Love and Discord: Creating Passion Through Leadership
Keywords:social innovation, netweavers, storytelling, diversity, creative disruption
How can a social innovation enhance diversity in ways that maximize its social benefits and minimize its social costs? This challenge was explored in a dialogue series convened from 2018 to 2020, where highly experienced network designers and facilitators (or “netweavers”) explored how to maintain lively, generative innovation communities. This paper provides advice from the netweavers in their own words, combined with my commentary on their ideas for benefiting from diverse membership and building and maintaining connection within social innovations organizations that may have limited face-to-face interaction. I first explore how to bring love to your leadership by engaging selflessly, telling the truth, and cultivating a mind and body connection. I recount how the netweavers engaged in ritual, storytelling, and other creative techniques for enhancing intuition and imagination, and how they maintained brief personal connections that were individually tailored to their community member’s needs. Second, I explore how to embrace diversity and disruption. A creative community contains many kinds of diversity, and these differences are useful for innovation work since they cause people to question and broaden their ideas and assumptions. I recount the netweavers’ ideas about how to weave this capacity for creative disruption within a culture of safety and reassurance without letting things get too comfortable and complacent. They concluded that social innovation communities should not cultivate consensus, but rather should create an environment where people see each other as legitimate participants and feel safe to share their differences.
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