A big breakthrough for all group process folks…

For almost 5 years I’ve been involved with envisioning and creating a “pattern language” for group process. (A pattern language is a set of design factors to guide people in creating things that are wholesome and life-giving – vibrant communities, effective curricula, engaging software… and great conversations.) That process has now come to fruition.

In 2008 Peggy Holman and I did an all day workshop on “A Pattern Language for Conversations that Matter” to introduce the idea of pattern languages to professionals in the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD). That winter, Tree Bressen invited me to a multi-day gathering at her home to actually construct a pattern language on group process. That session began what proved to be a profoundly complex and challenging task facilitated by Tree and her tiny core team of volunteers – all pieced together on a gigantic wiki and Google docs and dozens of meetings. I participated in a few more of their multi-day work sessions over the years, but about a dozen other volunteers did far more work than I did. Last year I wrote a blog post on the project for NCDD – http://ncdd.org/4535 – and a couple of weeks ago wrote a personal blog post – http://post.ly/534Wr – on the transformational potential of pattern languages of all kinds – and why I consider them profoundly important. But the big news now is that the pattern language so many of us labored for so many hours to produce has now been released as a gorgeous card deck.

I can’t recommend this resource highly enough for anyone seeking to create high quality conversations of any kind for any purpose. This card deck is THE premier navigational tool for powerful conversations. It goes deeper than methodology and is more practical than theory. It is designed to help us understand what is going on and how to make it better. It offers greater flexibility and power to our practices of dialogue, deliberation, mediation, choice creating, and conversation of all types. It is available electronically FREE for the taking – and only costs $25 if you want a physical printed boxed deck.

And to top it all off – it is beautiful.

So I hereby invite you into a new world of conversational adventure and insight, available to you right now.




After three years of work by a team including over 50 people, the Group Works card deck – the first product of the Group Pattern Language Project – has now been released! The deck consists of 91 full-colour cards (plus a few blanks to add your own patterns) – as well as a five-panel explanatory categories card and a booklet explaining the purpose and history of the project and suggesting uses for the cards in group process work.

Each card depicts and describes a “pattern” – a factor that can help you make conversations, meetings and conferences more productive and full of life. It also directs you to other pattern cards related to the topic featured on the card you are holding. The patterns range from “Aesthetics of space” to “Yes, and…” They address everything from the purpose of a meeting to the relationships among the participants, from emotion to accomplishment, from creativity and spirit to courage and learning.

If you want to preview the entire deck, all 91 patterns are displayed at groupworksdeck.org – and you can even download a free pdf of all the cards and print out your own set. Or, if you prefer the easy path, you can buy a beautifully boxed set for only $25. (Soon there will even be a smart phone app with the whole deck on it. Track our website http://groupworksdeck.org for that upcoming news.)

The deck is designed to support your process as a group convenor, planner, facilitator, or participant. We developers spent several years pooling our knowledge of the best group events, processes and dynamics we have ever witnessed and distilling that knowledge into a coherent set of insightful data points with dozens of uses, presented in the handy modular physical form of a card deck.

We looked at meetings, conferences, retreats, town halls, and other sessions that give organizations life, solve longstanding dilemmas, get stuck relationships flowing again, deepen understanding, produce clear decisions with wide support, and make a lasting difference. We also looked at routine, well-run meetings that simply bring people together to get lots of stuff done. And we made sure to consider what makes such conversations juicy and fun.

These cards are yours to use in whatever ways make sense and work for you: in the workplace, in design and preparation of facilitated events, as a learning and teaching tool, for reflecting on how an event went, or just to play with. The website and booklet explain some of the ways the cards have been used by facilitators and students so far, to give you some ideas to get started with, and we invite you to share your experiences and stories with us. In the last month we’ve heard of new uses we never dreamed of.

* To see and explore all the patterns right now, visit http://groupworksdeck.org/patterns
* To order copies of the deck or download a free PDF copy, visit http://groupworksdeck.org/deck
* To explore ideas of how to use them, go to http://groupworksdeck.org/activities
* To learn about who was involved in creating it, go to http://groupworksdeck.org/acknowledgements
* To explore the original wiki that is still being used for ongoing development of the pattern language – and where most patterns are described and explored in greater detail than on the cards – go to http://grouppatternlanguage.org

Finally, as noted above, this is just the beginning. These cards are only the tip of an enormous evolving iceberg of knowledge. We invite you into ongoing activities to continue to evolve the group process pattern language on its wiki and ultimately produce new, ever-more advanced versions of the deck forever – tapping the process wisdom of even more people in order to make this resource even more valuable. If you’d like to participate in that – or just stay informed about news and developments in this project – go to http://groupworksdeck.org/participation

For more information on the deck, visit our website: http://groupworksdeck.org


Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440
site: http://www.co-intelligence.org / blog: http://tom-atlee.posterous.com
Read THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY – http://www.taoofdemocracy.com and
REFLECTIONS ON EVOLUTIONARY ACTIVISM – http://evolutionaryactivism.com
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