Community Engagement: Action Plan 2022

Creating the Future spent this summer applying Catalytic Thinking to a plan for engaging our community in the most important conversation we could have: Determining what’s next for this organization’s mission.

You can see summaries of those conversations linked at this post. And you can see the final plan at this link.

As part of that plan, we’ve excerpted the ACTION PLAN here, the steps we will take to create that engagement. The plan begins with having folks answer the first few questions of Catalytic Thinking in writing. From there, we will host facilitated conversations to continue applying Catalytic Thinking – all to determine what’s next for our mission.

Below the action plan, you will find recordings of the conversations where we designed the written portion, the facilitations, and the invitation to connect. We are sharing all this in the hopes that it inspires you to apply Catalytic Thinking to your own engagement efforts.

Action Plan

Step 1: Invite
Draft invitations, including video invitations from peers / community members. There will be some promotion as well, but primarily, people must feel invited. Applying Catalytic Thinking to the crafting of those invitations, make sure to address the conditions noted in the main plan. 

Invitees will include the first ripple in our connections, those most closely affected by our work (per Question 1 above): our eJournal subscribers, past and current supporters (donors, volunteers, team members), past board members, members of our Facebook group for consultants and coaches to social change groups, fellows, students, participants in our programs.

Step 2: Written Questions: Catalytic Thinking
Community members will be invited to answer in writing the first three Catalytic Thinking questions: 1) Who will be affected by what’s next for Creating the Future? 2) What is the best possible outcome of our work, for all those individuals and groups? 3) What is important to the respondents about Creating the Future’s work? Responses will be gathered and grouped into themes for reporting the results.

Step 3: Follow-up
Written responses to those first three questions will be shared with all community members, whether they responded to the questions or not. People will be encouraged to share what arises as they read the responses.

All correspondence (such as the sharing of this data) will be provided in a way that helps people feel connected to each other, feel that they are learning, and feel that they are the ones leading this conversation and ultimate decision.

Step 4: Connection via Asynchronous Discussion
Create a mechanism for asynchronous communication between participants – email listserv, Slack channel, LinkedIn group, etc. Seed discussion among engagement team members, to create a safe environment for discussion.

Step 5: Facilitated Discussion
Rooted in the answers to the survey – the first few Catalytic Thinking questions – community members will be invited to continue that discussion via facilitated conversations, to discuss the conditions that must be in place for the outcomes they noted to become reality.

The results of those discussions will be gathered and grouped into themes for sharing the results with our community members.

Step 6: Follow-up
Key points from the facilitated discussions will be shared with all community members, whether they were part of those discussions or not. People will be encouraged to share what arises as they read those notes – share with Creating the Future, with each other, as well as sharing any aha’s / reflections with their broader community.

Step 7: Prioritize
If the work so far results in too many possible actions, actions will need to be prioritized to determine, “Which of these is most important to do now? Which can wait?”

That prioritizing will be done by our community members via a facilitated conversation, using a matrix to weigh possible actions against objective decision-making criteria. The group themselves will come up with those criteria, and will then go through the exercise of using the matrix to determine which actions to prioritize.

Step 8: Make it so
Once those decisions have been made, implementing that plan will be the work of Creating the Future’s work teams. In other words, our community will determine what’s next, and we will figure out what it will take internally to make that a reality.

Designing the Facilitated Conversations from Step 5:
Watch the video to see Catalytic Thinking in action about those conversations.

Designing the Written Portion from Step 2.
Watch the video to see Catalytic Thinking in action to design the written portion. Note how conversations about a “survey” encouraged us to shift language away from that word, which creates so many presumptions about what a survey is. Instead, we are all participating together in Catalytic Thinking – a very different image than a “survey.”

Designing the Invitation to Connect, from Step 1:
Watch the video to see how all our Catalytic Thinking conversations folded neatly into this one, making this particular discussion flow quickly and smoothly.


With all this planning work behind us, we look forward to having great conversations, so that together, we will co-decide what’s next for Creating the Future’s mission. If you want to be part of those conversations – to directly influence the future of our work – please let us know!

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