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In This Issue
Brief Encounters - Change as Creative Process
MSc in Relational Leading - Ready to Launch
Taos Workshops
Taos Europe Workshops and Friends Workshops
New and Revised: U & Me
New Book - Student's Guide to Supervision
Free Download Books
International Certificate Program
Relational Leading
Masters program in
Relational Leading
begins Sept. 2014.

To apply now visit:

There is room for another student in the program so if you are interested in this exciting new program, apply now!
relationships and conversations that make a difference

Issue 4 - Available Now

Taos Institute Publications
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clinical supervision
NEW BOOK- A Student's Guide to Clinical Supervision

U & Me: Communicating in Moments that Matter
See this video: 
Relational Leading
When Stories Clash: Addressing Conflict with Narrative Mediation
The Appreciative Organization

Social Construction: Entering the Dialogue

Healing Conversations Now: Enhance Relationships with Elders and Dying Loved Ones

Positive Family Dynamics: Appreciative Inquiry Questions for Bringing Out the Best in Families

DVD - Fusion of Strength: An Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry by David Cooperrider
AIP video issue
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AI Practitioner - Special Video Issue - A Must-Have for AI Practitioners
Practicing Relational Ethics in Organizations
Developing Relational Leadership
Retiring but not Shy
Retiring But Not Shy
Ordinary Life Therapy
Hedtke - Bereavement
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Ideas, News and Resources
September 2014  
We hope you enjoy receiving our newsletter which includes constructionist ideas and practices as well as news and resources from the Taos Institute.
Brief Encounters from the Taos Institute

As a way of sharing constructionist ideas, the Taos Institute shares each month an idea or experience that might be an inspiration for you and others.  


This month we invite Karen Dawson to share thoughts on.....    


Approaching Change as a Creative Process


by Karen Dawson 


Three years ago, Julie Huffaker, Ian Prinsloo and I began experimenting with new ways to support organizational leaders create change. Ian (London, UK) directs groundbreaking live theatre and his graduate studies explored what business leaders might learn from the rehearsal process of professional actors. Julie (Portland, OR) and I (Calgary, Canada) have been avid students, teachers, directors and appliers of improvisational theatre within our respective consulting practices. Julie is a doctoral candidate at the Fielding Institute and I am a recent graduate of the Taos Institute Ph.D. program. Despite differences in our clientele and home habitat, we are committed to nurturing effective, playful, co-creative processes in organizations. I am the only self-professed social constructionist of our trio. Julie and Ian nod their respective heads politely whenever I overuse constructionist jargon and gently suggest, "Shall we experiment with the ideas and put them into practice to see what happens instead of talking about them?" I always appreciate the nudge.


The invitation to collaborate and experiment came from the leadership development team at The Banff Centre in Canada, a beautiful place in the Rocky Mountains where leadership and the arts collide. We started exploring the differences between how most organizations think about change, and how professional creators - theatre directors, improvisational theatre troupes, film ensembles - do. (SPOILER ALERT: the differences are HUGE.)


Here was our stimulus: heaps of smart people have spent a whole lot of time trying to crack the nut of organizational change: how do we pull it off so we can be more innovative, creative, efficient...[insert your desired state here]? Reams of books and consulting practices are built around attempts to provide an answer to this question with (unfortunately) relatively low success, and high frustration. When smart folks make little progress, they seek support of a different kind. This is where we (and The Banff Centre) come in.


Ian, Julie and I work in the consulting world. We also have deep experience with what feels like a different world, a world where groups reliably pull off this kind of change and where they consistently produce something completely new that leaves their marketplaces (and each other) utterly delighted and ready for more. That world is the world of creators. Our hunch: if we think of organizational change as creating, and approach it the way skilled creators do, we can get radically different results.


What does this look like in practice? Our clients bring a real change challenge with them. We curate a theatre experience during which they learn, play, stretch, rehearse and perform together for an audience. We unpack and reflect on what happened among us that allowed them to co-create their delightful performance (a performance that none of them could ever have imagined before) and then we ask: what might shift if you approached your own change challenge as a process of creation?


Depending on the context, over the next day, weeks, and sometimes months we explore, play with, and apply principles that support creative processes to their real world challenges. Again, depending on the engagement, we offer follow up and coaching as they head off to co-create in their world.


I see intriguing connections and relationships among our work and the ideas and theories I've learned from all of my cherished Taos Institute colleagues.


The five interconnected principles that we suggest support collaborative co-creating are:

  • Embrace Emergence: assume complexity and believe that it will be through interacting and relating with each other that new possibilities and new futures will emerge
  • Nourish Ensemble: when we deliberately attend to the relational domain in which we work we increase the likelihood that we can step forward together more effectively into the unknown
  • Design Skillful Rehearsals and Adaptive Performances: we intentionally toggle back and forth between rigorous inquiry (rehearsal) and iterative prototyping (adaptive performances) as we surface our assumptions, test them in the world, and allow our new learning to inform the next rigorous rehearsal
  • Tap into Source: we invite co-creators to share their thinking publicly within the ensemble (even when that feels uncomfortable) because it is through relating with each others' rich experience and raw insights that we increase our chances of creating something remarkable together
  • Do More than Talk: action - trying things together - accelerates learning and we get clearer on what works, what doesn't work, and what new questions are worthy of exploration

We want to share this video with you (link below) as we learn our way into communicating these ideas. It's a window into what we've been playing with and how we think it can help. We had a blast of an adventure making it. Take a peek; share it with any changemakers you think might be intrigued. And know we'd love to hear from you: What's all this got YOU thinking about?
MSc in Relational Leading Launch
Ginny Belden-Charles,
MS program Director

The MSc in Relational Leading is launching its first cohort this month. We have a great group of students from Europe and North America, working in both business and government settings. We are at the final stages of our enrollment process, but there's still room for another student this year if the application is received by Sept. 18.   Click here to apply now.

We are creating a collaborative learning experience in which students and faculty engage in dialogue, questioning and workplace application. A key focus in this first semester is building our connections with one another and establishing regular reflective practice. One article we are reading to prepare us is "What is Collaborative Learning" by Barbara Leigh Smith and Jean T. MacGregor (   

Special thanks to the Taos Associates and all friends of the Taos Institute who have spread the word  and offered thought leadership to bring the MSc in Relational Leading to life!
  • Social Construction, Relational Theory and Transformative Practices | Oct. 16-18 - with Sheila McNamee and Harlene Anderson, Durham, New Hampshire.   
  • Social Construction and Research Practices | March 27-29, 2015, with Sheila McNamee and Marco Gemignani, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For informaiton visit: 


More workshops will be listed soon.


For details and a listing of more workshops, visit our website.

Taos Institute Europe Workshops and Events:


First International Conference on Collaborative Research:  

New and Revised Edition of the book:

U & Me: Communicating in Moments that Matter, by John Stewart

Are you as happy as you'd like to be? Feeling satisfied with your job?

Getting along well with family members? Experiencing serenity, at least some of the time? Do you think your life situation is contributing to your longevity or pushing you toward an early grave?

Nothing is more critical to the quality of our lives than our relationships, and nothing is more critical to our relationships than how we communicate.

U&ME: Communicating in Moments that Matter shows how to improve the quality of your life by improving your everyday communicating. In the first part of the book, you'll learn the connection between effective communication and The Big Question, "What does it mean to be human?"

If you're looking for a resource that is very accessible, research-based, that can prompt serious discussions about depersonalization in every life-arena, and that is filled with concrete and practical listening and speaking skills, you might want to check out U&ME.

Also see

See more at:

clinical supervision
By Glenn Boyd, Ph.D.

You Are Not Alone: A Student's Guide to Clinical Supervision is surprisingly frank, funny, and encouraging. It urges beginning students to be proactive and engaged in the clinical supervision process without apology and without fear to combat the normal anxiety that comes with learning to be a clinical practitioner. It also encourages training programs to offer beginning students an orientation to supervision as soon as possible after they enter the program. It outlines the importance of the clinical supervision relationship while introducing key elements in the contemporary practice of supervision including a novel emphasis on collaborative learning communities, the results of common factors research, and the emerging importance of core competencies.

Order at:
WorldShare Books WorldShare Books 
Free Download Books - Check it out - More free books are available all the time!


Sharing Ideas and Practices From Around the World


The Taos Institute offers free-of-charge books for downloading to your computer or favorite reader. Our ultimate aim is to offer books in all languages. Like all the Taos Institute Publications, WorldShare Books represent significant contributions relevant to social constructionist theory and practice. More books are being added all the time. Check them all out!   


Edited by Dora Fried Schnitman and Jorge Schnitman

HAPPILY DIFFERENT: Sustainable Educational Change A Relational Approach
by Loek Schoenmakers

by Dora Fried Schnitman

by Diego Romaioli

by Klaus G. Deissler und Sheila McNamee, Eds.

Social Construction: Entering the Dialogue,
by Ken and Mary Gergen

by Dora Fried Schnitman

by Dora Schnitman and Stephen Littlejohn 


All books are available in PDF format. Visit WorldShare Books

International Certificate Collaborative Practices is an international learning community and network. 


Sponsored by Taos Institute and Houston Galveston Institute


To find a program in your part of the world, take a look at:


The Taos Institute's mission is to bring together scholars and practitioners concerned with the social processes essential for the construction of reason, knowledge, and human value.

We are committed to exploring, developing and disseminating ideas and practices that promote creative, appreciative and collaborative processes in families, communities and organizations around the world through a social constructionist lens.

We look forward to your participation in the dialogue.


Dawn Dole, Executive Director
The Taos Institute

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