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

What it Takes to Create Collective Impact – 20 Questions

I recently worked with the Garfield Foundation to design and facilitate a gathering of people who specialize in collaborative networks and systemic approaches to social change. This meeting convened about a dozen experienced practitioners for two days of rich, inspiring, expansive conversations about what it takes to do this work effectively. These insights will inform… 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

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

How to Spur Collective Innovation or Stall It

When physicist David Bohm studied what enabled Einstein and other physicists able to achieve breakthroughs, he discovered that they emerged out of free open conversations where they “exchanged ideas without trying to change the other’s mind and without bitter argument” as described in a Psychology Today article called Awakening Our Collaborative Spirit. They felt free… Read more

Insights on Strategic Questioning

When you teach you learn. I recently taught a workshop on Strategic Questioning at the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government, as part of a Leadership Survival Skills workshop series for New England alumni. For background, Strategic Questioning is a technique of asking open questions that inspire movement and new insights/ideas. Strategic questions are… Read more