Little Things

As I poked around Ten Thousand Villages, a store of gentle spirit of indigenous art gathered from the corners of the earth, I felt connected to each little carving, craft or cloth. I touched them gently knowing hands from so far away in small villages had toiled and created such beauty. I noticed intricate patterns and details done with love and patience. Such care, such intensity of spirit soaked into wood.

I also saw my daughter and husband quietly with gentle laughter experimenting with singing bowls and drums. Enjoying a moment together in awe of the power of music playing a didgereedoo.

The store was full of interesting people some touching, some speaking, some looking at particular items. Music wafted over the conversations. The store is a community of nations- art from afar all in one small space, no conflict, no debate, no politics, just art and people appreciating it.

Around the world people in small villages make art and it is promoted through the Ten Thousand Villages stores. Voluteers work in the stores in support of the people and their art. Profits go back to the artists. A system co-existing in a small yet magnificent way.

When we notice the details and intensely absorb them we are often transfixed and make decisions based on our own needs and wants.  However as we step back and notice what makes things work,  we notice the larger pattern and we see new patterns emerging we realize that something as simple as one small purchase from the right store can positively affect the health of a child in Bangladesh.

As a leader, think on the space, the time, and the community. What little thing are you doing that affects the whole system? What choices are you making?  Others follow leaders, how do you want to be followed?

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Yukon Space

The Yukon in March is still in winter- but a winter that commands one to relish in the vast outdoors. Huddling by the fire is not the norm. Embracing the wild space is.

I spent just five days in the north visiting my daughter Emily who moved to Whitehorse to teach. I learned to layer and bundle and then just inhale the fresh cold into my lungs on a sled pulled by 4 leaping dogs across frozen Fish Lake. The space was immense, the eagerness of the dogs to run quite astounding, and as sheer trust and connection developed in a short time they led me onward through winding trails. The human-dog partnership seemed indicative of leadership-letting the dogs run when there was space and gently holding them back when needed required observation and awareness.

Cross country skiing along a ridge over looking the river gully took my breath away as the light fresh snow allowed us to break fresh trails. We were the first car to arrive and the first on the trails only 5 minutes out of town to this wild space on the mountain. Space to breathe in and exhale, reflecting on the crystal blue skies and sunshine, this was a place to ponder the importance of life choices.

Finding our way with trays of lasagna 15 minutes out of town to an incredible off-the-grid home in the woods to share and eat hearty food, dance to old vinyl records, and share stories provided another take on Yukon space. Space to carve out a habitat by salvaging, repurposing, and adapting to life within the wild space.

People in Whitehorse are good folk. They rely on one another, they seem to embrace and share a love for wild space and they love and celebrate the strength of the changing seasons. Sitting in a pub listening to a talented folk singer/guitarist with just a few others made me realize that through our listening, our observing and our leadership we can embrace space and not feel a need to always have a full house or a full plate. Sometimes less is really more.

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Deberna International 2013 Reflection and Update Brief

Our clients have taught us much this year as we continue to hear of the innovative ways Tri-namics is being introduced, applied, and integrated to support leader development. It has been a busy year for Deberna International. An increased number of leaders, educators, consultants and coaches are experimenting with the Tri-namics system and its applications.

We are working again in Australia supporting a leadership program for 3 hospitals. This includes a web cast program for all participants who are using Learning Triangles in their 9 month program and train the trainer support for internal OD consultants. In Manitoba we are supporting the work of Ed McKenzie and Graham Dickson for their LEADS Leadership Program by providing 360 debriefing coaching, as well as teaching participants to coach themselves using the resources. In Ontario our work has mainly been with LEADS 360 debriefs and using Tri-namics for self and team coaching. For the Canadian Association of Drug and Technologies we custom designed Triad Connector Exercises for the work Graham Dickson did with them. Erna uses the Tri-namics resource book with her coaching clients through the Canadian Medical association to deepen the coaching experience and give clients a for quick access to their own wisdom. Marilynn Kendal, a Tri-namics Consultant, uses it with her clients to stimulate self-directed leadership and mentoring.

In September we signed a partnership agreement with the Canadian College of Health Leaders (CCHL) for our “Tri-namics: Leadership Wisdom for the Health System” resource book. This agreement is in the spirit of trust, reciprocity and partnership.

We look forward to 2014 as we expand our reach to those both within Canada and beyond. We feel fortunate to be in the company of such a rich community of influencers and innovators.

In the magic energy of three.

Erna Hagge and Debbie Payne

Partners, Deberna International

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Leading from the Center

As we approach 2014 with changes on the horizon and the start of a new work year I ponder yet again about what is around us as leaders. What are we connected to?  How do we see ourselves at the center of the hub, or do we?  What are our relationships around us that create new centers?  What is the center of our leadership?

As usual for me questions continue to pop as shifts occur in our work relationships. People coming and going and moving around in an organization cause centers to shift, bulges to occur, space to emerge.  These shifts are good for departments and organizations  as they allow us to open up the box or shake it around to see what else might be possible.

The fluidity  is always present. We sometimes just live in an illusion that things are stable.  Fluidity fosters new centers or whorls  where new work can be created. For example, a new department in an organization is created to address an emerging trend.  People are pulled and attracted to this new center and holes are left like a sponge that is squeezed. How does one lead from this tiny new center that is just incubating? What happens to the other centers?  What happens to your center and the center of your work universe when things change? What do you rely on as a leader when your center is shaken or becomes a hole?

In this work environment we live in what is it like for you leading from the center?


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Familial Ties

Tying ribbons cascading

Gently on a gift

Snug enough to stay

Loose enough to flow.

 Such are the ties that bind

And hold our family close

Supporting us as we grow

Exploring worlds and stories unseen to all.

 Growing up to adulthood

Growing out to reaches beyond

Growing down to discover roots

Growing into spiritual knowing.

 Unwrap a gift

See the ribbon of life

Cascading among parents, siblings and cousins

Threading and spreading.

 Wisdom in young and old

Bridging and breathing life force

Into the hearts, minds and souls

Of family.

Christmas 2008






For my family

Debbie Payne

Christmas 2008

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Access is Power

In the world today we hear the term ‘access’ in so many contexts. I need access to my records, I need access to my phone, I need access to a server, I need access to a file, a document, a team site, or a spreadsheet. I need access to the internet, WiFi, and facebook accounts. I have hundreds of passwords that keep expiring and I create new ones for the many websites I need to access. I now have a password book that I dare not lose of my access will be denied. I have a special access code it seems to unlock my phone, to lock my phone, to open my computer, to read my email. There seems to a a lock on everything that only the right access code will open whatever it is we need entry to. We even have access codes to our cars and homes and workplaces.

I seems many years ago, according to Sir Francis Bacon in the 1500’s, "knowledge is power."

Knowledge, or knowing how to do things, how things worked, where things were, what things meant were held in the minds of scholars, craftspeople. tradespeople, and teachers. You did need direct access to these people or their writings to learn, to have the power to duplicate or innovate.

Now, 500 years later maybe the new term is "access is power." No longer is it the knowledge we have that gives us power. We can find information instantly at our fingertips. We can locate and learn anything we want to from the world’s greatest minds, alive and dead.We can search for the most obscure thoughts and find someone in the world who has been thinking or pondering similar thoughts. With all this information we bring into our lives we are able to innovate more quickly, to problem solve with greater confidence. and make decisions with more information than we have every had before.

In our workplaces everyone has knowledge. Hierarchy is not about knowledge. Everyone is a knowledge worker. There is a power differential still in organizations today. However, it seems to fall more into the area of access than knowledge. If one has limited access to anything one feels powerless. If access is denied we feel devalued. If access is approved we instantly feel we belong. Frustration often stems from whether we have access to the right people, the software programs, the right tools and resources to do effective and meaningful work. Access is also sometimes granted on a "need to know basis,"

Getting access sometimes requires us to jump through ‘hoops’, navigate our way through the bureaucratic maze, or connect and network with the right people to gain a little of our independent and belonging power. We sometimes have to prove that we can not function without the access in order to be heard.

Controlling access to things is actually ja job for many people. Making decisions every day on whether to grant access or not based on some stated criteria that seemed important at one time. Sometimes the criteria is no longer valid, but changing it is a lot of work so we create things called work-arounds, back doors, or new names so that we don’t have to go through all the access granting procedures. We control access to countries, access to airplanes, access to nature reserves, access to education and healthcare. We even control access to restrooms, access to stores and restaurants that restrict the number of people who can enter.

There is some hope that access issues are shifting in our society. Sites like Wikopedia and Open Source software are examples. Or disaster responses when people open up their homes to others in need,. Or even some companies that have found ways for employees to access their system from home when they are telecommutiing. These examples require us to trust in humanity more that we have. Museums in Britain are all free- opening up the world’s treasures to anyone. Free online university courses and lectures are popping up. Scholarly journals, normally accessed only by those who could afford the high fees or were in an elite circle, are extending their reach through open online journals.

What we do with what we know challenges us to make global, ethical decisions. As access opens up and more doors spring open we will appreciate the access. But will we use the access wisely? Will we as leaders move through this new space to bridge our minds with others and make the world a better place? Will "access is power" ever shift to ‘wisdom is power?"

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Some musings on influence….
As we converse, develop ideas with others, innovate through brainstorming, or work on projects we are constantly influencing others and they are influencing us. Our thoughts shift as we listen, when we speak other’s thoughts shift. Our perspective is often influenced by conversations.

It is interesting to observe the influence we have on others. Sometimes this a challenge as we never quite know what impact we have had. Others behaviour give us a clue, however in essence our influence is rarely measurable or known until we hear others speak about us to someone else.

Often we do not intend to influence. We may intend to persuade. We may intend to convince. We may intend to lead or direct. How often do we deliberately intend to influence?

‘I would like to be influential"- what does this actually mean? I would like to have other people listen to my ideas and be motivated to change based on this? Maybe. Is influence something we experience? Perhaps.

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Leading in the health system

Are you working in healthcare in Canada? Are you aware there is a national framework specifically for leadership development in the health system? Want to find a practical way to develop your own and others leadership? Check our for information on Tri-namics: Leadership Wisdom for the Health System to purchase a practical resource for leaders in health based on the new framework LEADS in a Caring Environment. Information on LEADS can be found through the Canadian College of Health Leaders.

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Tri-namics free exercise

In this New Year of 2013 we think, as we often do at the start of a year, on starting something new, on redefining goals, of resolving to somehow be different. We hope we will be successful. Have we clearly defined what success looks like for us?

In our book, Tri-namics: Leadership Wisdom for the Health System that Erna Hagge and I recently published in 2012, we have a wonderful exercise called Three Success Statements. The book is full of tools, exercises and resources to reflect and learn. Here is the essence of the exercise.

Think about what success really means to you. Sometimes it is not the obvious.

Complete these three statements:

1. I know I am successful when…

2. I know I am successful when…

3. I know I am successful when…

Other people’s statements may spark thoughts for you. I know I am successful when I live my highest value every day. I know I am successful when I tap into my sense of humour regularly. I know I am successful as a leader when my team is fully engaged.

Keeping your three success statements in your consciousness helps you make wiser decisions for yourself and those around you.

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To Be

To be

Is more than to exist.

It is to stand tall

When the burden grows heavy

And the patterns of life

Become mingled with hard choices

And changes that shatter the inner peace.

To be

Is to have courage

To face whatever Life brings

And somehow find meaning;

Meaning, that is not always related

To production. But rather

To Knowing, Understanding, Living and Growing.

To be

Is somehow deeper than merely living

In the accustomed dimensions.

It incorporates even what we call


Is not this why

The Incarnation can only be

Understood when we try to

Comprehend the resurrection?

To be

Is to let the Life-Giving

Spirit open up the senses

To the beauty, the compassion and

Ever-present mystery of the Other.

For the Other

Often takes the shape of Nature…

But evenmore the Presence

Of those who Care and share

Our Life.

Thus to be

Is to live more fully

Than we thought possible:

And in the living

Give ourselves to others…

Because we received more

Than we can ever use

And are profoundly grateful.

Written by Gerald W. Payne 1912-2005
My wise father-in-law

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New Book Published

Celebration!  Our new book is finally published and now available. Completion creates space for new work, space for shifting focus, and space to relish in accomplishment. Tri-namics: Leadership Wisdom for the Health System has been a labour of love for the last 1.5 years for Erna Hagge and I.  We are so delighted to bring this work into the world of health professionals. How do we transform the health system? We do it leader by leader. Tri-namics custom edition is integrated and aligned with LEADS in a Caring Environment, Canada’s new adopted leadership capabilities framework.  Shameless promotion- buy a copy for a leader in the health system – contribute to our transformation. Contact info at


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