It’s been my pleasure to partner with Beth Tener of New Directions Collaborative these past few weeks in support of the Vermont Farm-to-Plate Network as it evolves a governing structure to support its goal of boosting local food production by 5% in the next 10 years. As part of our work, Beth and I are designing and facilitating two convenings that feature stories of successful networks, tips for doing “net work,” and robust conversation about what will work best in support of Farm to Plate. One resource to which we’ve turned is the Working Wikily blog, which featured a post in May that offers additional insights into what stands behind the successes of the much lauded RE-AMP Network. In a discussion featuring convenor Jenny Curtis of the Garfield Foundation and consultants Rick Reed and Heather McLeod Grant, a number of points are made that resonate and merit consideration for leveraging the power of networks. Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for August, 2011
Perhaps feeling wistful in these late summer weeks as we lean towards fall, I seem to have a penchant for all things poetic. Who better to read then, than my friend and colleague Danny Martin, who blogs at a site entitled, “The Art of Working WITH Life.” Danny wonderfully and naturally spouts poetry, his own and others’, as he reflects on what it means to live and lead sustainably. In a recent post on relationships, he writes, “sustainability is about learning to work with differences in a way that will allow us to address the challenges of everyday living and also thereby deepen the relationship with the world we live in.” In other words, it is about learning to love, or as Humberto Maturana has defined it, “respecting the other as a legitimate other.” I have noted that the whole notion of love resonates more and more deeply with people in leadership trainings. The mention of the word does not lead to the same kinds of winces, embarrassed grins, and occasional rolling of the eyes as it did even 3 years ago. What’s love got to do with it? “Everything!” a couple of people shouted in my most recent training in Connecticut. As we discuss it, we revolve around the many different splendors and interpretations, but at the end of the day most everyone agrees that while it may be difficult to define love, we know when it’s absent. And we know we suffer for its loss.
So with thanks to Danny for drawing my attention to them, I pass along these poetic ponderings of Czeslow Milosz, and invite you to consider the link between love and sustainability: Read the rest of this entry »
I am coming to really see the deep connection between the iron hold on ego and the unwillingness to let go of institutions that no longer serve us. As facades crumble, there seems to be a hunkering down going on all around, fueled by anxiety and resulting in futile and rancorous efforts to control an outcome that is so much larger than any of us. Forces are telling us to side with the way of Life, and to reach out. Will we listen? Will we stretch? Read the rest of this entry »
Photo by: December005
I am part of a community of practice organized around networks and decentralized organizing. Some of us have been pondering the relationship between scale and relationship. We want to nurture movements that can bring social transformation to scale, and we know that authentic relationships are at the heart of real transformation.
Shivers advises: “When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say ‘hell, yeah!’ ” Sounds a lot easier to me than it actually is. What’s your experience?
Photo by: Cynthia Parker
What follows is a piece of the commencement address that Paul Hawken delivered at the University of Portland in 2009. His words join with those of many others amidst our current global conundrum to remind us that we are of the natural world, not separate from “the environment.” Our current economy and education system tend to relegate us to consumers of our life support system, which puts a whole new spin on this notion of “recession.” Time to come out of our caves and get reacquainted with our animal selves and deeper wisdom. Full employment awaits!
Read the rest of this entry »
“Chaos is the primal state of pure energy
for every true new beginning.”
- William Bridges
To say that these are uncertain times would be stating the obvious. And yet I’ve found myself uttering this increasingly to the organizations and initiatives with whom I am working, often met by a temporary sigh (ambiguity loves company, or at least momentary normalization). This uncertainty was perhaps best captured by a client who recently said, “We went into transition in 2007 and never came out!” At IISC and our partner organization, Interaction Associates, we’ve also been feeling the strain of this extended global “groan zone” in which we find ourselves. And amidst the angst there are some exciting conversations happening on both sides of the Interaction house that I (no longer so secretly) am hoping will tear down some walls. William Bridges, in his classic book Managing Transitions, talks about the work of transition as not simply being about “getting through intact” but about emerging different and better. I am convinced that this is a call to rethink some of the sectoral divisions we have established that are not serving us well. Surely we can do and be better, as is suggested by the re-posted Guardian Sustainable Business blog post that follows. Interaction Brothers and Sisters, readers from all sectors, prophets of profit, what are your thoughts about Jo Confino’s words below and how might we create “a framework for more harmonious balance” to take us the next step in our collective evolution? Read the rest of this entry »
Both are types of networks, with different destinies. There are two basic network forms: organisms or ecosystems. Companies are like organisms, while cities are like ecosystems.
This is a phenomenally helpful distinction. Our work here at IISC includes network building as well as leadership and organizational development, and we don’t find these to be mutually exclusive.
“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what to hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”
All the wisdom and spiritual traditions give us beautiful things to hope for—completion, salvation, an end to suffering, a world of beauty and peace.
So I just came in from seeing the Hollywood movie that’s got my FaceBook page and Twitter account all abuzz: “The Help,” written and directed by Tate Taylor based on a novel by his childhood friend, Kathryn Stockett. It’s the fictional story of a group of black maids in 1960s Mississippi who agree to share their work lives with a young, aspiring, white female journalist. It’s clear that yet again this kind of story has struck a dissonant, familiar, chord with the American public — I’ll call it “The Race Chord.” While black thought leaders I respect are publicly denouncing the flick, others I also respect are making a point to enthusiastically support it via press release. Read the rest of this entry »
For the past couple of years I have been involved in varying degrees and for varying lengths of time with a number of efforts around the New England region to build city and state-wide movement and infrastructure to achieve greater impact around a number of different issue areas. Whether or not these efforts have expressly used the word “network,” (all embrace the core concept of multi-stakeholder collaboration), they are all trying to create, develop, or reinforce more inclusive, distributed, and efficient means of achieving significant systemic change.
Ultimately each of these efforts has steered clear of adopting an exact replica of a network structure that is working elsewhere, implicitly understanding my friend and mentor Carol Sanford’s mantra that “best practice obliterates essence.” Instead, within and across these efforts they have been articulating some common “design principles” that guide their emergent and evolving structure. Among these are some form of the following: Read the rest of this entry »
I am honored to be part of a listserv called “The Gamechangers Salon,” there is brilliance and passion in it. There is also a lot of anger these days, particularly given recent events in Washington. Following is my recent contribution to the conversation, coincidentally, my colleague Cynthia Silva Parker, just wrapped up her blog series on Power & Privilege with a post on Pursuing – something in the air at IISC! Here is my post:
Today is the final post in this series. I want to end with a deceptively simple question.
What do I want badly enough to pursue? Read the rest of this entry »
“What is the pattern that connects the crab to the lobster and the primrose to the orchid, and all of them to me, and me to you?”
Last week’s post on “Negativity and Self-Limiting Advocacy” ended up setting off quite a conversation. In light of that, I thought I might further flesh out some of what Barbara Fredrickson recommends via her book Positivity in a chapter entitled “A New Toolkit.” Here she enumerates ways to enhance overall positivity, and therefore broaden our individual and collective minds, build resourcefulness and resilience, and flourish in the direction of our highest aspirations. Here is what she suggests, based on rigorous research: Read the rest of this entry »
I am very excited about today’s opening of the BMW Guggenheim Lab in NYC for many reasons. At IISC, we talk about and focus on the importance of creating optimal conditions and spaces for collaboration – to innovate, build agreement, create constructive dissonance, etc. This mobile Lab seems to incorporate the best of design thinking and diversity to spur urban revitalization. And I’m wondering what this inspires in and for you.
Our first son was born on Saturday, he came two months early and he is AMAZING. Clearly I am gushing with joy, excitement and love! I have spent very little time with our baby (who hasn’t yet told us his name), but I am already enraptured by him – bonded, mightily connected. And isn’t that so much of what we talk about here on the IISC Blog? Love, connection – life, evolution. Read the rest of this entry »
Picture was taken by Dmitri Markine. Check out this amazing portfolio!
In case you missed my earlier posts in this series, I am raising a series of questions about power and privilege in social change work at the invitation of the “Walk the Talk” zine/book project. Prior questions included:
- “How do I handle my privileges responsibly and avoid the “oppression Olympics?”
- How do I figure out which privileges to leverage, which to minimize and which to divest?
- When is it more responsible to “hold the bag” and when is it more important to “let the ball bounce?” and What has my contribution been and how do my colleagues of color see me?
- How do we “undo racism” without also “undoing race?” And, how do we “undo race” without leaving racism in place?
Today I also want to pose two related questions.