Posted in IISC Outward-facing Thoughts

July 8, 2010

Nothing About Me Without Me

GEO guide

This past week marked the release of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ newest action learning guide – Do Nothing About Me Without Me: An Action Guide for Engaging Stakeholders.  IISC is pr0ud to be a co-publisher of and contributor to the publication, which builds on our work with GEO staff facilitating Engage for Results.  Essentially this seminar walks foundation staff through a series of strategic questions and tools for engaging grantees, community members, and other stakeholders in their grantmaking.  Worth highlighting here is what GEO and IISC identify as being core to the case for funders doing more to involve others in their work: Read More

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April 23, 2010

The Praise Report

(This is a re-post from April 2009)

I write this on the eve of the 3rd day of a training session of our Facilitative Leadership course, where the last of 7 practices,“Celebrate Accomplishment”, often gets the short shrift on this last day of training. The verdict is still out in terms of whether we will give it its just due for tomorrow’s class. Yet, I find myself wrestling with a provocative body of information I became aware of through a recent tweet I received on the subject of praise.

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April 5, 2010

The Center of the Universe

Into Chamula

Working closely with the Berkana Institute, Gibrán and Marianne had the privilege of facilitating the Barr Fellows learning journey to Chiapas, Mexico.  Here they are at the conclusion of their journey, getting ready to enter the Church of San Juan Chamula, which actually is a Mayan Temple that the people consider to be the very center of the Universe.

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March 12, 2010

Three Dimensions

This week, Melinda and I will be facilitating two workshops at the Transforming Race conference, hosted by the Kirwan Institute at The Ohio State University. Here’s a sneak preview of some of what we’ll be covering.

Facilitating discussions and dialogues about race can be tough. Lack of information and knowledge, different lived experiences, unspoken assumptions, varying definitions of key concepts and differing interpretations of problems and solutions are just a few of the things that can get in the way of groups communicating authentically and building solid agreements. I’ve found that attention to three dimensions of preparing for such conversations can make all the difference between productive engagement and destructive experiences that take years to repair.

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February 12, 2010

A Week in the Life

Its been a week of provocative, profound and promising experiences on behalf of IISC. I’ve been on the road — learning, training, networking and promoting our work.  Here’s a rundown of some of the great ideas, people and organizations I’ve had the honor of connecting with these last few days:

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October 6, 2009

Developing Network Weavers

The gap between theory and practice is always larger than we tend to see.  I love my job because it consistently invites me to help groups bridge this gap.  I just had a beautiful time working with a group of network weavers who are part of the Young People’s Project.  The task is to help them understand how networks work and how to behave as weavers for their own national network.

The challenge of this work has been to take all the amazing things we are learning about the role of weavers in a network and figure out how to apply these to the day to day work of these weavers.  Instead of spending too much of our time in the fuzzy world of network theory, I grabbed directly from Jack Ricchiuto’s piece on The Power of Network Weaving and went on to adapt it to very practical exercises for the weavers. Read More

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October 1, 2009

Presence for Productivity . . . Plus

My colleague Linda Guinee recently forwarded a great blog post by Mark McGuinness of Lateral Action .  Mark is a consultant in the realm of personal creativity and productivity and he is the father of infant twins.  This recent development has him taking a hard look at the advice he often gives others and what holds up under the demands of two babies and sleepless nights.  Whether or not you are a parent of young children, it is well worth a read, and I couldn’t agree more with tips such as “let go of routines, focus on systems” and “you can’t please all the people all the time, prioritize the important stuff.”  Much of this is in line with Melinda’s post last week (see “Less=More: A Dare”).

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September 16, 2009

Scooter Reflections on Social Media, Again…

OK, to be totally honest, I wasn’t reflecting on this while I was on the scooter, but that’s often where I am reflecting…

I had an incredible conversation with Susan Shaer, the Executive Director of WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions), the other day.? We were talking about creating a longer term vision and strategy given all that’s happened recently for those working on peace, security and foreign policy issues. We were reflecting on the amazing changes that have happened – and then Susan started talking about changes in what she was calling “new media” – and how that affects organizing strategies. At one point she said, “if we had known ten years ago how much time we would now spend reading and responding to email, think about how differently we would have organized ourselves.” And so I’ve been thinking about that ever since.

How should we be organizing for the new technologies that are ahead of us (instead of what is)? What are the new strategies for engaging people in our issues — not thinking just about what’s available now, but what’s coming? How will these changes affect how we work? Any ideas?

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September 8, 2009

Creative Change

Last weekend I was honored to facilitate “Creative Change 2009“, a retreat convening for the Opportunity Agenda in Telluride Colorado.  I was awe struck by the beauty of the Rockies as well as by the way retreat participants demonstrated a willingness to grapple with questions at the intersection of arts, media and social change.  The Opportunity Agenda team did a phenomenal job of bringing the right people into the space while also planning an agenda that lent itself to generative thought, rejuvenation and relationship building.

I was particularly appreciative of the resistance and reaction to any wording that forced a separation between artist and activist.  Now let me be clear, some of the conversations that we had would not have made as much progress if we had made no effort to sift through the differences – while most artists present also considered themselves activists, not every activist is ready to consider herself an artist.  However, even when the distinction was practical, many participants reacted negatively to having to make that choice.  It is my opinion that this bodes well for movement. Read More

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June 29, 2009

Our Own Triple Bottom Line

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Enterprise 2.0 Conference. It was a fantastic event full of wisdom regarding collaboration in a world where technology is king and we humans are the serfs still struggling with literacy. Though I think when it was all devised, it was supposed to be the other way around. (My analogy, not that of Enterprise 2.0).

Attendees included the CIA, WorldBank, Microsoft, IBM, General Mills, Blue State Digital, and many other companies that work directly with collaborative technology programs. One of the focal points in the four day conference was how to maximize online communities. Accompanied with this topic was the question of whether internal Facebook-like programs to connect employees on projects are an aid to productivity or a distraction. A bigger question however was, can online meetings replace face to face meetings, and if they can, should they? At what point do we need to be face to face? Can a foundation be built and trust gained in the cyber world? By entering more meetings online are we forgoing genuine relationships in the work world? Are genuine relationships dependent on proximity?

Now there is no denying that a lot can be accomplished online and that working online can be very cost efficient. Though in a time when we need to focus on sustaining the world, we must also remember our need to sustain ourselves, and the genuine relationships which make us human. If we can find that balance with techonolgy, then we will really find a strong profit.

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