What does the article offer?
In this article, I would like to report on our work and its unexpectedly intensive qualities that arose in the development of this new seminar platform. We only discovered many detailed tasks on the way: generating and managing funds, finding and launching a seminar management program suitable for the project, making endless design and IT decisions…. all in all, it seemed like a lot more work than we had ever imagined.
WE: That was Elisabeth Gores-Pieper, Sibylle Ratsch and me, Sabine Bremer. And later Karen Appel joined us as liaison to the office. Many others are part of it in various sub-working groups and fields. I do not want to name all of them, but they are here in spirit.
How it began
In 2018, the international instructor’s council (IIC) decided to set up a new seminar platform for the Ruth Cohn Institute International (RCI), as from 2021 there should no longer be any printed seminar directories for cost reasons. A working group gathered initial ideas at the conference. It soon became clear that there would not be enough time on site to work out all the key points for the newly planned presentation.
Sibylle agreed to be the contact person and coordinator of a PLC seminar platform (PLCA) and Elisabeth spontaneously joined her. Then Sibylle told me that they were also considering me because, as a fresh member of the instructor’s council, I would definitely bring in "a breath of fresh air". First of all, I felt flattered and went to work quite impartially. I only knew both women from paper and brief meetings. We also wanted to make our PLC a bit more international and asked colleagues from Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland. However, reasons of time or the concern about language gaps that were too exhausting only brought us rejections. We then decided to start as we were.
I could well imagine creating something together by the next IIC meeting in 2019: “That would be my appropriate contribution to the common good as a new member of the teaching staff. After that I would step out again, because association work is not my thing.” Or so I thought! I also shied away a little from the whole thing, because I didn't consider myself a particularly good team player.
And then we were off! Sibylle, Elisabeth and I quickly agreed that we would only work via Skype, since we live hundreds of kilometers apart and didn't want to give up any more time for long trips across the country. In this way, three completely different women who hardly knew each other came together. Our diverse interests, experiences and competencies gave rise to a bundle of creative ideas. It seemed that, convinced of the potential of our diversity, we had internalized TCI well enough to bring out the best possible in each of us by listening to one another. We were able to be inspired by spontaneity and unusual ways of thinking and to remain open to what may be a completely different new connecting idea. A flow developed and, surprisingly quickly, we had created a concept with an overall vision, design requirements, framework conditions, schedule and requirements for further action and, last but not least, for the financing plan to proactively address the problem of empty cash registers.
Our Powerpoint presentation of our concept at the IIC in 2019 was met with great applause and the 100% approval of everyone present. Within an hour we had pledges of € 16,000 and the necessary members for three other working groups. We could hardly believe our success. It was now clear, however, that the three of us could not back out now but had to move from such initial success to the next stage. That was easier than expected, because we really enjoyed our PLC work.
Becoming a reality
Following the creation of the concept, we now had a new task: the specification and coordination of all implementation steps. On the way we encountered numerous challenges, new stumbling blocks and an enormous amount of communication, as a great deal could only be advanced in cooperation and coordination with other bodies of the RCI. Ruth Cohn’s sentence often came to mind: “He who takes no heed of the globe will be devoured by it”. Without discovering or even planning it, we discovered ourselves in the center of a large organizational transformation process within RCI International, which was in the process of repositioning itself in the face of growing financial problems. With great respect, we became aware of the extent of the challenges through which our fellow board members are currently steering us.
The first huge hurdles facing us were about money and in a completely different way than we initially feared, because the sum of the financial donations (and the confidence in our work expressed therein) had grown into a comfortable cushion for the upcoming IT orders and the first push of the platform. But where could this money be paid into now? It took a full three months and the establishment of an in-house sponsorship association to open an account and receive the promised donations and small loans in a tax-correct way. I hadn't known before that it was so difficult to receive donations. My patience was put to the test in the face of all the detailed work required.
Fortunately, there were and are many committed people who support our project, for example Ernst Schrade, who launched and chaired the "AIP", the association for international promotion of theme centered interaction as envisaged by Ruth C. Cohn. Upon our specific request, Daniel Ham agreed at the beginning of our search to accept all legal and financial matters. He is now the cashier of the AIP. We were also grateful for the numerous discussions with our RCI president Andrea Schmid and the entire international board team. Last but not least, it was nothing less than a godsend that Karin Prölß, Beatrix Optenhövel and Shirley Rheinhaus continued to offer their services as a long-established editorial team and are now pressing on with this task under the new auspices.
We are happy to have gained the 4th member of the PLCA, Karen Appel. As head of our RCI office in Berlin, she was assigned to us by the board. She provides a great deal of important clarifications and feedback, so that everything we develop can subsequently be well implemented. Karen has brought an important complementary quality to our WE. She has proven herself to be a patient listener and an inquiring and benevolently committed critical crux, helping to identify many possible gaps in good time. At the PLCA, we continue to work on the content-related development work in parallel, and then benefit from the subsequent feedback with Karen. Last but not least, Karen guarantees a reliable sense of our bilingualism in all of our letters and documents thanks to her good knowledge of English.
Characteristics and opportunities of our WE
Our collaboration has shown me how inspiring, effective and enjoyable it can be to work in a team and how much increased profit potential this means. The successful mutual resonance has proven to be an incredible motivation and energy generator. Diversity and passionate discussions are crucial, producing unexpected fruit if everyone involved believes in the possibility of a common solution. Whenever I or Elisabeth became impatient, Sibylle often had a clarifying effect. She is our mediator, can regulate things clearly and diplomatically and with her foresight can ensure good communication internally and externally. Whenever things became difficult, we could rely on her. And then she "just happens to" write all the necessary letters to communicate our findings in a way that is both fruitful and easy to understand.
Elisabeth is on hand for structures in complex work processes and prescient creative consideration of financial aspects. She also has a keen eye for marketing and data protection issues and brings the relevant challenges into play at the right moment. And me? I am an optimist. From a constructive and pragmatic point of view, I think I always bring momentum to the action. Sometimes I simply want to throw in the towel but, on the other hand, it is particularly in these difficult phases that I can motivate and intervene diplomatically. I take care of IT questions, and the design and the connection to the working groups involved. I also made the connection with Taki Kiometzis, who is extremely committed to helping us as an IT representative, web designer and programmer. As a link between design, technology and our working group, I provide the necessary information exchange and joint Skype conferences when a new step has to be clarified. With Taki and the office, I also build the bridge to the "Wundercoach" company, which has set up a versatile seminar management software for us and has now placed it at our disposal.
What we all have in common: We are developing together in a powerful resonance, step by step, agile and persistant - a wonderful experience to share! In addition to our resources and synergies, with which we have been fueling each other for almost two years now, something like an “online skype friendship workgroup” has emerged for me. The Corona crisis gave the three of us valuable time margins that we as freelancers each with a high degree of travel would never have been able to free up. Now - precisely at the peak of the extremely demanding complex implementation process - we are able to be there for what is now necessary in a pleasingly flexible manner. We would often hold a Skype conference not once but several times a week. And following every one - despite some heavy homework – we were left with a binding feeling of ease. What would we have done without Covid 19? We would probably have run into a lot of stress in recognizing a volume of work that none of us could have anticipated and that could have been accomplished alongside normal professional work.
Conditions for an agile WE
To sum up, I can say that trust is a central WE accelerator. Our mutual initial trust and the promise of trust from our colleagues in the IIC 2019 have inspired in us trust in our process. Each of us could contribute with their specific unique skills. We had no rivalries and discovered very easily and naturally which of us apply ourselves to which upcoming work. None felt left out or even left alone in the sense of "I always have to do everything". It is almost a miracle how our cooperation ran and runs so naturally and seamlessly.
In retrospect, I can clearly identify important influencing factors. I’ll express it in TCI language: Our I's were able to develop and connect at the same time in the WE. We always had an eye on the IT, our task and cause, and luckily we had from the beginning a large consensus on the most important goals for us. We had to and could consider the globe, which has always had a great influence on our work. The first TCI axiom on autonomy and interdependency came into play for me in such a way that I could feel completely present and integrated in my uniqueness. I experienced and experience myself as a well-connected link in the totality and the associated form of dependency not as restricting, but as strengthening and enriching.
Sibylle, Elisabeth and I had the common guiding principle of the highest degree of insightful “trust” from the beginning! When it got difficult, we reminded each other of this with a motto that we always emphasized at the beginning: we do not strive for a product that is immediately ready and perfect, but instead concentrate on a motivating overall vision and a solid foundation on which everything can be based and may develop further step by step. Also that, following the initial practical experience, all of this can be reconsidered and developed further together with the other players. This trust in the process saved us from overdosing on structures and simultaneously allowed us to be clear about what it takes to get off to a good start with a view to inaugurating a sustainable process. Both our mutual trust and our trust potential in all other contributors have grown continuously.
Now, we are really excited to see how it continues. Of course, we hope that you like the new page and we look forward to your feedback and suggestions! Perhaps in the initial phase one or the other element will not run as smoothly as it should, but we will continue to work on that. In any case, we feel like carrying on with the process and maybe one or another new contributor will join in, too. Have fun browsing!