M&M Week 4 Workout: March 6, 2017

We’ll conclude our first set of synthesis and alignment exercises with a repeat of last week’s workout. You’ll need lots of scratch paper and a pen. Have your smartphones ready so that you can photograph and email your work to your partner throughout the workout.

  1. Take one minute to pause and breathe deeply together in silence. (1min)
  2. Do a brief checkin with your partner. (3min)
  3. Warmup: One-Minute Drill (10min)
    1. Take a minute to consider the following: Describe a skill that’s taken you a long time (at least a year) to get good at. What was your learning process like?
    2. Decide who will share first.
    3. Take one minute to share your answer. Your partner should listen quietly and keep strict time. Don’t take notes.
    4. Share the same answer again for one minute. You may refine or add to your answer if you’d like.
    5. The listening partner should take one-minute to reflect back what she or he heard.
    6. Hold up between one to five fingers based on how well the person reflected back what you said, with five being a perfect reflection.
    7. Correct whatever your partner may have misheard. Don’t be afraid to nitpick — nuances are important.
    8. The listening partner should take one more minute to reflect your story back again.
    9. Hold up between one-to-five fingers based on how well the person reflected back what you said.
    10. Switch with your partner, and repeat the exercise.
    11. Quickly debrief the exercise. What did you notice? How did you feel? What did you learn?
  4. Workout: Working iteratively (40min)
    1. We’re going to be do the same iterations exercise we did last week. Don’t worry about perfection. Use this as an opportunity to explore and refine lots of different ideas. Part of the point is to experience progress through multiple, rapid iterations and detaching yourself from previous work.
    2. Review our current shared framework for alignment. Give a score between one (being the worst) and five (being the best) for how effective and useful the framework is right now. Be brutally honest.
    3. Individually, take up to five minutes to create a new framework for “alignment” on your scratch paper. Timebox this exercise. It’s not important for it to be complete or perfect, as you’ll have the opportunity to iterate. Email a photograph of your work to your partner, so that she or he can review it.
    4. Once again, consider the questions above, and evaluate your partner’s framework on a 1-5 scale. Quickly explain the reason for your score.
    5. Physically tear up your work, and recycle it. Don’t skip this step.
    6. Do another iteration for up to five minutes, again sharing and scoring your partner’s work. Do as many iterations as you can (at least three total) until you have about 15-minutes left in your workout.
    7. Quickly debrief the exercise:
      • How did the experience feel?
      • What did you learn?
  5. Checkout: Take a minute to share with your partner how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. (5min)
  6. Each of you should post one brief takeaway as a comment to this post. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive or incredibly detailed. I’d strongly encourage you to share your takeaway immediately after your workout. Make it a point to read (and respond to, if so moved) other people’s takeaways every week.

This week’s homework:

  • Based on your work, once again review and refine our shared framework for “alignment” in our shared Google Doc. We’ll go over this together next Monday at our group checkin.

If you’d like to read the generic cards for the exercises above (which include design thoughts and variations), see:

#workout

M&M Week 3 Workout: February 27, 2017

This week, we will once again exercise our synthesis and alignment muscles, this time with a focus on working iteratively. You’ll need lots of scratch paper and a writing implement of some sort. Have your smartphones ready so that you can photograph and email your work to your partner throughout the workout.

  1. Take one minute to pause and breathe deeply together in silence. (1min)
  2. Do a brief checkin with your partner. (3min)
  3. Warmup: Color / Advance. This warmup was contributed by Alison! (10min)
    1. This is an exercise in storytelling as well as giving / receiving feedback. Don’t be a passive listener. Use it as an opportunity to be playful and interactive.
    2. Take a few minutes individually to think about, “What did you do over the weekend?”
    3. Decide who will share first.
    4. Start sharing your answer.
    5. Your partner should instruct you either to “color” or “advance” whenever it feels appropriate. If she or he says, “Color,” slow down and start going into more detail. If she or he says, “Advance,” move on to the next part of the story. Your partner should offer these instructions at least 3-5 times over the course of a 2-3 minute story.
    6. Switch with your partner, and repeat the exercise.
    7. Quickly debrief the exercise. What did you notice? How did you feel? What did you learn?
  4. Workout: Working iteratively (40min)
    1. Again, we’re going to be exercising our muscles in giving / receiving feedback as well as working iteratively. Expect the first few iterations of this exercise to be bad. Part of the point is to experience progress through multiple, rapid iterations and detaching yourself from previous work.
    2. Review our current shared framework for alignment. Remember, the purpose of this framework is to help us know what we’re all talking about when we’re saying we’re trying to “align the leaders.” Following the framework, consider the following questions:
      • What would it look like for the leaders to be aligned around vision? How aligned are they right now?
      • What would it look like for the leaders to be aligned around values? How aligned are they right now?
    3. Based on your answers, give a score between one (being the worst) and five (being the best) for how effective and useful the framework is right now. Be brutally honest.
    4. Individually, take up to five minutes to create a new framework for “alignment” on your scratch paper. Timebox this exercise. It’s not important for it to be complete or perfect, as you’ll have the opportunity to iterate. Email a photograph of your work to your partner, so that she or he can review it.
    5. Once again, consider the questions above, and evaluate your partner’s framework on a 1-5 scale. Explain the reason for your score.
    6. Physically tear up your work, and recycle it. Don’t skip this step.
    7. Do another iteration for up to five minutes, again sharing and scoring your partner’s work. Do as many iterations as you can (at least three total) until you have about 15-minutes left in your workout.
    8. Quickly debrief the exercise:
      • How did the experience feel?
      • What did you learn?
  5. Checkout: Take a minute to share with your partner how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. (5min)
  6. Each of you should post one brief takeaway as a comment to this post. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive or incredibly detailed. I’d strongly encourage you to share your takeaway immediately after your workout. Make it a point to read (and respond to, if so moved) other people’s takeaways every week.

This week’s homework:

  • Based on your work, once again review and refine our shared framework for “alignment” in our shared Google Doc.

If you’d like to read the generic cards for the exercises above (which include design thoughts and variations), see:

#workout

Bucketing and Synthesis

bucketing

When we’re synthesizing, a lot of what we’re doing is putting things into buckets. The hope is that the buckets help us make sense of things. For this to hold true, we need to make sure we’re using the right buckets for the right reasons… and the right people. Figuring this out is hard and takes lots of tries. For this reason, good synthesis usually includes lots of iterations where different bucketing schemes are validated with the people who will use them. Bad synthesis usually stops at one or a few iterations, with little to no testing.

One important thing to remember about bucketing is that there doesn’t have to be just one scheme for everything. Different bucketing schemes might work better in different circumstances. Be conscious of the different levels and intentions.

#design

M&M Week 2 Workout: February 21, 2017

This week, we will once again exercise our synthesis and alignment muscles, this time on the word, “framework.”

  1. Take one minute to pause and breathe deeply together in silence. You’ll be starting each of your workouts off this way. (1min)
  2. Do a brief checkin with your partner. (3min)
  3. Warmup: One-Minute Drill (10min)
    1. Take a minute to think about the quality you most admire in Eden as a colleague. Eden, you can answer the question for Ide. Kristin, you an answer the question for anyone you’d like to choose.
    2. Decide who will share first.
    3. Take one minute to share your answer. Your partner should listen quietly and keep strict time. Don’t take notes.
    4. Share the same answer again for one minute. You may refine or add to your answer if you’d like.
    5. The listening partner should take one-minute to reflect back what she or he heard.
    6. Hold up between one to five fingers based on how well the person reflected back what you said, with five being a perfect reflection.
    7. Correct whatever your partner may have misheard. Don’t be afraid to nitpick — nuances are important.
    8. The listening partner should take one more minute to reflect your story back again.
    9. Hold up between one-to-five fingers based on how well the person reflected back what you said.
    10. Switch with your partner, and repeat the exercise.
    11. Quickly debrief the exercise. What did you notice? How did you feel? What did you learn?
  4. Workout: What makes a framework useful? (40min)
    1. This will be similar to last week’s person-on-the-street exercise, but we’re not going to talk to others this week. (You’re always welcome to if you’d like. Take one minute in silence to think about the following: “Describe a framework that you have found valuable in your work or in your life.”
    2. Take five minutes each to share your answers with each other. If you’d like to take notes while your partner talks, you can capture them in the shared Google Doc.
    3. In the Google Doc, take 10-15 minutes to draft an answer based on your personal stories to the following questions:
      • What is a “framework”?
      • What makes a framework useful?
    4. Based on your “framework” framework, revisit the shared framework we developed last week for “alignment.” Discuss whether it meets your criteria, and what you could change to make it more useful. Make note of these in the shared Google Doc, then actually make the changes to the “alignment” framework! (10min)
  5. Checkout: Take a minute to share with your partner how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. (5min)
  6. Each of you should post one brief takeaway as a comment to this post. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive or incredibly detailed. I’d strongly encourage you to share your takeaway immediately after your workout. Make it a point to read (and respond to, if so moved) other people’s takeaways every week.

This week’s homework:

  • As people share their notes from their workouts and this homework, draft and continuously refine a shared (among the whole Miles River team) definition and framework for “framework” in our shared Google Doc — what it means, how to create it, what it looks like when we have it.
  • By Wednesday of next week, our goal is to align around a solid, draft framework for “framework” and to have an improved framework for “alignment”!

If you’d like to read the generic cards for the exercises above (which include design thoughts and variations), see:

#workout

“Knowing how to do this” + Open Space

Wanted to share some followup thoughts from our solid kickoff last Thursday.

First, when it comes to understanding how to have and support a group of any kind or size in working through long-term strategy and culture, I want to ban, “We don’t know how to do this,” from Miles River’s vocabulary and eventually from Wye’s as well. At a high-level, we definitely know how to do it. The devil is in the details, but we can (and will) figure those out.

The main obstacle is commitment. It’s like training for a marathon. We know how to do it at a high-level, but the details will vary. The main thing is recognizing that it’s going to be hard and painful and hopefully enjoyable too. If folks are committed to doing the strategic equivalent of running every day, then they can do it, and they’ll have a high probability of success. Until we all recognize and acknowledge that commitment, we are not going to succeed.

Second, how are we going to pull off this April meeting? First, kudos to Eden for quickly landing on the later date, which buys us two weeks. It’s not a whole lot, but it makes a big difference.

In order to figure out the support time needed to design and facilitate a meeting, I take the number of meeting days (in our case, three) and multiply it by a number between one and three, depending on the complexity of the meeting. So a minimally complex meeting would require six days total (1 x 3 for design time + 3 for the meeting itself, not including followup). A very complex meeting would require 12 days total (3 x 3 for design time + 3 for the meeting itself, again not including followup). This is all per support team member, so the numbers pile up quickly.

There are several assumptions that go into these numbers. First, the meeting itself will be participatory (and awesome). Second, in order for that to happen, the design process should also be participatory. Third, at least half of the design time is spent aligning around goals and success. The more complex the meeting, the harder that is, hence the need for more time. Aligning around clear goals and success requires participant time. Once you have that, the support team has more agency in designing the meeting itself.

Our April meeting will not be minimally complex. You could make a strong argument that it’s actually maximally complex, since it’s meant to be the start of a larger process with lots of unanswered questions and a currently flawed container. I would typically want at least four months to design for such a meeting. We will have about two months… and that’s on top of a whole lot of other work we’ll be doing over the next few months.

So how on earth can we make this work?

If the goals were clearer, we could make the design process less participatory. That’s not our situation, so that’s out.

There’s a fine balance between design and facilitation. A well-designed meeting is less reliant on the skill of the facilitator. If you eliminate design time, you are more reliant on the skill of the facilitator for success. That was our situation for our November meeting. It wasn’t optimal, but you can make it work. We can do this for April, but I’m reluctant to do so, because it’s riskier, it repeats a reactive, rushed pattern we’re trying to break, and it won’t build the capacity of Miles River.

So what’s left?

Open Space. Open Space is optimized for self-organization and emergence. It provides just enough structure to support the participants, but ultimately, they’re responsible for their own success. If they’re good (and we know our participants are), they’ll be successful. The basic design is more or less a template, so it doesn’t require a lot of time to design the days themselves. Facilitation is very light touch as well.

The best Open Space meetings have a strong invitation and at least three days. (Most people make the mistake of constraining their Open Space to one day or even less, which doesn’t leave enough time for shared understanding to develop.) We have three days, and we can use the design time we have to develop a strong invitation.

Because it’s light touch, the participants recognize that they are fully in charge of this ship. Not only does it force them to take responsibility, but when they see that it’s successful, they will be more motivated and empowered to replicate it on their own. Ultimately, we want to break them of this notion that highly skilled facilitators are required for them to be successful. (It always helps, but it shouldn’t be required in every situation.) Open Space will help us do that.

That won’t mean that they won’t be supported. There is an art to facilitating Open Space meetings effectively, and on top of that, we’ll be providing knowledge support. We’ll use artifacts to help facilitate sessions, and we’ll make meaning of those artifacts together at the end of each day. Those artifacts will help the conversations themselves be more productive (see the Tic-Tac-Toe exercise from Thursday), and they will also serve as the basis for sharing what happens with those who couldn’t make it. It will also be great practice opportunities for all of us.

We’ll also create some real-time dashboards to help them see themselves and prioritize. For example, we might put up an Eisenhower Matrix, and at the end of each day, cluster the sessions that happened in the corresponding quadrant. That will help the participants themselves see where they’re spending their time and whether or not they need to make an adjustment.

There’s still some stuff to think through, and enrollment will likely be a challenge, but I think this is the right direction overall. Feedback and pushback encouraged!

#design

M&M Week 1 Workout: February 13, 2017

Hello, Miles River! Our Muscles & Mindsets pair workouts kick off this week. Make sure you have a (preferably standing) one-hour call set up with your workout partner this week. Here is your first workout.

  1. Start your workout by taking one minute to pause and breathe deeply together in silence. You’ll be starting each of your workouts off this way. (1min)
  2. Do a brief checkin with your partner. (3min)
  3. Warmup: Take a minute individually to reflect on what you think of when you hear the word, “alignment.” Write down five words that come up for you when you hear the word, “alignment.” Do it in your own document or on your own paper so that your partner can’t see your words. When you’ve both written down five words, copy them into the appropriate section of our shared workout Google Doc. (5min)
  4. Workout: Person on the Street (50min)
    1. The big question you’ll be answering together is, “What is ‘alignment’?” But we’re going to start with a more personal, experiential question to help us answer this bigger question. Take one minute in silence to think about the following: “Describe a recent personal experience where you felt in strong alignment with someone else. What enabled you to feel that way?”
    2. Take five minutes each to share your answers with each other. If you’d like to take notes while your partner talks, you can capture them in the shared Google Doc.
    3. In the Google Doc, take 10-15 minutes to draft an answer based on your personal stories to: “What is ‘alignment’?”
    4. Identify one person to interview together. It could be a stranger or someone you know. Call them, ask them for five minutes of their time, and ask them the same experiential question as above: “Describe a recent personal experience where you felt in strong alignment with someone else. What enabled you to feel that way?”
    5. Revisit the bigger question about alignment with your partner. Revise your answer based on what you learned from your interview. (10min)
  5. Checkout: Take a minute to share with your partner how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. (5min)
  6. Each of you should post one brief takeaway as a comment to this post. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive or incredibly detailed. I’d strongly encourage you to share your takeaway immediately after your workout. Make it a point to read (and respond to, if so moved) other people’s takeaways every week.

In addition to the pair workouts, we will all do some practice both individually and collectively in the form of weekly homework. We’ll use the shared Google Doc to capture our homework assignments and Slack to discuss them, although I’d strongly encourage sharing thinking as new blog posts here as well. This week’s homework:

  • In addition to the shared person you interviewed with your partner for the workout, each of you should interview one more person for the “person on the street” interview. Capture your notes in the shared Google Doc.
  • As people share their notes from their workouts and this homework, draft and continuously refine a shared (among the whole Miles River team) definition and framework for “alignment” in our shared Google Doc — what it means, how to create it, what it looks like when we have it.
  • By the end of the week, our goal is to align around a solid, draft framework for “alignment”!

If you’d like to read the generic cards for the exercises above (which include design thoughts and variations), see:

#workout

Shifting Quadrants in the Eisenhower Matrix

Jodie likes to frame the work that we’re doing as shifting quadrants in the Eisenhower matrix (popularized by Stephen Covey) from Urgent-Important — where most of our leaders tend to live — to Not Urgent-Important.
eisenhower_matrix
It’s a great frame, not least because our leaders (having been introduced to it at Rockwood) are familiar with it. The goal, ultimately, is not to help shift these individuals, but to also shift their organizations and supporting structures. Without the latter, people are likely to stay stuck in their old habits.

The concerns raised at the last Wye meeting about security and surveillance offer both a great case study and a potential set of experiments. The fear and uncertainty that people feel fall squarely in the Urgent-Important category. Unfortunately, the solution lies in the Not Urgent-Important category. There is no universal checklist that solves people’s concerns about security. You have to look at the problem systemically, and you have to implement solutions collectively.

Here’s what I mean. Several people insisted that all Wye web properties use SSL before we start using them. I actually think that’s a fair thing to ask for, and we’re in the process of implementing it. The more important question, however, is why? Why should we use SSL on our website?

The stock response is, “Security experts told us we should do that.” That’s not a good answer. Perhaps it’s okay for EDs to have that answer, since security policy might fall under someone else’s purview, but at minimum, EDs should be able to concretely name what they’re afraid of and to quantify their concerns.

For example, they might be afraid of the information in the website falling into the “wrong” hands. Whose hands are these? The government? Corporations? Members of conservative organizations? Members of other progressive organizations not participating in Wye?

If that’s the fear, what are the biggest threats? Is it the lack of an encrypted transportation channel? Is it the fact that we have one password for the entire site? (Again, that’s by design.) Is it the fact that anyone can easily copy and email the information to anyone else? Is it the fact that people have the password (and many others) saved unencrypted on their phones, and that they leave their phones lying around all the time for anyone to peek at or steal?

What are the costs of those threats? How much time and resources should people be investing to mitigate them?

Your security policy needs to be part of a larger strategy, and every ED should understand what that strategy is. I’ve been doing some research and talking to some trusted colleagues to find orgs that are doing this well, and good examples are few and far between. Which makes total sense. If the overarching culture is not to spend time in the Not Urgent-Important quadrant, then these strategies never get formed, and people resort to busy-work tactics that might not actually address your problems.

So what can we do about this? First, we need to model. STP needs to do some threat and risk modeling, build an organizational strategy around that, and implement it. Miles River needs to do the same.

Second, we can support experiments around helping other orgs do this.

Finally, I just want to acknowledge that this stuff is really hard. One of those “universal” recipes that every individual should be doing is using a password manager. If you’re not already using a password manager, starting to use one is a pain-in-the-ass, and learning how to use one and integrating it into your workflow takes time. Furthermore, simply using a password manager is only a first step. You have to start randomizing your existing passwords as well, which is additional work, and creates new problems. Even this “simplest” of steps results in a not-insignificant change management challenge.

It’s hard work, but we’ve got to start doing it. The muscles for doing it well are the same muscles required to build shared systemic understanding, to do long-term visioning and strategy, and to constantly learn and adapt.

#design

Managing the Panic Moment

I’ve been reflecting on the design process we’ve all been in together and on the unique complexity of this upcoming meeting. I’ve been thinking about how I’ve been handling the complexity, and I’m wondering how you all have been handling it too.

On the one hand, I was heartened by the checkouts from all of you on the Design Team call today, and how a number of you expressed confidence. On the other hand, I know that it’s been a rocky, intense journey and that the stakes feel very high, especially post-election. These leaders are trusting us to help them manage the complexity of what they’re trying to achieve. That trust is a large burden, and I am so impressed and appreciative of how well you all have been handling it.

As I think I’ve told all of you many times before, there is always a panic moment before these kinds of participatory, emergent meetings. Everyone has them, and it’s totally understandable, because in the absence of certainty, you are reliant on faith. That’s a hard sell, especially when you have limited experience with these types of gatherings — or worse, bad experiences.

Part of the role of a good consultant / facilitator is to guide the participants through that pre-meeting panic moment. But another role is to manage that panic moment yourself, because if you’re being honest with yourself, you should be freaking out also! In fact, if you weren’t freaking out, I would question whether or not you were thinking things through rigorously enough.

I get nervous before every meeting, and I have at least one panic moment as part of every design process. I’ve already had a few for this one. I was talking about this with my sister over dinner tonight, and I said, “Do you know how I manage it?”

She responded, “Yeah, you do that Jack Donaghy thing, right?”

For those of you who are not 30 Rock fans, this is what she is referring to:

I do in fact have a Jack Donaghy-style psych up routine, which is a crucial part of my pre-meeting ritual. But that’s not how I handle the panic moment in the design process. I handle the panic moment in the design process by remembering what I learned from one of my mentors, Gail Taylor:

The success and failure of the meeting does not depend on you. You are simply part of the system, and the whole system is holding the space, not just you.

I want you all to remember this. We are lucky to have a strong team, from Miles River to the Design Team, and that alone gives me comfort about our meeting. But even this group of 11 people is not responsible for the success and failure of the meeting. Everybody in the room is part of the system. Everybody in the room is bringing their own special wisdom and will be helping hold the space.

We design with this assumption in mind. We trust the intelligence of the participants. Most importantly, we trust in the strength of our relationships, which creates resiliency. Failure is simply part of good process, not something to avoid at all costs.

When I remember this, my panic subsides, and my faith is restored. I hope you all remember this and believe this in your bones, and I hope it helps you too.

#design

What the Heck is a “Container”?!

On our call with @jodie, @idelisse, and @alison yesterday, I raised a design challenge that I was pondering about the makeup of the folks who will be in the room in November (2:1 ratio of Wye members to invited guests). I figured we’d all quickly acknowledge it, say a few words about it, then move on. To my surprise and frustration, we ended up spending the rest of the call on it. Afterward, Alison and I debriefed, which helped me get clearer about what I was trying to say and perhaps why the conversation went the way it did.

Even before the election, we knew that two things would be hard about the upcoming meeting:

  1. Shifting focus and attention away from the short-term and toward the long-term
  2. Having enough of a “process” conversation to ensure success after this meeting

The election results make both of these things harder. Two of our Design Team members have shown leadership with the full Wye group about maintaining focus on the long-term at our meeting. This is not a new stance among Wye, and their alignment around this following the March meeting is the reason why we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing this past year. I feel pretty good about getting the Wye folks somewhat aligned around this before the meeting.

I don’t feel as good about this with the invited guests. They haven’t been part of this group in the past, they don’t have that history, and they are likely coming to the meeting to be with a group of their peers at a time of distress and need, not to help Wye in particular figure out what it wants to be and do in the next year and beyond.

We need to do our best to make sure the guests are clear about what will be happening at the November meeting. Even with that, their tolerance for talking about process more granularly will be lower than everyone else’s for the reasons stated above. That’s the point I was trying to make yesterday.

I think part of the reason our conversation yesterday was so difficult was that we are not on the same page about what a “process” conversation needs to be and why, and what “two-feet in” looks like.

There are two components of a “process” conversation:

  • Roadmap — the mechanics of what will happen, when, and how
  • Container — the “space” and agreed-upon norms in which we’ll have this conversation

Creating a “container” for a face-to-face meeting or for a process that is meeting-oriented is relatively straightforward, because most people have a clear, visceral understanding about the different aspects of the container. The most obvious component is the actual physical space, which people can see and touch.

The harder aspect of container-building has to do with agreements for how the group will behave. These tend to be hard regardless of whether the group is in a face-to-face meeting or not, although in a face-to-face context, it’s more easily understandable and enforceable, because the behavior is transparent to the entire group and there is usually facilitation, which means that the feedback cycles are more or less immediate.

For example, we ran into this challenge with the Future Forward process we did with Ev last year when we discussed the working agreement for transparency at the kickoff meeting for the meeting itself. In theory, that should have been straightforward — the proposed agreement fulfilled the need the participants described — but it was an emotional issue, and we needed to slow down to work it out. Discussing it for the six-month process as a whole was even harder, but because we took the time to work it out when we were all together, we were able to come to agreement fairly quickly are do our work successfully.

These kinds of conversations are laborious, and they suck, but they are necessary, especially for asynchronous processes and especially when they constitute a significant shift in culture for the group. Because of the trust in the room, we could propose something at a high-level and possibly skate by, but as soon as people start experiencing the ramifications, they will start questioning the container.

This exact scenario happened with STP a few months into the experiments process, when Alison and I announced that we were going to make our Facebook group published. We had agreed on this months earlier, but the reality of it triggered a much different response in the moment, and we had to work through it.

If we want our container to be resilient, we need folks in Wye River not only to go along with our suggestions, but to be advocating themselves for them. That means they have to understand them deeply and sit with them.

The specific challenges we’ll have will be around questions of transparency, roles, and permeability. The complexity and abstractness of these challenges was what was making our November design challenging pre-election, but they will be even more challenging now, especially with the high ratio of guests (who won’t have the same context and motivation to be in this more “process-y” conversation) to Wye members. That’s all that I was trying to say yesterday.

Idelisse brought up a good point yesterday that I want to address. Decision-making / governance is another one of those “container” issues that are very challenging to work out. The network principle I abide by to help with this is, “Avoid group decision-making.” You can generally avoid most governance issues when the group is small and trust is high. But the questions we’re wanting to work through around transparency, roles, and permeability are necessary, and we need this core group to be on the same page from the beginning.

#design

North Stars and Stretching the Visioning Rubber Band

Wanted to share a few thoughts about visioning, offer some resources, and make some suggestions.

@idelisse and I talked a few weeks ago about “terminology trauma.” We all have it. Someone uses a word, we have bad experiences with how that word is practiced, and so we flag it and sometimes are even triggered by it. In this case, the word I’m referring to is “visioning.” As always, if Miles River is experiencing terminology trauma about something, it’s a good test case for us, because Wye River will likely have it even worse.

Just to repeat what I said on our November 3 call, I don’t think we should do a visioning exercise at our November meeting. But I want us to build on the exercise we did last March. And if folks approve the POP, then we’ll be doing even more visioning next year. So we need to get very clear about what we’re talking about when we talk about “visioning.”

First and foremost, I’d highly encourage all of you to read (or re-read) my blog post about rubber bands and visioning. We may want to consider sending it as part of our pre-reads.

It’s relevant, because it speaks to why designing our November meeting has been so hard. It’s not simply a matter of tackling topics one-by-one. It’s doing it in a way that folks are experiencing the effect of the rubber band.

(As a sidenote, we may also want to consider bringing rubber bands this year to reinforce the metaphor.)

This morning, Susannah Fox shared a really great example of what a clear vision + North Star looks like.

1920-womens-suffrage-postcard

It reminded me of something Susannah posted a few years ago that also was a great example of a clear vision. Check out the cartoon in this post.

food_allergies_comic

When you have an artifact that represents a clear vision and north star that the group itself arrived at together and own, then it is tremendously powerful and catalyzing. That, ultimately, is where we want to get to with this group next year. As a path to that, I want to take their work from March and start offering possible artifacts that might help them get there.

One way possibly to do this (and Ide, I would love it if you played with this idea) would be to create a physical visioning space in our room in November. What would it look like to physically transform a corner of that space to represent some of the vision that folks put out last March? How might we do it? Would love to hear people’s ideas!

#design