This morning, a friend wrote to say that she had come across something that reminded her of me, and of my work with Dynamic Facilitation. I followed the link she sent and found something beautiful: an essay by Jeannette Armstrong, called “Let Us Begin with Courage”. Here are a few quotes from it:
“The word En’owkin in the Okanagan language…..refers to coming to understanding through a gentle process of integration.”
“The Okanagan people used this word when there was a choice confronting the community. An elder would ask the people to engage in En’owkin, which requested each person contribute information about the subject at hand. What took place was not so much a debate as a process of clarification, incorporating bits of information from as many people as possible, no matter how irrelevant, trivial, or controversial these bits might seem, for in En’owkin, nothing is discarded or prejudged.”
“The elders describe it as a decision-making process of the group mind at its best. The word they use means something like “our completeness.” It creates complete solidarity in a group moving in the direction suggested, at the same time opening the door to a collaborative imagination and innovation much more likely to produce the best answer.”
It feels so meaningful to me, whenever I encounter deep parallels between our “new” forms of group process, and ancient traditions…
Yet there is another synergy here as well. In her brief e-mail this morning, my friend mentioned she’d found this article as she was visiting a deceased friend’s Facebook page. A few hours later, I felt inspired to send the article out to my e-mail list and logged on to the web-based program I use to send out my e-mail newsletter. When I did so, I found a recent newsletter I’d started to write, yet not completed — a tribute to my dear mentor and friend Roger Harrison, who passed away last month, on April 8th.
I have been mourning Roger’s passing, and feeling sad that I was not able to attend the celebration of his life held earlier this month on Whidbey Island. And, I know Roger would have loved Jeannette’s article… and so it felt like a very fitting way to celebrate his life and contributions, to share her article with others. In so doing, I am now picking up the thread again, of my unfinished tribute…
So there’s a few additional links I’d like to offer, in celebration… Among Roger’s significant accomplishments as an organizational consultant, there is one I particularly appreciate. To my knowledge, he was the first in his field who dared to write about the “L” word within organizations, in an article called “Accessing the Power of Love in the Workplace.”
Yet Roger Harrison did not just write about Love, he was also a walking embodiment of it. I was very fortunate to have received his mentoring and support during the last several years of his life. He was a big fan of my book, and wrote an unsolicited glowing review of it, for which I am deeply grateful.
Roger also embodied vulnerability, transparency, and authenticity, in deeply moving ways that served as an example to so many of us. One shining example is the essay he wrote when retiring from his organizational consulting practice, “A Time for Letting Go“. In it, he describes how his aspirations evolved over time, culminating in a commitment to:
“provide opportunities for people to engage in dialogue about what is happening in the world and in their organizations, to find the courage to speak their truth, and to support one another in finding what has heart and meaning for each one.”
I miss you, dear Roger, and I am hugely grateful for the time we were able to share. And I also know that, in whatever form you now inhabit, you are continuing to support all of us who do this work…
And, if any of you who are reading this would like to share your thoughts, please leave your comments below.
with much love,
P.S. For anyone who would like to delve further into Roger Harrison’s work, there is a huge treasure trove of it online, courtesy of Pepperdine University’s MS in Organization Development program, at their Graziadio School of Business and Management…