Additional Readings

Many disciplines and resources can inform your thinking about reflective practices. Interested in contributing to the list? Please contact

Stanford Social Innovation Review Article: In “The Dawn of System Leadership” Peter Senge and his colleagues reflect on the three core capabilities that system leaders develop in order to foster collective leadership: 1) the ability to see the larger system; 2) fostering reflection and more generative conversations; and 3) shifting the collective focus from reactive problem solving to co-creating the future.  – Shared by Ted Lord, Senior Partner, The Giving Practice

Grantcraft Guide: Organizations have strategies. As individuals, don’t we need to use explicit strategies to navigate the shoals of complex situations? I was just looking at a guide that Bill Ryan and I wrote for GrantCraft called ‘Personal Strategy: Mobilizing Your Self for Effective Grantmaking.’ It’s free, a quick read, and offers good reflective practice techniques from philanthropy practitioners.  – Shared by Jan Jaffe, Senior Partner, The Giving Practice

New York Times Article: A recent New York Times article on mindfulness references the concept of the impartial spectator, an idea first introduced in the 18th century by Adam Smith. Smith wrote that we all have access to an “impartial and well-informed spectator.” This spectator’s form of attention puts us in the present and gives us a more unbiased perspective — much the way our attention is focused when we travel to a new place, noticing details that the locals take for granted. – Shared by Ted Lord, Senior Partner, The Giving Practice

Negative Capability Concept: English Romantic poet John Keats wrote eloquently on the concept of Negative Capability, a state in which the individual is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, and doubts, “without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” Keats’ lyric description of negative capability offers a poetic and metaphorical entry point to how we might better hold ambiguities. – Shared by Shin Yu Pai, Former Special Initiatives Manager, Philanthropy Northwest

Book Recommendation: I recently read An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, which explores the worlds of three leading companies that have created an organizational culture in which “support of people’s development is woven into the daily fabric of working life and the company’s regular operations, daily routines, and conversations.” This book  suggests that the culture you create is your strategy—and that the key to success is developing everyone.  As a former Senior Program Officer at a family foundation and as a long-time consultant to philanthropic organizations, I find myself wondering how we in philanthropy might employ such methods to become more effective in terms of internal operations and in how we approach our work with grantees and other stakeholders. – Shared by Lisa Fisher, Senior Advisor, The Giving Practice