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Dancing at the Edge
Dancing at the Edge

Dancing at the Edge

Competence, Culture and Organization in the 21st Century


206 Pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $16.95 (US $16.95) (CA $22.95)

Publication Date: October 2019

ISBN 9781911193678

Rights: US & CA

Triarchy Press Ltd (Oct 2019)

Price: $16.95


In his 1969 essay, The World of Tomorrow and the Person of Tomorrow, the psychologist Carl Rogers looked ahead to the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world we inhabit today. He suggested that living in such a world would require a whole new set of competencies – demonstrated already by the 'persons of tomorrow' he saw around him even then. In Dancing at the Edge, Maureen O'Hara and Graham Leicester pick up the thread fifty years on. Drawing on extensive research and their own wide experience, they map the 'powerful times' in which we live, the 21st-century competencies required to thrive in this complexity and how to discover and develop them in practice. They identify: • Three emergencies: real, conceptual and existential • Three potential responses: denial, collapse and transformation • Three literacies: psychological, cultural and epistemic These literacies – or ways of reading the landscape – open the door to our 21st-century competencies, which are innate, relational, and will develop through practice in a supportive organizational or social setting. The picture that emerges is complex but remarkably clear and surprisingly hopeful – even exhilarating. Organizations of every sort from businesses to schools and healthcare, from government bodies to NGOs, can create the conditions, offer the support and provide the context within which engaged, aware, passionate and compassionate people can rise above denial and take on the challenges of today's powerful times. This is a handbook for anyone aspiring to develop their 21st-century competencies and for any organization hoping to cultivate the persons of tomorrow in its midst.


"We want to change the world. But that begins with ourselves. Often our focus is almost incessantly outward with what is wrong out there, without the corresponding reflection upon and assessment of our own skills, attitudes and beliefs. To do such reflection and assessment we need the set of concepts in this book, exquisitely organized around the important concept of 'The Person of Tomorrow'. That person could be you." Bob Horn, Visiting Scholar in the Human Sciences and Technology Advanced Research Institute (H-STAR) at Stanford University and CEO, MacroVU Inc. "For anyone feeling the challenge of today's world and struggling to find their feet amidst the complexity, this is a book to savour and treasure. Drawing on long experience, wide research and deep reflection the authors build on the simple statement that 'the first step is awareness' to take us on a journey of deepening our inherent capacities to meet the world through transformative growth and learning in action. It is refreshing and valuable to find a book that recognises the importance of bringing our whole complex human capacity to the task of systems transition, renewal and regeneration. We can look for patterns and design pathways. But it is always persons, working together, who make the journey to the third horizon. If we want to shift the culture, we have to do something counter-cultural, we have to dance at the edge. Take this book with you." Bill Sharpe, author, Three Horizons: The patterning of hope "As a set of guidelines to how we should think and act in powerful and liquid times, this is an excellent start, ably assisted by the distinctive artwork of Jennifer Williams that sets a questing tone, and the handsome production values of Triarchy Press." Michael Marien, Global Foresight Books "Leadership Development is an industry and like all industries it has its own marketing strategies. One is coming up with fancy labels and new ideas rather than considering real need. But does it help organizations solve their challenges to jump on the next bandwagon leadership approach? Or are we in the innovation trap of leadership and people development – not taking care of what is proven and still valuable to apply, to be combined with additional approaches, methods and tools. The work of Leicester and O'Hara is different. It provides an orientation to the field and is based on solid philosophical and historical thinking. It makes you think and reflect and it is a good starting point for coping with the variety of challenges emerging in today's environment. I like the book because it makes me think and it encourages me to take these ideas as a starting point for all my actions in my professional environment. Especially the idea of transitioning from a socialized mind to a self-transforming mind, which has become the compass/quest for all my thoughts and actions. The book in three words: inspiring, motivating, enabling." Peter Spannagl, Global Talent and Inclusion, Bayer "In business today there is a permeating sense that the toolbox of management practices developed over the last 50 years is not enough to equip leaders to navigate these complex times and deliver sustainable results. There is much discussion and literature supporting the need for more transformational leaders, yet very little practical advice on how to develop these abilities. This is where I see the work of Leicester and O'Hara making a profound contribution to the next level of leadership development. Exploration of the Psychological, Cultural and Epistemic literacies provides a blueprint for individuals to grow the competencies needed to face the challenges of today and tomorrow in an adaptive manner. This book gives me hope that through a deeper connection with our innate humanism and having the courage to work at the edge of our abilities we can collectively create a better future for all humanity. " Susan Francis, Leadership Development Consultant 

Author Biography

Graham Leicester is Director of International Futures Forum. IFF's mission is to support a transformative response to the challenges of the times. Graham previously ran Scotland's leading think tank, the Scottish Council Foundation, founded in 1997. From 1984-1995 he served as a diplomat in HM Diplomatic Service, specializing in China (he speaks Mandarin Chinese) and the EU. Between 1995 and 1997 he was senior research fellow with the Constitution Unit at University College London. He has also worked as a freelance professional cellist, including with the BBC Concert Orchestra. He has a strong interest in governance, innovation and education, is a senior adviser to the British Council on those issues, and has previously worked with OECD, the World Bank Institute and other agencies on the themes of governance in a knowledge society and the governance of the long term. Maureen O'Hara PhD is Professor of Psychology, National University, USA; President Emerita, Saybrook University, San Francisco; and Director, International Futures Forum-US. She is a licensed psychotherapist in practice for over three decades and worked closely with Carl R. Rogers in La Jolla, California - facilitating encounter groups, large group events and training psychotherapists in many countries. Her recent work explores the present and potential future impacts of global cultural shifts on psychological development and emotional wellbeing. Books include Em busca da vida, with C.R. Rogers, J.K. Wood and A. Fonseca (Summus,1983); Ten Things To Do In A Conceptual Emergency, with G. Leicester (Triarchy, 2009); and the Handbook of Person-Centered Psychotherapy and Counselling with M. Cooper, P. Schmid and G. Wyatt (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). She is married to Robert Lucas with whom she resides in Carlsbad, California.