Forever Now Festival at “Neue Heimat” Berlin, September 4, 2015
Blogpost and pictures by Kristina Jahn 

At the “Forever Now Festival” in Berlin we explored how personal, cultural and societal transformation can come together under the same umbrella. Together with skillful experts and inspiring artists we practiced transformation of our bodies, our minds and our spirits via yoga, movement, bodywork, keynotes speeches, round tables, workshops, music and meditation.

The Festival focused on three dimensions of transformation:

  1. PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION: What is my individual potential and how can I recognize and develop it?
  1. TRANSFORMATION OF RELATIONSHIPS: What does a culture based on the development of potentials look like? Where can collective intelligence be found?
  1. SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION: What is social development? How can we change the systems that run our society?

In a workshop led by Frederic Laloux, author of the celebrated book “Reinventing organizations” we explored ways of creating more soulful organizations.

Frederic is a former Associate Partner with McKinsey and company, holds an MBA from INSEAD, and today tries to live a simpler and more meaningful life.

He presented his groundbreaking research regarding the emergence of a new management paradigm that thrives to be more powerful, more soulful and purposeful than the management practices that are currently taught in business schools.

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In his inspiring key note speech and later in a workshop, he presented case studies of extraordinary organizations like the Dutch company “Buurtzorg” that are at the forefront of developing the new management paradigm that is just starting to emerge. He shared with the audience best practice examples from these pioneers who transform their organizations into soulful workplaces and provide a harbor for authenticity, community, passion, and purpose.

But how can we conceive of such “enlightened” organizations?

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Richard Buckminster Fuller

To start the discussion, Frederic asked the diverse round of participants to meditate for one minute and then share with everyone in the room one word which best describes what they were feeling during this one minute mediation. Answers included feelings as diverse as: Buzz, gratitude, excitement, fire, re-learn, happiness, joy, longing, love, consciousness, peace, hope, curiosity, evolution, openness, emptiness and transformation.

Afterwards, Frederic presented three paradigms that for him form the center of a “soulful organization”:

 

1. Implement self-managing structures:

  • Explore, what in your organization does already self-organize?
  • Identify and where possible use well working natural hierarchies that already exist in your organization.
  • Where you install new organizational structures, try to implement as little hierarchies as possible. Prefer teams instead.
  • Embrace constant change.
  • Help your staff to be able to cope with conflicting priorities
  • Implement peer-review processes where teams challenge each others’ priorities
  • Install feed-back systems that can serve as a “self-healing”
  • Managers should try to make their leadership role obsolete in their companylaloux_03 laloux_04

2. Striving for wholeness:

  • Think about your organization: Which masks do the people in your company wear? What is the true self that is hidden behind these masks?
  • Turn your company into a save space for your employees
  • Make sure that the people that are working in your organizations are allowed to present themselves in an authentic way
  • Invite employees to show their whole personality at the workspace – including the deeper parts of their personality like their emotions and the “feminine” parts of their personality – not only the rational part or the “masculine” traits of their ego.
  • Delete “fear” from your management system
  • Share what is there – including the doubts!

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3. Create an evolutionary purpose

  • Move from „predict and control“ to „sense and respond“.
  • Make sure you and your team use all their senses
  • Make “listening” a priority

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Frederic’s inspiring key note speeach was followed by a lively discussion.

One participant suggested to implement self-help groups for managers that discover that they fall back into old hierachical management practices – copying the example of “Alcoholics Anonymous” – and call them “Managers Anonymous”.

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During the lunch break under the motto of “Food For Thought – Round Tables at the Inner Court Yard” we helped each other to full plates and to fresh perspectives of transformation. At each of our 10 tables, a special guest shared experiences and insights on how to achieve transformation. At a roundtable with Aftab Omer, Ph.D., a sociologist, psychologist, futurist and the president of Meridian University, California, we discussed the difficult alchemy of navigating the narrow in-between phase of the transformative odyssey.

Aftab Omer, who was Raised in Pakistan, India, Hawaii, and Turkey and educated at the universities of M.I.T, Harvard and Brandeis is an expert regarding the topics of transformative learning, cultural leadership, generative entrepreneurship and the power of imagination.

“Imagine the transformation process as a wild river that needs to be crossed”, Aftab explained during the round table discussion. “The real challenge arises the moment that you have already tried to cross the river – but failed to do so – may be because the waves were too high or because you got overwhelmed by fear – so that you ended up swimming back to the shore that you left from. How do you deal with the problem that – after such a failure – some people are afraid of ever trying to cross the river again? “

What followed then was a very lively discussion between participants from Germany, Denmark and Austria.

The day at the Forever Now Festival was deeply inspiring. And may be best wrapped up with the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

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