Constructivist Adult Development coLAB

From Chopsticks to Tchaikovsky: Developing repertoire for personal and systems resilience at a time of planetary crisis.

Co-Stewards: Susanna Carman, Dana Carman & Cynthia Mitchell, with  Hilary Bradbury

Starting March 12th, 2024 and second Tuesdays thereafter at 08.30 Universal Time, 75-90 mins.

We invite you to join a Global coLAB in support of your work in advancing adult development at personal, group and systems-cultural levels. This cohort of busy action researchers is stepping further into developmental friendship at a time of consciousness of planetary crisis elevating around the globe. This coLAB combines the practice of constructivist adult developmental assessment with the spirit of participative action research. Our aspiration is that participants feel helped in recognizing the profound relevance of adult development to their lives and personal/professional challenges. We encourage participants to make safe experiments and make assessments available at minimal cost longside one-on-one coaching to help your transformations happen!


The coLAB offers a transformative learning space for practice in the spirit of learning by doing. It is one in which we give ourselves and others permission to step to our ‘developmental edge’ - informed by our assessments– and work to liberate our own gifts within our own worlds of practice with clients, students, family members! In it we’re developing our own sensemaking and action taking in support of adult development. Expect an experimental spirit in how we both work together in session (e.g., including artistic methods, role play etc) and in pursuing experiments outside session that we later report on. Additionally, we’ll bring in “best ideas” from the world of constructivist adult development and contribute by writing case studies and journal articles from our own work.

The monthly cohort coLAB convenes participants who seek a learning/practice community in support of their own work. Our various worlds are in business, in healthcare and any myriad of human system. The AR+ stewarding partner in this work is  Shifting Horizons.

Developmental friendship: Heart of a coLAB

The practice of the coLAB invites participants to bring the “co” of collaboration and learning together to a “lab” of laboratory in which we are up for taking creative action.  Think of a coLAB as a community of inquiry and practice that invites and supports participants to develop capacity with others. In this coLAB, we will specifically work with the Shifting Horizons feedback tool within our own development as change leaders, AND in how we integrate this tool co-creatively in our work with clients, colleagues and transformative partners. In this developmental practice, we are primarily concerned to learn from our impact in the real world and take further, improved action. This learning orientation with Shifting Horizons may best come alive in developmental friendship.  Therefore, consider this coLAB foremost a brave space in which we not just talk about, but practice explicitly with power, collaboration, and feedback. At this link, please read more about the spirit of developmental friendship.

A coLAB is also a space for assessing, continuously, the quality of our work so we grow confident with humility.  Thus, we emphasize learning by doing, seeking integration between practice and inquiry. At this link, read more about the spirit of a coLAB.


Over months, expect one plenary session plus one self-organized intersession per month with a small group. All participants may expect to be both protagonist and audience with at least one session devoted to a challenge/topic of your choosing.

A participant is invited to bring an issue from their own practice (e.g., how do I propose introducing constructive developmental theory more generally, and the Shifting Horizons feedback tool more specifically, to my new stakeholder/clients?). This is prepared in advance with a facilitator best placed (based on area of interest and expertise) to offer the gift of facilitation also include a kind of framing for that person's session.

We imagine each case can be discussed at least twice – first in depth for learning about “current aspiration or desperation” and later with a briefer update on which feedback was useful, i.e., which experiments worked and which did not work.

  1. Preparation is done outside each session between the facilitator and participant-protagonist meeting to clarify their challenge. Facilitators are also participants. When appropriate, we may invite an advanced practitioner associated with Shifting Horizons (not a regular participant) to guide on a particular topic. 
  2. In session, following a settling period with reminder of brave space guidelines, the protagonist offers their short presentation to clarify 1) the intention of the work and its relationship with the adult development assessment (either within oneself as the case giver, or in how the tool is being integrated with the client/project) 2) key stakeholders, 3) a vignette to illustrate working dynamics with emphasis on a challenge that pertains to the assessment of action logics and constructive developmental theory. 4) The presentation ends with their challenge and invitation to others to reflect on.
  3. Participants may take the role of “shadow consultants” and or role play the issues of the protagonists’ case. We are careful not to imagine we give advice to the protagonist. Instead, we locate a similar challenge in our own domain and seek to learn from that both for ourselves, with others. From that reflection may come possible insights to be shared.
  4. After the protagonist receives the feedback, they offer their own reflection on what has been useful. Importantly they are encouraged to sketch the outlines of a next experiment for their work based on what they've heard. This can be reported on down the road.
  5. We harvest lessons and key principles and ongoingly seek the right balance between use of quantitative tools (such as polls, surveys/ 360-degree feedback) among all stakeholders (some invisible ones too, such as clients) to a session.

Session Snippet Preview

Dana writes: “I will shape an early session in which we connect adult developmental theory and the Shifting Horizons assessment with different OD practices. In session a chosen skill is honed, followed with a vertical move in perspective (i.e., “subject to object,”) to which awareness of body wisdom/intuition is given space. Finally, in explicitly returning to the theory, we use Constructivist Adult Developmental theory as a road map toward further experimentation. In this we're actively building capacity to hold the true diversity that enables creativity among people shaping more lifegiving culture." 

Occasionally we may also introduce new instruments (upcoming a group assessment and 360 degree) for early piloting among cohort participants.

Participation requires registration at the link below

Trust that we are open to tweaking the logistics/meeting start time once we establish the timezones of all who register.


If you are seeking a partial scholarship, please submit a request here: