The Community We Want

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This presentation is about creating the communities we want by engaging with each other in more authentic conversation. Since all aspects of community are the products of the conversations we as members entertain amongst ourselves, we can transform our communities by changing the tenor of the conversations we hold together. In doing so, we revitalize our ability to learn and work together and our capacity to produce quite different future possibilities.

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The Community We Want : 

Searching for The Place We Can Truly Call Home Christopher Wilson & Associates, Ottawa, 2010 The Community We Want

Soon your community, like many others, will be challenged as never before : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 2 Soon your community, like many others, will be challenged as never before Issues Peak oil & expensive energy supply Climate change & environmental adjustment Supply of quality food & water Security & safety from non-local threats Finding economic prosperity without growth Aging population & decline of skilled workers Social inequity, inadequate healthcare & poverty Ongoing need for technological & social innovation Space to accommodate human & other species

The Issues Are Complex : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 3 The Issues Are Complex Uncertainty is large – the problems and their solutions are not static, they are constantly evolving. Both the goals and the means of how to get there are being learned together. The knowledge, resources (human and financial), and power (authority and mandate) needed to respond to these issues are widely distributed. No one is fully in control.

The Responses Equally So : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 4 The Responses Equally So The responses will require collaborative efforts among people who may hold opposing views and possibly don’t even like each other. Yet to get there, as almost every practitioner and policy maker realizes, we need more opportunities for honest, authentic dialogue. Can we have truly adult discussions about these things? Effective responses will invariably have to mirror the same level of complexity as the problem itself. Each response must be unique. The solutions of other places will be helpful but will not be transportable. Experience is no guarantee of success. Relationships will be key leading to highly networked solutions. Effective responses will also require significant personal, organizational and social learning often through experimentation, prototyping and the piloting of ideas Image Source: Mappa del Potere, Casaleggio Associati, Italy, 2007

Working Together : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 5 Working Together Strangely, in our new global village where we are increasingly connected together through a growing array of technological tools, the ability to work cooperatively is a skill that most of us have failed to cultivate and few are even aware of its necessity. The last half century -- with its emphasis on patriarchal leadership, hierarchical organizations and centralized governments -- has undermined our culture of community, replacing it with a culture of entitlement where we have come to believe that we are incapable of shouldering collective responsibility or doing things together.

A Community is the Product of Learning How to Be Together : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 6 A Community is the Product of Learning How to Be Together

Community is a Conversation Through Different Media : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 7 Community is a Conversation Through Different Media Being together in a community demands we engage each other: to collaborate in common purpose; to share risks and rewards; to discover complementary skills & assets; to build trust; to support each other; and to celebrate our shared progress In so doing our community becomes an interdependent human system that draws its shape from the ongoing dialogue that we hold amongst ourselves. Our history, buildings, economy, infrastructure and culture -- all are artifacts of the conversations we engage in together and the choices that emerge from those conversations

“The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it” - Peter Drucker : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 8 “The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it” - Peter Drucker The present is either desirable or it is not Trying to fix the mistakes of the past only recreates the past in the present and the future Our choices in the present can create new possibilities so that we don’t have to correct the past … but simply live into a new future Present Future Past Past continued

For a Different Future, Change the Conversation : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 9 For a Different Future, Change the Conversation If the present is not desirable, then change the conversation with your neighbours and begin living into that new future. Ask yourselves: How do we want to be together? What possibilities can we imagine for ourselves? What do we need to change in ourselves today to alter our relationships, broaden our understanding, and change our commitments to catalyze that new future? What can we each contribute to bring about the future we desire? This leads to an autopoietic conversation that is less about creating a distant goal as part of some causal chain of events and more about living the prototype of your desired future today If you change today’s conversation with others, then you’ll begin transforming that which it gives rise to

Personal Ownership is Key : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 10 Personal Ownership is Key The first step in transformative change is claiming ownership of the present If you’re not part of the problem, how can you expect to be part of a solution? What transformative leverage can you really hold? Ownership is the decision to become the author of your own future. Ownership is personal. Ask yourselves: How valuable do you plan this cooperative experience being? What do you see as your likely rewards? How much risk / uncertainty are you willing to entertain? How participative do you plan on being? To what extent have you contributed to the status quo? What is the community narrative you tell yourself & others? Ownership is not blame Blame is for armchair spectators not participants or owners Blame is a form of entitlement – someone else is responsible Owners can always choose differently

Nobody’s in Charge : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 11 Nobody’s in Charge If no one’s in charge, then we all are Can you do it alone? If so do it! If not, find people to collaborate with. Explore the possibilities you share with them. Consider what shared values, behaviours and norms you need to be able to work together? These are your principles. Who else do you need to involve? What are the minimum rules you need to be able to work together, to achieve your shared goals while guided by your principles? What information do you need to sustain your mutual trust and be able to adjust to each other’s actions? How will you learn from each other?

How do we begin? : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 12 How do we begin? The best unit of transformation is small groups Bring a few people together in a room the core work is rebuilding social fabric, connectedness & belonging That room & the people in it become the prototype of how you want to be together as a community in the future . How we are with each other reflects the present we have and the future we want The first step to an alternative future is creating a shared sense of possibility. With an authentic conversation about that possibility, we bring the future into the present. Hospitality and civility are key Make sure every voice is heard Questions are more important than answers Foster responsibility with everyone

The 13 Buts … : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 13 The 13 Buts … Why should I be involved? That’s why I pay taxes… ‘They’ won’t let us… We need to get more people to buy-in … We don’t have any funding… There are others already doing this… No one really cares about this anyway… People are just too set in their ways… It’s too late to do anything… Show me where it has worked… I’m not qualified… Where can we find the right leaders… I don't have the energy or resources for that… We need to lobby for new policies & laws…

Together We Can : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 14 Together We Can How do I know who to involve? Those who can make it happen; those who can stop you; those with knowledge to help you; and those who are directly impacted How do I get them to the table? Talk to them, listen to their concerns, learn from them and share what you know If there are lots of stakeholders, how do you involve all of them? By degrees. Have a core group, use task forces and workshops to spread the workload, and be accountable to your community through periodic public reporting and outreach. Be inclusive by default but let people choose where they can commit time & resources. How do you build consensus? Use a process facilitator, listen to each other, find common ground, build consensus phase by phase. Avoid win-lose scenarios such as majority votes and mediation as they undermine future commitment. What happens if you can’t reach consensus? Use a failsafe. Someone will decide or something will happen should consensus elude you. Identify these failsafes upfront & remind people as needed What’s different between negotiated mediation & consensus? Consensus involves face-to-face interactions where participants come together with minimal prior commitments, listen to each other, empathize and learn from one another in an exercise of joint problem solving. Mediation doesn’t allow for learning or the development of relationships and trust

Getting Started : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 15 Getting Started Listen Exchange some personal stories & establish a connection Let each person relate why they might want to participate Let each person give voice to their version of the problem Listen with empathy and with an alertness to the whole that will emerge from your collective perspectives Learn Resist providing answers, making decisions, or rushing into action. Explore how competing but valid truths may be reconciled Let your actions together enrich your understanding. Learn while and from your doing together Share Put your purposes together. Find agreement there and then decide on what to do Spend time on understanding each other -- particularly in your disagreements for that’s where you’ll find your greatest source of innovation

Basic Collaborative Practices : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 16 Basic Collaborative Practices Think through your practice of meeting together, structuring the process w/o structuring the outcomes Your engagement practices should make the whole thing personal. Empowerment is a personal choice: to accept ownership and its responsibilities or not. It leads to shared commitment & joint action. Trust is hard earned but easily lost. Take time to invest in building relationships, mutual confidence & moral contracts, and periodically re-affirm your trustworthiness. Be sure to allocate enough time to define your purpose, principles, people, concepts, structure & processes so that your governance and decision making practices reinforce your ability to work together. In a partnership, you are accountable to many. Use most of your time together for learning -- from each other, from your work together and from its consequences in the community. Develop a common language & get comfortable with the uncertainty of learning while doing. Be clear in your operational practices ensuring there is an appropriate & fair sharing of risk, rewards & workload. Your information practices should satisfy your co-learning needs, the contingent cooperation of your partners & your multiple accountabilities.

Final Thoughts : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 17 Final Thoughts If you want to truly transform your community, then you must be in it for the long haul Err on the side of inclusiveness Be a convenor and facilitator first then a decision maker With each issue its complexity should be mirrored in the number & variety of forums available for community dialogue Learn from your results & the measurement of progress Be sure and invest in the collaboration skills and facilitative leadership within your core group If you’re in the public sector, be willing to be led by the community and resist your temptation to direct the outcome no matter how benign that path may seem Conflict & collaboration go hand in hand. Without your differences being aired, there will be no innovation & nothing will change. Polite collaboration is empty pretence.

Slide 18: 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 18 How we can help: Professional Development Partner Engagement Partner Management Creating Forums for Dialogue Design of forums, workshops, roundtables, or symposia to effectively share knowledge, build relationships of trust and undertake joint learning Action Research

Some Additional Resources : 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 19 Some Additional Resources Peter Block: Community: The Structure of Belonging Transition Town Network David Straus: How to Make Collaboration Work Joanne Romero: The Art of Collaboration Peter Senge: The Necessary Revolution

Slide 20: 

27/11/2010 Christopher Wilson & Associates 20 Contact us Tel: 613-355-6505 Email: info@christopherwilson.ca PO Box 62024 Ottawa, ON K1C7H8

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