Friday, May 31, 2013

From Conversations to Transformation: The Common Key Ingredients

For the past year, I've been honored to be a part of the Social Innovation Lab Leadership Team. We held a Lab earlier this month that investigated the following two questions:
  • What does it take to move from hosting conversations to transforming communities?
  • How do we move from talking to action that makes a difference?
In this Lab, we heard 15 stories from groups that had successfully moved from bringing people together for community conversations to transformative action. From those stories, our group pulled out lessons that could be applied anytime we want to host community conversations in ways that lead to transformative action. My colleague on the Lab Leadership Team, Lecia Grossman, summarized what we learned in these 10 points:
  1. Invite the whole system into the conversation and broaden methods of gathering and inviting for inclusion.
  2. Inclusion – design event so everyone has a voice and engage participants in determining the process.
  3. Make sure to focus on relationships when designing the conversation, not just the goal.
  4. Deep listening – listening without judgment. Not holding your own answers and views as the only answer.
  5. Create a safe space for authentic engagement (energy of conversation, tone, amount of time, design for all voices equal.) And make sure it is understood that discomfort is important.
  6. Balance honesty and openness about differing opinions and worldviews. Start from a place of no winners and no losers.
  7. Create intentional frame for the conversation to take place with a clear purpose and be open to what emerges.
  8. Good questions are key to the conversation – questions that invite differing viewpoints and allow for emergence.
  9. Create urgency for the issue you are discussing. Make sure there is a common goal before acting.
  10. Make sure there are actionable steps that can be easily done shortly after the conversation.
You can find out more about the Lab and other events coming up on our website.