ebbf international event milan may 2016 - consultation


ebbf’s international learning event:
beyond decision-making a tool for learning

Mindful people from around the world explored how to create more meaningful economic systems and workplaces, helping us to build a more prosperous future.

We investigated the role of consultation, beyond decision-making as a tool for learning. We explored how workplaces and economic systems are evolving and how new ways to collaborate, to learn and progress can be harnessed.

We gained new insights, ideas, questions and processes allowing us to better adapt to the new era of collaboration, moving away from short-term decision making objectives to effective collaborative, unity-creating mindsets and processes.

You can find below the first confirmed speakers you will enjoy interacting with,
part of the over 30 interactive sessions you will be able to engage in during this learning experience.

Another element of the  ebbf learning events experience is the range and diversity of parallel learnshops that you can decide to attend, learn from and contribute to. These are highly interactive 90 minute sessions that allow you to grasp and experiment in smaller groups the processes, ideas and tools useful to you.


1. Dynamic Consultation: Asking Better Question (Trip Barthel)

“… ye may be free to ask what you need to ask, but not such idle questions as those on which the men of former times were wont to dwell. ”
Kitab-i-Aqdas (2:127)

“Computers are useless, they can only give you answers.”
Pablo Picasso

This interactive and explorational program will consider the role of questions in comprehending our material and spiritual worlds. If you want better answers, you need to ask better questions. Better questions open up exciting possibilities and lead us into undreamt of realms. Independent investigation, one of the core principles of the Baha’i Faith, is based on asking questions. You will leave this session being able to ask deeper and more meaningful questions.

2. Outsmart your own biases (Valerie Arnold)

If Consultation entails considering all points of view without attachment to personal opinion, then it is essential to become aware of the cognitive biases that prevent us to do just that,
and to learn how to outsmart them!

The learnshop deepens the theory presented in the keynote with practical experiential learning activities, where we will explore:
1- The problem with our brain: a little experiment
2- The physiological roadblocks to consultation (incl. blind spot, how the brain acquires new knowledge)
3- The psychological roadblocks to consultation (incl. cognitive biases such as denial, overgeneralization, mental filtering, etc. ; groupthink ; aggressive advocacy)
4- Overcoming roadblocks: learning new knowledge, attitude and skills (incl. self-awareness, being a “nowist”, groanzone & brainstorming, triple loop learning and challenging given truths)

3. Fostering Conversations Between Souls (Dary Enkhtor)

Through the process of intensive programs of growth the Baha’i community has been challenged to expand beyond our familiar comfort level to reach out towards greater and greater numbers of people who differ along socio-economic, cultural, racial and religious backgrounds. This struggle to build authentic community mirrors the one faced by the world at large. Drawing upon the guidance in the Bahá’i Writings, this workshop will focus on knowledge and skills to help us break down the barriers that keep us in isolation from each other. We will deepen our understanding of the nature of the soul through

reflection and meditation practices. The workshop will feature experiential and interactive exercises exploring the processes of prayer and meditation, and deep listening, as well as their practical applications in relationship-building and increasing unity, all essential to building united teams and authentic community.

4. A Case Study: The Evolving Role of Consultation at School of the Nations, Macau (Vivek Nair)

Join Vivek who will be using the case study of the Macau School of the Nations, to explore the role and applications of consultation in the educational system.
Consultation is a process of investigation and analysis that should be the basis of all decisions in an organization. In my keynote, I would like to review the history of the use of consultation in organizations and use the experiences gained at our international school where the process of “consultation, action and reflection” has become grounded in our daily activities and discussions as a forum to explore with the audience how this process can change the atmosphere in an organization and impact the role of all stakeholders involved.

5. The practical application of consultation (Toufan Rahimpour)

Using his own current experience and insights as COO of LogoWorks and his years of experimentation and application of consultation in different environments, this learnshop will offer you an experiential application of consultation in our every day workplaces, elevated by his own experience of what works, what doesn’t and the right climate that ensures better outcomes.


1. Consultation creating new standards in leadership qualities and attributes (Vafa Akhavan)

In order to understand and know where we are on the continuum of consultation, one can view the journey as having five stages of maturity. Each would have unique qualities, attributes and environment within which they exist and flourish. The first is when all decision making is centralized in one leader who decides what should be done and others do it. There are no questions, discussions or feedback. The second stage happens when power and authority is challenged through force, debate or argument and decisions are still made by a singular leader. The third stage is when information is fed back to the top of the organization and some level of discourse takes place in a two-way relationship, but still the decision is made by the leader albeit much more informed and more inclusive. The fourth stage is when those impacted by decisions are fully engaged in the decision making process, while the responsibility and accountability for decisions are now placed with a broader leadership group or team. The fifth, and likely not the final stage of consultative maturity, is when purpose is a fundamental belief system, when leadership is irrelevant in today’s context and definition; when the culture is collaborative by DNA, when the qualities and attributes of seekership manifest in every individual, and when the roles and responsibilities of the individual, community, and institutions are recast and universally integrated.

2. Dynamic Consultation: Creativity (Trip Barthel)
“It is an axiomatic fact that while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.” (Abdul Baha)

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

The most difficult problems require the most creative solutions. This session will connect the Writings, the science and the practice of creativity, and show how to apply it in consultation. Creativity is not 9 people talking around a table. Creativity begins in isolation. Dreams enable our creativity, subjects who dreamed during a nap resolved 40 % more puzzles. It is an axiomatic fact that while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed ( ‘Abdu’l-Baha, PUP, page 212-13). The source of every new idea is the same, it is a network of neurons shifting into an unfamiliar pattern. Knowing this, how do we create an environment of creativity? We’ll end the session with some simple activities that promote higher levels of creativity.

Books: Imagine, Creative Conspiracy


3. Building a new lexicon (Mika Korhonen)
We are used to common business terms, but how can we create a new lexicon?
How can we reload commonly used business words such as ethics, decision-making or capacity-building giving them a new meaning and a new application?
Together with Mika Korhonen we will start together an ebbf track that aims to co-create and then give us access to a new language to communicate and make meaningful change happen both in our workplaces and in economic systems.

4. Feel and visualise the power of consultation (Enrico Giraudi)
Using systemic constellations methodology you will experience visually and dynamically how much consultation can make a difference and improve the relationship within groups.
We will make evident both the virtuous and negative relationships in your workplaces and practically see how these can be addressed to allow the right flow and consultative culture to emerge in your organization.

5. Beyond the Culture of Business Lobbying and Towards a Culture of Genuine Consultation: Ethical Engagement of Business in Shaping Public Policy? (Maja Groff)

As part of my new role on the Advisory Board of B Lab Europe, I would like to facilitate a learnshop in order to explore and lay the groundwork for an ethical framework for business engagement in public policy debates and the shaping of governmental policy / legislation, in line with the B Corp vision. That is, how do governments properly consult with the business community, and vice versa? Horror stories are known of how business efforts can distort important public debates (e.g. think of the painful debates around the health effects of smoking and climate change), but is there a cultural shift we can chart in which businesses can constructively and ethically engage in developing sound public policy? In some States business lobbying is heavily regulated, but with insufficient effect—is an ethical commitment which comes from within businesses what is needed? I intend to take the insights and first principles generated from this learnshop back to B Corp Europe and B Corp USA, to get further input from this community. Eventually, one could envision a set of principles on this topic which could be disseminated globally both through the B Corp community and through ebbf.


1. Changing the world sitting on a bench (Gianluca Lotti)
Quite often we pursue change through actions. But with action we do often reinforce the very situation we are striving to move away from.
Ancient philosophy and modern science suggest a different approach: only apparently a more passive one.
We will be exploring the power of changing how we perceive reality.

2. Dynamic Consultation : the distance between yes and no  (Trip Barthel)

“The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man.” (CONS, 97)

“There are many more wrong answers than right ones, and they are easier to find.”  (Michael Friedlander)

With the advent of computers we started of thinking of life in binary terms, when in reality the zero and the one represent the end points in the spectrum of life. This session will explore and demonstrate decision making in a gray universe, where all contribute to better decisions through recognizing that each person has a unique opportunity to contribute to a complete solution.

Books: 6 Thinking Hats, Participatory Decision Making

3. Want to create your dream enterprise? (Monique Blokzyl)

You love to get a glimpse into the pitching mysteries? What is a powerful story, an impactful message? What is this irresistible Yes-trigger? How do you convince anyone to give you anything? Join us in this learnshop if you want to get some powerful answers. Besides taking away proven techniques, you will also get many real case stories. And most importantly, you will roll up your sleeves and craft that impactful message for your own business right away. Get ready to trigger a sound Yes!

4. The myth about power (Marc Avanzo)

Why do we assume that the CEO knows better or that a Harvard graduate must be right? I propose to explore this power paradigm and understand the myths, the beliefs and natural filters it imposes on us all, in order to find alternative way to look at the world and successfully empower the collective intelligence.
More often than not, this intrinsic value we attribute to people is subconsciously becoming a moralistic value judgement.
This moralistic value judgement is at the basis of the power paradigm, the way we experience it in our day to day lives, the reason why so many people limit themselves and are unwilling to take initiatives or ownership. It is the same reason why a heavy hierarchical society holds together, because the people who are not at the top have accepted to judge themselves as being valued less than their bosses.

5. Promoting a culture of learning – spreading ebbf local events (Mahmud Samandari)

People interested in replicating the ebbf learning experiences that create consultative learning communities at the learning communities will both hear of best practices, first steps and co-create together a path forward accompanying the spread of local ebbf events.