Last month I was asked to present to the Children and Nature Network’s Grassroots Gathering in Princeton, New Jersey, along with Ginny McGinn of the Center for Whole Communities. We were invited by a common acquaintance who knows both our respective organizational work and our recent collaborative endeavor in developing and offering a training entitled Whole Measures: Transforming Communities by Measuring What Matters Most (the next public workshop will be in Boston from November 16-18). Both IISC and CWC work to build the collaborative capacity of social change endeavors, albeit in slightly different and complementary ways. The topic of our presentation was “Collaborative Leadership,” and what became core to our joint plenary address was the story of our own partnership. Read MoreLeave a comment
Tag Archive: Facilitative Leadership
Erich Jarvis is a professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics of Language at the Rockefeller University and a specialist in bird songs and calls. Called a “scienfic artist,” Jarvis was raised in New York City, attended the School for the Performing Arts (where he was an accomplished dancer), and went on to study birds while a student at Hunter College and Rockefeller University. His research has suggested that birds are more intelligent than most give them credit for, and Jarvis hopes that his focus on the complexity behind bird songs will lead to therapies for human beings with speech difficulties.
There are those in the scientific community who had objected to Jarvis’ and others’ assertions about avian intelligence, in part because the terminology used to describe a bird’s brain had long emphasized its primitiveness. This is precisely what Jarvis set out to change a number of years ago. He took it upon himself to pull together colleagues from around the country and across disciplines to collaboratively rename parts of the avian brain. Read MoreLeave a comment
Over the next three days I will have the privilege of training the Interaction Institute’s Facilitative Leadership® workshop. Just yesterday I was talking to my colleague Curtis Ogden and asking him for his latest tips on offering this workshop. As often happens with us, our conversation evolved into a very interesting inquiry. Read More1 Comment
“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.Leave a comment
Sharing an inspiring vision is one of the seven practices of Facilitative Leadership. Here at the Interaction Institute for Social Change we are fond of saying that “a leader must share an inspiring vision in order to inspire a shared vision.” If you are reading this blog you probably have a vision. You are interested in social change, you want to believe that indeed another world is possible – and you have a role in making it happen. You have a vision of the world you want to see. Read MoreLeave a comment
In this post I take a look at the overlap and differences between three leadership approaches to which we here at IISC regularly turn in light of our bent towards social change and beliefs about the world in which we live.Leave a comment
One of the core models of IISC’s practice (for both our training and consulting work) is something we call the R-P-R Triangle, which basically makes the case that success in collaborative efforts is a multi-dimensional affair, not solely defined by “results” (goal or task accomplished), but also by “process” (the way or spirit in which work is carried out) and “relationship” (the quality of the connections between the people engaged in the work). Our Executive Director, Marianne Hughes, has called this “the spine of collaboration,” suggesting that if we are not thinking in terms of all dimensions, we are not really serious about seeking win-win solutions with others. And indeed experience really proves that these dimensions are intimately linked and dependent upon one another when diverse stakeholders come together to realize a shared vision.
A twist was given to this triangle the other day when a Facilitative Leadership workshop participant said he was struggling, not because he did not find value in this notion of “multiple dimensions of success,” but because of his concern that even in this model, process and relationships might appear to be subservient, or the “so that,” to results. He went on to say that he is part of an organization/community in which relationships are really paramount. They are an end in and of themselves and in a way synonymous with results. How then, do we account for this in this model he wondered. Read More14 Comments
Been looking for the answer to unlocking your group’s/team’s potential? Look no further than a complex chaotic attractor! According to researcher Marcial Losada, this is what underlies the dynamics of high performing groups and produces novel and outstanding results. Integral to chaos theory, a complex chaotic attractor, when it emerges in a group, is what leads to innovation, bringing a system to new levels of insight and possibility. The question is how can we create the conditions for the attractor to emerge?
Losada has an answer, based on intense observation and statistical analysis of high and low functioning groups. What he has to say has an interesting parallel to what we at IISC have been pointing to as essential elements of the facilitative leader or collaborative change agent who is able to effectively tap into the participation of others. The core elements we have listed in our “Profile of a Facilitative Leader” include being:
- collaborative (interested in working with others, seeking win-win solutions)
- strategic (keeping one’s eyes on the big picture and different possible paths of action)
- receptive and flexible (actively soliciting others’ ideas, changing course when necessary)
Many of us in the United States have been assured from an early age that knowledge is power. While this is true, it is incomplete. Knowledge is half the power. (And if not exactly half, some percentage of power). There are a number of other factors which make up power including but not limited to, race, class, age, sexual orientation, finances, who one knows, societal norms of one’s environment and most importantly, action. Knowledge means little, if it is not acted upon.
We learn every day. Every now and then, we learn of an injustice in the world which hits us just right, to the point that we want it to change it. Often however, we are far removed from the injustice, so either we forget it or become overwhelmed by the task of taking action. As a result, we may fall into a cycle where we simply read more about the issue, or keep telling others of the injustice, but never get around to concrete action. And while action may be hard part, it also seems to be the most rewarding. How do we make that leap to act when the injustice seems insurmountable? How do we harness the energy of those who came before us, who know what tactics work for each issue?Leave a comment
My son, David, recently wrote an article for the Providence Phoenix about John Maeda, President of Rhode Island School of Design and author of The Laws of Simplicity, The Laws of Simplicity – The MIT Press.
Maeda embodies and articulates facilitative leadership and has embarked on building the collaborative organization which he calls an “open source administration”. Web2ExpoSF 09: John Maeda, “Open Source Administration“ Interestingly, even today, the idea of an accessible, communicative and transparent leader is seen as unusual and breakthrough telegraphing just how hard it is to move from the old to the new.
What is so unique to John Maeda is his combination of talents that are so apt for this moment in time. He is an artist, a designer, a techie; an educator and an MBA not to mention young and hip with a “genuine ability to distill, simplify and inspire”. Like President Obama he models what it means to lead today from a place of thoughtful creativity, wholeness and…..joy.
While John Maeda and Barack Obama are among the famous there are so many leaders across the generations, the sectors and the world that are showing the way simultaneously changing the world one individual, one family, one organization and one community at a time.Leave a comment
We deliver a powerful (by all accounts) leadership development program at IISC called Facilitative Leadership. It is our flagship training program because it directly speaks to the mindset, heartset and skillset needed to lead in the Age of Connectivity. Facilitative Leadership starts, ironically, with the notion that we must radically change our perception and thinking about leaders and leadership, itself. Originally based in a Newtonian, mechanistic understanding of how the world works, our ideas about leadership have evolved over the last fifty years. We’ve gone from a heroic, command and control approach to a more participative, collaborative approach that involved teams, less hierarchy, and a much higher level of engagement and input, to now — a time when our understanding of the world is informed by quantum physics and complexity theory…a world described by Tom Freidman as flat, where all of knowledge, not to mention finances, has been connected and democratized. We are defining and understanding leadership at a time when our systems breakdowns and global crisis demands that we create a future that is so radically different from the past
Several thought leaders with whom we are familiar have themselves been struggling with this concept: Peter Senge in his new book The Necessary Revolution introduces us to the idea of the animateur, the French word for people who seek to create systemic change. He says that an animateur is someone who brings to life a new way of thinking, seeing or interacting that creates focus and energy.” And, in Peter Block’s new book, Community – The Structure of Belonging, he renames leaders as “social architects” defined by their ability to set intention, convene, value relatedness and present choices. The animateur and the social architect seem to be getting us closer to the kind of leadership we need for these times.
As we embrace leadership as being first and foremost about shared responsibility, as a leveraging and unleashing of much needed collective intelligence and commitment; we see in fact that the central task of leadership today is to create the conditions for others to flourish and to thrive, to step into their own power. We see that the roles that leaders play in these times are more aptly described as catalysts, champions, connectors. We see that these leaders are strategic, collaborative, and flexible and they are most often rooted in real authenticity, service and love.
We are daunted in our sector by the demographic reality of baby boomer leaders exiting in the next five to ten years, leaving a massive leadership gap. Or, now, because of their disappearing 403(b)’s, postponing retirement and causing another set problems. I am wondering if this conversation – while important and real – may also be taking us off course or at least maybe taking up too much of our time.
My belief, particularly in these most troubled times, is that we are being called to boldly invest in and develop networked, boundary-crossing social architects….multi-cultural, multi-generational social architects. We need to build their capacity in collaboration, design, facilitation, network building and the uses of new social media in service of real change. It is our collective capacity that will lead us into a future that is so very different from the past.2 Comments