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Quarterly Newsletter: Issue No. 10 December 2011
Reos Partners

Innovation in complex social systems.

Featured Article


Innovation As if the World Matters by Mia Eisenstadt

Project Updates


Instituto EcoSocial Change Lab by Christel Scholten and The North Star Scenarios by Colleen Magner

Upcoming Events


Build your capacity to effect social change at one of our courses and workshops

From Our Toolkit


Sharing Stories of Connection by LeAnne Grillo

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to Reos Partners' Quarterly Newsletter.

As 2011 draws to a close, we're reflecting on where we've been and where we're going, within our organization and in the world. It’s clear that if we are to make a difference, we each must step into the mess. The time is ripe for collective action, innovation, and renewal.

This newsletter issue gives us a chance to look at some of the basic premises of our work—why we bring diverse stakeholders together and what types of processes we find useful. Mia Eisenstadt of Oxford brings you her perspective in Innovation As if the World Matters: Creating Action and Change on Tough Social and Environmental Issues with Multi-Stakeholder Groups. This article is an exploration of the Change Lab approach, one of our core methodologies for enabling systemic change, and includes a look at some of the Change Labs that we've designed and facilitated.

From Brazil, Christel Scholten of São Paulo shares her experiences from our recent Change Lab with Instituto EcoSocial, and Colleen Magner of Johannesburg explores the North Star Scenario project aimed at addressing some of Port Elizabeth, South Africa's toughest social problems. Also in this issue, LeAnne Grillo provides the latest installment of our toolkit, Sharing Stories of Connection.

Thanks for reading. We send you warm wishes for 2012 from your Reos colleagues around the world

Reos Partners


Featured Article

Innovation As If the World Matters

Innovation as if the World Matters: Creating Action on 21st Century Issues with Multi-Stakeholder Groups

by Mia Eisenstadt

In this article, I argue that the time is right to innovate as if the world is at stake. We are at the point where we know where we want to go, whether it’s building a green economy, creating a massive number of jobs, or decreasing global carbon emissions. Now we need to move beyond bringing groups together to discuss vision, or the potential of collaboration and begin implementing action, one step at a time.

Where we lack the know-how to get to where we want to go, we need to experiment and create prototypes until we reach our desired outcomes. The process of technological innovation is well developed and globalised, from space travel to mobile phones. Now the time is ripe to prototype social, environmental, and economic solutions to put sustainable development into practice and aspire to make holistic actions where change is most critically needed.

Read the whole article


Project Updates

In each issue of our newsletter we highlight two of the projects that Reos teams are working on. Visit the Projects Page on our web site to learn more about the diverse contexts and issues we are addressing.


The Change Lab with Instituto EcoSocial in Brazil

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by Christel Scholten

Instituto EcoSocial ( was created in 2002 to promote human, organisational, and social development. In late 2010, a new leadership team approached the Reos Partners São Paulo office to facilitate a Change Lab process for the organisation’s 50 members. The members wanted to broaden their perception of the opportunities and challenges currently facing Brazil, revisit their organisational vision, and expand the role they can play in the sustainable development of the country.

The institute’s members are experienced professionals who identify with the principles of Social Ecology, a discipline rooted in Anthroposophy, which seeks the development of healthy relationships between people, within groups, and with society.  

Read the Whole Article


North Star Scenarios: Community Activation in South Africa

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by Colleen Magner

Reos Johannesburg is facilitating a community activation project in what is known as the “Northern Areas” of Port Elizabeth, an industrial city in the south of the country. Communities in this area have been hard-hit by a shrinking economy, job losses, and political infighting, resulting in increasing gang and drug activity, xenophobic attacks, and other social challenges.

The North Star Scenarios is the brainchild of the Northern Areas Peoples Development Initiative (NAPDI) and has been championed by local businessman Neil Campher, who grew up in the Northern Areas. The project aims to engage the residents of this community of roughly 250,000 in a common, purposeful conversation about possible futures. The initiative has brought together a wide range of community groups, including professionals, retirees, faith-based organisations, local city officials, and NGOs, and has partnered with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (CANRAD).

Read the Whole Article


From Our Toolkit

Sharing Stories of Connection

by LeAnne Grillo

Bringing diverse stakeholders together in a way that enables them to work effectively on their “stuck” issues is essential to what we do. While group members may be committed to the convening question, they may not agree on what the actual issue is, what is causing it, or what should be done about it.

As facilitators, we need to create a safe and nurturing space for people to begin to find common ground, build trust and respect, and develop relationships, not only at a professional but at a personal level. One way to begin this process is by helping people share their stories about why they care about the issue.

Connecting at a “heart level” moves people from the advocating and debating space to a more empathetic and compassionate place. While this exercise appears simple, it actually takes careful preparation and caretaking of the group to be successful.

Download the complete facilitator's notes for Sharing Stories of Connection.



Rapid Project Development with the U-Process

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The Creative Process of Entrepreneurship: Reos at the Emerge Conference

by Mia Eisenstadt and Zaid Hassan

On October 29, we facilitated a session called "The Creative Process of Entrepreneurship", held at the Emerge Conference at the Said Business School in Oxford, England (see One hundred and twenty participants attended the mini-workshop. The purpose of the session was to introduce them to an experience of the U-Process and for them to create physical models of their ideas of social enterprises.

After a brief taste of the U-Process, participants began prototyping. We supported them in forming teams around interest in collaboration or in a shared topic. They created physical models and then “pitched” them to the wider group. Teams came up with ideas ranging from prisoners learning skills so they can pay back the cost of their prison fees to a business plan competition for African university students. Dell also provided funding so that teams who were committed to their ideas could develop them and then later in the day propose them for start-up financing.

Participants said that they “loved the session” and that it “set the tone for the rest of the event”. We were pleased to hear that the groups that formed during this program in October are still collaborating on their projects in December. This staying power demonstrates that even a few hours of prototyping can produce lasting relationships, ideas, and capacities!


Quarterly Newsletter: Issue No. 10 December 2011