As good corporate citizens and global nomads, we consider ourselves open, curious, sensitive and resilient.
We embrace diversity and inclusion, acknowledge unconscious bias, rally against discriminatory practices
Not afraid to go-off the beaten track, we forge ahead for a better way. We are lifelong learners.
The above describe typical participants of “TransformaCtion”: a seven-day experiential residential conference, run by the International Forum of Social Innovation (IFSI) – a not-for-profit association based in Paris, whose objective is to promote social innovation and institutional transformation within private or public institutions.
The primary task TransformaCtion? To create a temporary learning institution, with the aim to promote awareness of conscious and unconscious dynamics that determine the real role they hold, and the bounds they develop with their colleagues.
In March 2018, TransformaCtion 2018 was the 41st such conference held in Nice, France
Twenty-four members; seven staff, seventeen nationalities; from five continents.
Living in, or coming from: Australia, Cambodia, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Israel, Malaysia, Qatar, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, UK and the US;
From doctors, lawyers, human rights activists, film directors, producers, psychotherapists, consultants, organisation development experts, managing directors, professors, students, homemakers, public officials to entrepreneurs;
Black, white, yellow, brown, all-sort-of-mix; between twenty-two to sixty-one years of age; Atheist, Agnostic, Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Others; across the gender spectrum.
“This is true Intersectionality at its boldest; Social Innovation in motion.”
Part of the methodology itself is simple. One explores ‘the role you think you play’, ‘the role you are actually given’ and ‘the role you want to transform to’.
Designed with full of surprises and intrigue, the process gets the adrenaline pumping and hearts racing. (think “Burning Man” or “Adventure Room” – on steroids). One is confronted with language that is peculiar, unusual – and at times seemingly politically incorrect (or politically ‘erect’) – as we struggle toward new ways to express ourselves, while at times hanging on for dear life to tried and tested old ways.
We discern, through experience and action, the differences of power, authority and leadership; the spectrum of femininity and masculinity; dreams, revelries, physical sensations – which are emphasised to allow the voice of our unconscious to be heard – as a counterbalance to the ultra-rational/logical/analytical sentiments dominant in the world at large today.
This is diversity and inclusion
It is where we can safely confront our light and shadow, test our resilience, resolve, intention and boundaries, for this process “assumes that each of its members, who are both operators and cogs in the working system, undertake to transform their own role”.
Speaking of roles, something surreal happens.
Somehow, you find yourself playing the roles you typically play – in your life. Even in the company of perfect strangers.
It suddenly hits you like a tonne of bricks;
“…how you show up in the conference, tends to be how you show up in life.”
Your actions – or inactions – results in your results in life. This moment is humbling. And priceless.
Here you find the roles of the Saviour, Prosecutor or Victim; alongside Others such as the Trickster, Saboteur, Narcissist, Nurse, Dreamer, Songbird, Icarus, Facilitator, Dictator, Bishop, Diplomat, Destroyer, Student, Optimist, Robot, Explorer, Adventurer, Leader, Dragon, Phoenix, Queen, High Priestess, Object…. just to name a few.
Additionally – as the institution itself attempts to transform – societal political, psychic, spiritual and instinctual (libidal) dimensions are explored – addressing some of the “complexity of relations with Others, taking into account and using differences (gender, nationality, activity, skin colour, religion, social origin or the generation”. If it all sounds too cryptic, it is. There is no way to explain it – other than to experience it.
Now for a word of precaution. There are many roads to transformation. Just as marathons, computer programming or sky-diving is not for everyone, neither is this conference.
It’s not for the faint-hearted, certainly not for the prude
For the right person at the right time? TransformaCtion is a paradigm shift.
It has been for me. From my perspective, as a participant in the past – and as faculty in TransformaCtion 2018, my takeaways have been many.
That in times of duress, I may falter, but not lose sight of my benevolence and compassion for Other. That I can face my shadow and not be consumed by it. That I can trust my intuition. That in the face of adversity, I have exceptional courage, heart, gratitude, joy, love – and an unwavering faith in humanity.
“And perhaps more poignantly, that collectively we find our resolve to Build Together with complementarity, compassion – and LOVE.”
Ask yourself: “When was the last time you – or your institution – had such a transformation?”
About the author
Selena is a leadership advisor and a coach for people in transition. With IFSI, the International Forum of Social Innovation, Selena participated in FLAM 2013, TransformaCtion 2015 & 2016; completed Leading Consultation 6 (2016/2017) – and was a Staff of TransformaCtion 2018.
If you want to know more about the methodology, here are the following recommended books by David Gutmann: