Stone Soup Blog


When we add what we have together, magic happens. Stories, ideas, practices, places & people are like ingredients in a hearty life-giving soup. They tickle your tastebuds, stimulate your mind, warm your heart & stick to your ribs. May they inspire!

January 15, 2018

How stories can support cross-cultural understanding

My first deep immersion international experience came at 17, when I was an exchange student in Germany during my last year in High School.  The biggest discovery I made was that there was more to difference than just language.  Germans had a different perspective of life than I’d
January 10, 2018

Find the WHY behind your story

I haven’t seen The Greatest Showman yet, but I’m predisposed to like movie musicals — I got it from my mother. I’m also the person who loves stories — the behind-the-scenes-what-really-happened-and-how-it-was — kind of stories. That’s why I love this one. Seems it has taken Hugh Jackman eight
January 3, 2018

Happy New Year — what’s the new story of you?

So many of us believe new year seems to call for a new start.  Maybe we’ve done the review and reflection on the year gone by. We’ve sifted, and sorted and clarified.  We wrote a list of all the things we no longer want and one with all our
December 21, 2017

Push PAUSE and look for a passion reset

Have you ever noticed how magnetic passionate people are?  You want to listen to them, be around them, catch a spark of their fire. They seem almost bigger than life. The Danish language has a word for this kind of a person. It is “ildsjael” or fire soul.
December 18, 2017

The Danish word “dannelse” — creating active and aware citizens

What does it take to be an active and aware citizen?  The Danish language has a word for that — “dannelse”.  In the late 1700’s as people moved from being serfs citizens, Denmark evolved the world’s first adult education system — the Danish Folk High School, still operating
December 11, 2017

Piecing together a new story: 30 years of the AIDS quilt

During my years at university — and for some time after — I was a member of a student organisation.  AIESEC specialised in traineeship exchange in those days, offering students a chance to experience organisational life in another country.  When I was offered a role at the US
December 9, 2017

The Danish view of the importance of being on the same eye level (“At vaere i oejenhoejde”)

If our resources are people instead of gold or diamonds or landmass, how do you work with them?  How do we move beyond hierarchies and really work together?  Toke Paludan Moeller talks about the importance Danes place on  being in eye level.  It is something they speak about
December 9, 2017

The Swedish word “lagom” — what the Scandinavians know about teaming

There are so many challenges to working with groups these days.  What do we know about teaming that makes sense today? It seems an appropriate time to post the the next language contribution from Sweden — the word “lagom”, which literally means “team around”.  Here, Ulric Rudebeck explains both
December 9, 2017

The Swedish word “fika” — so much more than a coffee break!

It’s the weekend — time to think about how you nurture yourself and your connection with others. Here’s Kajsa Balkfors talking about the way Swedes make taking a break a national institution.  Fika is an extremely important part of the Swedish lifestyle and a time when stories are
December 9, 2017

The Danish word “Ting” — how the council still impacts Scandinavians

I’m having such a good time collecting a new depth of understanding on words in other languages. Every language has concepts that are not translatable into other languages, concepts that speak to the culture and nature of people and place. They are stories within words.  Here, Svend-Erik Engh,
December 9, 2017

The Danish word “hygge” — it’s more than cozy

I love language! In fact, if I were ever in the Matrix and the offered me the red pill of all physical prowess or the blue pill of being able to understand all languages, I DEFINITELY take the blue pill! As I travel around the world, I will
November 8, 2017

Why isolating the parts can make a better whole

I’ve been working away quietly at the hotel getting ready for my sessions at the Faciliteringsdagarna in Stockholm starting tomorrow. There has been a pre-conference session going on with Michael Wilkinson and I checked in with the participants at lunch. What Kalle said made me think. He told me he’d
October 31, 2017

Making space for stories that remind us who we are

We were busy setting up the room when she came in. She was a large woman with white, fly-away hair and voluminous clothes. She had a fat, fluffy dog on a lead and a cane in one hand and was dragging what is commonly known as a “nana
October 20, 2017

The top issue facing us today is…

What would you name as your top societal issues? Here’s my list: How do we live well together? (and who is “we” anyway?) Connection & engagement – what stimulates these? Why don’t we talk about power? (and linked to that, violence, generational challenges, the crisis of self esteem,
September 6, 2017

The city of the future is the one people narrate together

If you’ve ever been to Montreal, you will have experienced the vibrant hum of the city. It is a city that has distinctive neighbourhoods and an international flavour, and it is also a city committed to exploring and vitalising diversity. 2017 marks 375 years for Montreal and the
August 29, 2017

First imperative for leading in complexity: Learn to listen

From my desk on the first floor I can just hear the muted ring of the Japanese temple bell I brought back from my trip last week. Below the sound of traffic, the lawn mowing services, the cacophony of late summer insect noises, it is there, reminding me
August 24, 2017

Talking about the 8 Breaths of Process Architecture in Tokyo

I’ve just come from a marvellous two weeks in Japan.  We began with an Art of Hosting training in a small town outside of Kyoto, working with a group of 60 to embed participatory practice and the capacity to host and harvest conversations that matter.  The following week,
August 8, 2017

How story is building the platform economy

I’ve met many leaders in my time. There were those who were busy trying to keep it all together in the face of complexity. There were those who continually rearranged the deck chairs in the idea that structure would lead to different outcomes. And then there were those
August 3, 2017

Working with Story Activism to change the future in organisations

The first question people often ask me is how I began calling myself a Story Activist. Naming yourself something takes time and it takes inspiration. Chinese friends talk about how difficult it is to find the perfect name for a child, because in their tradition this name is
July 25, 2017

What do we do when we don’t know what to do?

Everyone knows that feeling — that sense of standing in the fog, not seeing anything clearly. Issues are piling up, the complexity has rise from ankle deep to waist high and you don’t know what to do. It feels like you’ve fallen into a hole. Welcome to the not-knowing.


Congratulations, you found the secret story!

THE GOLDEN CITY speaks to the power that comes from seeing a better future. 

There once was a city in the desert that had a fabled history, but no longer.  At the time when the old king died, it was a hard and ragged place.  The new king wondered what to do. He turned to his advisors, the noble families, the wise people and the oracles. After many months, he turned to his own heart and there he found the answer.

The next morning when the people awoke, the central shrine of the city was covered with cloths and roped off from view. There was obviously something happening, but no one knew what it was. Finally the building was unveiled, and inside at one end there was a huge screen hiding something. Visiting merchants were invited to view what was behind the screen, but could never reveal it otherwise they could never again enter the city.  They emerged with looks of wonder, but not one ever spoke of what they had seen.

Soon the advisors and the noble families clamoured to be allowed to see what had been shown to the merchants. Finally the ordinary citizens were allowed in. They too emerged with wonder on their faces and never spoke of what they had seen, but slowly things began to change.

The city began to rebuild.  Where there was hardness, there was now kindness and caring.  People began to work harder, to dream more, and to treat each other with new respect.  Slowly buy surely the city returned to its fabled reputation and the people coming to see it brought wealth and prosperity.

What was the magic?  Behind the screen, in a relief made of purest gold, the king had had his vision of the perfect city made.  The Golden City gleamed its magic into every heart and mind and the people made it so.

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