We Can Do This!

Something is trying to be born. We can feel it. The old ways of the industrial growth society are crumbling, and the new ways of a life-sustaining civilization are emerging like grass through cracks in the concrete.

Everything we need is already here.

My latest book, We Can Do This! 10 Tools to Unleash Our Collective Genius, is about unleashing our immense potential by harnessing the power of “group work” through tried-and-true frameworks for working together better.

What is “group work”? Hold in your mind, if you will, the soul-nourishing quality of a barn raising, the A-ha’s accessed only through deep conversation, or the exhilarating joy of a team in creative flow.

The transformative magic of being in relationship, of collaborating and actively working together to achieve big goals is not only not new, but it’s also the answer to how we move forward, as a society and a species.

Our deepest ailment is our disconnectedness, from self, each other and Life. The challenges we face are too complex for our old “lone wolf” and heroic leader strategies.

This is where my book comes in. We Can Do This! provides a roadmap for how we can leverage the power of the group to intervene in our stuck systems.

Together, let’s kickstart a movement to transform how we live, work and dream together!

How does the book work?

We Can Do This! works at multiple levels to foster transformation. The book:

  1. Empowers you and others with the perspectives and distilled wisdom of 10 key frameworks used by professional facilitators and consultants. Applicable at all scales — from self to system — these frameworks are relevant to people from all walks of life, including leaders, change agents, entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, managers, consultants, coaches, frontline workers, teachers, parents…
  2. Gives groups and teams shared language and ways of navigating through the frustrations and challenges of working with other humans.
  3. Supports our personal growth and development, and especially bringing us into greater alignment with what is most alive in us, and
  4. Brings it all together into a tidy “package” that is highly shareable so we can leverage our networks to get these tools into the hands of many many more people — and grow a movement to revolutionize how we work together.

All these levels are important and mutually reinforcing.

Some background on the book…

Five years ago I wrote a book to share the 10 frameworks that I’ve found most helpful for bringing groups and human systems into greater alignment and health.

That book is now used in university classrooms, innovation labs and activist hubs. It works! (Check out the testimonials!)

But people have told me the book needed some updates if we were to get the book into more hands:

  • a new title and cover (because people DO judge a book by its cover!)
  • illustrations to make the ideas more sticky, and
  • explanations for how the frameworks apply at the personal level.

With the help of my community, we were able to raise the funds to make these changes through a successful crowdfunding campaign.

More about the book

We Can Do This! introduces a complementary set of 10 frameworks, including:

  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Chaordic Design
  • Generative Dialogue
  • Adaptive Cycle
  • Enterprise Facilitation
  • Theory U
  • Process Oriented Psychology
  • Integral Theory
  • Systemic Constellations
  • Conscious Co-Creation

Each framework is summarized from the perspective of what is most useful in the field: the framework in a nutshell, its origin, a story of the framework in action, how it applies at the personal level (new!), finer points, possible pitfalls and finally key questions as a short cut to drawing out the insights of that framework. Icons support the reader to see connections between the different frameworks.

You can see a sample chapter here.

The tools offer complementary perspectives and pointers, each focused on different aspects of how humans are together. Just as carpenters need hammers, screwdrivers, measuring tape, drills, sandpaper and so on, no one tool can do it all, but all together they support effective action.

A toolkit to mobilize Barefoot Facilitators

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been inspired by the idea of Barefoot Doctors. In China in the mid-60s, there was little access to medical care in rural areas, and not enough resources to supply fully trained doctors. Instead, 30,000 villagers were trained in basic Western and Chinese medicine — enough to treat common ailments, and to share information about hygiene, family planning, and prevention of epidemics. Almost overnight, this important innovation revolutionized health outcomes in rural China.

By analogy, we do not have resources or capacity to supply professional facilitators to all the meetings and group endeavours supporting the great shifts underway. There are, however, thousands of people in all walks of life working to facilitate deep and lasting change in the human systems of which they are a part.

In sharing these tools, my goal is to grow a movement of “Barefoot Facilitators”, people like you — embedded in meetings, teams, networks, companies and bureaucracies (along with families and communities) — who have the confidence to intervene, and the capacity to do so effectively!

Testimonials

“I believe that there is a renaissance unfolding around the world in understanding and leading systemic change, change at a scale commensurate with the deep problems we face. By its nature, such a renaissance is all but completely invisible – it is hard to imagine residents of 15th century Florence speaking in such terms of what was in their midst. Grasping for more tangible ways to express this awareness, I often point to the extraordinary array of relevant practical tools and processes that have emerged over the past few decades, starting with ways to cultivate a space for deeper conversation and building teams and groups who can work together on truly complex problems. I salute Kate Sutherland’s wonderful book for two reasons: for its wonderful synthesis of useful tools for just this and for offering one more piece of evidence that the renaissance is indeed unfolding, hidden in plain sight.”

PETER SENGE, MIT and The Academy for System Change

 

“I’ve been very grateful for the many group processes developed in the past  decades that create new capacities and new relationships among people working together. Kate has brought the best of these together, in clear and direct language, making these processes easily accessible. Yet we must also notice how, in these past decades, we have become more separated, impatient and self-protective. Working well together is a much less frequent–even rare–experience as people withdraw in fear in response to profound uncertainty. This is where Kate’s book becomes both a challenge and a gift. Can we commit to working in these ways so that people again become engaged with their work and manifest their collective creativity? If we do, people will remember the joy of what it feels like to work well together and produce work they believe in. And this is the ultimate gift.”

MARGARET WHEATLEY, author of Leadership and the New Sciences and most recently, Who Do We Choose To Be?

 

“This book is a rare gem, as it’s easily accessible, deeply useful and offers clear guidance to make changes that seem simple, but that will have profound effects, if practiced. Kate helps us to surface and make pragmatic what we intuitively know about groups and change processes. I urge you to see for yourself. It will strengthen your ability to navigate everything from relationships to complex systems, and to create the better outcomes we so need at this time.”

NINA SIMONS, Co-Founder, Bioneers

 

“Open any page of this book and you will find practical ideas and strategies for working with groups — as a facilitator, participant or manager. We will definitely use and share these tools!”

HEALTH NEXUS

 

“Understanding group management theories as Kate lays out so simply and accessibly, is a huge benefit to anyone who relies on a group to get something done – whether it is a corporate team, a care circle that forms to take care of a sick friend, or a group of citizens who want to make their community stronger. I particularly love Kate’s personalized, narrative voice that makes it seem like she wrote the book just for me. The book is information-packed, yet an easy read at the same time. I will definitely integrate many of the models and theories Kate explains so eloquently into the groups I work with.”

ALISSA HAUSER, Co-Founder, The Engage Network

 

“My work has to do with transforming transportation into something that helps us live more equitably and more sustainably on the planet. This gets a lot more complicated as the world urbanizes, demographics shift, climate change makes its presence known, the economy restructures, and a responsive flurry of new technologies and services and systems arrive on the scene faster than we can figure out how they all fit together and what might be their effects. Suddenly transportation is as much about working together, connecting the dots, collaborating on multi-faceted solutions across disciplines and sectors as it is about engineering and infrastructure. I think Kate’s book should be required reading at the very least for all transportation professionals if not for anyone who’s responsible for making our cities and communities better.”

SUSAN ZEILINSKI, Managing Director, SMART (Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility Research & Transformation) University of Michigan

 

“However great a person may be, no one person can make things happen. Sometimes an individual gets the credit but always there is a group behind any project, event or organisation. Things happen through co-creation. Kate Sutherland’s book We Can Do This! is a superb exploration of group work and the process of co-creation. I recommend the book wholeheartedly.”

SATISH KUMAR, Editor Emeritus, Resurgence & Ecologist

 

“Kate Sutherland has taken the leading theories of organizational development and done us the invaluable service of crystallizing, synthesizing, and connecting the very best models from the field. Most importantly, she makes them accessible and practical.”

BRUCE SANQUIN, The Advance Of Love

 

“Group work can be very demanding. The particular gift of We Can Do This! is one of companionship and encouragement. If you want to be refreshed, read this book. It will open you, remind you, and guide you to center in wellness and perform with greater mastery.”

SYLVIA HOLLAND, Dialogue Associate, Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser university

 

“Kate’s book is informative, relevant and very engaging. Many groups and organizations have difficulty describing their model of change or transformation. The ten frameworks that Kate has outlined allow all of us the opportunity to reflect upon our current approach, challenge our thinking, and create new possibilities personally and for our organizations. This book needs to be shared and discussed – allowing us to create new ways of learning and contributing to our communities.”

JOHN TALBOT, Organizational Development Consultant

 

“Often I am asked where the frontier in community engagement is. I believe that it’s summarized in this beautiful book by Kate Sutherland, We Can Do This! It is the best summary of the processes that are leading community engagement and community development today, in my view.”

WENDY SARKISSIAN, Author and Community Engagement Specialist

 

“At this time on our planet, learning to work together with open hearts and open minds is crucial to finding a just and sustainable path into the future. Kate has given us a wonderful guide for our journey forward together. We Can Do This! is a must-read for anyone working towards change in their communities, organizations or families.”

LENA K. SOOTS, Faculty, Social Innovation at Mount Royal University

 

“Sutherland has assembled a tasting menu for anyone who has an appetite for sweet human interaction. Whether you are facilitating an interaction with yourself or with a group of a hundred or more, this is an invaluable book. Sutherland presents tools that are sophisticated and yet approachable. Using them moves the practice of facilitation from mechanical to magical!”

ANNE KAYE, Management Consultant and Certified Professional Facilitator

 

“Understanding group management theories as Kate lays out so simply and accessibly, is a huge benefit to anyone who relies on a group to get something done – whether it is a corporate team, a care circle that forms to take care of a sick friend, or a group of citizens who want to make their community stronger. I particularly love Kate’s personalized, narrative voice that makes it seem like she wrote the book just for me. The book is information-packed, yet an easy read at the same time. I will definitely integrate many of the models and theories Kate explains so eloquently into the groups I work with.”

ALISSA HAUSER, Co-Founder The Engage Network

 

“An easy read and essential guide for successful relating, founded in life-affirming values and truths. Sutherland has truly risen to the challenges of inner work and outer service, herein synthesizing years of experience with caring and insight.” MUKTI, Meditation Teacher

 

“This book is remarkable in its ability to explore complex theories and make them come alive with experimental work. I will be recommending it as a resource for many of my instructors.”

JUNE POLLARD, Professor Emeritus, Ryerson University

“Kate gives us a treasure map to our collective health and happiness. I am inspired to sharpen my work in groups and recommend this to everyone who wishes to work on behalf of the wellbeing of others.”

JOHN STODDART, Certified Integral Coach