Feb 16 2015

Connections Shape Us – Food for Thought from Scientific American

Published by under networks

Good food for thought on a Monday morning.
From the Scientific American blog post

Network thinking lets us scientifically understand the world around us as one of connections that shape observed phenomena, rather than as one where the intrinsic properties of people, genes, or particles determine outcomes. Like previous scientific revolutions, the network revolution also has the promise of reshaping our basic commonsense expectations of the world around us, and may allow us to recognize that we are not a basically individualistic, asocial, and quarrelsome creature that comes in bounded linguistic, ethnic, racial, or religious types, but a social species linked to one another by far-reaching network ties.

via How Networks Are Revolutionizing Scientific (and Maybe Human) Thought | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network.

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Feb 11 2015

Biscuits and Being Better Together

biscuittweetAll it takes is a tweet about grating frozen butter to make better biscuits to get me to click into a web page. And when I arrive, I find this most wonderful quote that can certainly apply to far more than biscuits. (Emphasis mine)

Sitting down to a plate of towering warm biscuits, with butter, sorghum and orange-blossom honey, we get philosophical on details, like placing biscuits so they’re touching.“When you’re touching, you lift each other up and you rise higher,”

Duvick agrees. But if they rise too high and slump over, they still taste good.

via What’s the secret to really tall biscuits? | CharlotteObserver.com.

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Feb 10 2015

But I can’t draw… Cancel that thought!

Did Crazy Horse draw this image? MS Am 2337, Houghton Library, Harvard University

As they say, if I had a piece of dark chocolate for every time that someone has said to me “but I can’t draw” when I ask them to sketch their ideas, or capture some content visually, I’d be as big as an elephant. When I saw this article about Crazy Horse’s drawings of his battles, and the “language of images” I thought “here is a story I can tell back when people say they can’t draw.” There is power in images, no matter how simple or refined.

At first glance, the drawings may look childish. But as Picasso has pointed out, a drawing’s intelligence isn’t simply a matter of academic technique. Under McLaughlin’s masterful guidance, we come to recognize that, in fact, the drawings in this book exhibit extraordinary intelligence of observation. Every detail is telling, whether it’s a dragonfly painted on a shield or the way war paint was applied to the horses.

As McLaughlin explains, these drawings are as rich and informative as any Euro-American literary text, although they speak in the language of images rather than letters, and shape reality within parameters set by a very different cultural framework. It’s a remarkable lesson in the importance of examining something very closely, of learning to look at images in new ways.

via Crazy Horse: leader, warrior, martyr … artist?.

The image from the ledgerbook appears in A Lakota War Book from the Little Bighorn: The Pictographic “Autobiography of Half Moon,” by Castle McLaughlin (2013). Houghton Library Studies 4, Houghton Library of the Harvard Library and Peabody Museum Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

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Feb 09 2015

Continuing My Ecocycle Experimentation

GenderinAgResearchIn January I was working with the CGIAR Gender in Agricultural Research Network during their meeting. My wonderful client, Jacqui Ashby trusted me to use many of the Liberating Structures with the group. We used the Ecocycle Planning structure early on to help think about the network member’s work in a slightly different ways.

This is the third time I’ve used the Ecocycle Planning “full on,” in other words, I hung a meaningful part of an agenda on to it. I am getting more confident in how I launch the process and appreciate the value of practicing and observing others (like Keith McCandless) running the process and learning from them.

ciattweetSimone Staiger, of CIAT, wrote about the experience on her Knowledge Management blog during the meeting. The tweet was apparently provocative. A few days after Simone tweeted the blog link, she received the most retweets and links than any other post she has tweeted out. Is it the phrase “destructive process” that caught people’s eyes and imaginations?

As it turns out, the conversations around the creative destruction phase of the ecocyle were very interesting to me, and it appears that they were of interest to the participants. Here are the combined notes Simone and I wrote up:

Participants struggled a bit with “Creative destruction.” At first, there was some reluctance to place things in the “creative destruction” area, thinking that this was a negative activity. After some discussion, many groups identified this as a rich area of potential and possibility, the space of innovation and renewal. One participant gave as an example the need to deploy our listening skills to some of their diverse co-workers in order to be able to change mindsets and create and work together.  It was also mentioned that it is important that we involve a larger group of “next users” and partners in the creative destruction and renewal phase. This increases the chances for them to support the birth and implementation of ideas and activities.

Are we both excited and afraid of destruction? Is that the power of this area?

Conversations about the Poverty Traps and Rigidity Traps are always useful. It’s like we put a name on something familiar, but often unspoken. Being able to frame and discuss these issues is critical.

The other area that held some useful insights was the area of maturity. Not so surprisingly, what one categorizes as a “mature” practice can vary wildly between individuals depending on their experience, what activities they prioritize in their work and other contextual factors. What is often enlightening is the realization that there may not be a shared understanding of those mature practices and therefore a high potential for misalignment.

From a facilitation standpoint, I was worried that the groupings we created for the maps would not work. We had to group people working on different projects together, and in the past, I’d seen better results when an intact team or group maps their project. But I was surprised how much cross project relevance and resonance emerged. I’m not sure we really mined that as much as we might have.  There was more to harvest and we left it on the table!  Going forward I need to think more deeply about this opportunity.Resonance and dissonance are always rich spaces.

 

 

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Feb 07 2015

Learning is everywhere — From Lilia on Mathemagenic

Published by under learning

Too good not to share. Go read it. And look at her son’s amazing Kale photo. I’m not reproducing it here to tease you into clicking into her post. I’m evil that way. 😉

Learning doesn’t necessary take a lot of time. Mainly it takes a mindset of recognising learning opportunities everywhere and going for them. And a bit of practice – of observing, improvising and not making a duty out of play :)

via Learning is everywhere — Mathemagenic.

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