Posted in IISC Inward-facing Thoughts

November 22, 2011

Leadership Transition

IISC Senior Associates gathered this morning to prepare for our future in this leadership transition-We began with this poem….

“You know that the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest?”

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October 21, 2011

Wecome to the Collaboration Zone

If you have not had occasion to visit our Boston offices, the video above gives you a glimpse of this beautifully designed space that supports the work of IISC and our sister organization Interaction Associates in pursuing our collective collaboration for change missions. Come see us some time, either by signing up for one of our public trainings, or if you’re in the neighborhood . . .

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August 17, 2011

Profits of Transition

“Chaos is the primal state of pure energy

for every true new beginning.”

– William Bridges

Interesting value for money

|Photo by James Cridland|http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamescridland/3947254236|

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 More

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May 19, 2011

Feedback and Favoring Truth

“Our ability to live in reality is essential.

But that takes some training.”

-Robert Fritz

If you have followed this blog in the past week and a half, you know that the IISC staff completed an intense and valuable retreat last week, focused on issues of power and privilege as they manifest in our organization and connect to the ways that we show up and are perceived in the world beyond our walls.  Last time I blogged about this event, I mentioned my take-away about the challenge and importance of embracing paradox.  With a week’s worth of time now to reflect, I am happy to report that the conversation continues internally among staff, and I for one am seeing movement.   There is plenty of dialogue about how to keep the momentum going, to maintain and firm up our hold on the individual and collective truths we accessed last week.

It turns out that one commonly shared insight about staying on track was, drum roll please . . . Read More

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May 11, 2011

Embrace Paradox

paradox

|Photo by Arenamontanus|http://www.flickr.com/photos/arenamontanus/282327168|

Coming off of a couple of powerful days exploring power and privilege in the internal life and external work of the Interaction Institute for Social Change.  So much still to process, and one of my immediate take-aways was our facilitators’ invitation to embrace paradox in the form of different perspectives and experiences, intentions and impacts, stated and espoused values.  As one of our process agreements for our time together stated – “All of us, individually and collectively, embody paradox- identities, beliefs, and experiences that seem to contradict each other.”  As has been stated elsewhere on this blog, and more elegantly by my colleague Gibran Rivera, the invitation is to hold apparent contradictions and tension long enough for something new to emerge, that moves us down the evolutionary path.

I leave you with the words of Gunilla Norris, from her book Sharing Silence, that came our way via OpenSource Leadership. Read More

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April 13, 2011

Seeing, Being, Doing Whole

Throughout the past couple of years readers of this blog have seen some discussion about the tensions that exist between those working on individual behavior/spiritual change and those striving for structural transformation.  The point has been made that both are necessary.  The fact remains that we often find ourselves in rooms with people who are essentially on the same side of the issue, but engaged in “tactical sectarianism” (thank you, Adam Pattantyus), arguing about whose approach is best.  Read More

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January 12, 2011

Pauses for the Cause

Slow signLast week, IISC staff took a step back to consider what we had been referring to as the roots out of which our collaborative capacity building work grows (we have since wondered whether these may be more appropriately cast as “lenses,” but more on that at another time), and to come to some agreement about what is core to our practice in these imperfectly titled areas:

  • networks
  • equity/power/inclusion
  • “the love that does justice”

We were guided in our conversations by the talented Mistinguette Smith, with whom I have had the pleasure of partnering in delivering our joint work with the Center for Whole Communities – Whole Measures: Transforming Communities by Measuring What Matters Most. Anyone who is able to handle a group of facilitators has certainly earned her stripes, and if that person can teach those “process experts” new tricks, well now you’ve really got our attention. Ms. Smith, we are listening! Read More

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December 8, 2010

The Apprentice

Last month we were graced by the presence of Kathy Sferra, who was on loan from Mass Audubon.  Kathy took the initiative to approach us about spending one month of her six week sabbatical apprenticing herself to IISC, observing and contributing to our work and taking the lessons back to her home organization.  She began contributing instantly as a thought partner, often making keen observations and asking good questions that her relative outsider perspective afforded.  As her parting gift to us, Kathy offered up the following reflections and take-aways, specifically with respect to designing and facilitating meetings and other convenings, that I wanted, in the spirit of the season, to re-gift and pass along: Read More

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November 24, 2010

Whole Measures, In Sum

logo

Whole Measures | A Program of Center for Whole Communities

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,

so we must embody transformational leadership.

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September 20, 2010

This Auspicious Moment

fall

|Photo by KellyB|http://www.flickr.com/photos/foreverphoto/2528923758|

I read from the poem below at our staff meeting this morning, to recognize one of many transitions we are making as a collective.  Now settling into our new space that features an amazing “Collaboration Zone” that is garnering some attention locally (wait until you see the pictures!), we are also recognizing the new season that is upon us.  By way of checking in with one another during our inaugural in-gathering in our Seaport offices, I invited people to take Robert Penn Warren’s lead below and think about what they hoped to preserve of summer and what they look forward to embracing in the fall.  “Transcend and include,” is what we like to say around here.  So what about you?  As you pause, what do you hope to keep and to strive for?

First Moment of Autumn Recognized Read More

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April 26, 2010

Questions Paving the Path to Change

Many road signs featuring question marks symbolizing uncertainty

|Photo by Qoncept|http://www.flickr.com/photos/37418570@N03/4488784822|

With another public offering of Pathway to Change on the horizon (May 4-6), I’ve been putting my thinking towards how best to encapsulate this robust course, which focuses on skills and frameworks for designing and facilitating collaborative change efforts.  The genius behind IISC’s courses in general (for which I can take absolutely no credit) is the simple elegance of the visuals that capture many of the essential ideas and steps.  That said, we can sometimes find ourselves awash in images and wanting something a little more to the point to guide us.  For these purposes, I’ve boiled the course down to a series of key questions that stand behind the various models.  So here is the Curtis’ Notes version (which also applies to a related course, Engage for Results, that we offer to foundations in partnership with GEO):

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