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 the transformation of our bodies, minds and spirits though 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 & Company and holds an MBA from INSEAD. Today, he strives 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, such as the Dutch company “Buurtzorg”, which 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.

The question remains: how can we conceive 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 group of participants to meditate for one minute and then share with everyone in the room one word which best describes what they felt 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 which he regards as the core of a “soulful organization”:

 

1. Implement self-managing structures:

  • Explore which aspects of your organization are self-organized.
  • Identify and locate possible well-working natural hierarchies that currently exist in your organization.
  • In areas of your organization where new structures are implemented, try to implement as little hierarchy as possible. Prioritize flat team structures.
  • Embrace constant change.
  • Empower your staff to cope with conflicting priorities.
  • Implement peer-reviewed processes where teams challenge each others’ priorities.
  • Implement feed-back systems that can serve as a “self-healing” mechanism for your organization.
  • 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 wear in your company? What is the true identities hidden behind these masks?
  • Turn your company into a save space for your employees.
  • Make sure that the people who are working in your organizations are allowed to present themselves in an authentic manner.
  • Invite employees to show their whole personality at the workspace, allowing them to reveal their true emotions which are also known as the “feminine” parts of their personality relative to mascular part of their personality which is rational and related to employees’ ego.
  • Delete “fear” from your management system.
  • Share what is present – including 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 of your senses.
  • Make “listening” a priority.

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

One participant suggested implementing self-help groups for managers that tend to eventually revert  back to out-dated old hierarchical management practices, despite their desire to change their leadership style. Referencing the example of “Alcoholics Anonymous”, the participant suggested callin the self-help groups “Managers Anonymous”.

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

Dr. 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 in topics regarding 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. Maybe 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 was a very lively discussion between participants from Germany, Denmark, and Austria.

The day at the Forever Now Festival was deeply inspiring, and can perhaps be best summarized by 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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