Convergence Leadership Series #3

Photo credit: Linda Molnar

The third seminar on April 7 was dedicated to sensemaking. We talked about what is sensemaking, why is it important, and explored two methods for complex sensemaking: story telling and the debate.

As is our tradition, we started the seminar with a warm welcome to the whole human in our team members. This is our moment catcher check in question: over the past month, what were the moments you would like to remember? This is a gentle easing into the story telling part of the seminar.

Sensemaking: What and Why

Convergence Leadership Series #2

Liberating Structures

Photo credit: Dr. Linda Molnar

The second seminar on March 1 was dedicated to the second set of Liberating Structures/LS. The specific string of LS includes Impromptu Networking, TRIZ, Wise Crowd, and Chatter fall.

We started this seminar by reiterating the importance of facilitation: running a successful meeting is one of the most important leadership tasks.

Our Flow

Step 1. We used Impromptu Networking to check in with each other with this prompt: I like (season/month)…because…. We had 3 rounds of paired conversations, 3 minutes each round.

Step 2. We used TRIZ to generate ways to improve our team processes with this prompt: what are all the…

Convergence Leadership Series #1

Liberating Structures

Picture Credit: Dr. Linda Molnar

Building on the success of last year’s Conversation Cafe series, we are going to host monthly seminars on Convergence Leadership during the spring semester this year. We are going to learn and practice practical tools for team science, ranging from facilitation methods to complex ways of seeing, sensemaking, collaborating, and creating. In addition to introducing these tools to our team members, this seminar series also holds the space for us to make sense of team experience together. …

Adaptive Space Practice Group Series 1

The twin cycles: u.lab and Adaptive Space

We launched the Adaptive Space Practice Group to complement both the u.lab 2x global community and the Adaptive Space Learning Group.

A word on the history of Adaptive Space

U.lab and Adaptive Space

Adaptive Space is an evolution of the Pitt u.lab hub, which started in the fall of 2019. From fall 2019 to spring 2020, the Pitt u.lab hub was in complete sync with the u.lab global community (a.k.a The Societal Transformation Lab as in the graph above). Two missions of the u.lab global community attracted me the most: to develop community capacity for transformation and to bridge the knowing-doing gap.

However, much as I appreciated the support provided by both…


Reflections from co-hosting the NSF workshop

My recent experience organizing and participating in NSF Convergence Accelerator future topic selection workshops gave me great food for thought. Combining my experience as the developmental evaluator for the NSF-GCR circular economy project, I cannot help but think that complexity science and convergence research are a match made in heaven. As a complexity leadership scholar and practitioner, I am interested in applying principles and practices of complexity in accelerating convergence research. Below are my initial musings.


A convergence accelerator team, consisting of diverse disciplines and stakeholders, works to converge upon breakthrough solutions for society’s complex challenges. Convergence can be challenging…


Developmental evaluation consultation with the team

Leading versus Lagging Indicators

So far we have collected two snapshots of the team’s social networks: in February and in August. Results from the social network data reveal information on the health of the team, just as results from a person’s annual physical exam reveal information about the person’s physical health. Here is the result in a nutshell: The social connectivity has greatly improved over the course of six months, but still sub-communities tend to cluster around disciplines.

A good doctor not only cares about statistics about your body in the past, which are lagging indicators, but also points you towards pathways to improve…


Where vulnerability is safe and empathy is abundant

Image: Lydia Chlpka

Coaching circle is my favorite method in the Theory U constellation. I regard such small, close-knit and coherent groups as prototypes for the “third place for psychological wellbeing”.

The “third place” is a sociology-inspired concept, referring to another place outside home and work that people can gather and build a sense of community. One of Starbucks early guiding principles has been to hold a “third place” where customers can gather and connect. If Starbucks models ideal physical space for such gatherings, what should the social fabric look like? Coaching circle provides one way of constructing the social fabrics.

Because of…

Intentional Social Spaces Series #1

My personal reflections after hosting 16 weekly circles during COVID-19

Coaching circle is my favorite method in the Theory U universe. So when social solidarity circle came along as part of the GAIA journey, Presencing Institute’s rapid response to COVID-19, I jumped on the band wagon immediately. Between end of March and end of July, 2020, I hosted 16 social solidarity circles altogether. With the new u.lab cycle starting in September, our social solidarity circles merged organically into coaching circles again.

I have many fond memories from the social solidarity circles I was fortunate enough to share with old and new friends. It does not matter the state I entered…

Adaptive Space Community Member Spotlight Series #1

Picture: Gemma leading Ideation Expo in 2018

In this series, we are spotlighting our community members. In the Adaptive Space, we make room to receive the insights our community members have to offer. This series is where we will discover each other’s gifts! We will be spotlighting one story per week. Please engage with our star of the week by participating in the conversation below.

First up, we are excited to introduce Dr. Gemma Jiang! Gemma has been the host of the Pitt u.lab hub since 2019. She founded the hub with the mission to provide a home for those interested in learning about Theory U and…

Gemma Jiang, PhD

Founding Director, Organizational Innovation Lab of University of Pittsburgh. Founding host, Pitt u.lab hub. Capacity builder for social transformation.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store