Humberside MESH Network
A Tribute to a Network that went to the Cutting-Edge…!
Updated: 21 October 2017
“Well done, good meeting last night with good company and good learning at good value.”
– Tony Cosgrove, Managing Director, Nortech Services Ltd, Hull
“I enjoyed Thursday evening. A good atmosphere and excellent discussion.”
– Cathy Byrne, Headteadcher, The Parks Primary School, Hull
“The meetings are like a boost for me; I come away refreshed and energised.”
– Helen Ezard, Driffield
The Humberside MESH Network existed from July 2001 to September 2004. Its purpose was to enable members to develop further their understanding of the Gravesian approach, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and various complementary Psychology, Sociology and ‘Change’ models.
At its peak there were around 30 active members from all over the Humber sub-region of the United Kingdom, with meetings attracting between 8 and 18 per session.
The highly-interactive and thoroughly enjoyable meetings were held in Hull, initially at St Mary’s College and then Centre 88. Sessions incorporated structured training content, ‘learning games’, demonstrations of therapeutic techniques, case studies and open discussion. The Open Space technique was used to facilitate discussion and problem-solving.
Outside of the more formal settings of the meetings, members often acted as resources to support each other.
Beginnings and development
The Network came out of the first 2 programmes of Spiral Dynamics & Related Models of NLP workshops (Feb-Mar and June-July 2001) I held at St Mary’s.
Almost all of the participants expressed a desire to meet on some kind of regular basis, to share experiences of working practically with the Gravesian approach and NLP and to case conference on difficult situations – where the views of others might provide new insights.
On 7 July 2001 those from the then-current (second) programme joined in the Update/Case Conferencing workshop for those from the first programme. At its conclusion, it was agreed to develop a network which would meet quarterly. To some considerable extent, I already had a model for running such a network in the 21st Century Group.
Gallery: participants at the inaugural Network meeting, July 2001 – click on photo to enlarge.
However, as the initial membership of the Network were all ‘graduates’ of my training, it was possible to pitch the content of the meetings straight into 2nd Tier from the off. Consequently the passion of members for the learning offered through the Network became so great that meetings were increased to a bi-monthly basis. Such was the success of the Network that members started bringing friends and business contacts, with several of these coming on future workshop programmes. A number of members brought ‘real life’ issues to the group – often sparking very energised discussion! – and a couple did joint presentations with me. It was not unusual during the second year for meetings to go on for around 4 hours, with dribs and drabs of chatter going on long after the formal content had finished.
Gallery: Network participants, July 2002 – click on photo to enlarge.
Although there was no formal connection, a number of members were enthusiastic supporters of the Humber MeshWORKS and several used contacts to try to open doors to influencers.
The Network celebrated its second anniversary on 3 July 2003 by formally incorporating the East Yorkshire NLP Group – run by Wendy Baxter out of Summit Consulting in rural Holme-on-the-Wolds since January 2002.
With a number of members in both groups and me having delivered a session on Spiral Dynamics for the NLP Group, a merger made sense to both me and Wendy. I wanted to bring in more NLP and other concepts complementary to the Gravesian approach – and I hoped this would be my route to achieving that. Retaining the name and structure of the larger and better-known MESH Network, the merger also significantly increased resources for facilitation and delivery. Steve Gorton of Enabling Development Ltd, who had become a major contributor to both groups, acted as the third ‘leader’ of the merged Network. With a more formal structure developing, we opened a bank account for the Network and began to talk about further formalisation – possibly even turning the Network into a company limited by guarantee.
Meetings in the last year of the Network included me overviewing Adizes LifeCycle, Wendy on NLP Meta-Programmes, Steve on the Herrmann Whole Brain Model, the Enneagramme by Wendy and Anne Sutherland, and, courtesy of that ‘trojan mouse’ Peter Fryer, a session on Complexity Theory.
Gallery: Network participants, July 2003 – click on photo to enlarge.
However, what Wendy, Steve and I hadn’t done was ensure this impressive range of presentations was framed within a structured theme emphasising complementarity and connectivity of the models and theories explored (unlike the first 2 years of the group). While some found this totally-unconnected diversity positively liberating, others found it confusing and fragmented.
By Summer 2004 my focus was becoming increasingly-diverted into developing a comprehensively-integrated approach to the behavioural sciences – so the very diverse direction the Network was taking was not entirely where I wanted to go. Meanwhile Wendy’s priorities were shifting due to a major career change which meant she would not be able to contribute as much. Although there was still a fair amount of interest in the group, for the principals there was something of a desire to move on. In and amongst some considerable soul searching, Wendy, Steve and I agreed to wind things down. I closed the Network on 23 September 2004 with a presentation on Integrated SocioPsychology.
For a year or so several former members of the MESH Network – most notably Steve, Helen Ezard, Duncan Harper and Jennifer Crossland joined me in the ‘Integrated SocioPsychology Discussion Group’ which met at Steve’s house in Copmanthorpe. This was a small working group, aiming to develop aspects of Integrated SocioPsychology. Some of the group’s work is reflected in my book, Knowing Me, Knowing You.