May 8, 2013
|Photo by Mike Licht|http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/6786051819|
Sometimes people call openness in group process and social engagement “disorganized” or “unstructured.” I find this to be a misperception and, frankly, unhelpful. Openness is differently organized and structured. It is different from many of the talking-at, entertainment-oriented, consumer-creating, and being-numbing settings to which we have grown accustomed.
Openness can certainly create discomfort, in part because it calls on us to step up and reach out, not hunker down and hide. It asks us to take responsibility and consider questions like, “What do I value?” “How do I want to contribute?” “What can we create here?” Openness is opportunity if we choose to act, knowing that through the perceived risk and any felt discomfort lies greater purpose, meaning and vitality.
February 14, 2013
The following post is taken from a message I recently posted on the Community Food Security Coalition listserv. I have already heard from a few people and am setting up conversations with them to hear more about what they are doing process and form-wise to advance the work, and look forward to sharing what I learn from them in this space. While the topic of this blog is networks focused on just and sustainable food system development, reactions are welcome from those working on new structures to address other social change issues . . .
IISC currently works with a number of food system-related initiatives around the country, providing process/structure design and facilitation support to collaborative multi-stakeholder approaches to change. As we strive for more healthy, just, sustainable, and community-enriching food systems, part of our role is to hold the stake for the “how” of the work, to ensure that it aligns with the multi-dimensional ends we seek, and to fine-tune this to the essence of the particular geographic and social locale (municipality, state, region). Read More
September 26, 2012
I want to tip my hat to mentors and thought partners, both near and far, for fueling my thinking around the topic of this post – thanks to Carol Sanford, Richard Hawkes and Tom Lombardi at Growth River, Glenda Eoyang, Richard Barrett, and my IISC colleague Gibran Rivera. There is much discussion in the social sectors these days about the need to be more fearless, to take risks, to fail early, to be innovative and vulnerable. Influenced by my colleagues, I like to frame all of this as being about our need to think and act more “vertically,” that is, with an evolutionary thrust, in the direction of personal and systemic growth and development, opportunity generation, and a sense of accountability to a greater community or “we.” Read More
July 14, 2011
“Tension and transparency of tension create capacity.”
|Photo by ideowl|http://www.flickr.com/photos/ideowl/3737550476|
Last week I blogged from Knoll Farm in Fayson, VT, where I was serving as a co-trainer of our Whole Measures workshop, which we offer in partnership with the Center for Whole Communities. In that post I reflected on the connection that the Knoll Farm site creates between people, and between people and land. A remarkable aspect of the Farm is its intentional design, in that its human-made elements naturally work with and build upon the contours of the landscape and draw people’s attention to certain dynamics that reflect essential truths. An example is the large yurt, that sits on an outcropping at the end of an old logging road. It is a welcome (and welcoming) sight as one rounds the bend having climbed a fairly long steep incline. Its brown and green colors integrate nicely with the forested landscape, and its very structure invites one into contemplation about the life that surrounds it and with which it is in relationship. Read More
June 27, 2011
Spurred on by my colleague, Jen Willsea, I recently submitted a piece for the “Walk the Talk” zine/book project. The organizers describe the project as being about “exploring power and exploitation in nonprofit organizations, alignment of our work with our vision, and what role nonprofits have in radical social transformation…[because] even in the most grassroots and progressive organizations, working on the most radical issues, we may find a deep dissonance between the world we want to create, and what it is like to be working in the organization day-by-day. Read More
June 14, 2011
Seth Godin is a luminary of the new paradigm, it is often tempting to re-blog him here, this time it was inevitable. If we want to build movement we must transcend our organizational constraints.
May 3, 2011
Photo by: Morningstar3
Osama Bin Laden is back on the headlines. We can find many lessons about networks in our struggle with this man and the ideology of terror that he came to represent. When talking about networks I often refer to The Starfish and the Spider, the excellent book by Brafman and Beckstrom that has now become a sort of Tea Party organizing manual. No matter what we think about Bin Laden, Al-Queda is more of a starfish, an organization that is “headless” while having many legs. On the other hand, the Government of the United States is most definitely a spider, an organization has one head controlling its many legs.
If Bin Laden had been a leader in the traditional sense Read More
March 31, 2011
|Photo by Keith Williamson|http://www.flickr.com/photos/elwillo/5440401913|
The more I do our collaborative consulting work here at IISC, the more interested I become in the role of the convenor in complex multi-stakeholder change efforts. This role, typically held in our work by a funder or someone else with convening power (local/state government, school district, a well-connected community-based agency) has much to say about the success and nature of a social change effort, and yet from my perspective remains under-appreciated and/or poorly misunderstood. Over the next few months I’ll spend some time in this space reflecting on what we and others are learning about this critical role and soliciting your thoughts, reactions, and experiences.
But first, what does it mean to convene? In our practice, convening is one of a few central leadership functions in collaborative and networked approaches to change. Read More