What People Say

“Keeping on working this way is going to be the easy option for us because we’re seeing fantastic results. People have energy they didn’t have before…”

The idea of working like nature was so powerful but so different to how groups usually work and arrive at decisions…”

“For me, the essence of CultureWork is to facilitate and empower groups to first see and then unleash the potential for positive change that lies within the group…”

“My initial reaction and my abiding emotion was and is Yes! This is what I have waited for all my life…”

“I liked the way you worked with us in an informal way and with ease. Your total commitment and dedication to the work amazed me along with your firm belief in us…”

What People Say

“Keeping on working this way is going to be the easy option for us because we’re seeing fantastic results. People have energy they didn’t have before…”

The idea of working like nature was so powerful but so different to how groups usually work and arrive at decisions…”

“For me, the essence of CultureWork is to facilitate and empower groups to first see and then unleash the potential for positive change that lies within the group…”

“My initial reaction and my abiding emotion was and is Yes! This is what I have waited for all my life…”

“I liked the way you worked with us in an informal way and with ease. Your total commitment and dedication to the work amazed me along with your firm belief in us…”

Learning what it means to work the way life works – in practice – is an ongoing inquiry for us.

So we walk our talk, work in cycles and take time out to reflect on our work and impact.

What’s worked well? What could have worked better? What are we learning? What’s the next step?

We also invite clients to reflect with us… often many years after our work together.

You see, an organisation’s culture is like a garden. And just like gardening, there are the immediate fruits of the work.

But even more important perhaps, are the subtle long term shifts.

Changes in the cultural soil.

Some choose to reflect in interviews, others in written form. Their thoughts are planted on each page of this website to give you a sense of the personal and organisational benefits of working the way life works.

Here, we highlight some key patterns.

 

Testimonials

About The Essence Of CultureWork

“The essence of this work is a deep respect for the ability of a system to meet its own challenges… to truly see it from all angles and involve the whole system in moving forward towards resolution. It is based on building real and strong relationships and developing the capacity of the system to best meet its needs…”

“One significant aspect of the work was creating the space where exchange and conversation could happen…”

“A different way to approach change – personal reflection, better ways of communication, drawing out leadership across our group… “

“I think that the essence of this work is in reconnecting people to meaning and values and suggesting strategies to help them work and live out of them…. “

“For me the essence of this work is reflection on experience… “

“CultureWork in its essence is, I think, about working the way Nature works – in loops and cycles… “

“I think the core of this work is to bring about authentic change by shifting our understanding of the living system of which we are part and providing the tools to make changes… “

“Startling; amazing; helpful; causing forward movement; enabling the facing of difficult issues; initiating new ways of doing old things; deepening relationships… “

“Creating a freedom to ‘just say it’ ; creating a space for everyone to say what they want to in an unthreatening way; giving all participants a sense of their contribution being valued… “

“For me, the essence of CultureWork is to facilitate and empower groups to first see and then unleash the potential for positive change that lies within the group… “

“It was a way of helping many of us – with vastly different experience, cultures, expertise – to work together to find a way forward… “

“The essence is learning about living systems and trying to change thought patterns, discovering new ways of problem solving, learning to harvest new learnings and attempting to be conscious that I am an integral part of a living system… “

“I would call it ground-breaking, exciting, challenging, sometimes ‘a pain in the…’, but crucially important for us as a group… “

“I think the essence is to work as nature works and we need to become more aware of that, reflect on it, and to work in loops and cycles and respond to feedback…”

“CultureWork is essentially experiential, non-dualistic, invitational, inclusive. It values diversity, creativity and openness to reality. It is above all evolutionary. Open to change. In fact, welcoming change….”

“I think the essence of this work is to facilitate groups to engage in a real, meaningful, non-threatening and authentic way so that they can chart the next step for them, both collectively and personally…”

“To me, the essence of the work is to help people see and appreciate how life works, the concept of systems within systems, and that if the world as we know it is to continue to exist, we humans have to ‘fit in’ with it, and not the other way around…”

“The essence of this work is organisational development via personal and professional development – linking personal values and organisational culture….”

“The essence of the work you did with us is about renewal and change at a deep level – systemic change really, and transformation. You taught us what it means to adapt and respond to change…”

Testimonials

About The Impact Of CultureWork

“All our team found the process very engaging. It has definitely set the scene for a productive coming together of our services, which continues… It also offers a new way of working and we are trying to model this in bringing together many different stakeholders to find a better solution…”

“You helped us to work differently and share equally in that work. You helped us live interdependence…”

“We have gained in confidence in the possibility of making a difference…”

“The focus on conversation as a process of change rather than planning our way into the future helped us to engage with each other at a deeper level…”

“The initiative made a real difference to the company and the experience of employees. It was as if everyone became re-connected with each other and with the goals of the company – even the most skeptical of senior executives acknowledged the tremendous achievements.”

How we are with each other, rather than what we do, has gradually become pivotal…”

“Our work with DYA has been part of a significant change in the way we see ourselves … “

“We have come to understand that, within the context of systems thinking, any effort for change and transformation at the micro level contributes to change at the macro level. We have experienced this in action… “

“There is a huge need to keep the conversations going and above all to really believe in the power of these conversations – to see them as being transformational… “

“I found the experience one of great growth. I felt stretched and it was also amazing to see that stretching in others too… “

“Overall our communication has increased enormously. We now meet regularly and make time for informal ways of learning from each other and exchanging ideas…”

“I learned to be a lot more open. That everybody’s contribution is important; is significant. I learned that it really is worth sticking with something to reach the nugget or the essence or the gold that you’re trying to get at…”

“There was a kind of maturing in the group generally. Others can see it in us. Our group process has changed dramatically…”

“We will never be the same again… many of us have been touched at a deep level and inspired and challenged to begin a personal journey involving personal commitment, assuming personal responsibility and ongoing education in Living Systems… “

“The focus on learning from experience and learning the tools to do this has been invaluable as a way of moving into the future… “

“My own personal experience of working this way has been exciting; it has brought out the creativity in me and it has challenged me to let go the controlling, directive tendency I have. But it has also been grounded in a theory which gives it substance… “

“Diversity was very obvious in the group but in some strange way I was educated into seeing it as a gift rather than a hindrance to progress… “

“We’re already starting to see people thinking ‘This needs to be done’ and coming up with ideas and saying ‘How about this?’ … and I think it’s because they’ve come to this space where they feel: my idea is good, nobody will judge me, I’m valued, my contribution is important. It’s amazing. Amazing!…”

“The outcomes are continuing to evolve. We have a more fluid understanding of the work we are engaged in. Our relationships have deepened, we now listen much better than before even if the challenge is ongoing… “

“It was a way of helping many of us – with vastly different experience, cultures, expertise – to work together to find a way forward… “

“The whole exercise initiated and facilitated meaningful conversations where everyone felt listened to in a deep way… it was also one of the most successful outcomes because these meaningful conversations continue and there is more participation… “

“Gradually we began to believe that change really does begin with me – that each person has to choose to participate (or not) and has a responsibility for their own growth and change…”

“Opening of minds. Seeing in a new way. Valuing diversity. A heightened awareness of the need to take personal responsibility. A sense of personal freedom…”

“Our conversations have changed. We are in a different place…”

“The ‘Aha!’ moments are when it suddenly dawns on us that this is what they were on about. An issue that would have been a problem to be solved is actually a learning opportunity, a challenge to be creative, and not a time to fall back on familiar solutions…”

“At an ordinary human level, this process has allowed us to listen to each other without judgement. And to me that is absolutely fantastic…”

“The process opened a window that allowed some fresh air to blow through the corridors of our minds and souls. We engaged in long overdue conversations with each other about what really informs and concerns us as individuals…”

As the (local) conversations continued during the year I could see more clearly how more of us risked speaking our truth and were more open to new insights. I could see how the intelligence is in the system as a whole…”

It was enjoyable; exciting; gave me a lot of tolerance for those who think differently; motivated me to continue; gave me insight into organic functioning and dysfunctioning! And the consequence of both. Gave me tools for other work…”

I have found the emergence approach very exciting, interesting and challenging! The sense that the future would evolve from the present became real for me… I had somehow always visualised the future as something or somewhere else to be discovered…”

I felt at the end of the year that we should have got some kind of certification from doing all this! It was a kind of apprenticeship…”

Keeping on working this way is going to be the easy option for us because we’re seeing fantastic results. People have energy they didn’t have before. And because they’ve tasted something more liberating they don’t want to go back to the old stuff…”

It was so exciting what was created from the very roots [of the organisation]… A door was opened that will not be possible to close again; some will not be satisfied with being told from ‘on high’…”

Testimonials

About The Living Systems Perspective

“The idea of working like nature was so powerful but so different to how groups usually work and arrive at decisions…”

“It has offered us a new way of looking at how we approach challenges. Seeing the system as ‘living’ really changes the way we need to engage the system to move forward together..”

“When I first heard Paula speak about systemic thinking and cultural change, it was as if many of the bits of my thinking just slotted into place! … She was saying what I had been thinking for a long time, but hadn’t heard voiced before…”

“Understanding the systems approach has given us confidence to persevere, and we have grown in courage and gained credibility. The overall experience of work we have done has been liberating… “

“Complex ideas, beautifully presented.”

“My initial reaction and my abiding emotion was and is Yes! This is what I have waited for all my life… A sense of joy and excitement that something I’ve known deep down inside, is being articulated by someone else.”

“You helped me understand what I know in a different way. You gave me a theoretical framework – and then you applied it.”

“The most valuable part of the work for me was coming to understand the systems approach to life, work, structures and relationships and learning to apply these principles in action… “

“I feel I have grown in many ways. I realise that I see my part of the system but not the whole… I see more clearly now how all the parts influence one another…”

“The points made about diversity really resonated with us in terms of the system needing diversity in order to thrive…”

“I found it really inspirational to differentiate between living systems and mechanical systems. I had a sense that I had a fair idea about systems but the clarity that you brought to my understanding was significant… “

“We have come to understand that, within the context of systems thinking, any effort for change and transformation at the micro level contributes to change at the macro level. We have experienced this in action…. “

“I have found the work very life-giving, challenging and something that offers really new possibilities. It makes so much sense when explained… It’s about a way of life; seeing through that new lens of living systems… “

“Using the principles of living systems thinking offers us new ways of seeing and interpreting what we see. It helps to break the rigid habit of either/or thinking. It freed us to make real distinctions and to honour genuine difference and diversity. Systems thinking is a way to create effective solutions… “

“The presentation on Living Systems put everything in context. It was inspirational and challenging, and brought great clarity to our situation.”

“It awakened within me a strong sense of being a system within a larger one and made my life more expansive than it might appear even to me…”

“The realisation that when one thing shifts everything shifts was a huge liberation for me. It made the work of structural change possible. I learned to think about change differently…”

“The awareness that I myself am a living system was a “wake up” moment for me! I knew it at one level but hearing Paula talk about it as an example of a living system gave me a heightened awareness that has stayed with me…. I walk differently now, with more reverence, respect and admiration for all around me…”

“I passionately believe in the Living Systems approach and feel honoured to have been able to help prepare, host and facilitate relevant gatherings where life-giving possibilities for change and renewal were offered… “

“Overall it was very helpful to me personally as I’m inclined to be very driven and anxious in the way that I work – so knowing about how living systems work helps me to let go somehow… “

“Living systems as a totally different way of working had a profound effect on me personally, expanding and deepening my understanding of how evolution works… “

“Much of the terminology used in our journey into systems work has grown on us a time has gone on. We have deepened our understanding of things like participative, interconnected, communication, learning as the essential dynamic and so on… “

“The context of living systems has helped us to understand more clearly our place within the community of life and how we can relate to the rest of [the organisation] and society… “

“I love the fact that in a living system no one is in charge and that it’s the various components of the system participating together and with the wider environment in a variety of relationships that overlap and combine in unpredictable ways that it makes itself… “

“I can see better how Transition Towns operate as a living system… Seeing how the whole Transition Network cross-pollinates ideas methods and processes through the living systems lens is really helpful to understand what’s happening… “

“I have become more conscious of the ‘knock on’ effect of what I do personally, what we do as an organisation, and what society does that ultimately affects the whole…”

“Learning about how systems work and how the part influences the whole and how it all does add up. The whole interconnectedness piece – not just of the human community but the bees and the flowers and all of that – I’ve really grown in my appreciation of that interconnectedness…”

Testimonials

About CultureWork Processes

“This way of working models a deep way of listening to a challenge and really making sure it is understood from many angles, which is a very good learning point for us…”

“The whole notion of doodles, drawings, freedom to write what I wanted to write was so new to me. As the day progressed I began to feel a freedom within me as I moved from one table to another and was being listened to in a respectful manner…”

“I really enjoyed being part of the Systems days and the Focus and Direction process. I found the systemic approach refreshing, challenging and clarifying. The World Café format was very freeing and gave space for imagination, conversation, learning and transformation…”

“The use of Storytelling worked very well. Learning that beneath individual stories lie universal truths proved very encouraging and profitable to many…”

“The ‘Outsider’ questions stimulated new thinking, challenging us to think ‘outside the box’. It also helped us to see ourselves from a very different and very valuable perspective. The conversations that ensued were deep and reflective…”

“Paula’s presentation on Living Systems was excellent and informative. She spoke passionately and engaged us all. I could listen to her all day! Always inspiring!…”

“One of the great things that happened was you were actually able to get us to talk to each other about the serious aspects of our lives. That was no mean achievement to have been able to create an atmosphere for that to happen over all the days to follow…”

“Beginning with our stories instead of our opinions led to a different kind of conversation than we are used to having. It was very liberating.”

“The quality of the PowerPoint presentations was remarkable and contributed to the ease of learning. The power of storytelling was very evident and memorable for me….”

“Working in the Harvesting Group was a privilege for me. The method used was brilliant. Paula modelled the systems way of working in loops and cycles and I continually marvelled at her ingenuity and creativity. We never knew what to expect next and each meeting opened up new ways of working with the material…”

“The Learning Review was a great learning for me. It was a way to articulate the experience of all that had happened for us… “

“The value of conversations – how they fuel evolution, creating something new – that was a very powerful learning for me… “

“The new framework wasn’t imposed on us, it came from us, it was ours. And that was empowering…”

“The written feedback of each session was very helpful in allowing us to see where our conversations were taking us. The detail was amazing… I also loved the challenging questions that were added at various points in the feedback. There was a great sense of each session building on the other… “

“We’ve spent 900 man hours: that’s 20 weeks of work in 9 hours. They’re exhausted. But they’re happy exhausted…”

“The document forms the core of the future work for all of us. We came to the Chapter with it done. And because we had created it and knew it is ours – even those not at Chapter helped to create it – it was easy to accept it as the shared way forward. It had its own authority...”

“The learning group was a very good process and gave both staff and board the opportunity to work on common issues. Having different perspectives in the room generated new energy and new commitment, as well as more ideas.”

“I think your input on values, attitudes and beliefs was wonderful and really needs to be reflected on and taken on board...”

“The importance of personal reflection and journaling (to notice and reflect on our learning) and the assuming of personal responsibility became clearer to many of us...”

“I was fascinated by your way of facilitation which was very flexible… actually as I reflect on our time of working with you it is only now I realise that your facilitation method exemplified how systems work...”

“I’ve come to see how powerful the café style process is, acknowledging that the wisdom is in the group and harvesting the wisdom...”

“The Focus & Direction workshop had great motivational value. It enabled us to clarify the purpose and the values we wanted to live out of. The sample behaviours piece was completely new and they have been yardsticks along the way for us, reminders of what we have committed to. This document still energises us… “

“The development and execution of the Harvest documents is a superb achievement and so much of it was dependent on the tutelage of Paula. No one could refute the authenticity of what was written. There is a gold mine of wisdom and learning in the documents and the real life stories and questions continue to challenge us… “

“I liked the way the facilitation allowed us the time we needed – that took away from having a ‘product’ at the end and helped us understand the organic nature of the process… “

“The document is undoubtedly a masterpiece and invaluable for our future work. It is still energising to read it! Thanks again for your exceptional skill in drawing all of that together. Such a creative piece of work!… “

“The Action Learning process was most helpful and we go back to that very often. Moving from a somewhat didactic approach to a learning approach has made all the difference… “

“This document spelled out a reality that had never surfaced before in print. My own reaction was ‘It was good to see it in print and aired’… “

“Freefall writing / reflective writing – and especially Café Style Gatherings – proved most beneficial. This enabled many of us to begin to track our evolving thinking, observing what happens, and in many cases helped surface deeper insights and questions… “

“The feedback documents that you wrote up between the sessions are magnificent and well worth referring to at any time. Everything is out there and included… “

“The invitation to journey together in an atmosphere where each individual’s contribution is welcomed, valued and respected was both challenging and encouraging… “

“Harvesting turned out to be much more valuable than I initially anticipated. Gathering the insights and learning from them was crucial. Paula’s work in capturing the work of the various groupings and feeding it back again to the system was monumental. And her ability to bring out the very best and see patterns was outstanding… “

“The second booklet, while quite shocking to some, was an amazing feat and had a big impact. The third booklet had an extraordinary effect…”

“Time and time again people referred to the importance of the Focus and Direction process along with the two preparation days and remarked on how this had been such a great help in preparing us for the work of the Chapter. The Chapter itself has produced a much more realistic way forward thanks to your massive contribution to it….”

Testimonials

About Working Together

“Really rewarding! Transformational, really. You are so committed to an approach that really works and you are true to your principles…”

“Being on the Host Group was great. I loved it. I loved the systematic way we worked and I always trusted that what we produced would be really good and worthwhile. So I had confidence and pride in being involved…”

“This work was motivating; exciting; freeing up; creating space for the new or different…”

“I really loved working with you, Paula and David. Your capacity to listen and report back to us what you had heard was inspiring. We were privileged to have been part of it…”

“As we worked together our way of working grew on me and I found it so life-giving, exciting and a practical experience of all the theory I had been reading about! Do. Reflect. Learn. Change. This really crystallised learning by doing for me, through loops and cycles, one step building on the other…”

“Neither yourself nor David ever put yourself ‘up there’: we have the skill and you don’t. You lived out what you were saying, that everybody is equal and we’re all in this together and we’re just here to help you. Everybody felt at ease with you…”

“I felt privileged to have been part of the group called to engage with this new process. This happened so seemingly easily during our first evening meeting… it was the being treated as valued guests. We were a group of adults, being met as such. It made a huge difference. Something creative was happening…”

“It was a marathon! An unforgettable experience producing a document with depth we haven’t begun to explore…”

“Our team really respected the way DYA engaged with us. It was clear that an enormous amount of thought and preparation went into each engagement and both Paula and David are seen as authorities on this method of working…”

“The way we worked together with you, as a team, collaboratively engaging as partners, was a great learning in tuning into our own wisdom as a group. For me personally, it was empowering…”

“On the conference calls, there was a lot of warmth. We checked in, people just said where they were with things. They were able to talk about their frustrations and where they found energy. They were real conversations. I was real myself. And I sensed the other people were real too. Apart from the work, there was something human about those calls…”

“I learnt so much from the way we worked together and felt enthused, involved and willing to feel co-responsible for ‘our’ work together. This led to encouraging many others to become more actively involved…”

“The pace was so different and the process is somewhere deep inside and not in my head. The listening, reflecting, teasing out, drawing out the stories and experiences was very powerful and life changing…”

“I found your personal approach, your openness, broad cosmic perspective, excellent listening, documenting of the process, nonjudgemental approach, expertise in living systems and associated areas – and confidence that we could actually work out an alternative way of being – most helpful…”

“You brought a new understanding of ‘organic’ based on sound information and research; space for self-expression; new ‘eyes’ from which to view situations; different perspectives, angles; elements of surprise; space for fun…”

“You were living in that not-knowing place. You were really modelling what we’re talking about and that was, for me, one of the superb strengths of what we were doing…”

“The practice of working out the process together was really good; for me learning, facilitation and process creation came together as one in the practice. And I found that a great way for me to learn…”

“I liked the way you worked with us in an informal way and with ease. Your total commitment and dedication to the work amazed me along with your firm belief in us…”

“One great thing I found was how you stretched us in our ‘traditional’ way of talking… Your questions were great, searching and enriching, stimulating different ways of looking at life...”

“You brought your personal and professional conviction around Living Systems and CultureWork to such a degree that most of us felt compelled to at least listen, then reflect and choose to begin this personal journey – or not. A definite amount of teaching, informing, sharing and challenging certainly paid off!...”

“Inspiration and guidance; direction; expertise; a sense of commitment and dedication and an extraordinary work ethic and yet a humanity and heart and a great respect for everyone and everything...”

“You brought to the task skill, expertise, experience, energy, commitment, dedication, hard work, enthusiasm. I think what you brought to the work just in being yourself spoke volumes. Your conviction shone through at all times and especially when the going was tough….”

“You gave us great support and were very generous in that. I had a sense that we were engaged in a joint venture and learning together, and that you were also invested in a good outcome for us… “

“You were one of us. You never presented yourself as being above us or superior to us. You were just one of us. You had all sorts of skills that you brought to the table but you never presented as being in any way superior to us… “

“I have found it extremely interesting and engaging and rewarding. This way of working creates strong relationships and this is evidenced by that relationship developing with Paula and David, and right across our team… “

“Your respect for each participant was obvious in the way you listened and recorded threads and themes lurking within our conversations. You remained objective while determined to unearth the wisdom of the group and reflect that alone – and not your own opinions – back to us… In short, you embodied a systems approach throughout the entire process…”

Want to work the way life works? Let’s talk.

 

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