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The Power of Clarity: Leaving the Assumption Warehouse with Daniel Ellenberg and Judith Bell

March  8 - 8, 2013
9:00 am - 1:00 pm


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Daniel Ellenberg

The Power of Clarity: Leaving the Assumption Warehouse with Daniel Ellenberg and Judith Bell

*This workshop occurs over a series of three Fridays*
March 1: Design Patterns for Undefended Software Teams
March 8: The Power of Clarity: Leaving the Assumption Warehouse
April 5: Resiliance Dynamics: Riding the Waves of Change.

About the Workshop

Fourteen years ago NASA lost a $125 million Mars Orbiter spacecraft. The reason: one team used metric units of measurement, while the other used English units for a key spacecraft operation. This erroneous assumption of clarity between these partnering teams led to an expensive and humiliating failure.

While you may not have been scorched in the assumption warehouse like NASA, you've probably worked on projects that got pretty far along, only to discover that your time was wasted or worse. Your team lead meant something other than what the project team understood and you had to rewind and start from scratch: wasting time, money, and morale. Perhaps you've been that team lead.

So how do you avoid unnecessary assumptions and predictable mistakes? You learn and practice a tried and true process to uncover hidden assumptions, avoid misunderstandings, and gain precision.

The result: Fewer problems from unchecked assumptions, more ease, and a team that actually likes working together. You make your deliverables without leaving dead bodies on the side of the road.


  • Recognize signals when assumptions are creeping in
  • Turn assumption and innuendo into clarity and precision
  • Use a deliberate, time tested approach that creates solid two-way communication
  • Use natural curiosity to avoid blame and defense
  • Understand and use the best questions to ask, when precision and clarity are vital
  • Track and rectify misunderstandings before they turn into conflicts
  • Keep meetings on track, and people on the same page
  • Develop greater trust and fun

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About the Presenters

Daniel Ellenberg, PhD, is a principal in the Authentic Leadership Institute, an organizational trainer and consultant, and a psychologist. He has helped CEOs, VPs, managers, engineers, scientists, artists, and more realize that their greatest assets lay in their own curiosity, authenticity, and willingness to embrace change. He specializes in helping leaders craft and deliver their messages to individuals, teams and organizations. A primary focus is to help leaders recognize and act upon the critical success factors that turn unconscious assumptions and common misunderstandings into clear, precise, and productive conversations. His background in psychology, contemplative practices, neuroscience, and philosophy makes him uniquely qualified to help people gain a deeper, more effective understanding both of themselves and those they serve. He co-created and delivered a specially designed resilience training program for NASA to help its workforce survive and thrive during a crisis in organizational confidence. Daniel has coached leaders in companies such as NASA, Yahoo, Netscape, Oracle, ESPN, Power Vision, Adobe, Restoration Hardware, Autodesk, and Genentech.

Judith Bell, M.S., is the founder and president of Authentic Leadership Institute and consults with high performance teams internationally. She has created and delivered personal growth, team development, and organizational change seminars for over 30 years. By helping executives, managers, and staff understand themselves better and communicate more effectively, she helps create productive teams that have the skills to respond flexibly and rapidly to their changing environments.

In her consulting practice with intact, matrixed, cross functional, and virtual teams,, she is known for helping organizations find simple solutions to complex problems. Engineers and scientists seek her out to collaborate with them to apply so-called "soft skills" to tackle and resolve hard technical challenges.

She is one of the world's leading experts on FIRO Theory (from which FIRO B originated) and trains organizational consultants internationally. She provides training, consultation, and coaching for diverse organizations in high tech, manufacturing, government, education, and health care including NASA, Amdahl, Proctor and Gamble, and Bayer Schering Pharma.

California Institute of Integral Studies, 1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103