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Cynefin® Virtual Retreat: Everywhere

October 26 - November 3

Cynefin® Virtual Retreat: Everywhere

About this Event

You might already be familiar with our retreats that follow the Welsh tradition in celebrating debate and competitive poetry. Up until now, they have always been nearly week-long in person residential events taking place in exquisite environments. This time, whilst taking advantage of the current unique opportunities and constraints of the pandemic, we are going virtual. If you have always wanted to attend an off-site retreat, but the cost of the travel was too much for you, this is your chance!

Rather than just doing the same thing but simply online, we will be pushing the boundaries and be experimenting with new formats and methods to create a retreat that is a both a participative festival of ideas from our high-calibre faculty coupled with a wide and diverse network of participants from around the world.

Theme: Aesthetics & Semiotics

The centrality of aesthetics to human ingenuity and inventiveness, from our embodied existence in the world to our construction of mea\ning, is the subject of this online retreat. We will explore abstraction and metaphor, imagination and empathy, and the connection between aesthetics, ethics, and responsibility. In an increasingly interconnected world whose complexity has been brutally highlighted by the pandemic and platitudes about company values are combined with real and urgent appeals to right injustices, we should increasingly look at the connection between aesthetics and justice. This will include justice in the production, understanding, and appreciation of knowledge as well as whose voices get heard. We are joined by a fascinating faculty combining practice, theory, organisational applications and lived experience.


Dates: 26th October-3 November (includes an extra day at the end of the retreat to accommodate continued conversation.)

The retreat will take place over 6 to 7 synchronous sessions that will last for 3 or 2 hours, depending on the stage of the retreat. Give yourselves some extra time to engage with asynchronous material that our faculty will provide. The sessions for the 26th-28th October take place starting at 13:00 London time for everybody and last for 3 hours. These will bring together all participants and faculty, regardless of timezone. We have tried to choose a time that is relatively comfortable for everyone, from the Pacific coast of America to Australia.

The remainder of the sessions will be planned by the end of September. If the final group is too unbalanced to adjust to specific timezones, these will take place at the same time as for the first sessions but the duration will be shorter.

Social sessions will be planned over the weekend of the 31st October for those who want to get to know each other better.

Retreats offer high quality raw materials in terms of faculty input, whilst also creating a structured environment for interaction combined with the freedom to work on whatever interests you around the theme. Towards the end you might develop a new method, tool, or framework, and you will gain personal experience on complex methods that you can apply in different contexts. Participants are not a passive audience, but control their outcomes for the retreat more than anyone else. The process and outcomes will be captured in different forms, becoming artefacts that we will share with you and you can examine long after the retreat is over.

Please let us know soon if you are planning to attend as some sessions will be planned based on timezones and participation. By registering early you help us to better plan the sessions for everybody, as well as guaranteeing a discounted price.

If you are a student or unwaged, please email us for a special rate.

Expanding on the themes

Perhaps appropriately for a retreat that focuses on aesthetics and the study of signs, we rely a great deal on metaphor for describing and triggering the process throughout the retreat. Our faculty and participants will begin their journey as creatures of the Air: soaring Eagles, and inquisitive Ravens will take a view from up high and explore ideas, themes, and interests. At the same time, insights and provocations are brought down to Earth, not only through nesting and egg-hatching, but through the introduction of Coyotes. These are complex tricksters, whose guidance comes in the forms of questions and challenges both direct and indirect. Then comes the moment of creativity and time to build: Our flying creatures, the ravens, will morph into Beavers, tying together Earth and Water and structuring their ecosystems as they are constructed by them. We should not fear that Fire is the destruction at the end, since we do not believe in cycles of necessary chaos. The fire is the human touch, brought to us long ago by another trickster and thief, Prometheus (he doesn’t want to hear about eagles): it drives and tempers our reactions and finally helps us turn the wet clay into usable pottery, tying earth, water, and air together to a single reaction.

The people

Sue Borchardt’s work weaves art, ideas, technology, story-telling, and user experience into animated videos and visual artifacts that put sense-making into service. Her passion for exploring the tensions between theory and practice informs her use of narrative, metaphor, motion, and music to document the insights and puzzles of groups learning & working together. Sue holds a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Maryland and a Masters in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. A fascination with the complexity of individual, group, and organizational change efforts motivates her to continue to learn about learning, bringing an ever-expanding set of lenses to her inquiry. Among these disciplinary lenses are neuroscience, biology, adult development, cognitive science, social psychology, and qualitative research. Through her work and continuing research, she has collected a treasure trove of theoretical models and frameworks from these domains, as well as generative practices that inform her animations and her explorations with groups.

Shamini Dias is an educator, teaching artist, writer, and imagination advocate. Her abiding interest in perception and metaphor began at age 9, when she realized that teaching is about seeing. Her work centers on designing ethical learning communities for a sustainable future. As an arts integrator, Shamini brings in her theatre, mime, and storytelling background in developing curricula and training based on embodied experiences and perceptions. Shamini has taken her work into multiple contexts in formal and informal settings. Teaching in diverse settings has deepened her conviction that ethical teaching is leadership praxis in leading minds to nurture life-long learners who engage ethically with the world. Shamini is from Malaysia, Singapore, and the United States, currently residing in Claremont, California where she directs the Preparing Future Faculty program at Claremont Graduate University. She received her BA and MA in Linguistics and Literature from the National University of Singapore, and her PhD from Claremont Graduate University.

Jesko von den Steinen is currently the Associate Director of Strategic HR, organisational innovation, and Leadership Development with a fortune 500 company in Asia. Jesko is a speaker, actor, performer, choreographer, filmmaker, designer, and formerly a principal solo artist with Cirque du Soleil, and at The House Of Dancing Water,the world’s largest water-based show. Trained and certified as a professional facilitator (IAF), certified executive coach (ICF), facilitator of LEGO® Serious Play® methodologies, as well as agile project management, Jesko brings the creative applications of collaboration and management of complex adaptive systems from the theatre and circus to organizations, working on Strategic initiatives that focus on human-centred design and team alignment. He works with TEDx Wanchai in Hong Kong and privately with executives in Hong Kong and Macau on organisational and speaker coaching and presentation literacy. Jesko is a frequently requested speaker and thought leader by providing clear pathways for integrating principles of the performing arts into Business.

Cancellations/ Refunds/ Transfers
  • 8 weeks or more prior to event: full refund with the exception of a 10% processing fee
  • No refunds for cancellations made 8 weeks or less prior to event; replacement attendees welcome anytime
  • Switching to a different retreat or training event is possible any time but is dependent on availability, and may be subject to a change fee (change fees are dependent on timing of request, venue considerations, special discounts)

Banner image is taken from the Hereford Map and is public domain. Image taken from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hereford-Karte.jpg


October 26
November 3
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