Barr Fellows Meet the Mayor

June 3, 2014 Leave a comment

If you are a regular reader you’ve heard me talk about the Barr Fellows.  It is one of the most powerful experiments in developing a leadership network within a geographic context – the City of Boston.  I have the privilege of being on the design and facilitation team for this remarkable project.BF PrinciplesThe fellowship launched in 2005 with a cohort of 12.  Today there are four cohorts and a network of 48 fellows in Boston.

This January, Boston inaugurated Marty Walsh as Boston’s first new Mayor in 20 years.

Two weeks ago, these two forces of civic power came together for the first time at the Parkman House in Boston.

Designing the meeting with the Mayor was hugely gratifying.  It was the first time that I heard a cohort of fellows articulate the fellowship’s theory of change – and own it!  They didn’t only own it.  They made a clear decision that what they wanted to communicate to the Mayor was that this path of disruption, connection and emergence is indeed a powerful model for leadership.

The fellows wanted the meeting with the Mayor to feel different from his usual meetings.  The design team was clearly aware that the Mayor meets with petitioners many times per day every single day.  They opted not to show up as petitioners but as willing partners in the project of building a better Boston.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when the fellows decided that sitting around large round tables didn’t feel right for the group, so they got rid of the tables and made the best circle they could make  in a long a room.  They wanted the Mayor to come into an energy field, a space of friendship and camaraderie, and all they had to do was be themselves.

It was an engaging meeting.  I believe Mayor Walsh was duly impressed.  And he did say that “working with the Barr fellows” would be a top agenda item at his next cabinet meeting.

Let’s see how this unfolds!

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