What you told us and what we’ll be doing with that

In 2022, Creating the Future asked our community to determine what’s next for the work of our mission. 

Our mission:
Our mission is to apply Catalytic Thinking in a variety of settings, and to share what we learn from those experiments, to ensure that everyone, everywhere, can transform the systems they encounter into more humane, healthy, joyful, equitable systems.

For the first five years of our 10-year mission clock, our primary focus was experimenting. In this next phase of our work, our focus will shift to sharing what we learned from those experiments. The question we therefore asked our community to help figure out was, “What will be the most effective ways for us to share that?” And of course, we used Catalytic Thinking to guide those conversations.

The following summarizes what we asked, what you told us, and the first steps we’ll take to put those aspirations into action.

What we asked
In writing and in facilitated conversations, here are the Catalytic Thinking questions we asked you to weigh in on:

First we asked you to share in writing the outcomes you thought were important for you and others:

  1. What is happening in your life and your work, that has led you to Creating the Future? What does our work make possible for you?
  2. What groups or individuals might be affected if we share what we’ve learned from experimenting with Catalytic Thinking? Who might be impacted by learning more about Catalytic Thinking?
  3. For each of the groups you listed in Question 2, what could sharing what we’ve learned about Catalytic Thinking make possible for those individuals or groups?

We then invited you to help identify the common themes in those aspirations. The answer was overwhelmingly about a shift in mindset – from what’s wrong to what’s possible, from competing to cooperating and working together, from scarcity to enoughness.

In facilitated conversations, therefore, we asked,

For that mindset shift to take place via the learnings we share, what do people need to know? What do they need to feel / be assured of? What do people need to have?

What you told us
Your response to this inquiry was overwhelming. 70+ thoughtful written responses. Almost 40 people participating in 2-hour facilitated conversations. I confess those numbers blew us away. Each of those activities required slow time to think – this was far more than a 2 minute task!

And the responses themselves were all so affirming! You told us loud and clear that we have accomplished a lot in our first 5 years, and that you appreciate what that has made possible for you. To all who responded, thank you!

As we worked to synthesize all that you shared, your replies fell into three categories:

  • Our community members need a place to learn about Catalytic Thinking.
  • Our community members need the inspiration and permission to experiment in their own work, to live in a space of inquiry.
  • Our community members need spaces to connect with other Catalytic Thinking practitioners.

What’s Next
Our task is now to determine what it will take to turn your desired outcomes into programs and services.

Honoring what you’ve laid out for us will be a big undertaking. Given the excitement around this effort, we want to ensure that our next steps do justice to that excitement, while aligning with our values.

What that will mean in the short term is taking slow, quiet time to build first steps. That slow time will include two parts:

To provide an easily accessible way for folks to learn Catalytic Thinking, we will be building a library of resources. As part of that resource hub…

    • I will write the book on Catalytic Thinking (Documenting our theory of change)
    • We will share what we learned through 40+ interviews with global change-leaders. Those interviews each asked, “What does it take to create visionary social change?” The answers those change-leaders shared are all embedded in the Catalytic Thinking framework. (Documenting our research)
    • We will document all the experiments we have done since our inception, sharing the lessons of Catalytic Thinking by example. (Documenting our case studies)

This year will also be a time for recharging our batteries and taking slow time to consider next steps, to create pathways to the outcomes you defined.

At Creating the Future, we don’t believe in “failing fast.” While that might be a great approach for developing the latest software, in the social change arena, the actions we design will directly impact people’s lives. Whether an organization is a food bank, a domestic violence shelter, or an education institution, “failing fast” means people will fail. 

And so, following our values (it’s always about the people), we will be taking slow time to determine what actions we will take. During that time, we will have few, if any, public meetings – a big change for us. Instead we will be taking time to have more conversations with our community members, and to begin creating resources for the library.

We hope our focus on slowing down, taking time to think and recharge sets an example for your own work. Because every effort needs that. In our eJournals and discussion forums, we so often encourage others to do so. We will therefore be walking our talk and taking the next few months to do just that – to work and think at a slow, human pace.

ALL of it towards the end goal of accomplishing
what you have told us is important to you.

During that time, here is what we will ask of you, our community:

  • Because connecting was such an important part of your responses, find ways to connect with people in your community who are practicing Catalytic Thinking – and to form communities of practice to support each other. If you’d like to kick that off with a webinar on Catalytic Thinking to inspire people in your part of the world, let us know and we’ll make that happen!
  • Because inspiration to experiment was such an important part of your responses, share what you are thinking about experimenting with. You can do so directly with us at this link, or even better, share it with other members of our community at our Facebook group for Catalytic Thinking.
  • Because having resources to learn from was such an important part of your responses, if you enjoy writing and would like to help us document what we’ve learned for our Catalytic Thinking resource library, let us know.

Lastly, if you are inspired to find ways to include rest-and-recharge into your own work, we encourage you to use Catalytic Thinking to determine what it would take for your organization to focus on the well-being of your people.

  • Engage everyone associated with your organization in the conversation.
  • Listen to their aspirations, their dedication to the mission, their values.
  • Consider what such respite could make possible for your mission.
  • And create the path to make that happen.

Because if this past year of engagement has taught us anything, it has reaffirmed that creating what is possible requires that we bring out the best in ourselves and those around us.

And that starts with each of us.

UPDATE: February 23, 2023:
Our February 20th newsletter included a step-by-step for using Catalytic Thinking to build “recharging your batteries” into your work. You can find that here.

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