Just coming off of co-delivering a 2 day Pathway to Change public workshop at IISC with Maanav Thakore, and I’m continuing to think about how important context is to the work of social change. In particular, I’m thinking about how seeing the foundation of all change efforts as being fundamentally networked can yield new possibilities throughout the work. There is the change we plan for, and the change that we don’t plan for and perhaps cannot even imagine – emergence. This is the stuff of networks, of living systems, of decentralized and self-organized activity, which can be encouraged and supported but not often predicted or controlled. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
This is Marianne’s last week as Executive Director of IISC. We’re devoting the blog to her writings and thinking this week.
Earlier this week during an IISC staff learning session, we entertained the question, “What do we know from our years of doing collaborative capacity building work?” Here IISC founder and Executive Director, Marianne Hughes, speaks to the core framework that supports our process design and facilitation work, the Pathway to Change.
IISC would like to share our Top 5 most influential post of 2012! Join us until the New Years Eve when we reveal our number 1 blog post!
The following post began as a response to FSG’s lastest contribution to its work around “collective impact” on the Standford Social Innovations Review blog. There is much value in the additional details of this cross-sectoral approach to creating change, and I especially appreciate what is highlighted in this most recent piece regarding the strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of “backbone organizations” to support and steer the work. In the ensuing conversation on the SSIR blog, there is a comment from an FSG staff person about the importance of building trust in launching these efforts, and it was from this point that I picked up . . .
With deep appreciation for the good work of FSG in helping to codify this important approach, I wanted to add that from our experience at the Interaction Institute for Social Change, helping people develop the skills of process design and facilitation is of paramount importance in cultivating trust and ultimately realizing the promise of large-scale multi-stakeholder collaborative efforts. Read More
|Photo by Qoncept|http://www.flickr.com/photos/37418570@N03/4488784822|
Fresh off of an offering of Pathway to Change to a group of leaders from across sectors in southern Massachusetts, and with another 3 day workshop on the horizon in San Francisco (July 24-26), I’ve been considering how the theme of fear often comes up in discussions about impediments and challenges to effective collaborative change work – fear of failure, fear of losing something, fear of the unknown. And I’ve been more and more convinced by how important intentional, creative, and strategic process design is in building pathways through this fear. This notion has been validated in the writing of Chip and Dan Heath, most recently in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. In a one page summary, the Heath brothers highlight the important three steps of: (1) directing our rational selves (what exactly are we trying to accomplish?), (2) motivating our emotional selves (what’s so compelling about that future destination? why can’t the current conditions continue?), and creating a clear path between where we are now and where we want to be. Read More
Picking up from Gibran’s post yesterday and continuing in the vein of follow-up to our LLC webinar on collective leadership, I want to respond to some of the questions we did not have a chance to answer or answer fully from participants, including requests for examples of collective leadership in action and inquiries about blocks and how to work through or overcome them. Read More
|Photo by ad551|http://www.flickr.com/photos/aaddaamn/5196833268|
As 2011 comes to a close, we here at IISC can look back on a year full of multi-stakeholder change work. I think I can speak on behalf of the entire team when I say that it has been our pleasure to contribute our process design, facilitation, and collaborative capacity building skills to a range of differently scaled social change efforts, linking arms with convenors and catalysts in a variety of fields. These have included (to name a few): Read More
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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
Just wrapped up a public Pathway to Change workshop this week in Boston, during which I spent some of our time talking with participants about the importance of process design teams in collaborative change work. These “little engines that can” become the backbone of our complex multi-stakeholder work as they hold the stake for creating an environment and a pathway that brings out the best in the many people attempting to realize a new reality around a given issue or issues. To this end, a spirit of risk-taking, thinking outside of the box, engaging in iterative work, and maintaining a willingness to prototype as “social architects” can be vital to long-term success. I thank Tom Wujec for helping me to make the marshmallow tower-inspired point and ask what his message means for your teamwork.
|Photo by Vvillamon|http://www.flickr.com/photos/villamon/4468869725|
In a recent article in Administration and Society, Sonia M. Ospina and Angel Saz-Carranza consider how it is that leadership in multi-organizational networks carries out vital balancing acts. On the one hand, they consider ways to navigate the internal tension between creating unity and honoring diversity among stakeholders. On the other hand, they look at how the balance is struck between confrontation and dialogue when doing outward-facing work. The source of their insights are the experiences of two urban immigration coalitions in the United States.
By way of summary, to successfully address paradox in the context of balancing unity and diversity inside the network, Ospina and Saz-Carranza observed leadership doing the following: Read More
|Photo by Qoncept|http://www.flickr.com/photos/37418570@N03/4488784822|
With another public offering of Pathway to Change on the horizon (May 4-6), I’ve been putting my thinking towards how best to encapsulate this robust course, which focuses on skills and frameworks for designing and facilitating collaborative change efforts. The genius behind IISC’s courses in general (for which I can take absolutely no credit) is the simple elegance of the visuals that capture many of the essential ideas and steps. That said, we can sometimes find ourselves awash in images and wanting something a little more to the point to guide us. For these purposes, I’ve boiled the course down to a series of key questions that stand behind the various models. So here is the Curtis’ Notes version (which also applies to a related course, Engage for Results, that we offer to foundations in partnership with GEO):
Recently I was asked for a quote about the messiness of collaboration. In response to the request, I noted that because at IISC we are “Collaboration R Us” we tend not to think about the messiness of collaboration (though we do view messiness as part of any emergent and creative process). Rather we focus on the elegant design and facilitation that will ensure success. The quote that I submitted is the following:
“Collaboration takes more than well-meaning people with good intentions coming together to determine a set of outcomes. Successful collaboration requires solid process design and skillful facilitation. This is what builds the scaffolding for multiple and diverse stakeholders to create a shared vision of impact, agreement on goals and strategies for achieving that impact and a plan for collective action. The process itself is what catalyzes the critical shift of mind and heart from believing that the right answers and expertise are held by a few to an understanding that it is the collective wisdom of the group that determines right action and greater impact.”