Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Monica Manning: Institutional Formation

During my sabbatical, there have been several times when I've been in awe to discover people in the Twin Cities who are already doing deep explorations into the collective spirit of institutions. This week I discovered Monica Manning, who has been partners with higher education institutions to cultivate "institutional formation." I was awed by how similar her focus is to mine. In an earlier interview, Monica said:

"My current focus is looking for evidence of the inner life on an institution: If there is a collective spirit, what might be its manifestations? How do we know it exists? Given my pragmatic bent, how do we nurture it and draw on it to support the vocation of the institution and the individual vocations of its members?"

Here are some video clips from my conversation with Monica:

"You can measure the worth of an organization by the number of lies you have to tell to belong to it."

We don't think about institutions; we think about ourselves as individuals; We talk a lot about leadership... but we don't talk about membership

What is institutional formation? What is the institution being called by the world to be?

A story of institutional formation at a community college

If people can find what is good in the organization, they are better able to enter into exploring its darkness.

When people are is easy to feel the institutions aren't that important, even though we take advantage of them all the time

1 comment:

Michael Bischoff said...

In a discussion about this post in another place, someone expressed their discomfort with the idea that some lying is OK within an organization (which is implied in the first video in this blog post).

Here are some of my thoughts about that:

I also don't like the idea of saying that lies are OK sometimes. At the same time, I think of truth telling as a spectrum--that we are rarely completely grounded in truth--but we can always be moving towards truth.

A while ago I heard an interview with this author ( The way he talks about "covering" is another way that I find helpful in thinking about how much we are telling the truth in any particular organization.