05 Dec

Codesign-it: Journal of a journey

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From October 2017 through March 2018, I spent 6 months as a resident of the Codesign-it collective in Paris. This residence was an opportunity for me to learn new skills and to dive deep into the world of facilitators, consultants and coaches.

Codesign-it! is not a company in the traditional sense of the term. It is a collective of independent professionals brought together by one question: “How do we invent the world of tomorrow, together?”

It has a hybrid legal structure, where the business entity is owned by an association. There are no bosses, no work hours, no shareholders; but there are clients and there is profit. Dozens of members contribute to projects big and small, creating value.

Working with the collective was very insightful for me. I was impressed by the talent of its members, by their vision, by the thriving ecosystem in which it is embedded. The feedback that I received hinted that they, too, appreciated my presence.

Yet as the possibility of becoming a member was starting to manifest, something told me that the adventure was coming to an end. As welcoming as it was, the oasis was not my home.

In an attempt to understand why, I felt the need to undergo a long introspection and to capture this process in a “report”, which I called Voyage en congruence (literally: “Journey into congruence”).

To gather food for thought I interviewed a dozen members and residents and asked them to share their personal understanding of the collective, to tell me of their own beliefs, visions and challenges. I then let their voices live inside my head until my inner dialogue was able to sort out what was mine, and what was theirs.

It was a long and strenuous process, where I had to open the doors of my subconscious and accept contradictory emotions in order to shed light on my own decision process. As a professional I had always been able to hide behind the relative safety of software logic and explicit frameworks, so this was a new approach and I found it quite uncomfortable. But in the end, sitting with this discomfort and using it as a force to challenge my own beliefs taught me important lessons about who I really was. In return, it told something of value to the collective as well. Our shared beliefs, our differences, our common strive for understanding.

The result is a 42-page text that I handed in to them in June 2018.

Judging by my own standards and by its reception in the collective, this text possesses a rare quality that makes it quite special. This is largely due to the intersubjective nature of its inception and to the intensity of the self-defining process that impelled it. For this reason I remain too close to the text to attempt a translation from French to English.

I have the ambition to translate the lessons learned from the analog world of workshops and white boards into the virtual realities of computer geeks. This will take a bit of time, as the boundaries that separate our worlds are also layers in my own journey that need to be patiently woven together. To my own frustration I found that this work is a work of patience and endurance, where each trip up and down the spiral is slowly sewing the fabric of meaning like a giant evolving, organic puzzle.

Perhaps because it requires such persistence, the process has to be slow so this skill can be learned. This makes it certainly the most important work of all… It is the work. I am infinitely grateful to have met a collective of individuals who were so far ahead on the journey, paving the way for the likes of me.

So yes, translation will take a bit of time… For now, my fellow French speakers, enjoy your privilege.

The text of the Voyage was kindly reproduced by Greg Serikoff on the website of Codesign-it!, enriched with annotations to bring it up to date: http://codesign-it.com/2018/11/06/voyage-en-congruence/

It is available here in its original format, a pdf with illustrations.

This version includes a biography for the quotations and a few clarification edits. Thanks to Nicolas Wauquiez and Fabien Bataille for their feedback.

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