Tag Archive: cooperation

December 12, 2013

Thinking Like a Network

Over the past five years or so of supporting self-declared “networks” for change, I have evolved in my understanding of what is new when we call something a network, versus a coalition or collaborative or alliance.  On the surface, much can look the same, and one might also say that coalitions, collaboratives and alliances are simply different forms of networks.  Yes, and . . . I believe that what can make a big difference is when participants in a network (or an organization, for that matter) embrace new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing.  So let me propose that network approaches at their best call on us to lead with some of the following: Read More

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January 16, 2013

Living Systems Lessons for Networks

I was recently turned on to the work of Louise Diamond by the Plexus Institute.  Diamond has been bringing insights from the dynamics of complex systems to peace building work for many years.  Her efforts connect to a growing number of practitioners and thinkers who see the need to approach social change with an ecological and evolutionary mindset.  In one of her papers, she extracts some of the “simple rules” that yield core practices for working in this way.  Here I have adapted and adjusted some of them in application to network building for food systems change. Read More

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September 5, 2012

We Are Moving, Part 1

 “Innovation is as much a function of the right kind of relationships as it is of a particular kind of individual vision.”

-Carter Phipps

I capped off my summer reading with what was for me a fascinating and important book – Evolutionaries by Carter Phipps.  Phipps is the editor of EnlighteNext magazine and enthusiastic about the evolutionary worldview and how it is showing up in many different fields, from biology to sociology to philosophy and theology, transforming our very understanding not simply of the cosmos, but of ourselves.  Over the past few years, readers of this blog have probably picked up on the interest that my colleague Gibran Rivera and I share with Phipps when it comes to the evolutionary worldview.  Evolutionaries does a wonderful service in deepening and broadening as well as bringing much more nuance to this perspective, rendering it more timely, accessible and applicable to the work of social change. Read More

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July 11, 2012

Planning vs. Doing?

It often emerges as a core tension in our complex multi-stakeholder change work.  It’s embodied in comments such as, “Let’s stop all this talking and start doing something!”  Or, “I’m not a big process person, I just want to get to action.”

In the New England Regional Food Summit two weeks ago, speaker Rich Pirog raised the importance of trying to find, in an ongoing fashion, a balance between process and action.  This he has learned from doing many years of building regional food networks in the Midwest. It is certainly the case that we can over-talk, over-think and over-process together, driving one another crazy and/or from the room.  And we can also jump blindly, prematurely, and harmfully to action.

So how do we strike an artful balance and keep differently oriented people in the game?  A few thoughts:

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