We are so lucky! The Pew Hispanic Center just published a report titled “National Latino Leader? The Job is Open,” and it seems we can’t agree on who is our leader. The report seems to lift this as an area of concern, “national leadership” has often been helpful for groups facing injustice. A down economy and anti-immigrant fervor make this a particularly difficult time for our community – so shouldn’t we be worried that we don’t have a leader? Read the rest of this entry »
“Let’s all keep an open mind” How many times have you heard that one? How often has it worked? Keeping an open mind is not as easy as following a ground rule once it has been stated, specially not in a culture where we are rewarded for being right – for knowing. Read the rest of this entry »
Wishing you all a restful and nourishing Thanksgiving, along with reminders of the bounty that may be closer than we think.
The Wild Geese
Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
Just coming off the second public offering of Whole Measures: Transforming Communities by Measuring What Matters Most, IISC’s joint venture with the Center for Whole Communities. I have to say, the workshop experience keeps getting better and better. More is yet to come (next stop, New Jersey in March), and I wanted to offer these words as a way of summarizing our evolving co-creation.
What we talk about is what we see,
so must convene conversations that matter.
What we see is what we measure,
so we must see the whole (system).
What we measure is what gets done,
so we must measure what matters.
What must be done cannot be done alone,
so we must design and facilitate collaborative processes.
We cannot do any of this by transaction or command and control,
I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Sertl on the twittersphere. Together with Koby Huberman, they have written a book that seems to touch on many of the aspects of this paradigm shift that I spend some much time writing about. It looks like in writing Strategy, Leadership and the Soul Sertl and Huberman are articulating a series of powerful responses to the changes our organizations are experiencing. I see a lot of alignment between the principles outlined in this 3 minute video and the work we do here at IISC. We are moving forward, see what you think.
Sometimes it takes science a little time to catch up with the world’s wisdom traditions. Recent research findings from a couple of Harvard psychologists, Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, confirm what meditation and mindfulness practitioners have long known – our ability to stay focused in the present has a strong correlation with contentment. Using data collected from a specially designed iPhone application, the researchers report that people spend nearly 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what’s happening in front of them. Furthermore, they find that, “Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness. How often our minds leave the present, and where they tend to go, is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.” You still with me? Read the rest of this entry »
Last week I attended Pegasus Communications’ annual Systems Thinking in Action Conference in Boston and had the privilege of meeting and hearing from extraordinary people from around the country and globe, all interested in helping others to better see and work with wholes. From systems mappers and modelers to complex facilitation practitioners to researchers and preachers, my teachers were many. I was one of many tweeters spreading the wealth of wisdom cycling through that dynamic event and system. Here are some of my favorite take-aways in the form of quotes heard, read, and spiritually imbibed: Read the rest of this entry »
(1) The leadership process requires three movements: (1) establishing the horizontal connection (“observe, observe, observe”), (2) establishing the vertical connection (“connecting to Source”), and (3) acting from what emerges in the Now (“acting in an instant”).
Tomorrow my colleague Melinda and I officially launch an exciting endeavor with the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund in Connecticut, as we meet for the first time with a Process Team that will begin designing a state-wide early childhood systems building initiative. The Memorial Fund is stepping boldly into its leadership as a convenor, at the urging of its grantees and the many communities with whom it has cultivated deep trust. In its sights is a process that ultimately yields a broadly shared and community-rooted vision for providing high quality and equitable care and education for all of the Connecticut’s youngest children, as well as policies and structures that support greater community-state collaboration towards this vision. Read the rest of this entry »
“How do you do that? How do you step back and get perspective?” The question came from a table mate in an Art of Hosting workshop at this week’s Systems Thinking in Action conference. The earnest and wide-eyed inquisitor silently suggested the qualifier, “And how do you do this when there is so little time?” The question hung in the air in the midst of our World Cafe-inspired conversation about the kinds of change that are being called for in our respective communities, however we choose to define them.
My first response was to laugh. How indeed? As parents of three small children under the age of five, my wife and I often scratch our heads at how we can create more breathing space in general. Frankly, the notion of stepping back often feels like a luxury we can’t afford. And I know there are others in the same space with a variety of unremitting demands. My laugh was surely an acknowledgment of this seemingly impossible situation. And in the context of this rich albeit brief cafe conversation it also became something else, thanks to the careful attending of my colleagues. Read the rest of this entry »
I am a huge fan of C. Otto Scharmer’s Theory U. It is one of the most powerful frameworks for understanding the essential shifts we need to make as we step into this paradigm shift. Scharmer sums up his Theory U with seven propositions, I’m going to write a series of blog posts taking a closer look at each of them: Read the rest of this entry »
“Everyone today has to be an artisan and bring something extra to their jobs.” This says Thomas Friedman in the New York Times. I’m not sure I like where he is coming from, it sounds a little bit like adding obscure features to a DVD player. But I do like the point. I like this idea of being artisans, of engaging our work as a craft, adding meaning to our tasks by putting our own signature on what we do.
Somewhere beyond Friedman’s capitalistic “do more,” in places outside the yupified fields of trendy taste, there is significant power to the work of an artisan. For example, the work of social change has become so professionalized that it is often disconnected from the depths of purpose that could unleash transformation. But by thinking of ourselves as artisans our own self-expression can actually serve connection, it can bring us closer to that place where hearts can meet.
Consider the purpose of your work, then think of what you do every day… how much more of yourself could you bring to this field where we toil? What’s your craft? What is it that you can create?
Systems thinking is in the air. This past weekend I was delighted to have the opportunity to teach an introductory course on the topic with John McGah of Give Us Your Poor. Together we took 17 graduate students in the UMass-Boston MSPA program through an intensive and interactive look at the world through the systems lens. Even before we got things rolling on Saturday morning, the pre-reading (Donella Meadows’ Thinking in Systems) had provoked two people to say that they were already seeing the world differently (and more clearly). By the end of our 36 hour romp, which included guest presentations by David Peter Stroh and Paul Plotczyk, students were saying that all public sector employees, nay EVERYONE, should be required to take a systems thinking course. All of this enthusiasm comes just a week in advance of Pegasus Communications’ annual systems thinking conference here in Boston, which has a focus on “Fueling New Cycles of Success.” I am very excited to attend, and look forward to building upon the wisdom I’ve gleaned thus far about surfacing and living with systems (human and otherwsie), which includes these gems: Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, in preparation for a session with Ontario-based community grantmaking board members, I blogged about what to look for in the proposed and early stages of a collaborative change initiative to suggest that it was on the right track. The ensuing session was incredibly rich, filled with two robust and impressive case studies featuring the YSI Collaborative, which focuses on strengthening youth social infrastructure in the region,
and an environmental collaborative focused on minimizing corporate polluting in the Hamilton area. Both presentations and subsequent dialogue in the room were filled with great tips regarding what makes for successful collaboration based on practice. Here is some of the wisdom that was shared by those in the room: Read the rest of this entry »
Vote Today! It does matter. But you probably already knew that. I’m down on the state these days. And I don’t mean Massachusetts. I mean “the state,” the dominant organizing structure for human affairs. But I still think we should vote – wield some of the influence we have. Read the rest of this entry »