Archive for July, 2010

Jul/30/10//Curtis Ogden//What We Are Reading

3 Books and a Blog . . .

. . . or three blogs and a book.  That’s what I asked my fellow weekly IISC bloggers to recommend.  What are they finding particular value in reading or re-reading for our work supporting collaboration for social change?  Here’s what I got (not the complete list from everyone, as there was some overlap and vacations in there):
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Jul/29/10//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Inspiration

Creativist Tensions

canvascanvas 1If there is anyone out there not aware of the Creativist movement, I encourage you to take a look and consider enlisting.  The Creativist Society has made a space for people to articulate their visions for society at its best with creativity as the core organizing principle.  The Creativist Manifesto is an invitation for people to think about what it would mean to be creators before being consumers, which catalyst Olivia Sprinkel presents as being one of the most important choices we can make. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/27/10//Gibrán Rivera//Social Innovation

Web of Change 10:10 – The Intersection

Web of Change - Innovation and Collaboration to Transform our World

The recent Shirley Sherrod debacle unfolds with a thousand lessons, among these are the very fact that whether we have a black President or not, the issue of race is alive and well in the United States.  The incident also points to the potentially explosive concoction of new media technology and a 24hr “news” cycle, of the politics of spectacle and a culture of fear among our “leaders.”  Even as technology is changing everything – our deepest wounds are yet to heal, and our suppressed demons continue to show their many heads.

This being said – I am an optimist!  I trust the directionality of our current paradigm shift.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/26/10//Gibrán Rivera//Learning Edge

Time for Some Action

good intentions

We have Clary Shirky talking about Cognitive Surplus and the distinction between communal benefit and civic benefit when it comes to collaborative action.  We have Daniel Pink talking about Drive and the search for meaning which inspired me to write about the Purpose Bubble.  And just last week here on the IISC Blog, my friend and colleague Curtis Ogden was talking about the need “to recognize the change capacity of the marketplace” and creating mechanisms to reclaim markets.

It is with this context in mind that I finally get to the Lloyd Nimetz opinion piece in the Stanford Social Inntovation Review – “Information Overload, Action Deficit.”   Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/23/10//Curtis Ogden//Your Experiences

Keeping the Spark

“The problems we face now, and in the future, simply demand that we do more than just hope for inspiration to strike.”

“The Creativity Crisis” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Blogging on a weekly basis and trying to stay on my social change game generally speaking, requires a steady flow of inspiration and creativity.  Of course, there are times when both can feel in short supply, and so I’ve been interested in how to keep this vital stream clear and moving.  Bronson and Merryman’s recent Newsweek article highlights both the importance and possibility of ratcheting up generative capacity.  Turning to a few sources, including my artistic brother, creativity guru Michael Michalko, Venessa Miemis, and The Innovator’s Toolkit, here are a few of my favorite ways for keeping the old noodle limber: Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/22/10//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration

Make It Easy, Make It More

I have been blessed these past few months to have been in steady conversation with Adam Pattantyus of Merrimack Management Associates.  Adam’s background is a fascinating blend of military, industrial engineering, management, and clean technology professional experiences.  He is deeply thoughtful and committed to helping bring about the transition to more sustainable ways of being.  And he is the co-purveyor of a promising product and service in the form of an on-line operational infrastructure for collaborative action.  I learn so much from each of our interactions, and our meeting last week left me thinking about how to make much needed collaboration both easier and more ambitious for those interested in realizing deep social change.

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Jul/21/10//Cynthia Silva Parker//Networks, Power, Equity, Inclusion, Structural Transformation

Power and Love


photo by partie traumatic

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.  Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This often quoted comment by Dr. King forms the foundation of Adam Kahane’s new book,  Love and Power: A theory and practice of social change. Melinda Weekes and I attended a recent book talk by Adam, attracted to the topic because, at IISC we’ve been thinking through and practicing the connections among power, love, networks and collaboration for years now.  Much of what Adam shared resonates with our thinking. The book builds on the thinking of theologian Paul Tillich.   His definitions are worth taking a closer look:

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Jul/20/10//Gibrán Rivera//IISC:Outside

Something is Working

I’m the one that’s all shook up.  I’m just getting back from doing some very powerful work with Reading Village in Guatemala and I’m still processing the experience.  It is difficult not to be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of poverty and palpability of oppression.  I come back with images of the smiles of an incredibly resilient Mayan people and I can not understand how they have withstood five centuries of aggression.  It is in this context that we were called to do our work. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/19/10//Gibrán Rivera//Inspiration

All Shook Up

Shook Up

From the IISC Training Room

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Jul/16/10//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

The Biology of Social Change

I was alerted to this slide show by the Leadership Learning Community, for which I am most grateful.  I appreciate how it brings together considerations of complexity and living systems for organizational leaders.

By way of summary, here are the 11 “enabling rules” that the presentation highlights for leadership to work in better alignment (and sustainably) with dynamic systems: Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/15/10//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

There Are Many Ways


Last week, Melinda and I had the honor of working with this year’s cohort of aspiring urban school principals participating in the New Leaders for New Schools program.  It was awe inspiring and heart warming to meet these accomplished educators who are now putting their classroom successes to the test by striving to take on instructional leadership of a challenging urban public school and raise student academic achievement across the board.

Our work was to help the New Leaders develop and strengthen skills that would serve them in putting together and managing their leadership teams.    While focusing on meeting design, we talked about how important it is to avoid simply inheriting old practices and meeting culture that may be dysfunctional or deadening.  To honor people’s time and energy, it behooves leaders to be thoughtful and strategic with respect to when and how they convene them and to what end.  As we discussed the myriad options for creating a group experience, one participant stood up and said, “We really have to get ourselves out of the box to do this work!”  Indeed.

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Jul/13/10//Gibrán Rivera//IISC:Outside

Reading Village

As you read this post I find myself in Guatemala, honored to be working with Reading Village, a truly inspired reading promotion organization.  I’ve been impressed by the principled stance of its founders, the serious attention they are paying to respecting local culture and being of authentic service.  Having run a successful pilot, they have asked me to come a facilitate a set of conversations towards the development of a field guide – a text that will serve replication of the success of Reading Village while remaining flexible enough for local adaptation.  Wish us luck!  We are doing something good here!

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Jul/12/10//Gibrán Rivera//Inspiration

Cultivate Happiness

I’ve been making the argument that happiness matters.  I think it specially matters among those of us who are working towards social transformation.  I believe there is a way to be happy and still face down the horrors that abate our world.  I am convinced that when movement builders find and cultivate this sort of clear eyed happiness we will actually become a powerful attractor for those who yearn to build a better world but have not yet found a way to do it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/08/10//Curtis Ogden//IISC:Outside

Nothing About Me Without Me

GEO guide

This past week marked the release of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ newest action learning guide – Do Nothing About Me Without Me: An Action Guide for Engaging Stakeholders.  IISC is pr0ud to be a co-publisher of and contributor to the publication, which builds on our work with GEO staff facilitating Engage for Results.  Essentially this seminar walks foundation staff through a series of strategic questions and tools for engaging grantees, community members, and other stakeholders in their grantmaking.  Worth highlighting here is what GEO and IISC identify as being core to the case for funders doing more to involve others in their work: Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/07/10//Linda Guinee//Networks

Network “Governance” Take Two

Yesterday, Steve Waddell wrote an excellent post on the Networking Action blog about initiating a network.  In it, he talks about four lessons he’s learned in starting a network:

  1. Be passion-driven and work-focused
  2. Think “community-development” not “governance structure”
  3. Use leading tools
  4. Integrate reflection, learning and flexibility

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Jul/06/10//Gibrán Rivera//Spiritual Activism

And Justice for All

Lords Prayer

This past weekend Samantha and I went to what I would call a “movement wedding.”  Our friends Justin Francese and Doyle Canning, who co-founded smartMeme, decided it was time to tie the knot.  It was a beautiful event and there are many highlights to share, but there is something in particular that has stuck with me since.  Towards the end of the ceremony they invited us to join them in praying “the liberation theology version of the Lord’s Prayer,” and I feel like I’ve been contemplating this line since – Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/02/10//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Not Knowing

I shared the following Wislawa Szymborska poem with faculty in an academic department at a university with whom I was working this week.  We read it as we were about to launch our final day of discussions about collaborative leadership and team building.

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Jul/01/10//Curtis Ogden//Sustainability

Leadership for Sustainability

For the better part of the last year and a half, my colleagues Ashley Welch and John McGah and I have been moving forward an IA/IISC cross-sectoral practice to bring Interaction methods + to the support of sustainability endeavors. Our early meetings around this budding practice included conversations about how best to frame leadership development for sustainability. We arrived at the graphic above, which combines what we see as the core elements needed for leadership to embrace and enroll others in sustainable pursuits.

With a foundation (watermark, if you will) of content knowledge about what sustainability is, the three elements are as follows:

• Systems Thinking (Seeing) – This is all about helping individual leaders and collective leadership see the whole, to understand that nothing stands in isolation, and that we must have a deeply felt sense of the interconnectedness of phenomena in order to make truly informed decisions. We take both our inspiration and instruction in this realm from the likes of the Sustainability Institute, the Center for Whole Communities, and The Elumenati.

• Self-Awareness (Being) – What we do is informed by who and how we are in the world. Awareness of our own beliefs, mental maps, and inherent tendencies is a powerful lever for making the sustainability shift, for aligning thought behind action. Self-awareness might also be cast as mindfulness, or the ability to be present to what is. Here we build upon our existing work around the inner side of leadership with the contributions of the Pachamama Alliance and John Milton.

• Collaborative Capacity (Doing) – With the whole in mind and awareness of our inner state, leadership will have a greater understanding of the need to work collectively toward more sustainable lifestyles and ways of doing business. Collaborative skill is key, including knowing how to frame sustainability efforts, create the right conditions for innovation, build agreement, structure decision-making, and design life-affirming experiences for diverse stakeholders. This is the heart and soul of the Interaction Method, and it is supplemented by the work of Keith Sawyer, CRED, and the many pioneers of large group methods and network-building.

Another key element and overlay for all of these is leadership’s ability to understand and navigate power dynamics as they play out in systems, in ourselves, and in our chosen methods for working together.

Eager to hear your reactions, tweaks, and additions.

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