Entries in "NEOBEAN"

October 22, 2006

BAWB event open to NEO community coming up...

I will have handouts at BAWB on Tuesday or Wednesday, with the table of contents for the forthcoming Handbook of Transformative Cooperation. It is expected to be in print next summer at Stanford University Press.

I hope you see some of my BFD and/or REALNEO connections at the regional event! If you don't know what I'm talking about, please leave a comment and I'll find out if there is still space available for you to join us at Veale on Tuesday.

For now, let me leave you with a teaser about the forthcoming Handbook:

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April 22, 2006

framing your inquiry

My colleague Ron Fry has a new book out, coauthored with Frank Barrett (an alumnus of our Ph.D. program, now on the faculty at the Monterrey Naval Academy).

The press release aboout the book, in the link above, describes the approach that Ron Fry takes to combining problem solving and appreciative inquiry: "I don't try to avoid ever focusing on the problem, deficit or the negative. I just try to live more often in conversations that are unbalanced in terms of having more attention, questions and imagery that relate to possibilities, hope and the positive."

I think that is really a key element of understanding the role of positively framing an organizational change intervention. A positive frame is chosen because of the momentum and energy it can unleash, not because there is any desire to avoid a problem-focused frame.

This is a subtlety that I am still learning, in the context of my work with NEOBEAN, as is evidenced in my earlier entry about when to trust a consultant.

April 17, 2006

can you ever trust a consultant?

I came across a great excerpt from a speech by Bob Sutton recently, at the AlwaysOn Network: it's called "Use Common Sense, Not Crystal Balls". In it Professor Sutton (a U of M alum like me) provides four questions for managers to ask themselves when thinking about whether to take the advice offered by consultants. First, is the practice that is being advised time-tested? Second, who benefits? Third, what are the risks? And fourth, what evidence is there that this practice is connected with effectiveness?

I would argue that a consultant who can engage in an honest dialogue with a manager about these questions is a consultant who can be trusted. The rest --

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April 13, 2006

inspiring meeting yesterday -- building a regional coalition

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My NEOBEAN colleagues and I met with Eric Brewer, the mayor of East Cleveland, and he was very supportive and willing to work with us in getting breastfeeding education materials to his city's residents. He and Norm Roulet (who is working on lead abatement in the region) further challenged us to draw together a team of people to get involved in a health fair in the city next month, and to figure out how to reach out to and offer prenatal care, easier access to WIC and other government services, and make sure that all pregnant women are educated about the potential dangers of lead contamination in their living quarters.

I hope that we can draw in some student volunteers to help us with the outreach and health promotion aspects of the initiative. It would be great if we could find a way to offer health promotion curriculum in middle schools and high schools.

January 11, 2006

Areas of Moral Clarity

Last year I made two posts about Tracy Kidder's book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, which have both been very high in my blog stats. The first was this brief entry back in June which included a link to the questions in the essay contest about Tracy Kidder's book. The second was this entry with context on Case's Common Reading Program, made in early August.

However, I never actually returned to the questions in the essay contest. They are wonderfully rich questions, though, like this one: When you look at situations in the world, do you see mostly areas of moral ambiguity or of moral clarity? Take an issue that matters deeply to you, and identify the major obstacles to resolving it? Does the main difficulty lie in determining what "ought to be done," or does it lie in "the doing?"

Any human being who suffers from disease deserves high-quality treatment, regardless of whether the individual can afford to pay for that treatment or not. This is Paul Farmer's area of moral clarity, and I stand with him in his assertion that any human being deserves health care. On this basis, he has motivated himself and a large team to deliver treatment for Tuberculosis, HIV, and other medical conditions in Haiti, Russia, Africa, and other areas beseiged by poverty. Farmer's work with Partners in Health offers powerful evidence that disease and the suffering that comes with it can be effectively treated.

My assertion is that health education for preventive care is as much a moral imperative as is free treatment of disease in poor communities.

Continue reading "Areas of Moral Clarity"

July 21, 2005

great things happen slowly, like glaciers

I'm still stumbling around trying to reorganize my to-do list now that the NEOBEAN workshop is officially postponed, beating myself up a bit because we couldn't make the event come together with a big impressive guest list like we wanted.... so it is with a strange sort of relief that I read Dave Pollard's apology in the wee hours of the morning when a thunderstorm woke me. Dave Pollard is someone whose writing I admire a great deal, who keeps me uncomfortable with my big house and suburban lifestyle with his environmental activism, and who has big plans for a cause he believes in (as I do with breastfeeding advocacy). It's such a comfort to know that I'm not the only one struggling with how to turn dreams into reality.

Whenever I look at cases of transformative cooperation, one of the first commonalities that leaps out across the cases is the long timeframe. ACEnet developed over a decade or so... Tarun Barat Sangh developed over two decades... the Quattro Varas community evolved over many, many years. It's an easy point to make, and conceptually it's not that interesting, so my theorizing skips over it quickly, to think about more complex issues about the interplay between leaders and followers, the particular elements of context that can support the emergence of transformative cooperation, and other more intellectually stimulating but perhaps esoteric points. What I am learning from my experiment in creating transformative cooperation -- the NEOBEAN project -- is that the long timeframe is primary in the experience. I'm not going to melt a glacier and create a waterfall in one summer. If I keep working at it, though, the glacier will start to move downhill, slowly, an inch or two each year.

It remains my hope that by the time my daughter and her preschool classmates are giving birth to their first children, the support available to new mothers for establishing strong breastfeeding relationships will be much stronger than it is now.

February 05, 2005

What do we know about the factors that influence breastfeeding initiation and the duration of exclusive breastfeeding?

One of the projects we would like to collaborate with other participants in NEOBEAN on is a review of existing literature on this topic. What we do know so far is that rates of breastfeeding initiation are intertwined with rates of full-term birth (since some premature infants have not yet developed their suck reflex at birth) and with the education level and age of the mother. Rates of exclusive breastfeeding are connected with employment status of the mother, WIC status, and other factors. For these reasons, we see it as especially important to reach out to pregnant women who are younger, less educated, receiving less prenatal care, and otherwise lacking in financial resources.

Some of the strongest predictors of breastfeeding initiation and willingness to continue breastfeeding are the supportiveness of key supporters of the new mother, including her baby's father and other key supports, such as her childcare providers. For this reason, we see it as especially important to reach out not just to pregnant women, but also to their partners and husbands, and to the future grandparents and childcare providers, so that they can learn how to be supportive.

What do we know about the factors that influence breastfeeding initiation and the duration of exclusive breastfeeding?

One of the projects we would like to collaborate with other participants in NEOBEAN on is a review of existing literature on this topic. What we do know so far is that rates of breastfeeding initiation are intertwined with rates of full-term birth (since some premature infants have not yet developed their suck reflex at birth) and with the education level and age of the mother. Rates of exclusive breastfeeding are connected with employment status of the mother, WIC status, and other factors. For these reasons, we see it as especially important to reach out to pregnant women who are younger, less educated, receiving less prenatal care, and otherwise lacking in financial resources.

Some of the strongest predictors of breastfeeding initiation and willingness to continue breastfeeding are the supportiveness of key supporters of the new mother, including her baby's father and other key supports, such as her childcare providers. For this reason, we see it as especially important to reach out not just to pregnant women, but also to their partners and husbands, and to the future grandparents and childcare providers, so that they can learn how to be supportive.