Monday, May 8, 2017

Building a "Fellowship" on the Web.

Last week I posted this article, with a TED talk presented by Steve Whitla, based in the UK.  Today Steve sent me a Tweet, pointing me to a thoughtful article he'd written, in response to my article. He focused on the three challenges I'd offered in my article, and expanded on them from his own perspective.

I  hope you'll take time to read it.

1)  Challenges of Making Maps - Steve recognizes a truth that I've understood for many years.  In the past I've had people question the value of the maps I've created, saying people in poor areas don't have access to the technology to view the maps. I said, "I know.  I'm trying to reach the people who don't live in poor areas who have the resources to make technology and access to my maps available to people in poor neighborhoods, and who will help me collect the data, build the maps, and train people to use them."  In Steve's article these would be the "Gentry" who supported map-making in the middle ages.

2) The Challenge of Motivating Growing Numbers of People to look at the maps.  I love the reference to Bilbo, from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I've read the series several times.  My graphic above draws from another fantasy series, the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan. In both books a small group of people band together to save the world.  In both books the 'hero' was a reluctant 'hero'.  I never sought the role I'm in. It grew on me over many years.   In Steve's article, he focuses on the 5% of people in an organization who might already be interested in an idea.  My efforts have focused on the same 5%, or even 1%, of people in the world who might be interested in the work I'm doing. That's like looking for a needle in the universe!  Yet, that's how I connected with Steve.

I created this concept map to show the different skills and networks I'm trying to bring into my fellowship.  I first used the Wheel of Time graphic in 2011, in this article.

3) The Role of Network Builder, Facilitator and Teacher.  In Steve's article he writes "If we're all looking a the same map, then we have a much more meaningful conversation."  That's what I think, too, but it takes us back to Challenge 1 and Challenge 2.

I've used this pyramid graphic often since the mid 1990s, such as in this article.  I've created a library of concept maps, that support the GIS maps. Steve's blog is full of visualizations.  If more people spend time trying to understand these, when we get together we are closer to a common frame of reference.

In my case, I feel that we all want kids to go safely through school and enter jobs and careers as contributing members of society. However, if someone is not doing the work at the bottom of the pyramid, of creating a map-based information system, it's hard to have a 'meaningful conversation' about actions each of us needs to take to make that support system available in all places where kids need extra help.

If people are not motivated to spend time looking at these articles, and our maps, our meetings lack the common understanding and frame of reference needed. Back to Challenge 2.

Final Challenge - Remaining Neutral - Steve added this since I did not mention it in my original article.  I think that if the data on the maps is accurate, anyone can use the map to develop strategies that support a common vision.  In articles on this blog I point to many data platforms, not just the interactive Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and maps the Tutor/Mentor Connection has created. Keeping the maps updated and accurate goes back to Challenge 1, which is finding the talent and resources to do this.

Another Challenge - Overcoming "Not Invented Here".  Over the 24 years that I've been doing this work, too many have started their own "fellowships", drawing support from political, business and civic leaders. Too few, like almost none, have reached out to say "What can I learn from your experiences? Or, "How can I help you?"   Here's one of several articles that focus on this challenge.

One more. It seems to me that Steve is writing about challenges within organizations, where there are many different power bases and hidden agendas. I'm writing about the challenge of mobilizing people from many different organizations and sectors of society - the village of people who need to take roles in raising kids and helping them move to productive adult lives.  They also have power bases and hidden agendas. They don't have the structure, and pay check, provided by corporations, which offer some motivation for people to work together.

That makes this even more difficult.

I can't express how pleased I was that Steve took time to read my original article and reflect on it on his blog. I've encouraged others to do the same, and created this concept map as a way to connect those people and their articles with each other.  I added a link to Steve's blog today.   In some ways, the people I point to are "companions" who I've been able to attract and connect in my own on-going efforts to have a positive impact on the world I live in.

I invite other readers to join us.

No comments: