AMED 2020 - What do you see?

Welcome to e-O&P Autumn/Winter 2017 in which we are asking everyone:

  • What have you loved about AMED? 
  • What lies ahead for us? 
  • How shall we move into the future?

Our Appreciative Inquiry will roll on over the next three years enabling AMED and its journal to evolve along with the communities of which we are a part.  Please keep returning for new content as the edition emerges and evolves.

For a start, we have collected some views from old and new friends and invite you to add your own.  

  • From Council, Ned Seabrook, current chair, has been campaigning for wider recognition of AMED's contribution to enhancing careers and Bob Mackenzie anticipates "nimble, flexible, temporary alliances and partnerships with other like-minded networks"
  • Rob Warwick, long-term supporter and occasional journal editor, prefers to emphasise interdependence, and asks about CPD (continuing professional development) and technology.
  • Belina Raffy on Sustainable Standup and Penny Walker's sustainable development group
  • Roger Niven always brings a poetic touch to his reflections
  • The Writers' Group remains a bright spot for Shelagh Doonan and many others 
  • AMED in Scotland was appreciated by Sheila James and Iain Graydon
  • Fond memories of the early days from Tony Page and Bruce Nixon
  • Has AMED had its day? ask Jack Martin Leith and Terry Gibson

We are also scanning our ecosystem:

And we have book reviews:

And now, as promised, The Inquiry Continues ...

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Comment by David F McAra on July 1, 2020 at 4:03

John Sweets lucid and concise summary of our creative and energising meeting on 13 June 2020:


Comment by David F McAra on June 30, 2020 at 8:19

Here are the slides, presenting the results of our recent survey, as used to introduce the first part of our Co-Inquiry: AMED 2020 and beyond on 13 June 2020.  



Comment by AMED Admin on June 9, 2020 at 6:48

The outline programme for our 13th June co-inquiry is available on AMEDCoInquiryJoiningNotesfor13June.pdf. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the recent survey. The results will be available from 13th June.

Comment by David F McAra on March 31, 2020 at 5:21

How shall we make the most of this interruption to our 'normal' state of affairs?  I have been trying to interrupt the normal state of affairs for most of my working life, ever since I started to notice how broken it was about 35 years ago.  I haven't had much success either.  A few projects felt like magical breakthroughs but 'normality' seemed to reassert itself rather quickly.  

Suddenly, normality has been switched off ... for an extended period too.  We can't just hold our breath and power through.  The brokenness is visible to everyone.  Julie Allan says we've been sent to our room to reflect on our misbehaviour.  So what can we do when we don't know what to do? 

I find some comfort from some ideas I found while trying to understand chaos, the edge of chaos, in particular, where emergence of new properties can occur.  From my hazy understanding, it's a sort of balancing point between diversity (where knowledge is distributed), connectedness (for access to the knowledge) and signal quality (for understanding).  

My interpretation is that, if I am trying to enhance any of these three properties, I am probably helping the right thing to happen, even while I don't know what 'the right thing' is.  These are characteristics I find valued in AMED which is why I care about it so much.  

Comment by Shelagh Doonan on November 20, 2018 at 5:31

Our VUCA world suddenly got even more VUCA...I speak of the current Brexit turmoil, and it’s many layers.  I think with trepidation of the next generations, who will inherit the consequences of today’s decisions.

During our workshop last month at the Horniman Museum, I spent time writing about the photos of four young people (3 girls and a boy) in NW Siberia. Seventeen years ago, they were looking after their reindeer, or proudly standing on the ice, holding up a fish just caught. Red cheeks, smiling, steady gazes. Today they are now: a TV presenter, a land rights lawyer, a specialist nurse and co-ordinator of a reindeer cooperative.  The photos made me think of what their younger and older selves might be saying about their lives well-lived, and their 2000-2017 trajectories.

The inter-generational message for us and for AMED is loud: reaching out, connecting, building on what we’re already doing, learning with and from each other across the generations.

Comment by David F McAra on October 24, 2018 at 10:20

There is always hope, Bob ... mostly arising (as your list shows) from your own sustained effort and your relentless involving of "a fresh, more diverse, expanding constellation".  I wonder how AMED might become an answer to the questions they are asking?  Or how they might shape it into an organism that helps to sustain them (as it has helped to sustain me for several decades of difficult work)?  

Comment by David F McAra on October 24, 2018 at 10:04

Bob MacKenzie responds by email:

"A quick initial response ... is that pessimism can be catching, and choice of language is important.  I wish you’d been at the AWG at the Horniman Museum on Friday, where there was considerable optimism for AMED’s future and for ‘inter-generationality’.  (More postings on that soon). 

Whilst I agree that it’s essential that we attract youth, I think that our emphasis should be on ‘inter-generationality’ – an inclusiveness and diversity which values everyone – and on succession planning."

Comment by Bob MacKenzie on October 24, 2018 at 10:04

And some reasons to be hopeful?

Reasons to be hopeful for AMED 2020.docx

Comment by David F McAra on October 24, 2018 at 9:20

Comment by Bob MacKenzie on October 24, 2018 at 8:37

PS:  I meant 're-booting' :)

Comment by Bob MacKenzie on October 24, 2018 at 8:35

Hello, David

Thank you very much for re-botting this co-inquiry.  I'm working on your creative challenge to try to reframe the wording of your slides in a spirit of appreciative inquiry.  Meantime, I've created a link from our latest AMED Writers' Group discussion here.  We met at the Horniman Museum with Shelagh Doonan to explore how stimuli from the museum's collections and gardens might inspire us to think afresh about - amongst other matters - AMED's future beyond 2020.  I'm expecting some really creative suggestions and ideas to be posted soon. 

Watch this space!  Best wishes.  Bob

Comment by David F McAra on October 23, 2018 at 3:54


have been trying to organise my AMED 2020 thoughts on the three slides attached.   

I find myself still stuck in my pessimistic, binary spiral.  Perhaps someone can help me reframe it in appreciative terms.  

Comment by Bob MacKenzie on January 14, 2018 at 4:42

Our thanks to Pete Burden for giving permission to include a copy of the following e-mail:



I like what you have written. And I also like Tony Page's question: how can we recover our power of agency through reflection, action and writing, from which other possibilities arise?

I also think that everybody will have their own way of expressing what is important about AMED. Mine is perhaps best summed up by C Wright Mills' idea of sociological imagination, and my interpretation of it.

Which is something like: how we use our imagination and full experience to think and feel our way out of the situations that we otherwise seem to be almost inevitably creating.

I think this process is so important (given climate change, nuclear weapons etc etc) and is yet given so little prominence by traditional educational organisations.

As we said at ODiN the dominant narrative pushes this alternative out of sight. I think some young people get this way of being, and always have - but it's not just about young people. It's about the process by which young, old and middle aged interact to explore alternative narratives, and thus make those narratives available to others.

So in my view there is no easy or single answer to the question you are enquiring into. There never has been a single or easy answer and there never will be. But there is a process. So that is what is important about what AMED does - it gives people of all ages an experience of that alternative process. It's very availability is what's so great about it!

What does that mean in practice? Well, of course, as you well know it means exactly what you are doing: practicing the (dance of the) sociological imagination. By practicing reflection, action and writing which you are doing. By practicing appreciative enquiry. By practicing action learning and action research and turning those enquiries into advocacies. That is, identifying actions and next steps that can be taken both internally - in ourselves, in personal development. And with other people in management and organisational development.

I think the power that Tony calls for comes from the process of enquiry then advocacy, enquiry then advocacy, and so on.

So I wouldn't want to intrude into your groups own process but it looks to me as if you are doing all the right things. You simply need to continue the process and take the action steps such as contacting the right people and pushing the message out that this alternative exists and is available and that it is important (nay vital).

If you can write something short - two or three paragraphs - that summarises the invitation that I have described so clumsily above I would be very happy to send and take that to as many people as I can think of.


Comment by Tony Page on January 2, 2018 at 7:06

Thanks Bob and David for putting this together. With the Christmas break over and the new year starting up, I’ve just got round to reading it. You’ve described the AMED 2020 inquiry as a work in progress, and already the contributions here are coming across as lively, inclusive and raising all kinds of useful questions. 

I guess these early responses contain some hints of which way is forward for AMED over the next 3 years. 
It’s also good news that there’s a programme of dates, events and eO&P for 2018 giving us active parallel streams, not pinning everything on the navel-gazing.
With best wishes to you both, and to all in AMED for 2018!

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