Oct/14/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Reflecting on Indigenous People’s Day

In middle and high school, I challenged (and most likely annoyed) my teachers around this time of the year. I went to school in Plymouth, MA and wondered out loud why Native Americans would want to celebrate Columbus Day. “Shouldn’t it be a day of mourning for them?” I’d ask. I don’t recall any teacher having a good answer to my question or even being willing to engage in meaningful dialogue.

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Oct/11/13//IISC//Networks, Technology

The Innovation of Loneliness

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Oct/09/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Leveraging Networks as Marketplaces

I am increasingly interested in how networks can help to reclaim and reshape marketplaces, bringing them back down to earth and keeping them more stimulating of local economies, helping give value to what is not formally valued, as well as shifting and restructuring flows for greater equity and abundance.  So I was delighted to get a number of tips on this front from Lawrence CommunityWorks during a visit there last week.  Staff and residents shared a number of ways in which they help to identify and exchange assets as a part of daily operations.  For example, here is an exercise called “Marketplaces” which comes from Bill Traynor. continue reading

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Oct/08/13//Gibrán Rivera//Love

Love

“Love” is now a category on the IISC Blog.  How appropriate!  Love is one of the three lenses that give shape to our work.  And love is at the very heart of this project of social transformation.  Love is path and goal.  Love is how we get there and it is where we want to go.

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Oct/06/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

How will you use power?

We often focus on the understanding of power as a process and as a social construct rather than a fixed asset. As Beth Roy says, “power is not something you have; it’s something you do.”

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Oct/04/13//Mistinguette Smith//Featured, Love

Hospitality as Facilitation

The origins of hospitality as a sacred and esteemed practice are rooted in providing shelter and safety to the stranger.  It is the ancient art and practice of offering your very best to another, with no expectation of reward. Whether you learned this practice in your grandmother’s parlor or at an Art of Hosting workshop, you know that hospitality is the essence of facilitative leadership.

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Oct/03/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Networks as Human Environments

Yesterday, Carole Martin and I took the Tillotson Fund Community Practitioners Network on a site visit/retreat to Lawrence CommunityWorks, to see first hand what a network approach to community and economic development looks like. There is much to be said about what LCW has done, learned, and is looking to do going forward, and some of this has already been captured in case studies and articles.  Here I want to focus on one important lesson that staff and residents have learned over the past 15 years or so when it comes to taking a network approach.  This lesson falls under the caution – “Avoid a Fetish for Structural Forms.” continue reading

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Oct/02/13//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration, Featured, Networks, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Complete (Social) Capital

Last week I represented IISC as a presenter/facilitator in a “deep dive” session at the Council on Foundations Conference for Community Foundations.  The title of the session was “Complete Capital”and was inspired by an SSIR article by the same title written by Antony Bugg-Levine of the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF). Briefly, complete capital is a framework to help funders and other investors develop a fuller picture of the assets required to address complex social challenges: financial, intellectual, human, and social.

After presentations by Alison Gold of Living Cities (intellectual capital), Lisa Spinali (human capital) and Jessica LaBarbera of NFF (financial capital), and in the light of a couple of helpful case studies presented by Alison and Jessica, I offered a view of social capital that is more complex than what appears in the SSIR article.   continue reading

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Oct/01/13//IISC//Liberation

When to speak up

The following post has been reblogged from Seth’s Blog. He is a genius and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

“This plane is headed to Dallas. If Dallas isn’t your destination, this would be a great time to deplane.”

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Sep/30/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Structural Transformation

Washington Gridlock

I have been thinking about today’s post for days. But, with the possible shutdown of the federal government, I wanted to raise a few questions and concerns. We have a (theoretically) representative form of government, which begs the question whose interests are actually being represented by the gridlock in Washington? continue reading

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Sep/26/13//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Flipping Orthodoxy

During his presentation at this week’s Council of Foundations Conference for Community Foundations, the Monitor Institute’s Gabriel Kasper talked about the need for innovation in community philanthropy. This included a call to examine orthodoxy in our organizations and communities, that is, the behaviors and procedures that we often take for granted with respect to the way we go about our business.  This notion of orthodoxy was developed by the innovation firm Doblin and is further outlined in an article in Rotman Magazine.  Gabriel then encouraged attendees to, essentially, “steal like an artist.”  So in that spirit, I wanted to share the plenary exercise he had participants go through that I am particularly interested in bringing to some of the networks with which I work: continue reading

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Sep/25/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

More Cracks in the Network Code


Our friend Jane Wei-Skillern recently co-wrote (along with Nora Silver and Eric Heitz) another valuable contribution to the growing “network building” body of literature, entitled “Cracking the Network Code: Four Principles for Grantmakers.”  This piece is part of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ learning initiative, Scaling What Works.  While the guide mainly addresses funders, it also has something for those outside of the philanthropic world.  Its core offering is a set of principles to guide what the authors call “the network mindset”: continue reading


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Sep/24/13//Gibrán Rivera//Collaboration

Collaboration, Cooperation and Do-ocracy

I always describe IISC as a “Collaboration Shop.” The founder of Interaction Associates, David Strauss, authored the seminal book “How to Make Collaboration Work.”  I’m all for people working together to achieve a common goal.  I make a living helping them do that.

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Sep/23/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Where’s the Growing Edge?

Several persistent questions keep us learning and experimenting.

How do we avoid re-traumatizing people of color in this work? Often, people of color in racially mixed learning spaces bear the burden of teaching through telling their own stories. While sometimes liberating, this can also re-open wounds and create resentment at having to prove one’s reality to people who may be reluctant to accept what they have not experienced. And, over time, it can be disheartening to keep extending grace to different people in different spaces for the same mistakes. Racially homogeneous caucuses are one useful antidote. How else can we avoid these dynamics, particularly working in mixed-race settings?

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Sep/20/13//IISC//Featured, Liberation

Resistance

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did and don’t forget to join the conversation! 

We’ve been in the process of setting our direction here at Rockwood. We’re looking at our purpose, our vision, and how we will fulfill our commitments to the world. It’s been an enlivening and satisfying exploration, and as a result, it has become clear that I need to radically shift my role from one of internal management to external relationship building.

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Sep/18/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Networks for Change: Inquiry and Emergence

“Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 in Letters to a Young Poet

In their article, “Using Emergence to Scale Social Innovation,” Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze highlight the critical role of self-organization, spontaneous and purposeful arrangement and action without formal or “external” management,  in facilitating social change.  As self-organization occurs in social networks, emergent and unexpected phenomena flow through the strength and flexibility of connections between people and groups.  As Wheatley and Frieze note, these emergent phenomena tend to result in “a powerful system that has many more capacities than could ever be predicted by analyzing the individual parts.”  This is part of what constitutes the “intelligence” and resilience of networks.  This capacity flows naturally when conditions are ripe for individuals to freely find each other and create. continue reading

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Sep/17/13//Gibrán Rivera//Networks

New Ways of Being-With

Last week Curtis wrote an excellent post inviting a developmental perspective on building networks for social change.  It triggered all sort of ideas for me.

Our concept of “self” is not static.  It has evolved over time.  That’s how we end up with concepts like the “me” generation, and the flagrant narcissism that defines our culture (see example – First World Problems).

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Sep/15/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Ways of Being: Collaborative Strategies

The following post is part 2 of a 2 part series on some collaborative tools and strategies to help us change our selves, change our organizations and change the world.  We hope you find it helpful.  We encourage you to join the conversation! 

We are compelled by a quote from Theory U, attributed to William O’Brien “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” Collaborative tools and strategies are only truly useful in the hands of practitioners whose hearts are big enough to hold the complexities, struggles, hopes and fears that accompany the work of transforming racism. continue reading

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Sep/12/13//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks

Networks for Social Change: A Developmental View

“If what we change does not change us we are playing with blocks.”

Marge Piercy

At IISC we see taking a developmental view as being critical to effective collaborative and network-based approaches to social change.  This is largely because of the complexity of the issues we are striving to address with our partners and the “adaptive” nature of the work.  It is also because we hold an evolutionary perspective; that is, we see change and development as being part of the underlying dynamic of reality. As scientist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once declared, “We are moving!” And so we are interested in paying attention to and working with evolution as it occurs at different levels – individual, team/group, organization/institution, community, etc. continue reading

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Sep/10/13//Gibrán Rivera//Structural Transformation

Distributed Power

I’m proud to call Billy Parish a friend; he is an incredibly sweet person.  I am a fan of his commitment and imagination.  I’ve been hearing about his company, Mosaic, since it was but an idea.  I was blown away to see it featured in today’s New York Times – A Bet on the Environment. continue reading

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Sep/08/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Ways of Being: Collaborative Tools

The following post is part 1 of a 2 part series on some collaborative tools and strategies to help us change our selves, change our organizations and change the world.  We hope you find it helpful.  We encourage you to join the conversation! 

We are compelled by a quote from Theory U, attributed to William O’Brien “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” Collaborative tools and strategies are only truly useful in the hands of practitioners whose hearts are big enough to hold the complexities, struggles, hopes and fears that accompany the work of transforming racism. continue reading

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Sep/06/13//IISC//Structural Transformation

A New Perspective

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Sep/04/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Networks for Social Change: Life on the Edge

“Look to the growing edge!”

- Howard Thurman

Edge has its advantages.  This is the finding of ecologists and other scientists looking at how peripheral spaces can provide adaptive strength.  For example, where different habitats meet, there is considerable fecundity and the extent to which there is more significant overlap there is that much more richness and species able to thrive in more than one setting.  Trees make interesting use of edge by maximizing the surface area of their root systems to find and take in nutrients in the soil.  We also know that innovation tends to happen where different disciplinary fields meet, and therefore through a porousness and openness to new thinking on the edge. continue reading

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Sep/02/13//Gibrán Rivera//Structural Transformation

Dialogue Triggers

Appreciating this reflection by my friend Augusto Cuginotti. In the context  of the USA I can already the resistance, “I came to work, not to be vulnerable.” In fact, we spend a lot of time designing spaces that protect us from vulnerability.  But then, how will we ever sail towards what we do not yet know?

 ”Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable” -Joyce Brothers

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Aug/30/13//IISC//Sustainability

Gaze Up

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Aug/28/13//Curtis Ogden//IISC:Outside

Glimpses of Wholeness

Last Friday, as we closed our joint offering with the Center for Whole Communities, “Whole Measures: Transforming Communities by Measuring What Matters Most,” at Knoll Farm, participants and facilitators alike carried forward insights and ongoing questions about what wholeness is and what might help to create more of it in our communities and organizations.  The timing was auspicious as the nation has been marking the anniversary of the March on Washington and reflecting upon the progress we have made towards wholeness as embodied in Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, delivered in a speech 50 years ago today.   continue reading

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Aug/26/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Art and Implicit Bias

The way Maya Wiley quickly and effectively names the problem that we have in how we deal with racism is truly remarkable.  It takes her two minutes to get across a point that can seem quite complex.  Her Center for Social Inclusion is my client and I couldn’t be prouder of the association. continue reading

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Aug/26/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Networks

Nurture Networks

We partnered with a foundation as they built a network of leaders who shared a deep passion for their city. In the beginning, many of the leaders wanted to do something together quickly. We encouraged them to pause, build deeper relationships, and see what emerged. continue reading

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Aug/23/13//IISC//Featured, Structural Transformation

Thrive where you’re Planted

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did and don’t forget to join the conversation! 

About three years ago, I noticed a stick growing in my neighborhood a few doors down from my house. It was right at the edge of the curb, angling out into the street. I didn’t pay too much attention to it.

Last summer I realized it was a fig tree. There were little bitty figs clinging to the branches. I was sure someone from the city would come by and cut it down. Clearly, it was a volunteer fig tree. No one in their right mind would have planted it so close to the street and at such an angle.

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Aug/21/13//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Connections Are Made Slowly

As we enter into the last weeks of summer (yes, it’s true), I find myself becoming more reflective, slowing down a bit in anticipation of a seasonal transition.  What comes to mind is this poem from Marge Piercy, for all that it has to offer in terms of thinking about harvesting, about reaping what we’ve sown through our care-full efforts, about going slow to go fast, and what it takes to do social change work well.

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Aug/20/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

Principles to Live By

The following pst has been reblogged from our dear friend Adrienne Maree. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

Adrienne Maree Brown outlines core principles to live by.  I find these powerfully resonant and I continue to invite us into greater intentionality in our practices for creating a new world. continue reading

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Aug/19/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Transforming Racism- ways of doing

The following blog post is Part 3 of a series dedicated to Race and Social TransformationWe encourage you to share and comment!

Transforming racism is hard work! The complexity doesn’t automatically mean current efforts aren’t working. Still, many are searching for new ways to deepen their effectiveness. At IISC, we see focusing both on content (what can we do about racism) and process (how we engage with one another) as a powerful way forward. Consider a few examples that flow from our practice.

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Aug/16/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured

Living in Love

We worked with a national network of mostly white social change activists. We supported members of the network to increase the number of people of color at their annual gathering from 5% to 40% in a single year. continue reading

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Aug/14/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Network Building: Beginnings and Boundaries

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a gathering, convened by the Garfield Foundation, of “network building” practitioners interested in advancing this field for the sake of making more progress around fundamental social change, including greater social equity and sustainable communities.  The launch point for our discussions was the successful RE-AMP network that Garfield has supported for several years now in the midwestern United States.  We began by looking at a framework for change that has emerged from RE-AMP’s experience, while acknowledging that this is a data point of one.  From here we talked about what we are all learning in our respective experiences, and perhaps more importantly, what we do not know.  There were several themes that I heard emerging in our conversations, and I wanted to highlight one in this post, which is reflected in the title – how we begin and bound our efforts matters. continue reading

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Aug/13/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Structural Transformation

Engage the Future

How to predict the future?  It’s a bit like the alchemist’s dream, ever-seductive wishful thinking.  We can’t predict the future, not with master plans and not with meta-data.  Too many of the problems within organizations have to do with our frustrated wish for someone – ideally “the leader” – to be able to predict the future and to create stability for us. continue reading

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Aug/11/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Transforming Racism- personal and social transformation

The following blog post is Part 2 of a series dedicated to Race and Social TransformationWe encourage you to share and comment! 

Race and racism continue to be defining features of U.S. society. As such, they show up in most of our projects, either explicitly or implicitly.

For example:

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Aug/09/13//IISC//Inspiration

#Inspiration

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Aug/07/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Network Building AS Strategy

At IISC we like to define the success of collaborative change efforts in multi-dimensional ways.  In particular, we make reference to results, process, and relationship elements.  Results are what we typically think of as the “measurable” outcomes of a change undertaking – policy change, livable wage, job creation, healthier communities, etc.  Process has everything to do with the how of the work – how we approach our change efforts, the steps we take, how work is shared and by whom, and with what spirit.  Relationship is about both the quality of interpersonal connections as well as how people relate to the work itself.  From what one might call an “old school” mindset, there is an assumption that process and relationship are only important insofar as they help to achieve results. continue reading

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Aug/05/13//IISC//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

What can we Offer?

It has become a common feeling, I believe, as we have watched our heroes falling over the years, that our own small stone of activism, which might not seem to measure up to the rugged boulders of heroism we have so admired, is a paltry offering toward the building of an edifice of hope. Many who believe this choose to withhold their offerings out of shame. This is the tragedy of the world.

For we can do nothing substantial toward changing our course on the planet, a destructive one, without rousing ourselves, individual by individual, and bringing our small imperfect stones to the pile.

 From Alice Walker’s “Anything we love can be saved”

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Aug/05/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Transforming Racism- linking the personal and the social

The following blog post is Part 1 of a series dedicated to Race and Social Transformation. Special thanks to Gibrán Rivera, Miriam Messinger, Curtis Ogden, Sara Oaklander, Mistinguette Smith and Maanav Thakore for their support in completing this series! We encourage you to share and comment! 

In the U.S., the work of transforming racism is often stuck in an unproductive binary: either transform people or transform systems. Fortunately, more and more people recognize that we have do both and more. continue reading

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Aug/02/13//IISC//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Civil Rights Hero

The following article has been reblogged from our friends at NPR. We hope you find it as inspirational as we did! 

Bob Moses is 78, but he has the same probing eyes you see behind thick black glasses in photos from 50 years ago when he worked as a civil rights activist in Mississippi. The son of a janitor, Moses was born and raised in Harlem. He’s a Harvard-trained philosopher and a veteran teacher.

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Jul/31/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Why Networks for Social Change?

“Thinking in terms of networks can enable us see with new eyes.”

- Harold Jarche

The biological sciences have revealed that all living things in an ecosystem are interconnected through networks of relationship; that is, they literally depend upon a web of life to survive and to thrive. On the social science front, we are also beginning to appreciate that groups, organizations, and communities depend upon and function in distributed networks of relationship that go beyond contrived boundaries, formal roles, communications, or decision-making protocols.  After all, we are a part of life! continue reading

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Jul/30/13//Maanav Thakore//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Fruitvale Station

Have you seen “Fruitvale Station”?  If not, please stop reading this (seriously) and take a moment to make plans to go out and see it.  It is probably playing somewhere close to you and, yes, it is that important of a film.  The film is difficult and triggering but profoundly beautiful and timely.  If you know someone like Oscar (or the thousands of others of young Black men who have lost their lives via extrajudicial killing) this film will hurt.  However it succeeds in doing what mainstream portrayals of Black men almost never do by portraying  Oscar as a whole, complex, deeply lovable person.

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Jul/29/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Engaging and Building Power

We facilitated a network focused on improving early childhood education and care. The initial focus was to build leadership capacity and facilitate strategy development with stakeholders across a state to design a more holistic statewide structure for decision-making related to early childhood. continue reading

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Jul/26/13//IISC//Featured, Structural Transformation

Black to the Land

The following post has been reblogged from our friends at Grist.org and features our newest colleague Mistinguette Smith.  We hope you find it as inspiring as we did! 

Gastronomically enlightened Grist reader that you are, you’ve probably participated in a CSA, or at least heard of them. Community-supported agriculture is so common that in many circles the acronym needs no explanation. (Sorry, mini football helmet collectors, we’re talking about farmers who sell “shares” of their seasonal fruits and veggies, then deliver them to members when they’re ripe.) But a pint of locally sourced strawberries says you didn’t know a black man came up with the idea.

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Jul/22/13//Gibrán Rivera//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Brother Ali on Trayvon

“When somebody says ‘I’m in pain,’ when somebody says ‘I’m being targeted,’ when somebody says ‘there are too many young black boys being killed…’ if our first reaction is to defend ourselves, then that shows a great degree of loveless-ness. Nobody is saying that you hate black people… but I am asking you the question, do you love them?” -Brother Ali

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Jul/22/13//Mistinguette Smith//Featured, Love

#WhatBlackMenDo

A world that loves, honors and respects young black men must first SEE them.  This seeing is a political act.

I am consciously seeing black men more clearly since my friend Victor Lewis hashtagged the Charles Ramsey story #WhatBlackMenDo.  Ramsey, who acknowledges that he battered his former partner, stepped up without hesitation to rescue the women held prisoner for a decade in a basement in Cleveland, OH. He assumed that he was witnessing a domestic violence situation and intervened because this is #WhatBlackMenDo.

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Jul/21/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

President Obama on Trayvon Martin

On Friday, President Obama spoke about the Trayvon Martin tragedy, in terms that were both personal and presidential. If you haven’t heard his talk you can listen herecontinue reading

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Jul/19/13//IISC//Inspiration

Everyone else is taken

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Jul/18/13//Curtis Ogden//Power, Equity, Inclusion

A Systems View of (In)Justice

“The point is that justice was always going to elude Trayvon Martin, not because the system failed, but because it worked.”

 - Robin D. G. Kelley

The post below is a somewhat edited version of one that appeared on this blog a year ago.  As we have continued to have conversations at IISC and with our partners about the implications of the verdict in the George Zimmerman case, one thing that has become clear about who and where we are as a country is that there is an overall inability and/or resistance to thinking about racism from a systemic perspective. As evidence, we hear comments such as, “Race did not have anything to do with this verdict.  The women on the jury are not racist.”  Or, “Justice was done.  The jury followed the letter of the law.”   continue reading

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Jul/16/13//IISC//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Kids Who Die

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

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Jul/15/13//IISC//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Monday Blues and a Call to Action

This morning we came into the IISC Boston office ready for a two-hour staff meeting and a four-hour training. We sat down, looked around the table, and began with a question not about what was on the agenda, and instead about what was present in the room. The question was: How does the Zimmerman verdict affect us and our work at IISC?

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Jul/14/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

How Do We Grapple with Racial Injustice?

The following post has been reblogged from our friends at The Huffington Post and written by Judith Brown Dianis.  Important to consider during this painful moment of glaring injustice.

It is distressing that George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was gunned down last year by a man who saw him as a threat, not because he posed a threat, but because of the color of his skin. We call on the Department of Justice to act on the violation of Trayvon Martin’s civil rights. There is no more fundamental right than the right to live.

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Jul/10/13//Curtis Ogden//IISC:Outside

Making and Feeding a Region Whole

“We are what we measure.”

- Whole Measures mantra

From August 20-23, IISC is excited to once again partner with the Center for Whole Communities to offer our jointly created workshop “Whole Measures: Transforming Communities by Measuring What Matters Most“ at beautiful Knoll Farm in Vermont’s Mad River Valley.  This summer’s offering is meant especially for New England-based and focused food system and food security advocates.  This includes those working from different angles (production, distribution, access, public health) and scales (neighborhood, community, state, region). continue reading

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Jul/09/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Networks

A New Paradigm for Leadership Development

Regular readers know that facilitating for the Barr Fellows Network has been among the most rewarding work I have ever gotten to do – here is why, part 2

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Jul/04/13//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

The Roots of Our Interdependence

I recently was reminded of a truth about resilience.  It came in the form of a story told by someone about the root system of red wood trees.  These giant and venerable beings, some standing as high as 350 feet and as old as 1000 years, are not so deeply rooted in the soil.  Their roots tend to only go to a depth of about 4 to 5 feet, which is extraordinary when you consider how far up they reach.  So how do red woods remain vertical amidst storms and the ravages of time?  The answer is that they reach out to one another.  Below the surface, they stretch their roots out horizontally where they become entwined with those of their neighbors.  This becomes the source of the forest’s strength – vast networks of interconnections.

On a day when we like to focus on independence, I like how this story reminds us of the extent to which our ability to survive and flourish is caught up in our common roots and interrelationships.

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Jul/04/13//IISC//Inspiration

Independence Day

As we break bread with our friends and family, lets not forget about the men and women who sacrificed their lives so that we may live free. Thank You for all that you have done. We will never forget you. 

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Jul/03/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

The Network Story of Change

A couple of weeks ago there was an intriguing article in Next City entitled “The Post-Hero Economy: Learning to Lead Through Networks.”  In it, Jennifer Bradley and Bruce Katz tell the story of some extraordinary attempts to boost a region in the midwestern United States.  The focus is not on a leader or leaders, but on a network.  As the authors state, “When telling stories of transformation and turnaround, it is tempting to shape them into personal stories about heroes. One charismatic visionary — a mayor, school superintendent, entrepreneur, outraged citizen — steps up and, with unrelenting vigor and inspirational leadership, starts an irreversible cascade of change. But there is a growing body of research suggesting that, as a system or problem becomes more complex, arriving at a solution requires multiple minds from multiple sectors or perspectives.” continue reading

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Jul/02/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Networks

A New Paradigm for Leadership Development

Regular readers know that facilitating for the Barr Fellows Network has been among the most rewarding work I have ever gotten to do – here is why, part 1

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Jul/01/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Inspiration

Hat Chat

Thanks to our friends at Colorlines.org for calling this post to our attention! Read on and ask yourself, what does it take to be able to create this kind of a “teachable moment” with such poise, grace and clarity.

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Jun/28/13//IISC//IISC:Inside

Our Six Word Memoir

If you’re not familiar with six word memoirs, it’s a project of SMITH Magazine, which has as its mission to celebrate the joy of passionate, personal storytelling.  As the SMITH folks say, it’s all about “One life. Six Words, What’s yours?”

So over here at IISC we did a little passionate, personal storytelling of our own the other day…each creating a six-word memoir in the moment.

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Jun/27/13//Curtis Ogden//Structural Transformation

The Development Imperative

It would seem that the only way for our organizations to be of ongoing service to the larger living systems of which they are a part is for them to be adaptive and in a state of ongoing learning and development, to have a fluid state of “fit-ness” and ability to contribute generative value to the larger whole. The only way for this to happen is for the sub-teams and individuals that comprise these organizations to also be in a state of ongoing learning and development. In order to help others grow, we must commit to growing ourselves.  The leadership imperative then, is to model a commitment to personal development and to create conditions that encourage ongoing internal qualitative growth.  Management and management alone is “horizontal,” over time becomes firefighting, and eventually flatlining.  Leadership is “vertical” and takes everything to the next level.

What are you doing to create the time and space for evolution?

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Jun/26/13//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

A Ritual to Hear Each Other

 

The last few weeks I have recited on a number of occasions the following first stanza from William Stafford’s poem, “A Ritual to Read to Each Other”

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star. continue reading




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Jun/25/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

Emergence

I’m sharing another great piece from my dear friend Adrienne Maree Brown.  I am absolutely moved by the way she speaks of emergence.  She is spot on.  As you read, I encourage you to remember that evolution “transcends and includes.”  There are aspects of our industrial paradigm that can and should be included as we move towards working with emergence.  How can you apply what Adrienne is talking about?

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Jun/24/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Structural Transformation

Unfinished March

Thanks to our colleagues at the Economic Policy Institute for “Unfinished March”—an initiative highlighting the original demands of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the work that still remains unfinished. Decide for yourself how many of the demands have been met and what’s still on our collective to-do list. Read the entire report here.

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Jun/21/13//IISC//Featured, Structural Transformation

A Journey with the Social Change Institute

The following post was written by our good friend David Roberts and can be found at Grist.com.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Thanks for all your work David! 

Trying to change the world for the better — being an activist, social change agent, do-gooder, whatever you want to call it — can be exhausting and dispiriting, especially for young people launching into it full of energy and hope. What activists need most is … well, money. They’re all stressed about funding.

But what activists need next most is, for lack of a better term, recharging. They need to get together and relax, share stories, celebrate each other’s victories, commiserate over defeats, and get back in touch with deeper convictions and purposes. That’s what gives them the energy they need to keep going in the face of setbacks.

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Jun/20/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Organize for Complexity

Thanks to Harold Jarche for turning me on to this beta codex network presentation about seeing and designing organizations as networks.  It captures much of the learning that has been coming out of our work at IISC with different kinds and scales of networks for social change.  Below is a list of ten key points from the presentation: continue reading

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Jun/19/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Networking the Divide

I recently had an email exchange with someone who was reflecting on the difficulty of bridging the divides in a nascent network in the southern United States that is trying to tackle the local food system.  Trying to reconcile differences (owing to diversity in functional lens, experience, generational perspective, social location, etc.) around a topic this vast can be very challenging.  And I think this is precisely why networks are especially good mechanisms, and why adopting the “network mindset” is an excellent approach, moving forward, especially when borrowing from the framework above (adapted from Plastrik and Taylor’s work, 20o6). continue reading

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Jun/18/13//Gibrán Rivera//Structural Transformation

Social Change Institute

Beauty matters, nature nurtures us, this year’s “Social Change Institute” was a remarkable experience and a real privilege to facilitate. Get people with passion together, in the perfect setting, careful design and good facilitation, and good work is bound to happen.

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Jun/17/13//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

We Aren’t the Only Ones

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Jun/14/13//IISC//Featured

Wisdom and Gold

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Jun/13/13//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Walking Away From the King

“We must join in common cause, we need conversations of the whole.”

- David Korten

David Korten: Walking Away From the King from Katie Teague on Vimeo.

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Jun/12/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Networks: Redefining Who and What Matters

Part of what excites me about taking a network approach to social and system change is the notion that we lead with contribution before credential.  This means being open to the idea, for example, that a 15-year-old high schooler or home schooler might have as much to offer a given conversation as someone with a PhD, that lived experience can be as valuable if not more so than formal education, that those on the so-called margins often have a clearer view of what’s going on than those who sit at the center.   continue reading


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Jun/11/13//IISC//Inspiration

Tried and False

The following post has been reblogged from Seth’s Blog. He is a genius and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

The tried and true is beyond reproach. It’s been tried, and of course, it’s true. True because it worked. In times of change, though, most of the tried is in fact, false. False because what used to work, doesn’t, at least not any longer. Sure, it might be what you’ve always done. But that doesn’t make it true, or right, or best. It just means that you already tried it. The nature of revolutions is that they destroy the perfect and enable the impossible. Seeking out the tried and true is the wrong direction for crazy times.

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Jun/09/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Inspiration

Keep Calm

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Jun/07/13//Jen Willsea//Featured, Networks

Social Justice Funders Network

Andrea Nagel and I have been facilitating retreats for the Social Justice Funders Network (SJFN) of Massachusetts for the last year and a half or so. What an honor! Network members include individuals who work at foundations both small and large across the state and who have intentionally created a space for learning and relationship-building across roles, institutions, and issues. continue reading

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Jun/06/13//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

A Kid’s Fix for Education

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Jun/05/13//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Keep Dancing

I read a quote earlier this week that I had seen before that went something like, “We need to act our way into a new way of thinking.” Indeed, increasingly what seems to be called for is the practice of prototyping and risk-taking, breaking the more linear and often drawn out process of plan-act-reflect-refine. This poem by Mary Oliver, from her book A Thousand Mornings, captures something of this spirit for me: continue reading

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Jun/03/13//Gibrán Rivera//Structural Transformation

The Big Picture

This deceptively simple diagram delineates the first step in any collaborative process.  Unless you are defining a strategic plan for your personal development, you can safely assume that successful strategic planning is collaborative by definition.

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May/31/13//IISC//Featured, IISC:Outside

Facilitating Social Change Institute

For the third consecutive year, Junxion Strategy is proudly sponsoring Social Change Institute at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, British Columbia. This is one in a series of articles about the conference.

 The upcoming Social Change Institute will bring together approximately 100 passionate change agents from across sectors, geography, issues, generations, strategies and points of view for a five-day leadership and skill-building summit.

This experiential convening is designed for high impact and emerging leaders from nonprofits, government and mission-based enterprises who are seeking practical skills and networking opportunities to take their work to the next level.

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May/30/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Jarche on Networks

A few of us here at IISC are avid readers of Harold Jarche’s blog, Life in Perpetual Beta.  IMHO, he is a fount of wisdom and helpful information about the connected age and economy in which we find ourselves.  The past couple of weeks, I’ve gleaned the following gems from his writings, which I take with me into the network building work we do at IISC: continue reading

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May/29/13//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

A Network View of the Future

In her new book, futurist Marina Gorbis references an inspiring passage from a document created in 2007 that supports the values of the Institute for the Future (IFTF):

“Valuing open collaboration, independence, and the ability of anyone to rise to the endeavor, we draw on network leadership models that provide a platform for self-organizing structures. The value of these self-organizing structures is that they can act quickly, responsively, and creatively from the edges. The guiding concepts in this view of leadership are openness, self-election, continuous prototyping, robust platforms, and low coordination costs. Leadership skills focus on community building, consensus building, mediation, commitment, and humility.”

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May/27/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

The danger of a single story

Enjoy this TED talk by Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as she explains the power of a single story to define and limit our humanity. “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Here’s to telling our many stories in a way that affirms all of our humanity.

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May/24/13//Jen Willsea//Featured, Learning Edge

Finding Focus and Minimizing Distraction

How often do you hear people saying they wish they were better at multitasking? And what percentage of the people surrounding you on the subway or on the sidewalk or waiting in line for something are peering into their smartphones? continue reading

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May/23/13//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

The Power of Words

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

-Mark Twain

Some version of reflection on the power of words has been coming up frequently in various networks lately, including the power of the right phrase, the right question, or the right story to become an attractor that galvanizes collective action. This seems a critical function in networks, tapping memetic resonance.  What have you seen in net work that helps unleash the lightning?

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May/22/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Networks and Power

I am just coming from a convening of the Northern New England Networks Community of Practice in  Crawford Notch, New Hampshire.  The theme of the gathering was “Power and Networks,” and very timely in that a few network building initiatives with which I am working are reaching a fever pitch in terms of working out issues of power and privilege.  Borrowing from something my IISC colleague Cynthia Silva Parker has said in the past, while power is always at the table, now it’s on the table!  And I wanted to share some of the gleanings from the overall session. continue reading

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May/21/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Networks

OPEN Summit US

In January of this year I was privileged to design and facilitate the first ever International OPEN Summit.  Today I’m on my way to facilitate the first ever OPEN Summit US.  The leadership of our nation’s “Online Progressive Engagement Networks” are coming together to support the development of an informal network by strengthening relationships among the people doing this work.  continue reading

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May/21/13//IISC//Featured, Structural Transformation

Every day is an investment

The following post has been reblogged from Seth’s Blog. He is a genius and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

You’re not lucky to have this job, they’re lucky to have you. Every day, you invest a little bit of yourself into your work, and one of the biggest choices available to you is where you’ll be making that investment.

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May/20/13//IISC//Inspiration

The Growing Edge

“Look well to the growing edge. All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit.

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May/16/13//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

How Story Moves the Mind

The following is a segment of a blog post from Pamela Mang that appeared on edge::regenerate.  Pamela references the newest book from Daniel Pink, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.  In particular she highlights a section on the Pixar formula for storytelling, and how this can help us to frame our change work in engaging ways.  I have also found it very helpful for getting people to open their minds to complex initiatives and imagine what it would take to really shift things.  This can often be a humbling experience, in positive ways, and can lift up the importance of reaching out to others, taking a holistic approach, and speaking to both hearts and minds . . .  continue reading

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May/15/13//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Feeding a New Economy

This beautiful video speaks to the importance of will, community, and creativity to transform an otherwise unused asset into a new engine for local economic vitality.  In the words of catalyst Greg Cox, “This is an evolution. . . .  You come up with an idea.  The human animal reacts with fear almost all the time.  And you go, ‘Ah, it can’t happen.  It’s Rutland.  It’s not going to happen here.  It’s been too difficult.  We just don’t have the capacity.’  This is the way the story is.  We looked at the outcome we wanted and we’re trying to rewrite the story.”

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May/14/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Inspiration

Lead Me On

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May/13/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Inspiration

There is Beauty Everywhere

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May/10/13//IISC//Inspiration

Always Remember

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May/09/13//Curtis Ogden//Your Experiences

Hopping to Justice?

“Problems require solutions.  Questions must be lived into.  We often do not know the difference.”

- Krista Tippett paraphrasing Jacob Needleman

I recently had a lively and illuminating conversation with an unexpected teacher.  He came in the form of a well-spoken and measured man who works in the field of emergency food.  We were talking at a state-wide food system convening about the causes of and solutions for hunger and he mentioned the idea of the “two footprints.” continue reading

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May/08/13//Curtis Ogden//Social Innovation

Openness is Opportunity

Sometimes people call openness in group process and social engagement “disorganized” or “unstructured.”  I find this to be a misperception and, frankly, unhelpful.  Openness is differently organized and structured.  It is different from many of the talking-at, entertainment-oriented, consumer-creating, and being-numbing settings to which we have grown accustomed.

Openness can certainly create discomfort, in part because it calls on us to step up and reach out, not hunker down and hide.  It asks us to take responsibility and consider questions like, “What do I value?”  “How do I want to contribute?”  “What can we create here?”  Openness is opportunity if we choose to act, knowing that through the perceived risk and any felt discomfort lies greater purpose, meaning and vitality.

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May/07/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Structural Transformation

What Strategy Is NOT

Photo provided by Alex Pelayo. Check out the rest of his amazing portfolio here!

This post is Part III in a series on Strategic Planning and Emergence.

Your vision is not your strategy.  Neither is your plan.  Your benchmarks are not your strategy, nor your complicated grids.  Your hedgehog or your very audacious goals are not your strategy either.  Your predictions of what the future will look like, no matter how organized and well researched, are definitely not your strategy.

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May/06/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Networks

Great Leaders Great Networks

IISC has had the privilege to working with the Barr Foundation to design and facilitate the Barr Network’s learning activities. See what we’ve been up to!

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May/03/13//Gibrán Rivera//Structural Transformation

What is Strategy

Photo provided by Alex Pelayo. Check out the rest of his amazing portfolio here!

This post is Part II in a series on Strategic Planning and Emergence.

It doesn’t make much sense to look at strategic planning without taking a look at what we mean by strategy.  There doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus on what people mean when they use the word strategy.  I like the way Thomas Rice, IISC’s founding board chair, talks about it here.  Thomas stresses that strategy is about how you choose to deploy scarce resources in order to achieve your goals.

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May/02/13//Curtis Ogden//Facilitative Leadership

Practice, Practice, Practice

Don’t practice for perfection, practice to be present.

There comes a point in almost every IISC workshop we deliver where the answer to a particular challenge is simply, “practice, practice, practice.”  This is not for the sake of having THE answer, but rather to learn how to be present to the situation that arises.  As we say around the practice of facilitation, “It’s not knowing what to do that counts, it’s knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.”

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