Tobias Mayer, untangler


Self


Journey


Inspiration


Workshops


Dialog


Writing

This is me...

"...and I rose, in rainy autumn, and walked abroad in a shower of all my days" — Dylan Thomas

I am an explorer of human relationships, a listener, integrator and untangler. I journey into the heart of corporations and non-profits where I offer workshops and dialogs to awaken the dormant creative spirit therein, encouraging leaders and citizens alike as they discover new ways to show up for work, to collaborate, and to discover their greater, shared purpose.

I draw on thirty years experience in the fields of group facilitation, social service, theatre, design, software development, theology, organisational restructuring and individual counseling to inform my work, my thinking. If you'd like to talk with me, please get in touch.

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Journey

"A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living." — Luke, 15:13

It is, perhaps, because of my own tangled life, my walk through briars and thorns, along cracked sidewalks, wandering vaguely, lacking direction and attention, attracted to the lost, the lonely and the crazy, prey to addiction and other mental monsters, bowed but not broken, seeking faith, always seeking, that today I can call myself an untangler.

Life is inherently messy, and my journey has shown me how to navigate, over, under, around and sometimes right through the tangles and obstacles, learning as I go. There were times, also, when I simply embraced the chaos, dwelt there for a while and accepted what is. It is not by any divine providence that I find myself where I am today, in London, in love, inspired, but rather by a series of accidents that felt like choices, and choices that felt like accidents. Sometimes it's impossible to discern one from the other, and to even try is to lose the sense of mystery.

As expressed in self, I draw on my experiences in many different fields of employment to inform what I do today. Inevitably I am influenced in equal measure by those experiences in my adult life when I was unemployed or unemployable, the shadow days, the darker adventures where I met the more surprising people, the alcoholics, the drug addicts, the mad, the wild, the dreamers, the anorexics, the caetextics, the street walkers, the poets, the fallen angels. Everything connects, every past experience informs the present moment, and carves a pathway to the future. I am what I have lived, and I bring it all to bear in the work that I do today. This is my wholeness, my homecoming, my presence.

"So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him." — Luke, 15:20

Inspiration

...my wife, Rayna, birds in flight, rivers, forests, the crepuscular hour, unexpected moments of tenderness, elegant language, souls stirred by oppression, voices raised at injustice, listening hearts, stillness, and prayer.

"Eternal lover of Thy children, bring us into Thy life, make us sharers in Thy love and transmitters of it. Help us to become serene and patient in the midst of our frustrations, but at the same time make us heroic adventurers, brave, gentle, tender, but without fear and with radiant faces.”
— Rufus Jones

Workshops

"Tobias is a master in shifting perspectives and producing long-lasting learning outcomes." — Anna Rondina, Change and Transformation Agent

All the workshops I offer are interactive experiences where the learning is multi-directional and the form continually changes to meet the needs of the group. Expect to encounter poetry, drawing, storytelling, socratic dialog, improvisation, creative writing, theatre games, metaphor and, occasionally and respectfully, scripture.

As a participant you will not sit still for long, neither will you stare, passively at a speaker or a slide deck. You will bring yourself, and discover others. You will not be fed knowledge. The facilitation alone is my responsibility, the learning is all yours.

"Tobias...beautifully reframed and challenged concepts I thought I knew and understood." — Philiy Lander, Agile Coach

My public workshops are listed below. I am also available for part-time consulting to support Agile transformation initiatives and improvements, and to offer internal workshops tailored to your needs. Please read my sample workshop descriptions to learn more.

Public Workshops

The Why of Scrum + CSM, 15th-16th May 2017

Certified ScrumMaster, 8th-9th June 2017

Certified ScrumMaster, 17th-18th July 2017

Talks and Events

A Teal Shade of Agile, ACE Evening Meetup, 19th April 2017

The Scrum Exchange, 10th May 2017

A talk at AgiNext conference, 26th May 2017

The Teal Exchange 2: Reimagining Work, 14th July 2017

I'll also be giving a keynote talk, and running a one-day workshop at Scrum Days Poland in early June.

"Enlightening and amusing. Tobias's Scrum training was one of the best seminars I've ever taken—and I do Executive Training frequently with the brightest minds on the planet. I only wish I would have taken it years before!" — Raul Cristian Aguirre, CEO, Tango/04

Workshop Descriptions

"Tobias has the ability to excite a little bit of disorder which resonated well with our group of innovators and business and civic leaders. He was able to create a group process and an environment where new ideas were shared and embraced. We left the session with the passion to make our organization grow and thrive." — Dale Eldridge Kaye, CEO, Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group

This is a brief overview of some of the workshops I offer. To ensure a meaningful learning experience these workshops use a blend of lecture, dialog and interactive exercises—with an emphasis on the latter. It is through exploring ideas physically that participants come to embody the learning, rather than just understanding it. To learn more about any of these workshops, or to collaborate on creating a new one to meet your organisation's specific needs or agenda, please get in touch.

The Agile Mindshift

Attempting to change from a command-and-control culture, to a collaborate-and-release culture, and to understand the complex nature of the people and systems problems requires a very different way of thinking. Similar to a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly, this change requires, not a gradual shift but a total breakdown of the current paradigm and the building of a new mind, a new approach.

Corporate Citizenship

Our modern organizations are concerned with improving management and leadership. This is to be welcomed, but tends to result in a focus only on the few. What about the many? It is not enough to be managed, to be led. We all need to participate. What skills do we need as grass-roots workers to ensure we create a culture of collaboration, trust and engagement?

Storytelling for Presentation

Whether we have to stand in front of a group of people and present an idea, a proposal, or a report, or simply run a meeting, or engage in a personal dialog, the skill of storytelling can be a great benefit to engage your audience. Starting with a simple framework for story creation this very interactive workshop allows participants to explore techniques such as flow, metaphor, gesture, movement, language and silence to better share their message.

The Language of Empathy

One of our biggest failings in the business community is the inability to listen with an open mind and an open heart. We map new ideas to old concepts, we make value judgments, and we are frequently driven by assumption based on what (we think) we know. If we are serious about changing the nature of business, of embracing the whole, we need a new way of communicating. By exploring and seeking to understand alternative forms of expression a new language will emerge, one that is suited to context.

Dreaming the Future

The corporate world inspires corporate language which can act as a barrier to exploring ideas at an emotional level. We use words like vision, mission and strategy to attempt to describe our ideas. These words touch our intellect, but often fail to engage. When we invite people to share our dream, to share our journey we begin to engage differently. Along with our intellect we are invited to bring our heart.

Navigating Complexity

The predominant management model in our industry is one of upfront prediction, functional breakdown and division of labor. When applying this model in knowledge work environments, building complex systems we experience a clash of paradigms. Managing complexity requires a completely new approach, one that values release over control, experimentation over definition, confrontation over compliance, and truth over hope.

"Tobias... I really admire your communication style. I thought you were one of the most talented communicators I have met. You have an amazing ability to embody presence, something I definitely feel all of us performers are striving for." — Justin Follin, actor/teacher, Austin, TX

The Why of Scrum + CSM

There are a growing number of people currently practicing Scrum, who may like to receive the CSM certification but don't want to pay in excess of £1,000 to sit through a beginners class to learn something they already know. And there are those, like me, who just dislike training classes, sitting staring at Powerpoint, being fed information they could read in books, or being led to "discover" through flipping coins, blowing up balloons, or constructing things out of Lego, spaghetti or marshmallows—the standard fare for Scrum training these days.

The Why of Scrum offers a different way to learn. Focusing on the principles beneath the framework and process, reaching into your own personal value system to draw out meaning, this workshop will have you challenge how you show up for work, and what you believe it means to "do Agile". The learning emerges from the shared experience of all in the room. This is not expert-led—indeed the idea of expertise in Agile is itself challenged. Participants are invited to bring their own experience to bear on the learning, and to express their expectations, desires and frustrations. Ultimately, what you learn here will emerge from your heart, and take form in the practice you apply back in the workplace.

Cost and Dates

The cost of this workshop is £555. However, certification is not mandatory and if you prefer to stay boldly uncertified the cost will be £500. No dates are set at this time. Please express your interest by sending me an email, or contacting me through social media. Once six people have expressed interest a date will be set that works for all of us, and additional places sold. The maximum size of the workshop will be 12 people. The learning is more intense and more meaningful in smaller groups.

Locations

I'll be offering this workshop in London and Birmingham. If you'd like one in your own city, please suggest it, and then help to socialise it to your fellow city-dwellers.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Emergent Agile Leadership
aka Thoughtful Citizenship

“This workshop gets beneath the skin of the business façade and drives to the root.” —Ash Sheikh, Owner, Focused Outcomes

The business world is awash with leadership training, and the Agile space is no different. So what sets the Emergent Agile Leadership workshop apart from all the other offerings? Very simply, you will not learn to be a leader. You will learn instead to be a good citizen, and in understanding the nature of citizenship your natural leadership tendancies will be sparked, positioning you to take on leadership duties as and when required, without fear, and more vitally, without arrogance and without an assumed air of superiority.

Agile transitions require gentle leaders, thoughtful leaders, leaders who know when to serve, when to step up and when to step aside. Agile requires everyone to lead, when the time is appropriate for the type of leadership each of us can offer—and all of us can offer leadership. We just need to try a little less, release a little more.

Shift your paradigm

Emergent Agile Leadership will take you on a two-day journey to discover you innate citizenship, your ability to love, to serve, to create, to confront, to rise above the mundane and live to your fullness within the madness of the corporate world, seeding transformation as you go.

Using poetry, storytelling, dialog, improvisation, creative writing, theatre games, metaphor and scripture the Emergent Leadership experience will challenge your mind and open your heart.

If you are already a leader this workshop may be a process of unlearning, emptying your cup in order to make room for a different way of thinking, a different approach to leadership. If you do not (yet) coinsider yourself a leader this workshop will unlock your potential to be one.

“This isn't so much a workshop, it is more an experience. It does something that most Agile workshops cannot do. It captures the essence of what we need to inspire meaningful change.” —Jem D'jelal, Transformation Coach

Learning Outcome

If all goes well you'll leave with a sense of awe at how something as simple as good citizenship becomes great leadership in the Agile space, and you'll be ready to arrive at your next station with a willingness to be the best you that you are capable of being, whether leader, citizen or some oscillating hybrid of the two.

Do not attend this workshop if you have any desire to hold onto, or gain corporate power, or wish to maintain the status quo. This workshop is for fearless adventurers, curious investigators, and unorthodox thinkers.

“Last week I attended Tobias Mayer’s two-day workshop...I left without any clear learnings or even actions—absolutely nothing I can immediately take back into my workplace and implement. Shocking!” —Arif Bobat, Workshop participant [ref]

Location, Dates, Costs

I'm planning to run this two-day workshop in London in the summer, and in San Francisco in the autumn. The cost of the workshop is £600 per person, UK or $750 per person, USA. Exact dates are not set at this time. Please express your interest by sending me an email, or contacting me through social media. Once six people (in each location) have expressed interest dates will be set that work for all those enrolled, and then additional places sold. The maximum size of the workshop will be 16 people. The learning is more intense and more meaningful with a smaller group.

“A personal retrospective. Thoughtful, nourishing and quietly enlightening.” —Eben Halford, Agile Coach and Trainer

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dialog

"Tobias has developed the capacity of Truthfulness to a degree not often found in software development. If you are afraid you are not getting the real picture from the people around you, Tobias will help you cut through the cruft and expose the reality... and he will do it kindly and respectfully!" — Mishkin Berteig, Co-Founder and President, Berteig Consulting Inc.

I offer collaborative dialog with leaders and citizens alike. I shall listen to you. I shall hear you. We'll explore your life values and learn how they inform your work. Using story-telling, metaphor and art, and guided by purpose, courage, service, gratitude and the spirit of abundance, we'll discover effective ways to show up in the world, and a way of leading that comes from the heart.

I offer one-to-one or small group consulting sessions. Our work will be an exploration of self—more essentially, self in relation to others. The focus of the work is to know less, wonder more, and open up possibilities for the future.

Your first session is a gift. It is a discovery process to see if we can create a longer-term relationship. Should we be in agreement, and wish to continue, we'll negotiate a compensation arrangement that works for both parties.

I prefer to work face-to-face but for one-to-one work I am happy to work remotely via video for those living beyond reasonable travel distance. Small group work is only offered in person. Recommended group size is 3-7 persons.

Tobias Mayer first caught my attention on Linkedin as an "untangler". I was fascinated with how he described his services. I contacted him. Since then we've been working together remotely. I've learned a lot about myself thanks to his simple but very helpful techniques. I've been able to sort out my priorities and move forward from where I was stuck. I've also appreciated his gentle but firm approach.
—E. Genevieve Williams, Professor at Yeungnam University

Writing

I've been writing since 1997 on group work, facilitation, corporate life, oppression, social change, business process, education, theology and humanitarianism. In 1999 I co-authored the workbook, Redefining Success: groupwork with young people, and in 2013 I collected together a set of thirty-nine essays on people, process and culture into a book entitled The People's Scrum: agile ideas for revolutionary transformation.

These days I blog fairly regularly on LinkedIn and Medium, and contribute to the Medium publications Great Leaders, Great Churches and The Higher Education Revolution. I'm currently working on a book intended to weave the different threads of my experience into a tapestry of citizenship.