Generating ideas, connections, and action

Deborah Meehan's blog

Design Meetings that Foster Innovation: Learn from a Hands on Peer Assist

Are you a little bit of a facilitation geek?  We are looking for you - anyone who loves the idea of bringing a fresh perspective to the questions of how to design a gathering that engages participants in creative work, e.g. ingenious problem solving or innovative development and prototyping.  

What we are asking:  We are looking for 8-12 people to participate in a peer assist to review and provide feedback to the Leadership Learning Community about the optimal design for this year’s Creating Space gathering, “Tools for Transformation: Supporting Leadership that is Inclusive, Networked and Collective.”   CSXI this year hopes to achieve two ambitious results:

  • A set of practical tools and resources that support breakthroughs in leadership development practice
  • An engaged network to continue innovating and learning around the breakthroughs and their application in creating transformative change

This is our design challenge.
We have been conducting interviews to identify fresh resources and interesting methodologies.  We will engage participants in the peer assist in learning from our own experiences about approaches that support application, working in teams on a mock up design, and offering recommendations about processes and an integrated design that unleashes creativity and makes risk taking fun, even normative.
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A Sneak Peek: What are Leadership Programs Saying about Network Leadership?

As you may know from following our blogs, we are part of a cool research project focused on learning about how to support effective network leadership.  We have great partners; the Interaction Institute for Social Change, June Holley from Network Weaver and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, who is funding our work.  Over the past few months, we have sent a survey to over 450 leadership development and network practitioners to help us learn about challenges, progress, and resources that are being used to build the capacity of:  1.) networks to be more conscious about how to develop leadership in the network; and 2.) leadership programs to better equip their participants to effectively utilize network strategies and tools.  Early findings are supporting the relevance of both of these objectives.

The leadership development practitioners felt strongly about the importance of helping their participants to develop network competency.

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Self-organizing Initiative and Collaboration At Its Best

Creating Space catalyst, June Holley, network weaver extraordinaire and author of the Network Weavers’ Handbook made a very generous offer during her remarks.  In the spirit of the self-organizing initiative she said, “I will help coach the first person to reach out to me for network support.”  Georgia Sorenson pulled out her phone and instantly texted June.  She already had an interesting project in mind that was a collaboration between Georgia and the Leadership Learning Community.

Dr. Georgia Sorenson is the former founding director of the Academy of Leadership.  While she was the director, she received funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to bring together leadership scholars and practitioners from various disciplines and universities for the purpose of building a solid theoretical foundation for leadership studies.  The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has been a leader in the leadership development field funding scholarship and practice.  The Kellogg Leadership Studies Project (KLSP) was launched over 20 years ago (1994-1997).   As part of a presentation for the International Leadership Association’s Annual Conference, Georgia asked LLC if we would be interested in helping her do a Social Network Analysis (SNA) that would map the new collaborative relationships that were developed as a result of this original investment in building new connections among scholars across both disciplines and universities.
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Learning about how to Cultivate Effective Network Leadership: 5 Top Reasons to Take this Short Survey

Our Top 5 Reasons that you should take our 15-minute survey:

  1. Two participants will each win a copy of the Network Weaver’s Handbook
  2. One participant selected from a drawing will win an hour of Network Coaching with June Holley
  3. Everyone who participates will receive a curated list of network leadership resources
  4. You could be recruited to participate in the action research phase of this project with a network coaching team
  5. You will have the undying gratitude of everyone at LLC!

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Supporting Community Entrepreneurship: What’s Money Got to do With It?

This past week I had the opportunity to attend a meeting in Detroit sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation called “Building Networks for Change”, #BNFC13. The meeting explored a number of important themes that included community organizing, advocacy and racial justice. I was excited that one of the site visit was to the Detroit Community Connections Grant Program, a program we have written about in earlier blogs as an innovative approach to leadership development…one worthy of our attention. The Detroit Community Connections Grant Program is administered by Prevention Network and funded by an innovative funding arrangement between The Skillman Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The opportunity to see this program up close only strengthened my conviction and understanding of the unique value of their approach. Social entrepreneurship as a concept has been popularized in the past couple of decades by programs like Ashoka and Echoing Green that focus on young people with new ideas for producing social innovation that are supported to launch programs or projects that often become non-profit organizations. As I visited the Detroit Community Connections Grant Program, I found myself thinking about the idea of community entrepreneurs, people deeply rooted in their communities with neighbors, networks and constituents who are ready to be part of change. 

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Is the Pipeline Metaphor Serving us Well?

We are excited to be writing the story of a program called On the Verge that is developing young leaders in Napa who are launching programs for emancipated youth, LGBTQ youth, young teachers and young parents. Many of these programs are being incubated through an umbrella organization, On The Move (OTM). We approached On the Verge about collaborating on a case study because we were excited about the impact the program was having on schools, neighborhoods, and its success in creating opportunities for young people to lead. Napa has a large Latino population (33%) and yet people of color are significantly underrepresented in leadership positions in business, government and the non-profit sector. On the Verge hopes to change this and has some big dreams about shifting the leadership demographics in Napa over the next ten years.

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Welcome New Philanthropy and Partnerships Manager, Elizabeth Lanyon!

If you have been following LLC’s transition and restructuring series, we have been implanting new strategies these past few months, which come at the recommendation of our board. Our board strongly suggested it was time to try something new to build LLC’s capacity to deliver on some very ambitious goals for 2017 – stay tuned for more info!

 

Earlier this summer, we conducted a successful search for a development staff member. With the support and guidance of CompassPoint, LLC was able to move forward on one of our goals and recruit an amazing Philanthropy and Partnerships Manager. Elizabeth Lanyon was interviewed by the entire LLC team and was a big thumbs up all around. She brings an impressive background in fund development, which we share below. We are impressed with her entrepreneurial spirit, a “can do” enthusiasm, a social change ethos and history of advocating for youth. read more »

Leadership in Networks

I just returned from the Center for Ethical Leadership’s annual Confluence, a meeting that brings a diverse group of people for 2-3 days to explore specific topics.  This years’ Confluence was a meeting on Network Principles in Play that brought together 65 network practitioners who are supporting networks focused on hunger and food insecurity, aging and a number of other issues.  I am still mulling over several questions that emerged for me in the course of conversation and the one that has the most traction of course… is about leadership.
 

I found myself thinking that it may be useful to draw on the parallel distinction between leadership and management that we bring to organizational leadership as we think about the type of leadership needed to help networks innovate and take action.  In her blog post last month, Miriam shared some observations she gleaned from a CompassPoint session on Leadership that explored the difference between management and leadership:

“Management concentrates on the details; what needs to be done now to reach our goal (agenda), the logistics, producing order and systems. Leadership keeps its eye on the larger picture; the mission, visualizing the larger goal (agenda). Success cannot be achieved if you do not have both in our projects.” read more »

Three Promising Lessons from the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health

LLC is always on the lookout for leadership programs that are testing new approaches, especially innovations that are going after big results.  We were excited when we were approached by the Center for Health Leadership and Practice, Public Health Institute to be part of a curriculum team that was helping to develop a new Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded leadership program.  What was most intriguing to us about the program was it's commitment to recruiting multi-sector teams who would receive leadership support as they worked together across their organizations on a community health improvement project.  We also appreciated the programs willingness to experiment with virtual learning platforms, combined with a face to face retreat, and personalized coaching to the teams.  This unique combination supports applied action learning through leadership project coaching, relationship/network building through the retreats and delivery of leadership content and skills development through online modules that help to mitigate the travel costs associated with many leadership delivery strategies.  

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Leadership Development Hiding in Plain Sight: Reflections on Creating Space X


 

In reading the survey responses from our national meeting, Creating Space X in Baltimore this past May, a funny thought crossed my mind.  Aren’t many of the things that people benefited from at CS elements of good leadership development?  A number of participants even talked about replicating some of these methodologies like open space, self-organizing, and the design challenge into their leadership programs.   Here are some examples of some of the major themes and what people said: read more »

  • Diversity: A lot of people talked about the value of connecting with others who share a passion for being change makers and meeting people who are different, “the wonderfully diverse mixture of researchers, consultants, program staff, funders and community organizers.”
     
  • Relationship Building and Peer Learning:  Small group interactions facilitated relationship building and peer exchange, “talking one on one with people about their program models and what they’re working on to exchange ideas and learn from each other.”
     
  • Deep Conversation: A number of people mentioned the importance of time and space for deep conversations, “Inviting people to come into the conversation with openness, without judgment and not forcing an outcome, especially on topics like race.”
     
  • Application to Real Problems/Issues: The design challenge harnessed the group’s creative energy around real time issues and problems and was very popular with survey respondents.  “The Design Challenge is something I have used several times with a lot of success.”
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