Category Archives: non-profit

Promises, Promises: How Collaboration Helps Strangers Meet Goals Part 2

In yesterday’s post, Ben described how the idea of Promise Partners came to him. Today’s post continues with the collaborative design process. Debbie

I used a collaborative process to get from the idea of Promise Partners to the pilot group and here are a few of the things I realizedabout community, collaboration and working with others.

Collaboration Point 1: Share excitement. Many people come up with great ideas that just stay in their minds and don’t make it into reality. I was so excited about this project that I just couldn’t help but share around the office. The more people I shared with the clearer the project became and every step of the way, I inspired someone to take a part in the project. Every person that played a part in designing this project saw the possibility of this program and how excited I was about it. From this I learned that if you are genuinely excited about something and share with the people in your life, surprising connections happen. I noticed the distinct difference in the response I got between the times I was distracted or uninspired and the times where I was empowered and excited. The excitement I embodied and shared involved over 20 people in the design and implementation of the pilot group.

picture by Alphachimp Studio

Collaboration Point 2: Involve people smarter or more experienced than you. To build a program that would bring together strangers and transform them into a community ofpartners, I knew I needed some help. I invited a group of facilitators, coaches, and community development experts to participate on a call to develop the program together. Ironically, I had come in with a certain perspective of how it should be done, but I was committed to listening. To really enable myself to listen, I requested that a friend of mine guide the meeting and be accountable for a consensus. On the call an incredible program was produced that blended coaching, facilitation, and appreciative inquiry. New ideas came up such as using appreciative interviews to look at sustainable change in a person’s life, using the Wheel of Life to identify areas to work on, and a graphic method of displaying promises. All of these areas were brand new, and things that I never would have thought of. On that call, we thought through each of the pieces and developed a possible program from it.

picture by Pat Castaldo

Collaboration Point 3: Find the strengths in the views of others. Nonetheless, I was in an interesting position by listening. I didn’t agree with everything that was in the program or see it as the best way to get the outcome we wanted. My first reaction was to throw out the ideas and go with my own. But, as I looked at what was talked about in that meeting closer, I saw that there was value in every idea that was suggested. If we could tweak to the Wheel of Life to use it as a base for conversation rather than an self-evaluation we would have an excellent start to the conversation. If we used appreciative interviews instead to look at where this area worked well, then we’d have an open exploration that could guide us towards action. And if we did depict the promises visually, it would be very captivating. By looking at each of the ideas suggested and finding the strength at the core of the suggestion, we were able to use them in the best possible way for the program. By coming from a place that the ideas of others are essentially valuable, then the real job was to find the core of truth in that idea that would best contribute to the project.

Tomorrow I’ll post about what we learned during the pilot event.

Ben Wood-Isenberg creates the conditions for positive change that help people and organizations accomplish their hopes and dreams. He is a new addition to Wholonomy Consulting llc, having recently graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Global Studies. Ben has worked with a variety of organizations across the state of Arizona providing training and curriculum development, community building workshops, facilitated community discussions, and system-change processes. In this capacity, Ben utilizes the approaches of Appreciative Inquiry, Technology of Participation, World Café, and Open Space Technology.

How can you collaboratively develop your great ideas?

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Collaborative Agility Case Study

“I think they will hear the message differently if it comes from you,” said my client.

The message she hired me to bring to the leaders in her dispersed healthcare organization — “Effective teamwork can create better results.”

My client is known for living this message herself but at this annual leader retreat she wanted to bring more emphasis to the critical need for her staff to think beyond their location or function to effect the care for patients.

Taking advantage of the premise that the outsider can get away with ideas that insiders can’t, I suggested that we create an interactive format to the retreat where people were working in teams and reflecting on their experience.  This was a significant change over the business-like retreats held in the past and my client wondered aloud  whether her organization would resonate with it or judge the activities to be too game-like.  After all, they all had been quite serious students earning advanced degrees in their specialty.

I could feel my client’s dilemma.  She wanted to spearhead a successful event AND she wanted to ignite some new energy around teamwork.   To her credit, my client decided to jump into the new interactive approach.  The risk she took was a testament to the degree of agility she has as a leader.  She changed an approach for a desired result.  This agility has been labeled,  “Situational Leadership”  by Ken Blanchard and can be further studied in his newest book, Leading At A Higher Level.

Last Wednesday was retreat day.  The assembled group took part in a round robin ice-breaker, “Knot the rope” team exercise and simulations devoted to teaming. The energy in the room was high throughout.  Some of those who my client least expected to be energized by the team-building activities rated the day with high marks.   People typically known to be hesitant in large groups were seen as leading.  Some who usually are out-spoken took leadership from others.  Agility abounded.

When have you purposely placed yourself in a new situation and adapted to it?  When have you delegated a task in order to help someone’s flexibility develop?

Cultures in Harmony

Last night, I was listening to my favorite radio program, From the Top. Here in Phoenix, it’s on KBAQ, every Sunday evening at 7pm and it features the best young classical musicians in the country. The featured story was about William Harvey. His original dream was to be the next Joshua Bell.

His vision changed after playing for the soldiers who had spent an exhausting day clearing away rubble at Ground Zero. He wrote:

At Juilliard, kids are hypercritical of each other and very competitive. The teachers expect, and in most cases get, technical perfection. But this wasn’t about that. The soldiers didn’t care that I had so many memory slips I lost count. They didn’t care that when I forgot how the second movement of the Tchaikovsky went, I had to come up with my own insipid improvisation until I somehow (and I still don’t know how) got to a cadence. I’ve never seen a more appreciative audience, and I’ve never understood so fully what it means to communicate music to other people.

Harvey was struck by the real power of music and went on to found the non-profit Cultures in Harmony. He believes that music can help bring peace to our world.

Cultures in Harmony collaborates with other non-profit organizations, governments, agencies and schools to create projects that bring musicians to other countries such as Moldava, the Philipines, and Egypt. Once there, the musicians collaborate with each other and local musicians on western classical music, music of the country they are visiting and original compositions they create on the spot.

I hope that you will be as inspired I am by this organization. Explore the stories of their projects and the important work they are doing. And on this page you’ll find a list of creative ways you can celebrate their fifth anniversary and help their efforts.

Debbie

Update on Consultant’s Retreat

Community and Collaboration — these are a few of my favorite things. On Tuesday I got great big doses of both by attending the HNK Consultants’ Community retreat.

HNK, which stands for Health in a New Key, is a group of consultants who work with non-profit organizations. It is sponsored by the St. Luke’s Health Initiative and facilitated by Bonnie Wright. The point of the group is to come together and share ideas, tools and best practices.

We started the day with a World Cafe (http://www.theworldcafe.com/) to consider the question “In your experience in building healthy and resilient organizations and communities, what are the essential elements that lead to success?” This was followed by other useful questions that evolved from the first conversations.

My favorite part of the day was a series of speed presentations — only five minutes per speaker!  It’s not easy to convey useful information in an engaging way in such a short time and all of the presenters did a fine job. The presenters and topics were:
  • Elaine Fogel: Your Consultant Brand – Developing Your Brand Personality
  • Karen Ramsey: Identifying Key Leadership Competencies in the Nonprofit Sector
  • Leslie Knowlton: Character
  • Andrea Allen: Community Impact Through Mapping
  • Reuben Sanchez: “That reminds me of a story…”
  • Carolyn A. Holmes: Engaging Leadership Volunteers in Building Organizational Capacity
  • Diana V. Hoyt: The Effective Fundraising Project and Its Impact on Creating Fundraising Strategies
  • Dolores Retana: Cultural Sensitivity in Board Development
  • Steve Weitzenkorn: The Value and Power of Trust. . . and How to Build It
Jack Smith, of http://www.thesociallatte.com, gave a great presentation for us on how to use social media for our businesses. There is a blog post link on his site that covers many of the same details. Jack told us about an interesting website that licenses short instructional videos (http://www.commoncraft.com/twitter-search).

And we ended the day using Open Space technologies (http://www.openspaceworld.org/) to choose questions or topics that we wanted to discuss more. It’s a great way to turn information and good ideas into action.

The annual retreat is planned by a highly collaborative sub-group of HNK members and they did an excellent job. Thanks!