Important considerations for collaborative social change work: What are considered “legitimate” ways of knowing and doing? Why? What does this allow? What doesn’t it allow?
Photo by Juhansonin
I’m always interested to see diverse cognitive styles and preferences show up in the collaborative processes we help to design and facilitate at IISC. A classic difference is between those who bend more towards the analytical side of things and those who prefer to lead with intuition. This, of course, paints too stark of a dichotomy of what most people present overall, and context can often be a determinant in what people lead with. Nonetheless there are undeniable tensions that arise within groups about what constitutes “rigor” and “right method” for deriving what might be considered strategic insights. I would say that in many more “mainstream” (one might say “professional”) settings, it is often analysis and deference to some kind of “expert “that has a better chance of winning the day. And so I’ve been interested to come across a few resources that talk about and validate the place of intuition and iterative group visualization in coming up with good answers.
In a piece that appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Justin Fox writes about how instinct can beat analytical thinking. In particular, he lifts up the work of Gerd Gigerenzer from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. Gigerenzer’s research suggests that rational, statistical, analytical approaches work well in situations where one is able to calculate risk. The trouble, however, is that in many situations, decisions are made in considerable uncertainty, where risk and consequence are unknown because everything is quite dynamic. Read More
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
|Photo by Simon Cockell|http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjcockell/3251147920|
Last week, I had the opportunity to work with a cross-sectoral group of emerging and established leaders from around southern Maine through the Institute for Civic Leadership, an initiative IISC had a hand in establishing some 18 years ago. For the past six years I’ve offered three days of collaborative capacity building entitled “Facilitative Leadership and Teams” to each successive cohort, and it’s been interesting to see how the offering has evolved over time. Throughout there has been an interest in looking at how to leverage what is now an incredible base of 500 + individuals who have been through this leadership program. And so this year we dived formally into network building strategies. Read More
|Photo by Kevin Krejci|http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinkrejci/4217559275|
“Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something the world didn’t know it was missing.”
The other day I was clearing out some file drawers at the office in advanced preparation for our impending move into Boston this summer, when I came across a 17 year old paper written by Interaction Associates founder David Straus. This paper’s date times with the founding year of the Interaction Institute for Social Change and speaks to the longer historical roots of the Interaction methods that IISC and IA share. As I read the paper, what struck me most was David’s very early recognition of the interconnections between design, thinking, and cognition.
In a recent conversation with professors and students at Savannah College of Art and Design’s Design Management program, I was asked to share what we at IISC mean when we use the phrase “design thinking” in social change initiatives. Talking with vocational designers about designing for social change was a very different conversation from conversations with change agents and activists on the same topic. I subsequently came across this insightful blog entry by interaction designer Dan Saffer, “Thinking about Design Thinking”, and although he does not apply a social change agenda to his thinking here, he helps lay out distinctive features of what designers mean by the term “design thinking” as follows (we can apply the social change lens on our own): Read More