Taking the TI to TX

My first trip to Texas. My first trip with Shannon. My first “work trip” to somewhere more exciting than Brussels… why?

The TI.

The Transformational Index helps organisations measure their impact more effectively and meaningfully. It helps organisations say “This is what good looks like”. And the aim is that it can be used by any kind of organisation, anywhere in the world. So – I found myself in Texas in June, helping Shannon & Andy S to train facilitators, start a pilot project and deliver TI workshops.

There are now six Texas-based trained facilitators. Eight organisations taking part in the four-month pilot project. Six other organisations who have completed TI workshops. And new partnerships formed, and friends made, all over Texas.

And, it seems, this is just the beginning. We’re going back in October. And I, for one, cannot wait.

– Becca McGowan

Shannon, Andy S & Karen


Texas bound…

Shannon's version of travelling light...

Last week the London community bade a fond farewell to Shannon as she headed back to the US for a couple of months. London marked the occasion by beginning a heatwave; we marked it with dinner and drinks by the river.

But it’s not just Shannon that’s headed over the Atlantic…

Joining her is Becca, who’s based in London and has been involved in work on the Transformational Index (TI). They’ve spent the last few days in St Louis, meeting with the TI’s first potential corporate client. On Wednesday they’ll head to Houston where Andy, Thomasin and baby Jacob will join them, and all five of them will travel on to Dallas for more meetings about the TI.

On Thursday, yet another Londoner heads for Texas – Andy M will be spending two months there, supporting the work that Shannon’s doing and spending some quality time with Chef Richard and Robin. If that wasn’t enough for Texas to cope with, two further visitors (Cathers and Liz) will be there in June.

We’ll be keeping you posted on what the London invasion gets up to both on the blog and via Twitter/Facebook, but in the mean time, please do pray for safe travelling, positive meetings and great experiences.

A Transformational Weekend, Act II

In light of the case that 17 hours is too much time passed for you to remember my profound and eloquent blog musings, I am reminding you that I have divided my posts focused on the ‘Transformational Index Weekend’ into two ‘Acts’ so as to capture the weekend in its fullest form and in an attempt to avoid, ‘discounting any of the major facets of the weekend that helped to make it the awesome thing that it was…’

I have explained this previously but it’s worth noting again that it was the people who attended the ‘TI weekend’ who made it such a positive and interesting experience. Coming from a plethora of vocations including social entrepreneurs, web designers, consultants, and professional researchers, not only were these people among the brightest and thoughtful I’ve ever met, they were completely devoted to, and enthusiastic about, the task of ‘workshopping’ the TI without knowing much of anything about it initially. Each person had their own unique perspective and contribution, yet each was aimed at, and invaluable to, the collective goal of improving the TI – an effect that does not happen without diverse ideas and thought processes. After the first morning session that was  held to begin examining, understanding and improving the TI, it was clear that the people who had devoted their weekend to this cause were movers, shakers, and doers – the people who do not wait for good ideas to be created and executed, but take the time and effort to do it themselves in innovative ways. The seriousness with which everyone took the task for the weekend enabled the kind of thinking termed ‘outside of the box’ and set a vigorous and focused tone. Thanks to Andy and Shannon’s relinquishment of power over the TI tool, there were questions raised that seriously challenged some important aspects of the tool and how it works; there is no opportunity for improvement when dissent or disruption is discouraged. The TI weekend was absolutely an example of how this is true but by showing the reverse effect.

Over the course of the weekend I was reminded of what serious danger lies in being lazy with one’s thoughts. That is, spending time pondering over matters that only relate to, or effect, oneself. The guests at the TI weekend tirelessly rattled their brains with questions about the TI, including but not limited to what it actually is, why it has been created, how it works, who it works for, and how it can be improved with the ever-looming possibility that it will not amount to anything for anyone’s gain. But, rather than focusing on that possibility (a focus which would have rendered the entire project impossible) the guests thought and thought and thought for the sake of thinking in itself and the power and knowledge that is generated by thinking about things wrought with complexity, depth, discouragement, newness, unconventionality, inspiration and innovation; channeling the thinking power so graciously bestowed upon us by our maker in heaven into projects such as the TI in order to have a broad, significant, just, and down-right good impact on this world and God’s people whom He loves.



A Transformational Weekend, Act I

The days of September 23rd-25th that, around here, have been referred to and known as ‘The Transformational Index Weekend’  were so fraught with new and inspiring experiences, people, places, ideas, and questions that I have found it difficult to describe in words. I don’t want to discount any of the major facets of the weekend that helped to make it the awesome thing that it was so I am dividing the blog posts within which I am going to try and capture the ‘TI Weekend’.

The setting for the weekend was a quaint and cozy ‘ranch lodge’ in the heart of the utterly picturesque English countryside. The emerald green rolling hills, fluffy white sheep, lazy rivers, and the occasional stone cottage truly looked like a snap shot from a movie. I would not have been surprised if the Loch Ness monster had crawled out of the massive lake that sat slightly above our lodge – we were pretty close to Scotland after all, ol’ Loch Ness could have decided to relocate to England for the Fall. As if this lush landscape was not enough, we had a man named Christian who does not call himself a chef, but would be a serious threat to any contestant on the reality TV show ‘Iron Chef,’ preparing delicious meals for all to feast on the entire weekend. What’s more, what we all believed would be a simple hamburger cookout with a few pillows on the ground as a nice ‘chill out space’ on Saturday night turned out to be an experience described as a cross between stepping into Narnia and Camelot simultaneously. A brilliant space-transformer named Jonny took a patch of grass and a tent and created a magical evening for everyone to enjoy complete with candles, banners, a blazing fire, and his grandfather’s ‘pirates hot chocolate’ recipe. We were all dumbfounded when we walked outside to discover this scene and fully embraced it, filling our night with interesting conversations, great food, and a little bit of late night dancing.


While atmosphere and great food are important ingredients in the recipe for having a positive experience during a weekend away, we all know that the company – the people – is the most vital. The way by which the weekend’s community came together to help Christian – the chef – chop, stir, whisk, and mash in order to feed every hungry mouth three meals a day, and then scrub and scrape to get it all cleaned up and usable for the next meal was necessary in a practical sense, but encouraging in a relational sense. Most of the people who came to the ‘TI Weekend’ only knew a couple of other guests, if any, and within the first hour of arriving strangers were working together toward a common goal despite differences and unfamiliarities – a theme that is refreshing and began with the preparation of the first meal then permeated then rest of the weekend. This idea leads me to the discussion of the concept that in order to reach people on a deeper level and form real and meaningful relationships with those people, a hospitable environment and space must be facilitated first. While I have seen this concept lived out by the people of Matryoshka Haus during my experience in London in relation to myself and to others, the TI Weekend has turned out to be a very large example of and manifestation of that. Relationships were initiated and formed that weekend that would not have been without such a comfortable and relaxed setting; openness to others and the process of becoming less guarded follows being comfortable, relaxed, and content. There was a ton of hard work that went on, but there was also a lot of fun and a lot of people serving other people, and the environment that was created by all of the people who were there emulated a feeling of love. People feel loved on when they are taken care of and when something of excellence is prepared for them. That is exactly what was done during the TI weekend by everything from the food to the dish-cleaning to the extraordinary space created by Jonny.  What’s more, we got to share the love of Christ with all those who attended the weekend through the hospitality described above – many of whom do not call themselves Christians. The weekend was such a neat way by which to love people with Christ’s love through hospitality and His beautiful creation, and was an amazing opportunity to initiate new friendships and networks that God will use in the future and is already using now!

More to follow in ‘TI Weekend Act II’!!







‘Sweet’ Happenings in the world of Matryoshka Haus

Hello I’m back again!! I apologize for my blogging absence (I know it has been killing you all). It has been busy busy around here!!!

My first official work week was kicked off by joining Shannon at a funky coffee shop for a meeting with the two men organizing and facilitating a weekend gathering for the Matryoshka Haus initiative entitled The Transformational Index. I suggest exploring the link – finding out more about the ‘TI’ is certainly something of which is worth your time! The gathering for the ‘TI’ is being held at a retreat venue in the beautiful English countryside and I am very much looking forward to it! I’ve been given the task of organizing transportation for all of the guests who are coming to the gathering – 24 people to date! This task has involved loads of emailing and coordinating – especially the last couple of days with the event growing nearer – but it is all coming together quite smoothly.

One of the first things I did that produced very exciting results was contact the University of Texas Panhellenic organization as well as Kendra Scott Jewelry about carrying out collections for Sweet Notions. UT panhellenic responded very enthusiastically and are very willing to get involved, and some pieces from Kendra Scott in Austin, TX are about to be making their way across the pond!! Conversations about holding collections for Sweet Notions have continued into this week with more people in the states as well as the UK, so I will keep you all posted!  Also in the realm of Sweet Notions, I was lucky enough to help seal the deal at a fantastic venue called Drink Shop & Do at which we will hold our September 30th Sweet Notions ‘Pop Up Shop’ event!! Even more great news – we have a confirmed venue for an October 7th ‘Pop Up Shop’ event and another one in the works for an event at the end of October.

It’s encouraging to sit here and write in reflection about the things that were only just beginning 2 weeks ago that have either been successfully completed at this point , or are on their way now!

Saweet happenings with Sweet Notions and Matryoshka Haus!!