At the service of Leadership

Here at the Country Heights in Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia directing the CIVProgramme to develop future leaders for the country’s private and public sectors.

Day One took off slowly but surely along the direction of the programme design with Prof. Emeritus Azman Awang declaring the workshop open and welcoming the participants.

As I watched the participants come and set themeselves to learn, I realized that Leadership is first and foremost a choice. It is a choice to either excell in a field fueled by one of the Intelligence Areas, or a choice to look beyond onself and do something for others. I wonder which is the case for the group of student leaders who are attending this programme.

Heart2Heart Joining Instructions

Saturday, November 8, 2008  00:00 UTC Time

Overview: Heart2Heart Online is a structured communication process in which certain rules are adhered to in order to create the safety for a deep level of communication to occur without the fear of condemnation, unsolicited advice, interruption, or being rushed.
Objective: The objective of a Heart2Heart Online session is to allow people to express their feelings in a supportive environment virtually. It is not intended to be a discussion or a verbal exchange. The connection among the participants is achieved at the level of the heart – the feeling of simply being oneself and being accepted for what one is feeling – not at the level of verbal language or exchange of words.

Venue: Please log on at : (contact Greg & Ivy)

Hardware Requirement: Participants must have, at least a working microphone connected to their computer. Webcam is optional but would be an added feature. They should launch the session ahead of time to test their device setting.

Suggested Protocol: Participants are requested to abide strictly by the guidelines listed below:

  1. The Heart2Heart session will start straightaway after a brief introduction and welcome of the participants. While the session is on-going, a slideshow of inspirational scenes and quotes will be visible on the main whiteboard of the WiZiQ virtual classroom;
  2. Participants will be given the control of the microphone one at a time for a maximum of 3 minutes, according to a set sequence (according to how they are listed on the control panel of the facilitator). Nobody is allowed to pass when one’s turn comes. The minimum a participant is expected to say is “I feel I am not ready to share anything yet” or something similar;
  3. Only the person with the microphone is allowed to talk. Everyone else listens intently and tries to empathize with the speaker;
  4. To signify our listening and presence during the sharing, while one participant is talking, chat box messages/entries are encouraged but must be limited to short, affirmation statements towards the speaker or what is being shared. Questions, comments and other types of entries are to be avoided;
  5. The most important behaviors expected from the participants are candor and genuine sharing of feelings (when speaking) and attentive listening (when not taking the turn to speak);
  6. The microphone control will be passed around as many times as the session duration (maximum 90 minutes) will permit.

Waiver: The session is purely a venue to express feelings and be oneself. While support will be given by other participants, by way of encouraging and positive remarks, each participant is responsible for his/her own disposition and decisions before, during and after the session.

Note: No recording of the session will be made. Personal information about the participants will also be kept confidential. If anyone would like to open communication lines with any other participants, they could do so by exchanging e-mail address in the chat box.

Greg & Ivy Barcelon

heart2heart online

Being able to connect to the world through Web 2 tools and spend long hours in the computer exchanging intellectual material with anyone available is cool. On the other hand, at the end of the day we need to face ourselves again and reconcile with who we really are. The power we exercise in being able to interact digitally in an anonymous/faceless manner can win us many battles and give us a great sense of power.  In some cases, however, it can only be a convenient escape – from our basic need to feel safe, valued and loved. As human beings, our innermost desire is to love and be loved unconditionally.

And whereas modern society applauds the independent person, the one who can attain self-actualisation alone, the self-assured individualist, what we really need is to connect once again to how we are truly one with each other at the deepest level. Our beliefs in separation, scarcity and struggle brought about by the materialistic mindset have led us to fear and compete with each other. The result has been increasing discomfort and a growing sense of powerlessness, not only individually but as a society.

We want to explore whether we can provide a community online where one can be simply oneself — able to share one’s deepest feelings without the fear of being rejected, judged, stopped, or criticized.

But there are issues unique to the virtual world that is not true of the physical world. One such issue is that of authenticity. The absence of verifiable information about a person leaves it open to people joining in under fantasized and contrived personality and wreck havoc on what otherwise could be a very meaningful session.

I wonder how this can be managed.

from footprints to heartprints

When the Internet was in its early stages there was a big concern about leaving footprints in the network which other people might capture, use and misuse. Today, with the proliferation of the Web 2 technologies people are not only leaving footprints but heartprints. This is something I particularly noticed in FOC08 where many of the participants are in the field of Education and are more transparent and are hesitant to be misleading others. As such, in blogs and in other social networking tools available members just shared personal information – including feelings and their moment to moment whereabouts.

On the other side of the pole are seasoned internet dwellers who log in under pseudo names and would hardly leave anything identifiable. They usually thrive in being able to live in the fantasy of many identities, sometimes totally opposite to who they really are in the physical world, e.g., men living out a character of a woman and vice-versa. While the presentation of Kellan Elliott-McCrea entitled Casual Privacy appear loose, it still highlights the dilemma of people who want to be part of this evolving virtual social milieu. The options he identified are as below:

If the emerging social arena is global, collaborative, and virtual can one really afford to continue holding one’s cards close to one’s chest? All the people I know who would not even use ATM machines and would not purchase anything on the internet using their credit card are fast getting to be “techno-peasants,” clinging to the industrial era model and refusing to move on with the growth of civilization enabled by technology.

On the other hand, when one shares everything and withholds nothing, could that not be an invitation to indeed be virtually assassinated, maligned, abused, etc.? But then again, when one has so many different characters already in place in virtual reality, so what if one of them gets “assassinated” and dies?

The new technologies are changing traditional models and theories about how things work in every field. I am so fascinated as I try like Jeffrey Keefer and others in FOC08 to be a Transformative Learner.

As a facilitator with years of experience in f2f work, I naturally find it relatively easier to work with (facilitate) in an environment where there is greater openness among members/participants. Having said that, I realize that in a global, collaborative, virtual world, one might not really have the luxury of that choice most of the time.

two worlds in one – part 2

After writing my last post Two Worlds in One, I chanced upon this video clip, where Charles Leadbeater talks about “Open” and “Closed” systems.

The open system is not organized (much like an FOC course where no one is designated as Official Facilitator), while the closed system is highly systematized and structured. While Leadbeater was applying the concept to organizations, they can also apply to individuals. Now, superimposing this dimension against the two worlds I earlier described, people can come in many forms – clustered, for the sake of illustration, into four groups:

Four Types of Members/Participants

Four Types of Members/Participants

I – Face-to-face/Closed. These will be participants or members of the community who want things structured and are able to make sense of relationships only with physical encounter. With these two characteristics in combination, their communities will tend to be rather small, but solid and predictable.

II – Virtual/Closed. These will be participants or members who would participate in the Web 2 technologies but would wanting for someone to take certain fixed roles, e.g., they would demand that there must be a designated Facilitator (even if you rotate members in assuming the role), designated Moderator, designated Secretary, etc. – all coming from what organized groups of the past used to be (which will include Scouts, Civic Clubs that insist on using Roberts Rule of Order, etc.)

III – Virtual/Open. These will be participants or members who are more “free” in their orientation and interaction. It is as free as the 15-sec browsing and the jumping from page to page. They are the people who somehow bear witness to the order in chaos. They thrive on connections and feeds.

IV – Face-to-face/Open. These will be participants or members who can live with the lack of structure but would insist on a certain minimum physical contact. They for instance need to be assured that the people they are interacting with in the Chats are real and not bots. They’d like to put flesh and blood into the dot coms and the @.

Interesting world we live in!

two worlds in one?

Much like my earlier insights re to facilitate or to teach, I am now realizing that there might be a whole continuum of people we are getting involved with in today’s world. On one extreme are the hard-core Face-to-Face Audience, while on the other are the hard-core Virtual Audience. Some characteristics I see in them are as follows:


Value physical connections/ emotionally based contact

Uphold protocol of civility and social manners

Geared toward long-term and lasting relationships

Will spend time to know the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of people and situations

Brings financial, emotional and social investment into interactions

Feels limited by the distance one can travel to make the physical connections

Tend to be relatively small in number of members


Prefer to be virtual, with limited physical and emotional contact

Believe in the absolute right of the individual to be what they want to be

Oriented towards instant yet short-term involvement

Will ‘browse’ people and situation within a 15 sec interest window

Brings solutions and needs that they can trade and exchange

Borderless and sees one world they can reach with a click of a mouse

Potentially unlimited in number of members, e.g., internet itself

The focus on hosting, hospitality, understanding at a deeper level and finding the heart of a group (see Amy’s “What Does It Mean To Facilitate” will likely work with groups that would have the opportunity to have some form of F2F meetings. And while they still can grow to hundreds of thousands or even millions under one big community (such as Religious Groups, Civic Groups, Ideological Groups), their basic interaction is localized among those that they have the opportunity to somehow meet (including the possibility of meeting people in global conventions).

The more structural, systemic and pragmatic way of facilitating interaction will likely be required for the groups that are almost totally virtual. They may even end up collaborating (as in using one another’s uploaded materials) without even getting a chance to interact directly with each other.

Any attempt at trying to pin down one way to facilitate (make interactions, be it F2F or virtual, easy) would be dependent on how one envisions this community to be. If it is envisioned to be a small community of practice that will collaborate and meet periodically, then more of the F2F type of facilitation will be called for. But if the vision is to let is loose as the whole internet is loose, then the more virtual type of facilitation will be required. But as Nellie, Bee and some others are working on, the happy medium is probably a blend of the two, the degree of which will vary depending on where in the continuum one wants to be.

Personally, I am trying to learn to shuttle between the two extremes – hoping that I will understand to operate in either world, before my own capacity to do so is all consumed.

On Facilitating (Threaded Discussion) Participation in On-line Communities

If one were to take the Internet as one on-line community, then the term Facilitating is a contradiction in terms – who is the Facilitator of the internet? John’s first couple of lines said it all “Individuals with common interests, anywhere in the world, being able to communicate and collaborate with others to develop their interest or move their thinking forward. Individuals getting together somehow to learn; to learn not in a formal classroom and not in isolation, but to learn as part of a community, a community that is enabled and supported by Internet technologies and tools.”

But then again, when one gets to the level of a particular group, set up for a particular purpose then there will be need for Facilitation (using the term to mean “making easy.”) And in these cases, it is not really a matter of whether one will ‘facilitate actively/aggressively’ or not. To be asking such question is to be locked into the 2nd Dimension of Facilitating, i.e., of determining how to best manipulate the two variables of content and process of the group.

When a Facilitator successfully moves up to the 3rd Dimension of Facilitating, then the set-up takes care of ‘automatically’ making it easy for people to interact and manage the process and the content themselves.

Threaded discussions have become largely the backbone of groups that are focused on a specific purpose for existence. Lately however, as a stand-alone platform it has been overtaken by others such as Ning, where there is not only Threaded Discussion but also incorporates Blogs, Sharing of Photos/Videos plus other applications.

If we are to also believe the NLP framework, then Threaded Discussion, whether by itself or as part of a platform like Ning are bias in favour of Visual Learners/People. Perhaps, incorporating more of technologies such as VoiceThread will bring back the Auditory, if not also Kinesthetic learners/people.

As to how people can be more encourage (or motivated) to participate, I now realize that what might be helpful is for the Facilitator to periodically summarize what has happened so far, with specific references to what was contributed by who. Charles Leadbeater, in ‘We Think’ posits that compared to people being motivated by wanting to get rich in the mass production model of the 20th century, the mass innovation model of the 21st century is driven by people wanting to: “socialize and get recognized.” Indeed, personally, when people refer to my posts I tend to participate more. Conversely, when I made a post and it is left hanging there as if nobody saw it, my tendency is to stop participating.

As a Facilitator, what will make it easier for me to make summaries is if I can simply highlight significant parts of every Threaded Discussion e-mail that comes into my inbox which will somehow automatically be pulled together into some meaningful whole.

On the other hand, there might really be no need to summarize because what might really be happening is that people do get affected by any and every post – it is just that they react to them via their own Blog entries.