Monthly Archives: April 2016

Sabbatical

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

 

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

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

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

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 »