Warm Data Lab Certification

“Biology, culture, and society are dependent at all levels upon the vitality of interaction they produce both internally and externally. A body, a family, a forest or a city can each be described as a buzzing hive of com- munication between and within its living, interacting ‘parts.’ Together the organs of your body allow you to make sense of the world around you. A jungle can be understood best as a conversation among its flora and fauna, including the insects, the fungi of decay, and contact with humanity. Interaction is what creates and vitalizes the integrity of the living world. Over time, the ongoing survival of the organisms in their environ- ments requires that there be learning, and learning to learn, together. Gregory Bateson said, “The evolution is in the context.” So why don’t we have a word for those bodies, families, forests and other buzzing hives of communication — and for the mutual learning that takes place within those living contexts?”

Symmathesy, a word in progress. Nora Bateson 2016

This training session, offered by Nora Bateson, offers certification for those who complete the training to host Warm Data Labs with groups internationally. The Warm Data Lab process is an inviting and seemingly simple way to bring a group of people into dialogue around complex issues. Anyone, of any age or profession can participate in a Warm Data Lab. From school children to executives, families and companies the Warm Data lab is an open forum of learning, discussing, and discovery. It is not based on prior knowledge, or skill, but will increase both in an atmosphere of mutual learning.

What is a Warm Data Lab?

Most people who are interested in the training and certi cation session will have most likely already been participants in a Warm Data Lab and discovered for themselves how the process facilitates their working practice. For those who have not personally been a part of a Warm Data group, here is a brief description:

Developed by Nora Bateson, this is an exercise for use with groups who are interested in strengthening and further practicing their collective ability to perceive, discuss and research complex issues. By shifting perspectives, the Warm Data Lab process increases ability to respond to dif cult or “wicked” issues. Because so many of the challenges that we face now are complex, we need approaches to meeting that complexity. Although there is a desire to reframe these complex issues in simple terms that might lend themselves to easy solutions, this usually leads to the dangers of unintended consequences of reductio- nism… and further problems.

But, thinking in complexity requires the ability to perceive across multiple perspectives and contexts. This is not a muscle that has been trained into us in school or in the work world. It is a skill acutely needed in this era to meet our personal, professional and collective need to respond to crisis, and to improve our lives.

The Warm Data lab is a living kaleidoscope of conversation in which information and formulation
of cross contextual knowing is generated. The conversational process is designed to seamlessly engage multiple theoretical principals in a practical format. The process relies on using two concepts: Transcontextual Interaction and Symmathesy.

Transcontextual interaction is the recognition that complex systems do not exist in single contexts but rather are formed between multiple contexts that overlap in living communication.

Symmathesy: The ways in which systemic interdependency form is through contextual interaction and mutual learning. Symmathesy is the concept of mutual learning that encourages us to concentrate on how these contextual interactions inform one another, and generate learning.


Hosting a Warm Data lab is another story.

The host of this process must have a strong base in the many theoretical foundations that underpin the process. An effective Warm Data Lab experience requires a prepared and organized host. In contrast to the appearance of the simple openness of the Warm Data Lab, the rigor in which is set is critical.

A good Warm Data Lab is an artful balance of both holding open the group’s horizon of learning, and generating conditions for a rigorous and multi faceted discovery to take place. The magic of the process is in the participants’ own connection and learning, which cannot be forced or funneled into any particular “knowing”, but must instead be invited to make new associations, linkages and perceptions – as individuals in mutual learning.

Once you have completed the course of training you will be certi ed by the International Bateson Insti- tute to host groups who are interested in using Warm Data to facilitate their work on complex issues. You will not however be certi ed to train others in becoming Warm Data lab hosts.


What the training and certi cation entails

  1. A sound understanding of the structure, timing and form of the Warm Data Lab Process. This includes trouble shooting guidelines of “what not to do.”
  2. Practice setting up, hosting and holding the group through the process.
    • Prep: How to set up the questions and contexts
    • Process: How to support the group during the Lab
    • What next? After the session, how to hold the discussion of practical application.
    • Follow up.
  3. A rm grasp of the theory involved. See list below.



There are several theories at work within this process. I will list a few of them in category form, but not

de ne the theories. All thread through the concept and usage of abductive process.

Patterns that connect
Bertrand Russell’s Logical Levels
Difference that makes a difference
Multiple description
Mutual learning and calibration (Symmathesy) Iterative multi-modal learning
Autopoeisis (Varella and Maturana)
Mind (G. Bateson)
Systems and Complexity Theory
Ecology of communication
Double Bind
Conscious Purpose
Epistemological frames
Change in complex systems


The Warm Data lab is a tool for revealing relationships that are integral and woven into the complexity of the issues we are working on. This process allows us to see new patterns, new causations, and correspond to them with a much broader comprehension. An important aspect of this process is that no two participants will have the same experience. Each person moves and connects their contextual framings throughtheir own lens, in their own way.


How it works

The format of the Warm Data Lab is simple, even though the theory that underpins it is not.

  1. A chosen complex issue is provided by the room.
  2. Start by being seated 3-6 to a table ( depending on the size of the group).
  3. Each table has a “context” on it that will be the frame through which the“complex issue” is discussed at that table. (at least 6 contexts)
  4. Participants (as individuals) discuss at the tables as long as they wish before changing tables. They move when they want to another table or “context”.
  5. There are no time limits, or set instructions. Participants join and leave conversations as they wish.
  6. The process usually takes at least an hour, and can be continued.
  7. Discussion.

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