We met a couple of nights ago in Tokyo to reflect on the recent Art of Hosting in Kiyosato (see earlier blog). After almost four months of work here this year, I still am surprised. What brings 22 people out for five hours on a cold weekday night to reflect on their learning together a month earlier? What kind of commitment to each other and to learning is represented here?
The walls were lined with the graphic recording from the Art of Hosting. On the floor there was a series of pictures of people and scenes from the Art of Hosting which were sequenced with the graphic recording. The Art of Hosting was present in the room with us. We began in a circle with a check-in: what are we each bringing here with us tonight? Then there we walked around the room and remembered. Yuya gave a bit of a walking through of the three days to help make it more vivid. We each picked one or two pictures from the floor which helped us access a particular memory. In silence we returned to the circle and wrote a bit about our memories. Then we formed groups of two of three to share impressions and learning. I was asked to share some of my reflections and learning with the group.
After a short break, we moved into open space. Fascinating topics:
- How can we make it easier for new people to enter AoH easily?
- What are the next steps for this Art of Hosting community?
- What makes the difference between surface dialogue and being able to go deep?
- What is the deep hosting of the whole field of an Art of Hosting practice event?
- What changed for each of us after the AoH?
- Afterall, what did you get from it?
- What’s the “difference in temperature?” Some got hot, with lots of energy, some didn’t. What’s the difference?
- What is the “art” of Art of Hosting?
- The circle has a particular power; different energy. What is it?
- Some people participated 100%, other less. What makes a difference?
I went to the first round session on deep hosting of the entire field, because that was where my main learning and interest was — things I wrote about in my earlier blog on Kiyosato. After checking in, people — with a little bit of hesitation — asked me to speak more about my experience. What I said — my own self-examination of what I felt I didn’t do well — opened a space for others. I learned later from some people that there is not much of a practice in Japan around talking directly about what didn’t work. People felt refreshed by the possibility of having this conversation. Personally, I really appreciated being able to talk about it face-to-face. So we talked about how there were “too many moving parts” this time; about how we all were too busy. Some talked about how they missed the fact that the larger hosting team was not meeting — but didn’t know what to do. What was missing, we asked. In the end, we concluded that what was missing as a simple and clear agreement that we would prioritize meeting with each other every day to share learning and discuss next steps. Not a long and complicated meeting — but a swift and clear checking in. We realized that any of us could have called for such a meeting this last time — but we were all swept away by what was going on.
Almost all of us noticed it was missing. Satoko talked about how on the last day she stepped in and changed the design of what we were doing. She recalled that I came up to her afterward and said both that I was completely surprised and deeply appreciative of what she had done. She talked about knowing she had to do it, but how she trembled because she was doing it alone, with no collective at her back. It was a rich and deep conversation. In fact, like other conversations from the first round of open space, we ran the full length of the hour for open space. We had to much to say and too much to listed to.
There was rich and powerful learning for each of us in this conversation. I commented on how I’ve stopped beating myself up for what I regarded as my failures during the event. What we didn’t talk about is how rich the learning was because of what didn’t happen. That learning would, of course, have been minimized and held in very different ways if we had not taken the time for this reflection session. So that simple message again — when we’re engaged in new work, it is essential to pause and reflect on what we’ve done as we find our next step forward. It is no big deal. It is not complicated. It does not require a lot of design. And it has to happen if we are to harvest learning and see what comes next.
This session was a powerful one for me. I’m very grateful. Whatever feelings I was still carrying which focused on what I didn’t do were transformed into an appreciation of the collective and into a know that we all, together, can do a better job the next time around.