I keep thinking that an undertaking like FourYearsGo would include all of the following capacity-building functions (among others):
a. Means to develop a common theme, goal or agenda that all members/allies can support. This taps the power of collective orientation and action (the principle underlying armies, unions, coalitions, etc.). Various voting methods, consensus processes, “theme teams”, and collaborative document creation methods like Synanim are among the many approaches for accomplishing this.
b. Means to support people taking responsibility for what they love. This taps the power of individual and group passion (the principle underlying parenting, self-directed learning, free market entrepreneurship, etc.). Open Space conferencing (“unconferencing”) is one approach to doing this, as are various forms of “support group”, and clarification exercises like Appreciative Inquiry.
c. Means for individuals and groups to find and interact with relevant others, ideas, projects, etc. This taps the power of networking and collaboration (the principle underlying higher education, the internet, job fairs, etc.). Open Space and online social software, networking and collaboration tools do this.
d. Means for any and all involved to continually digest their individual and collective experience and exercise their individual and collective creativity and intelligence. This taps the power of co-evolution (the principle underlying retreats, scientific research, blogging, etc.). World Cafe and Maestro conferencing are simple, powerful forms for this, but there are dozens of others, usually involving on-line and/or face-to-face conversations, although wikis can also be used this way.
Note that each of these is “high leverage”, tapping into some “free” source of life energy, some power source that requires little input energy to generate considerable output. The overall approach is to free up or support energies that already exist in more or less constrained form or latent potential which, if simply aligned with or given access to other sources of energy, suddenly flow more powerfully. Similar to permaculture and aikido, the organizer / gardener / change agent is acting as a facilitator, catalyst, or enabler, rather than a manager or controller. Ideally, any such systems created are designed for self-organized responsiveness, so that there is a capacity for ongoing mutual adjustment (co-evolution) to maintain a level of potent appropriateness to (and thus success with) new challenges, changing involvement, emerging opportunities, etc.
These are only four major dimensions of such capacity-building. Others may well exist. But they share a perspective beyond “Let’s get these folks to do X.” It is more like “Where is there stuck energy or latent potential in this community/system which, if we could but provide a space for it to awaken as part of a larger whole, would suddenly come to life on its own accord?” and “What is the right design for that ‘space’ — the right framing, process, forum, software, whatever…?”
Thousands of people have ways to do this. So we face these same issues at the meta-level: How can we organize our initial conversations, reflections, interactions such that people with particular passions about how to “catalyze the movement” or “increase the movement’s capacity” can get together with others who share their particular passion? (That’s “b” and “c” above.) How can we seek out among all these creative approaches ones that we are all interested in participating in, as we organize ourselves and the “movement” we are trying to inspire? (That’s “a” above.) How can we set things up so that our initial organizing efforts are but the first flurry of an ongoing, self-organized co-evolution of FourYearsGo, not only in the next four years, but after 2014, as well? (That’s “d” above.)
I offer a-d as one framing for organizing teams around capacity-building. Those who have interest, knowledge, or skills in one or more of these areas can join others in exploring how their specialty might apply to FourYearsGo.