I'm thinking about...
Everyone loves the fruit of the harvest, but not everyone wants to engage in (the often tough) work/mahi that precedes the harvest.
It's the same with collaborations and partnerships.
Folk love to be part of the success story and partake of the collective fruit that comes forth from the generosity, strength and courage of often a few courageous champions who lead the way. But successful collaborations and partnerships only happen because someone was prepared to get uncomfortable and put in the hard mahi for collective benefit.
I've been revisiting Brene Brown's the Gifts of Imperfection and this quote struck me today
"...symptomatic of our cultural fears. We don't want to get uncomfortable. We want a quick and dirty how to list for happiness."
I think this is true for many things - we we do not want to get uncomfortable and we often avoid conflict at all costs - we just want a quick (and dirty!) how to list for achieving an expressed outcome or desire. Complex opportunities need space and time for inquiry and exploration. We frequently observe that experts disagree (as demonstrated through COVID and across the NZ Three Waters discussions).
This got me thinking about three particular areas that are interwoven into the facilitation of complex collaboration workshops that are often uncomfortable and infrequently talked about openly:
Any you want to add to this list?
Keen to explore these through the week. Watch this space...
It's only been a couple of weeks, not months and months, and there is so very much in my world to be thankful for - but, like many others it seems, I've struggled a bit this time round in lockdown.
I was feeling a little low as we went into lockdown (mentally and spiritually), which resulted in my body reacting physically with a nasty skin infection, which led to a level 4 GP virtual consult - then a visit, some very minor surgery and antibiotics. Happy to report - all healed now and feeling fully better, and the sun is shining brightly today 😀
But this was a good lesson for me: to take time to practice self compassion, refill my tank and find ways to feel more connected despite lockdown. Sometimes , I'm a slow learner!!!
So what did I do?
In addition to getting some medical help (I have an absolutely fab GP!!!) - I stopped putting the guilt trip on myself to create and took time to rest and dip into some old & new material. My upcoming gig has a delayed start date due to lockdown, so I had some space (I appreciate it's not as easy for everyone).
So here's a summary of what I've been dipping in to (rather than reading front to back) over the last couple of weeks...I'm a slow reader, so I tend to have a smorgasbord of books, audio books, podcasts and book summaries on Blinkist (an app I love 👍🏼). On reflection this smorgasbord seems to fall into two categories: thought leadership and personal wellbeing.
I've returned to material from four authors that have inspired me and taught me much over the years and in particular over recent months, as I prepare new material for workshops and webinars.
Margaret Heffernan (Entrepreneur, Writer & Keynote Speaker))
Uncharted: How to map the future together was written before the pandemic and published last year - I've been dipping in and out of it since then. Life and the world are unpredictable, we need to learn new skills at all levels to respond differently. Margaret offers some really good thinking as we navigate the future.
In complex environments, efficiency is a hazard, not a help; being robust offers more powerful alternatives. Cathedral projects, developed over centuries, show how much can be achieved in facing the unknown. Being prepared is more creative and more effective than planning. Once you accept that no one knows the future, possibilities proliferate."
This led me to pull out from the bookshelf an older book from MH, Beyond Measure. A book that seems even more relevant in this complex uncertain environment. In fact, as we were processing the NZ Level 4 announcements, I was engaged in the third installment of the 2021 ANZOG/CPI Reimagining Government webinar series "Meaningful Measurement". In his post event Medium article David Murikumthara from CPI identifies three key themes from the webinar, which align well with ideas in MH's book:
Dave Snowden (Author of the Cynefin Framework)
I first came across the Cynefin Framework when I was in the thick of my MBA research. Around the same time Dave visited NZ and I jumped at the opportunity to sign up for his masterclass. Since then I've been following Dave and the Cynefin community's work, as well as integrating the framework into my workshops and approach. The book, Cynefin: Weaving sense-making into the fabric of our world was also published last year and, much like Uncharted, I've been dipping in and out of it.
This year, after releasing the EU Field Guide: Managing complexity (and chaos) in times of Crisis, Dave invited folk to be part of a global group to populate the Cynefin wiki. I put up my hand and after some online training from Dave, joined forces virtually with an eclectic global crowd to get the work done. It's been great to build wider community connections as well as build a deeper understanding of the framework and associated tools.My personal input focused on the Triopticon page - "a formal workshop method that facilitates the interaction between different disciplines, participants, ideas and beliefs, encouraging the sharing of conflicting points of view and thus the analysis and synthesis of elements of disagreement between traditionally diverse fields in order to enhance understanding". This really got me thinking about my work as a facilitator or convener of complex conversations and opportunities - what that looks like and involves.
Returning to the book again I am finding deeper and more meaningful insights, particularly pertaining to complex systems facilitation.
Cynefin means the place of your multiple belongings, a multi-threaded and entangled path that makes you what you are, and continues to change over time. Learning to live with that and to work with it is key to maturity and impact. I haven't always been successful but I have tried. (Dave, from the book (p55))
The need to act in concert, to work together, is key but that working together recognises what, from a complexity science perspective, we would call requisite diversity. We don't want to homogenise but to create coherent heterogeneity, or the ability to come together in common need for common purpose without the loss of what made us distinctive in the first place. (From the Field Guide, p66)
Adam Kahane (Collaboration Guru)
I seem to remember a colleague introducing me to Adam's work over a decade ago. All his books are filled with wisdom born out of real life practical experience. I've learnt much from all of them and on this occasion it was Power and Love: A theory of social change that I pulled off the bookshelf.
I am really looking forward to my pre-ordered copy of his latest book Facilitating Breakthrough: How to remove obstacles, bridge differences, and move forward together arriving.
In order to address our toughest challenges, we must indeed connect, but this is not enough: we must also grow. In other words, we must exercise both love (the drive to unity) and power (the drive to self-realisation). If we choose either love or power, we will get stuck in recreating existing realities, or worse. If we want to create new and better realities - at home, at work, in our communities, in the world - we need to learn how to integrate our love and our power.
Brené Brown (Researcher and Storyteller)
Brené's work has been a constant companion for some time.
Dare to Lead: Brave work, Tough conversations, Whole Hearts is my most gifted book and a must read for all leaders and emerging leaders. The book outlines four skill sets:
Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It’s about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage. The world is desperate for braver leaders. It’s time for all of us to step up.
I'm also re-listening to The Gifts of Imperfection audiobook - this time along with my sister who is in the US and I miss immensely. For me, the hardest part of the pandemic has been this separation from my whānau overseas, so we've been intentional about being creative and 'virtually' hanging out weekly. My sister is my dear friend and also a leadership university professor, so I learn so much from her. We committed to listening and discussing our take-homes together, which brings a new dimension to the listening and learning.
I've also taken the opportunity to catch up on the 2021 EDNZ Conference: Resilience, Reimagining and Recovery Footage (pay wall to access). I didn't make it to this event in June and was delighted to have the opportunity to access some of the recordings. A wealth of knowledge and wisdom shared here. I am struck by the recurring themes of collaboration and working together.
For a few years now, I've been an avid listener to Blinkist - when I'm cooking, walking, cleaning etc. When someone I respect suggests or refers to a book - I download it. Not all books are on the app, but enough are, and I get enough from the summary to decide if the book is for me or not. The app is well worth its annual subscription. A snapshot of my current listening list included in the header picture.
Personal Well Being
Atomic Habits probably needs little introduction and provides a framework based around four "laws":
Centered was recommended by a friend who knows me all too well and saw my stress levels, even before I owned them. I've heard Richard Black speak at a number of events and found this little paperback an easy read that complemented my meditation and yoga practice well.
Flavour was my lockdown birthday gift to myself 😀 I love cooking and this latest edition from Ottolenghi couldn't be more apt for me at this time as I'm working to reduce my meat intake. It's filled with all vegetarian recipes and great Middle Eastern flavours.
And I confess, as well as daily local walks with the dogs, I've also done some Netflix bingeing and just sitting in the garden or the sunniest spot in the house!
As I wrote this I was reminded of how thankful I am for my people - my friends and family, medical practitioners, educators, thought leaders and more. Even in lockdown, they surround me and are with me, giving me courage to keep moving forward.
I pray that wherever you are, you too are surrounded by love and know that you are not alone.
Kia tupato, kia noho haumaru | Take care and stay safe.
Is it all about data?
The future remains uncertain. Any and all models predicting the future are incomplete and subjective.
Yep, we've got a heap more technology and data. But as I heard someone say recently "big data" is a bit like "teenage sex" - lots of promise, until you reach delivery! So whilst there are evident opportunities that we haven't had post previous pandemics - there is also some truth in the comment. Making sense of and meaning from the data is what is needed - but that's really hard when everyone has access to different data sets. This recent HBR article sums it up well - "Digital Transformation is About Talent, Not Technology".
Just like most things, it's less about technology and more about people.
A real risk: Post COVID exhaustion
Our most acute concern should be that the coronavirus pandemic will change very little or nothing at all. That everything changes, but everything stays the same. That is precisely what happened in 2008: We won the war, in the sense that a total economic meltdown was averted, but we lost the peace.
Post COVID exhaustion and anxieties are real. The evidence is all around us.
There have been some good examples of collaboration during the crisis and there will be the customary "hero worship" and some "finger pointing" as we transition out of our homes. In the balances...amongst the opportunities there have been huge losses; mingled with the celebrations, there will be grief and mourning - not everyone has been safe or comfortable or well fed. Here in NZ, without the NGOs and front line service providers rising up, it seems the system would not have coped.
God bless them and all those that have continued to keep the system rolling!
What happens now? Do we just go back to operating in a system that doesn't support collaboration, but requires it? Thinking medium-long term strategy what might be some opportunities? Here are some of my "musings"...
Where are some opportunities?
Collaborative Process for Collective Thinking
Transitioning has to be a deliberative process, steered by collective thinking. Process matters and process has to be centred in people and relationships. We need collaborative processes where all the voices are heard and included. When all the voices are heard - whatever the outcome - it's easier for folk to live with the results, even the ones we disagree with.
Working together we surface the heartbeat of the strategy - everyone owns it and everyone has a responsibility to deliver it. In the end it's all about people and taking time to build deep connections and relationships - whakawhanaungatanga.
No super powers or reliance on hierarchies in this transition phase, please. We need collaborative leaders that empower and facilitate an environment, where solutions emerge - together. Let's invest in this pandemic-inspired emerging leadership muscle. It's a move from the conductor and orchestra approach - to something better aligned to a jazz group. An overriding theme, with riffs and improvisations led organically by a cohesive rhythm felt and enabled through all members in the group, based on mutual respect and trusted relationships.
That means we need confidence in each other, the collective voices and the actions that will emerge out of that trust.
It's time for collaborative strategies - not tweaks at the edges or "shovel ready" projects - but permission and space to develop collaborative regenerative strategies for new futures. It's time to ask the tough questions; to talk about the stuff that matters and bring the variety of voices to the conversation; to think the unthinkable, the out-of-the box stuff that's going to make the difference we collectively yearn for. Incremental changes may bring some improvement, but are unlikely to get us to the "real" opportunities. Adaptive co-design, experimentation and readiness to change will drive us towards the "real" opportunities.
Re-imagining the System
And, that means re-imagining the whole system. It's time to empower the front line service delivery agencies as decision makers - let's not keep getting in their way. The system is designed for stability and is at best clunky, so taking an eco-system perspective in an agile, adaptive way is going to be no mean feat!
But time is of the essence. The opportunities facing us (such as climate change and child poverty) are potentially even bigger than the COVID pandemic. The high risk of post COVID exhaustion may mean a return to the old familiar ways of working and no real change at all. Adaptation has been necessary now and changes in constraints have enabled that, but we still need some longer term major system changes and capability development across sectors to build on what has been started - that's complex and risky, and will require some leadership guts and energy.
It's also going to need intentionality about culture. At the core of most collaboration challenges is a diversity and inclusion agenda - we need all the voices and disciplines. It's important to be open to being challenged and to consider the variety of scenarios.
We're going to need everyone and everything!
We have an unprecedented global opportunity to rekindle hearts and minds - let's not waste it!
Get in touch - Let's talk
So if it's a collaborative approach and strategy that you desire - I'm here to support you.
No silver bullets, just tested collaborative frameworks and approaches that deliver shared value and collective impact.
Copyright ©2020 Nazanin Jenkin Ltd. | www.nazaninjenkin.com | email@example.com | +64 21 478253
We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. Joseph Campbell
We are finding community and connectedness in the midst of lockdown isolation.
On our daily local walk with the dog yesterday, we saw a few folk - not many, as we try to go when it's quiet. Everyone was careful to adjust their route and keep appropriate distances. But, most made an effort to shout out a greeting, smile, nod their head or raise their eyebrows! A recognition of my humanity and yours. A shared moment of connectedness that was meaningful.
There was healing and love in that connection. Everyone is hungry for connection and belonging - always. This is more evident now than ever.
Hubby said, "It feels like the "old" New Zealand" and shared stories of his childhood in the South Island. I shared stories of whānau gatherings in the midst of the curfew of the Iranian Revolution.
We've been married thirty years, yet our moments of connectedness with (mostly) strangers, led us to deeper connection with each other.
I don't think we can emphasise the importance of connectedness and community enough during life's extreme journeys. Chaos, grief, change and times of urgency - when the "burning platform" is close and in our face - are all times when connection becomes critical. Be it in our personal lives or our business world - the need for community, connection and belonging are constant.
We're heading into the third week of lockdown. So let's be intentional about going beyond self and connecting.
Being intentional: Pick up the phone, send a text, message someone, host a virtual gathering - do what you can. I am focusing on service for my clients, hosting virtual small group gatherings for my peers and reaching out to my loved ones - here and across the world. Everyone needs connection: let's be here for each other.
Daily Rhythms: For me, the work day is shorter and more focused. My focus is adding value where I can (often that just means listening) and work projects (my first book and virtual/online delivery options). I am also being intentional about daily exercise, eating well (nailed homemade sourdough!) and finding moments of stillness to reflect and be present. Mostly, I'm out of my comfort zone and it's not easy, but it's rewarding and exciting to practice in new arenas.
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. Joseph Campbell
I read an article from a home detention officer, who said week three can be a hump week. I seem to remember a similar conversation during my son's 8 week isolation of bone marrow transplant.
How are you finding ways to connect and manage your daily rhythm during lockdown? What's helping?
Share it with us in the comments and let your light shine!
I truely believe there are opportunities to thrive. History is full of examples of innovations at time of constraints (e.g. Sir Issac Newton during the Great Plague). In collaborative design - we know innovations are at the margins, rather than BAU but it's likely that BAU as we knew it is the past.
So we need to be Collaborative Futures Thinking - NOW.
Ngā manaakitanga, Nazanin
Copyright ©2020 Nazanin Jenkin Ltd. | www.nazaninjenkin.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | +64 21 478253