When Matt Mayer first heard about the Art of Hosting during his Masters of Science in Strategic Leadership program, he was skeptical and disinterested.
Having come from a corporate background, Matt found the language used by the Art of Hosting “off-putting and fluffy.” However, over the course of the three-day program organized by his fellow students, Matt changed his perspective and transformed the way he viewed leadership.
The Art of Hosting is a participatory and dialogue-based approach to leadership and community building that engages participants in meaningful conversation to solve complex issues. During Matt’s workshop, the instructor introduced the framework of Open Space Technology and asked the students what they could create together.
In the conventional world sense, this was complete anarchy. Sixty-five people were expected to produce a collective response in just two days.
“[We] submitted a very creative and visual response,” says Matt. “The quality of what was produced was unbelievable and we came together quickly. We developed a really strong final product and really strong relationships.
As I witnessed the approach in action, I had so many epiphanies. I began asking what does this mean for businesses, NGOs and communities? All these light bulbs just went on.”
Fast forward a few years and Matt has gone from skeptic to supporter, implementing the tools and approaches he learned in that workshop into his work with Conscious Brands, as well as being a practitioner and training others in the Art of Hosting.
“Conventional thinking is to hire someone to tell you what to fix and what isn’t working,” says Matt. “But this is not an effective way to reframe challenges and approaches.”
Instead, the Art of Hosting posits that all the knowledge and intelligence needed to address an issue and bring about change already exists within the group; that there is no need to look outwards for insights and answers.
“At the core of the tools and approaches that the Art of Hosting introduces is the creation of an opportunity to really hear the wisdom and insight of other people,” claims fellow practitioner and Consultant with Reos Partners, Brenna Atnikov.
“It opens up a space to see… and [creates] the conditions where what is under the surface is made visible. None of us alone are as smart as all of us together.”
Brenna has seen first hand the benefits of truly listening to people and finding the collective wisdom. She referred to a watershed management project that brought together competing urban and rural perspectives.
“Each group thought the other was playing the victim and that they were getting a raw deal. But through the process they both realized that they were not getting heard and that everyone was disenfranchised.
Once they started to see people as people that were all equally challenged by the program, there was a shift,” says Brenna.
For Barb Davies, more programs like the Art of Hosting are necessary for building an inclusive, resilient and thriving economy for all. Barb leads learning initiatives offered through Thrive, a trusted resource in Calgary for communities and businesses to create long term solutions that transform the economic well-being of all Calgarians.
“Advancing a local economy for all is complex. The solutions are within us. Through collaboration we can innovate and find creative solutions to challenging social issues. The Art of Hosting provides the tools we need to strengthen leadership, transforming relationships and creating effective collaboration.”
This unique and timely workshop is being offered November 8, 9 and 10 in Calgary. There are a limited number of seats remaining. For more information and to register visit here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-art-of-hosting-meaningful-conversations-participatory-leadership-tickets-26088835409