January 22, 2013
I keep making references to Steven Johnson’s book, Future Perfect. That’s because I find it to be one of the best articulations of what has become possible in this networked world. I am seduced by the idea of peer progressivism.
I have long held the hypothesis that those of us who have committed our lives to social transformation should be able to find a significant competitive advantage in a world of networks. Our ethos should be one of sharing, one of working together, one of catalyzing our collective power. Our values resonate with what is possible today. But the time to step into this opportunity is right now – right as it is emerging.
January 14, 2013
As they neared their 15th anniversary, the Case Foundation published “To be Fearless” as both a reflection on its work and a challenge to philanthropy and the social sector. The following are excerpts from this report, written by Cynthia Gibson and Brad Rourke for the Case Foundation. (“To Be Fearless,” The Case Foundation, 2012.)
December 26, 2012
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!
Fast Company’s has a recent cover story on the new and chaotic frontier of business.
Despite recession, currency crises, and tremors of financial instability, the pace of disruption is roaring ahead. The frictionless spread of information and the expansion of personal, corporate, and global networks have plenty of room to run. And here’s the conundrum: When businesspeople search for the right forecast–the road map and model that will define the next era–no credible long-term picture emerges. There is one certainty, however. The next decade or two will be defined more by fluidity than by any new, settled paradigm; if there is a pattern to all this, it is that there is no pattern. The most valuable insight is that we are, in a critical sense, in a time of chaos.
December 4, 2012
I like to describe IISC as a collaboration shop. We look at collaboration through three lenses. When looking through the lens of networks we are acknowledging a shift from “complicated to complex” (see image). We often rely on the Cynefin framework to encourage an attitude of exploration, a more open attitude than the quest for technical answers that obsesses so much of our work for social change.
I had not seen the overlay of complexity and collaboration that Shawn Callahan articulates so well. I love the work of our friends at Anecdote, and this blog post is a must read:
November 16, 2012
I recently got to attend two events with racial equity educator and filmmaker, Shakti Butler, in Boston. Her new film, Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity, is full of stories that help to paint the picture of how race and racism operate in the U.S. – at the internal, interpersonal, institutional and structural levels. Drawing on the work of john powell and others, Shakti emphasizes that racial inequities are constantly shapeshifting, that racism is a dynamic system with multiple layers functioning simultaneously, and that we are all wounded as a result.
November 13, 2012
Today we often use the word extraordinary to refer to something amazing, something great. The overwhelming re-election of the nation’s first Black President through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression is a truly extraordinary event.
November 5, 2012
I don’t usually find listening to public radio overly stressful, but this weekend’s edition of This American Life had me churning. The episode Red State Blue State featured a series of stories of relationships among friends, family members, neighbors and more that were damaged or severed over political affiliations and whom they intended to vote for. In a country where most people live in communities that are largely blue or red, people with minority political views in their community need increasing courage to speak their convictions, or even, sometimes just to live their lives. I found the story of a pair of sisters especially heartbreaking.
October 30, 2012
Our paradigm is our lens on everything. It is how we make sense of reality. For example, a deterministic paradigm is a lens that makes you see everything in terms of cause and effect. It gives you a mechanistic lens with which to make sense of the world. Determinism can be a really useful perspective – one way of looking at things – but it becomes a problem if it is your paradigm – THE way in which you look at things.
October 22, 2012
The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors.
Over the past several years, there has been a great deal of international focus on the notion of happiness. While there are many definitions of happiness, here is a composite of my favorites: “emotions experienced when in a state of well-being that range from contentment to intense joy.”
October 19, 2012
The following is a message from Ceasar McDowell, the new president of the Interaction Institute for Social Change.
Dear Friends of IISC,
Ten years ago when I was going through a critical stage in my life, a friend asked me what I would consider to be my dream job. My answer was pretty simple. I wanted to lead an organization whose primary work was to design processes for complex collaborative efforts aiming at advancing social justice, equity and democracy. I wanted to do this in an organization where issues of power, privilege and race were central, not only to the work we did in the world but in how we engaged with each other to do that work.
October 16, 2012
I came up as an organizer. I approached that work by working hard to persuade others that change was possible. I then proceeded to illustrate the type of change that we could work on. It is important and dignified work.
But as I came to understand networks I found myself doing a lot less persuading. I’m not just seeking to build a critical mass. I’m seeking to make critical connections. Emergence bursts forth from these connections.
September 28, 2012
I’m into networks. It takes a significant shift in perspective to get into networks. We develop aptitudes and ways of being-with that allow us to contend with grater complexity.
I’m so into networks that I had the privilege of participating in a community of practice on networks and decentralized organizing. Networks thrive on trust and relationship and it was with this knowledge that we dove in. We became friends, we grew to love, appreciate and trust each other.