Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Conversation of 500 Voices


Time to revision. When the snows are here again our team will put in a new proposal to UJA Federation to support congregational learning in NY. We’ll have a five year plan to take us to the next level of powerful Jewish learning.

Two principles are guiding the work of creating a new vision and a new strategy.

1.    The future is built on peak moments. Our future will be when our best moments become the constant not the episodic. We have glimpses of the future right in front of us. Expand on the glimpses by applying emerged truths in new ways. Voila a better future is visible.

2.    There is a new frontier we can’t see yet. No matter how much we stretch our necks, we can’t see what’s around the corner. There is a mind-boggling wonder waiting to be uncovered.

So how can we apply these principles to the work ahead?

A conversation of 500 voices

Over the next few months we’ll be in conversation with:
1.    Members of 100 congregations
2.    Our strategic planning group
3.        Staff that works directly with the congregations from our team and from the Jewish Education Project
4.       Board Members from the Jewish Education Project
5.       Committee members of the UJA Federation of New York
6.       Management of the Jewish Education Project
7.        Educational Resource Providers
8.       Movement representatives
9.       And I hope to open source one big idea to the larger community
10. Data: the analysis of all of our evaluations will speak to us loudly

 Who am I missing?

On the one hand, I feel like I could write a strategy and vision based on our best moments. On the other hand I believe the unknown is waiting to be discovered. Truth, insight, and wisdom do, I really believe, emerge from conversation. So my work over the next few months is to set the table for the conversations and do some steroid listening.

One Wednesday, staff will be in conversation around three questions:
1.        When have congregations been at their best in creating learning that matters in people’s lives? What do you observe?
2.       What has enabled this?
3.        If  you had three wises for congregational learning what would it be?

What is emerging from conversations that have already been happening:
1.        Our work has to be targeted for three groups:
a.       The Coalition of Innovating Congregations. The fifty congregations engaged in creating new models of learning, and assessment.

b.      The next group of congregations (30-50) that haven’t yet engaged in reaching for the horizon.


c.        The Pioneers. The congregational teams and resources that are experienced  at breaking down the next frontier.

Some idea starters I’m hearing:

1.        Getting the right people on the bus really matters. What is the opportunity to expand the Coalition Educators (who make change from the middle) and engage 20 somes who are innovators? What opportunity is there to have boomers who have time and experience support that work. A system that is intergenerational and geared toward meaningful engagement and innovation?
2.       What’s the opportunity to think of Congregational learning on the congregational level and not just the K-7 level?

I’ll be posting the emerging headlines from our conversations. Tell me what you think. Add your voice. We’ll be wiser if this is a conversation of 1000 voices.