My book is out in (affordable) paperback!
I’m so excited to hold new copies of my action research for transformations book. It’s just out in paperback. I got to flick through the pages when a box arrived to my house. Yay! That it’s being issued in paper makes the book much more affordable. Pst, I share my authors discount with AR+ friends too.
Steve Waddell and I talked together about the book as Steve was writing a more formal review for Systemic Practice and Action Research. As usual Steve has a talent for getting to the heart of transformational matters. He highlights three elements of the book… thanks Steve!
Transformation is an Inside Job. Hilary Bradbury and Steve Waddell In Dialogue about Three Aspects of Action Research for Transformations.
I’ll share three things that struck me most in your book. First, how particularly difficult it is to integrate transformation thinking into our daily routines. I’m understanding that transformation is really fundamentally about learning to do something we’ve never done before.
Transformation isn’t about learning how somebody else did something really well so I do that too. It’s about how do we do deep collaboration within a civilizational context. Deep exploration and commitment to the learning is needed. After recognizing that it is still hard to integrate.
You’re highlighting the heart of the matter. Thank you! Who said it would be easy <laughing>. And I want to say it’s lovely to connect with you my old transformational buddy. As you speak I hear an old systems thinking mentor to us both say “transformation is an inside job.” And I think that’s what you’re pointing to. The book reflects that I’ve become aware that the so-called inside job is about love, though I use the more operational term developmental friendship. The daily work then is the transformation of power to something that is more co-active. It’s about developing a commitment to keep coming back to sharing power with others in all sorts of ways. Importantly, it’s not just being in inquiry, we must also perform together in new patterns, say in race relations, gender relations…all of it! Transformation is crucially about this relational work and my practice to create something new together with you (you plural) through inquiry, through collaboration. It sounds so simple. The transformative practice is very hard indeed. It’s what Martin Luther King called Beloved Community. It’s generational work.
And there’s two other things to mention too. Second is the importance, which you point out so well, Hilary, that it’s not about just learning how to do something “out there” as a mechanical manipulation of physical things you put them together in a different way. You’re saying, we simply can’t put them together in a newly necessary way if we arrive with the same mental models. Transformation requires that we do the internal work and, and shift our own mental models about what’s possible and how to think about. So it raises the bar on how we talk about collaboration. So many people say, well, we’re all collaborating! <laughing>
On some level we are indeed already collaborating. Our world of social systems is a world of inherited collaborations. I have become way curious about what happens though when we become more conscious of what’d be good for more of us. And moving in that direction. I think you and I, and many others, are imagining we can take the same processes of institutional collaboration up a notch or two. Or three. Wow, we can actually collaborate in creating new ways of living and being. This being Gay Pride month, we can point to how marriage is being redefined, repatterned with new consciousness. There’s no default practices, it can become fresh. Or as I am just back from picking up my weekly veggie box from the local farmer, I am imagining how food systems are shifting from supermarkets selling only on cheap prices. Many of us care about reimagining communities around food production, especially at this time of food disruption due to supply chain and climate problems. And on and on. There are so many peaceful, joyful steps that bring mind and heart together. With a little mindshift we help transformations happen. As founders of the action research lineage said, we create the path by walking it.
But Hilary, aren’t you talking about the co-creation that comes with deep collaboration, which not just coordination. Deep collaboration is understanding new possibilities and co-creating those new possibilities rather than one person saying, I’ve got this thing and you should use it.
True! I also see a spectrum. We’re thinking about transformation and what new ways of being together it requires. It is hard work for me, for you for all of us. Some get out front and need followers. However it happens, the payout is enormous. More of us get to live in ways more in tune with our soul’s needs.
The third thing! You highlight that relationships are core to systems thinking. I find that there’s lots of people who think of themselves as good systems thinkers, however, they don’t think much about how to connect to transformation with real people. So good systems thinking is not simply systems thinking. It’s about understanding processes of developmental change among and within people. And that’s separate from systems thinking. And they don’t just come naturally together. So one of the classic things I find is people talk about “we’re gonna deal with root causes.” Well, in systems thinking and change, there’s no such thing as a root cause. There’s lots of interconnected issues and people that have got to be pulled apart and together or understood differently. There’s no root cause that you can suddenly pull it out and change it and make it different.
Steve Waddell/Hilary Bradbury:Thank you. Thank you.
**Hilary Bradbury, 2022 How to do Action Research for Transformations is published by Elgar. The paperback was released in June 2023. More information, reviews and to purchase: https://actionresearchplus.com/how-to-action-research-for-transformations-book-hilary-bradbury/
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