Tag Archive: creativity

November 2, 2011

The Special Sauce


|Photo by jennikokodesu|http://www.flickr.com/photos/jennikokodesu/4459697786|

“I just wanted to tell all of you that I feel truly honored to have played even a small part in what transpired today. In fact, I would go so far as to say you are the best, most fun, most highly evolved group of humans I have ever worked with.”

This is not the kind of email you get everyday.  It comes from one of the participants in the process design group of a state-wide food system building effort with which I have been involved for the past year and for which I am the lead designer and facilitator.  To be clear, the purpose of this post is not to blow my own horn.  It would be outrageous for me to take credit for something the size and complexity of which goes well beyond my individual talents and contributions.  Rather, I am very eager to explore what stands behind this comment, as it reflects a commonly held feeling that something special has been going on with this initiative and group since it was initiated and led up to the launch of a Food Policy Council last week. Read More

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October 25, 2011

The LIONetwork and #Occupy

I have the privilege of being part of the team that support the Rockwood’s Leading from the Inside Out Leadership Network (LIONetwork).  I share our latest communication for two reasons:  first, it serves as a brief survey of how the professionalized social sector is responding to #occupywallstreet.  Second, it serves as an example of our team’s effort to increase the network’s self-awareness by reflecting it back to itself while also offering an opportunity for deeper connection and discussion.  The e-mail follows:

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October 24, 2011

A Whole New Mind

In A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink points to a set of right brain functions that are essential to creativity, innovation and effectiveness in our work and our world. Design and Play are two of these functions, and they are beautifully expressed in this fountain at the Detroit Airport. Enjoy the way the water dances, wonder at the way the paths of water are designed and synchronized. Let it reawaken in you pure delight and ask yourself how you can bring play more fully alive in your work for justice.

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October 17, 2011


An emergent collaborative spoken word poem by IISC staff.

You find yourself walking

there’s focus and intention

in appreciation of each soul’s journey

an openness to what we don’t know

and ever surrendering to the confusion of conviction

unfolding, becoming, self-giving

you notice the beauty of all that’s connected

and then you think about love

it flows forth and around

and through play

you can hear it, you can see it

supports justice whether its for you or against you

binding us and guiding us

and suddenly your heart opens wide

so that you can listen fully, be present fully- right where you are

so that what is unimaginable is possible.

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October 11, 2011

A Different Stance

Photo By: Zach

We take stances.  Some are weak, some are empowered.  Most often, they are habitual.  There are stances that have powerfully served us but might no longer be helpful.  These might be our habitual stances, our automatic postures, our best known ways of reacting.  It is important to become conscious about our stance. To be awake as we take a stance.  To loosen the grips of our habit.  To make room for new possibilities.

Adrienne Maree Brown, my dear friend and colleague and one of the facilitator’s I most admire, wrote a beautiful post about her visit to #occupywallstreet.  She invites us to consider our stance.  It is re-posted here:

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July 21, 2011

Building Power Through Collaborative Change

Golden Gate

|Photo by http2007|http://www.flickr.com/photos/http2007/2204187170|

In this week’s public Pathway to Change workshop in San Francisco, participants engaged in a practice meeting facilitated by some of their colleagues that focused on effective means of building power in collaborative change efforts to enhance their overall effectiveness to realize more just ends.  The assumptions going into the conversation were that power is defined as the capacity to influence people and one’s environment, create change, address needs, pursue desires, and/or protect interests.  Furthermore we suggested that power is not a fixed asset that people possess. Rather, it is socially constructed, understood, and legitimized through social relationships among individuals and groups of people. Given that it is not fixed, it can also grow or be grown.

So here is the list of ideas that surfaced for ways to build power and we certainly invite your reactions and additions (items in bold ended up being given higher priority by the group): Read More

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April 27, 2011

Taking Stakeholders Seriously


|Photo by Robert Higgins|http://www.flickr.com/photos/37893534@N07/4779016818|

“Stakeholder” is a big word in our practice at IISC. When it comes to our collaborative change work, we take  stakeholder analysis very seriously, in certain situations spending a few days to complete this critical task. The aim is generally to surface the names of those groups and individuals who as a sum total will help to ensure that we have the system represented in the room. What this means is pushing people, at times, into uncomfortable places to consider typically unheard voices and those they have outright resisted inviting to the table but without whom they could not hope to make the kind of change to which they aspire.

Typically we engage in a conversation with our clients and partners that asks them identify, in the context of some given change effort, those whose stakes are defined in the following ways: Read More

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August 6, 2010

Attitude is Everything


|Photo by sarniebill1|http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarniebill/4723746702|

Picking up from where I left off yesterday, I want to share some additional insights gleaned from my tour of Lauren Chase-Rowell’s permaculture garden and land.  Something else that struck me was when Lauren said that beyond her training and intuition as a master gardener, “attitude is everything.”  Illustrating this statement with stories it became clear that while she is incredibly skilled in her craft, Lauren’s psychological and emotional approach take it all to another level.  In essence, permaculture starts with your self.

Channeling Lauren, I offer these three attitudinal guidelines for your consideration and application to your social change/leadership efforts, especially those geared towards leveraging the potential of systems and collective intelligence: Read More

July 29, 2010

Creativist Tensions

canvascanvas 1If there is anyone out there not aware of the Creativist movement, I encourage you to take a look and consider enlisting.  The Creativist Society has made a space for people to articulate their visions for society at its best with creativity as the core organizing principle.  The Creativist Manifesto is an invitation for people to think about what it would mean to be creators before being consumers, which catalyst Olivia Sprinkel presents as being one of the most important choices we can make. Read More

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July 23, 2010

Keeping the Spark


|Photo by popculturegeek.com|http://www.flickr.com/photos/popculturegeek/4775844727|

“The problems we face now, and in the future, simply demand that we do more than just hope for inspiration to strike.”

“The Creativity Crisis” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Blogging on a weekly basis and trying to stay on my social change game generally speaking, requires a steady flow of inspiration and creativity.  Of course, there are times when both can feel in short supply, and so I’ve been interested in how to keep this vital stream clear and moving.  Bronson and Merryman’s recent Newsweek article highlights both the importance and possibility of ratcheting up generative capacity.  Turning to a few sources, including my artistic brother, creativity guru Michael Michalko, Venessa Miemis, and The Innovator’s Toolkit, here are a few of my favorite ways for keeping the old noodle limber: Read More

July 15, 2010

There Are Many Ways


Last week, Melinda and I had the honor of working with this year’s cohort of aspiring urban school principals participating in the New Leaders for New Schools program.  It was awe inspiring and heart warming to meet these accomplished educators who are now putting their classroom successes to the test by striving to take on instructional leadership of a challenging urban public school and raise student academic achievement across the board.

Our work was to help the New Leaders develop and strengthen skills that would serve them in putting together and managing their leadership teams.    While focusing on meeting design, we talked about how important it is to avoid simply inheriting old practices and meeting culture that may be dysfunctional or deadening.  To honor people’s time and energy, it behooves leaders to be thoughtful and strategic with respect to when and how they convene them and to what end.  As we discussed the myriad options for creating a group experience, one participant stood up and said, “We really have to get ourselves out of the box to do this work!”  Indeed.

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