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  • benjaminnewman01

Reflections on Theory & Practice of Creative Leadership

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

1. Record Your Story of Self

This exercise was a great first challenge in the program because I had to identify a story that would show who I am and what my values are. It also stretched me in that I am largely inexperienced with video recording software and editing so doing this assignment caused me to start to learn a new software, which subsequently has already proven to be beneficial as I've had other work that has required that skillset. Similarly, this assignment got me out of my comfort zone because I hate recording myself. I struggle with how I think I come across to viewers and I end up self-sabotaging in my head. I had to learn to put all of that away and realize that viewers have no expectations of me to appear a certain way and they want me to succeed.


2. Pecha Kucha Presentation

This was another assignment that stretched me because it introduced me to a concept I hadn't encountered before. The premise of creating a presentation that tells a story in 6 minutes 40 seconds using 1 image every twenty seconds was a very good challenge to use a new medium with specific limitations on how it's applied. The process of crafting a cohesive narrative through images required me to create a script, identify images that embodied each portion of the script, and successfully deliver the story through 20 second audio recordings. This assignment also pushed me out of my comfort zone by making me create audio recordings of the script. Like the Story of Self, it pushed me to remember that no one is going to be looking to critique the sound of my voice, they will be focused on the content of my presentation. I would like to revisit this process a few times during the program as it is an important element of my final Capstone Presentation.


3. Deep Listening in Practice

This assignment followed our introduction to Indigenous people's practices of Deep Listening. It was a great opportunity for me to share some of my experience around how decisions are made in the workplace, and which elements of that process I agree with or want to change. And also, how some of the changes I want to see align with elements of Deep Listening. This encouraged me to take more time to consider how greater incorporation of the myriad elements that make up Deep Listening could have significant impact for me both personally and professionally.


4. How Does Worldview Shape Your Leadership

This assignment was given to us as I was dealing with the aftermath of having my parked car totaled by a distracted driver on my third night living in a new apartment and city. The story of how I chose to deal with the situation following the accident became the example of my worldview put into practice. Personally, I found that this assignment was both therapeutic in working through my own emotions following the accident and encouraging to me to know that I was able to apply my worldview under difficult circumstances.


5. Sitting with a Broken Place

I chose a part of Baltimore I was exploring as a new resident as the subject for this assignment. Generating a poem was difficult for me because I don’t have much practice writing poetry, so it was yet another good way to stretch me out of my comfort zone. Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, I am very familiar with the myriad factors that contribute to a city’s decline, now living in Baltimore, this exercise gave me a chance to compare the two cities. It was yet another sad reminder of the ongoing role racism has played in so many areas of the United States. Trying to access my creative side, I chose to approach writing my poem by drawing inspiration from the idiom “If these walls could talk.” The text is my own interpretation of what I imagine these buildings would say today if they a voice and could share their stories.


6. Shifting Our Gaze (to our Broken Institutions)

I am a very critical person by nurture, not nature. I was trained as a child to look for errors and flaws in all kinds of matters, so as an adult I’ve had to learn how to apply that skillset to generate better outcomes, rather than focus on what went wrong. Critiquing the attitudes, behaviors, cultures of so many nonprofits brought out some unresolved feelings I had following a meeting that occurred at one of my former employers. By the end of this assignment, I found myself feeling frustrated as if I were experiencing the meeting all over again and I struggled to turn that negativity into actionable alternative outcomes. Reading Diane’s comments on my assignment, she noted that while I was personally frustrated by the experience, perhaps my voice had impact and made a difference in the long run.


7. Blocking & Probing with Your Matter of Concern

This assignment was perhaps the most difficult and most rewarding of the course for me. The concepts presented in Innovating Emerging Futures by Jason Frasca and Iain Kerr are very abstract in their framing and therefore difficult to apply. Diane was gracious enough to allow me additional time to craft an offering that was inspired by the book and our session with Jason and Iain that aimed to elucidate some of the more abstract concepts by providing some guidance for how they can be applied within their proposed framework. I also share my thoughts on an area of Jason and Iain’s process around probing a Matter of Concern that I identified as an assumption within their paradigm worth noting and addressing.


8. Which New Leadership Paradigm Do You Mean?

We had to create a draft essay of this assignment a few weeks ago and then revisit, revise, and resubmit it within our final course portfolio. This module required a tremendous amount of reading from several different authors on the current landscape of leadership ideas, practices and principles happening across the globe and asked us to demonstrate what each one proposes and synthesize their work into an essay. Revisiting my initial draft, I was reminded of just how much I’ve already been impacted by these authors writings in such a short period of time and how I’ve already begun applying them into my everyday life and work. It also reified my desire to study the works of indigenous, queer, and anti-capitalist writers to learn about how they might propose different forms of leadership.


9. Social Arrangements (Sensation, Intervention, Imagination)

Of all our assignments during this course, I found this one gave me the clearest direction of how to apply the Leadership theories we’ve been studying into practice. I applied the Ideas, Arrangement, and Effects framework from the DS4SI team towards the role of donors in arts organizations. In their book, Kenneth and Lori suggest that it is in the arena of Arrangements where the most opportunity for change lies. I identify three arrangements of how donors impact arts organizations and propose changes to those arrangements that would mitigate those challenges and generate better effects. By the end of the assignment, I felt that I had crafted a formula that could be practically applied by leaders of arts organizations, and it has motivated me to apply the IAE framework into other areas of my work.


10. A Deeper Dive with the 3 Horizons of Leadership (Group Assignment)

I really enjoyed this assignment because it gave me an opportunity to spend more time with my classmates in our newly assigned peer group. Within the group, the role that emerged for me was to help establish our framework for how to tackle the assignment as a group. My initial proposal came from looking at the assignment’s deliverables and asking if the work could be divided into five parts. The group liked the proposal, and we began divvying up the work among each of us according to where each person had natural affinity and interest. We then collaborated on a deadline for producing our respective contributions and agreed to meet up again to put it all together before submitting. Within the 3 Horizons framework, we discovered parallels to Frederic LaLoux’s The Five Stages of Organizational Development within the historical context of how modern corporations inherited, and in many ways have retained, the practices and principles of businesses founded during the Industrial Revolution. The H2 framework, inspired by advancements in education and technology challenges those practices and seeks to improve them by creating new business models and practices, but the basic premise of prioritizing profits above all else remained. H3 asks us to reimagine the entire premise of industry by prioritizing people over profits and regeneration over consumption.


11. Diagnosing Your Immunity to Change

I am still reflecting on this assignment as it is one of the last ones we completed. Personally, I found the immunity map and immunity worksheet generated a process very closely aligned to my personal process I engage during therapy, which is aimed at promoting change and growth. Professionally, I can imagine using this framework in the workplace with staffers who demonstrate an inability or unwillingness to change, grow, and learn.


12. Self Portrait

The self-portrait was a great way to conclude the course assignments because it allowed me to tap into different elements from each of the previous assignments and bookended nicely with the Story of Self assignment from the beginning of the class. The core of my self-portrait is rooted in how my lived experience has shaped both my personal and professional values and worldview. I use the metaphor of a brown spotted banana to symbolize the importance of never writing anything or anyone off because of its perceived by the status quo. I draw from previous assignments and share a bit of personal narrative that aligns with the principles shared by Jason Frasca and Iain Kerr in Innovating Emergent Futures.

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