Approach Matters

May 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Last week or so, Curtis tweeted a link to an outstanding book-in-the-making by author-practicioner Peggy Holman. If I follow it correctly, Holman is blogging pieces of her book as she is writing it and inviting folks to comment and give upgrades along the way. She is truly practicing what she is preaching, in that as she writes about emergence, collaboration and innovation— she does it. Pretty neat.

I loved her writing style and am fascinated by her content, so I thought it fitting to bring it forward into this space for our collective grazing. She frames the work of emergence as a way to navigate change – whether on the personal, organizational or global level. Through noticing “patterns of change” through the stories we tell ourselves, Holman calls for a shift in our frames of reference for understanding and engaging Change:

In fact, terms like “bottom up” or “top down” cease to have meaning as we start working from a perspective that looks far more like a network of connections among diverse interacting individuals. As our frame of reference shifts, consider some illustrations of that new story of change. It is not that our traditional story disappears, rather it is integrated into a larger context:

preface-tableSo to riff on Curtis’ most recent blog, Im thinking that part of the what is wild about The Wild of Vermont is that it is a space that incites the engagement of mystery, uncertainty, vulnerability, creativity and humility. It is an approach. Holman’s table above, I think, is his way of making the same case for a re-orientation of approach. Like our 1:1 ratio around planning time to meeting time…I hear a sound that emphasizes Approach as vital to Emergence. As I stated to the participants in last week’s FL, quoting my sister-friend and she-ro journalist Charlayne Hunter Gault, its about when you enter a community, “coming correct”. Its not so much that you’ve arrived, its more about how you enter. Approach matters.

Share! My ears, mind and heart are wide open to musings on how we create spaces for emergence in our work, bring wildness to Cambridge, and/or “come correct” with our clients so that transformation, breakthroughs, innovation….really does happen. And this, not only as “deliverables” for our clients, but frankly, for our own sakes as well. Whats your sense? What do you make of Holman’s “patterns of change” above?

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  • Curtis says:

    Love this, Melinda! Love the riffing and the originality, the wildness, and the correctness of your approach. I feel like we’re creating jazz in the blogosphere (admittedly doing a bit of playing to a sparsely populated room, but that will change!).

    To respond to some of your wonderings, I’m thinking that a big key is to be full-bodied in our approach. That does not mean being a bull in a china shop, it just means entering with all faculties alert, ready to respond in different ways through different channels to different needs in the moment. It means being bold, not in a forceful way, but in a courageous way, not holding back, not being afraid to put ourselves out there, to be authentic. To be you. You, you, you . . .

  • Gibran says:

    Holy Moly! I just read the last two blogs in a row, watched the video, read the graph, read the comments – I am beyond inspired here! What an exciting space!

    The spaces you describe are the spaces in which we feel most alive, that is why we yearn for them – they call on the faculty of our senses and make a demand on our presence, this is the only place where we transform, where things actually move, because these are spaces that exist outside of our established patterns and our ruts.

    This is my vision for our work, it is my vocation to achieve a level of mastery that allows me to provide spaces like this. I am so glad to be doing this with the likes of you!

  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    All of this reminds me of a quote I’ve heard from some pastors and activists. “I don’t care about what you know until I know that you care.” It’s all about the approach–to knowledge, to the pursuit of wisdom, to the shared enterprise of making the world a place fit for the best of our humanity. Some of George’s invitations to us around community building and anti-oppression work seem relevant here as well. And, of course, our favorite Bill O”brian quote about the quality of an intervention being determined by the interior condition of the intervenor. If we want to do good work “out there” we have to do good work “in here.” If we want to create generative spaces in our work, we have to have generative space in our lives. Christian scripture speaks often of living waters flowing from the followers of Jesus. In a way, our approach to doing our work has to be like living water among thirsty plants.

  • Melinda says:

    Wow, y’all. Just got a chance to read your responses the first time this week…and wow — what a treat! How inspiring. I am feeling the rushing waters, the jazz we’re creating, the spaces we’re igniting….a gift!

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