New Directions Blog

Creativity, Collaboration, and Networks

This blog shares ideas, stories, and insights about using creativity, collaboration, and networks to promote sustainability. Unless otherwise noted, blogs are written by Beth Tener.

28 August 2014

Blueprints for Collaboration from Nature

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Collaboration, Networks

Network Weaving Based on Ecological Design

As someone who has long been fascinated and inspired by what we can learn by mimicking nature’s patterns, the field of permaculture feels like one I could study and practice for a life time and never run out of more to learn. Permaculture has various definitions, such as the science of resilience or how to design in ways that regenerate nature, i.e., that not only sustain but restore to leave things healthier than when we started.

19 August 2014

Building Interaction and Networking into a Traditional Conference Format

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Facilitation

Most of us know well the traditional conference format of a speaker or panel at the front of the room, rows of chairs, speakers offering prepared remarks with Powerpoint slides, followed by some Q&A with the audience. Interest is growing in ways to organize conferences that enable more interaction, connections, and learning among the participants. As with any innovation, some people are enthused to jump on board and try new techniques, such as Open Space, but they need to find ways to navigate and work with those who are comfortable and satisfied with the “way it is done now.” The good news is that you can integrate these interactive formats within a traditional conference format.

13 August 2014

Open Sourcing Social Change

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Collaboration, Strategy

Most philanthropic work for social change is focused on investing grants in organizations as the unit of getting work done. The challenge is that for many issues and places, multiple foundations and/or government are investing in organizations pursuing disconnected initiatives, leading to silos that don’t talk to each other and competing organizations working in the same space unaware of each other’s work. With competition for funding and each foundation seeking to make its mark, this sets up a dynamic that works against open sharing of information and learning about what works and what has failed.

14 July 2014

Crafting a Value-Add Strategy for a Network or Collective Impact Initiative

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Networks, Strategic Questioning, Strategy

Several clients recently have asked us to help with strategic planning. The more I have worked with networks and cross-sector initiatives, I have seen the limits of the traditional way of thinking about strategy. Typically, a strategy will be for one organization to look out at the world, assess “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats” and devise an action plan for how they will influence change in the world.

30 June 2014

The Multi-Dimensional Benefits of a World Café

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Collaboration, Facilitation

I recently co-facilitated a “taster” to explore a variety of ways of designing meetings to more fully engage the collective intelligence of the group. One of the techniques we explored was the World Café. About half of this group had participated in it before and here were some of their key questions:

  • World Café became the “new thing” to do at conferences. Some experiences were mediocre as there was not a clear reason people were being put into conversation. 
  • While many conversations happen; yet often all the ideas do not get fully captured to take action on.
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