak? Three in a row are ready here, so lets start with ___ and go around the circle.
5. (If there is time) Anyone who hasn’t spoken who is ready to speak now?

(At 8:25 a.m. please read…)
6. It’s time to close. First, we have a brief announcement…(Sue)
7. If you have something more to say, ask a colleague to listen to your idea on your way out. Thank you for coming today! We hope to see you tomorrow.

BASIC READINGS: RoundTable Guidelines (300 wds, 2.5 min.)

OUR FORMAT. Our unique format is an eye-opening new practice in democracy. We spend 5 minutes listening to short readings and the suggested topic. We then spend 55 minutes on individual reflections or learning reports, time distributed equally among all present (e.g. 27 people = about 2 minutes each). Each morning, the session is facilitated by a different volunteering facilitator selected from those in attendance.

OUR PURPOSES. We use a facilitator guide/script and basic readings–RoundTable Guidelines–for three main reasons: 1- We pack in a great deal of information in a very short time, thus leaving maximum time for each of us to present our ideas. 2- The result is we hear everyone’s point of view on a topic. 3- We experience some new real-time effortless democratic practices: including rotating, distributed leadership; as well as a scaffold to facilitate conscious guided evolution. We have found 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.

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 hear a great variety of viewpoints. 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 again. Then 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. The facilitator may say “thank you” after you speak. In the interest of time and purpose, we will save all other responses to each other until after the session. We don’t want to divert others, or be diverted, from our own individual learning.

TOPICS: 1st session: “What situations/ projects did you leave behind to come here? What could happen here that would be valuable to you in your life/ work back home?”
2nd – nth session: Suggested by the facilitator-of-the-day. (Default or Option: “What did you experience yesterday that was interesting or important learning for you? In what way was it interesting or important?”


10 Responses to “ISSS RoundTable 2012 (draft1)”

  1. Juan D. Arango R. Says:

    Could I say that this round table is for listening and learning? If yes, I would change the Title: “Guidelines for responding” to “Guidelines to learning” and emphasize the facilitator “thank you” is to remember to listening and learn, not to argue.

    Should I suggest changing the purpose to “Listen and learn other point of views that enrich our knowledge and appreciation of others knowledge” or some variance. The actual purpose looks more procedural than pursuing goals.

  2. sgabriele Says:

    Thank you Juan,

    Here are some responses specific to your email. (Another comment follows.)

    1- The name “Guidelines for responding” is very important to me for many reasons. Two are:

    A. In most cooperative group processes, it is permitted, and even encouraged, for people to respond to each other during the session. In this “Roundtable” format, it is not. So, I feel it must be specifically put that in the Guidelines.

    B. I don’t want to give too many “Guidelines to learning.” Learning is an interior or nonclockwork process or an outcome. The RoundTable Guidelines are for the structures/clockwork processes/exterior behavior that are suggested during this session. Interior processes and outcomes (intended or emerging) are infinitely variable and I don’t want to limit them.

    2. “The actual purpose looks more procedural than pursuing goals.” Yes, the Guidelines are intended to be procedural–to lay out the structures and clockwork processes a la Boulding. A crude summary of my understanding of Boulding’s Typology is:

    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 clarifies that specific parts of a social system are designable and others are not. Frameworks, clockworks, and thermostats (levels 1-3) are designable to externally-prescribed criteria. Open, blueprint, image-aware, 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 and timing are tightly designed to leave maximum time for variable individual comments, goals, and purposes.

  3. sgabriele Says:

    Thank you Juan. I hope others make comments too.

    In response to your email, I also have these general comments, which express my current opinion. I remain open to learning more about how this new format works over the years that come. I am influenced by Boulding’s 1956 article. Generally, I see this RoundTable format as generative, NOT strategic: In other words, our current purposes are brainstorming/heartstorming, and NOT making decisions or attempting to agree on anything.

    A colleague of mine once told me that they had held multiple RoundTables (which were inspired by mine) as they had a very large group. At the closing of their “RoundTables,” one person from each group was asked to give a (2-minute?) summary of their group’s discussion. This struck me as the opposite of what I was trying to accomplish. Her modification inspired in me a different closing option. I suggested that my closing would be a “pair share.” In other words, the last two minutes, people would pair off and each would summarize his or her own learning.

    I want to honor the very different learnings that each person has.

    Her idea was a valuable one! But, in my view, it should be very separate from the RoundTable sessions.

    (Excerpted from my dissertation) In Scileppi’s (1984) Systems Approach to Education, Sarason describes the possible value of an autonomous structure with different rules of the game.

    Instead of instituting a “piece-meal” innovation within the organization, which will soon be forced to comply with the role relationships, bureaucratic structure and regulations of the rest of the institution, Sarason recommended that a new structure or setting be created. These alternative settings could be either subunits of existing institutions or new independent organizations, but in either case, the innovation must be autonomous. Using this method, the change agents, along with the group that they serve, develop their own “rules of the game,” their own social structure and role relationships. (p. 176)

  4. Juan D. Arango R. Says:

    1. Now I understand what you say about “Guidelines for responding”. It works.
    2. By my work, I have learned that we (living beings) normally have an objective for our activities. Purposes are like objectives, are motivations to our needs or desires, then they are not procedural but teleological. Not the way but the end…

  5. sgabriele Says:

    Juan, Thank you for your response. Regardiing your two points: 1. Glad I was able to clarify! I will attempt to clarify my views on #2.
    2. A key purpose of the RoundTable format is to create the conditions (procedural) that increase our ability (as human beings) to advance towards our own self-determined goals (teleological) each at our own individual pace, for our own multiple and variable purposes. Does this make sense? Does this explain why my purposes are procedural, rather than teleological?

  6. Juan D. Arango R. Says:

    Communication is difficult due to “our own multiple and variable purposes.” Where are your limits? At the RoundTable? Outside the RoundTable, having participants to take knowledge home? Are those participants in the RoundTable when they get back home? Having emergent properties in mind, does the procedures are the goals?

    • sgabriele Says:

      I agree that communication is difficult due to “our own multiple and variable purposes.” I propose that communication must serve, or at least not hinder, “our own multiple and variable purposes.” I became interested in the procedures of the RoundTable because I observed, and it is well documented and time proven (75+ years), that they are emancipatory (the RoundTable’s most general purpose). The limits during the RoundTable session are contained and outlined in the one page RoundTable Guide. Each group of users can adapt it to their more specific purposes. So far, the RoundTable session is face to face. So, we (you, I and others) are fortunate to be able to continue this face to face soon in San Jose.

  7. Says:

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve visited this website before but after browsing through some of the posts I realized it’s new to me.

    Anyways, I’m definitely pleased I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back

  8. Ignacio Says:

    I am glad you send us this mail, so we can keep the roundtable going after the ISSS meeting. For me it would be good for more people to participate, specially the persons who are there for the first time, so that they can connect with the members of ISSS

    Un abrazo


    • sgabriele Says:

      Hi Ignacio, Thanks for your response! Yes, let’s keep the communication on the RoundTable going during the year. Maybe we all ill get skilled on this mode! n 🙂 Sue

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