Knee Deep in Transition, avoiding donut organisations, and building the New Economy

Martin’s latest guest article for the Transition Towns Network (see link further below):

Transforming the way we think and do

Transition is huge. No matter that it isn’t yet dispersed everywhere, or having greater impact, there’s no arguing that it has reached far and wide, in to the lives or consciousness of many. People are practising everywhere. And yet I’m often surprised that the depth of Transition, its immense wisdom, roots, influences and tools aren’t better appreciated or utilised among even those who have a lot of experience in doing it. I’m surprised there are still Transitioners who haven’t read the Handbook, at least once, let alone read Rob Hopkins’ MSc dissertation, which I’d highly recommend.Permaculture Flower

I’m surprised when Transitioners aren’t regularly doing visioning; I think a streamlined version could be built in as a 5 minute insert into the majority of Transition meetings as a habit. I’m surprised when I’m met with surprise that collaborative governance systems such as Sociocracy and Viable Systems Model, the psychology of behavioural change, scenario planning, oral history and much more have influenced the Transition movement right from the start. That the pattern language of Transition isn’t more embodied. That the Project Support Project isn’t at the core of all initiatives. Or when Transitioners neglect to design in fun and celebration. Or getting paid.

Transition goes deeper than telling everyone else what they need to do differently, and deeper even than creative solutions that demonstrate the future and replenish the present. It is also a personal journey, and that remains true whether we’re just starting out or think of ourselves as ‘experts’; the journey into Transition is a lifelong one….

Continue reading at the Transition Network

Posted: May 8th, 2012 | Author: martin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off

Transition emerges when we seek it

This article was published on The Transition Towns‘ Network site. On personal resilience, Conscious Business, Sociocracy, Social Enterprise… Martin

Transition had a deeply transformative effect on my life. It has shaped and focussed my professional path since. It brought me into contact with the inspiration, community and tools that I was aching for. Since my local network became fractured and life has swept me onward, I have become immersed in exploring solutions to some of the questions that Transition posed for me. My special interest, among others, was the development of Transition enterprises and livelihoods. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: April 17th, 2012 | Author: martin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Navigating the cross winds

Or The gulf between what we want and where we are

‘A plane is on the wrong course 90% of the time’

I was reminded of this nugget of wisdom today, while assessing where I’m at, where I’m going, where I said I wanted to go, and the habits that help or hinder my progress.
Navigating the cross winds
Of course aeroplanes normally arrive at their destination, which I find comforting. They do so because pilots regularly check against where they said they wanted to go, and adjust accordingly.

I know this probably sounds obvious, but I think we often neglect to check our course, and steer. I know that although I know it, I need reminding regularly. That’s ok, we are human and mortal. But that’s why it’s important to embed compass setting and evaluation into what we do Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: March 19th, 2012 | Author: martin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The part time crusader wins the long game

With thanks to Ian Lawton

I was at last week’s Greenspeak, recently relaunched here in Brighton, with NEF and Mappiness. I really loved this brilliant Edward Abbey quote relayed by Andrew Simms. It really speaks to my own experience and learning as an activist, and to my own roots: as a proud descendent of  ramblers involved with the great ‘mass trespasses’ of the 30’s, whose ashes were scattered at the base of Green Gable, and as someone who knows the importance of balancing long hours with finding refuge in the views The Mappiness Hedonimeterfrom the peaks, of dancing and comedy, of listening in awe to the sounds of creatures usually unseen. After all, if we are serious about sustainability, then we have to take it seriously in our own lives, and we have to take laughter seriously too. If we truly care about the dreams that we are working to manifest, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: March 5th, 2012 | Author: martin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The fierce crucible of respectful communication

Guest blog by Adrienne Campbell, reposted from the Transition Towns website:

It’s not by chance that Respectful Communication comes number three in the list of Ingredients in the Transition Companion. Groups won’t survive, let alone flourish, without it.

For me, it goes a lot deeper than not being rude, or the kind of advanced civility that Rob describes.  It’s not enough just to be kind to each other, and to try to accommodate the other’s point of view. Sure, when you’re in a ‘no problem’ area you can give and take a little, give each other the benefit of the doubt, let comments slip unchallenged.

But it’s when people have differing opinions – and hopefully they will – that the power of respectful communication is tested.  How often have we been in a group where you can tell that people are ‘withholding’ opinions, biting their tongues because they don’t want to be rude or cause conflict by disagreeing, only for issues to later erupt in one big bang? Or for people to leave, slipping away, or in a massive drama that takes other people out? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: February 23rd, 2012 | Author: martin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off

The Good Chef

“The good chef (chief) walks around her kitchen, with a clean apron and a pocket full of spoons”.

I love this quote, that Louis shared with me the other day. Apparently it came from a local chef he knows, but for me it says a lot about Facilitative Leadership and Collaborative Governance. It talks to me of support, measurement and trust. And it sounds fun and delicious!


Posted: October 4th, 2011 | Author: martin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Collaborative Governance – Societal Innovation And Learning for our times

John Bristow recently interviewed Nate for Societal Innovation And Learning; John writes a short explanation of what the Sociocratic model of Governance is about, and features several short videos of Nate entertaining with a discussion of the historical, political and philosophical context, hierarchy and control in organisations, and how to use Collaborative Governance.

“This is of interest to anyone interested in addressing the issues of alienating and ineffective uses of hierarchy and methods of control in organisations and groups of all sizes.  And in the question of how to have equality in being heard and having influence together with efficient decision making and action. While developed over 40 years ago in the Netherlands and then used in different sectors and contexts in the US of A and elsewhere, this is still relatively little known in the UK….”  Continue article and see short videos here

To find out more about Sociocracy, Organisational Democracy or Collaborative Governance, start here

Posted: September 13th, 2011 | Author: martin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off

Changing the World by Changing the Way We Make Decisions

Axiom News in the States recently interviewed Nate, following his appearance at the WorldBlu organisational democracy conference:

“While there are countless ways to better the world, Decision Lab facilitator Nathanial Whitestone says changing how we make decisions is the most critical and profound change we could make.

Co-founding Decision Lab one year ago, Whitestone says the U.K.-based organization aims to accelerate better decision-making in organizations by introducing models that encourage participatory decision-making and improved communication flows.

“At every point we are able to fix things technologically,” says Whitestone. “The key for me is every person having control over the way they work . . . . You can’t fully express yourself, fully express the gifts you have in life, if you don’t have input on the design of how you express them.”…  Read more here

Posted: September 13th, 2011 | Author: martin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off

The Miles Davies approach to facilitation

Co-leading a Facilitative Leadership day last week alongside London Creative Labs, I was enjoying later what we coined the Miles Davis approach to facilitation: bathe in the gaps and celebrate the words you don’t speak.


Posted: September 5th, 2011 | Author: martin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off

Leadership and Tao Te Ching

I really like this quote. I’ve been using it a bit recently while teaching and explaining Facilitative Leadership


The Master doesn’t talk, she acts. When her work is done, the people say, “Amazing: we did it, all by
ourselves!” – Adapted, from Tao Te Ching (17)


Posted: September 2nd, 2011 | Author: martin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off