Posted in Social Innovation

July 30, 2014

Reinventing Our Collective Selves

“Re-examine all that you have been told . . . dismiss that which insults your soul.”

- Walt Whitman

Butterfly

Developmental theory is the source of some good healthy discussion within the Interaction Institute for Social Change.  On the one hand, some point out that the notion of “stages of development” has been used to classify and oppress people, especially when theories come from privileged and powerful purveyors, are overly deterministic and linear, and do not account for cultural location and variation. On the other hand, some point to the “empowering” notion of evolution and development that can help liberate people from fixed and mechanistic views of the world and humanity.  I had this all very much in mind as I read Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux.  Laloux brings developmental and so-called “integral theory,” including the work of Ken Wilber, into the palpable realm of organizational practice and through his research, posits an evolutionary trajectory from aggressive (Red) to bureaucratic (Amber) to achievement-oriented (Orange) to culture/empowerment-oriented (Green) to self-actualizing/authentic (Teal) organizations.

Read More

1 Comment
July 29, 2014

Creative Change 2014

I just facilitated the 6th Creative Change Retreat at the Sundance Institute in Utah.  The amazing experience leaves me grateful to my friends at the Opportunity Agenda for trusting me with the design and facilitation of such a significant convening.

Today more than ever I am convinced that the change we want to see in the world is a change that demands the evolution of consciousness and culture.  As the artist and the activist come together – as they become one – we will be able to join into a different kind of intervention.

creativechangeretreat_stories Read More

1 Comment
June 25, 2014

More Beautiful Questions

“A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something – and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change.”

- Warren Berger

A-More-Beautiful-Question-Cover

One of my favorite reads of the past six months is Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas.  It strikes me as being an important read for any social change agent.  Early on, Berger begins with the following provocative statement, that rings true to personal experience: 

“Well meaning people are often trying to solve a problem by answering the wrong question.” 

In some cases this is because they have not paused long enough, if at all, to consider the underlying question their efforts are trying to solve.  Or, as my colleague Cynthia Parker has said, they are “solving for solution,” essentially promoting and/or fighting over their own preferred approaches.  And so they continue to offer the same old, ineffective and outdated, approaches or products.  This is especially problematic in a time of such change and flux, when we can’t fall back reliably on what we already know. Read More

Leave a comment
April 1, 2014

Brainswarm Instead of Brainstorm

blog_image_swarm4

The recent barrage against the effectiveness of brainstorming has been a bit hard for those of us who are grounded in the Interaction Method. But evidence matters, doesn’t it? I know that Curtis has talked about the limits of brainstorming a couple of times in this blog. Read More

3 Comments
February 24, 2014

Why Movement Is the Killer App for Nonprofits

Movement

Enjoy these simple and powerful guidelines from Beth Kanter about how movement makes meetings and workshops more productive. This is great advice for getting beyond designing for “brains on sticks” as my colleague Curtis Ogden likes to say.

As a trainer and facilitator who works with nonprofit organizations and staffers, you have to be obsessed with learning theory to design and deliver effective instruction, have productive meetings, or embark on your own self-directed learning path. Learning theory is an attempt to describe how people learn. There are many learning theories and can be categorized in different ways:

Read More

2 Comments
May 8, 2013

Openness is Opportunity

Open

|Photo by Mike Licht|http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/6786051819|

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.

2 Comments
April 10, 2013

Design for Public Engagement

Not my job

|Image by Andy Mangold|http://www.flickr.com/photos/andymangold/4335799638/in/photostream|

In his post yesterday, Seth Godin offers up sage advice for designers of all kinds, including “social architects” like ourselves who are aiming to create convenings and collaborative processes that bring out the best in people and lead to greater social justice and regenerativity.  Among his points: Read More

Leave a comment
February 10, 2011

Design Unleashed

design unleashed

|Photo by Sebastian-Dario|http://www.flickr.com/photos/sebastian-silva/2207382770|

Paola Antonelli has appeared in various posts on this blog over the past couple of years as one of our favorite purveyors of design thinking and its application to social change.  Now Antonelli is really stepping out.  In an article for SEED Magazine, the senior curator of Design and Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art holds out a whole new and exciting realm of application for design – policymaking, governance, and social agendas. Read More

Leave a comment