Ready to Launch

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

WCMGFTomorrow my colleague Melinda and I officially launch an exciting endeavor with the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund in Connecticut, as we meet for the first time with a Process Team that will begin designing a state-wide early childhood systems building initiative.  The Memorial Fund is stepping boldly into its leadership as a convenor, at the urging of its grantees and the many communities with whom it has cultivated deep trust.  In its sights is a process that ultimately yields a broadly shared and community-rooted vision for providing high quality and equitable care and education for all of the Connecticut’s youngest children, as well as policies and structures that support greater community-state collaboration towards this vision.

Earlier this year, we worked with Memorial Fund staff to engage community reps from around the state in a Listening Session to set some overarching direction for this endeavor and also engaged in rigorous stakeholder analysis to put together a diverse Process Team representing a variety of perspectives and experiences in the early childhood system.  In addition, state-wide advocacy organizations have enlisted the BUILD initiative to conduct research on other states that have engaged in similar partnership work and to lift up promising shared system-building strategies, especially highlighting the role of communities.  With good information in hand and the right people on board, our next task will be to refine our “pathway to action,” more deeply answering questions about where we are now, where we want to be, and how we are going to get there.

Some of the intentions I bring to this work going forward include helping to ensure that this initiative is launched not from a problem-solving lens, but rather a larger frame of “”vision-realization.”  As Robert Fritz recently said, “You can solve all of your problems and still not have what you want.”  Also, while best practices are certainly informative, I want to encourage stakeholders to think about the innovations that are waiting to emerge for this particular system.  This will require some discipline and depth of focus on the structural tension between what people really want and where they currently are (and why), as well as the courage and willingness to try what hasn’t been tried before.  And lastly, at least for now, I look forward to helping participants to develop greater capacity around collaboration, systems thinking, and paying attention to power, to being very conscious of what we are seeing and how we are being as we go.  And I look forward to sharing more about what we learn in the process.

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