About +Transformation Circles

In late 2014, some local Bay-Area (California) volunteers started hosting circles at the intersection of ServiceSpace values and specific disciplines. Our idea was to hold difficult questions and situate its challenges along a spectrum of inner transformation.

For example: in a world run by algorithms, what is the architecture of serendipity? Do markets crowd out morals? Should we be exploring an Hippocratic Oath for engineers? How is listening to recorded music different from a live performance? Can you put a price tag to healing? Is it possible to teach compassion? What is the relationship between gamification and inner transformation? Could we still innovate and progress, without being motivated by fear?

More than arriving at specific answers, our hope was, and is, to sincerely hold the questions -- and learn to tune into the emergence from the collective field. In that sense, there is no pre-meditated agenda and desire for an outcome. The ServiceSpace community, after having hosted thousands of circles around the globe, has come to really appreciate this design principle. David Bohm expresses it well:

The process of dialogue itself is a free flow of meaning among all the participants. In the beginning, people [often] express fixed positions, which they are tending to defend, but later it becomes clear that to maintain the feeling of friendship in the group was much more important than to hold any position. Such friendship has an impersonal quality in the sense that its establishment does not depend on a close personal relationship between participants.

A new kind of mind thus beings to come into being which is based on the development of a common meaning that is constantly transforming in the process of the dialogue. People are no longer primarily in opposition, nor can they be said to be interacting, rather they are participating in this pool of common meaning which is capable of constant development and change. In this development the group has no pre-established purpose, though at each moment a purpose that is free to change may reveal itself. The group thus begins to engage in a new dynamic relationship in which no speaker is excluded, and in which no particular content is excluded. Thus far we have only begun to explore the possibilities of dialogue in the sense indicated here, but going further along these lines would open up the possibility of transforming not only the relationship between people, but even more, the very nature of consciousness in which these relationships arise.

All of our circles, then, are designed with an emphasis on context, instead of content. While thought-leaders can offer great content, it is the presence of everyone -- speakers, listeners, volunteers -- that contributes to the shared context, which then deepens the fabric of our inter-connection and allows new intelligence to arise. Whether that leads to personal commitments, cultural innovation, social change projects, deeper conversations, or nothing tangible at all ... we let that self-organize, in a do-nothing sort of way. :)

After half a dozen circles in this "+ T" series, we have been very encouraged at the kind of ripples that have emerged -- organically and effortlessly. After the first Educators circle, Audrey Lin started a newsletter, which then led to a 1-day retreat hosted by Ward Maillard, and now they are planning a multi-day gathering next year. Similarly, the Technology circle rippled into Tom Mahon hosting a 21-day Mindful Tech challenge, where 4 thousand people from 92 countries participated. Gwhyneth Chen, one of the world's leading pianists, was touched by the "Music + Transformation" circle and has since been brainstorming a music school (in Taiwan) that is driven by inner tansformation. At the business circle, a woman with 55 thousand staff spontaneously pledged to make some radical changes in her company, after being moved by a gift that a stranger sitting next to her offered. And of course, the umpteeen ripples that can't be summarized in one line but are vividly felt by those involved.

So we can march on, and invite you to join the conversations.