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    Brooking 10:07 pm on April 16, 2014 Permalink |  

    Hi all – very interesting talk tonight w/ JOhn Thackara @HUB Oakland at 7 for those interested:
    “We badly need change. Change labs are springing up around the world. Mission accomplished? Not so fast. Although building prototypes is exciting, and launching a start-up is a buzz, transforming a system is something else again. Are we confusing frantic activity with the achievement of meaningful change? Does churning out start-ups address the symptoms, but not the lasting root causes, of the challenges we face?…. Can we afford a philosophy of change that undervalues time, context, and trust? ”

    Conversation to follow, moderated by David McConville, Chairman of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, about the relationship between change labs, individual agency, and system transformation.

    John Thackara is director of Doors of Perception. A writer, philosopher, and event producer, he leads workshops, and organizes festivals, at the intersection between ecological, social and societal change. He is the author of a widely read column at designobserver.com, and of the best-selling book In the Bubble: Designing In A Complex World. Check out John’s excellent talks about the informal economy, β€œoil-powered health”, and xschools.


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      Eugene Eric Kim 5:59 am on April 21, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for sharing, and sorry to miss David while he was in town. How was the talk?

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      Brooking 10:37 pm on April 22, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      It was, I’d say, mediocre. It’s such an interesting and difficult issue, & it felt they only skimmed the surface really, but not surprising for a 90 minute discussion. John’s big thing was that innovation itself is not enough – that we need to somehow engage innovators with those who can hold the longer term social & institutional change piece- ie we need to create innovation ecologies of sorts & then create a new sort of institution/long term implementation support scheme for these 10+ year efforts that many of these good ideas really take to implement. I was curious about that point – curious how we can create those sorts of redwoods (as opposed to saplings) that are still flexible & adaptive, and not just a new rigid institution…

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    Brooking 1:48 am on January 17, 2014 Permalink |  

    Hi everyone, here’s the photos from our meeting if anyone wants to remember fondly the adventures in network post it noting from two days ago πŸ™‚ (testing this upload style here…)

    One main take-home thought for me came from the post-its reminding me to not underestimate the power of FUN in successful networks – the qualities of aliveness, connection, shared values & identity trumping a lot of more tactical things in what makes a network feel successful….. On the “fail” side learnings, it seems you have to first be able to trump barriers to engagement such as lack of time, trust challenges (both re: transparency, relationship building, & excessive control) to get people IN & engaged in your network…and then by the powers of fun, shared vision & realizable benefit you’ve got a chance. I can see how you design for shared understanding/vision & clear benefit of participation, but how do you design for FUN – especially in a digital space? Any follow up practical thoughts/recommendations on that piece are welcome!

    Thanks again for all the good thinking & exploring. What a resource we are co-creating in these ongoing bootcamps… thanks again Eugene for your vision πŸ™‚

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      Eugene Eric Kim 2:23 am on January 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for turning this around so quickly, @brooking! I love these takeaways, and I especially love how the whole group converged on fun. This reminded me of a brown bag that @rapetzel and I gave last year on our culture change framework, where the participants surprised us both by focusing most of the conversation on the importance of joy as an explicit value.

      Here’s a blog post on bringing delight to virtual spaces:


      I feel like I post this one a lot. Definitely let me know if it’s useful and if you think it should serve as the basis of a concept paper.

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    Brooking 6:49 am on January 9, 2014 Permalink |  

    Hey everyone – we’re on for the 14th from 3-5 at PolicyLink in downtown Oakland (Marie won’t be able to join/host that day unfortunately). TOPIC: designing for high performing networks! PolicyLink is walkable from 12th St Bart at 1438 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94612. Eugene if there’s any info we should know for arrival/where to meet please share with the group! In attendance for sure we’ll have EEK & Eugene Chan, myself & Rebecca. @jessausinheiler ? @dana? @natalie @renee @anna341bc @lauren @amy you are welcome to join as well!

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      Dana 7:04 pm on January 10, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Hey ya’ll I’ll be there!

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      Natalie 5:47 am on January 14, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      So sorry I’ll be missing this. Next time?

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        Eugene Eric Kim 8:09 pm on January 14, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Dislike! But I’m sure there will be others. @marie and @eugenechan are talking about convening the next one. Anyone *ahem* can do this. πŸ™‚

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    Brooking 2:28 am on December 31, 2013 Permalink |  

    Hey Bootcampers! Hope you all have had a great holiday break. I’ve been catching up on some non-work to dos today and wanted to check in on the plan for the 14th. When we first talked I think we had me slated to “lead” that day, but since I missed last time I am not sure if that’s still the plan? I have an idea for a project/topic I’d love to engage the group in if it works, with the wonderful Rebecca Petzel, and I think based on Jess’ notes from Holly’s ideas shared at the last boot camp that it might be a good segue from last time & a topic of shared interest to the group – on designing for high performing networks (as opposed to meetings/organizations). Thoughts?

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      Eugene Eric Kim 5:00 pm on December 31, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Do-acracy, so still the “plan.” πŸ™‚ Personally, I love the topic, and I love it even more that you’d be bringing @rapetzel in.

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      Eugene Chan 5:02 pm on December 31, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Hey @brooking: that would be great. I volunteered to organize January 14th, but didn’t have anything specific in mind and would be happy to take on February.

      You get my vote!

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      Rebecca 12:29 am on January 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Woot! Excited to see many of you again and brainstorm with the changemakers. Happy 2014 team.

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    Brooking 1:14 am on November 23, 2013 Permalink |  

    Hey there bootcampers. I’m conscious of my commitment to write weekly not being met this past week, but I’ve been pondering offline a bit. One question that comes up for discussion is actually directly related to this: how do you keep busy people engaged in this sort of thing? What kinds of hooks could we institute to lure each other in to conversation? How can we make accountability easy? The topic of accountability has come up a lot this past week for me – working with busy leaders either as employee or as coach, also having managed online websites before that are only as valuable as the experience created by users… how do you support engagement without hand-holding? How do we inspire each other to want to participate? How can community hold us accountable and how can we hold ourselves accountable? Just seed planting right now – all questions, no answers πŸ™‚ perhaps the topic of week 2 of our next set of gatherings!?

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      Eugene Eric Kim 5:39 pm on November 23, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Lots of great, intertwingled questions here! I’m going to try to unwind them a bit and offer some rambling thoughts. I’d love to hear what others think as well.

      I want to put aside the “accountability” questions aside for a second and focus on your questions about engagement. This is also a great opportunity for me to re-introduce the thought experiment from my failed workout from bootcamp #2. πŸ™‚

      Pick a group that you’d like engaged in continuous conversation. Imagine that everyone in that group was in the same physical place all-the-time. They all work in the same building, they all hang out in the same neighborhood, they all live a few minutes away from each other.

      How would you like this group to engage? What kinds of interactions would you like them to have? How might you design for that?

      And how would you answer your other questions above in this situation?

      The reason I love this thought experiment is that it eliminates a lot of assumptions we make about online tools and forces us to focus on more critical design questions. What is it that you want people to actually do? Why? How are they going to make time for it? (Group physics!) Brooking asked how to keep busy people engaged. Creating an online space doesn’t change the fact that those people are busy. In fact, it often exacerbates the problem.

      Some rambly stories that might shed some light on these questions:

      I love the potential of this water cooler to build and maintain community for all of you (and perhaps beyondΒ β€” an epic goal), but that’s not it’s primary purpose. The purpose of this space is to be a safe space for you to exercise your online engagement muscles. One of those muscles is sharing in public. When you share in public, you create the opportunity for connection. Your assumptions about what would be most valuable to share may not be right.

      Five years ago, I was working with a network of leaders in reproductive and population health on the ground in five different developing countries. I spent three weeks in three of those countries (India, Ethiopia, and Nigeria), blogging extensively and taking pictures throughout.

      When I got back home from my first trip, one of my colleagues on the project said to me, “Honestly, I didn’t read all of your blog posts, but I loved your pictures!” That turned out to be a common theme.

      Several months after the project was over, I checked in with a network leader in Nigeria, and she told me an interesting story. It turns out that my pictures had turned out to be an extraordinary tool in forging stronger connections. Participants in the network β€” who were spread out across the country and who did not have easy access to the Internet at the time β€”Β would visit Internet cafes and Google themselves out of curiosity. Since most of these folks didn’t have much of an Internet presence, not many things would show up. Many of the top hits turned out to be my pictures. Seeing those pictures struck an emotional chord, and it ended up being an impetus for people to proactively reach out to each other via mobile.

      None of this was by design. I was taking pictures because I like taking pictures, and because I was visiting new places. I tagged and shared them publicly out of habit. In the end, my pictures contributed more to catalyzing the network than the thousands of words I had written had.

      (Here are two posts from my Nigeria trip.)

      This past week, I posted a picture on Flickr, and I tagged it, “Richmond District.” The person who runs the Richmond District blog (Sarah B.) saw it, liked it, and decided to republish it. I happen to know Sarah, but I didn’t reach out to her about my picture. It didn’t even occur to me. She found it, because she follows the “Richmond District” tag on Flickr.

      As it turns out, there was a woman who used to work for Hawaii Community Foundation (one of my former clients) who saw it. She had participated in two of my processes there, and she was fantastic. She had left her job there earlier this year to have her second child, and unbeknownst to me, she had moved back to SF, which was where she grew up. She saw the picture, realized that I was in the neighborhood, and reached out to me. We have a ton of colleagues in common, but it was my sharing a random picture that resulted in this re-engagement!

      When we design engagements outside of meetings, focusing on in-depth conversation might not actually be the most useful thing we can do. Creating space to share “trivial things” can sometimes be far more effective at catalyzing conversation. That resulting conversation can happen in any number of other places β€” coffee shop, phone, or some online space we’re already using. It doesn’t have to be in a space that we create.

      Another muscle I want you all to work out is the muscle to respond to other people online in a timely manner. Responding quickly, in this case, is more important than responding deeply. (This should not always be the case, but it’s a useful muscle to develop.) Shockingly, feedback encourages engagement! In an online space, feedback can come in many different forms, but the simplest β€” and least tool-dependent β€” is to simply reply to someone’s comment, even if it’s just to say, “Right on, sister!”

      There are a whole bunch of other interventions you can leverage as well. One is to start with a small, committed group, and get them to commit together to read and respond to each other’s work. (Now we’re getting into the accountability question.) Not only does that group develop its own online engagement muscles, but it also attracts other participants, because shockingly, people would rather go places where conversation is happening than talk to themselves in the quiet corner of the room with a bunch of empty chairs. The IISC blog is a great example of this. The vast majority of commenters are other people at IISC, but it shows that they at least are reading and responding to each other’s work internally, and that encourages people from outside of the organization to participate as well.

      I designed and led the Wikimedia strategic planning process from 2009-2010. One of the most important and misunderstood process piece was our weekly office hours. My facilitator and I held regular office hours (rotating every other week to accommodate different timezones) on the #wikimedia channel on IRC. We did it on IRC, because that’s where Wikimedians liked to hang out. (I personally am not fond of IRC.)

      These were not meetings. There were no agendas. There was no requirement for “serious conversation.” This was me and my facilitator hanging out with people, answering questions, but mostly getting to know people in the community and vice-versa. Honestly, it was grueling, not because we didn’t enjoy the interaction, but because the overall process was so intense and because these office hours happened at strange hours.

      A few months into the process, my facilitator and I were running out of steam and were questioning whether to continue them. If we had just gone with how we were feeling, we would have stopped. But we looked at the data. And the data showed that people were coming to office hours, and that people who participated in office hours were more likely to engage in the topical conversation that was happening on the wiki. It validated the basic premise of our design: Relationship is often a greater motivation for engagement than content. These office hours were designed to build relationships, and they drove a lot of engagement that wouldn’t otherwise have happened.

      Facebook is the prime example of this. They are demolishing traditional “laws” of online engagement, like the 90-9-1 rule, because interactions follow relationships, not the other way around.

      Finally, a thought on why and how I engage online. I love having deep conversations with great people, and I like to write. However, I would still rather have coffee with someone or talk over the phone (most of the time) than exchange long emails. Sometimes, it’s not practical, so asynchronous tools allow me to have conversations I want or need to have with people far and wide, whenever I’m available.

      But that actually only accounts for a tiny percentage of my online presence. I use online tools to help me get clear about what’s swimming in my head. When I do it in public, then those thoughts become persistent, meaning I can just point people to them in the future rather than restating them over and over again. So engaging online helps me get clear and it also ends up saving me time.

      A simple takeaway from this is to find things that you are already doing, and simply do it in public. I know a bunch of people who journal to get clear. Instead of journaling in private, journal in public! (This takes practice.) Or instead of sending a long email to one person, write a blog post so that anyone can see what you’ve written.

      Returning to Brooking’s questions, what’s the motivation behind wanting online engagement? When you’re clear on this and when you think about engagement systemically (e.g. not just about meetings or “traditional” conversations, regardless of the medium), then the possible strategies and interventions become much more clear.

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        Brooking 11:35 pm on November 24, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        RIght on, Brother! πŸ˜‰ Thanks for thoughtful response Eugene, much appreciated.

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          Eugene Eric Kim 4:51 pm on November 25, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          You’re welcome. And great exercising of the quick acknowledgement muscle! πŸ™‚

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    Brooking 5:22 pm on November 7, 2013 Permalink |  

    Hi group.
    A quick reflection to honor my commitment to post this week, and knowing it’s now or never as I’m traveling tonight/tomorrow.
    My reflection is really that I am sitting with this question about the different ways that practice can be practiced. Asking questions about the role of structure in practice, the role of frameworks and guidelines. Thinking about children and what we can learn from them in this regard – give a kid a tool as multipurpose and flexible as play dough, e.g., and they’ll just play. (have you noticed i like play dough!?!?). Give a kid a board game, and they can just play with the board and pieces willy nilly, maybe make up a fun new game, but they may be missing out on the fun of the game the board was designed to facilitate. There’s a place for that creative play and there’s a place for teaching some rules of a game so the group can play in a particular way together.
    So in thinking about what it really is to have an effective community of practice, these sorts of questions come up for me. And I’m truly just sitting with questions, curiosities, and enjoying the possibility of using this group and our future monthly-ish meetings to explore different ways we might come together and “practice”, and the different values of different levels of structure, facilitation/guidance, frameworks & content/knowledge support, etc. Thoughts welcome, and most of all glad we’ve set the clear intention of continuing our momentum together.

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      Renee 12:13 am on November 8, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Hey Brooking – So, Eugene will be shocked : ) but I’m a big fan of having some theory or framework to hang my practice on. This doesn’t have to be from an expert – this is what I really learned in Bootcamp – that we all have an immense amount of expertise, but we need the right process to draw wisdom from the group. But whether it comes from someone who “does this for a living” and has advice to give, or from the wisdom of a group, I like to be reminded of the purpose and the goal of the practice and then have a learning space where I can measure how well I (or the group) is doing on the practice we’re attempting.

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      Eugene Eric Kim 3:30 pm on November 8, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I’m totally shocked by @renee’s comment. πŸ™‚ Renee, you’ll be happy to know that I led with framework in my redesigned “Designing Meetings” workout. It’s the only one where I did that, although I have some ideas for a few others. I’ll let the other bootcampers describe how they thought it went.

      @brooking, the child’s play metaphor is a fantastic way to think about different ways to structure practice. The only other thing I’d offer now in regards to our previous discussion about continuing momentum is that, at the end of the day, the best principles is forward movement β€” putting a stake in the ground, trying something, and learning from that.

      Generally, I’d prefer to let you all organize however you see fit without my intervention, but I have some ideas as to how to best support you in all of that, which I’ll offer in a post later today.

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    Brooking 12:13 am on October 31, 2013 Permalink |  

    Hey team – quick post-meeting check in…. really just a re-cap of what I shared at the end: left really appreciating what awesome self-reflection and learning opportunities that difficult (work) conversations can be… thinking about Divide or Conquer (Diane Smith’s work, here’s a fun little video that summarizes the book: http://www.actiondesign.com/resources/readings/divide-or-conquer/video/) and the role of childhood patterning in our work relationships… loving how work dynamics offer such a keen opportunity to explore our own patterning, conditioning, underlying assumptions, and vulnerability.

    Also SO appreciated the unique value each person brought to Marie’s process and how rich that kind of role play and group feedback can be! Totally cheering for Marie to have an awesome empowered positive outcome meeting πŸ™‚

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      Eugene Eric Kim 12:48 am on October 31, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Diana Smith’s book is another great reference to add to the Resources page. I’m going to add Getting to Yes as well.

      It’s also a reminder of the rich role that big companies have played in this space. Smith, for example, did a lot of work for Monitor. So did David Kantor.

      I’ve been influenced by both of those people’s largely because of Kristin Cobble (my Groupaya co-founder who also worked at Monitor and who was mentored by Smith), but also because of Katherine Fulton (the president of Monitor Institute and @jessausinheiler’s boss’s boss), who gave me Smith’s book!

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      dana 6:11 am on October 31, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thanks Brooking, I just watched the video and realized I’ve seen Kristin map out the act/ react cycle with clients without knowing where it came from!

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    Brooking 5:50 pm on October 25, 2013 Permalink |  

    Hey group – quick check in re: Tuesday’s meeting… What I got is that each of the three topics we talked about in a rather quick way are deep arts unto themselves, and the reminder that things that seem obvious are actually the core things that make a good facilitator/meeting designer and all too often forgotten and can be explored endlessly.
    In particular, I am left with a curiosity about goal setting… It seems really understanding how to create clear and useful goals is something of an art unto itself – when are you done? e.g. when is a goal good enough and clear enough to move forward? How do you tell when the goal is not quite right or not sharp enough? Does anyone have any resources on this topic?

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      Eugene Eric Kim 10:16 pm on October 25, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I don’t know the answers to your questions. What I do know is that people (including me) generally do not pay enough attention to getting clear about goals and intention, and that we will never learn those answers unless we commit to this as a practice. I’ve imagined a more intensive version of bootcamp where we spend much more time developing our goal muscles.

      Here’s a blog post I wrote recently on this subject: http://eekim.com/blog/2013/09/be-intentional-but-hold-it-lightly/

      Would love to hear other people’s thoughts!

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    Brooking 7:48 pm on October 21, 2013 Permalink |  

    Enlivening (make-up) session today with Dana and EEK about the muscle of engagement. EEK focused our session on a question that was relevant for both of our projects: what makes you come alive at work? This was very relevant for me as I have a huge personal passion and professional interest in this topic, so it was super fun and valuable for me to dig in with Dana as thought partner and EEK as observer of our process. I was really aware of the need to manage my own enthusiasm when working in groups – i.e. not dominating with my thoughts and ideas and consciously allowing space & pauses for others to chime in with their contributions!

    In addition to that practice reminder, I got a few more great reminders/ponder notes I was pleased to have as take-aways:

    • remembering the power of simply reframing your original question to help generate new ideas – e.g. how can the question “what does it feel like to be alive” elicit different responses than “what does it mean to be alive”?
    • relatedly, I have a strong background in somatic awareness that is a form of diversity off view that I can bring to a lot of my professional conversations. takes a little courage but trusting that there’s real value…
    • don’t forget the generative value of eliciting & reflecting on personal experience and stories (what I call “the weeds” as opposed to the high level view/theory building). developing more conscious facility with moving back and forth between theory and the weeds and knowing when to be in which part seems a key part of this craft…
    • when note-taking, there’s another key balance point between writing down what others say and interpreting/synthesizing. care not to over-synthesize and really take time to represent what’s said in the group.

    Good stuff! -Brooking

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    Brooking 1:07 am on October 18, 2013 Permalink |  

    Hi everyone – Brooking here, new addition to bootcamp and excited to join the experience. I’m a facilitation nerd and always happy to learn from others in the field. I enjoyed the stirring the power pot in our bootcamp this week, and I think my notes on power research were somewhat of a reflection in themselves, as I left reflective on what I know, don’t know, assume and imply about power. One thing I got was that we all hold different implicit notions about this confusing topic, which have significant effects on how we perceive group dynamics and how others perceive our approach to leadership and/or facilitation (12 angry men clip got us going on that question…) So I appreciated the reminder of the power to make the implicit explicit – with no right or wrong even, just that alone can really help in group processes.

    Another reflection is that being asked to reflect on power dynamics in my project was fascinating, since I’ve chosen to do a personal/internal time management & career development sort of project. I got this idea to play with internal power dynamics and to design and facilitate a half day sort of process for myself as I would for any multi-stakeholder group. I.e. the parts of self with their different interests – the voice for financial security, the voice for creative expression, community building, physical health, the voice of my parents (we all have that one right!?), etc. I left super intrigued by this experiment and plan on doing it over the weekend if I can squeeze it in, and will report back next week!

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      Eugene Eric Kim 5:20 pm on October 19, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Voice of my parents! Not me! πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for sharing, @brooking. Hope you find the time to squeeze in your personal workshop this weekend, and if you do, looking forward to hearing how it goes!

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