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.

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.

11 June 2014

Wearing Two Hats

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Collaboration, Leadership

Setting the Context for Collaboration

In working on a new field guide for collaborative networks with the Garfield Foundation, I have been exploring the capacities that are important to model and encourage among participants in the early stages of developing a collaborative initiative.  A key one is to encourage people to hold a dual responsibility to their organization and the larger field/system, i.e., to wear two hats.

08 May 2014

The Better Alternative Not on the Table

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Collaboration, Creativity & Innovation

Last fall, I was driving and heard a snippet of a news story that has stayed with me. I was listening to a reporter in Syria talking about the opinions of “people on the street” in Damascus amidst this civil war. She said that they are faced with the choice of the brutal dictator Assad and opposition forces that could be equally repressive and violent. They have a choice and most do not want either option.

17 April 2014

The Art of Participatory Leadership

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Facilitation, Leadership

Reflections from the Art of Participatory Leadership Gathering April 2014 in Saco, Maine

I had the opportunity to participate in a gathering called The Art of Participatory Leadership, which is defined as "an intensive 3-day event where you experience and practice a set of simple, yet powerful, processes for building community, facilitating powerful conversations, building strong partnerships, and leading change." While I have experienced several of the approaches before, such as World Café, what I discovered was that when a group is together for several days in this kind of generative space there is a fundamentally different quality and impact of the experience. In contrast, the typical way that meetings are structured (e.g., a tight agenda focused on efficiently reaching desired outcomes) feels like a constraining straightjacket in terms of how much creativity, connection and innovation is actually possible within any group.

15 April 2014

Invest in the Field

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Leadership, Networks

One of the potential benefits of working in a network is the capacity to learn together quicker. Harold Jarche calls this “social learning” – the idea that learning and work happen as interconnected groups (e.g., networks.) In times of rapid change, we need information and feedback about innovations and what works and doesn’t to flow easily and quickly. When many people are connected together in bigger networks, the potential for this learning  and sharing amplifies. For this to work, it takes people adopting an ethic of sharing their learning, essentially investing in the field.

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