Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Emotional Challenges of the Social Brain:

Collective_ThinkingI might not know;

I have to think in public;

I might be wrong;

I might be judged by others . . .

Thinking with others does not necessarily come easy for any of us.  We may want to think well with others and at the same time we may look at thinking well together with others as one of our own individual growth edges we want to address.   I suggest that addressing our own growth and development requires being committed to growing.  And while we intentionally work on our own growth we will also can benefit from accepting that we aren’t perfect and others might judge us in some unflattering way.

To nurture own own abilities to think interdependently Lipton and Wellman give us much to think about.  Hear are some of their observations:

“To be a community of thought means to think interdependently.

This complex exchange requires both cognitive and emotional energy and cognitive and emotional risk.

A community of thought shares an intellectual and emotional commons.

Like the village greens of old, groups gain sustenance and energy from shared pastures. These energy sources include systematic experimentation and complex problem solving. When groups meet, physically or virtually, they create and re-create this commons.

Collective thinking draws on the resources of individuals to produce ideas and insights, and to support and extend the production of ideas and insights of others.

This rich and deep collaboration comes with emotional challenges: I might not know; I have to think in public; I might be wrong; I might be judged by others.”

Creating Communities of Thought Skills, Tasks, and Practices by Laura Lipton & Bruce Wellman From:  The Power of the Social Brain: Teaching, Learning and Interdependent Thinking by Arthur L. Costa and Pat Wilson O’Leary, 2013, Teacher’s College Press, Page 62

Tomorrow belongs to those that can collaborate and create in concert

I really believe that tomorrow belongs to those that can collaborate and create in concert.

I don’t believe that for an effective collaboration to exist that everyone will have the same high level of commitment to every decision or action.  Yet, I do believe that as people work together there are times when a individual will hold a high commitment to an idea and there will be other times when the same individual will hold a medium or low commitment to an idea.  In all of those situations this individual can be part of an effective collaboration.

For a collaboration to exists, it is my experience, that there needs to be enough people with high commitment and few or none in the group in disagreement at a level where they would want to “block” the idea – then a consensus has formed.

As people work together and build new consensus ideas, it is likely that any individual will play different roles in the support of the new consensus ideas.

Form my experience, ideas that are strongly supported by over 65% of the people are ideas that can be considered to be a reasonable consensus.   And again, as long as members of the group are not going to block the implementation of the idea, the idea can move forward and come to life.

Over the last 45 yours I’ve been involved with groups that have used a “fist to five” approach to checking for consensus.  What you see below is a description of what a “fist of five” approach might look like.  In the example below, the zero or the “fist” is not set to be a “block”.  If you want to uses same concept and have the zero be a “block”, that would be more than acceptable as well.

For a strong consensus to be formed at least 65% of the group would need to be a “4” or a “5”.  And there would need to be some, maybe 20% to 30% as “3’s”.

I strongly believe that today’s and tomorrow’s challenges are and will be complex and thus will require people who can and will think interdependently.  And that tomorrow will belong to those that can collaborate and create in concert.

Consensus_Grid_Blue

Using our “Social Brains”

Brains Work Well Together: So Let’s Get Good At Using Our SOCIAL BRAINS!

In a very real sense, the main purpose of the brain is survival. We have brains in order to keep the individual and the species alive. Those traits and behaviors which increase the probability of survival are selected and passed on to the next generation.

It is easy to see how eventually the brains of our ancestors began to change from purely survival brains into social brains. Most scientists now agree that our social brains have been shaped by natural selection because being social enhances survival.

The brain regions that have undergone the most change are those capable of the emotion, reason, and intellect necessary to form relationships and work collaboratively with others.

From: Thinking Interdependently – A Human Survival Mechanism by Pat Wolf From:The Power of the Social Brain: Teaching, Learning and Interdependent Thinking by Arthur L. Costa and Pat Wilson O’Leary, 2013, Teacher’s College Press  Pagee 2 & 3

A Community of Thought

Three_thinking_termsWHAT IS A COMMUNITY OF THOUGHT?

WHY COMMUNITIES OF THOUGHT?

WHAT MAKES THINKING INTERDEPENDENT?

HOW ARE CAPACITIES FOR INTERDEPENDENT THINKING DEVELOPED?

HOW ARE COMMUNITIES OF THOUGHTS SUSTAINED?

Here are responses to these questions chosen by Laura Lipton & Bruce Wellman

WHAT IS A COMMUNITY OF THOUGHT?

A [community of thought embraces a] process through which parties who see different aspects of a problem can constructively explore their differences and search for solutions that go beyond their own limited vision of what is possible. —Barbara Gray, Collaborating:  Finding Common Ground for Multiparty Problems

WHY COMMUNITIES OF THOUGHT?

There is an established method for accomplishing this aliveness that values all voices in the room, uses the small group even in large gatherings, and recognizes that accountability grows out of co-creation. —Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging

WHAT MAKES THINKING INTERDEPENDENT?

A strong community helps people develop a sense of true self, for only in community can the self-exercise and fulfill its nature: giving and taking, listening and speaking, being and doing. —Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life

HOW ARE CAPACITIES FOR INTERDEPENDENT THINKING DEVELOPED?

If it is a credible process (that is, it has both integrity and a fair chance of producing results) and an open process (that is, the dialogue is both honest and receptive to different points of view), then people will invest the energy—the enormous expenditure of energy necessary to make collaboration succeed. Creating and nurturing this open and credible process is extraordinarily important for those who are initiating collaboration. —David Chrislip & Carl Larson, Collaborative Leadership: How Citizens and Civic Leaders Can Make a Difference

HOW ARE COMMUNITIES OF THOUGHTS SUSTAINED?

Because questions are intrinsically related to action, they spark and direct attention, perception, energy, and effort, and so are at the heart of the evolving forms that our lives assume. —Marilee Goldberg, The Art of the Question

From: Creating Communities of Thought Skills, Tasks, and Practices by Laura Lipton & Bruce Wellman From:  The Power of the Social Brain: Teaching, Learning and Interdependent Thinking by Arthur L. Costa and Pat Wilson O’Leary, 2013, Teacher’s College Press 61 -68

INTERDEPENDENT THINKING BY A SCHOOL STAFF

Engaging teachers and principals in regular and frequent meetings demands that time become worthwhile.   We suggest the following steps to change how time is spent and to keep the focus on learning with school staff members:

1.   Have regularly scheduled and facilitated PLC meetings, with the staff setting agendas    and understanding the purpose of PLCs.

2.    Prepare staff to become skillful data users.

3.    Build trust among group members.

4.    Expand staff’s conversation structures and skills.

5.    Start conversations in pairs or trios when introducing participants to interdependent thinking.

6.    At the end of the meeting, take time to reflect on the learning, decisions made, and skills developed by PLC members

Creating Interdependent Thinking Among School Staff by William A. Sommers & Shirley M. Hord in The Power of the Social Brain: Teaching, Learning and Interdependent Thinking by Arthur L. Costa and Pat Wilson O’Leary, 2013, Teacher’s College Press, page 73

richest_resources_reside_in_adultLanguage_shapesGandhi_the_possible

Times Are More Complex!

EinsteinThinking together is not a new idea. What is new is the increasing complexity within which groups work as information flows more quickly, demanding more immediate attention than ever before. Transient organizational affiliations add to this complexity as employees move among and between roles, teams, and employers.  As a result, groups need to continually create and re-create themselves, stimulated by provocative questions and rich resources.

From: Creating Communities of Thought Skills, Tasks, and Practices by Laura Lipton & Bruce Wellman From:  The Power of the Social Brain: Teaching, Learning and Interdependent Thinking by Arthur L. Costa and Pat Wilson O’Leary, 2013, Teacher’s College Press, page 61