Congratulatory emails after amazing LCW events are becoming routine I know..BUT…I think that it is important to recognize the moment we have just had, as a network. I am not going to do the litany of naming everyone and how amazing a job they did because frankly, in this one, EVERYBODY MADE AN AMAZING CONTRIBUTION …and we are talking about at least 125 people – staff/members/partners – who made substantial contributions to making this event happen!!! Rather, I want to make it personal for a minute.
I get moved alot by what we do together…but I will say that this Convention — the dreaming, the planning, the preparation, the execution….all of it, is a ‘culmination’ moment for me…one of the moments that I have had in my mind for the last 8 years or so that would indicate that our network and our network approach really really works. For me, it is that big and that important. To say that I could die happy might be an overstatement..:) BUT but I am very happy about where we have arrived at this moment…to break it down a little:
Our entire process has been decentralized (open architecture) from the beginning and has been a true exercise in form follows function….part of my job was to shape the process and pay attention to it as we went forward, and I approached it as an experiment in FFF…in part to find out if we could pull something this huge off by using all the aggregate capacity of the network and without overwhelming one part of it. I think that it is clear that we can do this. This was hard, challenging and took alot of time by alot of people…BUT….this was huge and could have killed some of us and stopped us in our tracks for a month in order to get it done….In its exectution, our mantra was, we have the capacity as a network to pull this off well so long as everyone does their piece well….it will come together…you may not see all the pieces but if we trust each other to each do our job, it will come together. And it did..Big time.
From the beginning it has been demand/choice driven…the event and its content and logistics driven by the collective sensibilities of staff, board and many many members. With only a few exceptions (ie the OPS TEAM which had to be at the center of things for the final month) most functions, from session development to the volunteer teams, were opt-in environments. That so many staff and members eagerly took on roles and functions is a testiment to our spirit of teamwork. As a result, I think that it is fair to say that if one came in from the outside and spent the day with us yesterday, they would have seen all the dimensions of who we are, what we do, how we do it and how we feel about each other. Not only was the content diverse and powerful, but the spirit of joy and progress and mutual support was incredible. Did anyone else notice all the smiles? Long ago we said “fun/joy is an indicator of success – i means we have created a room that is good for people! If we could have had a ‘smile meter’ measuring joy yesterday it would have blown up! One of the original reasons for doing this was so that a member could ‘experience the whole network for a moment’ instead of one or two parts of it. As we have grown and expanded, showing the whole network in one place or one moment has gotten harder. I think we did this yesterday.
From the beginng we made a commitment to use this event to change our culture around on-line functionality and so we tried on-line registration…and 3 weeks out when we had 15 (yes, that is 15) registrations, we didnt say “hey this isnt working”, we said, “this is a big shift, lets dig in and make it work” and we did and in the end we had almost 500 on-line registrations! In the midst of things, to some this might feel like a small detail. I dont tsee it that way at all. First it reminds us how to move the line on new technology or new methods — commit to an experiment, resource it thoroughly, keep it simple and elegant, and see it through. Second, we demonstrated to ourselves and members that tools like this are incredibly powerful and helpful and it seems like we have stimulated demand for more of this….Big Hooray from me on this.
From the beginning the level of member engagement and ownership of this event has been unprecedented and something we should be really happy about and eager to build on. Of course it takes lots of work to mobilize people, but to have 80-90 working volunteers!!!! With the level of cooperation and collaboration that everyone showed..my GOD. This can only happen if people genuinely feel like this thing — this network — is their network.
Finally, I always want to convey to you the perspective of our Network in the context of other efforts nationally because, for good or for bad, my travels over the years give me that perspective. I will tell you this. There is no CDC in the country who does this!! None who even try to do this. Audrey Jordan told me before she left that she has never seen anything like this — the numbers, the energy, the spirit, the results. Comparing ourselves is not where its at..I know…but I just want you all to know that the things that we do as a network are important, groundbreaking and powerful, and there are many many people around the country looking at LCW with a bit of wonder.
I often look at us with a bit of wonder myself.