Principles for Harvest

May 1, 2008

I recently co-hosted a world cafe and on-going conversation space at an assembly of over 1,300 Jewish Day-School leaders. I met today with people in the calling and convening group, Partnership for Excellence in Education (PEJE), as well as co-hosts from the Art of Hosting community of practice -- Maria Scordiolas, Sarah Whitely, Teresa Posakony, and Cynthia Lyon. Today's call was a focus on harvesting. What to do with the notes and piles of post-it notes that contained bold ideas about the issues of affordability and leadership?

This is a good challenge and opportunity to learn. It is too easy to default to typing up notes, creating a large report or manual that is a lot of work, yet holds little life. And to learn when those kind of reports are helpful.

I learned much with this wonderful group. I was particularly interested in the principles that I heard the group of nine of us speaking today. They inform a next level for me of framing a harvest to make it helpful. They inform me of the underlying energy of harvest, rather than just the volume.

- Work with the processes you have -- often their are already channels with which to make visible the new learning
- continue in beauty -- it is beautiful to see people engaging and creating. It is beautiful to continue in this energy with harvest
- experiment with another way -- there is always another way
- stay in the pursuit of wiser action -- this grounds the process, this belief that our actions can also be something else. Our relations feed wiser action.
- must marry content to process -- process by itself is interesting but not sustainable
- for a field to hear, it doesn’t need all to hear each person -- this is such an invitation to train to listen for patterns rather than volume
- welcome the simple -- often more sustainable -- and not to be confused with reductive
- questions give us entry -- so often I have seen in myself an others a kind of apology that the outcome is questions rather than answers. Questions can be such gifts to keep us in our most imaginative selves in concept and action.
- story is a medium for learning – what is done and what is starting to be imagined -- such richness to tell stories with each other, and to gift each other with directly applicable insights from seemingly unrelated contexts
- imagining is required
- support self-organize (name, connect, nurture, illuminate) -- you can't really manage large systems in the old ways. But you can support conditions for emergence to occur, and with deliberateness
- integrate assembly to PEJE and field
- support conditions for self-organization
- notice what is different in participating from representing -- another zinger here. To participate is to create. So often, representing is to present, even perform. Creation is far more impactful, and a principle of living systems -- people support what they create.
- let the transformation of the assembly transform PEJE -- our work in systems, in the outer happens simultaneously with the inner
- doesn’t matter where ideas come from -- training into the voices that speak the clarity of the system

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