Headlines: Adjustments, Processes, & Conversations


  • Prepping our design team to be the ambassadors going into November meeting
    -One on one conversations with design team members
    -First design call meeting is two weeks away, 9/14
  • Keeping in mind the big picture!


  • We’re moving from a period of encouraging and supporting Wye Leaders to have conversations that answer our questions which are
    1. What exactly does a “long-term, intersectional, values-based agenda” mean to you?
    2.  And If we spent 2017 doing this, what would minimum success at the end of 2017 look like? Target success? Epic success?
    3.  Who else needs to be engaged in this conversation?)
  • Now we’re prioritizing people that Miles River will reach out to for their input about questions 1 and 2.
    For Question 3, we can ask the Wye River list serv and Eugene already posed this to the Wye Design Team. We want to prioritize people who leaders would want to invite to the November Meeting. The ideal process would be to introduce them to where Wye is and get their input before attending Wye River in November, through a conversation.
  • More responses to these questions will give our synthesis team more data to work with and give us direction as we draft a plan for 2017 and design the Nov Wye Meeting.


    Continuing with current set. Eden connected Jon and Edwin via email. She is also working to help get George on WhatsApp.

    Synthesis: Call confirmed with Andrea, Amy, Ide, and Eugene for Tuesday, 9/7. Eden is working to schedule a second call which is rough.


  • Eugene has scheduled one on one’s with Sarita (9/12), Ev (9/9), Heather (9/12), and is working to schedule with Miya and May before the 1st design team meeting.


  • Alison is facilitating Miles River weekly check in
  • Eden is requesting repeatedly that assistants answer me re:confirming principals attendance at Wye River.

    On the Horizon (for more see roadmap):

  • 9/19: We Won’t Wait Summit, National Harbor, MD
  • 9/27 all day in person debrief meeting with Miles River Team, followed by happy hour with additional folks
  • 10/6: Wye design call
  • 10/28: Wye design call#headlines


I saw and thanked Jon…

I saw and thanked Jon at Forward Together for his help with Wye River. I showed him the video of Eden and Edwin’s meeting in NYC and previewed that Eden is going to connect them since they do similar work. He was excited and is going to be in NYC soon. He referenced how having a connection with Edwin could help foster more organizational connection between Forward Together and 350.org, especially between EDs.


Where Are We Going (This Year)? Why? How?

The organizations we’re working with are in it to win it. While they have gotten stronger in their leadership, while their organizations have gotten stronger, and while we’re seeing more collaboration, they’re currently not winning.

Business as usual will not get us there. We need to be thinking and working together smarter, not just more. If we do that, we think we can start to win… and keep on winning.

If business as usual will not get us there, then how we try to create that time to think and work together smarter cannot look like business as usual. In particular, we know that — for most of us — operating in the Important, But Not Urgent of the Stephen Covey quadrant is very challenging. (In many ways, we can frame the How of what we’re trying to do as finding ways to spend more time in this quadrant.)

So how do we create that time and space? Start small. This is why we’re starting with one-on-ones. It’s the easiest thing to make time for, and it’s high-value. Because of who are leaders are, it’s highly unlikely that they will make time to talk to each other and not get value out of it.

How are we supporting this process?

First, by creating a feedback mechanism. Remember the angsty email we got from one of our leaders about not holding up her weight? That’s a very common feeling among all of us. Part of what the engagement tracker + visualization does is show us how much time we’re actually spending, so that we’re not beating ourselves up based on perception.

Second, by synthesizing and reflecting back what is heard, so that we’re constantly building, not repeating, and so that the conversation becomes collective, not just one-on-one. (Synthesis + reflection is the essence of good facilitation.)

Third, we’re trying to co-create a container with the leaders. We can push them on what a good container looks like, but they have to do the work in the end, or this process fails.

One of our main challenges is reminding folks how what we’re doing now is connected to the big picture. A visualization might help, but it won’t solve the problem for us.

In Built To Last (the classic book by Jim Collins and Jerry Pollas), one of the leadership practices they cite from extraordinary organizations is constantly communicating the big picture. CEOs from these positively deviant companies spend up to 50% of their time doing this.

We need to be doing this with the design team, and the design team needs to be doing this with their peers. This isn’t happening right now, at least not at the level it needs to be.

So how do we address this? Time. We need to be spending more time on this with our design team leaders, and we need to be on message when we’re talking to them. The prerequisite for this is for us to have that message deeply engraved inside all of us, so that we are all regurgitating it with ease.

What’s made this extremely challenging is circumstances. Trying to do this in July and August of an election year is the worst possible time to do it, because people are on vacation and they’re also ramping up for the elections. On top of that, over half of our design team either spent a significant portion of the summer on leave or are missing key members of their senior staff.

This is not an excuse, it’s the reality. And, we have still done remarkable work together. The rich content on the Wye website as well as the data and infrastructure on this one don’t lie. Think back to where both we and Wye were one year ago. Think about what’s different now. Think about all the work we’ve done that’s made things different.

Our minimum goal for July-August is 10 leaders engaged. We’re at 7 with less than two weeks to go. We may not hit that goal, but we’re already close. We need to acknowledge what we’ve accomplished, but also make the adjustments we need to have success.


Headlines: Bringing the Big Picture into View

Priorities: Keeping the big picture in our sight and connecting the dots for Wye Leaders, including the design team, is a priority. This includes explaining the “What For” of one on one conversations, a values based agenda, and more broadly the existence of Wye River. Each member of Miles River can articulate this story in unique ways and we’ll be posting our articulations on this blog.

Experiments: Next iteration of Every Batman Needs a Robin is up and includes Eden meeting with assistants while on the East Coast. We have 5 active experiments, that are trying out different ways to track this process and encourage engagement!

Synthesis: Andrea from NWDA is joining this team while Jodeen has had to step off. Initial synthesis will happen before the first synthesis call on 9/8.

Conversations: We’re at 7 convos for August and we don’t know of any others scheduled. Our goal is 10 conversations. We may shift to additionally reach out to individuals whom we need input from over the next month.

No Miles River Meeting this week.


The #mediatedmirrors post is great….

The #mediatedmirrors post is great. Thanks @Alison and @Eden. @Eugene and I were talking about a resources section on the Wye site a couple of weeks ago. He mentioned that it’s often an assumption of networks to want that kind of repository but we should really test whether it’s worth spending resources on it. This is a great test to see if there is traction.

Kudos to @alison (and @eden?)…

Kudos to @alison (and @eden?) for getting the first #mediatedmirrors post up! Looking forward to seeing if there’s engagement. Do you want me to nudge the group as a whole about these? At minimum, I think you should let folks know about it on WhatsApp.

How fast should we all be rowing?

How fast should we all be rowing?

If you look at the Wye River engagement chart, it might appear that the higher the monthly engagement (blue bar), the better the group is engaging. This is true, but only to a certain extent, as it doesn’t take into consideration the number of leaders engaged every month.

Engagement Chart

For example, in March, there were 26 engagements by 15 of you, whereas in June, there were 29 engagements by only 11 of you. In other words, fewer leaders drove more engagements in June compared to March.

Another way to think about this is as a row boat that takes Wye leaders every month a distance equal to their engagements. For example, in March, 15 of you rowed a boat 26 miles, whereas in June, 11 of you rowed 29 miles. Again, in June, fewer of you rowed farther together.

Is one preferable to the other? Not necessarily!

Wye River Rowing BoatWe believe that the best engagement model should be consistent over time and well-distributed across all leaders, also reflecting seasonality and special events. In other words, if five of you engage, you all should row about five miles together. If 12 of you engage, you all should row about 11 miles together. This ensures that the group optimizes its energy, keeping everyone connected and engaged at the same level while simultaneously minimizing individual burnout. On the chart, this would mean that the blue bar would be at or just above the red line.

However, if a few of you are motivated to talk to multiple people in a month (in other words, fewer people rowing farther), that’s also a good thing, as long as it doesn’t result in burnout over time.

The bottom line: The metric we’re most interested in is the number of you talking each month (the red line). If that number is high, and the number of engagements (blue bar) is at or slightly above it, then we’ll be happy, and you should be too. If the blue bar is much higher than the red line, we might still be happy or even happier, but we’ll also pay closer attention to whether a few of you are carrying a larger burden.

Headlines: August 1-to-1 convos & Media-ted Mirrors Experiment

1 on 1 conversations continue: Notes from Annie and May’s conversations are up and May and Miya also spoke, although we don’t have notes for that yet. Eden met with Edwin from 350.org. No conversations scheduled on Ms. Miles calendar for this week. We are encouraging people beyond the design team to have conversations with each other but haven’t learned of any convos yet. Eugene proposed that one direction for the first quarter of 2017 might be to have Wye Leaders continue to have one on one conversations but with a specific partner. Jodie and Heather connected yesterday, see Wye Design notes for details!

Our synthesis call was canceled. Amy is set to reach out to peers about Wye. There is a substantial amount of data to synthesize which is great news for starting to draft a 2017 plan for the November Wye Meeting.

New experiment called Mediated Mirrors is up as is a 4th iteration of WhatsApp.

This week we’re back at full roll call for our Miles River Meeting!

#scoreboard experiment has been updated…

#scoreboard experiment has been updated to reflect that we introduced a tracker via email. This is what @eugene sent out last Monday to the Wye List Serv pertaining to #scoreboard.

Please keep scheduling one-on-ones with each other and sharing! Current scoreboard since July:
May — 2
Mike — 1
Angelica — 1
Heather — 1
Ai-jen — 1
Anna — 1

Since then Gara responded with a concern about language use in regards to “winning” but didn’t explicitly mention the #scoreboard.

I just updated the #whatsapp3…

I just updated the #whatsapp3 stats. (@haitham’s docs for doing this were very good. I also cleaned up the spreadsheet a bit and wrote some automation tools.) Updated stats are live on our Other Metrics page.

Main takeaways:

  • We had a dramatic decrease in traffic from June to July (from 31 to 5 messages posted). Angelica and May posted once, and Ev posted three times. (Remember, this is messages posted by leaders. It doesn’t count content posted by Miles River.)
  • As @eden has already articulated in her updates, we had two folks request to be added (George and Angelica), and in both cases, we ran into challenges getting them installed. We were able to get Angelica up thanks to her assistant, and we’re still working with George’s assistant.