Transforming Collaboration for Community Growth
Every day, as we move through our lives, we are continuously facing two fundamental questions: “What does this mean?” and, “What will I/we do about it?”
Most of the time, we are encountering situations that are familiar. We know what is happening. We know what it means. We know how to respond to achieve the outcome we want.
Some challenges we face are beyond the limits of our current knowledge or understanding. We may not know how to fix our cars or computers when they break down. We may not know what detour to take when the way we usually travel to work is closed because of an accident. Most of the time, and for most of these technical and complicated things, there are people we can find and ask, who know what to do.
But many of the challenges we face, especially in communities and in our workplaces, are problems with no known or knowable solutions. “How can we restore people’s confidence in visiting our neighborhood and merchants?” “How can we organize people at the local level to create conditions for everyone’s better health?” “How can we act together to fight the rise in heroin and opiod use in our county?”
These aren’t hypothetical questions and challenges. These are the real issues that the people gathering at Yes, And. . . Philly care about.
As we talked during the breaks, we found our own shared purpose in the desire to bring these easy, fun, yet remarkably powerful activities to people through our own collaboration. We talked about the many opportunities for positive change throughout the Philly area.
We knew that Liberating Structures provided, as I once called it, the “magic dust, that seems to instantly break people out of their usual ways of relating and working together, and create new patterns of collaboration and possibility.
We chose the name “Yes, And. . . Philly” because of the purposeful use of the “yes, and. . . “ phrase in improv training and work.
It is a phrase of collaboration and co-creation.
We noticed that during the breaks, people were seeking out others. People whose ideas and concerns and passion for making a difference, resonated with them. New connections happened. And. . . new commitments to collaborate and co-create emerged.
And So. . . we grew, and changed, and responded to the new patterns we observed in our group. We used a Liberating Structure called the Fishbowl, to hold a generative dialogue about intention for the group. We changed the design of our gatherings. We invited people to briefly tell the story of what mattered to them.
We asked them to address a few questions, about what they wanted to see happen, and the people and resources they needed. After each story, we used a variation of the Liberating Structure called Troika Consulting. The Shared Purpose became clear through the stories. The new connections and possibilities emerged spontaneously.
"Anyone working on positive change in communities... collaboration, shared purpose, Ideas to Action, Strategic Doing- whatever you want to call it- our gathering/story/purpose/collaboration approach really does transform collaboration and possibility. We are happy to deliver workshops and learning and support anywhere." - Bruce Waltuck
Obtain the book, The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures: Simple Rules to Unleash A Culture of Innovation. Feb 19, 2014 by Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz on Amazon.
Today, we continue to grow Yes, And. . . Philly and spread that “magic dust” of transformative collaboration. And. . . Yes. . . we have people working together on combatting heroin and opiod abuse. And. . . people supporting a remarkable community center serving some of the most at-risk youth in the area. And. . . more.
- Bruce Waltuck, M.A., Complexity, Chaos, and Creativity. President & Owner, Freethinc. . . For A Change, LLC-Services on Organizational Change, Employee and Labor Relations, Collaborative Dialogue, and Story-gathering for Insights and Action.
- Amanda Lyons is an Organization Development Consultant and Graphic Facilitator at Visuals For Change.
- Cathy Reynolds, RN, BSN, MJ, DL works in patient safety at the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. She is experienced in Liberating Structures, and other organizational change methods including Positive Deviance.
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