The Core of the Workshop Experience

I’m hearing some folks who couldn’t join the Q&A ask this question:
What parts of the workshop do I need to commit to?
The current schedule / Weekly Cycle for the Shared Ownership workshop is this:
    1. Sunday: Prompt for the week released by 7:30am ET

    2. Monday: Large Group Gathering, likely 12pm ET / 9am PT

    3. Tuesday: Post is due

    4. Wednesday: Learning Group Meeting, 9am ET or 12 ET or 8pm ET (alternate time may be available)

    5. Thursday: Comments are due

    6. Saturday: Reflection Scripts are due

CPA - Shared Ownership Workshop - Weekly Cadence (1)
We’d like everybody to commit to joining the “Learning Group” (five people) meeting times on Wednesdays (choosing the time they can commit to for the 4 weeks of the workshop).
The large group sessions (on Mondays, final time will be determined tomorrow July 22 and shared in a welcome email) are optional.
In other words, we’d love you to join the workshop, if you are committed to showing up and doing the main bodies of work:
  • 1. Writing a post each week
  • 2. Showing up to your learning group meetings ready & eager to learn & grow & develop the posture of shared leadership & change-making
  • 3. Comment on at least 4 other peers work each week
If you are ready to show up and do those three pieces each week — we’d love to have you.
The other parts of the workshop (your reflection script which seals the learning; the large group sessions which help you build relationships across the workshop) are less essential to the core of the workshop experience… though we very much encourage them to get the most out of the experience.
Apply by June 21 at midnight local time.
And to be clear… this workshop is about advancing your own work — whatever project(s) you’re working on right now. The hope is to give you space to write about that work in response to our weekly prompts — and receive (and give) generous feedback.

Do you cancel? Or do you move it online?

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Might this be an opportunity for you to re-imagine the quality and depth possible through better virtual spaces?

  • For me, most of the past 6 years I’ve built my organization while living at home in another city.
  • I’ve also built many of my deepest, most meaningful friendships, and communities online.
  • I’ve joined spirituality groups that only meet online.
  • I’ve started organizing 150+ gatherings online and made them meaningful for participants by using Zoom’s Breakout Rooms features — allowing us to have 1-on-1 networking and small group time.
  • I’ve also been using Zoom for enlisting my friends to help me make some of my hardest decisions, by facilitating virtual Clearness Committees.
  • Meaningful check-ins with friends from around the globe have made life easier in the hard times.

You can relate generously and in profound ways… all online. 

What I really want to tell you is — I think you would be surprised how much depth and quality you can find from the right kind social interaction online.

  • Seth Godin offers some of the most helpful advice. I highly recommend this post, and the Akimbo Workshops:
    • Here are two of the four leaps Seth says we need to make:
    • Leap 2: There’s a difference between asynchronous and synchronous interaction. We know this intuitively in the real world (a letter is different from a phone call) but online, it’s profound. A discussion board isn’t the same as a Zoom call. It turns out that we can create rich and layered conversations with async communication, but we also have to be just a bit more patient.

      Leap 3: More than one person can ‘talk’ at a time. In the real world, that’s impossible. At a table for six, we take turns talking. But in a chat room, we can all talk at the same time. Use it well and you can dramatically increase information exchange. (But if you try to follow all the threads, or you miss what you need, then it’s actually less effective.)

    • It’s possible, with effort, to transform business communications (and schooling) away from the top-down, synchronized, compliance-focused, off-the-record, hierarchical and slow status quo to something significantly more fluid and powerful. But we’ll need to do it on purpose.

 

Here’s what my experience has been:

  • Two years ago, I took the altMBA — a 4 week intensive workshop that was 100% online.
  • What I didn’t expect is that it transformed my perspective on how powerful virtual spaces could be. When the expectations are set for you to do your most important work and to embrace the emotional labor… and dance with your fear, I found myself being more vulnerable with the 3-4 others in my peer learning group. I found myself being more honest and real than I had been with some of my closest friends. My altMBA peers and I were together 3 days a week for 14 hours, so it was a lot of time together… but we also shipped 3 projects each week, commented on each other’s projects and wrote 3 reflections each week. Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 2.36.26 PM
  • We got a LOT of work done together. I learned to give written feedback in a way that just mirrors back what I’m seeing. The every 3 day practice of writing a dozen set of comments taught me to ask better questions. The practice of writing and publishing online my reflection and synthesized learnings from reading other’s comments has led me to take more strategic risks. My peers in the learning groups taught me to create tension in a way that created change. The whole experience showed me that we can create a culture of reciprocity, where everyone actually does give generously, because they see how wonderful and liberating the culture can be.

The problem is, many of us interact online in crappy ways, and so we judge ourselves because some spaces are a bastion of negativity and distraction.

Take the leap. You, too, can create a culture of generosity, deep relating — all online. 

My hope in this time where we increase our social distance and stop our large gatherings, that you might see this moment as an opportunity to leap. An opportunity to take a risk, try something new — and collaboratively create online spaces that build the culture of reciprocity, gift, and mutuality. You can create the kind of culture that we most want to see.

In the next few days, I’m going to share the frameworks and strategies for how the online communities I’ve been part of have completely re-shaped my thinking for what’s possible online.

I hope you’ll join me in taking a leap to try re-thinking the possibilities when you bring the right tools together. With Zoom, Slack other similar tools, I think you may find the transition easier than you thought.

But there are a few critical elements…

Let me know if you’re ready for the leap, I’d love to talk.

I also have a live Q&A, best practices sharing, and more intensive spiritual community workshop that I’m leading coming up.

How to Build Awesome Leadership Teams

Too often, I find myself unclear on what makes great leaders. And how I can help great leaders work well as a team.

This is a big problem for me, especially with the appetite I have to make change. If you’re building an organization, a movement, or care about making change in your school, community, or company, this framework and basics might help clarify your thinking.

Screen Shot 2019-08-22 at 10.25.35 AMThis post is based on my notes from a training I went to at the Ayni Institute last week.

What are the three key steps to building great leadership teams?

  1. Recognize Good Leadership
  2. Find & Enroll Good People
  3. Create Good Team Dynamics

1. How to Recognize Good Leadership

First of all, let’s start with a definition I recently picked up from Ayni Institute, building off of work from Marshall Ganz and the work of Metro IAF.

Leadership = accepting responsibility to create conditions that enable others to achieve purpose in the face of uncertainty.

We’ll come back to this, but I think the elements of (1) accepting responsibility, (2) creating conditions to enable others, and then (3) the focus on achieving purpose in the face of uncertainty are vital starting points.

In some contexts, we are hiring leaders, in other contexts, we’re recruiting and building teams of volunteer leaders.

For both contexts, I think there are 5 key things we should look for:

  1. Deep Motivation.  Do they know why they’re doing what they do? Why this work?  Why do they have this deep, intrinsic motivation? Can they articulate this?
  2. Vision. A sense of what they want / what they believe is possible.  Vision isn’t necessarily the ability to communicate this, but that they have a sense of the way things could be.
  3. Anger / Grief. Do they have a deep emotional connection to the work. The point being it’s not just in their head, but that they feel it in their heart. For example, I have grief about the state of school lunches, because of the daily struggles I face with helping my daughter make healthy eating choices.
  4. Patience and Sense of Humor. While anger / grief are a key component to why somebody is motivated to do the work, it’s also equally important that the person also has patience and a sense of humor, because things take time. There will be a lot of loss for most campaigns that are trying to make meaningful change. We want leaders who will be in it for the long-term.
  5. Accountability. Do they do what they say? One of the most important things you simply cannot train for. Recognizing when people are accountable to what they say is essential. Screen Shot 2019-08-22 at 10.25.54 AM

Since going to this training at Ayni last week, I’ve been seeing these five elements in leaders everywhere — from folks I work with to people I’m trying to recruit. It’s amazing how simple and helpful just having a clear sense of what makes a strong leader. How would you evolve and/or add to this list for your context?

2. Finding and Enrolling Good People

“Who you’re working with precedes what your working on.”

This jarred me when I heard it last week, but the more I think about it, the more it resonates.

It basically asks the simple, but essential question: Who are your people?

  1. Know Your Turf. What’s the geography? Who are the institutions? What’s the landscape you’re working in? Where might you find the kinds of people you’re most looking to work with Do you have a mental picture of the kind of person you’d like to recruit? I’d want the person to be just like so-and-so… because she is X, Y and Z.
  2. Play the Field. Don’t invite everybody to the team. Too often we’re tempted to do this. Set a high bar for who you invite. Do they do real work? Do they accept responsibility? You can try people out by setting low bar commitments. Who can you invite to come to this gathering? What kind of people do they bring? Who do they know? Can they think of a list of people they have good relationships with and how do they describe the work they’ve done together? Really take your time and do your assessment before you invite people to join the team.
  3. Look Behind People. Where do they fit into other things / departments / organizations / communities? You have to ask other people that know them or have worked with them? Try to make real assessments based on results in other contexts. Sometimes it won’t be obvious where to look or who to ask, but take the time to check around & see where they fit.
  4. Proposition Them. You have to ask them to lead with you. This can be the hardest and most important step. You need to make a real, intentional invitation. For this to go well, I’ve found you need to affirm and name what you’ve seen in them. Take the time to write down and share with them what you recognize about their leadership, their motivation, grief, patience, vision, and reputation of being accountable. Simply naming these things for them will be a kind of affirmation and also help them gain perspective on who they are and what you see in them. Then invite them to join you to be part of making this team. Tell them how you want it to be different and while it may be hard, why you believe in it. Also name what might be in it for them. “I want to invite you to this team, because I think this team can support you in this and that way and help you actualize more of your full potential.”

There’s an element of leadership that’s about spiritual awakening — allowing people and inviting people to reflect more deeply on why they’re here — their deeper purpose and mission — and inviting them to live into that more fully.

The idea in a good team is that it allows you to fulfill your full potential.

3. Create Good Team Dynamics

  1. Culture. Early and intentionally setting your culture might be one of the most important things you can do. What does this mean?
    1. Decision-making. How do the decisions get made? Do you use the advice process?  Or what is your process? Even if it’s simple, naming it together is better than not talking about this. Otherwise, the person with the most informal power will set the tone of the culture around decision-making for you.
    2. Rituals and Shared Practice. For us at CPA, we’ve gotten into the habit of quarterly retreats as a staff and making sure we do some improv exercises / games at each retreat as a way to be silly, have fun, and use more creative sides of our brains together. (And because we have a great team member who loves leading improv games.) Another practice is making intentional time to evaluate after each meeting we have. Even if it’s just 5 minutes, we try to make it a practice that we share one feeling word on how we felt the meeting went. We try to draw a few takeaways, lessons, things that could have been improved and ask ourselves: “Did we get the reaction we wanted?” An organizing mentor used to say: “If it’s not worth evaluating, then it’s not worth doing.” In other words, we’re creating a culture of continuous learning.  What are the shared practices that make up your ideal team culture?
    3. Screen Shot 2019-08-22 at 11.30.46 AM

      Find ways to Relationship Build. This is the bedrock of our team culture. Making intentional time to deepen our relationships with one another, and also taking time in our interactions with clients, investors, everybody — to build relationships. So often our culture focuses on the transactional, the tasks that need to get done, the project management to do list, the goals we have to achieve our bigger purpose. However, if we don’t take time for the relational, we miss the opportunity to form a deeper emotional connection that might be essential for the unexpected down the road.

  2. Accountability. What are the processes for holding each other accountable? How do you create space for mutual accountability? Is it team check-ins? Shared reflection on goals? A periodic write-up on the meetings/conversations we had and where our latest thinking is as a result of those? Did we do what we said we’d do on the timeline? If not, what happened? Why?
  3. Training. Doing a training together can be an interesting way to set a standard for the work and in a way be another form of accountability. It offers a great way to combat awkward power dynamics or experience differentials in a group. If everybody goes to the same training, agrees to the new, common set of expectations, then there is a new baseline.
  4. Meetings with Purpose. Ensure your meetings have purpose in a broader arc of what you’re trying to accomplish. Make sure folks know why they’re coming to your meeting, what the purpose is, the intended reaction(s), decisions to be made are ,and that they have all the necessary information / reports in advance so that the time in the meeting isn’t sharing information or something that could have been shared in advance. For example, the IAF “campaign cycle” goes through five stages. Your meetings might have more purpose if you fit them within your broader campaign roadmap:
    1. Relationship Building
    2. Research, Cut the Issue
    3. Strategy
    4. Action
    5. Evaluation

Here’s another example of a Campaign Cycle from Marshall Ganz at Harvard University.

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If you found this helpful, I recommend:

1. Checking out your local community organizing affiliate – with Metro IAF or otherwise

2. Learning more about Marshall Ganz and his online courses / trainings: https://online-learning.harvard.edu/course/leadership-organizing-and-action-leading-change

3. Checking out the offerings of the Ayni Institute and their research on social movements https://ayni.institute/training/

4. From a more business angel, the work of Seth Godin,  his blog, podcast and his Akimbo Workshops. For example here’s a post about how things can be different for your organization & how it starts not at the bottom, but at the foundation.

Or think about joining us at the Community Purchasing Alliance: CPA.coop!

 

Democratizing Economics: I believe

I believe our economics can embody a greater democracy.Screen Shot 2019-02-02 at 11.17.46 AM

I believe our economic institutions can be more democratic and fair.

I believe the plurality of thought in economics would bring great benefit to society.

 

I believe in culture and that our culture is the sum of the ideas floating around inside of it.

We all know it’s much easier to take in others’ ideas than it is to create and share the unique combination of ideas your experiences bring to bear.

Screen Shot 2019-02-02 at 11.28.26 AMI believe we need to be talking more about certain ideas.

I believe George Saunders rightly characterized our media situation with his essay, “Braindead Megaphone”.

 

I believe our most important work is really matters.

I also know how easy it is to be distracted.

I believe that you spending more of your time on your most powerful work will change you.

 

I believe that creating tension is essential to producing work and creating change.

In organizing, we call it an “agitation”.

Agitation is the art of challenging a person to be true to their values, true to self and to act on those values out of their own self-interest. It is the art of pointing out the contradictions between what a person professes and how she or he acts.” ~Gameliel National Training Manual

I also believe new kinds of connection are possible.

New curated cohorts learning together can cement new relationships that move us deeply.

I believe in coaching, good feedback, holding up a mirror, reflecting back to each other what’s most important and what we see.

 

This is the heart of it: Learning to see.

Learning to see inside ourselves.

Learning to see beyond the next turn.

Learning to really see the other. Be with them and help them see themselves.

Is that a gift you are ready to give?

 

I think our economics needs it.

I think our economy needs it.

Will you join me?