Turning point


Early this year we stepped back for reflection and redefinition, but now that period is over. In 2016 we will relaunch as a firm committed to the emerging practices of creating in social complexity and shifting social patterns in organizations, communities, and systems.

We stepped back…

Six months ago, after ten years of practice and projects with great clients, we withdrew ourselves from business as usual. While the work we had been doing was well received and we certainly did enjoy it, we felt ourselves on a kind of frontier. We were drawn to a different kind of work, work for which we have been preparing ourselves for the last six years of study, teaching, and experimentation. (I’ll put the text of our front page, now retired, at the end of this post. It’s the best explanation we could come up with at the time. More thoughts appear in the “From this to that” category of our blog.)

…now we’re stepping back in

The period of reflection was invaluable. We have a renewed sense of clarity and intent, and in the new year we will begin implementing our plans. It will happen in steps and stages, but we are excited to re-launch ourselves as a firm that advances the practice of creating in social complexity, that equips people and groups for the work of shifting social patterns.

Our audience is anyone who is doing such work. Some are working to shift their organizational culture. Some are in non-profits and development organizations. Some are working in government. Some are simply doing their best in the neighborhood where they live. We don’t know who they all are, but we are about to begin a series of activities which will help us meet them, and we can’t wait.

…to share what we’ve learned and help you shift your situation

We have learned a lot about convening people across a system, across boundaries. We’ve learned new ways to host conversations, new methods for creating when the materials are the invisible dynamics of belief, identity, conversation and relationship. We have learned long-term approaches to engaging with systemic challenges. And we have been practicing ways to help others learn what we have learned — with clients, and with students at Carnegie Mellon and the School of Visual Arts.

We’re in. Let’s talk.

The times demand approaches and methods that are equal to the complexity of our societal challenges. We need people who can pay full attention to advancing the way we all create together, to equipping ourselves for the work of creating better futures, and to helping us all become people who can stand in uncertainty and difficulty with generosity, courage, and creative power.

We feel strongly about that. So we’re saying, “Okay. We’re in. That’s a ridiculously big design brief, but let’s see what we can do.”

We’re working on new language for this story, and on invitations to participate with us. That will start showing up early next year. Meanwhile, please contact us if you would like to talk about your own situation and how it might benefit from a collaboration. We’re looking for partners, collaborators, participants and fellow explorers.

Here is what our web site said on its front page, from May to December 2015

For the Summer of 2015, Fit Associates has shut down business as usual (except for a few workshops and keynote talks). This site is a place where you can see where we’ve been,where we can share announcements and provide our past talks and publications, and mostimportantly, where we can document our process of becoming.

Here’s how we announced our decision to our friends.

Sailing your boat out of port is liberating, but not entirely comfortable. I say that in a fresh and very present state of freedom mixed with disorientation, as one morning this week the two Fit Associates principals finally looked at each other and declared that we have had enough. Enough of giving our attention to a never-ending stream of corporate agendas, leaving little for the things we most deeply believe in, and which have been calling us for years. We finally took action. The day before pitching to a room full of vice presidents for work that would have kept us solvent for a year, we sent out emails withdrawing all of our outstanding proposals. We withdrew from five conversations with both new and familiar clients, big and small. We closed business as usual.

Since then we have enjoyed the sense of liberation, the lightness across our shoulders, and the freedom for our attention to gallop across whatever meadow it likes. But we also experience a sense of loss. We aren’t closing Fit, but we are stopping our old story without a definite picture of what the new story is like. The heart and soul of the new story are clear, but its form is not. We can feel it, but we cannot yet tell it.

We know this experience is not unusual. This is the feeling, documented by humans for millennia, of leaving your port of belonging and heading for the open water. We feel disoriented because we have suddenly shed tons of ballast and scraped a layer of barnacles from our identity–the questions, promises, accomplishments, intentions, and possibilities which we accumulated and carried over the last ten years. Having granted ourselves permission to see past the veil of our old identity, we now see many new directions we could steer toward.

We are at sea.

“At sea,” is not the same as “lost.” We are not lost. We have cut ourmoorings to the work that has defined our days for a long time. We chose to leave that harbor. But as the poet Machado says, the only path from here is the wake we leave by our going. And, gladly, we are aligned in our taste in vessels and destinations.

We’ll be working through the summer in a way that makes room for many kinds of creation, tapping the poetic, intuitive side of ourselves, the strategic, figure-it-out side, and the iterative, learn-by-making side. We’re excited to see what kind of boat we wind up building. Building while sailing, without losing the wonder of the sea: that’s the skill we’re practicing.

Boat_leaving_Whitby_port BW

By | 2017-06-28T18:44:05+00:00 December 3rd, 2015|Categories: From this to that|0 Comments

About the Author:

Marc’s career spans 35 years in business, design, education and technology. His work as designer, researcher, and educator has put him on the frontier of applying design methods to social and strategic questions. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Design for Social Innovation program at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Practice at the Carnegie Mellon University Graduate School of Design. Marc’s interests include cultural immersion, language, cooking and photography.

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