Starting with a clean sheet

 

Through the “Together Tools” meetup and other learning networks such as “Action Learning for Facilitators”, I love to explore techniques and tools for working with groups.  While some require a degree of preparation or even specialist training, sometimes the simplest options produce powerful results.

I’ve observed over quite some time that a blank sheet of paper coupled with a simpler question or ask, and a few minutes’ individual attention is invariably one of the most effective.  In my experience, depending on the question posed, the empty page can either feel daunting or ripe with possibility.  In either case, once the first words begin to flow, or images are drawn, the pages seem to fill rapidly.

In Action Learning, this method has helped to generate presentation topics or actions and in a “feed forward” exercise.  I also participated in a session on systems change where the opening exercise was “take a sheet of flip chart and draw a system you’re part of that you’d like to change.”  While I initially baulked at the idea I reluctantly mapped out “funding and finance for social change”, a topic that at the time I didn’t feel I had any particular attachment to.  I’ve reflected back on many occasions since, that subjects and ideas related to that particular system feature highly in my thinking.

In the examples above, the scribing was done as an individual exercise and only shared subsequently but in an alternative approach, at a recent … event, after an initial voicing of current thoughts and frustrations, we split into groups.  In only half an hour, the other group had mapped out a full proposal for an event “Our Way Ahead” to take place only 2 weeks later.  While I was disappointed not to be able to attend, I’ve heard that the event was a great success with a huge number of ideas generated- David Wilcox has given a full overview in his Connecting Londoners blog.

A similarly powerful “blank page” moment happened this week in what I hope will be the first of many “Living Change” events that I will attend.  The focus for the evening was “Civil Society is all of us” during which we were all offered a clean sheet and a phrase to complete “I am civil society.  I am…”

After a few minutes putting pen to  paper we were all invited to form a circle and say our phrases out loud.  I was astounded and even quite moved at the depth of content.  What might expect would be a jumble of half formed phrases had an almost poetic quality and clearly reflected some deeply authentic thoughts.

I’ve been reflecting on what might be so effective about a blank page in getting groups to generate ideas, frame personal perspectives to share, or work collaboratively to capture a small group’s collective creative input:

  • Does the act of committing thoughts to paper allow them to be articulated in a more solid fashion?
  • Does the simplicity of the ask and the openness of the page tap our creative potential in a way that just speaking out loud doesn’t?
  • Does the challenge of filling the page allow us to go beyond the reactive into a more exploratory frame of mind?
  • Or perhaps it’s less about the blank page and more about the time for quiet reflection that is the key?

What do you think?  What scenarios have you encountered where  a blank sheet has been used to good effect (or perhaps fallen flat and remained untouched?!)

Unusually positive endings

Unbelievably it’s now a full week since the final day of the Unusual Suspects Festival (my takeaways from earlier in the week are in the previous two blogs) and there’s still much to follow up.

I went to a morning session held at “Skip Garden” – a sustainable, moveable community garden that represents just the kind of creative, bootstrapped project that I find so representative of what I love about London.  The event was led by London Funders and focused on the evolving model of London Giving schemes.  The examples given suggested these are great models of acting in at a very localised level, bringing in representatives from across sectors and working collaboratively to tackle issues in a specific community.

The well-established Islington Giving project featured as a key sustainable example, but the smaller and newer Camden Giving and Barnet Giving were also represented.  The discussion was wide ranging and showcased examples of some of the projects fostered by these giving schemes, whilst also not shying away from covering some of the challenges of bringing such diverse groups of actors together in a relatively untested way.  Some key success factors that I picked up were:

  • Developing a strong theme of community focused messaging to create a shared sense of purpose and continuity
  • Highlighting the importance of reciprocity – demonstrating that everyone has something to give
  • A shared objective to recognise and bring together community assets across sector boundaries eg in Camden there is a strong SME sector, particularly focused on the creative and digital industries who are seen as a key stakeholder in the scheme there

My brief observations are soon to be superseded by a report on the progress to date of London’s Giving Schemes which is to be launched on 12th July.   I’ve also listed below some of the projects we talked about.

One major factor that I picked up was that the effectiveness of these Giving Schemes seemed founded on the “cheek by jowl” nature of living in an urban environment, particularly one with the extremes evident in London.  While I have worked in London for most of the past 20 years, I’ve lived for most of that time in Essex.  Although this is a large and relatively populous county, there are very clear disparities.   I was curious to know whether others in the room had seen working examples of similar schemes outside London.  A few suggestions came out for some further research (listed below) but it seemed the existence of flagship examples was not well known or connected in any knowledge sharing capacity with the London schemes.

After a few hours’ gap I was also able to attend the final event of the week – a Garden Party in the beautiful Calthorpe Project gardens.  On a glorious June afternoon, this was the perfect location, as a living example of the power of community action.  The party was centred around the question “What does it mean to belong?”.  With the levels of unrest and division becoming ever more evident in London, this was a topic that couldn’t fail to resonate with all who attended and gave scope for some thoughtful conversations.

As I mentioned above, I’m not a Londoner but spend much of my working time in the city and have a strong affection for it.  I found the conversations about belonging quite pertinent as I often have a slight, perhaps unfounded feeling of being an outsider both where I live, in relatively leafy suburbia, and where I spend many of my waking hours in the heart of the capital.

I’ve always considered my own “community” to be something non-geographic and based on relationships with people with a similar set of interests and values.  To a degree this works for me, but many of the examples I saw at the Festival and hear about regularly demonstrate that there are some connections and amazing initiatives that can only work at a hyper-local level.

I’d be interested to hear others views of community and belonging  – what does it mean for you?  Is it rooted in one particular place or wherever you happen to be living?

Overall I found the Unusual Suspects Festival an energising and thought provoking few days.  It showed the value of individuals taking time out from the “day to day” to share thoughts and ideas.  The extent to which those I met could be called “Unusual Suspects” is questionable – they may have been there but I didn’t find many representatives of corporate giants, even if they were workers taking time out to connect with the communities where they live and work.

Nonetheless at a time where London and the UK seem riddled with division, inequality and negative expressions of prejudice and intolerance, taking any opportunity to meet with others willing to commit their time and energy to building a better future seems time well spent.  It certainly helps me to feel a sense of hope and purpose and I’m sure others at the Festival felt the same.

I noted down the following examples in the London Giving session:

Big Alliance – facilitating employee volunteering and business engagement in community, voluntary and not-for-profit organisations, education programmes and employment projects to support the social and economic regeneration of Islington

Help on your doorstep – empowering individuals to overcome the barriers they face, through proactive engagement and provision of advice

Inside Islington Tours – walking tours to visit some of the projects supported by Islington Giving

The Parent House – providing opportunities to parents

Wonderful.org – a fundraising platform where 100% of the benefit goes to charity

Dignity Platform – where individuals can offer their skills with the payment going straight to charity

These were the suggested places for additional research on place based giving schemes (I’m also aware that Collaborate, one of the partner organisations in the Festival has a significant focus on place based initiatives) :

Giving Tuesday– USA Case Studies

Locality

100 Who Care

Recognising and capitalising on”unusual” assets

A few days have passed and I’m looking through notes and reflecting on the great sessions I attended as part of the Unusual Suspects Festival last week.  In my last post, I wrote about a session on the Future of Work I went to on Wednesday.  I was back for more on Thursday, attending “Excluded Assets: How can empowering marginalised groups improve cities?”.

The session was led by Spice Innovations and offered me a welcome reminder of how their time credits model works.  It also built on my previous knowledge to demonstrate working examples of how it can be used to boost participation for groups whose voices might not otherwise be heard.

While I had anticipated few common threads with a session on the Future of Work, I was pleasantly surprised to find the opposite. One question that we touched on in my table group was around whether offering a reward (such as the credits offered by Spice), is in the true spirit of volunteering.  However, following the line of argument from Wednesday’s session, this is a clear example of recognising the value of someone applying their time to an activity and being rewarded for it in terms other than cash.  The examples given by the team from Spice also tied in with Professor Tim Jackson’s case for the power of work in giving a sense of respect and identity.  Whether one believes this goes against volunteering principles or not, it’s clear that it has an intrinsic value and can also have broader societal benefits as “excluded assets” are recognised and enabled to participate.

One of the aspects of the session that I most enjoyed was the opportunity to work with my table group and share examples of asset based models we’d seen working elsewhere.   The potential for mapping and potentially replicating what works is something I’d love to see done more often and our work together showed just how quick and easy it is to “crowdsource” such ideas.  I scrawled quite a few down and have listed them below, with my attempt to roughly categorise them.

The final section of the morning was an opportunity to try our hands at an asset mapping exercise, for a particular group, albeit that this would ordinarily done with representatives of that group as key contributors.  My table looked at young people and the results of our analysis are below.

Again a number of successful initiatives and engagement examples were cited.  It would be interesting to know whether young people are aware of these and would highlight the same or completely different “assets” themselves.

Overall, I found this session captured three key themes of interest for me:  the question of work and how we value and reward contributions, the huge range of examples of services designed with and for communities based on analysis of assets rather than needs, and the significant benefits of working together to highlight examples of what works and potentially build on these rather than risk duplication.

Our “asset based” examples:

Buildings and property:

Dot Dot Dot – combining property guardianship with low cost accommodation

Room for Tea – a room sharing site offering affordable short term lets, currently operating in London and Glasgow.

 

Knowledge:

Tradeschool – “bartering for knowledge”  – workshops offered in return for “stuff”

Enrol Yourself – six month, self-directed learning marathons, making lifelong learning more affordable.

Sock Mob- Unseen Tours – walking tours of London, led by vulnerably housed individuals, building on their intimate knowledge of the streets in their local area.

 

Food:

Olio –  connecting neighbours and local shops with excess food and other goods so that they can be shared, not thrown away.

Nana- a café in Clapton, staffed by over 60s who face social isolation.  I’ve read that sadly this enterprise has closed.

 

Empowerment/ participation:

Young Placemakers – supporting young people to become actively involved in the future of the places they live

Bath Hacked – Accessible Bath project – a public mapping event which identified 300 accessible locations in three hours based

 

Following the session, the team from Spice also shared a copy of their impact evaluation to further demonstrate the value of their approach.

 

Unusual Visions for the Future of Good Work

On Wednesday evening, I attended the first of a series of events I’m participating in as part of the Unusual Suspects Festival 2017.  The question for the evening was “Work isn’t working- can we co-create a radical vision for the future of work?”.

The subject of how a scenario where everyone has the opportunity to find “work that works” for them has been of great and growing interest for me since, five and a half years ago (and several months thinking about it prior to that), I took the decision to step out of full time, permanent work.   There is much more I could write about my motivations for doing so, what I have learned along the way and why I am still pursuing this work structure, but that’s for another post (or several).

Above is the visual representation of our discussions by Ariadne Radi Cor of Chantilly Cream

At the session, we were initially challenged to think about what our own “radical vision” might be.  For me, this recalled a question I’ve been pondering “What if all work were flexible by default?”.  What I mean by this is rather than the most common (although evolving situation) where role design starts from a premise of 9-5, five days a week, and some elements of flexibility are “retrofitted”, what if this was turned on its head?  In that case, roles would be designed with the key needs in mind, and then any “must have” practical constraints would be added in (eg I need someone to be able to open the office building by 8am on a Monday) and opened up to the applicants to propose how they could make this work.  This might be through applying with job share partners, working compressed hours, working at weekends and having a couple of weekdays off etc.  Clearly this is not a quick win, but I know examples such as Happy and the case studies in Frederic Laloux’s must-read “Reinventing Organisations”  that are successfully takings similar approaches.

The evening continued with a panel, offering the varied perspectives of Adam Wood who spoke about his research into the online “gig economy”; Sara Allen of Further and More on the benefits of job-shares; Dr Malcolm Torry of Citizen’s Income Trust on the potential for a Universal Basic Income; and Professor Tim Jackson on reframing work as the provision of a service to each other and the importance of work in its broadest sense in giving a sense of respect and identity.

There were a number of key takeaways and things I’d like to investigate further including:

  • the emergence of co-operatively owned platforms, and the challenges of obtaining investment for this model
  • the idea that if we reviewed the way we view and distribute work, there are potentially as many jobs as people
  • the fine balance between maintaining an incentive to participate and contribute to society whist minimising bureaucracy in the case of a Citizen’s Basic Income as well as the opportunity to learn from the immense amount of research and case studies on this topic.
  • the subject of what work is “for” and the interplay between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

However, this is inevitably a hugely rich topic and I was also left with a several key questions that I think a similar group could investigate further:

  • The discussion was focused very much on structures, flexibility and reward, but how can we reshape work to enable those who are currently excluded due, for example to disability or long term physical or mental health conditions, to find meaningful opportunities that accommodate their needs?
  • I love the concept of a shift towards co-operative and social enterprise models, but what might this mean for our tax system and the way public services are funded? Also within this model, what are the implications (which could include some exciting opportunities) for the way we commission, conduct and fund research and learning and development activities?
  • How can we distribute the “nasty and boring stuff” more widely (unless it’s removed via automation) so that there are few or no jobs that only consist of this type of task?
  • In a World where we were “freed” to be more self-directed in our work, what does this mean for those who lack the motivation, skills and most importantly confidence to assert themselves and seek opportunities? And what would the role of “employer” be, given that it is currently not purely about restriction and control but also employee welfare, stability and skills development?

I’d love to hear other views on the issues above and ideas/ examples of how we can continue and broaden this discussion so that the pathways and forums for change can be better defined and more relevant to the widest possible population – please share!

South East the capital of social enterprise – it’s time to “make it happen”

On 19th May I attended “A Bridge to Social Investment” which brought together over 100 delegates from across Essex and beyond with an interest in the role of social enterprises and charities in the County.

While nominally an event focused on social investment the scope was far broader (the full list of sessions and links to the presentations is available on the Social Enterprise East of England website).  We experienced a packed agenda – a blend of external context, discussion and learning workshops.  The event was also a chance to get an early insight into some exciting emerging initiatives aimed at strengthening social enterprise in the area.

Looking back through my notes it’s a challenge to give a true flavour of all that arose from the day but my broad overview of the sessions and the key takeaways goes something like this:

Adam Bryan, Managing Director of South Essex Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), spoke of the vision for the South East to become “the capital of social enterprise” and the collective challenge now to “make it happen”.  Having spent the early years of SELEP building the strong infrastructure needed to make this a success the body is now looking outwards to more transformative place-based work and has committed to seek social enterprise representation in taking this forward.  I’ll be really interested to see how this evolves as it seems to be a key opportunity for social enterprise to take a central role in developing a strong and socially aware business sector in the county and as a central pillar of change.

Peter Holbrook, CEO of Social Enterprise UK zoomed us out from this local focus to give insights into the evolving external context and how social enterprises are responding.  Against a challenging backdrop he highlighted where he sees opportunities for those social enterprises that “expect no favours” but are adaptable in pursuing opportunities to compete with more commercial businesses.   Key emerging factors he highlighted include two particular areas of interest for me: increased participation through models such as crowdfunding and community shares and the opportunities offered by harnessing the potential of emerging tech.

Nicky Stevenson of Social Enterprise East of England (SEEE) gave us the highlights from a recent study by SEEE on awareness and experience of social investment among local organisations. While the findings broadly reflected messages from the national context the study forms the underpinning evidence for broader policy discussions and as such was a key driver behind the whole day.  One early initiative is an upcoming investment readiness support programme for 20 organisations and once full findings are published it looks likely they’ll stimulate some further developments.

Paul Dodson, Head of Commissioning, Growing Essex: Economic Growth and Communities and previously Chair of Cumbria Social Enterprise Partnership introduced us to a his successor Rob Randall who gave us some fascinating insights into the development of the partnership in Cumbria and prompted us all to consider how the lessons learned there could inform the development of a similar framework in Essex.

This question formed the impetus for breakout discussions where attendees had the chance to discuss the potential benefits, functions and next steps for such a support structure.  For me, this session was all too brief but showed a shared enthusiasm for this development with key themes being the development of knowledge sharing networks, the importance of mapping what’s happening to gain a shared understanding, the potential to develop a shared voice and the development of localised solutions.

Along with the SELEP developments outlined on the day, this highlighted that now could be the best opportunity yet to co-design the infrastructure to support the many social change initiatives already making a difference in Essex and give new ones an opportunity to start strongly.

Returning to the order of the day, Melanie Mills of Big Social Capital demonstrated the potential benefits of social investment as a tool to create impact rather than an end in itself.  Her 3 “early considerations” questions particularly resonated with me as a simple way of starting internal discussions about the need for and suitability of social investment.  Robert Pollack of Social Finance then helped to bring this to life by sharing some examples of social investment in action.

And this was all before lunch!  The afternoon was made up largely of two workshop sessions – for me the first of these was an overview of Access Foundation’s Growth and Reach Funds by Seb Elsworth including another call to participate, this time in their review of support provided and how this could be developed.   Next stop was a practical session by Nicky Stevenson on evidencing social value.

Beyond all of these programmed sessions, the opportunity to meet up with others with a common interest in social enterprise was another key benefit.  For me this included meeting some guest delegates from Georgia on a whistlestop trip to the UK to gather ideas for how to best support the evolving social enterprise sector in that country.  While the event was focused on the work still ahead to truly realise the potential of social enterprise in Essex, this highlighted how far we’ve come in the UK and reasons to be optimistic about the emerging opportunities to build from this established base.

Plotting key factors to explore the connections in systems – a taste of “Constellations”

May’s Together Tools meetup was an expert led session from Heather Day, focusing on “Constellations”. This practice originated in family therapy but its focus on understanding the connections within systems means that is has evolved into much wider usage.

I had heard enough about it on previous occasions to spark my interest but had little greater understanding of the process.  This mirrored the experience of most of the group and meant that the experiential taster Heather gave us stimulated some interesting conversation and for me at least, a curiosity to explore it further.

We started the session with some simple movement exercises to demonstrate how elements of a system connect and work together, before moving into pairs to test a “blind” constellation where an issue that we each chose to work with, was not shared.  Our partner was to embody the issue and we were prompted to position them at a spot in the room that felt “right” and to play with moving around that person ourselves to see what thoughts and feelings it provoked.

We then broke into different pairs and used objects to map out some of the key components of an issue that, in this instance we briefly described to one another before starting. I was surprised at how certain I was of what the map of my issue should look like and further brief questions from my partner allowed some aspects to briefly be explored further.

I can’t deny that this type of practice is one that I don’t generally find easy to engage with, opting more often for a “head ruled” route, particularly where I have a specific objective in mind.  In this session though, my sole aim was to be open to what came up and to take this opportunity to explore and to play with a new way of working.

Visually plotting out an issue was something I found unexpectedly helpful and is definitely a technique that I could see options for using in the future.  From the group’s reflections as the session came to a conclusion, this seemed to be an aspect that others

With this newfound interest in constellations fresh in my mind, I was very pleased when the option to try another twist on the process in an Action Learning session the next day.  On that occasion the whole group was invited to become part of the “constellation”, with each participant representing a person in the scenario and contributing our feelings as changes were made to our positioning.

Again this evoked some helpful discussion including the fact that I found that in being asked to “play a role” I felt that the comments I made might almost be taken to represent a judgement or comment on the scenario being worked through rather than an expression of a general “energy” in the system.  Being able to bring to the surface some of these more process based questions and concerns is, for me, one of the key benefits of being able to explore new techniques in a safe space where all are there to experiment and learn.

While I wouldn’t necessarily envisage working purely with a constellations model in the near future, the concept of using people or objects to visually plot the key factors in a scenario is definitely something I’m going to bear in mind both personally and when considering methods to explore issues in the various projects and working groups I’m involved with.  The conversations the session evoked around the importance of recognising the connections within a system and the factors that can affect these are also ones that I think it would be interesting to explore when working with teams in future.

It would be great to hear of specific scenarios where others have facilitated or participated in “Constellations”.  Where has this worked well?  What are the key factors to bear in mind?  In what scenarios has this worked less effectively and why?

We started the session with some simple movement exercises to demonstrate how elements of a system connect and work together, before moving into pairs to test a “blind” constellation where an issue that we each chose to work with, was not shared.  Our partner was to embody the issue and we were prompted to position them at a spot in the room that felt “right” and to play with moving around that person ourselves to see what thoughts and feelings it provoked.

We then broke into different pairs and used objects to map out some of the key components of an issue that, in this instance we briefly described to one another before starting. I was surprised at how certain I was of what the map of my issue should look like and further brief questions from my partner allowed some aspects to briefly be explored further.

I can’t deny that this type of practice is one that I don’t generally find easy to engage with, opting more often for a “head ruled” route, particularly where I have a specific objective in mind.  In this session though, my sole aim was to be open to what came up and to take this opportunity to explore and to play with a new way of working.

Visually plotting out an issue was something I found unexpectedly helpful and is definitely a technique that I could see options for using in the future.  From the group’s reflections as the session came to a conclusion, this seemed to be an aspect that others also felt drawn to.

With this newfound interest in constellations fresh in my mind, I was very pleased when the option to try another twist on the process in an Action Learning session the next day.  On that occasion the whole group was invited to become part of the “constellation”, with each participant representing a person in the scenario and contributing our feelings as changes were made to our positioning.

Again this evoked some helpful discussion including the fact that I found that in being asked to “play a role” I felt that the comments I made might almost be taken to represent a judgement or comment on the scenario being worked through rather than an expression of a general “energy” in the system.  Being able to bring to the surface some of these more process based questions and concerns is, for me, one of the key benefits of being able to explore new techniques in a safe space where all are there to experiment and learn.

While I wouldn’t necessarily envisage working purely with a constellations model in the near future, the concept of using people or objects to visually plot the key factors in a scenario is definitely something I’m going to bear in mind both personally and when considering methods to explore issues in the various projects and working groups I’m involved with.  The conversations the session evoked around the importance of recognising the connections within a system and the factors that can affect these are also ones that I think it would be interesting to explore when working with teams in future.

It would be great to hear of specific scenarios where others have facilitated or participated in “Constellations”.  Where has this worked well?  What are the key factors to bear in mind?  In what scenarios has this worked less effectively and why?

Heather Day is an experienced systemic constellation facilitator.  To find out more about her work, visit her website http://heatherdaycoaching.com/

If you’d like to learn about or join in with Together Tools, please look at the meetup page:  https://www.meetup.com/Together-Tools/  Our next session will be on 6 June, led by Cristian Nica and focused on “Harnessing group skills to design problem solving tools”.

Images: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star

Evolution and overload in an age of connectedness

In 2013 I stepped out of full time, permanent work to begin a “Portfolio Career”.  While there were many motivations for this, one was that I was yearning for the variety and opportunity to follow my own interests that this seemed to offer.

While the interests themselves have taken new directions over the years, the desire for breadth has continued and one way that this is evident is that I attend what on the surface seem like a disparate range of events with the sole common thread being that I think they sound stimulating.  However, I believe differently and am constantly fascinated by the connections between apparently different subjects and the way that once a certain concept has come on to my radar, I will see related items everywhere.

One example was on Tuesday afternoon and evening, starting with a primary school visit in connection with a charity trustee role I hold, followed by an event “In Conversation with Julia Hobsbawm”.  I wrapped up the evening watching BBC Horizon “Rory Bremner: ADHD and me”.

The connection between the first and last of these as fairly clear as the visit related to a new tool being tested that develops children’s ability to focus, although the fact that these were on the same day was a coincidence.

However, the links between the talk and the programme was rather more unexpected.  Hobsbawm’s presentation was based on the concept that living in a networked age where we are surrounded by information and connections, is beginning to cause significant anxiety and a “timesuck” which is bad for social health.

Consequently, when the Horizon focus shifted to Salif Mahamane from Utah State University and his studies into how modern environments are particularly challenging to people with ADHD, I was expecting him to refer to the constant stimulation and distractions that we are exposed to.  It was a surprise that the case he presented was around the mundanity and repetitive nature of many of our everyday lives and the fact that so much time is spent indoors.

While to a degree I believe the latter to be the case, I still feel that the levels of distraction that we are exposed to, even for those without diagnosed concentration difficulty are more damaging to focus than the need to complete repetitive tasks (and aren’t they going to be taken over by robots soon anyway)?

More fascinating was Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Jonathan Williams’ argument around the evolutionary case for ADHD.  He believes that “ We need to have people like this around” as they “[do] dangerous things and then all of society learns from the cost of these errors”.  On the other hand, in a homogenous community, there are no examples to take heed from and all may then fall into the same traps to the detriment of the whole group.

While the context was different, this argument bore a striking resemblance to Julia Hobsbawm’s argument for the dangers of “group think” and the idea that if we are too networked we don’t come up with new ideas.

I had attended her talk as I have a strong interest in creating connections, learning together and building networks as this blog hopes to portray.   However, much of what she said about the discomfiting effects of information overload certainly hit home and caused me to question and begin to clarify my thinking on the matter.

As demonstrated by the unexpected connections I discovered last Tuesday, my interest is far from reinforcing existing connections for the sake of consistency but rather in bringing together a diverse range of views and creating new and productive connections. So while I recognise the need to rationalise the information I access, I will still continue to look for opportunities to expand my range of connections and seek to help others do the same.

Image from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/p-291098/?no_redirect