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

Collective Impact at a Community Scale: United Way of Greater New Bedford

United Way organizations around the country are reinventing the role they play in their communities from their traditional role of fundraising for social service agencies through workplace campaigns. As this paper, Charting a Course for Change describes, United Ways are serving as a community convener, engaging local partners (e.g., residents, businesses, local government, social service… Read more

The Multi-Dimensional Benefits of a World Café

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 concerns: World Café had… 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

Setting the Table for a Great Meeting

A key part of our work at New Directions is collaborating with our clients to design agendas that lead to great meetings. Developing strategic clarity is the foundation of the fine art of agenda design. Getting to this strategic clarity is an iterative process best done in conversation. As I save and rename an agenda… Read more

Energy Smart Transportation Initiative

What does it take to make the transportation sector more energy efficient? The State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) sponsored the Colorado Energy Smart Transportation Initiative to explore this question. New Directions Collaborative, in collaboration with Sonia Hamel of Hamel Environmental Consulting and Pat Field of the Consensus Building Institute, helped to facilitate a cross-agency collaborative… Read more

Five Tips for Care and Feeding of Networks

In a recent strategy project with a cross-sector network working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we explored what it takes to coordinate collective action and to capture the full potential of the interconnections within the network. Facilitating goal-oriented teams is fairly straightforward; however, even more value can be created for each participant and the network… Read more

Amplify What Works as a Frame in Strategic Planning

“Well, that meeting was not nearly as painful as I expected.” This “ringing endorsement” came from a participant in a strategic planning workshop we co-facilitated for the environmental department of a large corporation. Part of what made this meeting more engaging than most was a focus right at the start on identifying what was working… Read more