Thursday, November 30, 2006

Second Thoughts

The facilitator orientation for the UNOP Community Congress II lasted over 2.5 hours last night. The amount of information one is expected to master and implement is more than a little intimidating!

Of course, each facilitator (and participant) is coming to the event with his or her own professional experiences and preparation, and the whole will be larger than the sum of its parts.

I'm having some second thoughts about the time, effort, and money I will be expending to participate in this thing. This is a huge effort for me personally, and from what I can tell there is the possibility that no one will even show up to participate in Detroit. And what benefit will there be for those who do show up? They will share their preferences, "voting" for the options that are presented. But as Ed pointed out to me last night, who created these options? (Some of them were created at the first Community Congress, some of the options will come from the participants in this event, and some of them were created by a variety of consultants who have researched the issues.) And what obligation does the leadership in New Orleans have to act on any of these choices?

On the other hand, I'm hearing Pam's voice in my head right now: "Trust the process!"

More to come?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Who are you with?

I emailed an RSVP to attend a local conference on green business this week, and the coordinator responded to my message with this question: "Who are you with?"

I've been mulling the answer over. Who am I with? My initial reaction was that I am coming alone . . . but I know that isn't what he's asking. He wants to know what organization I'm representing. He wants to know where my energy is. He wants to put me into an easy-to-understand category. He wants to know what to put on my badge.

So . . . what organization am I representing? My employer? No, I'm taking time off from work to attend this event because my employer isn't interested in the future of local green business, as far as I can tell. Even if my employer were interested, I'm not their official representative.

So, am I representing another organization? Maybe I'm representing "Tina, Inc." But that wouldn't look very good on a badge, and I don't know what rap I'd deliver to anyone who asked me about Tina, Inc. - it's just a gleam in my eye right now.

Should I go as a member of the media - as a blogger - for the Green Buckeye blog? That's in its infancy, too, but maybe this is a way to give it a boost!

What would you do?

And who are YOU with?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Green Buckeye Blog

A few weeks ago I had a brainstorm and decided to start something new. I think it fills a need in the Central Ohio community of ideas . . .

The Green Buckeye Blog

I anticipate that it will be a portal to sustainability resources for Central Ohioans.

Wish us luck!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Introducing Rankaroo™

One of my colleagues from the "old days" at Compuware has started a new online venture called Rankaroo. Now that the project is in "public beta," I'd like to invite you to check it out!

Rankaroo is a way to organize your favorite bookmarks, rank them, and refer them to others. You can see other members' rankings and find new, fun stuff that you might not have found otherwise.

While the people I work with today are intelligent, they are cut from a different cloth than the young innovators I worked with at Compuware. I do miss my old Compuware "family" - it's so great that they still reach out to share their fun stuff with me!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?

I'm very excited to report that I've been invited to be an AmericaSpeaks table facilitator at the Community Congress II in Detroit, Michigan. The congress is intended to allow the New Orleans diaspora to participate in planning for the future of the region, which was devastated by hurricanes last year.

From the invitation:

Facilitators are crucial to the success of the meeting and the work is varied, challenging and fun. Facilitators are responsible for drawing out equal participation from their table of ten people, focusing the group’s conversation and holding respectful space for difference of opinion. In community location and library sites, data collection will be challenging and so facilitators will need to assist with this work when not facilitating.
I'm looking forward to working with and supporting these folks in their efforts to envision and plan a bright future for their hometown and region.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Can We Talk?

Have you noticed the cottage industry that has sprung up around the book Crucial Conversations? It seems that everyone I talk to has recently read the book, seen the authors present at a conference or in a webinar, or is planning to do one of the above.

Today I'm signed up for a 2-hour lunch-and-learn on this topic. In preparation, I've been listening to a recorded version of the book. It seems to provide a comprehensive introduction to dialogue. I'm curious to see what the presenter, my friend Diana, does with the material in two hours.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Put Me In, Coach! I'm Ready to Play

Today I'm having lunch with Lisa, another old friend from my ISPI days. We're planning to talk teaching opportunities at Columbus State and just generally reacquaint.

It dawned on me yesterday that there is probably a connection between how much I've been mourning the loss of my MPOD community and my reaching out to old and new colleagues, friends, and acquaintances. Maybe now that the connection has been brought to awareness I can act on those impulses more consciously.

Yesterday I attended a full-day internal training called "Coaching for High Performance." The instructor/facilitator, Kay, was a self-aware, confident, and gracious young woman that I'm happy to add to my growing network of local professional connections (see paragraph above!). The training itself was learning-filled, with lots of opportunities to practice different aspects of coaching.

Ah-ha or reminder moments for me:

  • Powerful, open-ended questions stimulate the coachee's thinking. We performed a coaching exercise where we were limited to only asking "powerful questions" of the coachee. As the coach, it's very difficult to hold back from giving advice or even simply paraphrasing what the coachee has said. But as I experienced the coachee side of the "questions only" equation, I could feel how my own thinking was being drawn out and amplified by the questions. Very powerful.
  • I have many opportunities to self-coach if I choose to be more cognizant of them.
  • Mindful observation of a practice coaching session can be very enlightening. My observations of two coaching sessions led me to remember how important framing (context) is in any conversation. In one instance as the observer, I had no frame of reference for the situation being coached . . . it was really difficult to figure out what was going on in the conversation! Another important aspect - specificity. During another observation session of "corrective coaching," I couldn't tell what behavior the coach was trying to correct in the coachee. During the debrief, I checked in with the coachee - he wasn't sure what change the coach wanted to see either! It's so important to give examples and be explicit about what needs to change.

I'd like to set up a formal mutual coaching relationship with someone else who wants to keep practicing these skills. Any takers out there?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Michigan Week in Central Ohio

It's the week leading up to the OSU/Michigan game, and the whole town is dressed up for the event.

Block O

Monday, November 13, 2006


Last week I had lunch with Nancy, an acquaintance from my days on the board at ISPI. It was nice to reconnect with her, and I find that I "get" so much more about her now than I did five years ago. We talked OD consulting, facilitation, Open Space, World Cafe, and Appreciative Inquiry. You know how it is when you find someone who speaks your language - you quickly fall into a very comfortable shorthand. You feel that you can say a lot with just a few words.

In some ways, I think she may be the professional here in Columbus with whom I resonate most closely. It has been a joy to rediscover her. Meeting with her has given me a glimpse of a potential future in this market - one that I had not considered possible previously. I'm hoping I'll get to see more of her in the coming months.

Friday, November 10, 2006