Overview & Theme


Leading in extraordinary times invites us to move beyond our preconceived ideas about the world, into the more uncomfortable spaces where we simply don’t know the answers. These spaces of uncertainty mean that we can no longer rely on predicting outcomes based on past experience.

Leading in these times calls on us to pause and intentionally cultivate creativity and connections across the system for innovative leadership and possibilities to emerge. This kind of leadership necessitates becoming more comfortable with emergent processes in contexts of complexity, combined with learning to listen in co-generative ways. But engaging people at their best and most creative truly comes together when everyone in an organization or community can see their work in service to a higher, more meaningful purpose. Moving beyond what we do, this approach to leadership is also about how we are in the world.

When working in this realm of complexity, many of us have an urge to dive immediately into problem-solving and action. Instead, taking the time to understand the system, its actors, and their stories as deeply as is possible and to humbly hang out in the void of uncertainty sometimes allows a shift in consciousness that can generate more sustainable and innovative, collaboratively-owned solutions.

What’s the BUZZ about?

You’ll notice a bee theme buzzing throughout these conference materials. This is intentional. Through this conference, we invite you to follow beekeeper Marianne Gee’s advice and “think like a bee.”

“If you want to tackle big problems, try thinking like a bee.” In her TedX talk, Marianne Gee says that we can become disheartened by our own relatively small contributions, like bringing reusable bags to the shop, to a relatively enormous one, like climate change.

Instead of thinking our contributions are just too insignificant, we should think like a bee, she says.

>A bee in her brief lifetime will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey.
>That’s a minuscule amount compared to the hundreds of pounds a bee colony needs to survive. 
>And that bee won't even taste the results of her labour.
>But future generations will.
>Together the colony makes enough honey for future bee generations to thrive — 1/12th of a teaspoon at a time.

Gee says that “this too is how we can change the world — by not worrying about the size of our contributions and by letting our efforts join the actions of others.”

During this conference, we will alternate between working in hives and swarming throughout the room. Go to the conference format page for more details!

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