Category : Adaptive Learning

Adaptive Learning Collaboration Interviews

Adaptive Leadership as a Reflective Practice

 

This post is the result of networks and reverse engineering! I wanted to explore whether philanthropy practitioners have used adaptive leadership, the framework developed by Dr. Ronald Heifetz and colleagues at Harvard’s Kennedy School, as a form of reflective practice. Hanh Le, who wrote a great post on Katy Perry lyrics and foundation strategy on this site, introduced me to foundation director and leadership consultant Marc Manashil, who with Dr. Linda Lausell Bryant created a variety of programs at New York University’s (NYU) Silver School of Social Work using the adaptive leadership approach. Those programs are funded by the B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation. I wanted to learn how this foundation came to support a form of reflective practice as capacity building, and that’s how I began my conversation with the foundation’s Executive Director, Caroline Williamson. –Jan Jaffe

Caroline: My story is pretty unique. We are a new foundation, not very big and we are a grantmaking public charity. We support programs for underserved children in New York City. That aspect of what we do is traditional charitable work and it is good work. Very early on, we began to experiment with ways to encourage opportunities for reflection and learning among the organizations we supported. Our first grant was for $300K over three years to fund the adaptive leadership work.

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Adaptive Learning Mindfulness Poetry

To Authentically Show Up, Take Yourself Out of the Picture

Sindhu Knotz and Jan Jaffe from The Giving Practice had a great conversation with Nikki Foster of Northwest Area Foundation  about reflective practices she has used in a for profit organization and in philanthropy.

Jan Jaffe: What does the phrase reflective practice mean to you and when did you first become aware of it?

Nikki Foster: It’s the tools I use to think about my interactions with others and take myself out of the picture to authentically show up. Everyone probably uses some form of reflection for this purpose without naming it. There is no one size that fits all. But when you learn to acknowledge that is what you are doing, you have a stronger practice to work with.

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Adaptive Learning Exercises Mindfulness News racial equity

How Can I Be 1% More?

Sindhu Knotz and Jan Jaffe caught up with June Wilson, board member and executive director emeritus of Quixote Foundation to learn about her reflective practices and the foundation’s application of reflective practices to racial equity work.

Jan Jaffe: We started this conversation at Philanthropy Northwest’s annual conference roundtable to exchange stories about how reflective practice impacts our philanthropic work. Can you share with us how reflective practices have shaped your work as a leader?

June Wilson: I can’t remember a time when I haven’t in some way been aware of my personal reflective practices. I will walk, run, or move in space to allow kinesthetic energy to give me a wider palette than just language from which to see, feel and know things. It’s an important source for reflection. I spent many years as a dancer and choreographer learning tools that physicalized the verbal. I often fall back on these techniques especially when I am puzzled by something or feel stuck or challenged by an idea, concept or way of working. For me, it’s a way of reaching farther when I feel like I’ve hit a limit. If I can start by finding even 1% more patience, presence, love, imagination, I can break through that barrier.

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Adaptive Learning Blind Spots Exercises Interviews Parker Palmer

Systems Thinking: How You Show Up Matters

Jan Jaffe: Katie – Our project team has been describing reflective practice as a discipline of mobilizing and managing yourself to get to better outcomes. How about you?

Katie Hong: For me it means several things: 1) understanding that you, as an individual, are part of a system. This is true at work, in your family or as a member of your community. Recognizing what part of the system you are in – in your various roles at any given time – is important; and 2) at the same time, every individual, no matter what part of the system you are in, is powerful and how you show up in the world is a choice. That is, you have the power to either “cast a light or a shadow” to others around you and have positive or negative impact in the world, no matter what part of the system you are in. How you show up matters. Plus, as an actor in a system, you have the power to shift the system too.

This is important to recognize because funders are in a privileged position. My words and actions can mean more and carry more weight because I have influence over how resources are allocated.

I am passionate about the topic of reflective practice because I believe in the power of “self” as a tool and this is critical to having impact in the world.

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Adaptive Learning Exercises News

A Pop Princess Helped My Foundation Articulate Our Values

 

What would you say if I told you Katy Perry helped me facilitate my most recent foundation board meeting? Not impressed? Perhaps you’re more of a Taylor Swift fan. Honestly, I’m #TeamTaylor too, but Katy felt more appropriate for my board at this time.

Why? Let me take a few steps back.

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Adaptive Learning Blind Spots Collaboration News

Philanthropists in a Hurry: The Risks of Unhealthy Boundaries and the Rush to Results (Part 2)

 

In the first part of this series, we discussed some of the rookie mistakes my team and I made when we started working to end family homelessness in the Pacific Northwest. Our impatience for impact led us to skip some of the vital relationship building and buy-in processes vital to achieving our goals. Philanthropy works through partners, but sometimes we forget that means strengthening the partnership aspects first.

What are the lessons learned from this?  First and foremost, it’s about the relationships and boundaries we need to maintain as funders.  Our grantees will always take our phone calls and meetings, and always smile and nod when we share new ideas or express our sense of urgency – even when they may not agree with our thinking and would very much prefer that we back the heck off.  Our shoe size is so large that it’s really easy for us to step on the toes of our partners; vigilance and patience is required, even as the pressure we feel to get to impact raises our anxiety levels.

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