10 Thoughts and A Poem (For times of crisis and political despair)

  General thoughts if you didn’t vote for the people who are now in charge of the professional political power structures that govern you, when it is also pretty clear they don’t care about how many people get harmed or killed in their pursuit of the economic- or power-grabbing interests of the privileged few: 1. You may feel overwhelmed. You may feel like you can’t do anything, like it’s all gone to hell. If this is the case, you are losing sight of yourself, and of your place in the world. Sometimes people influence us to do that. Sometimes we do that ourselves. Either way, bring it all back home. You are sufficient, more than sufficient. Everything you need to be strong and courageous has always been available to you. Remember where you are. Who you’re with. What you love. Who you love. Where you love. The anthem of resilience is the beating of the human heart. 2. Trust the way things run against your grain. Resistance is first and foremost a physiological reaction. Anger is often a helpful response to extreme conditions. 3. Anger as a response to conditions doesn’t last. If you are staying angry, you’re generating that

Not Our Circus, Not Our Monkeys #GE2017

It’s a really important time in Northern Ireland. It is now that we can refocus on the possibilities of politics as a hard-edged commitment to nurturing, inclusiveness, and openness. At a shallow level, Northern Irish politics has recently been driven into cul-de-sacs by certain members of an increasingly well-remunerated political class, who often seem to find themselves having too much fun engaging in ritualised battle to concern themselves with the work of transforming Northern Ireland that they have actually been tasked with, and for which they are being paid. All of the patient work of the peace process was in order to achieve structural change in governance following a long period of conflict, killings, sectarian exclusion, discrimination, corruption, and state-sanctioned murder. Some (not me) would argue that at least one side of the paramilitary activity was a normal response to all of that under abnormal conditions, and others (not me) would likely argue something similar about the paramilitary responses from the other side in retaliation. Either way, almost all of the structural gains can be wiped out overnight if certain things happen over the next few days as they seem to be shaping up. If the Conservatives form a government

Performing The Heart of Care (Compassionate Care conference presentation)

Here’s a link to a PDF of the presentation I gave at the Compassionate Care conference at Teeside University in April. The presentation develops on some of the points I made in earlier talks I gave in Toronto and Tasmania with regards to our attempts to practice kindness, compassion, and healing care in culturally unsustainable and toxic environments. The programme of the Compassionate Care conference is below. McCann The Heart of Care Teesside 2015    

Double Listening

I am interested in the coaching possibilities opened up by Winslade and Monk’s mediation technique of “double listening”. Drawing on the work of Michael White, they make note of the “absent but implicit” story of hope that sits alongside the voicing of a story of conflict: “Mediators can give this story of hope for something better a chance if they first of all hear this absent but implicit hope and then begin to inquire into the story that it is a part of. The story may often by subordinate to the story of the outrage and pain, but it perhaps speaks to the person’s better intentions in relation to the other party. If given the chance for expression, these better intentions can give rise to a different story of the future” (Winslade and Monk 2008:10-11). The expression of pain and suffering through remembered events and feelings can become a seed for hopeful reflections, not as a utopian aspiration, but as an awareness of the desire for a more positive experience that the pain and conflict reveal. I think the lessons of this “double listening” are not just relevant to formal mediation, but are also helpful in invitations to transformation more

The 2015 Behavioural Finance Forum

I won’t be able to get over to it myself, but tomorrow morning (8am – 10am) there is a very interesting Culture Change event happening in London, the 2015 Behavioural Finance Forum: “Since the financial crash of 2007 and 2008 there has been huge pressure for reform and change in the culture of the financial services industry – and how it recruits, rewards and motivates its people, how it treats its customers, and how it communicates with its shareholders. The Forum will bring together thought leaders from the leading financial and professional services companies, universities, business schools and the media, to discuss and debate: A war for talent: why recruitment models need to change Culture change in action: the balance of ethics, risk and profit Serving, not selling: culture change and customer relationships Big Data tsunami: HR, technology, change” For more information and some interesting Culture Change resources, visit:  http://www.behaviouralfinanceforum.com

The He(art) of Care: Changing the Cultural Climate Equation (full text)

This is the text of a keynote address for the Enhancing Practice 14 conference for Practice Development in Toronto in 2014.         The audio recording of the talk is available here: http://soundcloud.com/dr-anthony-mccann/the-heart-of-care-changing-the-culture-change-equation. *** I’d like to thank Nadine and the organisers for the invitation to speak here today. If keynotes are anything like giving a speech at a wedding, I suppose I’m obliged to start with a joke. Two fish in a tank. One turns to the other and says, “How do you drive this thing?” My relationship with healthcare goes back a long way. I was born in a hospital. And I wouldn’t have been born at all if my Dad, a young seminarian training for the priesthood, hadn’t fallen in love with the good-looking nurse that tended to him while he was waiting for an operation. And on behalf of my family, thanks to all of you who work in hospitals as nurses and doctors. You’re awesome. My wife is chronically ill and lives with a myriad of complications that come with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder, and epilepsy, and we have two kids under two. Without the support of health workers our

A Politics of Gentleness: towards a critical vernacular ecology

The following talk was given at Peace House in Oxford on the 21st November, 2013, during a workshop on Gentleness, Trust, and Activism, as part of the Northumbria University project, “Effectiveness in Action: Exploring the role of the Durkheimian ‘sacred’ in motivating community action, using reflexive and gently disruptive co-research methodologies.” The talk covers a lot of the ground from which the cultural climate work of Hummingbird Culture Change emerges, and, in particular, the emphasis on a ‘politics of gentleness’ prefigures the later change of emphasis to focus on garaíocht and ‘ordinary ethics’. The use of the term ‘vernacular’ was a nod to its use as a common term among folklorists to refer to informal and uninstitutional registers of social life, and also to the work of Ivan Illich, for whom ‘vernacular’ refers to an uncommodifying register of relationship (see especially his collection Shadow Work (1981) and the earlier form of this work in Co-Evolution Quarterly: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Vernacular.html). I have since turned away from the term vernacular, following the discovery that the etymology of the term is rooted in the Latin vernaculus meaning ‘domestic, native’, from verna ‘home-born slave’. In the words of Iñigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” 

“How Wall Street Corrodes Your Soul” – The Cultural Priming of Enclosure

Cultural climate matters. There are lots of buzzwords in the consultancy wordpool at the moment – among them, employee engagement, employee cynicism, intrinsic motivation – but what it comes down to is that how a workplace feels, generally, makes a difference to how a person will feel, specifically, while working there. That sounds like a rather banal truism, but it’s a rather banal truism that makes a huge difference in practice. As indicated in a previous post, I was in Toronto last week giving a keynote on cultural climate and culture change. On the morning of my talk I was delighted to see that Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball, had an article in the National Post entitled “How Wall Street Corrodes Your Soul”.  I find that the article resonates nicely with some of my work on the process of what I call ‘enclosure’ (simplistically, how good situations go bad and how bad situations get worse) and the emergence of ‘environments of enclosure’ (culturally unsustainable environments). The core of the article is the statement, “People are vulnerable to the incentives of their environment, and often the best a person can do, if he wants to behave in a certain manner, is to choose carefully

A Politics of Gentleness: towards a critical vernacular ecology

The following talk was given by Dr. Anthony McCann at Peace House in Oxford on the 21st November, 2013, during a workshop on Gentleness, Trust, and Activism, as part of the Northumbria University project, “Effectiveness in Action: Exploring the role of the Durkheimian ‘sacred’ in motivating community action, using reflexive and gently disruptive co-research methodologies.” The following link will direct you to the Soundcloud page where you can listen to the talk in its entirety: A Politics of Gentleness: towards a critical vernacular ecology The (slightly edited) transcription follows below: Just to throw the cat among the pigeons, I am an advocate of gentleness.  I am not an advocate of non-violence.  I’ll explain that later, maybe, if you ask me. Right, for many years I’ve been doing many things. I did a lot of ethnography among people who do Irish music and Irish singing for quite a while during the 1990s. During the mid-1990s I was very interested in social and ethical dynamics among Irish traditional musician, particularly the ways in which the social and ethical dynamics among Irish traditional musicians were under pressure from the encroachments of intellectual property thinking and copyright thinking. Around 1995 to the year 2000