Schoolyard Behavior on the Web: Stop Cyberbullying

March 30, 2007

I sometimes take the ability to speak my mind in this blog for granted. AI Annotations is about generative ideas and most of the folks who find their way here as readers and commenters are like-minded. If you lived in my town, we’d go down to Slave to the Grind and have a cappuccino and share our thoughts together. I’d feel safe with you . . . my intellectual and social community.

March 30 is Stop Cyberbullying Day. The idea for the day came from some pretty nasty attacks on Kathy Sierra, a prominent writer, blogger and educator. The generative response was launched by Andy Carvin who writes the Learning Now blog for PBS where you will find his comments.

It really takes my breath away to think that decent people can be stalked publicly in cyberspace. The outrage from the folks who responsibly blog has been vocal and strong. Some decided to be silent this week and not to blog in protest of the abuse that Kathy Sierra experienced. Others have shared legislative information so our laws could be stronger. I am using my voice here . . . as I think an appreciative view may be helpful to re-center the underlying truth.

And so, I ask of you: Can you think of a time when you used your ability to communicate when faced with abuse and hurtful intentions . . . and you were able to bring a more wholesome, respectful and generative voice to the conversation and turned it around? What did you do? What made it so exceptional?

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Nexus . . . of technology

March 21, 2007

Before the conference kicks off this afternoon, some of us have gathered to mess around with the technology tools and their place in the change management process.  There is such a wide range of backgrounds in the group, that it makes you wonder what we have in common.  And some creative tensions ensue.  Some of what we want to explore includes:

  • Wikis and the processes for building them as workspaces
  • An array of templates from which the methods of change could operate online
  • Collaboration support
  • New ways of addressing issues
  • Getting the attention and buy-in of the movers and shakers

The passion of the group converges on bridging the networks of high-end technology users and non-users.  Thera are differences in communication (language that we use) and competencies (tools we use and skills we use) among these populations.  At the same time, we are focused on shaping the technical background to the context and intention of the work at hand.   One consideration is the place of the technology within the flow of process . . . . before, during and after . . . and as an concurrent to F2F, between F2F, or as the sole media for collaboration and collective participation.


Shaping the Future . . . of Change

March 20, 2007

I’m packing my luggage and laptop . . . I’m off to Bowling Green, Ohio today for the Nexus For Change Conference. This really falls into the category of a bus man’s holiday. Can you imagine what will happen as the advance press explains what we are up to:

Our focus will be on leveraging the power of over 60 approaches being used to transform whole organizations and communities as they tackle 21st Century Challenges. These approaches are broadly referred to as large-group methods/interventions, whole system change, or large-scale change. What make them unique are two foundation assumptions: high involvement and a systemic approach to improvement.

Over 300 people will gather starting today, coming from the US, Canada and abroad. We all share a passion for supporting the processes (Appreciative Inquiry among them) that shift the focus and shape the future. I’ve been fascinated by the introductions posted by nearly half of those who will attend. Their backgrounds are so diverse, rich, broad and deep. They speak of hopes and dreams for our few days together. Listen to their hearts . . .

Perhaps this can be a circumstance whereby each can let go of some tension in their own balloon, little or large, so as we ease into this we may discover that there is more air for all and for the whole…

We need to make sure we include people from around the world in these discussions. Then, we can consider things like shared principles, research possibilities, the role of technology, and our contribution to the challenges facing the world today.

Who would help me build a storybook that tells the journey of “ordinary people” who have made real difference – written for executives and managers?

I’d like to begin serious conversation that includes both practitioners and academic researchers about how to conduct significant academic research on the large group methods’ research that has the capacity both to contribute to academic theorizing and to the methods themselves.

How come the ideas and methods we know work in the best educations, companies, communities and research teams are not known to every single person in the world?

My own passion has long been about opening the dialogue across the organization. That openness encompassing the various people in roles that are diverse in expertise, authority and structure, and at the same time opening the media of expression and communication to include not just verbal and written language, but the arts, technology, and science. From that flows an aspiration for the Nexus conference, that the silos that separate and distinguish the change methodologies lose their significance as we reshape our understanding of models, language and tools. It would be my dream that, like sculptors, we retain the substance of the clay as we give it new shape and life for the work.


The Direction of Your Questions

March 13, 2007

“Answers reflect the past. Questions advise you about the future.”
– Margaret Somerville –

Asking high quality questions of yourself and others is an art. David Cooperrider says, “The first question you ask is fateful.” And further, that individuals and human systems tend to grow in the direction of the questions they ask on a regular basis.

Here’s question that’s swirling in my consciousness these days…I dreamed it up after spending a few days with David at a conference in January.

“How can I consistently engage my nervous system in an appreciative way of being and develop a neural fascination for what gives life, what creates hope and what supports genuine contact and connection with myself and with others?”

The theory and practice of Appreciative Inquiry has shown me that when strength connects to strength and hope is connected to hope, creativity and resources abound. Experience has also shown me that my habitual ways of thinking lean more towards the classic Highlights Magazine puzzles I loved as a kid…”What’s Wrong with This Picture?” Positive sustainable change and an appreciative view go hand in hand…what can you appreciate right here and now in your world?

To appreciate means to increase in value; to become sensitively aware of. Look around–find a friend, a co-worker, a teacher, a sibling, a parent, a child, your husband, your wife, your partner, a politician, a CEO, a clerk, a cashier, a blogger, an author, a musician, a colleague, a dentist, a doctor, a repair person…someone to appreciate–go on an appreciative rampage. Send emails, write a letter, make a phone call; develop and stretch your own capacity. By all means, stay alert to the quality of the questions you live in–as Marliee Adams puts it, “change your questions, change your life.”

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