31 March 2016

Talking about Tough Issues, with the OBREAU Tripod with Don Dunoon | Monday April 11, 2016 | 5.30pm

As a facilitator, you’ll almost certainly find yourself dealing with tough issues, those that are prickly, messy, perceived differently by stakeholders, and often with a degree of heat attached. This workshop is designed to introduce you to a toolkit that you can use in helping groups and individuals converse about such issues productively. You’ll likely also find the method helpful in getting ready to talk about issues of concern to you, personally.
A proposition to be examined is that three default behaviour patterns tend to get in the way of effective conversations on tough issues: reacting to new information and experience, judging others negatively, and “dancing around” (side-stepping, smoothing over) difficult aspects.
The OBREAU Tripod is a counterweight to these default behaviours. “OBREAU” refers to three practices:
  • Working from OBservation (noticing as far as possible prior to interpreting)
  • Attributing REasonableness (allowing that others are reasonable)
  • Speakingwith AUthenticity (saying what is true for you while keeping connections with observation and reasonableness).
·      The OBREAU Tripod can be applied in a variety of settings; for example, in supporting large group dialogue, executive coaching, and in leadership, team and culture development initiatives. The Tripod can provide a light structure to aid the emergence of greater clarity and shared meaning with virtually any multi-faceted issue.

In this session, we will apply the OBREAU Tripod as a large group in considering an issue, possibly a corporate controversy that has received recent press coverage. As well – and as far as possible within the limited time available – participants will be able to try out the OBREAU Tripod in helping them think through a thorny issue that matters to them personally, and discuss the results with colleagues.
You will walk away with ideas about enabling and facilitating more productive conversations, about creating safe environments in which people can speak up, and about how you, personally, can strengthen your own ability to engage effectively with others on tough issues.

About Don Dunoon
As an independent consultant, Don Dunoon has over 20 years’ leadership and organisational development experience. He is the author of In the Leadership Mode (Trafford, 2008), a book that frames leadership – as distinct from management – in terms of interventions to build shared meaning and elicit energy for change with contentious issues. He is the author of articles in international journals including one with acclaimed Harvard mindfulness researcher, Dr. Ellen Langer. Don is also developer of the OBREAU Tripod.
He will be offering a highly experiential one-day workshop, Facilitating Conversations for Shared Meaning on Tough Issues, in Sydney on 10th June. This is an opportunity to deepen and extend your skills in facilitating in contexts where people are dealing with issues they feel strongly about, particularly in helping groups move toward common understandings (as distinct from technical solutions) and in fostering group and individual development.

You can find out more about Don here and visit his website here.

University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Jones Street, Ultimo corner Thomas Street. Room 5.580 Level 5, Building 10, Take the lift to level 5, cross the atrium footbridge, walk straight ahead to room 580.

From 5:30pm to 7:30pm sharp | No RSVP - Just turn up | Donation $5
Enquiries | Eoin Higgins  eoin.p.higgins@gmail.com : 0407 411 684

Follow-up from our March session: Output materials

At the end of our March session (which was really good!) our guest facilitators, Maria & Richard Maguire, committed to typing up the output from the session.

Richard & Maria also typed up some comments and insights from the session and also some information if you are curious to learn more about the Technology of Participation (ToP).

1. Most people seemed to be amazed how quickly the group was able to put together their extensive brainstorm into a common picture and discern major directions in which we are working towards a more collaborative, just and sustainable society, already now and in the future.  The diagram in the bottom right corner shows that the group had a strong sense that truth and integrity are essential for all that we do, especially at this time, and has centre stage for change in other areas. The two top circles indicate that they saw enabling future vision and action as fundamental for impact. The elements on the bottom of the diagram highlight four major directions for supporting this to happen: Ensuring a safe space and affirming diversity, thinking outside the box, sharing stories and using multiple approaches and sensory experiences.

2. In real situations participants would  further discuss their first chart to reveal insights and might make slight adjustments about where to place the individual cards. Conversations might surface intriguing implications for many areas and new ideas in answer to the initial question or topic that could be added to as appropriate. The "Consensus Workshop" process of the Technology of Participation (ToP) is structured as well as fluent to capture ideas and decisions at the time. It supports cooperative thinking and action at any level of personal and group development and is best used on an ongoing basis. Anyone can learn to use it beneficially by themselves or with a group. The facilitator is challenged to trust the people and the method and help the group see connections beyond separate parts and create an integrated picture of the situation they are focusing on (the title of topic of the workshop)

3. We have used this and many other processes of the Technology of Participation (ToP) for several decades in our consulting and training work, for change management tasks, strategic planning, conflict resolution and life directions, often in combination with other tools and techniques and are still offering both training and consulting. You can also learn more from books such as "Winning through Participation" by Laura Spencer, "The Workshop book" or "The Art of Focused Conversations" both by Brian Stanfield or "Transformational Strategy" by Bill Staples (the latter is available as a pdf through

Some pieces are on our website, hopefully added to in the near future. For training through us and others or related info please call us on 02 9896 3839 or 9896 3904). 

10 March 2016

‘Liberating Facilitation: How our facilitation can contribute to a more participatory, just and sustainable society’ with Maria & Richard Maguire | Monday 14th Mar 2016

The Facilitators Network exists to give opportunities for participants to continually, generously and honestly share experiences, processes and learnings to increase their effectiveness in this growing field of work.

Most of us chose facilitation not primarily for its financial benefit but because it makes sense and is needed in more and more settings. Some of us experience ourselves and notice in others a growing dissatisfaction with aspects of our current social-political and economic systems. As facilitators many of us do not only want to do a great facilitation job on every occasion but also make a difference regarding the big issues of our time, such as economic inequality, social and ideological conflicts and environmental degradation.

Many of us are committed to participation and inclusion and wonder how to grow our effect towards a more just, sustainable and even joyful society. 

This highly participatory workshop “Liberating Facilitation” will bring together our individual and collective wisdom on what we are already doing in our facilitation work or have seen others doing that releases change in such direction. 

You will go home with a product that affirms what you already do, encourages you to try out additional small or big steps and with a process to successfully use in many situations in your life and work. 

You will experience a method of the Technology of Participation (ToP) which you can explore further through books and trainings offered through Unfolding Futures and others. The 300 page book from 2014 by Bill Staples "Transformational Strategy- Facilitation of ToP Participatory Planning" is available as an E-Book for US$3.99 at

About Maria and Richard Maguire 
Maria and Richard Maguire are directors of Unfolding Futures, a company focused on facilitation and leadership development in its consultancies and training. They founded the Sydney Facilitators Network as a community of practice in 1992 and guided it for 12 years. For 30 plus years they have worked with many organisations in government, business and community in Australia, and previously in Europe and the USA, with stints in so-called developing nations. They have always understood their work and company as a “social enterprise, a market based venture with social aims” for all involved. After achieving financial independence they increasingly have supported or initiated community organisations to extend their impact and cooperation to create common good and received awards as community leaders. 

University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Jones Street, Ultimo corner Thomas Street. Room 5.580 Level 5, Building 10, Take the lift to level 5, cross the atrium footbridge, walk straight ahead to room 580.

From 5:30pm to 7:30pm sharp | No RSVP - Just turn up | Donation $5
Enquiries | Eoin Higgins  eoin.p.higgins@gmail.com : 0407 411 684