Generating ideas, connections, and action


Learning Lab on Learning Communities (April 23-24, 2009)

LLC hosted a learning lab on learning communities with learning circle partners and others who facilitate learning communities. I had two experiences that enabled me to go deeper with my understanding about how to open up transformative learning and how to manifest the kind of change we desire in the world in our learning community process. A group of eight people used Emergent Learning Mapping to explore the question, "How do we create conditions that open up transformative learning?" We told our own stories of transformative learning and identified insights from our own experiences that we shared with each other. We then came up with hypotheses that we could test in future opportunities we have to facilitate a learning community experience. The learning from the session is captured here. read more »

Einstein and Leadership for a New Era

When someone, in casual conversation, suggested that, “it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure that out” I might have been offended if I were not amused by the irony of his reference to Einstein. We had recently used an Einstein quote in a thought piece called Leadership for a New Era (attached below) written by the Leadership Learning Community (LLC) team. “You cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that was used to create them.” This quote expressed the impetus we felt to ask ourselves and our community a related question, “What in our current consciousness and approaches to leadership development must change if we are to provide the scope and quality of leadership needed to address the significant social inequalities?”

Now here comes the irony part. read more »

Developing Leadership Across Boundaries: Learning from a Foundation-Grantee Learning Community Partnership

Over the past three years the Leadership Learning Community partnered with The California Endowment, and eight grantee organizations to form a learning community on boundary-crossing leadership. The purpose of the initial learning community was to: (1) explore what boundary-crossing leadership is and how it is supported and developed in different contexts; (2) build the capacity of learning community partners to define their desired results and evaluate outcomes (both the grantees and the foundation); (3) form a trusted learning community where partners can learn and share with one another in ways that improve their collective impact; and (4) gather data from participants in partner programs about the impact of participating in the program, and identify what works to cultivate boundary-crossing leadership. read more »

Cost Benefit Analyses for Leadership Programs

LLC asked The Center for Assessment and Policy Development to investigate how leadership programs think about their benefits in relationship to their costs. The purpose of this project was to glean ideas and lessons from three case studies that would be useful to other programs that are considering doing a cost/benefit analysis of their work.
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Leading Edge Promising Practices in Leadership Development

A growing emphasis is being placed on how to support a critical mass of leaders who mobilize their resources to catalyze large-scale sustainable change. With support of the Packard Foundation, and in the context of their Population Leadership Initiative, LLC staff identified and shared promising practices for collective and individual leadership development based on what we have learned through our work during the past 10 years.
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Cultivating Leadership Through Social Change Initiatives

How does leadership get cultivated within a broad social change initiative? This brief describes the variety of ways in which leadership was developed and strengthened within a ten-year Community Clinics Initiative (CCI) in California. While CCI’s experience focuses specifically on the community clinics field, the lessons about leadership are applicable to other large-scale efforts to catalyze social change. This brief is designed to inform grantmakers’ and nonprofit practitioners’ thinking and decision making about how to support and advance leadership among individuals, organizations, networks and the nonprofit sector more broadly. read more »

Building Organizations in a Movement Moment

I just read a fascinating article I thought would be of interest to the Leadership Learning Community. Authors Beth Zemsky and David Mann in their article Building Organizations in a Movement Moment describe how we are in a “movement moment.” This is being demonstrated in the ways that group identities are being reframed, new coalitions and partnerships are forming, connections among issues are being articulated, and there is greater focus on systemic change. So what does this movement moment mean for organizations? According to the authors, there is a blurring of organizational lines in structures, strategies and in how the actual work gets done. The article distinguishes “social change organizations” and “social movement organizations” and suggests that the planning process for each type of organization is radically different. read more »

Resources for Connected Nonprofit Leadership: A Collection of Research

For the past five months, Impact Brokers-a cooperative of nonprofits, investors, consultants and community partners coming together to improve our collective capacity to tackle complex social challenges-has had a presense here on the Leadership Learning Community blog. We've thoroughly enjoyed using this space as a means of reflecting on our work and related issues like the value of networks for nonprofits and their constituents, the meaning of shared leadership and leadership as a process, and the pros and cons of nonprofit culture. We hope these blog posts have had some value for others interested in the same topics. As a more tangible offerring, Impact Brokers is sharing the attached document for your reading pleasure. It is a collection of more than 20 research items and readings that make up the basis for Impact Brokers activities. It includes links and abstracts of titles in three main sections: read more »

Network for Change


I once worked for a nonprofit designing treatment programs for inmates in correctional facilities. My mentors there taught me that a good leader surrounds herself with people who have strengths she does not so that the leader’s team is ready to deal with as many potentialities as possible. I believe this is the same thinking behind the advice to be mission focused, not focused on the organization. What good does it do the organizations in Impact Brokers to be stable, salient, long standing, etc, if that doesn’t translate into: less homeless women and children; more volunteers for local non profits; healthier youth? read more »

Yes we can! ....But how? *

* the election-specific responses are the personal opinions of Deborah Meehan and not of the Leadership Learning Community or The Tides Center (the 501c3 charity, which is by definition non-partisan). I found myself completely swept up in the election fervor this year. It was contagious and I know where I caught it, my daughters! I was curious, hopeful and undecided over a year ago when my daughter talked me into attending an Obama rally in San Francisco. I was immediately hooked. read more »