No Limit to the Size of a Meeting and Consensus Too!

Collective Impact is a model that means inclusion of all stakeholders that are relevant to the topic at hand and it means getting everyone into the conversation and getting tangible outcomes too. I have had the opportunity to work with CoVision on creating mulit-stakeholder conversations that are both engaging and insightful. Now we bring this combined ability to design highly creative meetings with concrete outcomes for any number of large scale meetings. Click on the link below and you will find the outline of our approach to support Collective Impact, cross-organizational initiatives, government entities and others.
Contact me if you want to know more!

No Limit to the Size of the Meeting

A Report on Creating A Nurturing Community with Collective Impact

The community of Coos Bay, Oregon was inspired by a well-known educator, Dr. Stephen Bavolek who when working with community leaders challenged them to create a social environment as beautiful as the natural environment. The Oregon coast is indeed an inspiring rural place and it has many social challenges and yet the spirit of the place is quite amazing. A group of leaders launched a strategic planning process, that I facilitated, and it led to increasing levels of engagement with a commitment to move forward using the Collective Impact model from Strive Together initiative launched in Cincinnati to support cradle to career education.

Click the link below to download The Nurturing Community Coalition Strategic Framework for Positive Community Change and a Plan for Moving Forward.
Contact me if you want to engage your community in a similar effort!


FINAL Strategic Framework-Implementation Plan v.2 (5-27-2014)

Seeing Possibility in Change

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Have you ever suffered from loss, regret, remorse?  Has it ever sent you into a spin, or a depression, and you wondered if you would ever pull out of the nose dive?  You know, maybe one lost sale, one screw-up at work, a failed exam, a broken relationship, a bad financial decision and you think that defines you and all of your life.  And on a larger scale, we tell community stories, you know the loss of timber and fishing and jobs and declining economy and domestic violence and drug abuse and teen pregnancy…OK the list goes on and you get the idea.  But here’s the deal, all of that can change when we pull ourselves out of our individual and collective nose dive and begin to feel new inklings of hope.

I don’t want to get all woo-woo on you but it turns out there has been a ton of research in the field of positive psychology.  Martin Seligman, Ph.D. professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, past president of the American Psychological Association, founder of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the book, Learned Optimism; How to Change Your Mind and Your Life provides research findings that do indeed show that we can unlearn how we think about ourselves and get out of “learned helplessness” and move into “learned optimism”.

He has concluded after years of research that “the human trait of resilience in the face of defeat need not remain a mystery.  It is not an inborn trait; it can be acquired.”   He said that often when we experience a failure, we tend to generalize and feel that we are a failure in all aspects of our life and this sense of failure becomes pervasive.  We can feel that we are a failure in all that we do, nothing is working and all is lost.  But what if, we did not “snowball” it and we did not see everything as dysfunctional?

Dr. Seligman outlines how our thoughts create our feelings which then we make up stories we tell ourselves and they begin to shape our lives.  But if we think new thoughts, we can generate feelings of hope and even gratitude for a learning opportunity and this leads to imagining new possibilities and creating new stories.   What if we could live in possibility and gratitude for everything?  I know how hard that can be, but what if we could find something to be grateful for, even the smallest things?   This first step would enable us to begin to shift how we see the world, and put us on the path of imagining new possibilities and changing events in our lives, in our organizations and our community.

David Cooperrider, Ph.D., creator of Appreciative Inquiry at Case Western University outlines a philosophy and methodology for how people and organizations can make the shift from identifying how things that are not working and identifying all the things that should be fixed to identifying things that are  working and how to do more of that.  He outlines how even dysfunctional systems something(s) is/are working and that our job is to discover the positive core and grow it.  Appreciative Inquiry is based on the notion that as we discover the strengths in a system or person, and nurture them, they will grow and that over time when strengths are combined with strengths, they do more than perform; they transform.

Now imagine how you can shift your focus to what you do want (seeing the things that are working) rather than what you don’t want (seeing the things that are not working).  Next imagine joining with others who want positive change to happen in your organization and in your community; and then imagine how amazing a collective vision for a positive future might be!  This is not Polly Anna thinking or uniformed optimism, this is practical possibility and why not?  We could just as easily think a negative thought as we could think a positive thought; we could just as easily give a compliment as we could give a criticism.  (Don’t think I don’t slip on this one too, but if I continue to get back on track with the intention of seeing the world differently, I know I can bring new possibilities it into reality.) I know that without inspiration, positive change is not possible and who wants to live a life that is not vital and alive?

There is a part you can play in your own world and in the community to make the shift a reality.  You can be a positive force simply by smiling and saying “Good Morning” and finding ways that  bring out the best in those that cross your path.  As a leader in an organization, you can identify the strengths in your teams and lead in new directions.
If you want to learn tools and techniques for making the shift from “problem solving” to “solution finding” in your own life and in your organizational life, I invite you to attend the upcoming Shift Happens workshop on April 12th sponsored by the Small Business Development Center.  Give them a call to register; 541-756-6866.

 

Learning the Art of Leadership and Followership Through Nature

This video of starling murmurings is so inspiring; they fly at the same speed, always turn to the center and stay equal distance apart.  They change patterns and still stay connected, flying fifty times faster together then separately with constant changing direction with organic and flexible leadership…there’s a concept!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eakKfY5aHmY

Empathy is the Key to Connection

Effective and meaningful consulting and coaching requires connection and this happens when we empathize with another. Brene Brown provides a fun and insightful look at the difference between sympathy, which separates us and empathy which connects us. I hope you will take a minute or two to watch this short video, it reminders us how to be present with others and that we are all interconnected if we allow ourselves to feel what another is feeling.

Stay tuned….I will be posting more resources that support positive change! http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=4646

Sent from my iPad

When We Don’t Have the Answers

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From My Column “What if…..”  January 25, 2014 7:00 am  •  Deborah Maher,

Have you ever noticed that the contestants on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” can ask others for help and that quite often the most helpful and reliable source is the audience? The wisdom of the group demonstrates that contestants consistently get more right recommendations from the audience because the wisdom of the whole is better than the talents and abilities of just one person working alone to solve a problem.

Scott Page, Ph.D. author of the book “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Society,” has done a ton of work on the value of cognitive diversity, showing that random collections of intelligent problem-solvers can outperform collections of the best problem solvers of only one type.

Cognitive diversity comes from our DNA, background, and life experiences, and according to Page we all have different toolboxes that, when combined, enable solution-finders to create novel breakthroughs.

Of the key messages that can be taken from Page is that gaining input from diverse citizens, employees, team members and classmates when working on projects of common concern leads to greater than expected outcomes.

Individuals must strive to be their best but it is not done in a vacuum, it is done in relationship to those around us in our everyday life. Life is a team sport and we see examples of this all around us. We increasingly see the value of team accomplishments. Just look at how the Nobel Prize has evolved. Now instead of the prize going to one scientist, it goes to a team. Even when an actor is accepting an Academy award they acknowledge they did not do it alone. None of us can do it alone. We are living in a time a change where we can no longer rely on the “hero” who will save us.

The difficulty is that it is often hard to ask for help, for a number of reasons. But one that really stands out is the fear of appearing vulnerable. Somehow, we have come to believe that we must have all of the answers and if we don’t, then we are not good enough, smart enough, strong enough or worthy. These are universal fears and now, with the ever-increasing complexity we see around us, the world is calling for us to collaborate and find people with strengths that balance our strengths for the good of the whole.

Being open to ideas different than our own can be difficult because it may cause us to change, shift a perspective or even relinquish some perceived power. However, if we are open to new ideas, inputs and viewpoints, we may find our greatest insights; our “a-ha” moments.

And maybe if we are open, we might even say, “I never thought about it that way!”

The shift begins with willingness; the simple act of being willing to see different viewpoints can lead to unexpected possibilities.

Bell Hooks encourages us to go beyond our fears in her book “Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope,”  as she tells us that our “Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”

Effective leaders are conveners who demonstrate a willingness to be open to a range of perspectives and are comfortable with not having all of the answers. They understand the importance of posing the right questions. They are inclusive, welcome new ideas and are willing to act on them.

In times of change, we must turn to each other and chart a new path together because we are going to a place we have not been before.

I wonder when you have had the opportunity to work with an inclusive leader and have experienced the power of diversity in creating a solution to a challenging problem. Drop me a line and tell me that story; what was the situation, what types of diverse people were involved, what happened?

It would be great to hear local stories of success. Thanks for your contribution!

Deborah Maher, President DFM Consulting Inc., specializes in positive organization change and leadership coaching. She is teaching a series on Positive Change at SWOCC and is currently a commissioner on the Bandon Planning Commission. You can email Maher at news@theworldlink.com.