Conversation 2010 participants surfaced the idea that an institution shares with its donors/partners a set of beliefs in some process of imagining and responding to some dream or some shared opportunity that can resolve an important problem. Our role is to set the table for that shared imagining to occur. This early process can be fraught with—and enriched and framed by—some unstated things like imagination, identity, beliefs, and a dream of something that could resolve an important problem. That process is rooted in the personal courage to have authentic conversations with people. The process is also framed by our response to the environment, choices which have opportunity costs and which put pressure on our tactics. We explored the questions of whether and how we can be sure we’re being authentic in seeking new ways to tap others’ intentions or sources for good. It could be different for individuals and groups. We told a story about “seeking the source from behind the rock” (in reference to an old BC comic strip) that requires a relationship over time where both the rock and the seeker are different each visit.
Our conversation moved from the ephemeral to the practical in how to do this. We talked about how to do the alignment, a way to do culture building. We concluded that for individuals and organizations to enrich these connected conversations, to get better at them, would require working beyond silos. Connect the silos, but don’t get stopped by them. Leaders will have to help their organizations create a new and intentional learning agenda to see their operating environment as a whole system which is ever in flux, constantly seeking change.