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April 04, 2022

Real Inclusion comes from these questions

In this week’s Systems Change Newsletter…

Invitations & Announcements  
Catalytic Thinking Exercise: Questions that Create Real Inclusion
Resources to Further Your Practice
Story of the Week: Catalytic Thinking in Practice

Invitations & Announcements:

What’s Next for Creating the Future?
As Creating the Future steps into the next five years of our mission, it is critical that your voices are at the center of those decisions. That's why we're inviting you to answer these questions. Because YOU will decide what's next at Creating the Future. We look forward to connecting with you!

Magic Happens when you Share Your Stories:
We love sharing stories of how folks are applying Catalytic Thinking in their work and their lives. And so we are inviting you to share: When you read our newsletter, what have you tried? Whether large or bite-sized, your story will help others think about trying something new. So please click here to tell us your stories!

Catalytic Thinking Exercise: Questions that Create Real Inclusion
When it comes to the work of social change, what does real inclusion look like? And why is the first question in the Catalytic Thinking framework about inclusion?

At its very best, real inclusion is about sharing power.

Who gets to decide?
Whose voice matters most?
Who is holding whom accountable?

And while some organizations are doing the soul-searching work to shift the power dynamics in their work, others aren't ready to dive head-first into the deep end of the pool. If that is you, what steps can you take to put a toe in the water of real inclusion?

You won't be surprised that the answer is found in the questions you ask every day.

Try this
The very first question in the Catalytic Thinking framework is this two-parter:

Who will be affected by whatever we choose to do?
And what will it take for their voice to be centered in this effort?

1) The first step to creating true inclusivity is as simple as asking that first question: Who will be affected by what we are about to do?

Who might be affected by a new program you are planning? Whose lives will that new effort touch, whether or not they are the intended audience for that new program?

Perhaps the people served by the program, the people who will execute the program, the people who will fund the program. And then perhaps employers of the people immediately affected by the program, or that person’s family or neighbors or…

This is the opposite of what we learn in marketing classes. Marketing teaches us to narrow our focus as tightly as possible on the “target audience” for our efforts. The result of that marketing focus is the opposite of inclusion – it is, by its very nature, EXclusive.

That exclusion is the primary cause of the unintended consequences we all fear – the consequences that happen when we don’t pay attention to those who will be affected, whether they are the intended audience or not. Knowing that all actions have consequences, we see how important it is to think about all the groups whose lives will be touched by whatever we are about to create.

 If you ask only this one question, you will be miles ahead of where you would have been without that inclusive mindset.

2) From there, the real power comes from that second question. What will it take for their voice to be centered in this effort?

By asking the question, you can think about all the various ways that answer might unfold.

And for an example of that, you need look no further than the announcements at the top of this page!

At minimum, these questions encourage you to listen to all those groups and individuals. Perhaps you might apply Catalytic Listening - listening for their aspirations, their values, and the strengths they bring to the conversation.

But it all starts by identifying whose lives will be touched by what you are thinking about doing. You can see why this is the first question – and perhaps the most important question - in the Catalytic Thinking framework.

Resources to Further Your Practice:

  • READ: This NY Times piece on creating the future you want for your life. “If we imagine what we might regret down the road, it’s very much in our hands to do something about it now.” Read it here…
  • WATCH: The economy of an entire region was influenced when everyone affected by child hunger got involved – especially the kids themselves! Watch here…
  • LISTEN: Our board began its Succession Planning conversation with this very question: Who will be affected by our planning? Watch or listen here…

Story of the Week: Catalytic Thinking in Practice!

This week’s story comes from Nina Moukova, Operations Manager at Seeds to Sew International. Nina was part of Creating the Future’s practice cohort on succession planning. These are just some of her reflections:

"Listening to the board's succession planning conversations, one thing that stood out is listening to the individuals who will be affected by any decision/action. What positive outcome do they want? What would good look like to them?

For example, our teenage volunteers used to prefer to have their headphones on and listen to music while they were quietly doing what we need help with. It's amazing that when we start talking to them and they don't have a chance to put those headphones on, they are engaging and opinionated! When we encourage them to give us their opinion on things, they surprise us with the way they think, coming up with brilliant ideas we never thought of.

I will continue watching all your public videos and board meetings. Thank you for making them!"

Got a Catalytic Thinking story to share with our readers? Let us know here!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Help Keep Our Programs Freely Available
Most of the programs at Creating the Future are free or low cost, with liberal tuition assistance when they aren’t.

If you find our programs of benefit, we hope you will consider contributing, to help keep these programs available to as many people as possible.   Donate here ...

eJournal Archives:
If you’re new to our eJournal, or just want to remind yourself of past practice exercises we’ve shared, check out our eJournal archives here.

Creating the Future's Mission
Teach people how to change the systems they find themselves in,
to create a future different from our past -
all by changing the questions they ask.

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