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Todd Johnston

Los Gatos (USA)

What is your mission in life?

Developing and deepening social processes for mutual learning and co-creation in harmony with living systems principles and regenerative practices.

What motivates you to join LCE?

I first learned about LCE from my mother, Gail Taylor, as she was coming into a relationship with the community. Throughout 2023, we spoke weekly, if not more frequently, in long, free-ranging conversations about the state of the world, current work, ideas we were reading about, and people we were meeting. LCE elicited as much excitement and enthusiasm from Gail as I’d felt her express in years.

As recently as a few months ago, Gail and I both felt that she was still in her “coming toward knowing” stage with the community and it was not formed or defined enough to consider inviting me to join with her. In the aftermath of her passing, I recognized LCE as a place/community that I didn’t want to lose contact with or connection to. It was emerging as too important, too promising in Gail’s eyes to simply leave alone.

With this in mind, I reached out to Eric Kohner, the LCE cofounder who had been working most closely with Gail. After two hour-long, open-ended conversations with Eric, we both felt that the fit was good and the timing was right for me to join the effort. That I could provide a throughline, a continuity of what he, Gail, and others had started due to my decades of work with and alongside her combined with my years of experience as a collaboration architect and process facilitator.

A subsequent conversation with LCE cofounder Alexander Laszlo, whom I’ve had the pleasure of calling a friend since we first worked together at the ISSS Annual Meeting in 2006, confirmed my desire to join the community.

How might you contribute to our mission (making 8 billion people, 10,000 cities, and our blue planet fully alive)?

No matter how high functioning LCE is as a distributed, virtual community, there will be times when the most powerful course of action will be to bring people together into a shared physical space and environment to socialize, explore, learn, and make collective decisions. While I suspect I can make contributions to the LCE is numerous ways, this is one area where I could begin from the get-go.

What are your superpowers/key competencies?

I don’t claim any superpowers. I do have a passion for and deep experience with collaboration design and facilitation and an ability to shape the way people work together in ways that release collaborative intelligence, foster mutual learning, and emerge new possibilities and sensibilities of what can be done.

What roles do you love playing?

Engaging with everyday extraordinary people from various backgrounds, identities, and communities seeking to be better at humaning and to create more positive social outcomes, together.

Organizations you represent and your role there?

The Value Web is a global community and network of designers, facilitators, entrepreneurs, and artists passionate about expanding the field of collaboration design and committed to changing the way societal decisions get made. Founded by myself and a dozen other practitioners of the MG Taylor methodology, I’ve been a part of this entity since its inception in 2005 and am currently a steward of its Learning Community.

Tomorrow Makers (currently in operational hiatus after the untimely death of founder Gail Taylor) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to partnering with, teaching, and enabling communities and community-based organizations to work together in ways that forge paths leading to a more equitable world for all living beings, and to the restoration of Earth as a work of art. I am a former officer and board member, now taking time to determine the next steps for the organization, post Gail.

Personal and professional interests, achievements, and any other facts you want to share?

The Long Now, Warm Data and transcontextuality, entrepreneurial ecosystems, and sonic facilitation, to name just a few.

More to share

If you’re looking for a pithy expression of some of my foundational mindsets and approaches to collaboration, you might like this Shift Paper Gail Taylor and I composed in late 2006 before introducing it during several workshops for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

If you’re interested in something a bit more substantive, Gail and I also co-authored an essay on paradigm shifts (an ongoing fascination of ours) in 2009. Please keep in mind this is by no means a scholarly take on the subject, but rather an informal conversational piece we were asked to do for a particular client. In 2023, Gail and I had begun to revisit and revise this essay in recognition not only of what we felt we “got right”, but what we missed or misunderstood.

In 2014 I gave a TEDx presentation in Livermore, California on Group Genius.

I keep a pretty low social media profile these days, but you can find me on LinkedIn if you’d like to learn more about how and where I’ve spent my years designing and facilitating collaboration.

Todd Johnston
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