Self-Organization for Nonprofits


May 13 2021


Pacific Time
09:00 - 11:00

Image credit: Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

As the first quarter of the 21st century is nearing its end, we see the needs of individuals, communities and societies rapidly changing. The climate crisis, global pandemic, and increasingly complex technological, environmental and social developments are driving the need for change with ever increasing speed. Non-profits continue to take on more and more responsibilities that otherwise wouldn’t be dealt with. Yet, these brave and often under-resourced organizations are anchored in outdated legal and organizational systems that are not aligned with the needs or values of a regenerative future.

To truly be in resonance with what is needed for people and planet today and to increase their impact accordingly, it is time for nonprofits to shift into 21st century enterprise models. While the legal context in which a nonprofit is embedded will remain slow to adapt, there are proven concepts and practices that allow us to shift the way nonprofits organize in service of better fulfilling their purpose in ways that centre love and a life-giving future.

About This Program
This program introduces self-organization, both in theory and in its practical application for nonprofits. It addresses the fact that both people and organizations need to make the transformational shift together, though each with very different focuses and practices. The goal within self-organization is to reach symbiosis, where the people and the organization thrive within a mutually beneficial relationship.

This program covers the frameworks that can guide a nonprofit through this transformational change. It is grounded in the practical experience of the Whidbey Institute’s journey into self-organization.

The Sessions

Session 1: Thursday, May 6, 9am – 11am Pacific Time – Understanding Self-Organization (Recording will be provided once you register)
Session 2: Thursday, May 13, 9am – 11am Pacific Time – Self-Organization and Personal Development
Session 3: Thursday, May 20, 9am – 11am Pacific Time – Building a Self-Organized Non-Profit

Session 1: Understanding Self-Organization – Thursday, May 6, 9am – 11am Pacific Time
We begin by introducing a model of how to understand the principles of Self-Organization, how it applies to people and organizations and why it is a deep, powerful shift to adapt to the ever-increasing speed and complexity of our world.

We will clarify often conflicting terminology and how the many different aspects of self-organization are connected. Through this, we build the understanding why shifting into self-organization is such a deep transformational and meaningful journey.

Session 2: Self-Organization and Personal Development – Thursday, May 13, 9am – 11am Pacific Time
Building on the learnings from Module one, our focus shifts towards the personal development needs for the journey into self-organization. We learn about Language of Spaces™, a holistic framework to expand the core personal capacities needed to thrive in self-organization.

We look at the foundational capacity of the Language of Spaces™ framework – Differentiation and Integration: Understanding the values and embodying the practices necessary to differentiate and integrate the organizational and the personal aspects of work.

This capacity represents the basic pattern of evolutionary development in nature and therefore in us humans as well. This also builds the basic understanding of why people and organizations need different “spaces” and different practices to successfully transition and grow into self-organization.

Session 3: Building a Self-Organized Non-Profit – Thursday, May 20, 9am – 11am Pacific Time
In the last session of this program, we bring it all together by introducing the Symbiotic Enterprise™, a way to structure and run a non-profit where people, with their personal interests and interpersonal relationships, engage with the organization and its purpose in symbiosis for the mutual benefit of all.

Session structure
In each session you will get both theoretical and practical input. You will then be invited to small group conversations, followed by ample time for harvesting and Q&As.

What you will learn
In the three sessions you will gain a basic understanding of:

  • What self-organization is and what the different dimensions of the shift into self-organization are.
  • What it means to go through this shift, spoken from years of practical experience in many different organizations internationally and specifically in the Whidbey Institute.
  • Specific tools and practices that enable self-organization.
  • What self-organization means specifically for a non-profit context and how to get started.

Why is this important?
For decades, we have witnessed the emergence of alternative ways of organizing work (e.g. W.L. Gore since 1957, Sociocracy since the late 1970s, Ricardo Semler/Semco since 1980, Holacracy since 2007, Teal, and more). There is a deep need and desire in our society to work together in different ways. Companies of all kinds are more and more under pressure to shift their ways of organizing to a more contemporary form. And, in the last decade the principles of self-organization have found expression in different practices that provide some answers to what is needed now.

Making the shift into self-organization is a radical change that can liberate and empower the potential of people and organizations to the fullest. However, transformation is holistic and can be challenging. It requires dedication and continuous learning, as old structures, processes, and behaviors are transformed into new ways of collaborating and working in the world.

What this program is and is not
This program is for you if you are engaged in a non-profit organization and curious about, interested in, or already on the journey into self-organization.
This program is a first introduction and will not give you the tools and methods to actually go through this transformation.

Cost (in US Dollars)
Supporter – $350
Regular Price – $200
Supported – $50

Curious to learn more? Watch our Intro to Self-Organization for Nonprofits Zoom session here!

Christiane Seuhs-Schoeller
Always driven by pioneering the new, Christiane has been an entrepreneur for 30 years and an international Business Consultant for more than two decades. Her specialized focus on self-organization began over a decade ago with learning and practicing Holacracy.

Learning from the experience of what it means to make such a fundamental shift, both for organizations and for people, Christiane co-founded two self-organized enterprises, and Evolution at Work, integrating the real-life learnings and developing more holistic solutions for fully self-organized enterprises.

Driven by her personal purpose (“The unification of love and power”) and inspired by the years of exploring this new world of work and being, she is currently writing her book: “The Story of Love, Power and Purpose”.

Find more about Christiane’s work here:

Heather Johnson, Co-Executive Director
Heather Johnson has been a member of the Whidbey Institute team since 2010. With a background in business administration and nonprofit management, and specialization in financial modeling and management, her focus is integral organizational development: growing an organization’s systems, structures, practices, mindsets, and culture in alignment with a deep and worthy purpose. She’s a graduate of Pacific Integral’s Generating Transformative Change program, and has held leadership roles with Sustainable Connections in Bellingham where she was a founding staff member, served as Interim Director of both Sustainable Seattle and Excellence Northwest, and as Director of Finance and Accounting Blue Marble Biomaterials.

Marnie Jackson, Co-Executive Director
Marnie Jackson has been a member of the Whidbey Institute team since 2013. Prior to that time, she worked in nonprofit communications with the Humane Society of Skagit Valley and the Timber Framers Guild and as a writer for several magazines and newspapers. She’s also a former teacher with the Mount Baker Academy and has a bachelor’s degree in English from Suffolk University. She is a certified Language of Spaces coach and an enthusiastic member of our Symbiotic Enterprise, helping nurture and shape the evolution of self-organization at the Whidbey Institute. In addition to working with the Whidbey Institute, she volunteers with the Northwest Animal Rights Network, the Social Justice Solidarity Net (that) Works, and other social and environmental justice organizations.

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