« »
April 10, 2013 » 8:33 am

Changemaker Bootcamp: An Experiment in Practice and Mentorship

Starting today, I will be embarking on a new experiment, which I’m calling, “Changemaker Bootcamp.” I’ll be creating a space for changemakers in organizations to:

  • Get clear about the kinds of shifts they’d like to see in their groups (be they their own organizations or broader)
  • Get clear about how to facilitate those shifts
  • Practice the skills necessary to facilitate those shifts

I have two wonderful guinea pigs co-learners, who responded to a quiet call on this blog last month and who will be embarking on this journey with me. (I’ll be saying more about them later, and they’ll be saying plenty about themselves and their projects on a group blog.) We’ll meet for 90 minutes once a week for the next four weeks, at which point we’ll all reflect on what we’ve learned, and we’ll figure out what happens next.

Why Am I Doing This?

The Brief Summary:

  • I am passionate about figuring out ways to boost the world’s collaborative literacy, which will result in a world that is more alive.
  • The biggest barrier to changemakers developing these skills are finding productive opportunities to practice them.
  • I’ve had the unique opportunity to learn and practice these skills for the past 10 years. I’d like to create similar opportunities for others who are similarly motivated.
  • I am anxious to explore ways to create “balance bikes” for changemakers — structures that help changemakers learn these critical group skills. This bootcamp is a first experiment in this.
  • I love this stuff, and I’m excited to try something new, challenging, and potentially impactful.

The Longer Summary: I devoted the past 10 years to practicing skills for helping groups work more skillfully together. I had to carve out my own path, and while it was meaningful and gratifying, it was also painful and arduous. While I was tremendously motivated (some might say obsessed) and worked hard, I was also very lucky. I had amazing mentors, peers, and partners, people who believed in me, encouraged me, offered me amazing opportunities to try stuff and to learn (despite lots of stumbling), and provided me with critical feedback.

I want to give back, but I want to give back bigger than I got. I want to leverage what I’ve learned over the years, my wonderful network of friends and colleagues, and whatever reputation I might have in this space to give other changemakers safe opportunities to practice, stumble, and learn.

When I left Groupaya at the end of last year, I thought the best way to share what I learned would be through writing. I’ve changed my mind. I have some good stories and I might have a unique spin on how I articulate what I’ve learned, but I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been written a thousand times already. There are already lots of books and articles on collaboration, collective intelligence, learning, openness, participatory processes, and facilitating change. Lots of them are decent, some of them are very good, and some are even extraordinary.

What’s missing are safe opportunities to practice these critical skills. My friend, Jon Stahl, wrote a provocative blog post about social change movements two years ago, where he summed up the problem as follows:

Social change work is hard, long-term work.

Like most hard work, it takes a lot of practice to get really good at it. Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers claims that it takes about 10,000 hours (10 years) of practice to really master something.  I don’t see why social change organizing/campaigning should really be any different.

People who have the skills to be outstanding social change activists have lots of choices and opportunities in their professional life — they have the leadership, analysis and “getting things done” skills to be valuable in many fields.

So, given these realities, are social change movements structuring themselves to attract highly skilled potential superstars and to retain them for the 10 years it takes to attain mastery… and beyond, into the most highly productive years that follow?

Creating opportunities for others to practice skills for effective changemaking will be far more impactful (and frankly, far more enjoyable) than writing a book.

What Will I Be Doing?

“Bootcamp” isn’t simply a marketing term. I’m loosely modeling this after fitness bootcamps, with an emphasis on building core strength, creating good habits, and doing rather than discussing. This will not be a “training” in a traditional corporate sense, as my emphasis will not be on delivering content, but on learning through practice.

I had lots of interesting conversations as a result of my call for co-learners, but I decided to focus on San Francisco-based changemakers embedded in organizations who had specific projects on which were embarking.

I limited it to San Francisco to keep this first experiment simple.

I’m focusing on changemakers embedded in organizations and who are not formally leading their organizations because I think that’s where the biggest opportunity for impact is. It is the opposite strategy of when I was a consultant, where we only took on projects that were sponsored by C-level leaders. We did this because we felt it would give our projects the greatest chance to create sustainable change and, frankly, because C-level leaders were generally the only people with budgets big enough to afford us. That was good for business, but it also increased the chances for impact, because it meant the organization had more skin in the game. It was the right strategy as a consultant, but it’s not the most impactful strategy from a systems perspective.

I also favored changemakers who had specific projects in order to keep the work grounded. I think the skills they develop will be applicable to everything they do, but I want to have specific goals in mind to create a sense of urgency as well as to tie this development process to their everyday work needs.

I will be doing the same exercises as my participants, since I myself am a changemaker based in San Francisco, and I have a specific project (this one) that I’m working on. We will all be working transparently, blogging about what we do and what we learn, because working transparently is a critical changemaker skill, something that we all need to practice.

I’ll also be sharing all of my “workout plans,” along with the metrics I plan on using to track my progress. I would be thrilled if others “stole” the idea and the plans, because we need a lot more people doing this kind of thing, experimenting with ways to do it more effectively, and sharing what they learn so that we can all benefit from it.

What Do I Hope to Learn?

  • Is this a model that helps changemakers learn the skills they need to be learning?
  • What are the actual and potential impacts of such a process?
  • How can I tweak the model to make it even more impactful?
  • How can I get better at implementing the model?
  • Is this a service that changemakers want?
  • Is there an opportunity to build a business around this?
  • Is this something I enjoy doing?

How Do I Follow This Crazy Experiment?

We’ll all be sharing our experiences on a group blog, where I’ll also be sharing annotated “workout plans.” I’ll also likely be writing some stuff here on this blog.

If you’re interested in following along and perhaps even participating in future experiments, please subscribe to my mailing list by filling out and submitting the following form:

* indicates required

// 40) return;
mce_preload_checks++;
try {
var jqueryLoaded=jQuery;
} catch(err) {
setTimeout(‘mce_preload_check();’, 250);
return;
}
try {
var validatorLoaded=jQuery(“#fake-form”).validate({});
} catch(err) {
setTimeout(‘mce_preload_check();’, 250);
return;
}
mce_init_form();
}
function mce_init_form(){
jQuery(document).ready( function($) {
var options = { errorClass: ‘mce_inline_error’, errorElement: ‘div’, onkeyup: function(){}, onfocusout:function(){}, onblur:function(){} };
var mce_validator = $(“#mc-embedded-subscribe-form”).validate(options);
$(“#mc-embedded-subscribe-form”).unbind(‘submit’);//remove the validator so we can get into beforeSubmit on the ajaxform, which then calls the validator
options = { url: ‘http://eekim.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe/post-json?u=4bdca8ff4c02cbf0342cc9f71&id=1f46f4182c&c=?’, type: ‘GET’, dataType: ‘json’, contentType: “application/json; charset=utf-8″,
beforeSubmit: function(){
$(‘#mce_tmp_error_msg’).remove();
$(‘.datefield’,’#mc_embed_signup’).each(
function(){
var txt = ‘filled’;
var fields = new Array();
var i = 0;
$(‘:text’, this).each(
function(){
fields[i] = this;
i++;
});
$(‘:hidden’, this).each(
function(){
var bday = false;
if (fields.length == 2){
bday = true;
fields[2] = {‘value’:1970};//trick birthdays into having years
}
if ( fields[0].value==’MM’ && fields[1].value==’DD’ && (fields[2].value==’YYYY’ || (bday && fields[2].value==1970) ) ){
this.value = ”;
} else if ( fields[0].value==” && fields[1].value==” && (fields[2].value==” || (bday && fields[2].value==1970) ) ){
this.value = ”;
} else {
if (/\[day\]/.test(fields[0].name)){
this.value = fields[1].value+’/’+fields[0].value+’/’+fields[2].value;
} else {
this.value = fields[0].value+’/’+fields[1].value+’/’+fields[2].value;
}
}
});
});
return mce_validator.form();
},
success: mce_success_cb
};
$(‘#mc-embedded-subscribe-form’).ajaxForm(options);

});
}
function mce_success_cb(resp){
$(‘#mce-success-response’).hide();
$(‘#mce-error-response’).hide();
if (resp.result==”success”){
$(‘#mce-‘+resp.result+’-response’).show();
$(‘#mce-‘+resp.result+’-response’).html(resp.msg);
$(‘#mc-embedded-subscribe-form’).each(function(){
this.reset();
});
} else {
var index = -1;
var msg;
try {
var parts = resp.msg.split(‘ – ‘,2);
if (parts[1]==undefined){
msg = resp.msg;
} else {
i = parseInt(parts[0]);
if (i.toString() == parts[0]){
index = parts[0];
msg = parts[1];
} else {
index = -1;
msg = resp.msg;
}
}
} catch(e){
index = -1;
msg = resp.msg;
}
try{
if (index== -1){
$(‘#mce-‘+resp.result+’-response’).show();
$(‘#mce-‘+resp.result+’-response’).html(msg);
} else {
err_id = ‘mce_tmp_error_msg’;
html = ‘

‘+msg+’

‘;

var input_id = ‘#mc_embed_signup’;
var f = $(input_id);
if (ftypes[index]==’address’){
input_id = ‘#mce-‘+fnames[index]+’-addr1′;
f = $(input_id).parent().parent().get(0);
} else if (ftypes[index]==’date’){
input_id = ‘#mce-‘+fnames[index]+’-month’;
f = $(input_id).parent().parent().get(0);
} else {
input_id = ‘#mce-‘+fnames[index];
f = $().parent(input_id).get(0);
}
if (f){
$(f).append(html);
$(input_id).focus();
} else {
$(‘#mce-‘+resp.result+’-response’).show();
$(‘#mce-‘+resp.result+’-response’).html(msg);
}
}
} catch(e){
$(‘#mce-‘+resp.result+’-response’).show();
$(‘#mce-‘+resp.result+’-response’).html(msg);
}
}
}
// ]]>

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

« »

Leave a Reply