Outcomes that Outlast the Event: PANO / Creating the Future Conference

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Conference attendeesIf the PANO/Creating the Future conference is a beginning vs. an end unto itself, what is it the beginning OF? 

And what needs to be in place to ensure that whatever comes next continues to aim at the desired outcomes – building trust relationships, building upon the strengths of people in their communities, and building a shared vision?

That is where our discussion began today. And as always, things just got more energizing from there!

We’ve had all sorts of ideas for post-conference activities – ongoing learning communities / communities of practice, an immersion course for consultants, Facebook pages and groups, tools and resources, and of course, the commitment on the part of PANO that the conference would inform its ongoing educational programs throughout the year.

But how to bring that all together in a way that is actionable?

Start with the End in Mind
The outcomes we’ve been talking about for the conference are not just for those 2 days, but for the long term. They are the outcomes that PANO (shaped by the listening tour that PANO ED Anne Gingerich has been on) and Creating the Future have wanted to see in communities around the state.

• Build trust relationships
• Build upon the wisdom / strength that already exists in communities
• Build and work towards a shared vision of what is possible

With those goals in mind, what favorable conditions would lead to those ends?  What needs to be in place, and for whom?

Two ideas popped immediately:
1) There need to be leaders in those communities, who would take on the responsibility of bringing people together.
2) People at the conference would need to see their place in those ongoing efforts.

Attendees at the conference (including presenters and community partners – if we want to see inclusion, we will want EVERYONE to stay involved) will likely see themselves taking one of three roles after the conference:

  • People who feel called to / ready to bring people together in their community, towards the end goal of those shared outcomes.‚Äč
  • People who feel called to / ready to participate in such community-wide activities, but not in a leadership role.
  • People who don’t have the time / interest to participate in those community-wide efforts, but want to work towards accomplishing those outcomes within the work they are already doing – building stronger relationships etc. within their current work.

Working backwards again from there, we asked, “What would each of those groups need to have in order to participate in those ways?”  We quickly realized we could plan the final wrap-up session of the conference to address that question – that we didn’t have to have the answer!  Yes, an aha moment once again, that we could trust the wisdom in the room, that we didn’t have to have all the answers, that people themselves know what they need, if only we’d ask them. Once again, a reminder of the power of building what’s next WITH them, vs. FOR them!

Final Session at the Conference
In the pre-conference emails that go out, we will let people know that the final session is not one to skip in their effort to get home early – that it will be the culmination of the whole event!  As for the session itself, 

1) First we will have table discussions around the question, “As you return back to your organization and your community, how can you build the conference outcomes into your own work?” People will have been exposed to those outcomes for 2 days, with conversation in every session about the power of see everything in the context of outcomes. This will be the time for them to reflect on what they’d heard for 2 days, to discuss how they can incorporate those goals into their day-to-day work.

2) From there, we will have people self-identify by the 3 roles noted above
• Work on outcomes primarily within their organization
• Work on outcomes in community as participant, if someone else leads
• Work on outcomes in community, as a leader of that effort

We can then have them gather into those 3 groups. Per group, we will ask, “What do you need, in order to accomplish that? What can PANO or Creating the Future do to assist? What can others in the room / in your community do to assist?”

That led to our asking what PANO and Creating the Future will need to have in place on that final conference day, in order to support the needs of that final session? What first steps can we have ready for people who want to get started immediately?  The chart here summarizes what we came up with (hopefully you have some ideas to add as well!)

Observations:
PANO’s role as convener is becoming more clear. 
There are already efforts ongoing in communities around the state, with local individuals and groups taking leadership roles in bringing people together around issues and learning. It makes sense for PANO’s role in those efforts to be about creating the space for discussion among those community leaders (meta level), while developing programs to support those individual efforts.

PANO’s programming: “Building What’s Next Together”
It has been the hope all along that PANO’s ongoing programming would stem from the needs of their members (using the term loosely to mean “people who want to work together to make amazing things happen” vs. “people who give us money"), in support of their work to build thriving communities. It is becoming more clear how that can happen, with webinar and workshop content being led, at least in part, by the question, “What will it take to support people in creating universally shared outcomes – in their communities and in their organizations?”  

Building Strength Upon Strength = Encouraging Others to Lead AND Teach
It is exciting to think of the early adopters being the ones to teach webinars and workshops on what they are learning about building communities of practice / learning communities / convenings of any kind in their communities – building upon an asset that already exists, and by building upon it, strengthening it even more.

Assignments
James: 
• Identify early adopters. Schedule at least the first (possibly all) quarterly Google Hangout.
• Brainstorm with PANO staff who might be likely consultants to attend an immersion course in June, so there are consultants who can help orgs who need it (see the chart here)
• Brainstorm with PANO staff groups and individuals you each want to personally invite to the conference. And invite them!

Hildy:
• Ensure there is a blog post / article for each need (per the chart here)
• Identify facilitators for the final conference session. Bring them up to speed.

James and Hildy:
• Develop a hashtag to keep people informed after the conference (and a hashtag for the conference itself, if not the same)
• Write pre-conference emails (TEDx talk, why we’re excited, reminder to stick around till the end, etc.)

* * * * *

The PANO / Creating the Future conference is April 28 and 29 in Harrisburg, PA. To register, head to this link. As of the time of this writing, there are still seats available. Click on the buttons at the bottom of this post to invite people to join you at that event! (If you’re reading this in an email reader, click here to scroll to the buttons at the bottom of the post.)

There will be only a few more planning meetings here online between now and the conference – the most critical being a) first meetings of the Evaluation Team (date still TBD) and b) discussion of the MOU between PANO and Creating the Future (yeah, we waited WAY too long for that, but it, too, will happen live online, with the date TBD).  Subscribe here to be notified of those meetings!

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