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What is Flisrand Consulting? What is Flisrand Consulting?

Flisrand Consulting connects people, places and ideas through smart process.

Smart process begins by working with you to clarify the project goal, define the steps to achieve it, and make it happen.  We provide additional value by connecting your goals with our expertise in engagement and collaborative coordination. One of our key strategies is network weaving, the practice of intentionally building effective relationships around a common issue area.

The result may be a well-facilitated meeting, workshop, event, or initiative.  The process may lead to a written product like a white paper, handbook, or summary of best practices.  It may simply be a review of your company’s plan to increase cycling and transit commuting by your employees, or marketing materials that earn your company credit for the sustainability work you do.

Musings

Network Design

Action = Permission + Ideas Action = Permission + Ideas

returning a volleyball

Return the Ball to the Network Members

This is part of an occasional series on network design

One network leader challenge is remembering the network isn’t most people’s first priority, and it shouldn’t be. Another is navigating that the network has needs, too. Resources are limited, and finding ways to meet members’ requests without overburdening those resources is another part of network design. There are easy ways to bump the requests back to members and invite them to take part in organizing the network game.

Principles

Look for and offer win-win solutions, and embrace limits.  People want to participate, they want to contribute and do their part. But they don’t always notice what they can do. Give people permission to act. Harness people’s energy, and then point them in a productive direction.

Look for solutions beyond the obvious choices. This often requires naming uncomfortable issues and being clear about what options are viable. Limits often help people innovate and find third-way solutions.

Example

A colleague mentioned her just-starting network members are eager to get going, but she’s still trying to figure out the people to support the network. Several members will be gathering at conference, and they asked about doing something there. And, she won’t be there to organize. read more »

Sabbatical

New Ideas Emerging New Ideas Emerging

seedlings sprout

Image credit: Jon Sullivan

On a recent Saturday, I offered a four-hour invitation to Come and Think About Hard Things in a facilitated discussion. Read to the end to find out what action I’m taking in response to their support and encouragement.

I was honored that 20 members of my professional (and personal) community came out to support me. I like to think my commitment to relationships and people in the past means my community is there for me – complex reciprocity at it’s best. And, it’s humbling.

the group

Four hours, on a Saturday in May

(Thanks to Lisa for facilitating, and to Michael for helping design the agenda and frame up my presentation.)

After a little getting to know one another, I offered my current thinking about the work I’d like to do [with others].

  1. First, I shared my idea of a healthy community, which is a place that achieves two specific goals. It must respect each person’s self-defined identity, in the design of spaces, in interactions with others, and offering reasonable access to the benefits of the city. It must also respect the self-determination of each person as they work towards personal and community goals, and as they voice their own needs.
  2. Second, I offered three guiding principles about how to get there, illustrating them each with local examples. We must remedy historical imbalances of power, naming them, rebalancing them, and redressing the compound interest that has already accumulated. Then, we must align our actions with our values, patiently and consistently acting with integrity. Finally, we must knit our community together, across racial, physical, and other gaps.
  3. Third, I shared why I think a network weaving approach offers the radical challenge to our current way of doing business that we’ll need to make the shift I hope for. Besides accelerating the great work that is already happening, it’s an approach that explicitly acknowledges that the patterns of relationships are replicated at all levels. It isn’t possible to build a balanced, healthy system on top of an unbalanced, unhealthy relationships.

I closed by asking people to explore this framework with me, both on the Saturday we were together and throughout the summer. (I am reworking my presentation to address some of the comments, and I will share that here.) read more »

Network Weaving

The Power of the Invitation The Power of the Invitation

 

inaugural invitation

Imagine how it feels to get this.

Invitations are powerful.

Invitations signify who is invited, and powerfully indicate who is not. Invitations communicate who is valued, who is part of the in-crowd, and who is not. (Do you still remember that third grade birthday party you didn’t get invited to and how it stung? Or the friend who didn’t invite you to their wedding?)

As a network weaver, invitations are one of my key tools. It is almost a super-power. I spend a significant amount of time making personalized, specific invitations. It seems like such a small thing, but it’s critical because…

read more »

Sabbatical

Seeking Clearness, Embracing Uncertainty Seeking Clearness, Embracing Uncertainty

coin purse of origami cranes

Each crane is like one question, insight, or reflection of my exploration.

My big sabbatical goal is to get clarity in where and how I focus my work.

As part of my process, I’m asking my colleagues and friends for help. Asking people to help is easy for me — unless I’m asking people to help ME. While it’s uncomfortable, the generosity and support of people supporting me in this effort is humbling. Thank you.

I shared that I am hosting two convenings, the first a clearness committee that was held last week. In my invitation, I said,

I’m seeking clearness in where and how I will focus my work. The purpose of this meeting isn’t to arrive at any final answers for the focus of my future work, but just to help me clarify the questions that are most important for me to answer during my sabbatical. During the meeting, I’m hoping you’ll ask me good questions that help me frame what I want to learn as a part of my sabbatical. 

I’ve spent a week synthesizing last week’s clearness committee into my thinking. I’m making notes where I’m finding the clarity I seek, and naming the discomfort and uncertainty that I continue to uncover as I reflect on and re-review the committee notes. This is another iterative process.   read more »

Sabbatical

Sabbatical Update: An Invitation to Come Play Sabbatical Update: An Invitation to Come Play

interactive reading group

It’s more fun to figure things out together. Image credit: U.S. Navy photo by Stephen Murphy

It’s always more fun to figure things out together. I find it results in a better product, too.* In that spirit, I’m convening two sabbatical-related events.

The first is a clearness committee (facilitated by my dear friend Michael Bischoff). That tiny session is intended to help me understand and be more clear in how and where I will focus my work.

The second is a larger group workshop, which I’ve titled “Sabbatical Inquiry: Creating a Healthy Community” (facilitated by another friend and colleague, Lisa Negstad). You’re invited. In the last few weeks, it’s become clearer to me that I want to focus on building a healthy community, to be part of healing my city, righting wrongs grown from an imbalance of power, money, and access.

This clearly encompasses racial justice, transportation and land use, the health of our planet, affordable housing, policing and criminal justice reform, to include a few key topics. It also encompasses how they intersect. I see many examples of people working towards this positive vision of our city’s future. The work I want to do isn’t my work, it’s our work, and includes many people beyond us.

Because it’s our work, not my work, I feel a responsibility to invite (and I crave) input from you. The summit will be an engaging, facilitated session. (Also, four hours on a Saturday in May – but free lunch!)

If that interests you, consider joining us – or sharing it with others who might find it compelling. My personal goal for the summit is to understand how my work can support those larger goals of healing our community and rebalancing power within it.

 

*when the process is well-managed

Network Design

Optimizing Network Design Optimizing Network Design

 

bicycle

Bicycles are the most efficient transportation ever invented. Image source: http://kaboompics.com/one_foto/498/bicycle-handlebar

This is part of an occasional series on network design

A network leader challenge is remembering the network isn’t most people’s first priority, and it shouldn’t be. I use these two principles to help me remember, members’ needs come first. Participating should be fun and easy, like riding a bike.

But members’ needs aren’t the only needs — the network has needs, too. Optimizing the design of network activities is the only way to meet the needs of members AND the network. Riding a bike isn’t only fun, it’s the most efficient way to get around, looking at energy calories per mile traveled. Optimizing your network activity design does the same thing: each activity takes you further on less energy.

Principles

Design activities to accomplish multiple goals. It takes a lot of work to get people organized, or to execute a project. If you think ahead about your (and your members’) goals, you can design each activity or project carefully to leverage each thing you do to achieve several goals. 

Examples

In some of my recent work, we used a kumu network map (thanks to support from Greater Than the Sum). The map offered many benefits to both individual members and the network.  read more »

Network Design

Why Network Design Matters Why Network Design Matters

Successful networks are self-regulating and sustainable, like the water cycle. Image License Creative Commons: AIRS, the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder,

Water Cycle, Image License Creative Commons: AIRS, the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder,

This is part of an occasional series on network design

Successful networks grow into a (nearly) self-sustaining cycle. That’s what gives them the staying power and benefits that emerge out of networks. A self-sustaining cycle like the water cycle.

Networks work best when they foster a cycle of member generosity, reciprocity, mutual benefits, and natural alliances, all emerging out of and reinforcing personal relationships. That’s like the cycle of precipitation, runoff, plant uptake and transpiration, and other water flows in the water cycle. In this comparison, members are water molecules, moving independently through the cycle as energy and occasion warrants, interacting with other water molecules as well as the outside world (soil, plants, fish).

Networks will always take energy inputs to keep the system moving. The sun and gravity put energy into the water cycle, enabling evaporation, transpiration, wind, streams, and lakes. In a network context, network leaders or support staff are the sun and gravity putting energy into the network-system to keep things going.

So What?

Network design is critical to a network’s success. A network leader challenge is remembering the network isn’t most people’s first priority, and it shouldn’t be. I use these two principles to help me remember, members’ needs come first. That said, the network’s need are important, too, and both need to be built into the puzzle-pieces of network activities. read more »

Network Design

Network Design: Members’ Needs Come First Network Design: Members’ Needs Come First

Colors for Holi on sale at a market

Each member brings unique skills and perspectives, and has unique goals. Image credit By Kamalakanta777 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18624345

This is part of an occasional series on network design

A network leader challenge is remembering the network isn’t most people’s first priority, and it shouldn’t be. I use these two principles to help me remember, members’ needs come first

Placing members’ interests and needs at the center of your network’s design and your network’s activities gives people a reason to engage. It also helps everyone hold onto the shared purpose. It reminds conveners and support staff to make activities easy to participate in and useful.

Principles

Focus on offering people value and communicating how network engagement translates into value. There is a lot of competition for people’s time, so it is critical to make sure that activities are valuable for participants. If they are not, people will choose to invest their time in other places where it is more  helpful. Value can come in many different forms. Here are some common benefits I’ve seen draw members in: read more »

Sabbatical

I’m Seeing New Possibilities I’m Seeing New Possibilities

image of stairs disappearing into a house

Image Credit: Tom Simon

In my network-supporting work, I encourage others to take the time to reflect. I model that practice when I facilitate meetings and in my projects. Now, I’m diving in even deeper.

This spring I found a new door to walk through. My role with a big project came to an end, and I find I have the space to step back and reflect.

I just started a sabbatical. 

I’m using it to be intentional in refocusing my work. The expanse of possibility I see is exhilarating.

Over the next five months, thanks to the recommendation of my friend and colleague Michael Bischoff, I’m going to modify Appreciative Inquiry‘s model to slow down and consider my plan. I’m inspired by the invitation to “look at the best of what is, in order to imagine what could be,” (citation). It requires me to reflect, to inquire, and invites me to imagine.  read more »

Energy Network Weaving

Is this Still a Question? Is this Still a Question?

Vox asks, “Can low-income housing be energy-efficient and affordable?”

Photo of The Rose energy efficient apartments Image Credit Aeon

Photo of The Rose energy efficient apartments, just down the street from my home. Image Credit Aeon

They’re reposting from Ensia. The first sentence answers with an unqualified, “Yes.” Then they get to the interesting bit, asking why it’s so hard and, “How?”

After using Energy Efficiency for All research to lay out the cost-effective opportunity of 15-30% efficiency improvements, they explore financing, scale, policy, and standards.

As I read, I smiled to see my network-oriented colleague Jacob Corvidae quoted, highlighting some of what I’ve been focusing on.

As Coreina Chan and Jacob Corvidae of the energy think tank Rocky Mountain Institute put it, improving energy efficiency in low-income housing is “a wicked problem in a complicated field.” Many stakeholders — tenants, landlords, utility companies, creditors, and more — are involved, each with their own set of goals. The scale and size of properties varies greatly as well, so upgrades that make sense in one building may not in another.

A bit later, I was excited to a shout out to my work of the last 2+ years, I’m guessing from Jacob. Ensia writes,

New business models and strategies for encouraging adoption of energy efficiency-boosting retrofits are beginning to surface, thanks in part to the work of new forums such as the Network for Energy, Water, and Health in Affordable Buildings. In the forums, parties that otherwise might never talk to each other share information and together shape tangible solutions specific to their local context.

“The forums create fertile ground for stronger, unified answers for the energy and affordable housing problem,” Corvidae says.