The Experience of a Dance
Criterion gathered a group of individuals in Simsbury, CT to think, discuss, converse, and work together. We wanted to bring together young and old, east and west, corporate, not-for-profit, and free thinkers. They shared a desire to change the world, and a willingness to listen.
For many, coming to Convergence required a leap of faith. The event promised conversations not defined content, speakers or proscribe outcomes. Those who took the leap trusted Criterion to bring together people who could create something worthwhile, something extraordinary.
Before the gathering, Criterion listened and created conversations based on what participants were working on.
Each participant received a personalized schedule which allowed them to explore their interests and advance their agendas. The schedule allowed for both structured conversation and informal exchanges over drinks or during a walk. In two days, individuals and groups took specific topics deeper – sometimes in practical directions and others in conceptual areas.
“In every conversation I felt like I was dialoguing with people who were “big name speakers” in substance. Thus I had both quality and quantity time with substantive, thought-provoking people. It was very different from a traditional conference where you jockey to find 10 minutes with the speaker – and I much preferred it.”
Interests, passions, and current activities shaped the conversations. Participants decided, with others in the room, what they would talk about. Conversations moved from the abstract (“How do we find truth”) to the concrete (“How can we instill increased accountability in our organizations?”). They swapped visions, ideas, and practical suggestions. As they told stories they learned. And possibilities began to emerge.
Perspective and thinking evolved – After tossing ideas around with other leaders in social change, a passionate corporate executive found his views on implementation broadened, and found himself better able to understand. He also saw his leadership style in a new light, giving him a stronger opportunity to be an effective change agent.
Those looking for their “next phase” in life found a refreshing range of diverse directions to explore. And plenty of time to swap connections.
“For the first time outside of my academic environment I found that I could play with ideas that have been central to my recent thinking. It was exciting to see how these ideas can add something of value as we try to think in a new way”
People made connections – some were natural, like a shared experience, geography, or professional field.. Less obvious relationships emerged as well – crossing political, geographic and sector boundaries.
Relationships developed – people who would never have met sat down and found commonalities. Participants found overlapping passions and enhanced each other’s thinking and work.
“At Convergence I had an opportunity to converse with a wide spectrum of individuals engaged in private, governmental, and third-sector initiatives that have the potential for advancing the quality of life in communities and organizations in significant ways. I found it a rare opportunity to sustain dialogue, learn, and reflect about what really counts in creating a generative and civil society.”
New ideas emerged – in creating the space for conversations, we found the power of creativity. The discipline of stepping back provided the energy for innovation. For example… a woman who uses technology for large scale conversations began speaking with the head of an urban church – and discovered the shared interest in facilitating a national conversation on religion.
“I found a compelling opportunity for growth and renewal. By engaging in conversations that seemed, at first, far removed from what might be important or interesting to me, opportunity arose for fundamental shifts in basic assumptions and world-views.”
Projects moved forward – Individuals came with issues they were facing, and interested, expert participants gathered around them. From specific organizational strategies to more general topics, people gave and received powerful and liberating feedback. They found new collaborators, new partners, and new friends. The seeds of a charter school, a business case competition and a market research project are examples of the many plans initiated by groups of participants.
“If you are looking to move forward with something you are thinking about or working on, the Criterion Convergence offers an effective and efficient way to likely do so.”
The leap of faith was rewarded with new relationships, ideas, and partners. Each participant met the energy that results from being in authentic dialog with others..
“I’ve been digesting all the input from the conference — actually, sharing quite a bit of it with my colleagues. Anyhow, I’m racing to catch up on my lost days at work, but am so glad I lost those days to conversation.”
Each one met individuals who would have never crossed our paths – but who pushed thinking beyond everyday boxes. They formed relationships with others who will share their visions into the future. They changed.
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”