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 MoreLeave a comment
Tag Archive: process design
They say being a change agent is an inside job. This summer, we invite you to sharpen your tools and rejuvenate your capacity for leadership through a values-based professional development opportunity in a beautiful retreat setting! Center for Whole Communities (CWC) and Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) are collaborating to offer a four-day residential Whole Measures Workshop July 10 – 13, at CWC’s retreat center at beautiful Knoll Farm in Fayston, VT. Read MoreLeave a comment
As I prepare to do a couple of trainings for leadership in multi-stakeholder networks in the New England region (focus being on the skills of facilitation, process design, and managing decision-making), I intend to frame our conversations with some exploration of the differences between traditional organizational leadership and what is required to steward networks towards positive impact. I begin with the presumption that network form and function are chosen strategically for the ability to accomplish something that could not be done at all or as well through other approaches. Whether trying to develop a food system to eliminate food insecurity or change an educational system to yield more equitable opportunities and outcomes, the attraction to a network approach is likely due to a desire for some combination of the following: Read More8 Comments
Another offering here in the spirit of simplicity and how we can get a lot from doing little things differently. Yesterday I blogged about “working agreements” to set groups and collaborative efforts up for success. Today, I want to lift up the power of planning meetings, convenings, and longer term collaborative endeavors with the end in mind. Often we find that people have the tendency to jump into doing and talking about doing without working backwards from the intended outcomes. There is an art and science to crafting “desired outcomes statements,” which we teach in our workshops (see Facilitative Leadership and Essential Facilitation), and a starting point is to imagine your stakeholders leaving said meeting or collaborative process and asking yourself:
- What shared understanding is it important/imperative for us to have achieved?
- What agreements is it important/imperative for us to have built?
- What commitments do we want people to have made?
- What products do we want/need to have generated?
- What feeling/spirit do we want to carried forward out of this experience?
Earlier this year I co-facilitated a learning session on collaborative social change process design and stakeholder engagement approaches for a group of foundation employees from around the country. As we got deeper into the conversation, some of the participants began to speak to their own doubts about the effectiveness of grantmaking, especially when it only focuses on grantmaking. “In the larger scope of things,” said one program officer, “our money is just a drop in the bucket.” “Frankly,” said another, “there are other ways we can add value, but we limit our own validation of these efforts by calling ourselves ‘grantmakers.'” Interesting. As we explored other avenues for change agency, it was as if we were tapping into the work going on here in Michigan through the Council of Michigan Foundations. Read MoreLeave a comment
IISC Senior Associate, Curtis Ogden, reflects on the question asked in a staff learning session, “What do we know from years of doing collaborative capacity building and social change work?” Recorded at Space With a Soul in Boston.Leave a comment
IISC Senior Associate, Cynthia Parker, answers the question asked in a staff learning session, “What do we know from our years of doing collaborative capacity building and social change work?” Recorded at Space With a Soul on February 6, 2012.Leave a comment
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 MoreLeave a comment
I have previously written in this space about a state-wide early childhood system change effort in Connecticut, for which my colleague Melinda Weekes and I are currently serving as the lead process designers and facilitators. For the past year, we have been engaged in a robust and somewhat emergent process of exploring some of the underlying systemic dynamics surrounding early childhood development and care in the state, and beginning to re-imagine that system, in all of its complexity as it holds the vision of nurturing whole children, from informal to formal elements, from grassroots to grasstops.
At this point, we are poised to think more deeply about what it would mean to create a “blueprint” for that system, acknowledging that this blueprint could never cover every component and dynamic in the system, nor would we want it to be static. Read MoreLeave a comment
Nikky Finney recently won the National Book Award in Poetry for her collection Head Off and Split. If you have not seen or heard her acceptance speech, it is to be seen/heard (if you go to the link, you will have to fast forward a bit through John Lithgow and Elizabeth Alexander). In so many poignant and wonderful ways, she reminds us that, as Audre Lorde once wrote, “Poetry is not a luxury.”
In the video segment above, Finney brings greater dimension (and a sense of history) to the creative writing and speech act, by describing her affinity for blackboards as a way of engaging in more visual and tactile ways with her craft. Her words remind me of what I think many of us at IISC love about visual facilitation and graphic recording in our collaborative capacity building work, of putting marker to butcher block paper, rather than simply or exclusively relying upon conversation, PowerPoint and/or video projected word processing. Process design and facilitation is a contact sport.Leave a comment
What do you look for up front to suggest that a collaborative endeavor is on the right track? This is the question that former IISC colleague and current VP of Programs at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Courtney Bourns, and I are charged with answering today. Our audience and partners in this endeavor are a group of community grantmaking committee members convened by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The attendees want to know what to look for in applications and out in the field (‘beyond the grant”) as hints of future success.
This is an intriguing and challenging question, especially given the fact that the signs of success are often in places we do not think to look and of course there are never any guarantees. I certainly look forward to an engaging conversation with this group, and these are the thoughts I am prepared to share with folk at this point: Read MoreLeave a comment
This post first appeared back in March of this year, and I am re-posting as I prepare to co-present a session tomorrow at the Bioneers by the Bay gathering in New Bedford, MA. In our session, “Transformative Leadership for Sustainability” we will experience each of the dimensions below . .
As process designers, facilitators, and change agents, we are called upon to help create conditions in which amazing things can happen between people, whether alignment, agreement building, innovation, etc. At times this can be a tall order. Thankfully we are supported by an array of tools and techniques at our disposal. Knowing which of the social architect’s tools to turn to in any given situation is a core challenge. Something I’ve recently found useful as a guide is consideration of the different dimensions of social space and how these can be leveraged so that collective work can bring about the very best.17 Comments