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27. Real-Time Strategic Change

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

27 robert “jake” jacobs

Real-Time Strategic Change

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.

—Thomas Jefferson

Collaborating Instead of Competing

In New York City, 1.1 million children require care after school, on weekends, holidays, and during the summer. Several city agencies have overseen these critical, yet complex services. They have relied on multiple funding streams. There has been great need for consistent, high-quality care. Collaboration in the past had been low. Out of School (OST) programs in the city have been principally provided by several hundred nonprofit agencies and community-based organizations. Each of these multiple stakeholders has competing needs, since there is a fixed sum of money to allocate. Though all are well intentioned, they have suffered from a lack of alignment.

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4. Sustainability of Results

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

4 tom devane

Sustainability of Results

Well you know you got it if it makes you feel good.

—Janis Joplin

All too often when a large-scale change effort is nearing its end, some bright-eyed change agent asks, “What shall we do about sustainability of this effort?” It’s great to ask the question, but it’s the absolutely wrong place to ask it. Dead wrong. We need to stop thinking about sustainability at the end of a change effort, and move it to its rightful place for full, formal consideration—at the start of a change effort.

As uncomfortable as it may be to consider, many well-intentioned people often contribute to setting up their organizations and communities for failure. For example, we may consciously ignore things that down deep we know we should pay attention to (oh, those people in the engineering department won’t try to block this change . . . ). Or we may inadvertently miss things that later become important. The good news is that by paying attention to a few key elements at the start, we can dramatically impact sustainability. In this chapter, we hope to move sustainability from “back of mind” to “front of mind.” I have included some pragmatic insights into that elusive concept of sustainability and provided some practical tips on how to create conditions that will increase its likelihood. The chapter is organized into the following sections:

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12. The World Café

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

12 juanita brown, ken homer, and david isaacs

The World Café

In the new economy conversations are the most important form of work.

—Alan Webber, Harvard Business Review

What We Know About How Organizations Learn

Several years ago, Meg Wheatley and Juanita Brown, under the auspices of the Berkana Institute, were cohosting a program on living systems. They introduced an innovative approach to large group dialogue, called the World Café. Bob Veazie, an engineer at Hewlett Packard, was among the participants that day. Deeply touched by the experience, here’s how he recalls the Café’s impact:

World Café

The core question posed for the Café was, “What do we believe we know about how organizations learn?” We had twenty minutes or so for each table of four to explore the question. Then one person stayed at the table and the rest moved to other Café tables, met new people and continued the dialogue. Everyone was very actively involved, the energy and volume were high, and people brought different aspects of what they learned from their last tables to their new conversations. It was very exciting, but very disturbing at the same time.

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57. Values Into Action

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

57 susan dupre, ray gordezky, helen spector, and christine valenza

Values Into Action

Two sides to every question, yes, yes, yes . . .

But every now and then, just weighing in

Is what it must come down to . . .

—Seamus Heaney

The Parliament of the World’s Religions

Is it possible to bring together the world’s preeminent religious leaders, as well as other global leaders and citizens, to commit to take action with their own communities to address critical global issues? This question moved the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions to sponsor the development of Values Into Action (VIA) for the International Leader’s Assembly at

Montserrat, Spain, July 4–7, 2004.

This event unfolded over three days, with 400 invited participants—from diverse cultures, geography, ages, stations in life, and socioeconomic levels. During the Assembly participants considered the following four issues: (1) eliminating external debt burden on poor countries; (2) supporting refugees worldwide; (3) creating access to safe, clean water; and (4) overcoming religiously motivated violence. Participants worked in small groups and in plenary to seriously explore these issues and build relationships with one another and between faith traditions. The meeting culminated in individuals making commitments to simple acts for positive change in the lives of people impacted by these issues.

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9. PIONEER!

Peggy Holman Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Never tell people how to do things … they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

—General George S. Patton, Jr., War As I Knew It

Pioneers have much to teach us about engaging emergence. They begin their journeys into the unknown by marshalling resources and support. They are most resilient when they hold their intentions clearly but lightly, without attachment to specific outcomes. They adapt by welcoming feedback from others and the environment. Inviting partners with diverse perspectives and skills also increases their chances of success.

Pioneers know that the assumptions that work in familiar settings change when we enter the unknown. They know that breaking old habits takes courage. And while compassion may not be a traditional pioneering skill, it helps keep us going as we stumble through the many experiments that elate and frustrate along the way.

Seek new directions. Think different.1 Act courageously. If you are holding on, let go. If you are going with the flow, step out of the stream. If you are focused on the inside, see what’s happening outside. If you are working downstream, check out what’s going on upstream. Pioneering involves breaking habits, doing the unexpected, breaking well-worn feedback loops.

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