Tag Archives: reflection

Network Design

Jump in! Inviting Work Group Design

 

(Image of two women about to swim in frozen lake.)

Come on in!                               Image Credit Nikolay Dikiy – Купаца!, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15265087

 

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. That’s why designing work groups well is critical to meeting both members’ and the network’s needs.

Over the years, goal-setting and iterative design have helped me develop work groups that make it easy for people to jump in, where participants shape and own the work, and where each group is a jumping off point for a more interesting and useful next round.

Principles

Set goals for your groups, and design to them. Then, use iterative design to improve what you’ve designed. Don’t wait to act, but act in small low-risk ways. Design quick cycles of action, building in time to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and how to improve it (or set it aside if it’s the wrong approach). Reflecting lets us embrace failure as a learning opportunity. This shift changes feelings of guilt and the tendency to blame into a tool to achieve the ultimate goal. It helps us be brave enough to take risks, to move ahead without certainty.

Example

Most recently, I designed small, short-cycle work groups using an iterative process. 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 »

Facilitation Network Weaving

Surprise! I Love Failure

As we design our new network, I’m very focused on learning. I’m reading books, reading blogs, asking friends, piloting ideas on groups where I volunteer, hiring a coach, and discussing challenges with colleagues.

Because we are inventing something new, I also want to learn from what we do. I’m encouraging activities that move our work forward, using structures that have short cycles so we can iterate and continually improve how we collaborate. To learn from and improve on every iteration, we need to instill a habit of reflection with everything we do.

For the last year, we’ve had “work groups.” The first ones didn’t go so well, so when they ended after a few months, I reflected on the challenges they’d had and redesigned for work groups 2.0 This round went much better.

I also requested an explicit reflection conversation at the end the second round, a half-hour conversation with each set of co-conveners. You can see some of their very rich reflections in this earlier post.

There was one surprise bonus I hadn’t expected from these conversations.

Creative Commons License, credit OtakuAnna

 

While I was very pleased with how the groups had gone, it seemed a few co-conveners felt they hadn’t lived up to their commitments. As the conversations began, regret or apologies rolled quickly off of tongues. The tone changed when I asked them to name what they were most proud of, list what had worked well, offer tips for others who would follow, and advise me on how I could better set up leaders.

After they named things like successful webinars, they offered something really valuable: what they had learned. What started out feeling like going to confession turned into contributing to NEWHAB’s success.

Sure, the content of the conversations will make the 3.0 version even more successful. But to my surprise, the most valuable lesson from these conversations is that taking time to learn from whatever happened transforms (perceived) failure into an important contribution to the network. People feel good leaving that conversation. And that’s a good place to begin building a network.