Openness is Easy: Recipe Sharing, Knowledge Sharing

yummy - that's my pieceA while back someone wanted a copy of a recipe from me. I wanted to find (re-find!) a recipe. And I decided to create a little email group where I could email myself recipes, and then easily find them later. I shared with my sister and mom. A few others joined when they heard, but it has stayed a fairly small circle.

Today, in my typical Friday morning work avoidance, I was following links from Twitter to cooking blogs, copying recipes into the list and thought, HEY, I SHOULD SHARE THIS! After all, a bit part of my work is about knowledge sharing. So I went in and made the postings public. You can see them here:

99+ Recipe Circle – Google Groups.

The significance of these few, little clicks is that this sort of thing happens all the time. We have our private or small group piles of good stuff, of information, of knowledge, and yet we don’t even THINK of making it open. Hey, it is EASY. So just do it. Find one treasure you can make open today. Open it up. Let your friends, networks, even the world know about it.

I you would like to be added to the list, let me know (and what email address you’d like me to use). And maybe find one of these great recipes and cook up something loving and wonderful for friends and family this weekend!

Teaching Empathy: hey, that’s networked leadership!

IMGP3454I’m currently working with an intelligent and courageous core team working to implement a very different way of working in a very large bureaucracy. It is really HARD work, but these three people are showing energy, resilience and graceful humor. As I read this article on Forbes tonight, Teaching Empathy: The Ancient Way Is Now Cutting-Edge it struck me that the four things they suggest we teach for empathy also represent network leadership.

  1. Teach listening as a core skill and expect it as a cultural practice. Start by being an active listener yourself and give people the time they need to reflect. Time not made for someone is time wasted.
  2. Make dialogue a primary team, group or classroom practice. Dialogue opens the doors to exploration—what Peter Senge in his guide “The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook” calls “skillful discussion,” where thoughtful decisions can be made that honor all participants (or, in business, stakeholders).
  3. Identify roles, not organizational charts. When people are able to articulate their role, what they need to be successful and what gets in the way of their success, an empathic understanding is present and the beginnings of a healthy team, class or group takes shape.
  4. Lead with consistency, authenticity and honesty. Be clear as to why you are doing what you are doing. Do not lead or manage through personality but rather through articulation. To articulate is to clarify.

By networked leadership, I mean leading where you don’t always have authority. Where multiple reporting lines mess all the normal power plays up, rendering the old style of leading obsolete.

I see this team doing more and more active listening and they have refined their conversational skills to demonstrate both listening and bridge potential understanding gaps using the “what I heard you say is… ” before they add their thoughts. In an organization with a practice of “I win if I look smartest,” a lot of people’s attention is wrapped up in preparing their next statement, not listening.

In the formation of this big new plans, emphasis is placed not on large, plenary sessions to hash things out, but breaking into small conversations and building meaning outward. There is a strong invitation for others to describe what they understand and need about this big transition they are all navigating.

The new structure now distributes resources across divisional lines, so the idea of one’s formal boss is being tossed on the waves of change. The idea of roles, not organizational charts is one I want to bring up at our next meeting as a way to help with this.

Finally, this team is composed of a very senior leader, a senior researcher and a more junior staff member. I see them leading with honesty, authenticity and striving so hard for consistency. What I hope I will see soon is more and more people around them recognizing and appreciating this, so it will encourage more of the same.  I think it is possible. Hard work, but possible. And when it becomes more common, I suspect I’ll see both better results, and more joy.

I think these are four terrific things. What else do courageous, networked leaders need to know and do?

Edited PS: see also Eugene Eric Kim’s post on Balance Bikes for Changemakers. It’s all about the learning/experimenting!

Scott Leslie: we need both Open and Inviting

From 2004 Hero's Journey WorkshopSpot on, Scott! It is not enough to be just OPEN!

Still, it brought to mind lessons learned numerous times at Northern Voice and Open Ed, that “open” isn’t the same as “inviting,” and that if organizers really do want to grow a movement, real care has to be paid to how we bring newcomers into the fold.

via BC Open Data Summit Report.

This is a story of love…

I cannot resist sharing this story of parenting, leadership and love. Relationships are long term. Our commitment to them can seem/feel/look invisible and it is wonderful when someone figures a way to make it visible.  I can’t quite suss out the identity of the author and this is 8 months old (with millions of hits, it seems, so I’m late to the party. ) Anyway, apropos of nothing other than love, I give you…

Via: Photo Album – Imgur.

I graduated High School this week. When my Dad said he had a present for me I thought I was getting some cheesy graduation card. But what I received was something truly priceless. Following the ceremony he handed me a bag with a copy of “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” by Doctor Seuss inside. At first I just smiled and said that it meant a lot and that I loved that book. But then he told me “No, open it up.” …On the first page I see a short paragraph written by none other than my kindergarten teacher. I start tearing up but I’m still confused. He tells me “Every year, for the past 13 years, since the day you started kindergarten I’ve gotten every teacher, coach, and principal to write a little something about you inside this book.”

Photo Album - Imgur

He managed to keep this book a secret for 13 years, and apparently everyone else in my life knew about it! Yes the intended effect occured… I burst out in tears. Sitting there reading through this book there are encouraging and sweet words from every teacher I love and remember through my years in this small town. My early teachers mention my “Pigtails and giggles,” while my high school teachers mention my “Wit and sharp thinking..” But they all mention my humor and love for life. It is astounding to receive something this moving, touching, nostalgic, and thoughtful. I can’t express how much I love my Dad for this labor of love.

Monday Video: Small Gestures Are Worth It

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Via Bernie DeKoven on Google+ comes this fabulous video about how the South African hamburger chain, Wimpys, rolled out their new Braille restaurant menus. Bernie has the talent for finding things that make me smile, but this one goes deeper as well.

I was tempted to use U2’s amazing video of their song about Martin Luther King (1984) as for my “Monday Video” as today is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday here in the US. But I like the actions of the Wimpy video. Actions that speak, as they say, louder than words. Watch first:


The opening bit is “small gestures are worth it.” In all my years facilitating and leading, the story of the ACTION almost always comes back to small gestures. It may be big or small ideas that get us going, but the small gestures get us there.

My early geographical community leadership work found legs when I learned things like mirroring to better hear and understand what others were saying – usually with a small gesture that started with eye contact, leaning in to listen, and paraphrasing to work towards understanding. When I first started facilitating online around 1997, the simple act of welcoming and reciprocating opened up the magic of text based asynchronous conversation. As I returned to more face to face meeting facilitation, again the gestures of showing that I was listening, of helping make the act of “being heard, seen and loved” central to group interaction proved powerful. More powerful than any method or tool.

I’m sure you have stories of the power of small gestures. I’d love to read them in a comment or through a link. 😉

Sometimes small gestures take the tiniest amounts of thought and energy. Sometimes they are deep, profound gifts (like placing sesame seeds on a bun to spell in Braille.) What I know, is they are worth it. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.