Ten years ago Tsumura-sensei created the Human Relations Center at Nanzan University in Nagoya. Twenty years before, he had been trained by NTL – National Training Laboratories for Experiential Learning – in “T” Group processes. He became passionate about experiential learning.
What I hadn’t understood was that “T” group work is really a key ancestor to much of the work I and others are doing these days. It starts from the idea that people come together to talk, and then start to learn from their separate and collective experience.
At the end of November, sixty people who were connected to the Human Relations Center came together for a full day to talk about their own learning and work and to help envision what the next ten years of the Centre might be. Then for the next two evenings, we did evening workshops with smaller groups exploring this field of ideas about stepping into your self and your passion as an engine for change.
Sometime, early on, Tsumura-sensei and I were talking and I mentioned “elegant next miniumum step” – a phrase I use often in Japan to help people think about working with emergence. Tsumura-sensei’s face looked confused and he said, “well, I’m usually dorokusa,i” which literally means messy and smelly, of the earth. We kept coming back to this tension between elegant and dorokusai over the next couple of days. Where I think we finally landed is that it is important to aspire to elegance and beauty AND, often what we end of doing is a bit dorokusai. We bring in beauty when and where we can, and sometimes we proceed without it – but even when we do so, we do so consciously and with an eye to creating beauty and elegance wherever we can.
I’m very curious about how the Human Relations Centre will find its elegant next step. In some ways it feels to me like it needs to grow beyond its roots and to work with a wider range of possibilities which exist now. I’m fascinated by what might happen if it formed a partnership with KDI to bring Future Center work to corporations in the Nagoya region. In so many cases the way we step beyond current form is to create new partnerships and sense into new possibilities.
Delightful folks. I’d love to keep working with them.