20. May 2015 · Comments Off on International Cultural Proficiency Institute, June 18-19, 2015 · Categories: Cultural Proficiency, Leadership

Please join us at our International Cultural Proficiency Institute, June 18-19, 2015, in Santa Maria, California. Our institute is sponsored by Corwin Press, our publisher for a series of powerful books on Cultural Proficiency.

As author of one of Corwin’s Best Sellers, Culturally Proficient Learning Communities: Confronting Inequities Through Collaborative Curiosity, I will be joining co-author Dr. Jarvis Pahl, to explore how the Five Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency are the standards for improving our educational practices in ways that inform educators’ values and behaviors and schools’ policies and practices. Participants in this session will engage in exploring how the Essential Elements serve as leverage points for planning and managing change initiatives focused on equity and access. Rubrics will provide participants concrete examples of actions grounded in assumptions that either guide and support or hinder and impair the service to all students and their communities within the district. Participants will use Breakthrough Questions and the Cultural Proficiency Rubrics to eloquently examine ways to confront unhealthy behaviors and comments heard within some organizations.

The Institute will provide: (a) introductory learning opportunities for those beginning their journey in understanding the inside-out approach of Cultural Proficiency; (b) “Going Deeper” in exploring specific contexts and applications of culturally proficient practices; and (c) “Voices from the Field,” exploring the data and implementation journey of organizations that are currently transforming cultures and policies to support culturally proficient practices.

The Institute will be held at Santa Maria High School, Santa Maria, CA. More information may be found at: http://www.corwin.com/institutes/cultural-proficiency-institute.html

We hope to see you there!

25. March 2013 · Comments Off on Making a Difference, One Student at a Time · Categories: ACSA 2013 Professor of the Year Award, Leadership

We all strive to make a difference in other’s lives. Students from Pepperdine’s Educational Leadership, Administrator, and Policy (ELAP) doctoral program have made such a huge difference in my life over the past eight years, and especially through sharing their voices in what are some of the ways I’ve made a difference in their lives.

With great humility I share what might be some of the reasons others sought to award me with the Association of California School Administrator (ACSA) 2013 California Administrator of the Year: Professor of Education, serving as Adjunct Faculty at Pepperdine University.

Student Voices:
Dr. Jungwirth, you are more than an instructor but a soul who makes personal connections. You have a humbling spirit about you that is sincere. The smiles from you let us know you are aware of our presence. Your relentless “go back and correct” reflects your beliefs in the “learn from your mistakes” creed. You are an instructor who makes effort beyond the classroom to maintain relationships and conversations. You are a mentor who I am confident I can rely on for support and motivation. I am honored to have the skills and knowledge under my tool belt of many strategies and skills because there’s a lot of work to be done by courageous people.

I’m so blessed to have you in my life and as a guiding life-long learner.

I appreciate your class very much. The classes offered by you are so relevant to our day-to-day work, and will benefit me during my entire career.

Dr. Jungwirth, you are like an energizer bunny on lithium batteries!! I smile whenever I think of you, as I remember your warm hugs and your ability to make me feel validated when I am unsure. I enjoy your teaching style and the way you share personal experiences…You demonstrate creative expertise in all you do. When I do not know if I can make it, I feel that I have to … because someone believes in me. Thanks for believing in me and for the blessing of knowing you.

It has been such a great blessing and privilege being in your class. Your kind and compassionate spirit, thoughtfulness, and peaceful demeanor have been so encouraging. Your passion and the enthusiasm for education is a true inspiration! Thank you for sharing your beautiful spirit and heart with us 😉

Thank you for your time and opening my mind to different possibilities as a future leader!

You’re insights are changing my perspectives on so many levels, you can hardly imagine. I look forward to continue working with you, and learning from you.

Dr. Jungwirth, Your feedback and email made my day, my week, my month, and for that matter 2012! The gift you give us, your students, is one that will forever be treasured! I now have a backpack full of leadership tools, an increased awareness of my collaboration techniques, and so much more, but in addition, I also have confidence to continue to pursue my dreams. Pepperdine has been truly life changing for me.

Thank you for your passion for your work. Your enthusiasm has inspired me to hone my skills.

You have inspired me with all the knowledge you share with us. Thank you for your positive encouragement.

Your smiles are awesome. Thanks for teaching me and affirming me.

Thank you for your continued enthusiasm! It is inspirational!

You are an amazing lady who I truly admire and respect! You have impacted my life!

Thank you for the tools and knowledge to better our leadership skills. It’s been an amazing journey together.

It was truly an honor to be in your class for the summer and fall as both classes were so engaging from the very beginning, and I so appreciate your passion, enthusiasm, and energy that you never failed to bring in and share with us :-). It was such a pleasure and joy learning from you this semester and I look forward to many more semesters of growth together. Thank you very much for your constructive feedback and helpful comments, as well as words of affirmation.

Thank you for all the comments and inspiring thoughts. The fact that I know with your assist I can become a stellar writer. I’m excited and looking forward to my journey of writing and my degree 🙂 I’m looking forward working with you and all the resources that are available to me for my future classes…Thank you sooo much for having the patience and extreme knowledge of everything you do…I am so blessed to have such a great teacher and mentor on my path of success…I am going to keep this as a sample for future papers…I am honored…you made my semester very special!!!!

Interesting breakthrough question… one that I pondered before accepting the new position. I thought I was being faced with having to make a trade-off, but now you are causing me to think that there might be ways to find more balance within the new position, where I can acquire new skills, while still building relationships with kids, families and the staff I will support.

Ahhhh! The butterfly effect…impacting generations to come by touching the lives of individuals…I will remember that in my work, as well. Thank you so much! Wishing you a lovely day, full of the joy and energy you bring to our class!

I want to thank you for the conversations we have in class. Your intentions are always sincere and that is why people feel they can express themselves.

25. March 2013 · Comments Off on In Humble Appreciation to ACSA, My Pepperdine Students, and Colleagues · Categories: ACSA 2013 Professor of the Year Award, Leadership

What an incredible honor to be a member of such a caring, nurturing, and affirming community of educators!!! To be honored with ACSA’s 2013 California State Administrator of the Year Leadership Award for Professor of Education is quite a surprise, and an honor such as this most certainly makes one humble and reflective on being a contribution, living in possibility, and making a difference in other’s lives. I often think of what Linda Lambert said at the 2012 Cognitive CoachingSM and Adaptive Schools Symposium: “How we define leadership determines our identity, our actions, and our sphere of influence.” I’ve taken that statement to heart and hopefully embedded into my students’ identity, empowering them to make a difference within their organizations and beyond.

I often reflect on why I continue to teach at Pepperdine, even though, as adjunct faculty, I put WAY too many hours into my classes and in serving my students in the Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy (ELAP) doctoral program. I do this because our doctoral students, as educational leaders, have extraordinary power over the future of our children and the quality of the teachers and leadership in our educational systems. And, the blessings I receive from my work and the lifelong relationships that evolve are far, far beyond the time and effort I put into teaching.

Many have journeyed with me throughout my educational career. I have learned and continue to learn so much from each of you! Thank you for your engaging presence, attention to excellence, resiliency, persistence, and contributions to my receiving this humbling award. I most certainly have a lot to live up to!

First of all, thank you, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) for recognizing me along with 21 other California administrators for our contributions in leading the education of California’s youth.

I want to especially thank my Pepperdine ELAP students. You provide me with insights into how I am doing, what is appreciated, and how I might continue to support your learning. You give me great pause and purpose to reflect on what I do to support you, and how I might continue to improve. As a member of Pepperdine’s first ELAP Cohort, I know the time, commitment, and support it takes to successfully complete this rigorous doctoral program. I will continue to do whatever it takes to support your success in my courses. Having taught in the ELAP program since the week of my graduation, I have continually sought out your voices for how we might improve our program, to maintain relevancy, to connect content and assignments among the various courses, and to make this program as meaningful as possible for you in your current work context and areas of focus. Stephen Covey (2008) says in The Speed of Trust that in order to build, sustain, and repair trust, we must “engage in straight talk.” Thank you for having the courage to be transparent and to engage in straight talk about what is and isn’t working for you! ELAP’s foundation in equity, cultural proficiency, rigorous participatory action research, and transformational change raises the bar to another level. As I’ve experienced and continue to say: You will be a different person when you leave this program. You will either reinvent your current work or find another position that provides greater opportunities to maximize your passion for excellence and equity and to expand your sphere of influence. Your intended legacy, as you have so clearly stated, will guide you in your journeys.

Thank you, Dr. Duneen DeBruhl, for nominating me for this award. Your belief in me and your support is always close to my heart. Your passion for doing what is best for ALL children continually shines brightly for all to see! Thank you!

Thank you, Dr. Linda Purrington, Academic Chair for our ELAP program and my soul mate in many collaborative ventures, for believing in me and continually challenging me to explore greater and greater possibilities. You are the light and foundation of this program. Your belief in extending trust, developing relationships, and continually raising the bar of excellence, are solid rocks upon which we build this program. Thank you!

Thank you, Dr. Phil Mirci, for your leadership and guidance over many, many years. Your passion for excellence, equity, and doing whatever it takes to serve others is a model for me and others to live by. Thank you!

Thank you, Dr. Ron Williams, for your exuberant leadership, your laughter, and your endless living in possibility! I can hear you now saying: “Oh, hello there….” with a lift in your voice that brings sunshine to a cloudy day 😉

The Professor of the Year award honors an ACSA member who: (a) promotes the success of all students by facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by the school community; (b) promotes the success of all students by advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth; (c) promotes the success of all students by ensuring management of the organization, operations, and resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment; (d) promotes the success of all students by collaborating with families and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources; (e) promotes the success of all students by modeling a personal code of ethics and developing professional leadership capacity; (f) promotes the success of all students by understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context; (g) promotes the success of all students by advocating, nurturing, and sustaining the use of new technology; and (h) participates in ACSA on a regional and state level.

So, I have a lot to live up to. You, and others who have traveled with me, each leave a mark. We never know the difference we make in other’s lives. Always, always take that opportunity to connect, build a relationship, mold an identity of possibility, and to let the jewel within each individual shine for others to see!

As always, Take Care, lj

25. March 2013 · Comments Off on Living in Possibility: Ask a Simple Question · Categories: Leadership

Living in possibility is a worldview that allows me to see the many open doors that lay before me. The doors are open, and my eyes, ears, and heart must be open to see what possibilities exist. I also must be ready to walk through that door, continually examining my assumptions and attitudes, honing my skills, challenging my beliefs, and clarifying my values to support my readiness. I’ve learned that shifting from a deficit perspective to an assets-based approach is key to living within a world of possibility. This does not mean that I live in a dream world, but as Stephen Covey says in SMART Trust, I analyze the environment, extend trust–SMART trust–and with open eyes build on assets to address concerns with issues that are preventing me…and others…from moving forward. Setting goals, identifying evidence and criteria for meeting those goals, considering strategies and the skills needed to reach my goals, then getting to work with a laser focus, determination, and resiliency moves me from the status quo to where I want to be.

My son, Scott, once told me to ask this simple question: “Does this action move me closer to my goal?” This simple, yet powerful question, guides my behavior and actions, and gives me pause before making decisions that may be helpful or not in reaching my goals.

To always be a learner is key. This makes me think of a golden opportunity that we, as educators, have available at no cost except possibly a bit of humility and vulnerability: ask our students what’s important to them, what’s working, what’s not working, and why. Student Voice, accessed through the many forms of technology students use today, is that golden nugget that can make such a difference in how we serve, teach, and reach our students. Through our students’ voices, we can know what’s working, what’s not, and why, while accelerating movement towards our goal of reaching and serving ALL students resulting in their achievement at the highest levels. The implications are huge…saved for another day…some of which are challenging beliefs about achievement, shifting worldviews from deficit-thinking to assets-based thinking, examining and rethinking grading and evaluation policies, embracing a shared responsibility for student AND collegial success, and doing whatever it takes to bring equity to the forefront of the conversation. As Margaret Wheatley says, it’s all about having a laser-focused shared identity, building trusting and collaborative relationships, embracing two-way communication, and ensuring transparency and access to information. Remember: always be a humble learner with an open heart, and ask a simple question: Does this action move me closer to my goal?

29. July 2012 · Comments Off on Convening Conversations · Categories: Cultural Proficiency, Leadership · Tags: , , , , , , ,

How blessed we are to have friends and colleagues to share our thinking in safe, engaging conversations! Through conversations, we can change our lives, the lives of others, and the cultures wherein we live and work. We make sense of the chaos around us through our conversations with others. Each of our actions causes a disturbance, however small, a disturbance that impacts others in ways we can never imagine! Purposeful, positive, and meaningful conversations occur through dialogue, with intentional and skillful listening, speaking, and inquiry…all with the core purpose to mediate our thinking and truly understand the topic at hand, and to understand at the deepest levels of assumptions, beliefs, and values. That is the power of conversations: deep understanding of diverse and divergent perspectives, beliefs, and values. Powerful conversations lead to passionate engagement in cognitive conflict around ideas, assumptions, beliefs, and values, all within the safety of a trusting, benevolent, honest, and supportive community of lifelong learners. Then, we may change our world.

We never know what might be the impact of our simple actions and/or conversations. So many people move through each day without being acknowledged by others. Acknowledgement of their contributions, and a small conversation, can change their world…and yours. The tribes in South Africa greet each other with “Sawu bona,” which means “I see you”…I acknowledge your existence, your existence matters, and you make a difference in my life. Start a conversation that matters, a conversation that might just change your life and the lives of others. Even as the butterfly flaps its wings and causes a disturbance many many miles away, you may even change our world.

Further Reading: Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future, by Margaret Wheatley.

Please join us at the 6th Annual Cultural Proficiency Institute, August 1-2, 2012, at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. I will be presenting Culturally Proficient Learning Communities: Confronting Inequities Through Collaborative Curiosity. This will be a hands-on, interactive session that provides insights into how to reframe learning community conversations that are stuck or shut down, when the team wants to ignore the elephant in the room. Learn to craft Breakthrough Questions that open the conversation for new possibilities! Below are some of my thoughts/insights about What is Cultural Proficiency, and the Four Tools that support individuals and organizations to ground their work with (1) Guiding Principals, the values that support culturally proficient organizations; (2) the Essential Elements, standards for behaviors, policies, and practices; (3) the Continuum, a tool for describing harmful and positive behaviors within organizations; and (4) Barriers to be aware of when moving a culture and an organization forward in their Cultural Proficiency journey.

• It is an inside-out approach
• It is about being aware of how we think and work with others
• It is about being aware of how we react to those different from us
• It is a mind set; a way of being; a paradigm shift for some

• It is the use of specific tools for effectively describing, responding to, and planning for issues that emerge in diverse environments
• It is the policies and practices at the organizational level, and values and behaviors of the leader that enable effective cross cultural interactions among staff, community, and those we serve


Cultural Proficiency—Guiding Principles
The Guiding Principles are the core values–the foundation upon which cultural proficiency is built.
• Culture is a predominant force; you cannot NOT be influenced by culture.
• People are served in varying degrees by the dominant culture.
• People have group and individual identities.
• There is diversity within and between cultures.
• The unique cultural needs may not be met, but must be respected.

Cultural Proficiency—The Essential Elements
The Essential Elements set the standards that guide our work.
• Name the differences: Assess your own culture.
• Claim the differences: Value diversity.
• Reframe the differences: Manage the dynamics of difference.
• Train about differences: Adapt to diversity.
• Change for differences: Institutionalize cultural knowledge.

Cultural Proficiency—Continuum
Six points along the Cultural Proficiency Continuum indicate unique ways of perceiving and responding to differences and to assess the current state of one’s culture.


Some questions I might ask myself for each point along the Continuum include:

Cultural Destructiveness – In what ways am I and/or the organization seeking to eliminate the cultures of “others” in all aspects of the school and in relationship with their communities?

Cultural Incapacity – In what ways am I and/or the organization trivializing other cultures and seeking to make the culture of others appear to be wrong?

Cultural Blindness – In what ways am I and/or the organization not seeing or pretending not to see or acknowledge the culture of others, choosing to ignore the experiences of cultural groups within the school and community?

Cultural Precompetence – In what ways am I and/or the organization increasingly aware of what is known about working in diverse settings and identifying the needs of those whom we serve? It is at this key level of development that we and the school as an organization can move in a positive, constructive direction or we can vacillate, stop and possibly regress.

Cultural Competence – In what ways am I and/or the organization manifesting personal values and behaviors and the school’s policies and practices in a manner that is inclusive with cultures that are new or different from us and the school?

Cultural Proficiency – In what ways am I and/or the organization advocating for life-long learning for the purpose of being increasingly effective in serving the educational needs of cultural groups? In what ways are we and the school serving as instruments for holding the vision for creating a socially just democracy?

Cultural Proficiency—The Barriers
• The presumption of entitlement and unearned privilege
• Systems of oppression and privilege, perpetuating the domination/victimization of individuals and groups
• Unawareness of the need to adapt
• Resistance to change, not recognizing need to change/adapt, believing only others need to adapt to you

Source: Culturally Proficient Learning Communities: Confronting Inequities Through Collaborative Curiosity, by Delores Lindsey, Linda Jungwirth, Jarvis Pahl, and Randall Lindsey (A Corwin Press Best Seller)
To begin or sustain your work in Cultural Proficiency, please feel free to email me at ljungwirth@ConveningConversations.com

28. June 2012 · Comments Off on Cultural Proficiency: The Essential Elements · Categories: Collaboration, Cultural Proficiency, Leadership · Tags: , , , , ,

Cultural Proficiency: The Essential Elements

The Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency are just that—ESSENTIAL. The Essential Elements are the standards of behavior and organizational practices that lead to Culturally Proficient organizations. We use the Essential Elements to create rubrics for holding ourselves accountable. Some of the rubrics include: Curriculum and Instruction; Assessment; Family and Community; and Professional Development. One of my favorite rubrics, as I describe below, is Culturally Proficient Level 5 Leaders, where teams have combined the work of Cultural Proficiency and Jim Collins, Good to Great. The Essential Elements form the backbone (standards) for the rubric.

What is Cultural Proficiency?

• It is an inside-out approach
• It is about being aware of how we think and work with others
• It is about being aware of how we react to those different from us
• It is a mind set; a way of being; a paradigm shift for some


• It is the use of specific tools for effectively describing, responding to, and planning for issues that emerge in diverse environments
• It is the policies and practices at the organizational level, and values and behaviors of the leader that enable effective cross cultural interactions among staff, community, and those we serve

The Essential Elements
One of the four tools of Cultural Proficiency is the Essential Elements.

These Essential Elements set the standards for our work both personally and organizationally. The Essential Elements are:

• Name the differences: Assess your own culture.
• Claim the differences: Value diversity.
• Reframe the differences: Manage the dynamics of difference.
• Train about differences: Adapt to diversity.
• Change for differences: Institutionalize cultural knowledge.

Culturally Proficient Level 5 Leadership
Again, one example of how I’ve used the Essential Elements in my work is to create a Culturally Proficient Level 5 Leadership Portrait along with a rubric for Culturally Proficient Level 5 Leaders, combining the work of Cultural Proficiency and the leadership work of Jim Collins, Good to Great. The Leadership Portrait and the rubric guide the behaviors, policies, and practices of individuals and organizations, and also serve as a means of accountability to accelerate the cultural shift to building relationships, valuing others, and individual, team, and organizational success.

Another example of applying the Essential Elements as standards for Culturally Proficient teams is found within our best seller: Culturally Proficient Learning Communities: Confronting Inequities Through Collaborative Curiosity.

Source: Culturally Proficient Learning Communities: Confronting Inequities Through Collaborative Curiosity, Corwin Press Best Seller

To learn more about how to develop Culturally Proficient Level 5 Leaders or Culturally Proficient Learning Communities within your organization, please feel free to email me at ljungwirth@ConveningConversations.com.

28. June 2012 · Comments Off on Reframing Questions for Breakthrough Thinking · Categories: Collaboration, Cultural Proficiency, Leadership · Tags: , , , , ,

Reframing Questions for Breakthrough Thinking

Ever been in a conversation/dialogue/discussion when someone asks a question and it feels like the air has just been sucked out of the room? You can feel the tension–even “cut it with a knife.” Everyone becomes quiet. No one makes eye contact. The elephant in the room stands tall. Someone finally changes the subject. It’s time to ask a breakthrough question! Breakthrough questions are the foundation of Culturally Proficient Learning Communities, communities of practice that invite diverse thinking, engage in difficult conversations, learn from one another, and confront prejudices and inequities on the personal and organizational levels.

Breakthrough Thinking means we are engaged in conversations that are transparent, inclusive, open to diverse perspectives, and move the team beyond barriers to success. Breakthrough thinking transforms beliefs, values, and assumptions. A key skill for Breakthrough Thinkers is how to ask Breakthrough Questions.

Breakthrough Questions are crafted and delivered with specific characteristics, as listed below. Breakthrough Questions:
• Embed and are delivered with a spirit of inquiry and curiosity
• Assume positive intentions and are framed in a positive manner
• Use plural forms, signaling the intention of choice and options
• Use tentative language, conveying the intention of multiple right answers
• Are open ended rather than “yes/no” questions
• Are delivered with an approachable, invitational voice

An example of a Breakthrough Question is:
Given my new learning today (positive intention) and knowing some (plural language) of my beliefs and practices (plural form) may be challenged with my new consciousness, how might (tentative language) I be more open to listening and reframing my thinking as we move forward in this work (positive intentions)?

Source: Culturally Proficient Learning Communities: Confronting Inequities Through Collaborative Curiosity, Corwin Press Best Seller

To begin or sustain your work in Cultural Proficiency, or to learn how to craft and deliver breakthrough questions, to reframe the conversation, to achieve collaborative team and organizational goals, please email me at ljungwirth@ConveningConversations.com.

Trust, Transparency, Inclusion in a Culture of Excellence. Living these elements builds ownership, not buy-in…a big difference when you desire engagement, excellence, and sustainability of innovation and change.

Some Benefits of Trust
• Infuses systems with positive energy
• Makes for more adaptive, agile organizations
• Makes one more competitive–one can more quickly engage in change. Without trust, people usually hunker down and do things “by the book” and resist any change from the status quo, even if they know what they are doing is not getting the desired results.
• Utilizes resources to the greatest advantage–for the good of the whole

A Common Understanding
Trust may be different things to different people. Having a common language and understanding of trust is essential in building and sustaining trust. Megan Tschannen-Moran, in Trust Matters: Leadership in Successful Schools, identifies five elements of trust through a meta-analysis of the trust research. These five elements are:

• Benevolence
• Honesty
• Openness
• Competence
• Reliability

What’s going on when we’re in a trusting relationship? We have a willingness to be vulnerable. When we are in a trusting relationship, we are in a situation of interdependence; we are dependent on someone else to come through the way we need them to support us. No one can accomplish systems transformation work alone. When we’re doing solo activities, trust is not relevant. When we become interdependent, we’re paying attention to: Are these people I can trust? We base the answer to this question on the five areas listed above and in more detail below.

Benevolence: The Bedrock of Trust and Relationships

– Unfailing good will: they will not do me dirty, even if they can enhance their own outcomes. They won’t try to get ahead at my expense.
– Empathy and caring
– Offering encouragement-bolstering other’s courage
– Expressing appreciation and acknowledgment
– Being fair
– If life is not fair and out of one’s control, then being responsive to another’s hurt, and their knowing they can count on you


– Telling the truth
– Integrity: unity and alignment between words and deeds
– Self-awareness and consciousness: not deluding oneself
– Authenticity: not just playing a role–know what you stand for–adhering to guiding principles
– Accepting responsibility: don’t blame others–use an inside out approach for how am I contributing to the current situation

These first two dimensions of trust count the most. If these two elements of trust are violated, trust is severely and negatively impacted. The next three elements of trust are extensions of benevolence and honesty.

– Open communication
– Transparency
– Sharing important information–hidden agendas erode trust
– Sharing power
– Delegation
– Shared decision-making–extends trust. People who don’t extend trust, destroy trust

– Keeping promises
– Honoring agreements
– Being consistent
– Predictability–living out of core values/principles–knowing what you stand for
– Diligence
– Dedication
* these are all indicators of benevolence

– Inspiring a shared vision
– Co-creating possibilities
– Striving for results
– Problem solving
– Conflict resolution
– Elevate energy
– Collective Efficacy–collectively and interdependently need to believe that you can do this work

If you compromise these last three elements of trust, you may or may not have problems sustaining trust. Struggles in openness, reliability, and competence may result through possible over-commitment, lack of confidence, and/or communication mix-ups.

As a coach, leader, and/or colleague, paraphrasing and asking clarifying and/or reflective questions in these five areas of trust helps to diagnose levels of trust and intervene before trust is broken (i.e. If a person is over-committed, asking “What might be some possible resources that could support you and your work?” If a person lacks competence, asking “What new learning might support you in increasing your craftsmanship/expertise in this area?” If a person is unreliable, asking “What might be some reasons for your challenges in meeting all of your commitments?”

If there are some INCIDENCES of mess-ups, trust is probably not compromised.
A PATTERN of mess-ups becomes indicators of a lack of benevolence, honesty, competence, openness, and/or reliability. Providing non-judgmental feedback in the form of data rather than judgment, and asking reflective questions to understand what is behind the mess-ups, are important leadership, collaborative, and/or coaching functions.

For more information, training and/or a self and organizational assessment based on these five elements of trust, please email me at: ljungwirth@ConveningConversations.com.

Another excellent resource on trust is Stephen Covey’s The Speed of Trust. I’ll save that for another blog.

07. April 2012 · Comments Off on Facilitating and Developing Collaborative Groups Through Adaptive Organizations · Categories: Collaboration, Cultural Proficiency, Leadership · Tags: , , , , ,

What does it mean to be a professional learning community? How do we develop the knowledge and skills to support professional communities who are actively learning—shifting to shared leadership, supportive organizational structures and resources, and shared professional practices? Professional learning communities can quickly move from being functional to dysfunctional depending on the knowledge and skills of the group members. The purpose of professional learning communities is to deepen the members’ understanding of concepts that promote, improve, and sustain an organization’s mission and vision, to develop skills that improve one’s professional practices, and sometimes to meet mandates for organizational restructuring.

If we shift our perspective from just the name, professional learning communities, to a new identify, a true sense of being, we become professional communities—learning. Professional communities—learning are dynamic groups that are continually seeking to clarify their identify in an ever changing environment, exploring and making visible their values, beliefs, and assumptions both personally and as the professional community—learning. In some of our organizations, developing learning communities calls for an extreme paradigm shift in how we lead and how we interact with each other. Broadening leadership and moving to shared decision-making many times require new skills, understanding of new concepts, new beliefs and values, and changes in our professional behaviors. Examining our beliefs, our values, our assumptions that drive our behaviors is not a common practice, yet this is the foundation for effective professional communities—learning.

Sustaining and growing organizations requires a clarification of identify that truly meets the changing needs of the environment and those whom we serve as clients. Who is our client? Who do we serve? How is our client base changing? What are their needs? How is our environment changing as we move deeper into the 21st century? Sometimes our changing client base and changing environment require a change in form, how we are structured to meet the changing needs of our client-base or our environment. Sometimes that change in form is to become the professional community—learning. Our change in identity may be from being isolated and autonomous in our working environment to being collaborative and sharing practices and knowledge with our colleagues. Garmston and Wellman, in their book, The Adaptive School: A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups, name this ability to clarify one’s identify and to be flexible in changing form to address changes in the environment, adaptivity.

As a National Training Associate for Adaptive Schools: Facilitating and Developing Collaborative Groups, let me distinguish “adaptivity” from someone/something as “having adapted.” Having adapted to a changing environment conveys finality. We’ve changed. We’re done. The monarch butterfly is adapted to an environment rich with the milkweed plant. If the milkweed were no longer present, the monarch butterfly would most likely perish. The butterfly has adapted to the environment, but does not have the immediate capability to be adaptive, changing form, to meet a rapidly changing environment. The American school system adapted to the economic pressures of the industrial revolution, shifting from a rural educational system, where students learned in diverse, multi-age learning environments, to where students learned in homogeneous environments, to accept directives, and to be passive learners doing what they were told. The “product” was a workforce to supply factories. Today’s businesses require a different kind of workforce, one that can think critically, solve problems, and work collaboratively. Our schools “adapted” to the economic demands of the industrial revolution. They are not “adaptive” in meeting the changing needs of today’s students and the demands of the global societies of the 21st century.

As we become adaptive organizations, organizations that continually clarify their identity and are flexible in changing form when required by the changing environment, we learn or bring to consciousness distinctions in our language and intentionality in our behaviors. Developing skillful group members that can each take responsibility for facilitating and developing collaborative groups is key to supporting adaptive organizations. The Adaptive Schools Foundations Institute provides training in (a) how to facilitate effective, efficient professional communities-learning, (b) how to be a skillful group member, and (c) how to develop as a powerful, collaborative group that is adaptive, dynamically changing as needed given the rapid changes in today’s world.

For more information, training and/or a self and organizational assessment for group development, please email me at: ljungwirth@ConveningConversations.com.