Navigating Change with Collective Sensemaking

In the news lately, I frequently hear commentators talking about how a particular event or action is unprecedented, such as three hurricanes so close together or the actions this Administration is taking to deregulate quickly. These times call for us to practice ‘collective sensemaking’ to more clearly see what is unfolding and avoid being caught in denial… Read more

Setting Strategy Via a Participatory Approach

While listening to the stories of friends working in a range of institutions, such as public schools, corporations, and non-profits, I hear increasing frustration with how strategy gets determined by a small group “at the top” and rolled down. The people who implement a strategy or new program often do not have a voice to… 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

A Network vs. a Professional Membership Organization

“It’s not just about delivering content to members, it’s about the convening powerto help members discover each other.” – Clay Shirky Continuing our exploration of what it means to use a network mindset in developing organizational strategies, this blog provides some guidance on how a peer to peer network is different than a traditional membership/association structure. Starting… 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

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

The Climate Action Conundrum

Years ago, I was in the audience at a conference of investors and environmentalists listening to a panel of presenters talk about what actions they were pursuing on climate. A speaker from NRDC, who worked in their D.C. office and was all too familiar with the political realities, was talking about their strategy of advocating… Read more