Last February I was honored once again with the facilitation of an artistic visualization in our 3rd ci2i Global event Learn/ Share Lab for Co-creative Impact and Innovation.

Believe me when I say honored, I mean it.  God knows how much I enjoy creating these activities, and being a vehicle to make things happen not having a clue what will come out but confident that the results will  exceed my expectations (if there is still any, because here I try hard to expect nothing and to let things flow, hard task for us humans).

As time goes by (yes Sam play it again) I enjoy more and more the fact that the outcomes of the artistic visualizations do have own life.

Each artist breathing life into his/ her creation: hands, hearts and spirits guided by the emotional intelligence. Isn´t that a privilege? It is fun time, time to be playful, precious moments to connect with ourselves and with others through the lense of art.

My offer is simple:

  • A name: the activity has a name, as everything must for our sake. A notion that structures the idea to work in, the word (or words) that will structure our thoughts, a path to move on.
  • A comment: brief – very, very – did I say it? once again very brief explanation, never on what is intended to, because nothing is intended, but a brief description of the materials that are offered, the space where we can work and the timing.

One of the things that thrills me most is the feeling that,  by the time I am on my own designing,  I hardly know the people that will take part of the art activity; but when it takes place, there is a  whole new bondage with those  “new dear artists”.

The ci2i team worked hard and gracefully in the design of the Learn/ Share Lab for Co-creative Impact and Innovation   so when thinking in the art activity, the words that came vividly to me were UNIQUENESS and TOGETHERNESS. Somehow they materialized what for me was all the co-creative process in which we, ci2i founders, were immersed in those pre Lab days. Each of us was bringing her uniqueness (personality, experience, light and shadows) to the process convinced that with our togetherness (collective knowledge, social commitment and will for the global good) the Learn Share Lab will come true.

And by the time the cases on co-creation started flowing in for their selection as case presenters to the event, the sense of those two words grew stronger.

The 9 selected practices (from the 21 that had arrived to us from all over the world) on co-creative approaches in social organizations, business corporations, universities and developing communities confirmed that their uniqueness and togetherness should be the guidelines for the Lab´s artistic visualization.

So I found myself on a wonderful February Chiang Mai night facilitating an activity with 25 co-creative artists, case presenters, practitioners and ci2i team members.

Now reflecting on those 3 Lab “juicy days” (reading blogposts, the Edgeryders dialogues, enjoying the pictures) I reflect in the leadership issue, to appreciate its evolution during the art visualization experienced as it developed.

It was night (almost 9 pm) and I proposed to do art to a very tired audience who had worked their heads off on that of the first lab day. I was a bit hesitant on the timing, the willingness and, of course, the success of this activity.

As the leader, I found myself trying to bring confidence and enthusiasm to the group, compensating with jokes and big corporal movements the sleepiness that I assumed was conquering everybody.

It was the way of leadership we are used to: one strong voice, with one strong idea engaging the will and work of the group. I briefly introduced the activity (name), its intention, timing and materials to work with (comment), making a special point that we should have fun.

The invitation was made… now what? As the leader I was anxious. Why?  I was afraid that things wouldn´t flow, though sure as I am that these activities role by themselves. The anxiety dissolved a few minutes later when the colors, glitters, glue, plastic boards and wooden sticks began to flow in the room.

Materials Mandala artistic visualizations @ Chiang Mai (Feb 2014)

Materials Mandala artistic visualizations @ Chiang Mai (Feb 2014)

Hands on artistic visualizations @ Chiang Mai (Feb 2014)

Hands on artistic visualizations @ Chiang Mai (Feb 2014)

Art was welcomed as a moment to play and relax, a new space where the leadership role naturally adjusted to, taking a step aside. I found myself watching and being at hand to particular questions and needs. Everyone was creating with enthusiasm, empowered in their arts and commenting to the ones sitting near. Uniqueness was excelling.

Respectful of the timing, I reassumed the leadership in informing that the activity would be completed on the following morning. Some artists went to rest, some chose to go on with their creations.

Speaking on the evolution of leadership, the following morning was a quite surprise to me. As soon as I shared the invitation to place creations on a common table to visualize them, participants started to move the pieces, commenting on which they think should go next to which, according to what they were expressing. Hands and words started flowing and relocating the art pieces, debating if there was sense in that move, if the owner agreed on the move.

Suddenly the traditional leader role I was holding was evolving into many leaders, many respectful leaders thinking together in the relations to each other´s pieces and minding the integrity of the whole.

There was even one participant that hadn´t done the art activity the night before but found himself offering a rock from the nearby river to be part of the collective, and was gladly accepted and even relocated in the whole. That was the moment I spoke to myself “wow, isn´t this co-creativity?” Togetherness was excelling.

Now, almost three months later, through the lense of leadership I can shared that I have experienced the evolution of the traditional leader role to a co-creative one. The simple, deep and generous art made it visible and tangible to all.


"respectful leaders thinking together in the relations to each other´s pieces and minding the integrity of the whole. "

“respectful leaders thinking together in the relations to each other´s pieces and minding the integrity of the whole. “

During the open space sessions at the Learn / Share Lab we debated on co- creative leadership and we arrived to some conclusions that totally fitted in the Uniqueness and Togetherness Art Visualization I facilitated such as:

  1. in co-creative approaches there may be many leaders (yes there were!) but they may not be as obvious (though they felt pretty obvious to me in the art visualization)
  2. in co-creative approaches there may be many different coordinators who have different areas of responsibility. Rather than “leaderless”, they “leaderful”  (aha! Leaderful yes! it was sensed in the air)
  3. there is often a difference between an initiator/s and a leader/s in co-creative contexts  (may I call myself initiator in a the co-created art activity?)
  4. there is shared responsibility and authority for activities and outcomes and often contribution from many others.
  5. empowering people to express the diversity of ideas reflected . I HOPE TO HAVE BEEN A VEHCILE TO THIS.

Much gratitude to these co-creative leaders. come in, meet them here  UNIQUENESS & TOGETHERNESS recap pics2 CTocalliArt 2014

Carolina Tocalli


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