Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting back into blogging mode

My apologies for the month-long posting hiatus. I've been immersed in governance since my incredibly fruitful trip to Montreal. It has been a stimulating, exciting - and completely overwhelming - intellectual process that likely will continue for a lifetime.

You may remember that I traveled there at the beginning of August to participate in the inaugural meeting of the international Study Group on Governance Relationships and Dynamics. I spent two days immersed in exploration of the state of research on nonprofit governance with scholars from the U.S., Canada, Norway, Italy and Great Britain. It stretched my mind, it intimidated me (being in the same room - and peer group - as the senior governance scholars I read and admire), and it sparked a fresh round of excitement about all the important questions that need to be asked about increasing the effectiveness of our boards.

The second part of that trip was participation in the 2010 Academy of Management conference - just me, and about 10,000 new friends. My official reason for being there was as part of a panel titled "What do boards do: Interpersonal and group processes in nonprofit governance." The heady experience of sharing insights with governance scholar peers on the panel, and interested experts in the audience, moved me deeper into a learning and reflection process about my ongoing governance questions.

The paper for that panel took a fresh view of my data, through the lens of sociocultural learning theory. What emerged was not a vast departure from the community of practice theme of my dissertation, but a shift in priority findings. The big news, for my fellow panelists and the audience, were the insights I gained about the importance of questions and stories in board deliberations. To be honest, the latter was almost an afterthought, thrown in to beef up a point I wanted to make in support of the theory. But in the time following the presentation, and in the month-long reflective process, I've realized that I need to understand more fully - and talk about more widely - the importance of the stories we tell and how they shape the "learning to be, learning about" of nonprofit governance. That's a significant part of the thought work that prompted my blogging break.

My brain is filled with ideas that I want to share and explore on this site (including, actually, what I've been learning about the brain and how we learn). I have two posts begging to be written in the next week, based on two incredible books I've been reading (by Twitter friends Alice Korngold and Pamela Meyer) and the conversations they've sparked. (Yes, you can learn and grow - and develop valued connections - 140 characters at a time!)

This isn't the post I intended to write when I came here, but it's the post I needed to write to move forward from this incubation period. I look forward to share the best of what I am learning and how it is impacting my understanding of nonprofit governance. I especially look forward to exploring, poking, stretching and adapting them with you - and seeing what emerges in the process.

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