How We Invest in Stability to Nurture Change, Part 1
We’ve been reflecting on last year’s most meaningful changes for our team. When we named our most memorable changes, they were not the biggest shifts we experienced. They were, instead, impactful because of how and what we learned together–primarily, showing us that structure is the essential element in our creativity and co-creation.
One was the process of naming our certification and licensing program in Human-Centered Practices. After several discussions and suggestions, we created a structure for creative brainstorming that helped us discover new name possibilities and combinations. Seeing our ideas on the page, reading them out loud, and comparing them helped guide our input and conversations.
In truth, the process felt long and tedious at times because we were striving for a name that the whole team could embrace. There were many moments when we would have just preferred to pick something and be done with it. But we persevered because this name needed to last.
Melody and Dione took the lead in holding the discussions and refining our ideas, which gave the rest of the team the security and freedom to contribute in their best ways, trusting that we always kept moving forward. In addition to our team, we had our trademark attorney providing guidance and cautions, helping us through the formal process of registering a name.
Nick likens the process to music improvisation. Complete license to play whatever you want is actually overwhelming and frightening. But guardrails–which notes and what kind of notes to play and for how long–are enough structure to allow for fearless and surprising creativity.
Our big takeaway from this process, which resulted in our ANCHOR Certification Program, was how essential it is to build a structure to support our change. Looking back over the year, we managed many changes this way:
- We added two new team members with a clear selection and hiring process.
- We took on new clients with a structured Discovery, Strategy, and Advisement process, which we adapted for each one.
- We set goals for 2024 with a collaborative process that allowed for feedback, sharing, and revisions.
- We relied on our meeting agenda structure with our team and our clients to ground even the most challenging conversations in deep regard, experiential outcomes, and relationship building.
We’re Learning All the Time Why Systems and Structures Matter
Despite knowing the value and necessity of supportive systems, sometimes we still have to learn it for ourselves. For Jennifer, launching programs like the Leadership Community of Practice has often felt challenging and frustrating. Envisioning the program comes easily, as does understanding its benefits and knowing the right audience.
Reflecting on why past programs have struggled, Jennifer realized the problem was structural. “I started to believe that I wasn’t capable of launching a successful program,” she recalls. “But the truth is, I’m not great at building structures. I needed help with that.”
Asking for and receiving that support has been transformative. Other members of the team, who thrive on creating the very structures Jennifer needed–calendars, rollout plans, email campaigns, webpages–gave her the space she needed to lean into her strengths of relationship-building and recruiting. It’s the same reason Jennifer loves working with her trainer. He creates her workout structure so she can immerse herself in the work itself.
Yes, structure is crucial, but we don’t need to work against ourselves or our natural strengths.
The Real Reason We Create Systems
We say often that none of us has ever seen or known a system without oppression, so we have to build one together. This is our vision of The Future of Equitable Work. Essentially, our work at Leverage to Lead is to help organizations build nurturing, supportive, equitable, and inclusive structures that dismantle white supremacy–because white supremacy is a systemic and structural problem. If we don’t create intentional systems and processes, white supremacy cultural values will continue to be our operational default..
We remember this with every structure we build and refine, from meeting agendas to compensation scales to entire departments. Every structure that supports our humanity is a form of resistance against what drives us apart.