BIF-7 Breath Two: Principles, People and Harvest

Welcome to the series where I connect my BIF-7 insights on the questions I carried with me to the Five Breaths of Design/Chaordic Stepping Stones. In this post you’ll find insights on Breath Two, Clarify.

The second breath invites questions like what are our principles, who are the people in the system and what is the harvest we are planning. Here are the golden threads from my notes on the various stories at BIF-7 that connected with the second breath of designing conversations that matter:

On the criticalness of principles to guide your journey:

  • Remember, remember, remember your mission (e.g. to cure sometimes, alleviate often, console always).
  • When you believe that everything you need is already there, how does this radically change your approach?
  • You can’t write about what you are trying to do unless you practice it, like business model innovation.
  • How can we accelerate talent development and increase our capacity for resilience?

On identifying the people to invite to participate:

  • Look around you to where “the change” is already active and go there.
  • Who is the other when we are the other? E.g. asking the madrassa if America should be afraid of you? The madrassa responds that maybe it's us who should be afraid of America.
  • What other citizens can be tapped into instead of extending the current resources, like expanding the learning day by 30% not through teachers but through citizen teachers.
  • Who are the unusual suspects that could participate, like the church?
  • When you find a group who is reluctant to participate, can you find one person within that group who is excited and start with them.
  • Who are the people in leadership who truly have their eye on tomorrow?
  • Who are the groups that are the “first responders” when something goes sideways?
  • Who are those who are connectors; always reaching out?
  • Who are the questioners? Those that get jazzed about asking the questions?
  • To shape serendipity and pull others to you, how can you actively broadcast the problems you are wrestling with?
  • Helpful to remember some rules about how we connect:
    • Birds of a feather flock together, those close by form a tie.
    • What you know depends on who you know and who you know depends on what you know.
    • We each have varying tolerance for others; some are a boundary spanner between groups. Who are the boundary spanners.
    • Ah-ha is to connect on your similarities and benefit from your differences, and ask them – who do you know who needs to be part of this conversation?
  • Look at the relationships within in the system, at seemingly non-related activities and ask as Galileo did when he pointed his telescope towards the heavens, “What else could we use this for?” Suddenly hosting a marathon becomes a path for community change.

On planning a harvest:

  • Our job is to give voice to the voiceless and ears to the earless – what and how can we harvest that helps the story be told and heard?
  • Narrative provides a source of stability; how can the harvest focus more on opportunity-based narratives than threat-based narratives?
  • Power of putting your ideas in the right context/environment e.g. Fendi introducing itself to China on the Great Wall
  • Everything makes up the stories; the medium is a part of it, space, context, everything you can control, think about its likely space. If you get it right, that is when you get people interested, you can reshape the possible space and the likely space. Further reading suggested here and here.

Up next in my BIF-7 insights is Breath Three: Giving Form and Structure.