Power, Equity, Inclusion and Collaboration

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Part 2 of Three Lenses for Collaboration

Last week I started writing about the Interaction Institute for Social Change and our three lenses of collaboration.  We are talking about the sort of collaboration that is needed if we are to address the evolutionary challenges that define this historical moment.  We are talking about collaboration that catalyzes our collective wisdom and capacity to think new thoughts, the sort of collaboration that allows us to maximize our shared resources while inviting us to live ourselves into the world we are trying to build.  This is why I call this the lens of democracy, because it is the lens through which we define the best possible ways of being-with.

In order to actualize this truly transformative sort of collaboration we must give special attention to the lens of power, equity and inclusion.  When we come together to move forward in truly adaptive ways we are essentially saying that how we get there is as important as getting there.  When we take the lens of power, equity and inclusion into account we are essentially recognizing that there really is no outside – that the conditioning, the same histories and the same structures that we are working to undo actually help to define who and how we are.  Without this lens our collaborations can be reduced to replications of the same dynamics of oppression that we are working to undo – nothing changes.

At IISC we apply this lens by committing ourselves to the principle of stakeholder involvement, the idea that people should be participants in the decisions that affect their lives.  We use helpful tools for stakeholder analysis and we hold ourselves to a high standard of integrity in upholding this value.  But that is just the first step.  Through the application of design thinking we strive to structure interventions and conversations in ways that account for matters of power, equity and inclusion.  What are the right questions, the necessary conversations and the most useful ways to structure a flow that will move a group process forward without ignoring underlying dynamics?  This is what I call conscious design work.

Finally, and perhaps most important, is the energy and awareness that we bring to a training room or facilitation.  How are we as individual consultants, given our own history and background, our own place in the dynamics of power that define our nation, how are we to be present to what is and act, in that very space, in ways that re-invent us?  How do you?

Read Part 1

Read Part 3

Read Part 4

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  • Kim says:

    I really appreciate this posting and your queries… as a teacher, it is the hardest part of my job — how does everyone get to enter the conversation while we also move through content at a reasonable pace? How do we make explicit the power relations in the room, or the questions we all have about each other and ourselves in relation to social identities, while we’re also trying to make those concepts visible and coherent, while they are constantly in flux and changing and meaning something different…

  • Gibran says:

    Kim, thanks so much for jumping in, you present the very real situation of a classroom as developmental space. I would love to learn more about what you are doing to account for this lens, and I’m wondering what you do to intentionally (as opposed to defacto) build relationship among students – this always helps when it comes to making things explicit.

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