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Superpowers and Kryptonite: Practices for Cultivating a Mindset of Generosity

During Creating Space XI I initiated a design studio session during open space to take up the challenge of developing modules or practices that leadership development programs could use to cultivate a network mindset among the participants of their leadership development programs.  A group of 20 or so assembled over 75 minutes to see what we could develop.  We began by talking about what we meant by a network mindset.  We tried breaking it down into different mindsets, e.g. transparency, decentralized decision making, letting go of control, transparency, trust and generosity.   It was daunting but thankfully, Eugene Kim, LLC’s board chair, suggested that he was confident that this creative group of leadership development practitioners could develop some practices for supporting a mindset shift if we were to take 20 minutes to focus on one of these mindsets, he suggested ‘generosity”.   One of the things we had learned earlier from our design thinking orientation during the first day of the event is that you have to be willing to learn by trying some things out without over imagining you can think and talk your way into the perfect solution.  We quickly moved to our groups to see what we could come up with and we were all pleasantly surprised by the fun ideas that were generated in a short period of time.  In fact, we implemented two of the ideas with the participants at Creating Space. Here are some of the ideas that we surface:

Superpowers and Kryptonite One team came up with the idea that we often have trouble being generous with our expertise and talents because it can be awkward to claim these skills. Conversely we cannot offer our time and help unless we know that what we know will be useful to someone else, which requires that we ask for help and acknowledge challenges or needs, another thing that can be difficult.  The team decided to make it more fun and less charged by calling the things that people had to offer “superpowers” and the things that people need our “kryptonites”.  We asked Creating Space participants to put their superpowers and kryptonite on post-its and place them on our participant board so that through the remainder of our time together participants could visit the board looking for opportunities to share and be generous with their superpowers.

Generosity awards: Our design kits on each table included an abundance of pipe cleaners.  One team had fashioned their pipe cleaners into “generosity awards” and modeled recognizing generosity, a behavior that is often not acknowledge and rewarded in our culture.  Changing mindsets and behaviors means developing new reward systems.  Creating Space participants were encouraged to acknowledge generosity with awards and we saw a number of creative awards surface over the next couple of days, such as a thumbs up made from pipe cleaners along with stars and flowers.

Generosity journals:  Another team suggested generosity journals that would be like gratitude journals that have become popular only these journals would focus on acts of r with greater attention and intention.

Innovation funds:  Another team talked about creating an innovation fund that a group would collectively be responsible for distributing to advance the joint work of multiple organizations.  That would help to cultivate a spirit of generosity because members of the group would have to put their individual interests aside to decide what allocation of funds would be most helpful to the overall purpose and progress of the group.

We are forming a Community of Practice that will work with these and other participants who are interested on developing resources around network strategies and tools over the next few months.  If we could come up with some cool ideas in a little over an hour just imagine what we can do over a few months.  Stay tuned!  If you are interested in joining, please reach out to us.