Archive for June, 2010

Jun/30/10//Linda Guinee//Inspiration

Staying to Create Change

I wanted to share this link to a short discussion by Pema Chödrön about the importance of staying with the hard stuff – not the story we create about a situation, but the underlying feeling itself – to create change. This follows along with previous posts I’ve made about the importance of “staying” – with conflict, in situations of privilege. The message being the same – the importance of learning to stay!  And so I wonder how this applies to organizations and movements.  I hear it this way – rather than trying to fix a situation too quickly, stay with it, learn about it, learn to live with the tension while we look for ways to create change.  What do you think?

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Jun/29/10//Gibrán Rivera//Social Media

Is Social Media a Responsibility?

Microsoft Word - web 2.0 logos.doc

Are you amazing?  Are you one of those people who are working to define the next phase of movement?  Are you connected to a crew of local organizers, activists, innovators, dreamers?  If you are an amazing movement builder then I want to be able to follow you on Twitter and I want to be your Facebook friend.

I find myself travelling from place to place and meeting some truly amazing people, I keep getting hip to really interesting projects and innovative approaches to the work of social change.  I’m connecting to my tribe; I’m getting to know the people who are actively redefining the way we do social change.  Here is the problem though – I can’t keep up with all of them!  And here is where I notice an important distinction.  When these people are using social media tools I can at least have a sense of what they are up to, I can get a glimpse of how their work evolves – but if they are not, then I’m left with hearsay. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/28/10//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Trust on the Rise

Our colleagues at Interaction Associates have done some wonderful work on the importance of trust in the workplace and what leaders can do to cultivate this, especially under uncertain circumstances the likes of which seem to be omnipresent these days.  More recently, former IBMer Irving Wladawsky-Berger has taken this conversation to a new level in a post that looks at trust as “the most important operational resource in our society.”  In our increasingly complex, interconnected, and distributed world, he says, one’s reputation as an individual or institution is foundational to what we might call success.  This observation contributes to his sense that we are in the midst of a values-based generational transition as potentially profound as the sixties.

Without rehashing the entire post here (I encourage you to read it in its entirety by going to this link), I want to point out some of the more interesting parts and ask what folk engaged in the social sectors and social change work think Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/24/10//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration

Collaboration for Innovation

“Collaboration drives creativity because innovation emerges from a series of sparks – not a single flash of insight.”

- Keith Sawyer, Group Genius

Having last week blogged about when we might want to de-emphasize innovation and think about the small steps we can take towards change, today I embrace the “i word.”  In doing so, I tip my hat to Keith Sawyer and to my Interaction colleague Andy Atkins for helping to clarify my thinking around the connection between collaboration and innovation for social change.  Both are obviously quite popular concepts at the moment, and there is some discussion about how well they go together.  For example, one of my colleagues had a conversation with a corporate leader last week during which this leader shared his deep belief that collaboration inhibits creativity and that flashes of insight occur in the individual’s mind.  While the last part of that statement may be true, what leads to that flash and where one goes with it would seem to have everything to do with interaction with others.

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Jun/23/10//Linda Guinee//Networks

Network Governance

A few of us at IISC have been talking recently about network governance – trying to gather what we’ve learned about what kinds of governance structures have worked with networks.  It’s sparked a lot of questions – and I had the great fortune of meeting with the amazing Jessica Lipnack recently to ask her advice about what she would suggest.  For those who don’t know Jessica, she and her husband Jeff Stamps have been working with and studying networks for over 30 years and have literally written the book (actually the BOOKS) on networks and working with virtual teams over these many years.

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Jun/22/10//Gibrán Rivera//Facilitative Leadership

Facilitative Leadership

seven practices

Over the next three days I will have the privilege of training the Interaction Institute’s Facilitative Leadership® workshop.  Just yesterday I was talking to my colleague Curtis Ogden and asking him for his latest tips on offering this workshop.  As often happens with us, our conversation evolved into a very interesting inquiry. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/21/10//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation



It’s happening! Tens of thousands of people are just arriving in Detroit for what is an incredibly important and incredibly hopeful gathering – The United States Social Forum.  It feels like all my friends are there and while conflicting responsibilities will keep me in Boston this week, I do want to send a blessing to all the courageous souls that are busy dreaming up new ways of being with each other. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/18/10//Curtis Ogden//Your Experiences

Man Up for Change

With Father’s Day around the corner, my thoughts are focused on what it means to be a good father and a good man in this world.  For those who have not yet heard, The Good Men Project has created a rich forum for these questions and has just launched a magazine delving into issues such as men’s health, relationships, sexuality, ethics, and boys/adolescence.  From what I’ve seen so far, I appreciate the initiative’s willingness to go broad in eliciting a diversity of stories and perspectives.  Furthermore, The Good Men Foundation has dedicated itself to helping organizations and efforts that provide educational, social, financial, and legal support to men and boys at risk.

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Jun/17/10//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

The Least You Can Do

“When you improve a little each day,

eventually big things happen.”

-The late John Wooden

Since February I’ve been experiencing back pain in a constant and distracting (though not quite incapacitating) way, a result of having poor posture at the computer, not taking enough breaks while sitting, lifting too many small children, and being another year older.  A couple of months ago I went to a chiropractor and he did his best to wrench me back into alignment.  This worked for a few days, and then things were back as they were.  I enlisted the help of a “deep tissue” masseuse who went after my back muscles with steady steam rolling force.  Again, for a few days I was on top of the world, and then it was back to square one.  Then, about two weeks ago, I started seeing a physical therapist, who has given me some gentle stretches and postural shifts and done light massage on my left shoulder.  Et voila, real progress!  Small and subtle shifts have yielded major and lasting results.

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Jun/16/10//Linda Guinee//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Stay! Stay! Stay! (Part 2)

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post about the constructive engagement of conflict – called Stay! Stay! Stay! It was some thinking sparked by reading the beginning of Bernie Mayer‘s new book “Staying with Conflict“. I’ve been reading more of that book this week – and thinking as well about the work IISC is doing to become an anti-racist, anti-oppression, pro-liberation organization. (And yes, we do know that’s a mouthful!)

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Jun/15/10//Gibrán Rivera//Inspiration


Sometime ago I caught this heart warming short film on @NurtureGirl‘s blog – – and since it has come up in conversation a couple of times lately, I thought it would be a good time to share it forward. It is so important to contemplate our own individual power to make things beautiful.

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Jun/14/10//Gibrán Rivera//Learning Edge

Systems Thinking & Leverage Points

One of our consultants just wrote the following e-mail to our team here at IISC. I thought it would be a good idea to put the question out to our readers – any thoughts?

Hello Colleagues,

I am wondering if you might have ideas about two things:

1. How to introduce systems thinking to a group – simply…

2. What questions you might ask when trying to identify leverage points in a planning process?

Context: The group has gathered a lot of anecdotal information, the intention is to gather additional information on best practices and research, however, we are not there yet. So how to begin to identify levers when we don’t have the benefit of having all data?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have on this!

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Jun/10/10//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration



There’s something about the word and notion of “sufficiency” that I love.  Years ago, while living in France, I learned to enjoy the way the words “ça suffit” roll off the tongue.  The term and idea resurfaced for me recently when I learned about the Third Annual Global Sufficiency Summit that was held here in Cambridge, MA in April.  It has come up again while reading the newest book by Wayne Muller, whose writings were a helpful guide to me during my time in graduate school.  Muller’s A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough focuses squarely on the question of how we go about determining what is sufficient in different areas of our lives.   He suggests that our failure to consider or know how to address this question has contributed to putting us in individual and collective dire straits.

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Jun/09/10//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

The Learner’s Plea

Thanks to Ginny McGinn of the Center for Whole Communities for introducing me to this poem by the Chilean biologist/philosopher Humberto Maturana.  We used it to launch this week’s The Masterful Trainer workshop, and it generated some wonderful reflections on the role of teaching, training, facilitation, and leadership in this day and age.  Enjoy . . .

The Student’s Prayer

Don’t impose on me what you know,
I want to explore the unknown
and be the source of my own discoveries.
Let the known be my liberation, not my slavery.
The world of your truth can be my limitation;
your wisdom my negation.
Don’t instruct me; let’s walk together.
Let my riches begin where yours end.
Show me so that I can stand
on your shoulders.
Reveal yourself so that I can be
something different.
You believe that every human being
can love and create.
I understand, then, your fear
when I ask you to live according to your wisdom.
You will not know who I am
by listening to yourself.
Don’t instruct me; let me be.

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Jun/08/10//Gibrán Rivera//Spiritual Activism

The New Way

armsopenLast week I wrote a raving review of the Movement Strategy Center’s report on organizers transforming the practice of social justice:   “Out of the Spiritual Closet.”  I really think it’s amazing.  Here are nine themes that the report outlines as part of the emergent “new way:” Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/07/10//Gibrán Rivera//Networks

The Networked Nonprofit

Networked Nonprofit

I was glad to follow a few of my Tweeter peers as they commented on the recent “Personal Democracy Forum” (#PDF10).  Allison Fine and Beth Kanter offered a conversational keynote based on their new book “The Networked Nonprofit.”  So much of what they say is directly connected to the work that we do here at the Interaction Institute for Social Change, that I think it’s best to let Beth speak for herself. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/04/10//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

A Picture’s Worth

“If you bring the appropriate people together in
constructive ways with good information, they will create
authentic visions and strategies to address the shared
concerns of their organization or community.”

—David Chrislip

Clearly I am no Chris Jordan.  Thankfully, along with the talented and committed Mr. Jordan, there is a group of conscientious elementary school students in Grafton, VT who have taken it upon themselves to create the kind of display captured in my home movie above that conveys in a visceral what our reliance upon plastic bags means in this country.  The students strung together 2,662 bags, enough to ring two large fields.  This is the number of bags that Americans are calculated to dispose of each second.

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Jun/03/10//Curtis Ogden//Facilitative Leadership

Whose Problem Is It?

I have been struck by how much guidance an enlightened parenting concept I recently learned offers to the work of leadership and facilitation.  The concept comes from a book that a neighbor lent to my wife and me as we were beginning to think more about how best to address some our 4 year old daughter’s testing of limits.

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Jun/01/10//Gibrán Rivera//Spiritual Activism

It’s all two both!

I’ve just read “Out of the Spiritual Closet,” a report out of the Movement Strategy Center, and it is one of the most exciting pieces I’ve read in a while.  It is a timely read, in tune with a lot of the conversation we have been having here on the IISC Blog for the last few weeks.  This persistent question of whether to take a “transformational” or a “structural” approach leads us to a false dichotomy – it really is “All two both!” Read the rest of this entry »

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