What is a KOAN Conversation?

Jennifer Simpson
2 min readFeb 28, 2024

Questions to Ask in the Face of Uncertainty

What Now? Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

In my last article, I talked about what it takes to lead when it feels like everything around us feels broken and shared the latest segment from my book, which lays out the KOAN method as A Different Way of leading and organizing.

On Febraury 28, I’m kicking off the first KOAN Conversation of 2024 with author, speaker, and change-maker, Sophie Wade.

Her new book, Empathy Works: The Key to Competitive Advantage in the New Era of Work dives deeply into the first principle of the KOAN method, showcasing how and why organizations today must be human-centric to survive and thrive.

A KOAN Conversation helps us find our way to breakthroughs by:

Bringing a fresh dose of Kindness to a challenging issue or question, approaching it from real empathy and curiosity about what it is that has us stuck, and a commitment to finding a good way through.

Opening up the discussion by shining a light on things that may have been left unsaid, or bringing greater transparency by sharing new information, looking at things from a different perspective, or exploring new data.

Looking for the Adaptive answer that reconciles the poles of a tension or unsticks something that wouldn’t budge; and

Examining the Networks of Relationship that both keep things as they are, and might serve and support a change that is beginning to brew.

The topic of this week’s conversation is “How to Lead When Everything is Broken,” and we’ll be exploring questions like:

  • Why does everything FEEL so broken right now?
  • If Empathy is the “new competitive advantage” why is it still in such scarce supply?
  • What is it about Empathy that “Works” in this new era of work?
  • What is keeping us stuck in old habits or patterns?
  • What might a “new model” of leading and organizing look like?
  • How might that future FEEL different?
  • How will we know if it is “working?”
  • Who can help, where can we turn if/when we feel alone?
  • How should we lead when everything feels so broken?

I’m sure the conversation will take a dozen interesting turns on the way to our destination, and the dozens of people who have signed up to join us will bring their own questions, so who knows exactly where we will end up!

If you haven’t registered yet, you can still sign up to join the conversation here.

The event is free, but space is limited and you must register to attend.

This article is part of a series exploring the ideas in the KOAN method: Breakthrough Leadership for a Divided World. Segments of the book are being released for free every few weeks. You can access the first article in the series here.



Jennifer Simpson

An artist, poet, leader, lover, daughter, sister, and mother living in Boulder, Colorado. Owner and CEO at Integrated Work. Author of the KOAN method.