Participatory narrative research on occupational mental health

The more complex the issue, the more important it is to grasp it from a variety of perspectives. In this project for the National Institute of Public Health, people and organisations engaged in occupational mental health were invited not only to collect real-life stories on mental health challenges at work but also to help interpret the data gathered. The results yet again revealed the value of listening to people’s experiences before devising strategic solutions on sensitive and stigmatised issues. A bonus? The trust and connections built among the stakeholders along the way.

Listening on a bigger scale

What becomes possible if we listened on a bigger scale – to people's real-life microstories, so that the strategies we co-create better answer the needs »on the ground«? How to access all the layers of data captured in hundreds or thousands of stories? How to combine the richness of stories with data analytics?
Together with Belgian colleagues (Voices That Count) and my Slovenian teammates, we co-led a training on participatory story-collection, and story analytics, using Dave Snowden's SenseMaker methodology, useful to generate actionable insights in complex settings.

SME Assembly - hybrid and participatory

The European Commission’s first-ever hybrid event of such scale, the SME assembly held in Slovenia in November 2021 brought together insights and ideas from the delegates both onsite and online, to co-create the governance structures that support the sustainability of small- and medium-sized enterprises in this changing world. No small tasks for the organisers – and for the facilitation team that hosted the participatory parts of the event. A glimpse into what the future will look like, especially with large-group events that want to be more sustainable themselves.

Facilitation made easier - welcome to Miroverse

For non-facilitators, facilitation has never been easier: fast-evolving online collaborative whiteboards (such as Miro) offer a multitude of workshop designs, as well as structured templates to capture key ideas and solutions. The quality of the exchange among participants is still key. This is why a successful multinational company hired a facilitation tandem to teach them (a) basic facilitation skills and (b) key Miro features that catalyse participation, engagement, and aspired workshop outcomes. Two birds freed with one key.

How to engage people for action – in a conference setting

Large-group events such as congresses and conferences gather hundreds or thousands of people with expertise and care – whose voices are, in traditional top-down conference setups, often marginalised. Yet such events are an opportunity to engage more deeply with each other, and with the topics that brought everyone together. For years, I have been co-creating Umanotera’s annual conferences, aligning policy-makers and activists for joint actions on environmental issues.

Dialogue capacity for divisive issues

Real dialogue happens when people listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they hear. A well-guided, safe and brave space helps – as do some key dialogue skills, such as empathy. It was an honour to help young Palestinian and Israeli leaders to grow their dialogue capacities together; on issues that are complex, divisive, and delicate. Within Youth Peace Initiative.

Cross-border collaboration for biodiversity

A series of two-day online workshops organised by IUCN  that covered all 27 EU countries brought together stakeholders engaged in invasive alien species management – from ministry officials to academics to NGO to hunters to fishermen and many expert organisations. The focus was on humane ways of removing vertebrate invasive alien animals -, fostering cross-border alignment on and of emerging practices.

Behind everything, there is a story

Living in a world of parallel multiple stories, we are increasingly aware of how the underlying narratives – about ourselves, the world, Life - shrink or expand the possibilities we are able to imagine, and pursue. In the personal-evolution online workshop named Change your story, choose your 2022, we engaged not just our mental powers but also body wisdom (the brains in our hearts and guts) in transforming limiting narratives into more expansive, life-affirming ones.  Given the interesting times we live in, we need to engage all allies, resources, capacities, networks we can access. The body has been waiting (in the West) for too long.

When real meets virtual - addressing complex challenges

How to tackle complex issues together - in a way that is transformative, light and effective? 3 D mapping -  combining hand, heart and head - is a good first step; particularly in virtual meetings where focus and engagement might be harder to keep. Amazing results in the workshop with Slovenian public sector officials identifying leverage points for more effective and elegant cross-sector collaboration.

Engaging online meetings/events

With the meetings migrating online, collaboration across continents, time zones, perceptions and perspectives is easier than ever. Strategic planning (oops, gentle steering towards a north star), prototyping, assessing and adjusting the course is more needed and appreciated than ever (we so miss quality human connections). If well facilitated, even complex online meeting can be light and inspiring – while still focused, effective and transformative.

Next-Stage Leadership Hybrid Confluence

“The first successful hybrid event I’ve ever experiences,” a participant said. For organizers and facilitators alike, hybrid events - connecting on-site and remote participants - are the greatest challenge of all; particularly if we want meaningful interactions not only with speakers but also among ALL participants – online and offline. World of Synergy conference 2020 transformed into a Confluence: a meeting-place of ideas, inspirations, and insights for VUCA times.

Walking the talk: innovative leadership conference experience

In early 2018, a group of bold Slovenian facilitators, moderators and event organisers got together to craft a unique conference experience to boost leadership courage and capacity for navigating the world that is changing, challenging, complex, and unpredictable.
Together with initiator Andreja Cepuš, Marjeta put together the framework of the conference: a unique blend of inspiring (TED-like) storytelling, skill-building for leading in complexity, real-life leadership case clinic, as well as embodied and sensorial personal  leadership practices. 180 leaders from diverse contexts and countries joined for a highly experiential 2.5 day event. No spectators; everybody engaged and contributing.

Coming together to hone courage, questions and connections

I love designing, hosting, facilitating and witnessing gatherings of global professional and activist communities that get together in regular intervals: to sense into the changing landscape of their work/profession; question assumptions and outlooks that no longer serve; co-imagine inspired futures; forge alliances; and grow courage together for even bolder participation in Life.

I love working with global citizenship scholars and activists: we inspire each other to decolonise our Western mindsets, and make room for more life-serving ways of perceiving, choosing and acting.

Appreciative Inquiry for university evolution

In the ongoing multi-stakeholder quality improvement process, Ljubljana University teachers, students, and support services join forces to identify and improve the areas that they – as a community – see vital for the institution’s evolution in VUCA times. Using strength-based approaches such as Appreciative Inquiry, relationships are strengthened across disciplines, and new ideas emerge that were previously not thought possible.

Roma social inclusion consultation process

The five-year SIFOROMA consultation process comprises a series of multi-stakeholder dialogues in which Roma communities, decision-makers (national and local), support services (from police to social work to health care), educators and NGOs jointly develop strategic documents and local measures for the social inclusion of the Roma, primarily in areas marked by cohabitation challenges. The operation is partly funded by the European Union Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme.

Stakeholders involvement in drafting the Energy Concept of Slovenia

In the process of adopting Slovenia’s “energy concept” as a basic national energy programme document in 2050 perspective, the Slovenian Ministry of Infrastructure engaged Natalija Vrhunc and Marjeta Novak in 2016 to facilitate a series of workshops in which representatives of various interest groups (energy sector, transport, academia, public sector, environmental NGOs, professional chambers …) met face-to-face to share and align their contributions towards the improvement of the draft document.

Hands-on training on Participatory Leadership

The highly experiential, three-day Participatory Leadership training for the international Renewable Grid network was a blend of theoretical inputs and interactive sessions in which participants practiced participatory skills for engaging stakeholders in decision-making processes – while working on their complex, real-life challenges.

Connecting businesses for Smart mobility towards green future

100 representatives of Slovenia’s innovative businesses creating smart mobility solutions towards a green future gathered for a day to map out key change agents already active in the field as well as form new collaborations; with an aspiration that Slovenia become a green lab for smart transport solutions. With support and presence of European Commissioner for Transport, Slovenian Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure.

Communication skills for Knowmads Hanoi team

Knowmads Hanoi, a Vietnamese offspring of Knowmads Amsterdam, is an innovative business school that invites young people on a journey of self-discovery to create positive changes in their communities. Marjeta has been invited to support the international Knowmads team with nonviolent communication awareness & skills in a three-day workshop and an open learning fest. This globally –recognised approach to relating, choosing, connecting and speaking has been found helpful in a number of areas – from work to family to friends to communities, even in intense situations and conflicts.

Talent acquisition is a team sport

Where to look for future colleagues who will be a good fit with the organisational culture? One of the most effective sources for recruiting good new colleagues is the current employees; especially in IT and startup environments. Focusing on their work, current employees rarely remember referring their acquaintances for job openings. During a half-day participatory process, the developers first thought about what kind of colleagues they wanted to attract; and then created fun messages (and videos) targeted to specific people (developers, but also their family, friends, teachers ...) why to join their team. A fun, connecting, generative team-building experience with multiple positive effects for the teams & the organisation as a whole.

Generations at work - engaged in a generative dialogues

40 employees of a multinational's financial department gathered in a three-hour participatory dialogue process with the aim of improving intergenerational collaboration at work. What do we want other generations to understand about us - which styles of leadership, meetings, and communication. motivate us to do our best in the work environment - and which don't?
It was touching to witness the young speaking up (in a safe yet brave space); gently yet firmly questioning some traditional practices that no longer meet their needs and offering suggestions to create a more motivational workplace.

Public engagement for Vision of Slovenia 2050

In seven events across the country 450 people from all walks of life participated in a government-initiated co-creation of Vision Slovenia 2050; with Marjeta as lead facilitator. Using a mixture of hostng/facilitation methodologies – such as Appreciative Inquiry and the World Café – it was powerful to witness how aligned participants across different locations were towards a green, sustainable vision that honours the humans as well as the land. Participants joined the visioning process either by invitation (representatives across sectors), or of their own interest. The vision serves as a basis for the strategy for Slovenia with a 2030 perspective, and concrete action plans till 2020.

Art of Participatory Leadership

Marjeta was the caller and co-host/facilitator of this three-day experiential learning event designed to deepen personal capacity to effect transformation in a complex world, and to explore how to travel with others towards a common goal in a way that honours both individual and collective potential.For the three days of this training, 60+ extraordinary humans came together; bringing gifts and experiences from many countries, cultures and disciplines; a group whose strength lies in its diversity and its shared intention to shift the culture of collaboration within teams, organisations, communities in Slovenia and beyond. Read more about the outcomes and participants’ impressions.

Strengths of Slovenia

August 16-17, 2013: As a collective response to the severe social, economic, and spiritual crisis that affected Slovenia, on Marjeta's invitation (and with the help of an international hosting team), 70 people (50 from Slovenia, 20 from abroad) gathered for a 1.5-day event to inquire about the DNA of Slovenia – the core that sustains its people and land in tough times. Using Art of Hosting methodologies, with a special focus on Appreciative Inquiry, participants inquired into the country’s unique strengths, found like-minded people, and built coalitions for further actions. The event also inspired many participants to learn, and transfer, participatory processes to their own contexts (in communities and organisations). To get a sense of this collaborative exploration, have a look at the narrative harvest and gallery of the event.



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