“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
This coming Sunday, my colleague Gibran Rivera and I will be presenting at the Connecting for Change Conference (Bioneers by the Bay) in New Bedford, MA. This is one of my favorite events each year, as it gathers many thoughtful and innovative presenters and participants from local/regional and national/international levels to talk about how to create whole (just and sustainable) communities. In our workshop, “Are You Down With D-I-T? Skills for Change in a Network World,” Gibran and I will guide attendees through an exploration of the convergence of two of today’s powerful memes – the DIY (Do It Yourself) movement, which seems to be fueled in great part through younger generations and social media, and “collective impact,” made popular by FSG in its SSIR articles. Read the rest of this entry »
This is Marianne’s last week as Executive Director of IISC. We’re devoting the blog to her writings and thinking this week.
Earlier this week during an IISC staff learning session, we entertained the question, “What do we know from our years of doing collaborative capacity building work?” Here IISC founder and Executive Director, Marianne Hughes, speaks to the core framework that supports our process design and facilitation work, the Pathway to Change.
IISC would like to share our Top 5 most influential post of 2012! Join us until the New Years Eve when we reveal our number 1 blog post!
The following post began as a response to FSG’s lastest contribution to its work around “collective impact” on the Standford Social Innovations Review blog. There is much value in the additional details of this cross-sectoral approach to creating change, and I especially appreciate what is highlighted in this most recent piece regarding the strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of “backbone organizations” to support and steer the work. In the ensuing conversation on the SSIR blog, there is a comment from an FSG staff person about the importance of building trust in launching these efforts, and it was from this point that I picked up . . .
With deep appreciation for the good work of FSG in helping to codify this important approach, I wanted to add that from our experience at the Interaction Institute for Social Change, helping people develop the skills of process design and facilitation is of paramount importance in cultivating trust and ultimately realizing the promise of large-scale multi-stakeholder collaborative efforts. Read the rest of this entry »
Despite recession, currency crises, and tremors of financial instability, the pace of disruption is roaring ahead. The frictionless spread of information and the expansion of personal, corporate, and global networks have plenty of room to run. And here’s the conundrum: When businesspeople search for the right forecast–the road map and model that will define the next era–no credible long-term picture emerges. There is one certainty, however. The next decade or two will be defined more by fluidity than by any new, settled paradigm; if there is a pattern to all this, it is that there is no pattern. The most valuable insight is that we are, in a critical sense, in a time of chaos.
I had a unique opportunity the other day with a client to do a little year end reflection about the path we have walked with a complex multi-stakeholder change process, which has featured a dive into systems thinking thanks to IISC friend David Peter Stroh. David was actually the one who put the question out there, “What have you gained as a result of adopting a systems thinking lens?” Here is some of what came up in terms of gleanings and appreciation:
“Are you a sophist?” I’ve been wrestling with that question for several weeks, at the invitation of Carol Sanford. Carol points out how many of us in the helping professions have fallen into the habit of trying to provide well-intended inspiration and advice to others at the expense of diminishing their capability. She likes to tell the story of Socrates’ awakening to what would often happen to those who listened to the Sophists preach in ancient Greece – people would leave inspired, and keep coming back for more. At a certain point, many of these “followers,” after seeing increasingly diminished returns, would become demoralized and convinced that they would never be able to reach the heights that were suggested in the speeches and sermons they heard. So Socrates took a different tack. He sought to help others grow by asking questions that helped them to move and take control of their own development. Read the rest of this entry »
Andrew Zolli is a long time friend of the Interaction family. His recent piece on the New York Times, Learning to Bounce Back, reminded me of why Marianne Hughes, founder and former Executive Director of IISC has been raving about his new book on resilience.
Winter Solstice is just around the corner. I find it’s a good time to reflect on the past year, and look toward the year ahead. Every year at each of the Solstices, I scan my life and consider what I’d like to let go of and what I’d like to invoke.
I was so grateful when Laura Moorehead, Director of Training with the Institute for Civic Leadership, shared this reading from Margaret Wheatley at the close of my time with this year’s ICL class. From my perspective, there is much wisdom here, and the words do a very nice job of summarizing much of what IISC was there to share and discuss regarding leadership, networks, and collaborative change . . .
For two years, we at IISC have been working with the staff of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, based in Hamden, CT, as it has responded to a “community call” and stepped up to convene a multi-stakeholder process to create a “blueprint” for a state-wide early childhood development system that works for all children and families, regardless of race, income, or ability. Read the rest of this entry »
David Peter Stroh hits the nail on the head with his recent post on the relationship between systems thinking and spiritual practice on the Leverage Points Blog. Our ways of seeing and ways of being are profoundly affected by our interior condition. Many aspects of systems thinking are deeply aligned with the wisdom of many spiritual traditions.
What is decolonial love, why must we cultivate it, and how can we practice it? These are a few of the questions that have been turning over and over in my mind since I heard Junot Díaz speak so brilliantly at ARC’s Facing Race conference in Baltimore a couple of weeks ago – decolonial love is a term I had not heard before Díaz used it and now I will surely be bringing it up a lot. Building on Cynthia Silva Parker’s previous post about the conference, I want to share a bit of what Díaz had to say and ask YOU, what would look like if we really really good at practicing decolonial love? I think the implications are profound and exciting!
I think it could be said that so much of what ails us in this day and age stems from a severe case of fragmentation. The combination of silos, specialization, segregation, industrialization, derivation (think processed food and “derivative” investment instruments), and abstraction has rendered us strangers and adversaries to one another, the larger systems that sustain us, and perhaps even to ourselves. Hence the call that you see often in this blog for a more holistic view and picture, one rooted in an understanding of the systemic nature of reality. It is also what drives our approach at IISC in terms of being more network-centric in bringing about progressive social change for healthy whole people, communities, and ecosystems. This is fundamentally about work that reconnects us to what matters most. And to be clear, this is not simply heady work, which keeps our minds separate from our bodies and emotional selves. Perhaps no one says it better than farmer, poet, and land activist Wendell Berry, who in his recent Jefferson Lecture framed the solution to our current situation with the title – “It Turns on Affection.” Below you will find an excerpt, that I shared this very morning with the Food Systems New England Network Design Team: Read the rest of this entry »
I like to describe IISC as a collaboration shop. We look at collaboration through three lenses. When looking through the lens of networks we are acknowledging a shift from “complicated to complex” (see image). We often rely on the Cynefin framework to encourage an attitude of exploration, a more open attitude than the quest for technical answers that obsesses so much of our work for social change.
Thanks to Beth Tener for pointing me in the direction of this graphic from Occupy NYC. The headline reads: “Let’s acknowledge the reality: The future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members. Our increasingly interconnected world obscures the underlying truth that all of our grievances are connected.” What connections do you see between economic inequality, ecological irresponsibility, concentrations of political and economic power, racism, sexism, and more? How are you making those connections real in your life and your work? (P.S. Click on this hyperlink if you want to see the article that follows the graphic).