Since the early 1990s, Karl Danskin has focused on developing the means for participants in large meetings to transition from passive audience to active contributors. He has worked on the design of hundreds of large organizational meetings throughout Europe and the United States. He has worked with the top leadership teams of many Fortune 500 companies such as Texas Instruments and Genentech. He has worked across every sector, primarily in leadership meetings focused on developing and sharing business strategy. Concurrently, Danskin has been part of the core team of Covision. He has taken a leading role in the “project” of developing the Virtuous Meeting method and promoting its usage. His thinking has been shaped by his close association with Todd Erickson, Josh Kaufman, and Lenny Lind. He was a contributor, with Lind and Erickson, to the second edition of The Handbook of Large Group Methods ( Jossey- Bass, 2006). He is currently head of Strategy and Thought Leadership at Covision.
Working in partnership with AmericaSpeaks, Danskin has been a principal designer and facilitator of the theming function in some of the largest civic meetings ever to be held as virtuous meetings— including a 4,500-person meeting in New York and a 10,000-person meeting held simultaneously in three cities—as well as in high-profile meetings such as the World Economic Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, and the European Biodiversity Summit.
Danskin approaches organization development and meeting design from a holistic worldview that stems from a long study of classical Chinese arts. His view is informed by Taoist philosophy as well as practical experience with meditation, Chi Kung, Chinese medicine, and the calendar arts. He was the director of the original Healing Tao Video Library. He has been a student of Fong Ha and Jeffrey Yuen, and has taught throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including being on staff at the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley and the Shiatsu Institute in San Francisco. Danksin’s education was at UC Berkeley in theater, philosophy, and literature. After university, he founded and was the artistic director of a theater company in San Francisco. As an international hotbed for new theater at that time, Danskin’s company was critically acclaimed and eventually garnered financial support from both West German television and the NEA. The company won a Critics Circle award for one of the original plays written by Mr. Danskin’s wife. The theater broke new ground in large-scale outdoor performance and did work in Canada and Eastern Europe as well as in the United States.
Danskin is passionate about healthy environmental design and sustainability. He and his acupuncturist wife, Melinda, live on a forty-two-acre homestead in the redwoods in Northern California. They produce their own solar electricity and practice biodynamic permaculture. They also keep dairy goats and chickens and cultivate a wide range of both Western and Chinese medicinal herbs.
Lenny Lind is founder and chairman of Covision and a senior consultant. Lind has been involved with organizational communications—media and processes—particularly in large meetings, since 1975. Then, he covered them as a freelance corporate photographer. In 1985, he cofounded Covision as a video production company, specializing in videos with organization development purposes and designed to make people think. These videos were often shown at large meetings.
In 1991, through a fortuitous video project, Lind discovered early attempts at software for facilitating better meetings. Soon after, Lind partnered with Jim Ewing of Executive Arts and began developing software that enabled real whole group dialogue and understanding in meetings. Within a year, Covision shifted out of video production altogether and into supporting interactive meetings.
During the period from 1992 to 1996, Lind coauthored with Sam Kaner, Cathy Toldi, Sarah Fisk, and Duane Berger, the best-selling Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision Making (Jossey-Bass, 2014).
Over two decades, Covision pioneered the use of interactive technology in increasingly larger meetings, especially ones that sought convergence and alignment. He and his team have since served over four thousand meetings of fifty to ten thousand participants each around the world, in a wide variety of senior leadership meetings and multi-stakeholder summits. In each, meeting owners determined it was important to think together.
Notable Covision projects include “Listening to the City,” two community summits in New York immediately after 9/11, the opening general session of the World Economic Forum in 2005, four annual meetings of the Clinton Global Initiative from 2005 to 2009, and the New York Forum–Africa, in Libreville, Gabon, in 2012.
In 2011, Lind passed the presidency of Covision to Josh Kaufman and has focused on client projects, promoting real participant engagement as a key to realizing the most effective outcomes in large organizational meetings.