Many pieces of the CT methodology draw directly from human experience; some of it pre-historic. We have met and conversed in circle, as equals, for millennia. We find it humourous that stakeholders have aversion to our table-free open circles, not believing that this structure could be used for any meaningful work. Then, as soon as we give them an unstructured break, they stand up and talk, you guessed it, in groups of circles, within the larger frame of chairs. And were you to ask, all those conversations are meaningful conversations. So we forget, but we still work the way we have for thousands of years.
First Nations communities from across Canada, and indeed from around the world, are accustomed to talking in circle. They are accustomed to conversations that diverge before they converge. They are accustomed to events starting whenever they start, taking as long as they taken, and that once they are over, they are over – and people move on. In our rigid, highly-structured and meeting-planned environment, some of these concepts are absolutely foreign. Within our environment, we respect start and end times, but what happens across the course of the day is instantly variable, always.
We have used talking sticks since our very first event in 1998, although we sometimes like to refer to them as “listening sticks”, because that term reminds everyone who ISN’T holding the stick what their role is!