All posts filed under: Journal

Why Experiment?

Linking STP’s internal experiments to their mission In May, we presented a webinar focusing on Learning through Experimentation. Eugene and I outlined the experimentation process, and Jodie and Eden shared STP’s motivation and the practices that have shifted, challenged, and opened up their organization. This blog post situates STP’s internal experiments within the larger context of supporting and challenging a network of progressive leaders, drawing from what was shared in our webinar. You can watch the webinar and learn more and read an overview here. Here’s Jodie’s eloquent explanation of the motivations for learning through experimentation: STP is building a functional cross-movement network of progressive leaders who think long term, share a common agenda, and can move to action together. At the heart of the network are 21 powerful movement leaders from across issue areas that have far-reaching influence and lead critical progressive institutions. Since 2010, we have supported them (the Wye River network) to connect deeply, build trust, strategize, experiment, and collaborate in ways that strengthen our power and unite our progressive voices. This group of leaders …

Flashback to 2015

With the new year, STP is starting a new phase of experimenting that will include both internally- and  externally-facing experiments. This post is a reminder of what our first phase was like together. Experiment Update from November 16, 2015: STP staff continues to rock on experiments. Last week we debriefed the Wye, Help Us experiment. This was a simple and straightforward experiment that came up in response to an email soliciting takeaways from an in-person meeting. However, taking the time to debrief uncovered new experiment possibilities. It became clear that the quality of virtual engagement and response rates is something around which we should be intentional about experimenting (likely in Phase 1 of the network planning process). Specifically, we might want to get more concrete about our expectations around engagement and create a dashboard to aggregate and track how we’re doing across all STP networks. On our weekly experiment checkin call, we asked STP staff and our consultant team to reflect on some of the challenges and high points seven weeks into the process. Below …

What’s New on the STP Network Support Site, No. 5

2016 Planning Update We’re nearly done designing a loose framework around network planning for next year. STP has two challenges. First, its participants are tremendously busy, more so than average because many of them are executive directors of their organizations. Second, much of its work over the past six years has largely been siloed in small groups. People identify more with these small groups than with the network as a whole. We’re going to try to shift this next year in a few ways. First, we want to acknowledge and build upon the small group work that’s already happened. There are several meetings already scheduled next year, and we hope to start opening up people’s thinking at those meetings. We will also link the different design teams for these meetings into a larger design team for the overall network. Second, the network-wide design team will be open and permeable. Anyone who wants to participate will be able to participate. We hope to get about 15 people, and if we can regularly get two-thirds of that …

What’s New on the STP Network Support Site, No. 4

We are keeping a brisk pace with the experiments. Lessons learned from Big Picture, little picture were posted, and a page for a third experiment, dubbed My Plate, Your Plate, Sharing Dessert?, was updated last week. You may have noticed previously that sharing experiment pages on Facebook created a generic preview and thumbnail—not very useful for sharing! 🙁  Because our dashboard data lives in a spreadsheet and the experiment pages are built dynamically in the browser, Facebook was only able to scrape Open Graph tags from the base template. To solve this problem, we’ve added a function to grab metadata from the Google spreadsheet when the base page is being built on the server. Now when you share Idea or Test pages on Facebook (or other platforms supporting Open Graph), the posting tool will generate a nice summary with image thumbnail (if available). Hurray!

What’s New on the STP Network Support Site, No. 3

Lots of action last week around the experiments. The page for the second experiment, dubbed Log It or Lose It, was updated. You can also find instructions for how to start a new experiment as a submenu item under Experiments.  The debrief date and workstreams for experiments and storytelling have been updated on the project roadmap. You may also notice that screenshots of the website for these update posts have been darkened to reduce confusion about what is an image and what is the actual blog post text. Let me know if that helps! Planning for 2016 continues to progress. Eugene came back from the Wye River meeting with a much clearer sense of what people care about, what their relationships are to each other and to STP, and the role that the Wye River cohort is playing in the network as a whole right now. We’ve decided to focus our energies around planning the first quarter of 2016 (through the next Wye River meeting) in greater detail and keeping the rest of 2016 relatively high level. That will give us the opportunity …

Experimentation Begins and You’re Invited!

We are in the experiment process! This an update on our current experiments and instructions for how to start your own experiments. You can see an overview of all our ideas and tests on our dashboard. Many thanks to Amy Wu for getting this first iteration up and running so quickly. BIG PICTURE, little picture: Our BIG Picture, little picture test is about to wrap up and so far the results are overall positive in terms of creating more connection to self, work and the team at weekly team meetings. Here is a reflection from Eden: The centering & big picture/little picture experiments have both been incredibly grounding. The centering exercise quiets all of the “noise” and has left me feeling better connected to myself & my team. Big pic/little pic really opened up the door to honest and important conversations that our team rarely has time & space for. Stay tuned as we’ll be analyzing our data and culling out lessons learned in the next two weeks. Log it or Lose it: Simultaneously, the STP …

What’s New on the STP Network Support Site, No. 2

Last week was a quiet one on the website, with most of the team (Jodie, Eden, Idelisse, and Eugene) in Maryland for the Wye River gathering, and then on to destinations beyond. Looking forward to learnings and reflections from their journeys showing up here! Meanwhile, in Oakland, Edie and Alison started designing another experiment. The new idea, Dialed In, was added to the experiments dashboard; details of the yet-to-be-named test are in progress.

What’s New on the STP Network Support Site, No. 1

Our project website officially went live on September 25, with the inaugural blog post about the Story of Your Name introductions, kickoff summary, and experiment dashboard. Since then, we’ve implemented a new menu structure and published another blog post and a stakeholder map. Navigation and Sidebar Menus The main navigation menu has been reorganized to reflect the organization of our work in Phase 0, with tabs to the landing pages for each workstream and the metastream, and our project journal. Blog posts and documents related to the workstream appear in sidebar menus. 2016 Planning Following the first planning meeting on September 28, Eugene wrote a thoughtful post about alignment and enrollment, and created a Kumu stakeholder map. Links to the evolving planning documents can be found at the top of the sidebar menu of the 2016 Planning landing page. Experiments Last week, STP staff jumped into their first experiment, BIG PICTURE, Little Picture, with not one but two team meetings. Our project site will continue change as the work progresses. These weekly summary posts will track …

Aligning Around Outcomes and the Challenge of Enrollment

This past Monday, we had our first official meeting of the 2016 planning process. I kicked off the meeting by asking about success and stakeholders. This unleashed a torrent of thinking around theory of change and other issues, which was unexpected, but great. All of these issues are interrelated. The order in which we tackle them doesn’t matter. What matters is that we eventually converge on several critical issues. It’s going to take some time and ongoing discussion for us to do that, but I wanted to share some thoughts and questions right now. The number one challenge with any group, regardless of structure, is enrollment. STP’s network consists of busy leaders who do not necessarily operate with a mindset of abundance. Even if we identify goals that the network itself considers to be of very high value, getting people’s attention and time will still be a huge challenge. If time and attention will be at a premium, then we have to be very disciplined about priorities. The number one mistake that people (including me) …

Fun Is Our Middle Name

On Tuesday, we kicked off the planning process for how Social Transformation Project can best support and challenge its network in 2016 and beyond. We opened the morning with an introduction exercise called “The Story of Your Name,” which elicited some rich conversation and we learned some surprising, fun tidbits about each other. For example, I didn’t know Eugene is Eric to his family, or that he shares his name with a famous female K-pop star! We learned that Edie has a green thumb for garden and community wherever she lands. When looking for a co-schemer, Jodie is a great choice, possibly because she has the best shoes. Leila is a modern dancer and her name means the way sunlight shines through dew in the morning. Eden is a world traveler with a saucy sense of humor that bubbles up just when you need it. Alison can ride a bicycle carrying 77 things, including a tropicana vase full of tall-stemmed flowers. We’re pretty sure one of Ide’s ancestor’s had an outdoor hearth, but the important …