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The Dialogic Learning Weekly #172

The Dialogic Learning Weekly #172
Welcome to another issue of the Dialogic Learning Weekly - a newsletter exploring Innovation, Learning and Leadership.
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This week my top strategies for defining a problem, collective storytelling and a little attempt at making sense of my recent thoughts on empathy.

How do you know you have shown empathy?
This question sprung to mind as the Casey Fields Primary School leadership team began to transition into the next phase of design thinking.
We have been working in partnership to explore the challenge of transition back to face to face learning, using the design thinking methodology.
We often say that we “show empathy” which suggests it is on display and that it is observable. The EMPATHY phase in design thinking also suggests it is a process to get done. Check it off. We did EMPATHY!
I am fascinated by how empathy is enacted and manifests. Perhaps it is not always a conscious act, something to be seen and validated by others, not by the empath-er, but the empath-ee (I know, just playing).
A reading on this helped remind me that in order to show our observable understanding (empathy), we first have to develop our understanding. The present importance of curiosity and awareness of ourselves is vital.
That is what is required of us now, in this new moment. A moment that is not simple, clear, or expected. Being curious about ourselves is how we begin to know — really know — who we are. That can be scary. But also, possibly, exciting and freeing. The hardest part? Slowing down enough to actually feel. Do you have the courage to slow down?
Empathy Starts with Curiosity
The Goldilocks Principle
New on the blog this week is an article outlining my approach to the DEFINE stage of design thinking. It seems I am doing lots of work with this problem solving process recently.
The Goldilocks Principle is when we endeavour to create or seek something that is delicately balanced. Well that’s my definition anyway. When it comes to writing a well defined problem, we need to balance the scope carefully.
Not too narrow and not too broad. It has to be just right.
A narrowly scoped challenge won’t offer enough room to explore creative solutions. And a broadly scoped challenge won’t give you any idea of where to start. (Design Kit)
This is just one of many practical strategies and methods I share in the article that will help you improve your work in this phase.
How To Write a Better Problem Statement
Collective Storytelling
I want you to take a moment to reflect on the story that we might tell of this time. Cast your mind ahead and look back, what version of these events will be told? Which chapter will we write together?
I have been pondering on the idea of collective storytelling recently. Perhaps this stems from my exploration of perspective and how we are grappling with isolation and remoteness.
Although we are experiencing an unprecedented global event our communities will likely tell different stories of this time.
What will be your community’s story? Will it be of the virus? Or will your community story be chapterised by: compassion; empathy; generosity; resilience; innovation and relationships.
Activating purpose is impossible without storytelling ~ John Coleman
Years from now how will our storytelling be instructive, purposeful and add value? How will it be pointed reminders of our collective commitment to a set of values that can resist a global pandemic?
But I wonder about the story artefacts we create. We need to combine our reflections, ponderings and general musings into a coherent narrative, as well as a tangible artefact. How will you capture this experience in concrete form?
In Japan the landscape is dotted with large stone storytelling monuments dating back to the 1890s. 10 ft high stone tablets tell the catastrophic story of past tsunamis. Reminding locals of the dire consequences and instructing them not to build.
High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants. Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point. ~ Aneyoshi village.
These monuments have directly saved lives in more recent events, instructing people to seek higher ground and as a warning across generations.
Perhaps the story you tell together makes a recommitment to what you still believe is important. Maybe it articulates what you value the most as a community. Even better, the story artefact endures and instructs in equal measure.
Whatever your story is, making room for reflective listening, dialogue and thoughtful consideration of our experience might be just as important as what gets carved in stone.
These Century-Old Stone "Tsunami Stones" Dot Japan’s Coastline
Thanks for being here and exploring this issue. Let me know what resonates.
In dialogue we trust.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Tom Barrett from Dialogic Learning

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