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Calling all sustainability practitioners: Please participate in this important survey being conducted by MSLS students

We are happy to spread the word about this important survey being conducted by some of The Natural Step's friends...


Greetings TNS friends and colleagues,

We are a team of three 2011 master’s candidates in the Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability (MSLS) programme at BTH, in Karlskrona Sweden. We have each taken a year away from our professional careers (TNS-US associate, corporate sustainability consultant, graphic designer) to deepen our knowledge of both the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD/The Natural Step Framework) and leadership for transformational change.

We are seeking input from practitioners who are actively applying the FSSD/TNS Framework in organizations to explore current approaches being used to engage organizations in change toward sustainability. 

We are specifically looking at engagement methodologies that consider dialogue as foundational for creating engagement for lasting change. Methodologies that are included in this study fall under the umbrella of the ‘Art of Hosting’ network and include:

  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Open Space Technology
  • World Café
  • Theory U
  • The Circle
  • Pro Action Café

For a brief explanation of each methodology please see below.

Essentially, we see many advantages in incorporating these methodologies, which are being used world-wide to help solve complex problems, with delivery of the FSSD/TNS Framework. We know that many practitioners are currently using some of these methodologies in client organizations with great results. We want to assemble this information to help create guidance for any interested FSSD/TNSF practitioner to use dialogue-based engagement methodologies in the ABCD process.

Our overarching research question is:

How can dialogue-based engagement methodologies be effectively integrated with delivery of the FSSD (specifically, the aspects of the ABCD process)?

We invite you to participate in this research project by completing a short survey, available on-line:

Please complete the survey by April 4, 2011.

Many thanks in advance to those of you willing to participate. We appreciate your support and look forward to sharing our results with you. If you have any questions, please contact Tracy Meisterheim,

Our final thesis will be archived and accessible from the BTH website (

All the best,

Tracy Meisterheim, Alison Cretney, Steven Cretney

Methodology Descriptions:

World Cafe: A methodology designed to foster interaction and dialogue in groups, where participants move between conversation clusters (cafe-style tables) in successive rounds (usually three), sharing ideas and insights. A “host” remains at each table to share key insights and questions with new table members and to harvest the final results.

Open Space: A methodology that facilitates participants in creating and managing their own agenda of parallel working sessions around a central theme of strategic importance. The intention is for the agenda to be set by those with the ability and desire to see it through. Open Space can be used in groups of 10 to 2000+.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI): A methodology that builds organizations around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn’t. AI identifies the best of ‘what is’ to pursue dreams and possibilities of ‘what could be’; a cooperative search for strengths, passion and life-giving forces that are found within every system and that hold potential for inspired, positive change. In practice, the ‘4-D’ model: Discover, Dream, Design, Destiny, is often used.

Theory U: A methodology to help practitioners develop a heightened state of attention (presencing) that facilitates individuals and groups in shifting the inner place from which they function. Theory U describes 5 main steps that lead from “letting go” of past models, ways of thinking, seeing and doing (moving down left side of the U), to co-creating and implementing models for a desired emerging future (moving up the right side of the U).

The Circle: An intentional form of dialogue based on shared leadership, thoughtful speaking and deep listening. Participants meet in a circle, often utilizing a ‘talking piece’. The Circle is an ancient form of meeting structured using agreements, practices and principles designed to care for the well-being of the participants, assure confidentiality, and focus on the dialogue at the 'center' of the circle instead of individual opinions.

ProAction Cafe: A methodology that blends World Cafe and Open Space. It is a space for creative and action- oriented conversations where participants are invited to bring their questions or projects to the other attendees to help move the project into action. There are three rounds of conversation in cafe style, each guided by a few generic questions to help deepen and focus the conversations.

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