The More Transparent, The More We Learn

2or3GrouchesThe more we dive into what it means to run the Community-Driven Institute with true transparency, the more we learn at every step.  This week’s Q&A session on Community-Driven Consulting is turning out to be yet another example of that!

Our intent had been simple: Folks have lots of questions and preconceived notions about what Community-Driven Consulting is all about. So why not have some of the CDI course graduates answer all those questions, straight from the horses’ mouths?

(That Q&A session will be happening this Wednesday, featuring Randa Cleaves of ACCG: avenue2possibilities and Bonnie Koenig of Going International – two seasoned professionals who have been applying what they’ve learned in our classes.)

In preparing for the session, I shared it on Twitter and Facebook and our newsletter. Predictably, registration was strong. But that wasn’t enough if our intent is to open up everything we are doing to gain as broad a perspective as possible.

Our focus on transparency and being Open Source is teaching us to always be asking the next question:

“How can this work be enhanced by engaging not just the likely suspects, but the UNlikely suspects? Who could we ask about their preconceptions about this work, who might not even be interested enough to attend the session, but who could give us terrific feedback – and perhaps even expand the conversation?”

So that’s what we’ve been doing. In every venue where I am present – from listservs to LinkedIn to individual phone conversations with people unrelated to consulting – we’ve been asking things like

• What would you want to know before taking the Institute’s immersion course?
• If you’ve been curious, what has stopped you from diving in?
• What other questions / thoughts do you have about the work the Institute is doing to turn “Nonprofit Consultants” into “Catalysts for Community Change”?

And as happens every time we engage in this kind of dialogue, we are learning far more than we are teaching.

We have watched graduates of our courses jump in on some discussion forums, to answer the questions that were raised before I had even seen the question. We have been intrigued by the extent to which questions are moving beyond our expected focus on “What’s in it for me?” and moving out towards “What’s in it for my community?”

Even more, though, we are being reminded that no matter how much we all believe we are engaging others in the work we are doing, that we can do more. That we can be better about communicating our mission and vision in a way that resonates and makes sense. We can do more to tap the wisdom in the room – to learn more than we teach, listen more than we speak, ask more than we answer.

While we had initiated this Wednesday’s session to answer questions others might have about Community-Driven Consulting, as happens again and again, we will likely learn more than our audience.

And I sense that the more we dive into being as Open Source about our work as possible, that that is going to be a theme I’ll be repeating for a very long time.

We hope you will join us this Wednesday for the free Q&A Teleclass “Community-Driven Consulting: What Is It? And How Is It Different From What I Already Do?”

Photo “2 or 3 Grouches” shot on the back road through the mountains, from San Diego to Palm Springs

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