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Archive for September, 2014

Opportunities with ToP and Public Health

Posted on: September 28th, 2014 by admin No Comments

By Marilyn Oyler

I’m excited to share with you some of the new efforts that are taking place in the ToP Network regarding the work of Public Health professionals! The ToP Network is a national independent nonprofit professional association of facilitators and trainers who use ToP methods DSC04278in their work. The ToP Network launched the Public Health in ToP (PHiT) task force in 2010 to deepen the effectiveness of the methods throughout the sector and create opportunities for cross-learning among practitioners, many of whom have been using ToP methods in the Health sector for more than ten years. This national PHiT task force is doing ongoing work in many arenas, including hosting focus groups, arranging continuing education credits, connecting ToP and Health Evaluation and using ToP in Health Department accreditation.

This month the ToP Network is hosting Focus Groups in 10 cities across the US to explore opportunities to work together even more closely. Practical suggestions from this group and the other focus groups across the country will be compiled to provide ideas for new courses and support activities for ToP in Public Health. (See the invitation below to join the Arizona Focus Group)

The ToP Network has also made it possible for Community Health Educators to receive continuing education credits for their participation in ToP Facilitation Methods training. Contact me to get your special Certificate of Completion for CHES participants.

Another exciting new focus has emerged within the PHiT Team. On Wednesday, July 16, the Evaluation Team met virtually to discover the possibilities for linking ToP methods and tools to the work of public health evaluation activities. Some lively conversation ensued, including how developmental evaluation relates to logic models and the emerging work around collective impact. Other health professionals are initiating an online conversation in how you can utilize ToP methods in accreditation.

You would be welcome to join any of these teams. Email me to let me know if and how you would like to become a part of the conversation.


You’re Invited! Public Health Professionals Luncheon Oct 13th.

PHiT imageDo you work in the field of Public Health? Are you interested in how professional facilitation practices can support Public Health initiatives moving forward? Do you have some familiarity with ToP methods? Won’t you join us for a luncheon Monday, Oct 13th at noon?


We’ll bring the lunch!


You are invited to participate in an effort to explore the opportunities available to develop some ToP training specifically designed for public health professionals in areas such as facilitating meaningful meetings, public forums and community health assessments, planning events and many others. The ToP Network is hosting Focus Groups in 10 cities to see how we can best support your work as public health professionals. We would like to engage your assistance with 1 hour of your time.

When:  Monday, Oct 13th at 12 noon

Where: 14th floor at  Maricopa County Dept. Public Health, 4041 Central Plaza, Tower Suite, Phoenix AZ  85012 (This is the South East corner of Indian School & Central Avenue.) Ask for the training room.

Parking: Parking is available in the visitor parking garage off of 2nd Street. DO NOT park in the IRS parking lot.  IF the visitor section is full, proceed to the upper levels. Please do not park in any space that says “Reserved Parking”.  Bring your Visitor Parking ticket with you for validation.

Please click here to RSVP or phone Marilyn Oyler at 602-468-0605.

A book study of “Reinventing Organizations” by Frederic Lalaoux

Posted on: September 27th, 2014 by admin No Comments

By James Wiegel

reinventing organizations book jacketA big part of what we do as ToP facilitators is to create the events, meetings, planning retreats, summits, annual gatherings, even short conversations that engage a group of people significantly with some question or task they are facing and then help them come to a conclusion or way forward. Often, the key to success is the courage and conviction of the person who hires us to make this happen and to trust us and our beloved ToP methods to craft a compelling and effective process. As facilitators, we have support, guidance and resources – courses, websites full of tools and methods, our community of practice, the ToP Network, associations, books, etc. Those who hire us, I will call them ‘champions’, however, seem to have far less targeted support and resources available to them. Yet, each of us can tell stories and cite cases where these champions – team leaders, department managers, organizational leaders, and community care takers – were essential in making participation work. Perhaps they used an outside facilitator / facilitated themselves / developed their own in house facilitators, or simply built spirit and momentum around a task or mission to produce results. This is always exciting to see.   Yet, too often we also find ourselves in a situation when a new leader comes in and it all falls apart, or the board changes and participation goes out the window. We have also heard the stories from fellow in-house facilitators and the complexities they face in actually applying, in the day to day of their organizations, these participatory methods of conversation, decision making, and planning. Sometimes being a ToP practitioner who has their own business, gets hired, goes in and makes the methods magic then leaves to look for the next client can feel absent of some of the deeper organizational transformational challenges and opportunities.

Along comes the book, Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux. Laloux, who is Belgian, looked around and found a dozen or so examples of organizations that were different. Organizations who were successful over time installing describable practices, structures and ways of operating that support and sustain a higher level of functioning as an organization (in ToP we would say a higher level of participation, Laloux uses the language of integral leadership, talking about a “teal” organization ~ read the book to find out what THAT is). The book is worth a read and a study which is what we did. We organized a group via Free Conference Call that included folks from across the US, Canada, and Asia in weekly calls. Google the book. Browse the simple website we used https://wedgeblade.net/wordpress/studygroup/

31 people showed interest in our study group and 7 – 10 were active over several months. The book describes in practical terms (structures, Book Charting sheetpractices, established policies and roles) a different way of operating as an organization, one that treats the organization and its connections as a living system and encourages and supports self-management over heirarchical control. Key concepts include bringing the whole self to work and listening to evolutionary purpose. Two of my take aways from the study:

  • The desire to learn everything possible about these amazing companies and the possibilities for the future,  not only of companies themselves but of society in general.
  • The “Teal” lens. I am interim chair of a board for a nonprofit organization. I started trying to see the operation of this organization through the teal lens. It helped me grow more comfortable about some of the operations and shift my focus to areas where it fails to support the mission. The study makes me think about this organization in a different way.

Overall this experience calls forth a challenge to us as facilitators. Lets think about the managers, team leaders, organizational leaders who hire us, and how we can support them not just in moments of effective participation, but also in installing practices, procedures, and, yes, even legal structures that help to sustain more effective levels of interaction and help ToP and the sort of momentum these methods can release to take root and grow strong.


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