Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Engaging boards in social reflection

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you're used to me hammering away on the importance of reflection in nonprofit governance.

I try to include some insights into what that might look like amidst the preaching for thinking time. The adult educator in me also is always looking out for resources to help illustrate and expand upon the ideas I'm sharing.

Today's Twitter feed brought just such a gift. Blogger Donald Clark (@iOPT) connected two of my favorite topics in a useful way in a post titled The Social Learning and Reflection Continuum. "Continuum" is the operative word: from an activity conducted primarily with others on one end to one conducted primarily within our own heads on the other. At the midpoint, Donald introduces "social reflection," an idea that has potential for nonprofit boards (and all adults who work and learn in group settings).

If you scroll down the post, you'll find a graphic that illustrates nicely how learning (informal to formal) interacts with the social learning/reflection continuum. You'll also find a few examples of the kinds of activities that might lie within each quadrant.

As you read that graphic, within the context of board learning and deliberation, what comes to mind? What are you already implementing within your board (Or, if you're a consultant, what have you recommended and/or seen work effectively within boards you've encountered?)?

What intrigues you? What could you see exploring within a board context? What other examples could we add to that quadrant?

I'm attracted to a couple of the examples that he provides: action research and interviews. Yes, I know that boards are challenged to simply meet their baseline responsibilities. Adding an action research project to the mix likely would be both realistic and counterproductive. But I have to wonder how identifying and exploring burning questions - owning their learning in service to mission - might engage board members in ways that not only increase effectiveness but bring them closer to the purpose they protect. Maybe it's not becoming action researchers but adopting the inquisitive mind that comes with the process that would benefit boards.

I'm also still pondering the "social reflection" idea, and how it might be used to spark new thinking about governance. I welcome your thoughts about that as well.

1 comment:

Debra said...

For anyone interested in the topic, Donald has posted a follow-up here:

http://bdld.blogspot.com/2010/12/should-door-be-closed-or-open-thoughts.html