Free your thinking
Face-to-face learning with Martin Sandbrook
If you would like to start learning with me, or know more, contact me via the Register Interest button. Set out below is a description of how I like to work.
April 2022 – How I now want to work to be effective.
I have enjoyed an amazing 10years or so liberating people to think more effectively in relation to the overwhelming complexity and uncertainty of our world.
On the Masters in Responsibility and Business Practice, I experienced the resistance most people feel when challenged to fundamentally reconsider some basic assumptions held dear for the whole of my life. It took many months for me to realise that I needed to let go and open myself to a new way of being in the world. Thank goodness I was able to do that.
Recognising that others would feel similarly resistant, my first courses were spread over a whole year. The time was to allow people to go through a period of denial and resistance and still be on the course to receive support from me as the dawning unfolded.
Today, I am lucky if I get even one day to do this. Enlightenment may be instant when it actually occurs but the pressure needed to trigger such a change cannot be built in a morning, or even two mornings.
A compromise solution has been to insist on a follow-up session within a month or so of an original one-day training. This is better than nothing but I now fully understand that the process of real change cannot be hurried, it just does need time.
A more recent model has been initial training followed by regular reflective practice sessions, perhaps a month apart. This does seem to be more effective in building toward a permanent shift in worldview. Like me, a participant in a current programme of this kind was saying “Oh, I see!” after about 9 months of working in the systems way.
So I have reached a point where, to be true to myself, I am really only interested to begin the process of liberation when I feel sure there is someone, and this could well be me, who is going to be in a continuing relationship with the participants, who is going to stay alongside them until they have made the transition and then beyond, until they are ready to continue on their own.
I want to work with individuals or small groups over time, with people who need to find pathways and transformations through complex issues, people who are looking for solutions in conditions of uncertainty, where there are many answers, where the world cannot be fully understood, where cause and effect are hard to disentangle.
My approach in these conditions is Action Experiment, coming out of an introductory session (perhaps half or even a full day) followed by regular reflective practice sessions.
I want to work with people moving forward into the system, people who are aware, awake, alive, asking questions, looking to learn, working from their learning edges towards finding solutions; in short, experimenting by acting, moving to next base and taking stock before moving to next base and so on. Humble, fiercely humble even, rather than looking to be heroes. Vulnerable, not numb. Open, flexible, ready to let go the need to be right.
And such people need to be prepared to take time, to be patient and resilient, trying things, learning from this and then trying something else, noticing and reflecting as they go.
After 10years of rich experience, I am fully equipped to truly support people with this, whether it be one to one, in organisations or here, on retreat, in the supportive and peaceful environment of Summerhill near Stroud.
If you would like to start learning with me, or know more, contact me via the Register Interest button.
What you will learn when participating in a Systems Learning inquiry group:
Knowledge: You will:
- Become familiar with how you see the world and the effect this has on how you act.
- Shift from a ‘thing’ to a ‘relationship’ view of the world.
- Consider the prevailing way of seeing the world – how we take it to pieces to understand it, how we assume everything can be measured, analysed, diagnosed and fixed.
- Explore how the world really is – inter-dependent, complex and uncertain.
- Become familiar with the characteristics of systems, in particular, complex systems.
- Open your awareness to a different way of seeing and being in the world – free up your creativity to deal effectively with complex problems – what we call ‘Systems Thinking’.
Skills: You will be able to:
- Make use of this freedom – apply this new awareness in practice to any challenge you face, personal or professional, working towards a solution, through ‘action experiment’ and other systemic approaches.
- Think more effectively, to solve problems and deal with complex systems.
- Inquire and experiment, while being aware of yourself in action.
- Lead effectively, whether this be yourself or others.
What sort of people have been on previous courses? Participants on Martin’s courses have come from a wide range of organisations and backgrounds. Unilever, Bristol’s Golden Key Partnership, Aberdeen City, Defra, CGL, Bristol Green Capital, Community Land Trust, Swansea City Sustainability, and many others.
What previous participants say? People who have been on our courses talk about feeling really connected with the world for the first time. Many say some inner knowledge, which they were only dimly aware of, has been brought to the surface and released.
“You paved the way for a great expansion in my thinking. The real ah-ha moment for me was when you explained the difference between complicated and complex. I became aware of my own assumptions and beliefs, of other perspectives, and of different ways of knowing – especially intuition, experience and emotion. You also reawakened my spirit of inquiry. For the first time in my life, I really connected with what it means to learn and be open to new information. But the real shift was to see that most of what we deal with is complex and uncertain and needs to be dealt with accordingly. That my view of the world is shaped by my assumptions and beliefs. If I change these, I change my view. This is particularly true of boundaries. Difficult situations often make us feel trapped. Systems thinking frees me from the box I am trapped in. It reminds me that the box only exists in my mind and imagination – it is not physically real".