Saturday, November 15, 2014

A parody commercial about my work from my son & other updates

Have you been curious about what the jargon I use in my work actually means? My son made a video that both pokes fun at that jargon and also translates it into normal language. I thought you might like it.

I hope to do more philosotating and using fancy diagrams with you!

I want to take my work less seriously and work less compulsively. I appreciate my son's help with that, and also welcome yours!

- Michael Bischoff

P.S. Here are the serious, save-the-world things I'm doing this fall:

Helping facilitate the: 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Shyness & facilitating connections between others

I'm shy and introverted, yet I spend much of my time facilitating connections between other people. What's up with that?

Earlier this month, I organized and co-facilitated a bunch of large events. During one of them, a room full of people were enthusiastically networking, as a part of an event to match nonprofits with pro bono consultants. In the middle of this event, I went out in the hallway and questioned my sanity. Being in a room full of people mingling is one of my images of torture. I was one of the people who had the idea for the event and made it happen.

When a colleague and I came up with the idea for this activity, I was energized by the conversation and the idea of a creative way to address an unmet need. I enjoyed getting other partners on board with the idea. And as tiring as mingling can be for me, building a broad and diverse network of people I work with is important to me. I find that acting as a facilitator pushes me out of my introverted tendencies in ways that are quite useful for me, and my tendencies to step back, listen and notice things seems helpful for others. Heck, I even met my wife when I was organizing and facilitating a workshop.

But what the painful moment in the hallway reminded me was that I don't just want to facilitate broad and shallow networking. I want to focus my facilitation work on deep, long-term, transformative relationships and action. I'd like to invite you to the retreat and "deep dive" that are listed below. They are both designed, in different ways, to make space for deep and generative connections--connections to sources of wisdom, connections with others, and connections to bold leadership.

Leading from Source Retreat

August 13
Victoria, MN

I invite you to spend a day in a beautiful place listening for, expressing, and practicing what it means to "Lead from Source." There is a way of leading that trusts that an invisible source, much larger than our own will and limiting perspectives, is seeking to work through us individually and together...
Find out more

Leading Innovation Deep Dive Workshop

September 15-16
Minneapolis, MN 

Are you working with a diverse network of people to solve complex social challenges? Would you like to be?
We invite you to learn and practice an approach to collective innovation that is collaborative, experimental, and committed to transformative results.
Find out more


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spend a day in retreat with me?

One of my favorite natural place near the Twin Cities is the area around Carver Park Reserve, with a mix of forest, prairies, gentle hills, and lakes. I'd like to invite you to spend a day with me and some friends at a retreat there, listening for what it means for each of us to lead from our deepest sources of strength and guidance. We'll spend some time in storytelling, in nature, moving around, with music and in conversation.

Leading from Source Retreat
Wednesday, August 13, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

What is Leading from Source?

There is a way of leading that trusts that an invisible source, much larger than our own will and limiting perspectives, is seeking to work through us individually and together. This source moves toward wholeness and is actively seeking to be in relationship with us. Through stillness, discernment, and reflective action it is possible to move in close connection with this source--in business, in social change, and personally. We call this kind of leadership, "leading from the source" because it is a choice to investigate and operate from the deepest sources for inspired and effective action. Many of us are drawn to this way of listening and leading in the midst of complex, diverse settings and challenges--and we hunger to do it with more integrity and in more connection with others on this path.

Find out more and sign up

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How to be a leader in your field

What does it take to move from fighting for your piece of scarce resources to boldly helping everyone who shares your goals succeed? 

I've had the honor of consulting with the FATHER Project at Goodwill/Easter Seals for the past 4 years, facilitating strategic planning, evaluation, communication, and helping set up systems for expansion. The FATHER Project continues to grow as a leader in the state and national fatherhood field. Here is some of what I've learned from them about how to be a leader in your field: 
A FATHER Project community outreach team

  1. Help your competitors succeed: The FATHER Project partners with dozens of other organizations who serve low-income fathers, doing collaborative fundraising, with a focus on building a movement to support fathers, not just to expand programs.  
  2. Think big and bold: Last year, the FATHER Project went from one location to six locations throughout Minnesota. In the next three years, they plan to partner with other organizations to serve all regions in Minnesota. The big visions have attracted many partners and substantial funding.
  3. Engage leaders from large systems and among those you serve: The FATHER Project has intentionally developed mutually beneficial relationships with local, state, and national leaders in Child Support, Employment Services, Early Childhood, and many other fields. At the same time, the program has developed a leadership track for the fathers who receive services. Now a large team of powerful former program participants do public speaking, community outreach, mentoring of other participants, and more.
  4. Cultivate and connect champions for your mission: Earlier this week, the FATHER Project brought together 100 of its staff, partners, participants, and government leaders to connect with each other and build a common vision of fatherhood in Minnesota. Each of these leaders is supported to be a champion and entrepreneur for this vision in their own area of influence.
  5. Measure the long-term impact of your work: Many forms of evaluation are a top priority for the program, including a multi-year random-assignment study that started this year. A return on investment study by the Wilder Foundation showed a long-term financial return of $3.41 for every dollar invested in the program.
  6. Do what you say you're going to do: In 2008, we completed a strategic plan that included expanding to new cultural communities and new locations in Minnesota. Unlike many organizations, the FATHER Project was disciplined and rigorous in their implementation, and have accomplished almost all of their goals.
 I'm increasingly passionate about facilitating networks of many organizations that are finding new ways of collaborating to achieve common goals. Let me know how I can support you to be a leader in your field.