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Dispatch from #ForumCon18: Time to Inscape

Friday, July 27, 2018

This is a guest post from Nina Sachdev, Communications Director at Media Impact Funders. It originally appeared on Alliance Magazine

I wore my Philadelphia Eagles T-shirt on the plane to Boston. On purpose. Because I had to. I wasn’t trying to cause trouble; more so just wanting to quietly remind passers-by of recent events. #NeverForget, as they say. Oh, and #FlyEaglesFly.

My flight was delayed several hours, so I when I finally checked into the hotel and picked up my Forum registration materials, I ended up missing the one session I was really looking forward to participating in (the peer community session for communications staffers). So, still wearing my jersey, I went straight to the conference’s opening reception at the Hampshire House. I may be in “enemy,” er, Patriots territory, I thought, but I’m among PSO friends here. My jersey turned out to be a great conversation starter, and a way for me to easily connect with people I had never met before. At the very least, people appreciated my sense of humor.

And that got me thinking about how hard it is to even smile anymore sometimes, especially at work. (I promise this will not be a post about being down and out. I’m just trying to keep it real.)

We are all striving to make positive change in the world, but the work can be quite draining. The problems we’re trying to solve or make progress on all seem to be unraveling in one way or another, and every day, multiple times a day, the headlines promise one shocking revelation after another. Our colleagues are experiencing these developments in extremely personal ways, which we may or may not be aware of. Many of us are afraid for the safety of our friends and relatives, and for our own. So, in spite of the passion we bring to the work, it’s difficult to bring that same passion into the office. The problems we are facing today are becoming more and more personal.

That’s why the workshop I attended on the concept of ‘inscaping’ was so interesting and, in a way, healing. Inscaping is this idea that daily acts of connection, conversation and support in the workplace is a crucial component to successfully executing an organisation’s vision, mission and values. Put in another, more familiar way: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ I know, I know. Eye roll.

But session facilitator Chris Murchison, who’s with the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, says focusing more on the inner lives of our organisations can actually determine how engaging and socially innovative those organisations can be.

Murchison wants us to ask some key questions: How are you experiencing working with each other right now? What do you most appreciate? What do you find challenging? When you surface these answers, you can begin to see where in your organisation you might activate expressive change.

Something as simple as a 5-10 minute check-in before a staff meeting in which we all just ask how each other is doing can get us into the habit of sharing how we are experiencing this work.

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