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)

Moving from Anti-Bullying to Positive Community Norms

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As I reflect on this past week, I am struck by a common theme that affirms community well-being.
One is from a fourth grader writing a letter to this newspaper with a message to end bullying;   “….Change bullying to be nice…People are different…it doesn’t matter.  It would be cool to love each other”, and the other was a workshop on Positive Community Norms.   One view from a young student is calling for an end to intimidation and bullying and the other viewpoint lives in the world as if community norms are already positive.

Today, we see anti-bully campaigns pervading our schools especially after so many shootings.  We know that bullying can escalate to gun toting kids who feel they are not seen or heard and worst of all they feel they are not loved and do not belong, in short, they are hurting.  What we have learned from the anti-bullying campaigns is that “hurt people, hurt people”…… And this is true for grown-ups too.  Bullies do not feel seen or heard and feel that they must attack others to assert their place in the world and prevent perceived attacks.   So what is needed to turn this around?  Love!

Yes, I said it; the “L” word; bullying is a call for love!   Perhaps you remember from Sunday School days when you learned that Jesus reminded us, “to love your enemies” and that forgiveness is the surest way to disarm bullies. The way I see it, to stop bullying one must do three things; 1) have self respect, draw personal boundaries and hold your ground ,  2) call it out; name it when you see it,  3) join with others who share values that affirm “being nice”.   It is not OK for someone to intimidate you and attempt to instill fear whether it is the school yard bully, a neighbor, a public figure or a partner.   It is time that we all start turning the tide from negative community norms to positive community norms.  And the good news…it is happening!

Just last week, the Commission on Children and Families Health and Human Services hosted a workshop conducted by Montana State University on creating positive norms.  We learned that the key is to shifting from negative community norms to positive community norms is to challenge assumptions.  Assumptions based on fear, (False Evidence Appearing Real) lead to attacks in all of its various forms ranging from verbal slights, written word or physical threats.  Our assumptions are based on our view of the world and according to Albert Einstein it all starts from one fundamental question, “Is the universe a friendly place?”  If you see it as unfriendly and fearful place, you are ready to attack it before it attacks you, if you see it as friendly place, you expect to see possibility even in the face of serious concerns.

Annamarie McMahill, the researcher from Montana State, made the distinction between having a “fear” and having a “concern” and that a shift occurs when we balance a concern with hope because hope pulls us into a positive future and creates new cultural norms.   When people are open to new possibilities, it means leaving a familiar  and perhaps fearful place (the “known”) and launching in a new direction where we see possibility and where we acknowledge each other’s personhood without diminishing , demeaning or bullying each other.  We all need to belong, to be seen and as Mark Nepo, a leading contemporary philosopher, reminds us;   “As far back as we can remember, people of the oldest tribes, unencumbered by civilization, have been rejoicing in being on this earth together.  Not only can we do this for each other, it is essential.  For as stars need open space to be seen, as waves need shore to crest, as dew needs grass to soak into, our vitality depends on how we exclaim and rejoice, “I See You!”, “I Am Here!”.

My hope is that we grown-ups can find a way to actualize a fourth-grader’s call to “be nice” and to “see each other” even if we have different views of the world.

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.

 

The Present Moment

“Do not consider present time as clock time, but rather as a timeless moment when all are mutually engaged in experiencing an experience, the outcome of which is yet unknown. You’re right there. You’re connected, and you don’t know what’s going to happen, and that’s where the excitement is, and that’s where the spontaneity is, and that’s where the vitality is, and that’s where the joy is, and that’s where happiness is, and that’s the everlasting, never-ending spiral.”

Viola Spolin:  Author and Teacher; Improvisation for the Theater