Archive for February, 2011

Feb/28/11//Gibrán Rivera//Networks

Systems, Complexity and Networks


Photo by: Gany

A shared e-mail from Curtis to Gibran


Was just thinking of you, especially in light of the following tweet, which I really want to discuss with you (and others at IISC if they are interested) – The evolution is from systems, to complexity to networks – these transcend and include each other.  Great stuff, and I want to explore this more.  I want to understand it better.   Read the rest of this entry »

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“The book doesn’t matter. The conversation matters.”

Evil Plans

“Everybody needs an EVIL PLAN. Everybody needs that crazy, out-there idea that allows them to ACTUALLY start doing something they love, doing something that matters. Everybody needs an EVIL PLAN that gets them the hell out of the Rat Race, away from lousy bosses, away from boring, dead-end jobs that they hate. Life is short.”

My second book, EVIL PLANS launched today. Here are some notes:

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Feb/24/11//Curtis Ogden//IISC:Outside

Clarity Through Community

“Give me the listening ear
The eye that is willing to see.”

-Howard Thurman

This past weekend I had the opportunity to be part of a Quaker-style “clearness committee” with a few twists thrown in.  I have done a few similar sessions in the past, though it has been a while, and once again it proved to be a remarkable experience.  The impetus for the session was a friend who, acknowledging that she is at a crossroads in her life and career, reached out for help with discernment.  My wife, Emily, and I suggested convening a small group of people who know her well to lovingly listen to the core question with which she is wrestling.  Over the course of the two and a half hours we were together, there was an amazing peeling away of layers that occurred as we asked questions and watched for what either brought our friend to life or weighed her down.  By the end of the evening, she was excitedly looking at very real and enlivening opportunities in what she had previously perceived as being frivolous or “once I win the lottery” kinds of scenarios. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/23/11//Curtis Ogden//Facilitative Leadership

It’s an Adaptive Challenge When . . .

The following is a post that appeared on the blog of the Kansas Leadership Center.  It is inspired by and based on the work of Ron Heifetz and Kristin von Donop of Cambridge Leadership Associates. One of the greatest challenges for leadership is to distinguish between technical and adaptive challenges and to what extent solutions require focus on content or process.

Seven Ways To Know If You Are Facing An Adaptive Challenge: Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/22/11//Gibrán Rivera//Inspiration

Do the Thing

show 'em what your made of

Photo by: Allie

When I walk out of my door in the morning I am forced to look at a note that I’ve written to myself – “Do the Thing.”  Sometimes I will also place this note on my meditation cushion, so that I have to pick it up and move it right before I turn within.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the persistent gap between “talking/thinking about the thing” and actually doing it.  It is a gap that runs the gamut, I find it in my own individual life and in organizational life, I find it in our political discourse and within the social larger movement.

Perhaps the gap is inescapable.  It is possible that we live through aspirations.  It is possible that we think and talk about the thing in order to slowly catch up with it through the grind of real life.

And we do know that reflection is a good thing, that we learn through conversations, that it is important to articulate our vision.

I’m not trying to deny or undermine these things.

I just think that it is good to mind the gap.  When we mind the gap we are less abstract.  When we mind the gap it becomes harder to talk about goodness and justice while treating each other badly.

As a “process consultant,” a designer of interaction, I also think that minding the gap is what inspires me to strive for a generative experience – and actual taste of the thing we are working towards.

When aiming for transformation we must create transformative spaces.  Do not have “another meeting” where you talk about social change.  Design transformative spaces that give you a taste of it.  Mind the gap.  Live in the world you are trying to build.  How you get there is as important as getting there.  Do the thing.

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Feb/18/11//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

Havel on Hope



Either we have hope within us or we do not.

It is a dimension of the soul and is not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/17/11//Curtis Ogden//Sustainability

The Economics of Happiness

-Brooke Jarvis, YES! Magazine Web Editor

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Feb/16/11//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Worldview Literacy

There is some exciting work happening through the Institute of Noetic Sciences called the Worldview Literacy Project.  This initiative seeks to help students understand from a relatively young age what a worldview is, where worldviews come from, and the potential for switching and/or holding multiple views.  Given that fundamental change is rooted in our mindsets and preconceived notions about what is and can be, this project would seem to hold great promise.  Judge for yourself by listening to these remarkable young people and future (or perhaps current) change agents.

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Feb/15/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Collaboration

Social Transformation – Inside and Out!


Photo by: John Baez

As we continue to explore the inner side of collaboration and social change, I wanted to share a few highlights from a recent conversation with my colleague Roy Martin. I met Roy in my role as a faculty member of the Massachusetts Institute for Community Health Leaders program sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts. He spends his days (and nights!) intervening in the lives of young people who are caught up in the drug trade and gang-related violence. He knows them intimately, loves them deeply, and puts himself out there personally to guide them towards a positive future.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Rubberband Connection

Rubberband connection.2

Thomas Rice, founding Board Chair of IISC, draws the rubber band connecting vision and mission.

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Why Our Children Will Be Better Off Than We Are – In Ways That Matter


Photo by: Trizzie2006

We at IISC are big fans of the work of John McKnight  and Peter Block, some of us even have some bones to pick with them – but that’s the best sign of admiration!  In this blog post, originally appearing in the Huffington Post they bring a very different and appreciated perspective.

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Two Mapping Approaches for Change Networks

NetworkPhoto by: Carija

The following is a post by Steve Waddell in NetDev….

Last week I presented maps for a Renew Boston (RB) group.  Although the maps are preliminary, they provide a good illustration of how the two methodologies used can be complementary. They present a nice case study about use of maps.

Why map?  Here’re the reasons I give:

  • To “see” the whole “change field”…rather than limited individual perspectives
  • To create collective visions and theories of change
  • To understand current relationships and how work is currently done
  • To understand how relationships/work flows should change
  • Define implications of changes to identify key leverage points for optimal influence and conflicts, synergies and gaps

Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/10/11//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Social Innovation

Design Unleashed

Paola Antonelli has appeared in various posts on this blog over the past couple of years as one of our favorite purveyors of design thinking and its application to social change.  Now Antonelli is really stepping out.  In an article for SEED Magazine, the senior curator of Design and Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art holds out a whole new and exciting realm of application for design – policymaking, governance, and social agendas. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/09/11//Curtis Ogden//Networks

The Balancing Acts of Collaboration

In a recent article in Administration and Society, Sonia M. Ospina and Angel Saz-Carranza consider how it is that leadership in multi-organizational networks carries out vital balancing acts.  On the one hand, they consider ways to navigate the internal tension between creating unity and honoring diversity among stakeholders.  On the other hand, they look at how the balance is struck between confrontation and dialogue when doing outward-facing work. The source of their insights are the experiences of two urban immigration coalitions in the United States.

By way of summary, to successfully address paradox in the context of balancing unity and diversity inside the network, Ospina and Saz-Carranza observed leadership doing the following: Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/08/11//Gibrán Rivera//Spiritual Activism

States and Stages

I’m keen on developmental theory.  And I’m particularly interested in the implications of the Wilber-Combs Lattice.  I don’t want to distract you with the esoteric, but I do think the picture is worth including.

States and Stages

The most important contribution of the Wilber-Combs Lattice is the distinction between states and stages.  Stages (vertical axis) are developmental – they are sequential, you can’t skip through them and they progressively transcend and include each other.  States (horizontal axis) on the other hand, are available to all stages.

What does this all mean?  Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/07/11//Gibrán Rivera//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Finding Neighbors

vintage_neighborsPhoto by: Fzyaso

The following is a repost of a Huffington Post blog by Alicia Anstead, including reference to the work of IISC’s own Melinda Weekes.

Tonye Patano, a black actor in New York City, was so consumed last year by reading a script about minstrelsy, she was late for an audition. The story had rattled and repulsed her. But she couldn’t put it down. The day when she finally headed to the audition, she heard a group of young black teens on the street riffing in racially charged language.

“It was their way of relating to each other,” said Patano. “My response in my spirit was: ‘Young man, do you hear what you’re saying?’ But they were owning who they were, not caring about anyone’s judgment. Even if I don’t agree with it, they had made the language their own.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/04/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, What We Are Reading

Driving Social Change

Driving Social Change

“How do societies create the breakthroughs needed for a more just, tolerant, healthy, educated, and equitable world? How do they challenge the prevailing wisdom without losing hope? How do they enact lasting change and protect it from the inevitable backlash?” This age-old question is subject of Paul Light’s new book, Driving Social Change, from John Wiley & Sons publishers. The Nonprofit Quarterly features a summary of the book in their most recent issue.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/03/11//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration

Lessons of Collaboration Gone Bad


“It’s hard to make a difference when everyone is tangled up in the rigging of procedural formality and blanketed in fog.”

-Roberta’s Rules of Order

With all of the snow days we’ve had so far in 2011, you’ll understand if I begin this post from a “when things don’t go according to plan” mindset. We’ve all taken our lumps in doing collaborative work, even with the best laid plans and best intentions in place. I’ve had the opportunity to do a little reflecting (in between tours of duty shoveling) on what has made for more successful and less successful collaborative endeavors, and here are some of the important lessons I’ve learned when things have not gone as well as had been hoped for: Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/02/11//Curtis Ogden//Social Media

The Engagement Shift

I’ve been working with a couple of organizations and initiatives lately as they discuss enhancing their strategies for stakeholder engagement.  Throughout all of this work is the emerging awareness that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift in our field with respect to what engagement means and looks like.  This, of course, has been captured by many writers and thinkers who have been looking closely at what social media is enabling (see, for example, Clay Shirky’s work, the Working Wikkily blog, or the writings of Beth Kanter and Allison Fine).  And at the same time there is a realization that this is not just about technology, but a return to some of what we’ve forgotten as well as a step towards something new. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/01/11//Gibrán Rivera//Spiritual Activism

Meditation and Climate Change

meditation climate

Yesterday I was privileged to participate in a full day of learning about Climate Change and EcoJustice with the Boston’s Barr Fellows NetworkGopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation and Doyle Canning of SmartMeme, did a phenomenal job of painting a much richer picture about what is at stake for humanity than tends to be available in the sound-bite politics that pass for political discourse in our day.  I expect to share more about what we learned, but I’m still doing a whole lot of processing.

Today I’m writing to make connection between the choices ahead and the practice of meditation. Read the rest of this entry »

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