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Deborah Meehan's blog

Is It Time for Xtreme Collaboration 3.0?


Picture1.preview.jpgRecently I was describing “Xtreme Collaboration,” a project that grew out of an Open Space session at one of our national meetings many years ago. The enthusiastic buzz it created left me wondering if it might just be time for the sequel, Xtreme Collaboration Returns or 3.0 depending on your favorite frame.  

 

So first, what was the project?

I pitched the idea during Creating Space (our national meeting) with the prompt: “the Xtreme collaboration session is for people who are willing to explore the possibility that we just may be going about this all wrong.” I had been mulling over the paradox in the non-profit sector, from a niche marketing perspective, that the organizations with whom you have the greatest mission alignment are your competitors.  You have probably heard the widely used metaphor, ‘we are competing for slices of the same pie.’ Given the prevalence of this assumption (and its impact on our behaviors) I became curious about whether anyone had ever tested this assumption and began to consider the possibility that it might not be true.

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Could a Win for the Warriors Be a Small Win for Collectivism?

Warriors

I have not been a basketball fan since the LA Lakers heyday in the 70’s.  
I was disillusioned when they started to sell off different members of the team, seemingly driven by profit more than the team’s cohesion or even performance.  I don’t believe that the bottom line of sports has changed but still, I was captivated by the Warrior’s “Strength in Numbers” slogan and teamwork when I went to a Warrior’s game with “Hella Heart Oakland” for Asian Heritage Night.  A big shout out again for an amazing event to Christi Tran and thanks for getting me back into the game…what a great year for it!




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Leadership and Large-Scale Change: What’s Working and How Do We Know By Claire Reinelt

LLC’s Newest Publication: Leadership and Large Scale Change, Available Now! (Foreword By Deborah Meehan)

We are pleased to share LLC’s latest publication which is a product that included an analysis of current research, more than forty interviews and the findings of a meeting that brought together fifty leadership development funders and evaluators.  This work was supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, American Express, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to learn about evaluation methodologies that are being used to understand the contributions of leadership development to large scale change, share early lessons from research and current leadership work about the kind of leadership needed and how to develop it. We believe the recommendations in this report can help to increase the impact of our individual and combined efforts and encourage you to download this report and share it widely with others who fund, run, and study leadership development.  Over the next several months, we will be featuring the work of contributors to this research.  Our first contribution is from Claire Reinelt, a seasoned and well respected leadership evaluator.

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America Healing Resource List

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Resources and thoughts on the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing Conference. Included is a list of resources shared by the Foundation and from fellow participants.

Resources for Talking about Race: An Imperative for Leadership Development Programs

This past month I had the opportunity to attend the American Healing Conference in Ashville North Carolina sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  There was a pretty amazing line up of folks doing incredible work in Baltimore, Isabel Wilkerson author of the “Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” talked about the importance of knowing the history of the great migration and deeper story of resilience, folks from the Color of Change, BMe, United We Dream, and the Perception Institute shared stories about their work trying to change narratives and the our current reality.  Of course this is just a very modest sample of a rich three days that left me thinking about lots of things; including the role of leadership development in healing and equity. 
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Appreciating Eugene After 8 Years of Service

There are no words to express our gratitude to Eugene Kim but we are going to try…..

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A Fond Farewell To Natalia

It’s not easy to say goodbye to Natalia and those of you who know her understand why.  For months, Natalia has tried to prepare us for this day. Her family is in Orange County and she moved to Los Angeles to be close. Still, we miss her. 

Aside from being very funny and making us laugh, a lot, Natalia is leaving LLC with some impossibly large shoes to fill.  Natalia started with LLC in 2009 as our Marketing and Communications Director.  If since then you have been appreciating our monthly newsletter or webinar series you can thank Natalia.  You may have noticed our new look, the glossy publications and consulting materials…yes, thanks to Natalia.  Our learning community grew from 600 leadership funders, program staff and researchers to a network of over 4,000 people.  Natalia was so successful in helping people understand our consulting services that our business has flourished and then we had a new need, managing complex projects. 

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Early Insights About Leadership Development From the Amazing “Othering and Belonging Conference”

I am a huge fan of john powell and could not resist a conference that brought him together with other legends in social and racial justice like belle hooks, Naomi Klein, Manuel Pastor, Angela Blackwell and Joanna Macy.  I will be digesting the leadership implications of the frameworks, ideas, and statistics that were offered for many months and wanted to take a moment to share some of my early insights.

john powell opened by sharing a framework for understanding the process of ‘othering’ and described three basic separations: the separation from ourselves, from others, and from the earth; all of which deny our basic humanity.   Leadership programs have historically integrated some elements of personal mastery that focus on the realm of ‘self’.  In some programs, the work of ‘self’ may be focused on confidence, discovering one’s personal passions, or the power to influence others.    An increasing number of programs that seek to help individuals build relationships and connection with others, are bringing a different lens to the work someone has to do on their self and in relationship to others.

 

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LLC's Theory of Change and the Network Challenge

Over the past several months, we have been revisiting our Theory of Change as we plan on how to be most strategic in making progress as a small but mighty organization with a pretty lofty goal; changing how people understand what leadership is and how to develop it.  If you follow us, you know we have a point of view about needing to develop more inclusive, networked, and collective leadership.  As you will see in the image below we believe that in order to make progress on entangled complex problems, often referred to as “wicked problems,” we need to get much better at leading and learning together across complex systems.   We also believe that we have been too narrow in looking at leadership as the behavior of an individual without understanding leadership as a process by which many people take action in solving society’s issues.  In fact, we are up against some entrenched ideals about individuals that are deeply embedded in the dominant culture of the US and the ways that we think about leadership.   Clearly, it will take many of us working together to shift our current leadership consciousness, a shift referred to in the diagram below as a meta shift.

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Sneak Preview: Leadership Development and Large Scale Change

Over the past six months, LLC has taken a deep dive into the question of “leadership for what?”  For example, leadership development programs are often designed with the hope that participants will make more progress on tough social issues; like climate change or income disparities; and that the leadership development  support they have provided will have played some part in this progress on what we are referring to as large scale change.  We are challenging ourselves to raise our expectations; that in addition to individual growth and development we can and should understand the contribution of our leadership development work to changes in communities, improved outcomes for a population of people, or even changes in a system. 

The good news is that we have ample opportunity for learning about leadership and large scale change because we are seeing a shift in the desired results of leadership development and even in the results that are being monitored and evaluated.  During a meeting, where LLC brought together fifty funders and evaluators at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in October 2014, participants were asked to map the results they were seeking on a change continuum, pictured below, that indicated the following change levels from left to right: individual, organization, community, network, movement, field, culture, systems, and population level. The post-its above the line reflect desired results and are placed under the appropriate change level headings.  Post-its below the blue line indicate which of the results will be or are currently being measured.  

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