Feedback without Criticism

I have yet to meet a person who likes criticism. Instead, what most of us do is contract inside when we hear a criticism. Sometimes we respond defensively, sometimes we add the criticism to our pile of self-judgment, and sometimes we deflect and ignore what’s being said. In the process, we rarely manage to make use of the vital information and opportunities that useful feedback can provide: learning, better teamwork, or simply insight and understanding.

Strengthening Collaboration Through Encouraging Dissent

The first time I heard that groups thrive on dissent, I didn’t like the idea. It came up in conversations with Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute, back in the mid-1990s. Tom was clear, based on his experience in activist movements and especially on a cross-country peace march, that dissent is essential for groups to function intelligently. So much so that if a group had too little dissent, he advocated for actively cultivating it to keep the group fresh and creative.

Collective Knowledge

Developing novel applications based on deep tech (ML, AI, HPC, quantum, IoT) and deploying them in production is a very painful, ad-hoc, time consuming and expensive process due to continuously evolving software, hardware, models, data sets and research techniques.

After struggling with these problems for many years, we started the Collective Knowledge project (CK) to decompose complex systems and research projects into reusable, portable, customizable and non-virtualized CK components with the unified automation actions, Python APIs, CLI and JSON meta descriptions.

Our idea is to gradually abstract all existing artifacts (software, hardware, models, data sets, results) and use the DevOps methodology to connect such components together into functional CK solutions. Such solutions can automatically adapt to evolving models, data sets and bare-metal platforms with the help of customizable program workflows, a list of all dependencies (models, data sets, frameworks), and a portable meta package manager.

CK is basically our intermediate language to connect researchers and practitioners to collaboratively design, benchmark, optimize and validate innovative computational systems. It then makes it possible to find the most efficient system configutations on a Pareto frontier (trading off speed, accuracy, energy, size and different costs) using an open repository of knowledge with live SOTA scoreboards and reproducible papers.

Conflict Hotline

Berkeley Community Television broadcast 22 episodes of the Conflict Hotline, a monthly television show featuring Miki Kashtan and other BayNVC trainers. A Conflict Coach, usually Miki, guided the other trainers through role-plays in order to support callers and other viewers in learning about using NVC for resolving conflicts and for healing. Previously the show was broadcast on KPFA radio. Many people have found this to be an exciting way to bring NVC alive for viewers.

The Compassion Course

From Thom:

The NYCNVC Compassion Course is the result of my last 28 years as a writer and trainer, and the past 15 years, studying, living and teaching Nonviolent Communication (NVC). It’s my way of making the skills of compassionate living available to anyone, regardless of time and money constraints.

The 2016 Compassion Course (currently in progress) has more than 5,000 participants from over 100 countries. For six years running, this course has proven to be “life-changing”, “fun” and “transformational” (check out the quotes below).

How It Works

Through weekly email messages, the course imparts concepts, stories and practices that empower us to be more compassionate. We learn clear practices that help us and those around us, have more understanding and well-being in our lives (see sample weeks below). The weekly messages explain and demonstrate ways of thinking, speaking and acting that allow us to get through conflict without hurting or hating.

As a global community, we share resources including links and exercises, message forums, conferences and enjoy a sense of connection and expanded learning while preserving personal space and time. The weekly email messages will include access to multiple message boards, access to archived messages, conference recordings, documents, video content, special exercise pages and more.

Why It Works

In the same way that we humans have developed other technologies, the technology of compassion has developed too. This course provides clear, specific ideas and practices to help us experience more compassion, understanding, harmony and fun. That said, it is challenging and calls on our perseverance, practice, focus and dedication.

Through practical steps, the course provides the “how to” of creating more connection, understanding and compassion in our daily lives… a way to create a world we will be happy to leave our children’s children. It is my honor and dream to share this with you for the sixth year. I hope you will join me.

*warm grateful smile*

Thom