Posted in IISC Outward-facing Thoughts

September 20, 2012

Coming Full Circle

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

-T. S. Eliot

It’s interesting to see how, as much as things evolve, there is also a circularity to this movement.  For the past few years we have been working with the Graustein Memorial Fund on Right from the Start, an early childhood system change initiative for which the Fund has served as core convenor and funder.  Come to find out that IISC’s new President, Ceasar McDowell, was in on early conversations that launched the Memorial Fund’s unique and wonderful Discovery program to seed community-based collaboratives for early childhood development planning. Read More

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August 15, 2012

Doubt is the Beacon of the Wise

“There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity.”

-Alan Watts

Earlier this week I facilitated and participated in a momentous meeting in one of the state-wide change processes I have been involved with for the past few years.  This meeting featured community and parent organizers, “service providers,” funders, and other educational advocates from across the state in conversation with newly hired state-level staff charged with creating a plan for ensuring greater alignment of state agencies in the direction of better opportunities and outcomes for all young children. Read More

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July 18, 2012

The Measure of Our Experience

“We become what we measure.”

– Whole Measures mantra

Click here to view this video

Last week I had the pleasure and privilege of partnering with colleagues from IISC and the Center for Whole Communities to offer our course, Whole Measures: Transforming Communities by Measuring What Matters Most, at beautiful Knoll Farm in Vermont.  The weather and the participants did not disappoint, and the entire experience spoke to the power of paying attention to and naming what matters most as a point of departure for creating and measuring wholeness in communities and organizations.  We broke bread together, engaged in dialogue and storytelling, sat around the campfire, took in the richness of the Mad River Valley landscape, laughed, cried, and even got our groove on a bit.

Enjoy a taste of the experience in the video to which the link above leads (click on the image).  And please consider joining us for a future session and other opportunities at the Interaction Institute for Social Change and CWC.

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May 11, 2012

Being and Measuring Whole

They say being a change agent is an inside job.  This summer, we invite you to sharpen your tools and rejuvenate your capacity for leadership through a values-based professional development opportunity in a beautiful retreat setting! Center for Whole Communities (CWC) and Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) are collaborating to offer a four-day residential Whole Measures Workshop July 10 – 13, at CWC’s retreat center at beautiful Knoll Farm in Fayston, VT. Read More

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April 6, 2012

The Road to Wholeness

“The most sustainable impact comes from our deriving meaning and then connecting that meaning to our purpose, to what we stand for, and to the contributions we make.”

-Dr. Monica Sharma

There is something about the invitation to health and wholeness and to talking about how to measure it that seems to be a real draw to our Whole Measures workshop, which we offer jointly with the Center for Whole Communities.  I can see it in the eyes of many participants as they walk into the room – “Tell us how!”  And there is a bit of a disruptive experience that occurs when we let people know it is not so formulaic.  One of my favorite quotes comes from my mentor Carol Sanford who has said, “Best practice obliterates essence,” and I think it really applies to what we are talking about here. Read More

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March 14, 2012

A Systems View of Opportunity

“If you don’t understand your role in contributing to the problem,

you can’t be part of the solution.”

– David Peter Stroh

This post is a slightly edited version of something I wrote for the upcoming State of Opportunity convening in Michigan.  My colleague Cynthia Parker and I have been working with the Council of Michigan Foundations staff and membership to design this gathering, the focus of which will be philanthropy’s role in increasing social equity in the state.  We are looking forward to facilitating the proceedings on March 27th. 

The quote above comes from a systems thinking expert with whom we’ve partnered in our collaborative change work here at the IISC.  We’ve found it to be a powerful way of introducing the idea that the complex systems (education, health care) that many of us are trying to change to yield better and more equitable opportunities and outcomes are not “out there.”  Rather, to rift on the old Pogo saying, when we have truly seen systems, we understand that they are us!  Read More

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January 13, 2012

If You Till It, They Will Come

On the cusp of the Martin Luther King Jr. day of remembrance and celebration, IISC is gearing up to lead a webinar on the day after the Monday holiday focused on a very relevant topic – collective leadership. Much is being made of the Occupy Movement and its potential for showing us a new way to lead (we would call it leader-full, not leader-less). Prior to this important civic groundswell, many have been looking at how to create the conditions for emergent and collaborative leadership to move us in more just and life-affirming directions.  Given the complexity of the issues we face and the diversity of perspectives in our various systems, it has been recognized that we cannot rely on individual, expert, or command-and-control leadership to move us forward. We must unleash more robust and adaptive collective intelligence. If this conversation interests you, come join Gibran Rivera and me as we explore stories of and practices for creating the conditions to unleash leader-full momentum that embodies and leads to the social change we seek. More information about this free opportunity can be found here.

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January 5, 2012

Whole Children, Whole Communities

I have written a few times in this space (see “Right from the Start” and “The System is Us”) about our work with the Graustein Memorial Fund and stakeholders from around Connecticut to re-conceptualize and change the early childhood development system in the state so that all families and children are thriving. We are currently in the midst of a visioning process, whereby members of the System Design Team are engaging various constituents in conversations about what it would look like if the system were truly providing equitable and excellent support and opportunities to all children, regardless of race, ability, and income. In addition, we are asking what foundational beliefs, or values, would under-gird such a reality brought to life.  This phase kicked off with a series of interviews with participants in the Memorial Fund’s annual Stone Soup Conference. This included parents, child care providers, elected officials, advocates of all kinds, and the keynote speaker – Ralph Smith. Check out the series above, along with others posted on the Right from the Start site. There is an emerging picture forming here, that speaks to the power of collective visioning.  What do you see?

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December 28, 2011

A Year of Multitudes

multitudes

|Photo by ad551|http://www.flickr.com/photos/aaddaamn/5196833268|

As 2011 comes to a close, we here at IISC can look back on a year full of multi-stakeholder change work. I think I can speak on behalf of the entire team when I say that it has been our pleasure to contribute our process design, facilitation, and collaborative capacity building skills to a range of differently scaled social change efforts, linking arms with convenors and catalysts in a variety of fields.  These have included (to name a few): Read More

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December 9, 2011

December Lens

Join Ashley Welch of Interaction Associates Wednesday, December 14, at 1 pm Eastern time, for a timely conversation with her colleague from the Interaction Institute for Social Change, Melinda Weekes. They will discuss Strategies for Designing Social Change, exploring ways leaders in any sector can succeed when leading change. 

Melinda is a senior consultant who works with foundations, NGO’s and community leaders. Recently she has been supporting Occupy Wall Street. As a former lawyer, gospel music theorist and ordained clergy person, Melinda brings a unique perspective to social change.

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October 26, 2011

Deep Listening

The following is a post from my friend and colleague Danny Martin, that appeared on his web page on Monday, following our joint workshop at Connecting for Change, a Bioneers Conference.  Tomorrow I will extend this reflection with more details about our session and regenerative leadership practice.

So much to say this week but it all turns on the same theme of how to access the wisdom we need to move forward together into a more sustainable and just society. In a recent article about what he calls The New Economy Movement, Gar Alperovitz, a Professor of Political Economy in the University of Maryland, says that, instead of feeling confined to the binary paths of reforming the broken economic system or revolting to overthrow it, citizens are opting to create something new that will replace the current economic regime, making the old system obsolete in the process. He calls this third way ‘evolutionary reconstruction.’ Read More

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