This link goes to a PDF Reference Guide. It includes an overview of content components and curriculum outcomes for the entire training series, lists of “essentials” (concept frameworks, key charts, and major additional case studies) for each Field Guide, a list of all 72 chapter FAQs in the series, chapter summaries for Course 1 (Field Guides #1 and #2), and summaries of the “proof of concept” case studies. The Reference Guide will be updated when chapter summaries are available for Course 2 (Field Guides #3 and #4).
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On This Page:
- The Field Guide Training Series in a Nutshell
- Introducing “Do Good Plus Do No Harm” Training and Resource Series
- Series Sources and Who is “Futuristguy”?
- Main Components and Purposes
- Groups I Developed This Training Series For
- Descriptions of Training Series Components
- Field Guides
- Companion Reference/Resource Website
- In the Future: Immersion Learning Games
- Links to Expanded Outline Pages
- Image Licensing Notes
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This companion resource site for the Field Guide series is a work in progress. I may update posts and pages on occasion without notice. This may involve correcting mistakes, editing the language for clarity, and/or adding new bibliography items or text, etc.
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The Field Guide Training Series in a Nutshell
We typically start our new organizations and social change actions with the best of intentions. But things don’t always turn out as hoped. Harmful happenings and toxic consequences can leave us with questions like these:
How do we figure out if people in our organization are hijacking its mission and hurting others in the process?
If it’s already happened, what can we do to repair the situation, help those who were harmed to recover, and prevent abuse from happening again?
If we’re just starting up, how can we construct our strategies and structures to prevent malignant people and toxic systems from ever taking hold?
The four-volume Futuristguy’s Field Guides training series to “Do Good Plus Do No Harm” advances your team’s discernment and skill levels to:
- Identify malignant people and toxic systems.
- Deal with multiple sources and consequences of systemic abuse and historic societal oppression.
- Advocate for survivors, support them, and work to change symptoms and systems that brought trauma.
- Start up your enterprise, or transform your existing organization, to become more safe, suitable, and sustainable for both stakeholders and shareholders.
The Field Guides take a systems approach. They also provide a common vocabulary and practical suggestions for a range of interested parties to talk through and work toward resolving crucial issues that result in organizational health or toxicity. Audiences include: abuse survivors, their family and friends, victim advocates and personal-care professionals, social change activists, students of culture and strategic foresight/futures, congregational and organizational developers (businesses, non-profits, for-benefit entities and hybrids).
Designed for different ways people learn best, the training series presents a sequence of 72 FAQs that integrates 50 essential concept frameworks, 500+ art images, summary charts, practical case studies from history and media, reflection/discussion questions, workbook and teamwork exercises, and a companion research/resource website.
Because of unavoidable delays due to the Covid pandemic, I will tentatively begin publishing the Field Guide series in 2021. Game-based training exercises and simulations are in development, for release after the set of Field Guides has been published.
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Introducing “Do Good Plus Do No Harm”
Training and Resource Series
SERIES SOURCES AND WHO IS “FUTURISTGUY”?
In my last years in high school, I struggled to figure out what direction I wanted to go with my life. I’d been involved in all kinds of interests and activities – student government, music, reading and science clubs, an environmental internship. I finally settled on finding some form of public service. I was driven to make a difference. So, starting in 1972, I began exploring community service opportunities and communication experiences – attending city council and school board meetings, interviewing and reporting, volunteering with senior citizen activities and youth employment services.
The “Do Good Plus Do No Harm” training series is my attempt to download my brain – and heart – on the most important things I’ve learned in my 45-plus years of volunteering with and working for organizations forged by those who wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Most of these were great experiences! However, I have also ended up in businesses, non-profits, churches, and teams that turned out to be toxic. Some of the poisons those situations infused into my spirit have taken years to process and expel. And so, I’ve come to believe that, to accomplish the good, we must be aware of the bad, and do what we can to remove it and prevent it. I’ve developed this series to capture what wisdom I’ve gleaned from both healthy and sickly experiences, to equip this and emerging generation of change-makers to embrace and embody that goal.
In developing these resources, I’ve also attempted to integrate as much relevant material and metaphors as possible from the many areas of training I’ve had over the years. My professional work and personal studies have included such technical and practical domains as: linguistics, research methodology, systems, ecology, organizational development, paradigm mapping, cultural geography, learning styles, creativity theory, recovery ministry, concrete media, transmedia storytelling, immersion learning exercises and simulation games, church planting, quadruple bottom line social enterprises, and strategic foresight (futurist skills).
In case you wondered where the “futuristguy” moniker came from, I received intensive training as a futurist in the late 1990s, and have consistently used brad/futuristguy online since the early 2000s. There were several other Brads commenting regularly on the same blogs back then, so this handle made it easier for me to relocate my comments later.
MAIN COMPONENTS AND PURPOSES
The series covers essential concept frameworks, practitioner skills, practical learning exercises, and impact evaluation metrics needed for finding or developing common ground for the common good – for promoting robust organizations and intervening in and preventing toxic ones.
The project currently consists of:
(1) a four-volume Futuristguy’s Field Guide training series, with
(2) a companion website that posts a visual bibliography for each chapter plus suggests additional resources and research angles, and
(3) online case studies with guides so learners can practice applying the principles.
I’ve sequenced the material to create two Courses, the first two volumes on how to identify and deal with toxic systems and malignant people in them, the second two on how to start up or transition to an organization that embodies a paradigm that is safer from abuse and therefore more sustainable as we develop teams, projects, and partnerships.
I designed the series to equip participants in a wide range of start-ups and organizational types. These include entities like community development projects, faith-based ministries, for-benefit businesses, and non-profit agencies. My first Opal Design Systems resource is the Futuristguy’s Field Guide Training Series on Do Good Plus Do No Harm. Its main purposes are:
- To help survivors of malignant leaders and toxic organizations process their experiences, find routes forward for personal recovery, and explore ways to redeem their destructive experiences by supporting other survivors and challenging abuse of power.
- To equip social transformation practitioners and intercultural, intergenerational teams to develop start-up endeavors with a safer environment and more sustainable impact, or transition existing institutions to be safer, more sustainable, and with a more flexible legacy.
- To develop a common framework of concepts about healthy versus toxic organizations to facilitate better communication and collaboration among those committed to organizations and other social spaces becoming safer and more sustainable.
The training series covers essential concept frameworks, practitioner skills, practical learning exercises, and impact evaluation metrics needed for creating common ground for the common good. These are focused toward implementing holistic design strategy for existing organizations and start-ups. I designed the series to equip participants in a wide range of organizational types. These include entities like community development projects, faith-based ministries, for-benefit businesses, and non-profit agencies.
As I noted earlier, to accomplish the good, we must be aware of the bad, deal with it when we identify it, and work to implement systems that prevent it. Many illustrations and practical exercises I use related to toxic systems emerge from real-world experiences shared by survivors of abuse of power, whether in social, political, or religious settings. I know from personal experiences what this is about, plus I’ve done a lot of research and reflection about destructive power dynamics. I find that principles which prove relevant to survivors of abuse of power seem generally to apply to survivors of other kinds of abuse and violence. Also, many of the people we hope to help in our social transformation endeavors are likely to be victims of misuse of authority, verbal abuse, and emotional manipulation. So, the material is relevant there as well.
The content is meant to be worked through and chewed on, thought through and reviewed, reflected upon and discussed. It’s not the sort of stuff you can expect to get through quickly in a few sittings and really “get it.” I use a carefully sequenced series of articles to break down complex processes into more easily comprehended layers and stages and steps. Many articles feature art images that illustrate the concepts. So, words and pictures work together to help those with different learning styles grasp the material better.
Many of the workbook section exercises are meant for teams to go through together. This interaction gives people with diverse cultural backgrounds and different perception strengths an opportunity to build teamwork where each member contributes. This mirrors the mission of social transformation organizations where work is accomplished by teams. It also helps build a “transcultural” team that seeks to be holistic and integrative as a group, while also helping one another bring out the best of who they are individually and culturally.
GROUPS I DEVELOPED THIS TRAINING SERIES FOR
While Do Good Plus Do No Harm does focus on the impact of abuse on individuals and institutions, and how to make things right, this isn’t just for abuse survivors. I had in mind three audiences who seek to make a constructive difference to counteract personal and organizational abuse and promote health:
SURVIVORS – survivors of abuse, those who support them as personal advocates, and those who take up their cause as social activists.
INVESTIGATORS – writers and resourcers on abuse, recovery, and organizational responsibility; students of history, culture, and strategic foresight (futuring).
BUILDERS – change agents who are: social entrepreneurs (issue-oriented), community or congregation developers (place-oriented), and menotors and relational-care professionals (people-oriented).
In short, the Do Good Plus Do No Harm training series is for both professionals and everyday people who desire to make a difference by improving the well-being of others. I’ve also designed it with different ways of learning in mind, integrating 50 essential concepts with over 500 art images, plus practical case studies, workbook exercises, reflection/discussion questions, and a companion website with resources for additional research.
I look forward to its publication, and to other eventual Opal Design Systems components that will create a more complete resource system! In the meantime, this site provides an overview of those elements, the theories behind them, and samples of the writing styles I use in them.
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Training Components and Why This Format
The volumes in the series use a variety of presentation techniques that appeal to different ways people process information. As “field guides,” they are heavily illustrated – 150 to 200 graphics each – to capture the essence of the concepts explored, or show the emotional impact of ideas involved. Workbook sections include personal reflection and group questions, and case studies drawn from history, movies, and other media that focus on identifying how various concepts play out in real-life situations. My theory is this:
If we can’t see key concepts while in the safe environment of watching a documentary or movie, or reading a book, what makes use think we can spot these problems when they’re right in front of us in our own organizations?
I use this format with diverse elements on purpose, despite knowing that what appeals to some people will annoy others. The reality is this: If we’re working on teams, every kind of information processing preference is likely to be present among the team members – and among those we serve. Are we going to squeeze everyone into the way(s) we most readily learn – or find better ways to collaborate where these elements would otherwise bring conflict? This meant my having to translate the content into multiple different ways that people process and remember information. But that’s okay – I consider it strategic to restate and repackage information for a range of learners. I’ve been studying and applying this approach since the late 1990s and it provides the substructure for most of what I write.
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The Do Good Plus Do No Harm training series from Opal Design Systems consists of two Courses.
Course 1: Deconstruction of Sick Systems focuses on how to identify individuals and institutions that are harmful instead of helpful — what toxic systems look like, how they work, and why.
Course 2: (Re)Construction of Robust Systems focuses on how to start up or transition to an organization that intentionally works to do good plus do no harm — what healthy systems that make a constructive impact look like, how they work, and why.
I presented them in this order for one very important reason: From what I have observed and experienced, people who are keen to catalyze a project or set up a non-profit that is meant to make a difference often create something destructive instead. That rarely is intentional, but neither sincerity of motives or being steeped in organizational theory stop harm from happening.
This is why I put the seemingly “negative” material of Course 1 first. Wannabe change-makers need to understand how things can go off track, and also how participants in their enterprise can hijack it for their own purposes. Hopefully then, the “positive” principles in Course 2 make more sense in light of the damage that can be inflicted by well-intentioned social entrepreneurs and organizational developers who are only halfway equipped.
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Each Course consists of two Field Guides. This was done to make book production more manageable, and also to divide the series in a way so that each Field Guide contains a reasonable amount of content for one academic quarter or semester. So — two terms to learn and practice how to identify when and how organizational systems go wrong and intervene to make things right. Two terms to learn and practice how to set up or transition organizational systems to take root well with ongoing oversight and revision.
Each Field guide is divided into five sections, usually each section having three or four chapters in Course 1 and four or five chapters in Course 2. At the end of most sections, you’ll find one or two case studies that work to apply the new material from the entire section, while also reviewing and building on concepts and skills from previous sections.
Field Guide chapters typically contain one content article dealing with one or more Essentials Core Concept Frameworks, practitioner skill, and/or impact indicators/metrics. Several art images illustrate these elements, and one or more movie case studies show what it looks like in realistic storylines. These help show what it looks like when the theory gets put into practice. Workbook sections give personal reflection and group discussion questions – and an occasional group activity – to reinforce the content. Summaries show where the chapter fits into the larger picture of things.
I use this format on purpose to engage people based on different ways they tend to learn best. That reflects the real world, since creating projects and organizations calls us to work with people from diverse backgrounds. Hopefully you find this models ways to communicate across differences, to spark better collaboration.
Additional Key Charts summarize the most critical information, and Proof of Concept Case Studies on the companion website use select situations from history, novels, movies, and other media that offer deeper research and concept synthesis across multiple Core Concept Frameworks.
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Companion Reference/Resource Website
You can preview the training series concepts, components, case studies, and samples of writings and workbook sections on the companion website. It also contains archives of backstory and other information about how this series came into being, and various ways it morphed over the years of its development. (Archivists and historians like myself might find that of particular interest.) What follows is an orientation to help you navigate this companion website.
SECTION 0. Read This First. Master Outline. Introduction to Case Studies.
These pages give a global overview of the entire training series – where it came from, what it covers, who it is for, how it is put together and why. Where they have a list, such as a table of contents, those are typically expanded elsewhere on the site. So, these big-picture snapshots contain the essentials that orient students to the series and to this companion website.
SECTION 1. Course 1: Deconstructing Sick Systems.
SECTION 2. Course 2: (Re)Constructing Robust Systems.
These two sections of webpages use the same structure.
- Overview (1-0 // 2-0).
- Detailed lists and descriptions of components and chapters in each of the two Course 1 Field Guides (1-1, 1-2 // 2-1, 2-2).
- Section-by-section and chapter-by-chapter subpages have visual bibliographies and additional research resources (1-3 // 2-3).
SECTION 3. Proof of Concept Case Studies.
This is a series of cases where each embodies numerous concept frameworks that are explored in multiple Field Guides. Thus, they offer larger scale opportunities to test how my theories apply to systemic problems. If my integrated set of concept frameworks is comprehensive and interconnected enough, then it should prove valuable in interpreting complex systems situations, identifying problem points and underlying issues, and generating potential solutions that are practical and systems-oriented.
I’ve selected these cases from history, contemporary institutions, and fictional sources. With each Proof of Concept, I provide study clues, questions, and/or activities as best fits the individual case.
SECTION 4. System Solutions Framework Case Studies.
SECTION 5. Comparative Case Studies.
These two sections of webpages use case studies in different ways from the Proof of Concept cases. Where Proof of Concept cases emphasize testing the theories to see how they explain larger-scale situations with multiple facets involving systems and abuse, the Systems Solutions and Comparative Case Studies sets scrutinize smaller, more specific situations according to a few particular factors.
The cases in Systems Solutions are examined individually to document the process of repairing damage from some type of abuse.
Comparative Case Studies are presented in sets that allow us to:
- Differentiate between sources that appear to have similar outcomes (such as with very different strategies that all end up in social control).
- Compare and contrast similar situations where the solutions in one were constructive and in the other, destructive (for instance, two churches that responded in opposite ways to criminal situations of child sexual abuse).
- Place a series of cases in an order that creates an understandable spectrum (as with an ideology or organization that goes from small-scale influence, to an elite group with more power, to an oligarchy that dominates larger slices of society).
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In the Future: Immersion Learning Games
When I was young, I involved myself with about every kind of media product imaginable — all kinds of games, puzzles, books, comics, movies, TV shows, action figures, other toys. Thus, much of my learning was by playing. This put me in good stead for working with transmedia — telling stories through different forms of media. It also poised me for working with different “learning styles,” as each form of media appeals to specific ways to process information (e.g., conceptual or concrete, intuitive or intentional, theory or action, etc.).
I was introduced to simulation exercises and game-based learning in the early 1970s. Almost 50 years later, I can still remember some of the activities I did and lessons I learned! If those group exercises were that memorable for me, wow – how could I use them to help train others? I created my first simulations in 2001, on topics related to observing, analyzing, and interpreting cultures — and presented these to people who were interested in starting up faith-based projects and organizations.
My eventual plan for this training series is to offer End-of-Term Immersion Learning Games Box Sets that use the definitions, art images, infographics, and other materials for realistic simulation exercises. These will be designed to enhance the learning process in a group/team setting. They will use “gamified” aspects, such as boards and tokens, cards introducing random elements that change the course of game play, and levels of achievement. They engage such teamwork skills as communication, cooperation and appropriate competition, negotiation, and group discernment and decision-making.
The many “summary cards” that appear through this website are prototypes of the kinds of “game cards” that may end up being used for reference in such learning simulations. Look at those, see what you think … and watch for eventual availability of some Futuristguy Sim-Games!
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Links to Expanded Outline Pages
For those who appreciate learning by working from the details up to the big picture – the reverse of the process I used on this page – you’ll find expanded outlines and visual guides for each Course and Field Guide in the pages linked to below. As a sidenote: Field Guide #3 covers aspects of learning styles that will explore the reasoning behind these complementary approaches of big-picture (global cognitive orientation) and details (analytic cognitive orientation).
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Image Licensing Notes
Usage of the following images licensed to Brad Sargent.
Do Good Plus Do No Harm ~ “Pathways of Peace” ~ Quilt by Sonja Naylor Andrews.
The following are all (c) Scott Maxwell / Fotolia.
COURSE 1: Deconstruction ~ #6929682 – Control Center. #1395334 – monitor frame. #5968325 – Web Builders Internet Construction ORG In Wheelbarrow. #888778 – puzzle balance.
COURSE 2: (Re)Construction ~ #19693549, Gold Guys Home Construction Blueprints Meeting.
Field Guide #1: Classification ~ #8944945 – Gears Concept Puzzle.
Field Guide #2: Detoxification ~ #9624888 – Gas Mask Family.
Field Guide #3: Transformation ~ #8694399 – Forum Questions.
Field Guide #4: Engagement ~ #5603114 – Green Construction Building Blueprint.