Being Open: A 6 Month Review

Photo montage of our meetingsJuly 1 will mark 6 months of Creating the Future’s experiment with openly inviting participation in all our work – from board meetings to resource development and branding meetings, to conversations with funders and everything in between.

Which means it is time to step back and assess: What are we all learning from this effort? What are the conditions that lead to success? How are we even defining success?

Personally, I’m learning a ton from every meeting where others are exploring along with us. 

I’m learning that there is SO much wisdom to be tapped, and that no matter how many people are in a meeting, there is always such great input that is just a click away. Our work this past 6 months has been SO greatly enhanced by input from people sharing online during these meetings.

I’m learning that most of the reasons we give for being “closed” vs open and participatory has to do with our own fears, many of which are rooted in current systems that reinforce what’s scary. (Just noticing how much the word “scary” and “scarcity” look alike – hmmm.) And that if we change the systems and approaches and practices we use, that open participation becomes joyful and possible – it takes the fear away.

And I’m learning that once people participate, they get more involved. And isn’t that what we all want – people more involved not just in “our” work as organizations, but in their communities overall?

That’s my short list, but this post is about YOU.  

• What have you learned from watching and/or participating in our working and engaging openly?
• What has stood out for you?  What have you noticed?
• What has surprised you?
• What has resonated? What excites you about this? (And perhaps even what has felt scary as you have watched or participated in these conversations? Or maybe even what did you think might be scary that wasn’t?)
• And most especially, have you changed any of your own thinking (or your own actions) based on what you have seen in this living laboratory?

In the next few months, our board will spend its meeting reflecting on these very questions. We will consider what we want this way of being to accomplish – for our org and for others who may learn with us and from us. We will consider what conditions are conducive to creating that success, in part by deconstructing what has worked vs not worked so well.

A large part of that discussion will be based on YOUR thoughts. So please, share liberally!


3 thoughts on “Being Open: A 6 Month Review”

  1. What have I learned? How we can all be authentic – being watched doesn't constrain the conversations. And how much it adds to have extra people participating – challenges any "insider" thinking or jargon that creeps in, adds interesting facts and twists

    What have I noticed? That we forget we are participating from different time zones, continents and more. When we can see each other, the meetings are real in a way teleconferences never are

    What has surprised me? That I forget we are on air (I thought that would be scary but it isn't). And that no matter how tired and distracted we are, great ideas come together by the end of each meeting

    What has resonated? The ability to live and model Creating the Future values. Starting every meeting with what's awesome, and getting to know what people are celebrating or dealing with. Building on ideas, loving ideas, appreciating each other.

    Have I changed? Yes, I can now tell more persuasive stories to help clients open up more to their communities.

    And when someone in an organization suggested yesterday that having everyone at an event vote on something meant they didn't take the issue as seriously as if a small group were tasked with that decision, my heart rebelled. I felt as if a group of smart, good people was being defamed and belittled. I spoke up about trusting whoever will be there, and the idea was dropped.

  2. I have learned so much from participating in the Creating the Future meetings, whether by direct involvement or watching and commenting on Twitter.  It is fascinating to be able to "look behind the curtain" as the board and various work groups think through ideas and issues together.  I find myself scribbling notes about some amazing "aha" that could apply to my own business or life.  I also love feeling that everyone's wisdom is welcome, at no matter what point they enter the conversation.

    In the last week or two, I have really noticed the common threads that run through all of the meetings. The topics may feel totally unrelated, but the discussion focuses on the same values, a unified vision and a commitment to modeling process that calls us to reach higher.

    What is most amazing to me, is that I have now come to expect that open discussions are not only normal and productive, but desirable!  I can't wait to see what comes next.


  3. Hi Hildy, Here's are some thoughts about the question you raised:

    "What I am learning from CTF being open to outside participants?"

    -The risk of opening up is well worth it.

    -Outsiders who participate over time, have your interests at heart.

    -Dialogue with outsiders is always instructive – to both parties

    -Opening up provides opportunities for outsiders to self-select participation where their passion takes them.

    -Great way to create a forum and get more folks in the conversation, especially when your mission is revolutionary or simply a minority view

    -Way to extend and expand your system, or network, or community – as in ABCD

    -Electronic connections provide immediate record of engagement and what you are learning from each other

    -Horizons may open for both parties

    -You get answers to questions you haven't yet thought to ask

    -Both parties gain access to thinking, histories, experience, energy, and resources not known to exist – or at least difficult to access

    -Both parties earn affirmation from new sources


    Do I like it? I'd say so!

    Thanks for asking.


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