Goodness needs space for cultivating good conversations
See how we help people host these conversations
What we do
In order to increase the confidence, capacity and capability of people, communities, and organisations in adopting and using the practices of the art of Participatory Leadership through hosting and harvesting conversations that matter, we respond to calls to deliver training, and supporting the community of practitioners, and running participatory engagement events in Scotland.
The Art of Participatory Leadership and Hosting first came to Scotland with a training event held in November 2013. The third training event took place at the end of September 2015 in New Lanark. Since then we have also undertaken several taster session events show-casing and training participants in the range of practices. We have also undertaken several on-line events covering a wide range of topics of interest. The practices include:
The goal of an Open Space technology meeting is to create time and space for people to engage deeply and creatively around issues of concern to them.Learn More about Open Space
The World Café is a method for creating a living network of collaborative dialogue around questions that matter in real life situations.Learn More about World Café
The circle, or council, is an ancient form of meeting that has gathered human beings into respectful conversation for thousands of years. The circle has served as the foundation for many cultures.Learn More about Circle Practice
Appreciative Inquiry is a strategy for intentional change that identifies the best of ‘what is’ to pursue dreams and possibilities of ‘what could be’.Learn More about Appreciative Inquiry
Design for Wiser Action
The Designing for Wiser Action process was created to give humans – process practitioners an opportunity to ask for help, and for the rest of us an opportunity to practice both design and generosity.
We plan for a harvest, not just the meeting or conversation! For the conversations that matter to lead to real change and transformation, some significant strategic harvesting of the outputs and outcomes is required.Learn More about Strategic Harvesting
Other training provision and events include:
The Groundwork methodology is more than the art of organising, where the focus is on what happens below the surface. It entails developing the self, leadership, the quality of relationships and cultures, hosting and tending to the social field, a shared vision, holding diverse perspectives together, aligning individual and collective needs, long-term purpose and strategy.Learn More about Groundwork
The Flow Game enables the hosting and generating of deep and powerful conversations for individuals, teams and families.Learn More about Flow Game
In an increasingly complex world with multiple wicked problems and challenges, there are ways and methods for how to approach complexity thinking, and how to deal with the issues.Learn More about Complexity
The Connect Sessions
The Connect Sessions were started in 2020 during the COVID19 pandemic with the purpose of enabling people in our network to learn more about a wide range of topics and interests through on-line sessions..Learn More about The Connect Sessions
DOJO Warrior of the Heart events
Having organised and run several of these events in Scotland, the purpose of DOJO gatherings of practitioners (a practice learned from masters of Japanese martial arts) is to encourage refresher training, further learning and sharing experiences of working with the practices.Learn More about DOJO Warrior of the Heart events
Storytelling is humankind’s oldest knowledge management tool - - and still one of the most effective. Follow David Hutchens on his Facebook page.Learn More about Storytelling
We aim to support the community of over 100 people who have trained in some of these practices to further embed their use throughout Scotland.
We run short refresher training events and more recently have hosted on-line events called The Connect Sessions where we also share our experiences of and learning from using these practices, and much more. The events offer opportunities for the practitioners to network, share ideas and learn from others who are working in the same field.
The variety of work we do
Community Group consultation and planning
We work with communities to explore how they as members and leaders might work in a more participatory, collaborative and fulfilling way to deliver better outcomes for the organisation and the wider community. Examples of this include work with InspirAlba, MICT, SWMID, and Falkland Community Council.
Large-scale community consultation
We have undertaken several of these events including the consultation with Community Councils on the topic raised by the Scottish Government about citizens’ view on Unconventional Oil and Gas extraction in central Scotland.
Coaching-style deep conversations using the Flow Game
By hosting the Flow Game has helped individuals, families and teams to explore more deeply the questions and issues that really matter. in order to then help the participants reflect more deeply, getting help for fellow participants and then develop some actions to pursue.
Participatory project management
We work with leaders, managers and teams to explore how they might use participatory project management tools and practices such as Design for Wiser Action and Groundwork, to deliver better outcomes for the project, the team and work processes.
Large-scale consultation and policy making assemblies
We have undertaken and helped host several large-scale consultations and policy making sessions, including two Rural Parliaments, a Carers Parliament and a number of Regional Assemblies for the SNP.
Participatory Leadership and Organisation Development
We are invited to work with leaders, community groups, managers and teams to explore different ways of working together including whole system thinking, process improvement, project management. In particular we work with leaders, managers and teams to explore how they might work in a more participatory, collaborative and fulfilling way to deliver a shared responsibility for leading, all-round wellbeing and goodness. We also work with the people in an organisation to develop the radical transformative thinking and practices to become self-managing teams. The organisations with whom we have undertaken this work include the City of Glasgow College, Falkland Estates, Conveyancing Direct, and The Scottish Government.
The timeline below outlines some of the main events and work that we’ve undertaken to date since the first full Art of Hosting training event held in November 2013. Click the year button to see more.
Argyll Leadership Training
On the 27th to 29th of October 2022, the Argyll Leadership Training course was held at Barmolloch Farm, Mid-Argyll. The purpose of the training was to gather a community of practitioners who share values, personal and collective practices and ideas to take forward the advantages of good leadership and collaborative learning across all sectors in Argyll. For more details of what we did, select and highlight the link below, right click and select the 'go to' option, or paste the link into your browser: https://ruralsehub.net/argyll-leadership-training-27th-29th-october-2022/
Open Space at SLI Conference
At the Scottish Leadership Institute conference entitled 'Sustainable Leadership for a Sustainable Planet' held on 9th November 2021 in the RBS Gogarburn Conference Centre, we hosted an in-person and on-line Open Space session. For more details of what we did, select and highlight the link below, right click and select the 'go to' option, or paste the link into your browser: https://www.scottishleadership.org/sustainable-leadership-event.html Scroll to near the foot of the page for the details of the Open Space session.
Autumn - The Connect Sessions
CS hosted a number of on-line learning events.
Several planned events including our 4th 3-day residential AoH training event were forced to be cancelled due to the global pandemic.
January - CoGC
A half-day session with over 80 people from the CoGC senior leadership team was held as a follow-on to the November session. The seven project teams presented their ‘show & tells’ of progress made and planned their next steps. We also delivered a short presentation on Agile working practices for consideration.
November - CoGC
A further full-day event was held with the senior leadership team following the event held in October. The mini project teams delivered short ‘show & tells’ of the progress made, and then regrouped to agree further actions. CS delivered teaching of the Chaordic Path and 4-Fold Practice to the participants.
October - City of Glasgow College (CoGC)
A half-day event was hosted by CS for the senior leadership team of the College using World Cafe, Open Space and Design for Wiser Action, from which seven mini project teams were formed to deliver some key outcomes in a short timescale.
Autumn - National Assemblies for the SNP.
CS planned and hosted three major events held at Ayr Racecourse, Aviemore Resort and Edinburgh Corn Exchange, with over 1,000 participants in total. We used Appreciative Inquiry and Open Space practices, harvested outputs and produced a fulsome report for the SNP leadership.
February - Falkland Estate to Foundation transformation
CS hosted a follow-on 1-day conversation with those interested in contributing to the thinking and planning of the future of the Estate.
January - Fairer Fife - Third Sector organisations
Invited to deliver two items of work. CS hosted a 1-day taster training event in participatory practices. CS then hosted the 2nd Fairer Fife Conference with the trainees co-hosting/apprenticing to deliver the event.
December - Strategic Harvesting
A 1-day course organised by CS, held in Glasgow, hosted and delivered by Chris Corrigan, a world recognised expert in this practice.
November - Complexity training workshop
A 2-day course held in Glasgow hosted and delivered by two experts in this field.
November - Falkland Estate to Foundation transformation
Hosted by CS, a one-day conversation of around 25 people who were interested in contributing to the thoughts and planning of the Steward of the Falkland Estate around the future of the Estate.
November - Groundwork Course
A 2-day course was held in Killin where around 14 participants learned the power of using the Groundwork method and participatory practices to help organisations and projects become more effective.
August - Flow Game Host training
This event in Edinburgh was held to train a number of participants in how to become hosts of the Flow Game.
June - Argyll & Bute Entrepreneurs Network
CS was invited to host an Open Space session in Campbeltown for the Argyll Social Enterprise Conference.
March to April - Fracking consultations, Central Scotland
CS was invited to assist in the hosting and harvesting of conversations in 16 community councils across central Scotland in response to the Scottish Government’s invitation, seeking views on Unconventional Oil & Gas (UOG) or fracking. We wrote a detailed report from each event and all the content was submitted to the dedicated UOG consultation website. The subsequent official report to the Scottish Government contained a lot of material from our outputs.
April - Taster Day for Groundwork
CS hosted a day-long event in Edinburgh to introduce people from several organisations how the application of the Groundwork methodology and practices would help in their organisation and projects.
April - Warrior of the Heart 2
A lively and encouraging event held in Falkland, Scotland where a group of around 35 practitioners from Scotland, the UK and Europe gathered to learn and share skills and experiences of using the AoH practices.
March - AoH Dojo
An event hosted in the Falkland Estate where deeper training and coaching in the practices of AoH was held with a number of practitioners from across Europe.
March - Fairer Fife
CS was invited to run a small group dialogue cafe and then host an Open Space session over the course of the one-day event in Glenrothes, Fife.
January - Flow Game Host Training
An introduction day was held in Comrie for those in CS who had played the Flow Game previously and were now prepared for being trained as hosts.
December - Conveyancing Direct Scotland.
Two members of CS helped the 25 staff of Conveyancing Direct in Glasgow with their transformation into a self-managing organisation, demonstrating to the team how to use various participatory practices as their operating model.
November - Community of Practitioners
CS hosted a one-day event where practitioners shared their experiences of using the AoH practices in their workplaces and communities.
October - Falkland Community
CS was invited by leaders of several local community organisations to host a community engagement World Cafe conversation with around 35 people from the village.
October - Second Rural Parliament
On the second day of the three-day event held in Brechin, CS helped host an Open Space workshop in the morning, and a plenary and voting session on the Rural Manifesto in the afternoon.
August/September - AoH training in Copenhagen, Denmark
Two other members of CS were invited to be part of the hosting team for this full residential training event.
August/September - AoH training in Corrymeela, Northern Ireland
Two members of CS were invited to be part of the hosting team for this full residential training event.
May – The Hutters Rally
This successful event involving around 20 participants was hosted by the Falkland Estate and CS.
April – Communications Conference/Training
A training session was held with the Regeneration Division in Scottish Government hosted by CS.
February - Isle of Bute
CS was invited to help host the AGM of a local organisation using several participatory practices which delivered healthy conversations and an agreement on the way forward for the leadership of the trust.
February – Co-operation Café with Scottish Rural Network
An event was held with team members from The Scottish Government Rural Affairs Section, hosted by CS which helped the team to develop some key plans and initiatives.
February - Community engagement for South West Mull & Iona Development (SWMID)
A series of events were hosted by CS in schools and other venues in order to help develop the community priorities to update the Development Plan. In addition a separate but connected desk-based economic and demographic search analysis was undertaken as part of this work.
December – AoH Scotland Community of Practitioners (CoP)
A day-long event was held in Edinburgh with a wider group of people to plan holding a full CoP event sometime at a later date.
November – Connecting Scotland away-days
This 2-day gathering of the CS Directors held in Drymen delivered a strategy document outlining how CS will work in future, according to key agreed principles and values.
October - Fairer Scotland
As part of the Scottish Government’s request for local groups to hold conversations about what would make for a Fairer Scotland, Connecting Scotland hosted a small group cafe conversation in Colinton, Edinburgh.
October – Carers Parliament event
Held in Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, where Connecting Scotland hosted a World Café session with over 200 delegates. Outputs were harvested into a graphic landscape and a detailed report.
September – Third residential 3-day Art of Hosting Training in Scotland
This event was held in New Lanark with around 30 people from across Europe. The hosting was undertaken by Connecting Scotland with assistance from two global experts in AoH, Toke Moeller and Linda Mitchell.
August through October - Mull & Iona Community Trust (MICT).
The team hosted a series of meetings in schools, summer shows and communities across east and north Mull covered by MICT. The outputs were harvested to inform the revised content of the updated Development Plan.
May - CS extended team gathering in Comrie
Meeting held to discuss the further development of Connecting Scotland as an organisation, and consider potential training for people in the Scottish Government and other organisations.
April - Connecting Scotland CiC (CS CiC) formed
A team development day with Scottish Government Department
Connecting Scotland hosted a series of sessions using Appreciative Inquiry, World Cafe and Open Space for 35 staff in Edinburgh.
November – First Rural Parliament
A major event held over three days in Oban, Scotland involving over 500 participants from across Scotland where Toke Moeller and members of Connecting Scotland hosted a highly successful Open Space session.
November – First Warrior of the Heart event
Held in Comrie Perthshire, combining Aikido and other practices for shared learning and personal development
June – Second residential 3-day Art of Hosting Training in Scotland
Held in Drymen with a team of international hosts including Connecting Scotland.
May – CLD Standards Council for Scotland Conference. Guest speaker was Meg Wheatley
Connecting Scotland was invited to host a World Cafe session for the participants.
April – Harvesting Training
Full day training held in Edinburgh for our Community of Practitioners in how to accurately record meetings in different ways, delivered by Monica Nissen.
April – Scottish Government Parliament
At the invitation of two MSPs we hosted an event in the Scottish Parliament to introduce and discuss the potential of extending the use of Art of Hosting practices within government and beyond in Scotland.
February – World Café for Rural Parliament
A taster event held in Glasgow using World Cafe to explore what might be done to assist in the planning for and running of a participatory session during the first Rural Parliament event.
November – First residential 3-day Art of Hosting (AoH) Training in Scotland
Part funded by Scottish Government. Fifty participants from around Scotland and beyond, including Scottish Government officers, met at Newbattle Abbey College near Edinburgh.
June - Meg Wheatley conference
Held in Glasgow to a sell-out audience of Social Entrepreneurs, Business people, Community Workers and Activists, Healthcare Workers and a Scottish Government Minister also attended.
May - Art of Hosting Taster Day
Held in Glasgow for Scottish Government Staff.