This Blog is dedicated to Margaret Wheatley….

I have been doing/teaching/debating questions about how to make organizations and communities more democratic for decades. This blog was inspired by Margaret Wheatley’s continuing efforts to engage more people in more important conversations about what we want for ourselves, our communities, and our institutions — and by a class that I will be teaching soon to a group of talented doctoral students at the University of Minnesota (https://www.cehd.umn.edu/olpd/).

At the heart of this work is the belief that we are in an era that will be shaped as much by persistence among those who seek to make change on the ground — where they “live” — as by those who occupy formal positions of power (https://berkana.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/New_Leadership-in-the-Age-of-Complexity.pdf). Sometimes this may occur by resistance, but equally often by developing positive and meaningful relationships that inspire others to make a difference. We create change not as individuals, but as people who gather for a purpose. There are many tools to stimulate change, and policy is one.

Policy is everywhere. It doesn’t come only from distant bureaucracies or legislatures. It occurs in our families (Is there an unwritten rule that Thursday nights are family dinners? Or that mommy should not be disturbed when she is writing her dissertation?), in our workplaces (Who gets to participate in which decisions? How do we decide to allocate resources when we have an excess? A deficit?), and in our communities (Who is responsible for dealing with trash? For picking up dog poop?). Policy matters. And policies can change. The real question is how to mobilize others to create change in policies that matter. And that is, in part, the art of policy analysis.

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5 thoughts on “This Blog is dedicated to Margaret Wheatley….

  1. I love your expanded definition of “policy!” Thank you for following WordSisters.

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  2. As a member of the doctoral cohort currently taking Dr. Seashore’s Policy Analysis course, I find myself reflecting on four articles we recently read regarding policies related to accountability in K-12 and higher ed settings. Here are a few of my takeaways:
    * The terms we use in policy analysis matter. The term “policy” itself can be interpreted as a lever, a sword, a shield or even a crutch; in each case, the words used in an analysis will frame the issue in a particular way, thus influencing outcomes and effectiveness;
    * Context also matters. It strikes me that the constructivist approach we follow in K-12 classroom settings also applies to the sites where policy is enacted. Just as constructivist teachers seek to utilize the prior experiences, interests and passions of the students they teach, policy analysts and policymakers need to take into account the history, present conditions and future aspirations of the specific communities in which their policies will be implemented. To ignore or gloss over these particular contexts is to diminish the likelihood of a policy’s effectiveness. One size does not fit all.
    * Since context matters so much, it is important to gain the perspectives of those closest to the ground in terms of implementation. Oftentimes it seems “policy” has a negative connotation associated with a certain distance from daily realities. Policy analysts need to understand those daily realities and that means bringing those who will be directly affected by policies into the conversation.

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    1. An experienced leader like DJ Condon knows thar policies can build assets and collective efficacy….

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    2. I agree with DJ that the choice of words and understanding of the context are very important for the policy to be accepted. I would also like to add, in my opinion, that as an implementer of policy, the art of navigating the different political intricacies with a positive attitude can also add to successful implementation.

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      1. Positive approaches to policy are always better — remember, particularly as educators, that we look for policies that can build assets….

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