The practice of  generative  governance:  A case study                  Debra Beck, EdD               University of Wyomin...
The Practice Context• Nonprofit board  consulting, training• Transformative  board development• Formal research  centered ...
The Practical Problem            • Exciting new model            • Significant leap from              board norms         ...
The Research Question     “How do preparation for,and participation   in, nonprofitboard meetings      impactmembers’ abil...
The Research Approach• Case study • Meeting observations • Interviews • Focus groups • Content analysis• The board • Wasn‟...
Key Finding: The Big News             Domain Community                Practice             Generative             Governance
COP: Domain Theme   1:         Domain Mission
COP: Community                 Recruitment                 Community    Leadership                 Climate
COP: Practice                   Role                  Clarity                               Peer     Resources   Practice ...
Sharing: The Academic Side
Practice: Going Global
Practice: Other Venues
Other Tools I Use to Engage
The Social Media Twist• Sharing research• Connecting to  practitioner  audiences• Developing voice• International  exposur...
My Social Media Foundations       Blog                    Twitter Research (and beyond):   • Extending blog visibility • S...
Questions to Consider• Who are my target practitioner audiences?• What social environments do they use?• What kinds of inf...
Contact/More Information• Dr. Debra Beck • debbeck@uwyo.edu • 307-766-2066 • Blog: boardlearning.org • Twitter: @npmaven •...
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The practice of generative governance: A case study

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Slides for Dr. Debra Beck's 2012 Midwest Research to Practice Conference workshop. Shares highlights of case study focusing on generative governance. Also discusses how Dr. Beck uses social media to engage practitioners in sharing outcomes of that research (and beyond). Online handout at Http://socialpractice.wikispaces.com.

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  • In this workshop, I will share two things:The practical background and highlights of my doctoral researchThe ways in which social media have helped meShare what I learned with practitioners – those who will be most interested and will benefit from knowing it, tooExpand upon that foundation, on my own and with othersBuild connections with peers and practitionersCreate new professional consulting and research opportunitiesBuild an international brand
  • Practitioner at heartInterested in impacting the nonprofit sector, especially nonprofit boardsConstantly exploring different Used formal research to explore practical board questionsThis was my dissertation – Hoped to emerge with deeper understanding of how boards learn to govern more effectively, that I could share with boards to enhance their practiceHave written a board-focused blog, the Laramie Board Learning Project since 2007
  • The book that started it allArrived on my doorstep as I was heading out to do a Boards 101 training. I scanned before leaving and immediately was struck by powerful model they were describing.Saw great potential to focus board work on areas that make the most of their time and leadershipSaw connections to the big-picture, mission-driven work that draws most of us to serveSaw how VASTLY different it was from typical task-oriented conceptions of board workA BIG stretch for the field – where the basics I was about to share frighten manyAlso saw – and confirmed as I read the book – the challenge of operationalizing the key idea, Generative Governance
  • Felt that generative governance hadGreatest potential to transform nonprofit work as a fulfilling leadership experienceGreatest potential to connect board members to why they signed on to serveWanted to have a chance to see what generative governance might look like ‘in the wlld’Also wanted to explore and understand how boards learn within the day to day workField tends to define “learning” as butts-in-chairs “training”
  • Can’t survey what I REALLY wanted to knowAlso a limitation of most research re: nonprofit boards – we count thingsWanted to have a chance to witness learning as it took placeAlso wanted to take advantage of the serendipity of discovering something I didn’t expect Wanted to be able to discover things invisible to participantsSurvey wouldn’t allow thoseWanted to get to know a board over timeWanted to have a chance to witness patternsWanted to be able to dig deeper and ask whyApproached a board I knew wasn’t struggling with the basicsHoped – but knew there were no guarantees – to see examples of generative governance
  • What I GOT was an exemplar boardNot only did I have opportunities to witness generative governance, I also found strong evidence of a community of practiceI read widely in my lit review, hoping to remain open to witnessing informal board learning in whatever format it might be foundNo significant research before this exploring topic – especially not by adult educatorSocial theories of learning resonated early in my reading, especiallySociocultural learning – strong connection to the purpose-driven nature of nonprofit work and the missions that draw people to themSituated learning theory clicked on many levels – especially the central role of context – a big limitation of the canned training events so many boards tend to experienceCommunity of practice was intriguing, but I set it aside on purpose. Feared digging too deeply before beginning the research might lead me to ‘see’ something that really wasn’t there.Was so successful at stuffing COP in the corner that I had trouble organizing my data until I brought it back into the mixDomain – STRONG evidence in the centrality of organizational missionBig mix of fascinating but hard to organize dataTried for a couple of weeks before finally stepping back and revisiting lit reviewThere I found it – the COP
  • The reason for their existence – as an organization and as a boardStrong, vivid, textbook evidence across the studyStrong links to their INDIVIDUAL reason for service
  • The community/environmental factors that facilitated governance:The right people in the roomThe right climate for workingShared leadership – beyond titles
  • The fun stuff – and the place where the big ‘news’ emergedThe masterful ways in which member questions fostered generative governance – and in very natural waysThe absolute clarity of understanding why I am here and what I am expected to contribute – before they accepted the invitation to serve.They were ready to step up when needed. No cajoling.The critical importance of peer learning -- largely connected to the role clarity. They acknowledged, and drew upon, the wisdom within the room to respond to those big questions.
  • I shared in traditional academic venues:ARNOVA – Where I met three junior scholars who realized we shared a common theme usually ignored in governance research: a focus on relationshipsLed to the International Study Group on Governance Relationships and Dynamics, which led toPresentation at the Academy of Management conference – and a governance workshop that the study group set up before that event.Also led to book that will be published next year.A contribution to scholarly discussion – though watered-down from original focus on governance practiceNOTHING accessible to practitioners, though.
  • While making the most of the obligatory rites of academic passage, I was very clear about my goal of creating content thatWould resonate for practitioner audiences – especially nonprofit board membersWould expand the governance conversation – beyond the usual 101 and “10 easy steps” approachesWould reach a broader audience than my local communitySocial media made that possible, especially:BlogTwitterFacebook – blog page and elsewhereGuest posts on others’ blogsTweet represents regular affirmation of that goal being met
  • Social media presence – and contributions – lead to other types of practitioner connections, including:Face to face workshops for the American Bar AssociationPodcast with listenership of 20,000And creation of new types of tools to expand resourcesLike the online handout created for BLI, now a resource for all nonprofit board membersAnd new connections – including those leading to collaborative research
  • Audience question:Are any of you on:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestDo you blog?
  • The practice of generative governance: A case study

    1. 1. The practice of generative governance: A case study Debra Beck, EdD University of Wyoming Midwest Research-to-Practice Conference Sept. 28, 2012Online handout: http://socialpractice.wikispaces.com/
    2. 2. The Practice Context• Nonprofit board consulting, training• Transformative board development• Formal research centered on boards• Board-focused blog
    3. 3. The Practical Problem • Exciting new model • Significant leap from board norms • Operationalizing „generative governance‟
    4. 4. The Research Question “How do preparation for,and participation in, nonprofitboard meetings impactmembers’ ability to engage in generative governance?
    5. 5. The Research Approach• Case study • Meeting observations • Interviews • Focus groups • Content analysis• The board • Wasn‟t struggling • Potential to witness „generative governance‟
    6. 6. Key Finding: The Big News Domain Community Practice Generative Governance
    7. 7. COP: Domain Theme 1: Domain Mission
    8. 8. COP: Community Recruitment Community Leadership Climate
    9. 9. COP: Practice Role Clarity Peer Resources Practice Learning Member Questions
    10. 10. Sharing: The Academic Side
    11. 11. Practice: Going Global
    12. 12. Practice: Other Venues
    13. 13. Other Tools I Use to Engage
    14. 14. The Social Media Twist• Sharing research• Connecting to practitioner audiences• Developing voice• International exposure, connec tions
    15. 15. My Social Media Foundations Blog Twitter Research (and beyond): • Extending blog visibility • Sharing • Learning via • Articulating • Followed profiles • Twitter chats • Testing • Conference backchannels • Expanding • Engaging others • Engaging w/like, varied interests • Educating • Collaboration opportunities • “Governance Gurus”
    16. 16. Questions to Consider• Who are my target practitioner audiences?• What social environments do they use?• What kinds of information, interaction do they seek in those spaces?• Does what I have to share fit those needs?• Where do I feel comfortable interacting?• Where are my peers connecting?• What first step am I willing to take?
    17. 17. Contact/More Information• Dr. Debra Beck • debbeck@uwyo.edu • 307-766-2066 • Blog: boardlearning.org • Twitter: @npmaven • LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/debrabeck• Online handout: • socialpractice.wikispaces.com

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