Time to Rethink Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a classic method for getting a group to generate ideas. A topic is suggested, people speak up with their ideas and suggestions, and someone writes them down. The technique is so commonly used and assumed to work, I was surprised to learn that research shows this technique is actually not effective. Keith Sawyer,… Read more

Listening that Enables Emerging Possibilities

I recently participated in an on-line course presented by MIT and Otto Scharmer about creating transformative change (amazingly, with about 40,000 other people around the world). The course explores frameworks for how we personally and collectively can address the challenges of our time and change systems that are “creating results nobody wants.” The heart of… Read more

The Meaning in Meetings

A few weeks ago, in the small talk before a meeting started, I was talking with a woman about our respective work. In reference to my work as a facilitator she said, “ugh, I couldn’t stand all those meetings!” I understand her reaction, particularly if you are used to the rather boring and tedious way… Read more

The Better Alternative Not on the Table

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… Read more

The Art of Participatory Leadership

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… Read more

Blueprints for Collaboration from Nature

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… Read more

An Iterative Approach to Network Design and Development

We have recently had the pleasure of working with the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MSGA) as they design a Great Neighborhoods Network. The Alliance’s Great Neighborhoods initiative seeks to build a movement to transform the built environment, creating great places around the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Significant work has been done to create partnerships and goals… Read more

Strategic Questioning and the Art of Network Leadership

In a complex world of interconnected social and environmental challenges, it is increasingly clear that no one organization can solve these alone. A new focus on “collective leadership” is emerging where people collaborate and align their work across organizations and traditional boundaries for greater impact. In this context, we need skills to engage the diversity… Read more