CMM Intensive at Fielding Graduate University Summer Session in Chicago: Mindfully Engaging the Heart with CMM

pic1As we began our day together, we asked our participants why they were there. When we heard the response “My heart told me to come,” we knew it would be a special day – and it was.

We coordinated in advance about what we wanted to accomplish, and had our PowerPoint deck at the ready. Our first commitment was to emergence – to see who showed up, what their interests were and how they wanted to engage, to attend to what we were making together, and how we were making it.

We shared our history about learning CMM with Barnett Pearce, and(?) described his influence on Fielding Graduate University, the communication field, and on our academic path.

pic2Frank Barrett, Fielding Professor and Barnett’s colleague, joined us at lunch and shared his heartfelt memories of Barnett. He recalled the emotion he felt when he spoke with Barnett about how CMM woud live on at Fielding. Frank also spoke about his current research, applying some principles of CMM to look at the patterns that might lead some military members to suicide. Here too was an example of how CMM as a practical theory might be consequential to the analysis of restoring meaning and healing to veterans, in this case.
pic4Looking at another real-world global example to illustrate the dynamics and complexity of social construction, Ilene introduced a colleague from her recent trip to Israel to the room via video. We sampled a TED talk by Dalia Fadila, which illustrated some of the complexity we had been modeling, as applied to the complex construction of social identities in the Middle East. (Dalia’s engaging talk can be viewed here.)
Near the end of the day, the energy in the room shifted once again, from conceps and models and “macro thinking” back to the personal level. Fielding faculty member and CMM scholar practitioner Placida Gallegos joined as we moved deeper into the heart of the work with a story from one of the participants. We used circular questioning as we explored his story. We listened as the story unfolded, and applied what we had been learning during the course of the day to deepen meaning and create new possibilities.

pic3We ended with the shared feeling that emergence had happened, with each of us walking away with something we needed (but perhaps could not put into words). We acknowledged a day of dancing together – accommodating the questions, shifting energy shifts (restructure the phrasing here), and moments of confusion and attending to the unfolding.


The Wholeness Principle and Stories of Diversity and Inclusion: A Reflexive Approach

By: Ilene Wasserman

All eyes were glued on the stage.  John, a self-avowed reformed neo-Nazi sat with the director and producer of the movie that told his story, ready and available for questions.  The questions and comments came one by one.  “How did you make the decision to leave the movement?”  “How wonderful you are to risk your life to tell your story!” The conversation that followed the movie was both inspiring and riveting.  There was time for one more question.

 “My entire family was murdered in the holocaust by the Nazis.  When you think back to when you were beating people up and murdering them in the street, can you tell me, where was your humanity?”

Pause “First, I want to say how sorry I am for your loss.  I can’t imagine the pain that you live with having lost your entire family.  To answer your question, I don’t know where my humanity was – if it was even there.”


For those who are committed to “live” the principles and philosophy of Appreciative Inquiry, this exchange might seem like a clear example of elevating the shadow in the turns of a conversation.  The question posed in the second paragraph above, spoke directly to the horrifying acts that continue to be perpetuated on innocent people and contextualize those acts in a period of history when the genocide of groups of people were conducted in a methodological way.  The tenor of the question departed from the preceding pattern of comments and questions, which amplified the heroic choice of the reformer.  This encounter, one of two deeply textured narratives:  those of a “transformed white supremist” and a child of holocaust survivors whose life work is to share photographs of victims[1] with the world and to, in the process, help families build connections where bridges have been lost, shines a light on the value and importance of embracing the wholeness principle.

[1] Photographs, which were collected from prisoners as they entered the concentration camp, were discovered by this woman during a tour of the camps over a decade ago.


Click the link to see the full text of this article.

Metaphors of Identity and Professional Practice Learning From the Scholar–Practitioner

By: Kathy Kram, Ilene Wasserman, Jeffrey Yip


Historically, professional identity was viewed as a singular construct, and the boundary-spanning dynamics of subidentities remained unexamined. More recently, identity scholars have paved the way to consider the multiple personal and social identities that comprise an individual’s professional identity. These dynamics are exemplified by the unique challenges that scholar–practitioners regularly encounter. To deepen understanding of variations in how scholar–practitioners enact their professional identity, we interviewed young scholar–practitioners who completed their doctorates in the past 7 years, as well as seasoned scholar–practitioners with at least 20 years of experience. We elicited metaphors from the interviewees to explore the complexities of their professional identity and subidentities and the challenges that scholar–practitioners face at different stages of career development. We offer implications for the future socialization of scholar–practitioners and others in boundary-spanning roles.

The full text of the article is available at  The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science


Group Work and Dialogue – NCORE May 31, 2012

Ilene, Placida Gallegos and Steve Schapiro recently presented “Group Work for Racial Justice: Transforming Self, Group & Systems” at the NCORE conference in May. If you are interested in viewing the presentation or the book chapter they co-wrote on the same subject, please email to be added to the Dropbox folder. The files are too large to embed here.

An Ecological Systems Perspective on Mentoring at Work: A Review and Future Prospects


After nearly 30 years as a subject of inquiry, mentoring remains a mainstay in the organizational literature, as relationships are arguably more important than ever to employees’ personal and career growth. In this paper, we take an ecological perspective to situate and review topical areas of the literature with the intention of enhancing our understanding of how mentoring outcomes for prote ́ge ́s and mentors are determined not only by individual differences (e.g., personality) and dyadic factors (e.g., the quality of a relationship)—both of which represent the most frequently examined levels of analyses—but also the influences of the people from various social spheres comprising their developmental network, the larger organization of which they are a part, and macrosystem factors (e.g., technological shifts, globalization) that enable, constrain, or shape mentoring and other developmental relationships. Our review examines multi-level influences that shape mentoring outcomes, and brings into focus how the study of mentoring can be advanced by research at the network, organizational, and macrosystem levels. To help guide future research efforts, we assert that adult development and relational schema theories, Positive Organizational Scholarship, a social network perspective, signaling theory, and institutional theories can help to address emerging and unanswered questions at each ecological level.

The full text is available in this .pdf: Annals Ecological Mentoring

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