Reading List


Bibliography and resources.


List of bibliography and resources related to system thinking, personal leadership and collaborative processes.



ALIA – Authentic Leadership in Action – Little book of practice (downloadable at


Art of Hosting, AoHHandbook of the art of hosting conversations that matter in community .


Baldwin, Christina, Calling the Circle, The first and future culture, 1998,

Christina Baldwin offers this powerful new tool to everyone who longs for a community based on honesty, equality, and spiritual integrity.

The original small-press edition of Calling the Circle has become one of the key resources for the rapidly-growing “circle” movement. This newly revised edition brings Christina Baldwin’s groundbreaking work to an even broader audience ranging from women’s spirituality groups to corporate development teams.
50,000 years ago, women and men gathered around campfires to decide the key issues in their lives. Today, groups everywhere are discovering a new form of this ancient ritual for communication, mutual support, teamwork, and social change. Now, in a book as consciousness-changing as Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade or Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline,Christina Baldwin offers this powerful new tool to everyone who longs for a community based on honesty, equality, and spiritual integrity.
In this simple, profound practice, participants sit in a circle, pass a talking piece from person to person, and speak and listen from the heart. Christina Baldwin gives detailed instructions and suggestions for getting started, setting goals, and solving disagreements safely and respectfully. She also offers inspiring examples of circles in action: a women’s spirituality group, a father and son in crisis, a PTA group that averts a school strike and a work project team that accesses a new level of creativity and caring.


Block, Peter, 2009. Community: The Structure of Belonging,

Offers a way of thinking about our places that creates an opening for authentic communities to exist and details what each of us can do to make that happen.

Modern society is plagued by fragmentation. The various sectors of our communities–businesses, schools, social service organizations, churches, government–do not work together. They exist in their own worlds. As do so many individual citizens, who long for connection but end up marginalized, their gifts overlooked, their potential contributions lost. This disconnection and detachment makes it hard if not impossible to envision a common future and work towards it together. We know what healthy communities look like–there are many success stories out there, and they’ve been described in detail. What Block provides in this inspiring new book is an exploration of the exact way community can emerge from fragmentation: How is community built? How does the transformation occur? What fundamental shifts are involved? He explores a way of thinking about our places that creates an opening for authentic communities to exist and details what each of us can do to make that happen.


Brown, Juanita, Isaacs, David, 2005. The World Cafe, Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter,

The World Cafe process has been used by tens of thousands of people around the world to tackle real-life issues. Based on seven key principles, it begins with small, intimate conversations at cafe-style tables; these gatherings then link and build on each other as people move between groups and cross-pollinate ideas. In this way, Cafe learning enables even very large groups to think together creatively in a single, connected conversation. This complete resource explains the Café concept and provides readers with the tools they need to get started. Each chapter opens with stories from business, education, government, and community organizations, each a dramatic example of how leaders are using this process in the real world. Such stories underline the Cafe’s immediate, practical implications for meeting and conference design, strategy formation, knowledge creation, and large-scale systems change. The book includes a foreword by best-selling author Margaret J. Wheatley, an afterword by author Peter Senge, and real-world stories of the Café process in action at Hewlett-Packard, the nation of Singapore, and the University of Texas.


Capra, Frijof, Luisi, Pier Luigi, 2014, The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision.

Over the past thirty years, a new systemic conception of life has emerged at the forefront of science. New emphasis has been given to complexity, networks, and patterns of organisation leading to a novel kind of ‘systemic’ thinking. This volume integrates the ideas, models, and theories underlying the systems view of life into a single coherent framework. Taking a broad sweep through history and across scientific disciplines, the authors examine the appearance of key concepts such as autopoiesis, dissipative structures, social networks, and a systemic understanding of evolution. The implications of the systems view of life for health care, management, and our global ecological and economic crises are also discussed. Written primarily for undergraduates, it is also essential reading for graduate students and researchers interested in understanding the new systemic conception of life and its implications for a broad range of professions – from economics and politics to medicine, psychology and law.


Capra, Fritjof, 1997, The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems

During the past twenty-five years, scientists have challenged conventional views of evolution and the organization of living systems and have developed new theories with revolutionary philosophical and social implications. Fritjof Capra has been at the forefront of this revolution. In The Web of Life, Capra offers a brilliant synthesis of such recent scientific breakthroughs as the theory of complexity, Gaia theory, chaos theory, and other explanations of the properties of organisms, social systems, and ecosystems. Capra’s surprising findings stand in stark contrast to accepted paradigms of mechanism and Darwinism and provide an extraordinary new foundation for ecological policies that will allow us to build and sustain communities without diminishing the opportunities for future generations.


Cooperrider, David, Whitney, Diana,  Appreciative Inquiry, A positive Revolution in Change, 2005.

Written by the founders of AI (Appreciative Inquiry), this short, practical guide offers an approach to organizational change based on the possibility of a more positive future.

Written by the originators and leaders of the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) movement itself, this short, practical guide offers an approach to organizational change based on the possibility of a more desirable future, experience with the whole system, and activities that signal “”something different is happening this time.”” That difference systematically taps the potential of human beings to make themselves, their organizations, and their communities more adaptive and more effective. AI, a theory of collaborative change, erases the winner/loser paradigm in favor of coordinated actions and closer relationships that lead to solutions at once simpler and more effective.


Holman, Peggy, 2010. Engaging Emergence, Turning Upheaval into Opportunity

Shows how to spot the emergence of a new level of order from the seemingly chaotic change and offers practices and principles that will help you align yourself and your organization with the new order.

Change is everywhere these days—at times it seems like barely controlled chaos. Yet within this turmoil are the seeds of a higher order. When a new system arises from the ashes of the old, science calls the process “emergence.” By engaging it, you can help yourself and your organization or community to successfully face disruption and emerge stronger than ever. In this profound, award winning (2011 Nautilus Gold medal winner) book, Peggy Holman offers principles, practices, and real-world stories to help you work with compassion, creativity, and wisdom through the entire arc of change—from disruption to coherence. You’ll learn what to notice, what to explore, what to try, and what mindset opens new possibilities. This work can be challenging but also tremendously rewarding. It enables new and unlikely partnerships and develops breakthrough projects. You become part of a process that transforms the culture itself.

Holman, Peggi, Cady, Steven, Devane, Tom, Eds., 2007. The Change Handbook, The Definitive Resource on Today’s Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems.

This definitive resource invites people and systems to gather around issues that they care about, unleashing the energy and wisdom to move their dreams into action.

In 1999, the first edition of The Change Handbook provided a snapshot of a nascent field that broke barriers by engaging “whole systems” of people from organizations and communities in creating their own future. In the last seven years, the field has exploded. In this completely revised and updated second edition, lead authors Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, and Steven Cady profile sixty-one change methods–up from eighteen in the first edition. Nineteen of these methods are explored in depth, with case studies, answers to frequently asked questions, and details on the roles and responsibilities of the people involved, conditions for success, and more. This tremendously expanded second edition–400 pages longer, nearly twice the length of the first edition–will undoubtedly become the definitive resource in this rapidly expanding area.


Meadows, Donella H., 2008; Thinking in Systems. Chelseagreen Publisher.

Learning how to think in systems is now part of change-agent literacy. And this is the best book of its kind. In a nutshell, this book is about systems. So much more than this, it is a journey into the meta-rules of how the universe and everything in it comes and “plays” together. There is one thing to be understood that applies to physiology, businesses, economies, plants and puppies alike. Everything is a system. And all systems have behaviors and rules. As Donella Meadows writes: “The trick…is to recognize what structures contain which latent behaviors, and what conditions release those behaviors — and where possible to arrange the structures and conditions to reduce the probability of destructive behaviors and to encourage the possibility of beneficial ones.”

Grasping “the whole universe” is certainly a momumental task. The book brilliantly presents concepts in very graspable units. She starts with picturing what a system is — a stock with inflows and outflows that affect its stability and all of which are further affected by feedback loops and delays.
So armed with this model, individuals may be better guided in their decisions and actions as it becomes clear that actions can beget other actions and reactions (or unintended consequences.) But there is even more complexity. For instance, policies are a way to control the stocks and flows within a system. However, one of several behavior archetypes is policy resistance which comes from the bounded rationality of the actors within a system, each with his or her own goal. Meadows takes the reader on a deep and thought-provoking journey through all the behavior archetypes of systems. The result is an empowering “forewarned is forearmed” knowledge.
That is the ultimate goal of this book. When people affect positive change in the world — and it just may be everyone’s duty to do that — it is through smart and correct controls on a system. Ms. Meadows then gives the knowledge to do this. She lays out the leverage points in any system — the opportunities for making things right or better. The coda is a legacy of thoughts to live by, the last and perhaps most important of which is “Don’t Erode the Goal of Goodness.”
With such profound applicability, this book is the handbook for living. Everyone on the planet should read it.


Owen, Harrison, 2008. Open Space Technology, A User’s Guide.

What if you could identify a mission-critical issue for your organization, bring together the people with something to contribute and something at stake, focus on that issue and take decisive action all in the same meeting? A fantasy? Not with the application of Open Space Technology. Open Space Technology is a methodological tool that enables self-organizing groups of all sizes to deal with hugely complex issues in a very short period of time. Authored by the originator of Open Space Technology, Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide details what needs to be done before, during, and after an Open Space event. It is the most authoritative book available on how to plan and run a successful Open Space event. This 3rd edition adds a survey of the current status of Open Space Technology around the world, an updated section on the latest available technology for report writing (a key aspect of the Open Space process), and an updated list of resources.


Scharmer, Otto, 2009, Theory U, Leading from the future as it emerges, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco.

By moving through the “U” process we learn to connect to our essential Self in the realm of “presencing”.

In this ground-breaking book, Otto Scharmer invites us to see the world in new ways. Fundamental problems, as Einstein once noted, cannot be solved at the same level of thought that created them. What we pay attention to, and how we pay attention – both individually and collectively – is key to what we create. What often prevents us from “attending” is what Scharmer calls our “blind spot,” the inner place from which each of us operates. Learning to become aware of our blind spot is critical to bringing forth the profound systemic changes so needed in business and society today.

First introduced in Presence, the “U” methodology of leading profound change is expanded and deepened in Theory U. By moving through the “U” process we learn to connect to our essential Self in the realm of presencing – a term coined by Scharmer that combines the present with sensing. Here we are able to see our own blind spot and pay attention in a way that allows us to experience the opening of our minds, our hearts, and our wills. This wholistic opening constitutes a shift in awareness that allows us to learn from the future as it emerges, and to realize that future in the world.

Theory U explores a new territory of scientific research and personal leadership, one that is grounded in real life experience and shared practices. Scharmer shares much from his own personal and professional development, and draws from a rich diversity of compelling stories and examples. Readers will find themselves drawn to new ways of thinking and acting as they read, completing a parallel journey of exploration and discovery. The final chapters lay out principles and practices that allow everyone to participate fully in co-creating and bringing forth the desired future that is working to emerge through us.


Senge, Peter M., Scharmer, C. Otto, Jaworski, Joseph, Flowers, Betty Sue, 2004, Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society.

This year long series of conversations reveals the human capacity to “presence”—to pre-sense, to become present to an emerging future

Presence is an intimate look at the development of a new theory about change and learning. In wide-ranging conversations held over a year and a half, organizational learning pioneers Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers explored the nature of transformational change—how it arises, and the fresh possibilities it offers a world dangerously out of balance. The book introduces the idea of “presence”—a concept borrowed from the natural world that the whole is entirely present in any of its parts—to the worlds of business, education, government, and leadership. Too often, the authors found, we remain stuck in old patterns of seeing and acting. By encouraging deeper levels of learning, we create an awareness of the larger whole, leading to actions that can help to shape its evolution and our future.


Scharmer, Otto C., Kaufer, Katrin, 2013. Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economics.

Our Time is Now: We have entered an age of disruption. Financial collapse, climate change, resource depletion, and a growing gap between rich and poor are but a few of the signs. Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer ask, why do we collectively create results nobody wants? Meeting the challenges of this century requires updating our economic logic and operating system from an obsolete “ego-system” focused entirely on the well-being of oneself to an eco-system awareness that emphasizes the well-being of the whole. Filled with real-world examples, this thought-provoking guide presents proven practices for building a new economy that is more resilient, intentional, inclusive, and aware.


Senge, Peter, 2006. The Fifth Discipline, The Art and Practice of Learning Organizations. Completely Updated and Revised.

Senge explains why the “learning organization” matters, provides an unvarnished summary of his management principles and offers some basic tools for practicing it.
This revised edition of Peter Senge’s bestselling classic, The Fifth Discipline, is based on fifteen years of experience in putting the book’s ideas into practice. As Senge makes clear, in the long run the only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition. The leadership stories in the book demonstrate the many ways that the core ideas in The Fifth Discipline, many of which seemed radical when first published in 1990, have become deeply integrated into people’s ways of seeing the world and their managerial practices. In The Fifth Discipline, Senge describes how companies can rid themselves of the learning “disabilities” that threaten their productivity and success by adopting the strategies of learning organizations—ones in which new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, collective aspiration is set free, and people are continually learning how to create results they truly desire. The updated and revised Currency edition of this business classic contains over one hundred pages of new material based on interviews with dozens of practitioners at companies like BP, Unilever, Intel, Ford, HP, Saudi Aramco, and organizations like Roca, Oxfam, and The World Bank. It features a new Foreword about the success Peter Senge has achieved with learning organizations since the book’s inception, as well as new chapters on Impetus (getting started), Strategies, Leaders’ New Work, Systems Citizens, and Frontiers for the Future.


Wheatley, Margaret,2007. Finding Our Way, Leadership for an Uncertain Time
A comprehensive summing up of the thought of one of the most original and creative organizational thinkers of our time.

Though management expert Margaret J. Wheatley works with a broad variety of clients, from Fortune 100 CEOs to ministers, she points out that they all struggle to maintain integrity, humanity, and effectiveness in a relentlessly fast-paced, technology-driven world. Credited with establishing a fundamentally new approach to leadership based on living systems theory, or, as she puts it, “how Life organizes”, Wheatley shares her first-ever compendium of essays about her real-world experiences helping clients introduce more authentic, life-affirming practices into their organizations. Essays cover a wide scope of topics including leadership strategies, raising children in turbulent times, and the role of communities in the lives of organizations. “Finding Our Way” is filled with practical advice on applying the ideas in Wheatley’s groundbreaking books and has particular relevance for managers and leaders who are trying to run their organizations in more progressive, egalitarian, and effective ways.


Wheatley, Margaret, Frieze, Debbie, 2011. Walk Out Walk On, A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now (BK Currents)

Provides an intimate experience of how seven healthy and resilient communities took on intractable problems by working together in new and different ways.

No One Is Coming to Help. Now What?

In this era of increasingly complex problems and shrinking resources, can we find meaningful and enduring solutions to the challenges we face today as individuals, communities, and nations?

In Walk Out Walk On, we invite you on a learning journey to seven communities around the world to meet people who have walked out of limiting beliefs and assumptions and walked on to create healthy and resilient communities. These Walk Outs who Walk On use their ingenuity and caring to figure out how to work with what they have to create what they need.

From Mexico to India, from Columbus, Ohio to Johannesburg, South Africa, we discover that all communities have the intelligence and inventiveness to solve their seemingly insolvable problems. “We discovered a gift inside ourselves,” one Brazilian said, “something that was already there.”


Enhancing systemic transformation sustainable learning in time of chaos and crisis. Our story


The kindness of the words creates confidence
The kindness of thoughts creates depth
The kindness of giving creates love
Lao Tze


Time went by, almost two years elapsed from the beginning, the end went by.

We met for 7 times, people belonging to 4 different nations… 9 women from Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy and 4 men, 1 of which did not speak English and disappeared after 3 meetings.

In 2012 my friend Elena invited me to join the European Project – Grundtvig learning partnership under the Lifelong Learning Program “Enhancing systemic transformation in times of chaos and crisis”.

I am definitely in favor of the general idea of the lifelong learning, and when I discovered that the project was part of this belief I decided to “go and see”.

After all this time spent together, I ask myself…

  • What did I learn, what did we learn?
  • Did we go through a transformation?
  • How did we cope with chaos and crisis?


The learning experience

The first thing I learnt has been to use the relationship to get results. To pour in our daily meeting our feelings and emotions, to describe the thin string connecting our inner state.

This was a complete different experience, I was accustomed to the compelled use of time of our civilization, to work independently from the weather, and to work independently from feelings and emotions; to me this way to work was so different to cause, at the very beginning, almost nuisance.

The dialogue

To understand I read Dialogues written by David Bohm…. It was an insight. The Palo Alto principles of communication changed perspective… and the Listening feature altered its aspect: it became a Giant.

Listening fully, without getting ready to answer immediately to the speaker. This is the first passage. And it becomes clear: whenever the answer comes right away, most probably there is not listening, but it’s just following the personal mind path, or convictions, opinions, prejudice, and so on.

The Bohm technique is simple: use a talking stick (one person can speak only when in possess of it) and follow the circle. The automatic answering is killed. Once the dialogue proceeds along the circle it swifts, change, swirls, bents or climbs, and when it’s your turn if you have not listened you just “pour the water off the glass”, else you contribute to the building of significance.

Then at a certain moment, suddenly happens: a change of level kicks in: the people in the circle switch from thinking to intuition. Persons speak from this new level, they feel inspired, they refer to their past experiences grabbing the deep meaning, they are in the here and now, there is no space left for chat, words become thick, meaningful, and express content.

We understood and shared that it was necessary to record those words, they would have been lost once we would have been “back in the room”. While in this dialogue process people access to something else, different, higher, like a common field of knowledge, to a common wisdom… once you “come back” words are lost, there is, sure, a different and solid taste, but words are gone.

Fixing them on a recorder or on a piece of paper or on the PC screen is the way to store the experience, the sharing, the group intuitions…. and with the group approval I did it…

Out of this going higher and higher .. understanding how the transformation had to soak the single person, in the same way as the crisis was doing… starting from a crowd phenomena to arrive to impact the single….

And the transformation had to be the other way around, from individuals to crowd, it was like developing the collective intelligence or to use Laszlo words: develop a planetary consciousness.

The ongoing process was inspired from the surrounding world: we were hosted in a cosy hotel close to a pilgrimage stop, the idea came across and we grabbed it: build up a path, a rebuilding process based on an inner and outer pilgrimage, during which people would heal their wounds and learn new abilities.


In the cosy hotel happened also the first dispute.

One of the Italians did not speak English and he protested, giving to the group the responsibility not to sustain him and abandoning him alone.

The first concept that came across –besides the common comprehension of the impossibility to translate and maintain the same “Dialogue” consciousness level – was Responsibility.

Every one is responsible of her/his own life. We take decisions, have abilities, talents and knowledge… it is personal responsibility to fill the shortages – the lacks – in such a way to be able to cope with the evolving situation, otherwise there will be no transformation and the crisis will take the single and the community (yes also the community) into the darkness.

The Community is more important than the single individual, especially if the single does not want to really come into play and adapt to the evolving situation….

It is a matter of evolution, and this latter one is the reason why nature gave the neo-cortex to the human being: a powerful instrument to ensure evolution and resilience to the evolving environment.

The dispute came across and as always – no news under this side – it started crawling and touching whatever was around. The soul is a strange “animal”, it’s calm and smiling, then when it feels wounded, even slightly, changes it’s perspective of whatever is around. And the surroundings became dirty.

Out of that first dispute arose much more, and all that hidden subtle elements just popped out like mole-crickets jumping out of the soil.

And the crisis wrapped up the Italian group. Everything came up to discussion. Money, understanding, the use of words, the trip back to Bologna was a gymnasium in which I practiced my negotiation abilities.

Eventually we arrived in Bologna with a soft smile, a book on how to learn English presented by the other team members … and the promise to go towards the next meeting with a better attitude.

And so the title of our commitment was becoming alive, at least in the Italian community.

Crisis was showing itself, and we had started to come with it..


It was a very hot July in Roma when I received a phone call. It was the same Italian member of the poor English knowledge, who explained to me that due to the crisis he was not receiving all the payments he was supposed to receive and that the crisis was pulling him down with all his resources… no matter what, everything was sucked in by the vortex of crisis.

Here they where: Chaos and Crisis, one Monster with two heads, and extremely hungry of feelings, relationships, connections, love.

The news came across as the desert wind, warm and implacable.

What to do?

I decide to postpone every decision until having a better view. But then this communication delay was seen as a betrayal: the Crisis and Chaos Monster showed its power, and swallowed Trust and Will, leaving us with a sense of impotence.

Darkness started coming in.

The negotiation work went over and over, meanwhile we were going towards the Slovenia meeting.

In Slovenia the betrayed wanted the support of the community, and the facts were made clear to everybody.

The Monster tossed its tail and other people got involved.

Like mist arising from a swamp the left hand column thoughts came up.

Almost everybody had something that was itchy, that was creating discomfort, that was causing a subtle and thin sorrow.

And we dealt with that, and after dealing with that sense on impotence, who was requiring attention and was willing to be showed and accepted, creativity came in.

The group, now divided into small groups went to work. Transform darkness into project…

And it was a beautiful work… … oriented work to fulfill the project requirement: the e-manual and the curriculum.

And we went to the end of the meeting, satisfied of the work done and the results reached, and happy to have been able to express our sorrow having somebody listening and sharing, without giving good and useless advices.

We went back to our nations… with a double feeling, one side hurt, the other side nurtured by the hope to be able to face our crisis.

But here it was another teaching… transform your sorrow into work, connective work, putting people together, making them able to demonstrate that beyond pain and sorrow we still have the ability to activate creativity and produce something new.

Was it survival? I guess it was… and it worked


The inner state of the Italian group

We tried to cope with the inner crisis. We wrote new rules, very schematic and clear, and with a common agreement we decided a different operational way for the economical aspect, to continue the meetings.

Every expense would have justified, and paid with electronic means thus to be easily chased.

But, even if the tension was somewhat decreasing and we were getting together, it was anyway present the subtle phantom of the doubt.

At that same time with the excuse to face the lack of money the Italian member in crisis decided not to come anymore.

The words were about save money, the result was to hide from responsibility, while the mud of doubt and lack of trust was swiftly spreading.

Crisis & Chaos had polluted our group.

Learning? Rules are a big lever point, but they must have a meaning, must connect to values, must be followed and respected.

Otherwise do not write rules… it is just a waste of time..

For us it was a waste of time…

We had met the enemy and in was inside us.


The Secret wound

I defined the Crisis as a Monster, and indeed It is…

And it was Present… more present than us, from the very first moment.

And we were encountering it … coming out from an education based on competition, in a word governed by the power of economics, this latter normally takes the scene of life … and it sullies whatever it touches.

And it touched our relationship with the project.

Here another lesson:

The collective negative emotions were impacting backwards in the job created in Slovenia..

Whatever had been done was loosing enamel and light… and we returned in a kind of previous state, the energy we had put to transform us and the collective inner state had not been enough.

The group was disoriented, it looked like we were sharing a common feeling.

It was a feeling of confusion, of lack of understanding and belonging, a lack of meaning… is this the crisis? Is this the chaos in which us, as the rest of societies, are?

And within the said words something else moved in, and in my opinion it is worth to be mentioned (italics represent words captured during the circles):

Few assumptions: the first one is a new paradigm imagining transformation, The new cannot be achieved using the tools and ways of the old one.

And the old one is a lot about having power, and leaders and followers, thus the circular way is the way to perceive the new paradigm to emerge. We cannot have people drive the masses to transformation. No planning no structuring or talk down.

I do not want to take them anywhere, I want to learn from the future that emerges.

And third if we speak of transformation, it starts with me, and we say in aikido, you never deal with the opponent, you just deal with keeping the position, the personal weight.

Then hold the space, basically hold space with full presence and trust and emergence will happen, I’d not have really anything to do, and finally I feel very strong

Only two things I need to be… one is to be an authentic form, the deeper most honest; and then I need to be fully empathic, listen in my heart what’s happening around me, and transformation will emerge.


Learning comes across again:

More and more the connection between individual inner space and the outer world gets clear.

Transformation starts from inside, we cannot transform anybody but ourselves, and we can do this deeply understanding our souls, and deeply listening to others, meanwhile hold the space, and create room for the future that will emerge… in an attitude of full honesty and great empathy.

Enhancing systemic transformation does not actually mean we are in a provide role for others, but actually it means how I do enhance ST just being, and living.


Chaos assumes a shape

That morning in Budapest the Chaos showed up.

Everybody was screaming… everybody felt torn, every proposal was ignored, forgotten as every other proposal that had not been full fruit of the collaborative work.

And the work done in Slovenia was definitely left behind.

Morning faded away… we decided to get out and walk in the city, one of our Hungarians guest proposed to go in a toy shop… and there we docked!

We browsed round the games, and slowly, like in a flow we sat around the table and started gaming.

Inner kids came out, smiling, using imagination and meaning; the game, now alive, went around the table, and everybody who played was like touched by a magic wand, relax came in, souls untied, like bodies stretching on white rocks in the sun.


Learning again:

Let it go, to allow come it in…

Open the inner space, with a smile, with a game… allow vulnerability to be hold while she shows up together with the inner kid.


Then we went back…

And the different inner state influenced our way of being, we got in the circle and we were creative, we were positive, we were available one to the other, and we went into integrating ideas, it was a great afternoon.

Too bad the records we took are not coherent, and there are only one thing I keep in my memory of that afternoon, the beautiful feeling of working together out of a good sense of union, in a strong moment where difficulties are overcome and there is something that emerges rich of its own strength.

And here I report one statement… it sounds a little strange like if it is coming out of a trance … but it was coming down from the connection, from the power of the group dialogue!


I do not want to fix you, but how does transformation happens?

When you are truly seen by others, Our job as facilitators… and invitations…

What has been one of the most painful things in your life?

And answers are the behaviours… What I got out of that is my extreme sensitivity to Secret wounds

So you came in contact in the deep wound that gives you a special sensitivity and how you can take this sensitivity into the world as a gift.

Thus it is about transforming the “secret wound” in the way I live it and put in the world in a gift

And this can be for everybody… the way that you live your life…


This impacted our work more than we thought.

Besides: which was the deep meaning of the secret wound and the related gift?

The keyword in all this is transformation… what does it mean to transform?

And what about systemic transformation?


Because of the title, it is not only “enhancing” but there is also chaos and crisis; means that we need also to consider it develop in difficult times….

Still words come out and connect, same idea of the trance…

Thus we need something more, or different, than normally

Whoever started to do with personal transformation you get chaos and crisis… What are the unmeant need and how can I help. I transform when I do not try to transform…

When I embrace what is guessing I am supporting some healing to happen and then transformation perhaps will happen….

It is not really trying to transform but witnessing and see

Magic word: witnessing… witness what is happening…

Somehow is holding the space.

Unfold open show up… in all tradition… Also Ubuntu is witnessing. I am because you are and we are… I exist through you witnessing me, Not trying to change…

I am because you are, because we are….


And we got jewels… like the secret wounds, the gift to others, the witnessing, the need to different accompany people in their own transformation, we do not impose transformation, we can only witness theirs.

The necessity to deeply understand the inner self and to embrace the change.


The idea of darkness came out also as an intuition, whenever we are not in harmony with the environment it means that obscurity is coming in, and this darkness occupies the space and crisis comes over.

The idea was to use the system dynamic modelling to represent the point we had reached, also because we had this task to use the systemic approach..

Now for whoever is not familiar with the representation language of system dynamics, the simplest thing I can write is that it is a exemplification of the phrase “everything flows”. The language uses stocks and flows, plus variables. The interaction creates reinforcing or balancing loops that contribute to the system life. Thus a rectangle represents a container (stock in the original language) who can increase or decrease the inner level by in inflow and an outflow.

This is valid for the simple bathtub (water coming in through the tap and going out thorough the drainage), for a warehouse (goods bought and goods sold), and I a way and with some attention it is applicable to everything that has a level, included the inside darkness where it increases for received wounds or decreases for incoming light.

The next image represents the personal dimension using stock and flows and the connections among the elements.


The image can be read in the following way:

Society and Crisis can increase the flow of internal darkness…

While the quality of the internal space can increase the level of darkness or decrease it; if the level of darkness decreases through a transformational process the gifts appear, and those gifts provided to the society go to improve the transformation process.

The main point is systemic: connections among elements.

And there are questions like: intuition happens, how can we facilitate intuition?

And darkness influences behaviour, how to get out if it?

And we had some digression about the value of aggression and the impact on the relationship, but still the doubt about training was there.

The remaining part of the morning was full of reflections on the idea and we spent hours discussing it.


Comradeship and help

Darknes accompanied us for a long time, it was present again in the Roma meeting.. and there, while fully plunged in the darkness, something happened… the group as a whole proposed to support the Italians in crisis and allow them to show up an the next meeting.

It was a moment of commotion…

I felt like a kid, received with open arms, and helped, and since I had difficulties in accepting I was even invited to take it …


Many times I had thought that through this experience we had really tested the meaning of crisis and the connected chaos. And while on one side nothing changes, and the crisis continues to manifest its core, on the other things reassemble… and the internal wound becomes a gift.

Nothing has been more real than this transformation.


We created a new form of sustain, friendship and a sense of mutual support came in, it was a moment of indefinite beauty, and not for the help, but for the will to offer, to hold the space, to contribute to the Common Good!

For sure it is an unselfish act that showed how is possible to go beyond the limits.


And the following comment:

we are generating new resources and behaviors, there are crisis that are bigger than us, but they should not be, I can surrender to the situation – knowing that it should have not happened at all.

To close we need to find the sense of why we were together.

This year has been about transformation.

 And than we went thorough the individual passages, discovering that everybody had crossed many rivers and boundaries, that we had evolved and coped with situations adapting, learning, changing, being in the flow.

And the EST project had significantly contributed to this evolution. In Roma we walked in the Villa Pamphili park, kind of reestablishing that connection to Nature that we had searched and lived in Calabria and the first time in Croatia on the Medvednica mountain on top of the “slijeme”.

A contact that influenced everybody significantly, remembering that we are Nature and that in Nature it is easier to find our Essence and connect to other Souls easier.

I like to report a passage that to my opinion resembles all the others:

I am in the period of power and experiencing the power to be here and now. Not spending energies in the past or the future… I lost so much energy not staying in the here & now. Thus come always back in the reality asking what do I really need in this moment.

Being really present and putting the energy here, immediately.

Thus I am working on much more project, while before I was just thinking the future…

And being present in the here & now everything is easier.

Not telling the story again and again …. Let’s write something new in the continuous presence… … I find repeating my old stories so boring…

And then I ask myself how do I work without analyzing… If there is no pain… then enjoy and stay present.


Anyway the personal stories converge in a common story, the outcome of this learning partnership is the sum of personal experiences of personal thoughts that joining in a hosting space shapes itself and assumes a form, and might become an answer …. the answer has a history, the answer is a history.

Then we queried again ourselves, and it was felt the necessity to explore more deeply our world of darkness… the subordinate idea I think was the necessity to stay in its uncomfortably embrace and move in it with the purpose to generate the answer, to generate the healing.

People want to work on the darkness

People want to work on the project

People think to do separated things


And more of it was thought, even ruled:

Go to the dark place and then…

We are afraid of direct confrontation… Darkness is giving space to the pain that is in you. Have the inner thoughts come out. You learn how to avoid conflict.. and make everybody …

I do not know if it is worth to feel hurt.



-Talk with care

– do not have a facilitator, but a shared responsibility

– talk directly to the person

Why do we not solve problems one-to-one …

There is not commitment problem…


And then we went into it!!!!

 And more on darkness…. was said:

 How can we get an out-flow that reduces the darkness?

That is the transforming darkness into – do not know.

Transforming darkness into light? Or something different from darkness?

This kind of process darkness and light are different processes…

The out-flow can transform darkness into light?

Or we can have two different stocks

What is increasing light? Different sources from the processes that can decrease the darkness and may be those are connected in some way.

Can the light aliment the outflow of the darkness?

Can the space of care, gentleness ecc allow the darkness be assessed, embraced, met?

I have realized that if we do not face our darkness the process off transformation doesn’t start.

And it is a process of social..

Darkness and light are two different stocks so they cannot flow one into the other one and we need a transform “stone” because we need lots of light to do it…

When you are working with somebody already too hurt, and there is no gift…

If you put one drop of blood in a lot of water the blood disappear, but if we put a drop of blood in a glass of water we’ll get bloody water.

Darkness is lack of light…


Amazing lesson

Darkness stealed the scene, in a way we felt the necessity to go deeper and deeper, but the necessity was not commonly felt: the group split.

The group fell apart again … the incapacity to communicate, the attention to the individual feelings instead of the common ones, the priority to the personal engagements and schedule.

I felt we were missing the collective intelligence and the connective intelligence.

Do we have a lesson learnt?

On the other side some of us urge the Group towards the outcome.

The e-book and the training curriculum.

But we clearly stated that we do not believe in the training anymore… and we have been stating very clearly that the Group in a way failed.

And we stated that affirming those principles we were more and more uncomfortable.

Thus which is the lesson learnt?



Zagreb again, in the Hub. … meanwhile in the Maksimir Park the Changemaker Festival is going on.

Seated around while we try to understand how to present our job to others and to ourselves.

Great the idea to build a time line with Facts, Feeling, Findings and Future.

We worked it out and got ready for the afternoon.

And then again all together we went through the past and the past emotions, we depicted our sensations with emoticons and words.

And we watched the movie done on the project, synthetic and powerful giving the idea of the way we worked.

At the end we came up to the double conclusion that it is time for the group to call game over, and that it has been a wonderful learning experience.. and that everybody got a grow-up opportunity out of this seven encounters.

The pictures of the time line are there to stay for future memory of a great work in which everything has been with the prefix CO-

Co-creation, co-work, co-suffer, co-laugh, co-share, co-discuss, co-intuit, co-quarrel, co-everything!!!

The afternoon we got an unexpected gift to our comprehension, to our work, to our way to stay together… and it was offered from an outsider…

And that it is very possible that every person can be the right person, if she/he comes with the right kindness… and that kindness is the way to approach everything, also a systemic transformation.


Conclusion – my conclusion


Enhancing systemic transformation.


Our group had to do with transformation… did we transform?

Yes we did, everybody transformed individually in the two years period, but: did we pass a systemic transformation? Did we transform as a Group or did we fail?

Hard to say, probably impossible to state… Everybody can speak only for her-him self, looking for the inner answer.

But a question arises out of this two years, and to pose the question and propose the answer I switch to a full personal view.

 We live in a period of crisis, and crisis takes chaos…

We have observed nations going through darkness in the last 20 years… wars, economical crisis, revolutions… and this belongs to the collective consciousness and unconsciousness… and snowballing goes to individual consciousness, or may be the other way around.

With crisis we transform, it is natural.

In the two years of the EST Group everybody went through different experiences that mouldedour souls, experiences of new studies, new encounters, new beliefs…

And we adapted according to our needs, or at least to what we considered our needs…. We transformed.

Nobody told us about transformation… or how to transform, but we did it.

We moved from one inner state to another, and with the new inner state we faced our complex reality.

Could it have been different?

Could it have been proposed by others and followed?

What is transformation?

Which is the right, proper transformation?

Who really knows which transformation is needed?

Can we really propose a curriculum to transform people?

Or we can only propose a curriculum to facilitate the process of transformation that is personal?

And, if this is the case, our curriculum is correct?

In the last part of Roma meeting it was said:

I do not want to make another extra manual and never used in reality…

We need to understand which is the main function and characteristic of the e-manual and understand how to facilitate this process..

Until now the e-manual is not a theory it is a sharing experience

I was inspired by the book Presence

We cannot make a manual of theory of the transformation… we cannot make our theory, but only to share our experience.

The manual could be an inspiring book to recreate the space that we lived in these two years…

Thus a manual that supports and witness what we have been living in this time.

Witnessing our transformational process.

Witness the EST group journey..


And out of this I decided to make may part, in the only way that I could do it, witness the days spent together….

The book Presence influenced me too, thus I guessed that writing down my learning is a different way to hold the space.. and fix it together with the lived experience.

Incredibly I must admit that I thought and I am convinced that, if a significant part of the money wouldn’t have steered away, we could not have experienced the crisis.

We understood that the crisis was already there, at a latent stage, and it needed a push to show and manifest itself.

It was already a crisis coming out – let me affirm it – from mis-communication, and probably form a different cultural perception of what we were doing. And this consideration is not coming out from the different ethnos, but from individuals.

And more, after the crisis had come in with the aspect of the economic lack, to expand it used the urgency that one of the group had to share the sense of betrayal.

And it went over and over, transforming itself and touching mainly relationships, under the form of communications and power connections.

And I really think that if all that wouldn’t have arisen, we wouldn’t have dealt with wounds, with gifts and darkness, that are the main subjects of this global crisis that is hitting the most of European Countries. And the main “teachers” of our transformation.

Thus I ask myself and query the reader: in our experience the economic issue was the kick-in factor.

Out of it everything followed.

It was like opening the Pandora vase, after the first sharing we felt we could share more and more, until we decided to work on the darkness being in the darkness. Odd, isn’t it??

We have created a culture that is based on economics, on money.

During this two years I attended a course in the Shumaker college and one evening the Founder of the College (Satish Kumar) said to the people avidly listing in a circle: “On this world there are 8 thousand different species, only one uses money, and it is the one that is destroying the Planet”.

Does this have a sense?

Our European Community is based on the Euro, without the Euro are we still a Community?

I am writing these pages in Zagreb, we have met again: the last meeting.

And there is real fondness among us, when we meet, there is real intimacy, we know each other well, and we “love each of us individually” (lucky phrase said in Roma – in a session)and we have exposed our vulnerability to others, trusting others, and ready to retire it.

Sometimes we had to retire it, other times it was good as it was… and vulnerability composed our learning.

I like to imagine this pages as my witnessing to our pilgrimage, to our journey.

We came-in in a way and we are coming out changed, different, transformed. But I have to underline that it was searched by us, we volunteered in the process, nobody came to us proposing a training path or a way to transform us.

We decided individually to take part of it and to “hold our space”.

Everybody came out transformed in her-his own way.

I cannot say if it has been beneficial for everybody, I cannot say anything about the others, but about me:

EST Group has been one of the best learning occasion of my life.

I met it in the proper period of my life… I was already grown up enough to have built life experience and I had a certain sense of incompleteness that might come out with maturity.

The experience with the Group, the experience with the dialogue, the listening, the reasoning, the deep encounter with other souls speaking a common language (English)… yes this was really transformative.

It was systemic too, because I went also trough the understanding of the principles of the systemic thinking and the system dynamics, obtaining a different vision of life, were interconnectivity is a value, where communications arises to a necessity to be accomplished, where listening changed my perspective of action.. and I came to define real listening: when the other finishes speaking and I do not have an answer ready, because I kept involved in deep listening.

I fully accepted – I surrendered to – the fact – proved in the two years time, also in my private life, that you cannot change anybody but yourself; and that assumed this as true the only thing I can do, is to be the change I want to see in the world. I know this was said by Gandhi, but I have been so lucky to incarnate this reality, I made it mine, deeply mine, so deeply that now I can explain and tell to others..

It was a systemic transformation because through the crisis I better understood the meaning of consciousness, and wishing to reach a sustainable world, according to the previous paradigm (change only myself) I defined a possible model for individual sustainability, thus if we set up a sustainable life for ourselves through the example, may be (only may be) others will follow and a systemic transformation will act, according to the principles of sustainability that to me, in this moment of my life, are the real value around which is worth to live!!!

Every time I come to this group I separate from my everyday life, and I stop into a different atmosphere, even the clouds are taken away…

Thanks for giving to me so much during this year.


Written by Paolo Vittozzi

Videos of the EST in Europe Grundtvig Learning Partnership


EST in Europe, Grundtvig Learning Partnership: Here are the videos of our project (password is EST).

Main video of the project: 

Enhancing Systemic Transformation – Sustainable Learning in Times of Chaos & Crises from Mare on Vimeo.

Transformation of the wound, Alessandro Rossi:

Transformation of the wound in a gift from Mare on Vimeo.

On languages, Agota Rusza:

On language from Mare on Vimeo.

Transformational Learning, Agota Rusza: Transformational steps

Transformational stages from Mare on Vimeo.

This group: transform the quality of the connection


After our 6th meeting in Rome: “What I am here with you is much more of what I am alone. What I could be really, can be developed and realised much more in this group rather in another context or another group. The motivation is being together”.

“I feel separation,  I don’t feel integration. My search for beauty will start this afternoon….”

“Transformational shift”. It is a journey of something that is unknown, but in some ways something in me knows it; it is coherent to me. That is something extraordinary to me to be here with you. The talking stick is the stone of Calabria. It connects us to the common work. Reconnecting.”

“I cannot really share happiness with you. Oh no, again to go to this (our) circle. Something is deeply bothering me. I don’t know why  am here. Just to share that I don’t feel happy and I am feeling walking on a very tiny ice level.”

Speaking about how we are brings connections. Is there someone holding the space for the day process? Holding the space for the process of what wants to emerge.

“I would love to know how you are, how we are. How are you now? I’d like to have this sharing of how we are. Let us do please a deep opening circle. The time to experience is part of our journey (curriculum or e-manu



Facilitate the emerging of intuition


Reflecting on DarknessThis is a synthetic representation of reflecions done with Alessandro Rossi.  The main point is how to facilitate the emerging of intuition (the voice of unconscious).

Here the main point is the connection between the transformation and the behaviour.  There will be another map which will use the symbols of system dynamic to connect the interaction between persons, that here is represented by the light blue oval: te connection by aggression and tolerance which can lead to an erosion loop.


A rendszerszintű átalakulás elősegítése – fenntartható tanulás káosz és válság idején

A projekt bemutatása:
Az országainkban a helyzet kaotikus, és válságos. Projektünk, amelyet az Európai Unió Élethosszig Tartó Tanulás Grundtvig Programja támogatott, azt a célt tűzte ki, hogy ebben az helyzetben kiutat kereső embernek segítsünk abban, miként tudnák tudatosabban megtalálni az útjukat, felfedezni a lehetőségeiket és újra kapcsolódni a társadalom szövetébe.
Öt ország adta be a pályázatot, négy bonyolította le: Magyarország, Olaszország, Szlovénia és Horvátország. Mind a négy ország – az ötödik Görögországgal együtt – gazdasági válságon megy át, amely beszivárog az ott lakók mindennapi életébe is.
Mint tanácsadók és oktatással foglalkozók, úgy érezzük, a küldetésünk, hogy az emberek tisztábban és tudatosabban felmérjék a lehetőségeiket a cselekvésre és közösségeik felépítésére, amelyhez segíteni szeretnénk, hogy a rendelkezésre álló forrásokból erőt merítsenek.
A projektünkben egy jobb jövő képét képzeltük el, és megvizsgáltuk a jelen világ működését. Megnéztük azokat a mentális modelleket, amelyek minket irányítanak, és elemeztük a dinamikákat, amelyek az átalakulást elősegítik.
Emellett kidolgoztunk egy olyan képzést, és olyan segédanyagokat, amelyek segítik, hogy résztvevőink is találhassanak közös jövőképet, megismerjék saját dinamikáikat és csoportjaik dinamikáját – és ezzel fenntartható változást és transzformációt idézzünk elő.


Magyar kézikönyv:
A közös e-kézikönyvön kívül egy magyar nyelvűt is elkészítettünk, amely információt tartalmaz a következőkről:
– rendszergondolkodás
– tanulási elvek
– tanulási modellek
– magyar nyelven hozzáférhető források
Letölthető innen: www.solintezet,hu

Magyar képzési terv:
Letölthető innen:

Modeling “the wound becomes a gift” (EST-Model)

Modeling “the wound becomes a gift” (EST-Model)

The EST-Model (Elena Franzini & Alessandro Rossi) developed in our Grundtvig Learning Partnership (Enhancing Systemic Transformation in Times of Crisis and Chaos) shows that the systemic transformation at personal level is a personal transformation. In times of crisis and chaos it is the transformation of the wounds in gifts. But this transformation must be experiential: you have to make the experience yourself of the wound transforming in a gift. If you remain at intellectual level, at your mental level understanding it, but you don’t experience it yourself, this is not the transformation I’m talking about.

wound - gift

The EST-Model systemic transformation at personal level
EST Model: personal systemic transformation

EST Model: personal systemic transformation

1) You see that the first step is to feel your wound. You have to feel it, otherwise – if you block the wound – nothing will happen. Feeling the wound means to contact your emotional energy that you need for the transformation.

2) The quality of your internal space is also important.

3) The conversations you have with yourself play an important role.

(to be continued)