Archive for February, 2010

How might we design a conference?

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I’ve been reading Tim Brown’s Change by Design and I’m surprised at how much the principles in the book about design thinking resonate around what Johnnie MooreChris CorriganAnne PattilloGeoff Brown and I have been doing for the Show Me the Change Conference.

In collaboration with the conference organisers and hosts we’ve created a design team to bring some edgy thinking and practices to the delivery of what could have been yet another predictable conference. We’re thinking this conference will be anything but predictable.

Tim says “design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognise patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols”. And while design thinking has mostly been applied to objects and their functionality, more and more the principles have been applied to services and experiences.

He also explains some other principles of design thinking:

  • building on one another’s good ideas
  • direct engagement with people
  • genuine reciprocity of interests
  • investigative learning
  • exploring questions around ‘how might we…’?
  • the challenge and excitement of applying design thinking to problems that matter
  • finding ways to encourage individuals to move towards more sustainable behaviours

So it seems that a conference that explores complexity and the art of evaluation within a context of behaviour change for sustainability just calls out for design thinking.

Viv McWaters

What do we measure and Why?

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Meg Wheatley on great questions to ask as we think about measurement, especially in complex living systems (like human communities):

Who gets to create the measures? Measures are meaningful and important only when generated by those doing the work. Any group can benefit from others’ experience and from experts, but the final measures need to be their creation. People only support what they create, and those closest to the work know a great deal about what is significant to measure.

How will we measure our measures? How can we keep measures useful and current? What will indicate that they are now obsolete? How will we keep abreast of changes in context that warrant new measures? Who will look for the unintended consequences that accompany any process and feed that information back to us?

Are we designing measures that are permeable rather than rigid? Are they open enough? Do they invite in newness and surprise? Do they encourage people to look in new places, or to see with new eyes?

Will these measures create information that increases our capacity to develop, to grow into the purpose of this organization? Will this particular information help individuals, teams, and the entire organization grow in the right direction? Will this information help us to deepen and expand the meaning of our work?

What measures will inform us about critical capacities: commitment, learning, teamwork, quality and innovation? How will we measure these essential behaviors without destroying them through the assessment process? Do these measures honor and support the relationships and meaning-rich environments that give rise to these behaviors?

via Margaret J. Wheatley: What Do We Measure and Why?.

These are great questions to consider at this Show Me The Change conference as we dive into questions on the implications for complexity on the measurements used to evaluate change in living and complex systems.

Chris Corrigan – SMTC Design Team

Cross posted from Chris’ Parking Lot here

Post Conference Workshops locked in

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Five of the post conference workshops have been confirmed. To read more goto our Conference Program Page where you can download a full description of ‘the conference’ and ‘post-conference’ workshops.

During the design stage, it was clear that pre-conference workshops wouldn’t work . Show Me The Change is all about exploration of the new edges in evaluating behaviour change. It’s about contributing our experience and challenging ourselves (& each other) to explore new ways of working together. So, by the end of Day 2 of the conference itself, we will be armed with new insights and new ways of viewing the world. We will be ready to learn about some of the ‘new edges’ in evaluating behaviour change from our keynote-facilitators.

Here is the summary of fantastic post conference workshops that we have confirmed so far …

Post Conf Summaries_website.001

Our Approach to the design of Show Me The Change

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

The conference design team and steering committee have been working behind the scenes for the past 6 months to design and co-create a conference-with-a-difference. In complex contexts like evaluating behaviour change, a business-as-usual appraoch to conference design just isn’t good enough.

Today is GO-LIVE day for the conference registrations and post conference workshops. The full program can be viewed here.

You can read about the approach taken and the principles that sit behind the design of Show Me The Change here. The slideshow below is a more entertaining way of reading about ‘Our Approach’. Please take a couple of short minutes to click through the slideshow (in Full Screen mode) and look forward to seeing you on May 4th!

Geoff Brown – Conference Design Team

About to go 'LIVE' with registration

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Yes, we are about to ‘go live’ with the full conference program, post conference workshops and an online system so you can book your place at Show Me The Change!

Conference Design Team & Steering Committee

Taming the lizard brain

Monday, February 8th, 2010

I once worked with a young woman who wanted to know, at every turn, what she should do, how she should do it. She was smart, passionate and able – yet she was gripped by fear. Gripped by the fear of not doing it ‘right’. The problem was, and is, that there is no manual – there is no ‘right’ way. As Seth Godin would put it – she was in the grip of her lizard brain, that primitive part of our brain that is either hungry, scared, angry or horny. It’s the reason we are afraid. I heard that she’d recently had a baby. I hope she’s worked out how to tame that lizard brain because I’m pretty sure there’s no manual for raising a child either.

This is the premise of Seth Godin’s latest book, Linchpin. We have a choice to stay stuck, or we can embrace the fear and create some momentum. That’s the good news. The bad news is that our conditioning, and that damn lizard brain, might stop us. We’re conditioned to fit in, not stand out. We’re conditioned to deny our own genius, our art – whatever it is – because we might fail and then the lizard brain can say ‘told you so!’. We fear failure to the point where we don’t even try. Prototyping is all about trying and discarding. Accepting failure. Our lizard brain doesn’t like failure. It once meant we were probably dead, a tasty meal for some predator.

The predators today are no less fearful – it’s just that they are harder to recognise. Security, compensation for our labour, following the rules. These are the things that prevent us from embracing our art and sharing it with the world. Not because we want to get paid, but because there’s nothing else we CAN do, but share our art. Share our passion. We have to accept that it might not work and do it anyway.

Generosity is at the heart of Linchpin, gifting our art to others, not for something in return, not for a later transaction, but for the human to human connection. And for movement. If you’re stuck there’s no movement. It’s hard to be generous if you’re stuck.

There’s no ‘how to’ in this book. It’s a description of what the world needs, and Godin suggests each of us needs to find our own way, create our own map, forge our own future, share our own art, find others who will share the passion and momentum rather than hold us back with the threat of ‘not safe, not secure, not wise’. It’s not  a bad description of how to navigate a complex world where even if there was a manual, it would be out of date before you finished reading it.

Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re busy hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organisation rewards you and brings you back for more.

What generosity can you bring to the Show Me The Change conference? What are you doing around behaviour change that is uncomfortable, untried and hard to measure? What do you fear?