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Out & About in Cleveland

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Heights-Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce

Today, June 19th, we had a special treat at the breakfast meeting of the Heights-Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce because today's program featured Dick Clough, Peter Benkendorf, and Jack Ricchiuto all of whom know Margaret W. Wong and think very highly of her. The program was titled "Cleveland Innovators" and it dealt with harnessing the power of collaboration to help entrepreneurs create opportunity, build community and improve people's lives. Mr. Clough, Mr. Benkendorf, and Mr. Ricchiuto are all involved in a group called the "Cleveland Collaboratory" which is focused on bringing diverse groups of people together for brainstorming and action concerning pressing issues and opportunities both large and small.

Mr. Clough talked about the past history of Cleveland when such "robber barons" as John D. Rockefeller, who used people as pawns, had power and influence. Mr. Clough believes that this approach is outdated and expressed optimism that "Cleveland's best days lay ahead" and we must "capitalize on the collective power of individuals" who normally wouldn't consider working together.

Mr. Clough was seconded by Mr. Benkendorf who said that some of the best, unexpected outcomes are produced by "improbable parents."

Mr. Ricchiuto outlined a simple model for collaboration called the "Agile Planning Canvas" which has five parts:

***Questions: what must be researched and decided. This "puts everyone on the same page".

***Facts: what is already discovered and decided

***Principles: what matters and way

***Stories: what would represent success and progress.

***Sprints: what two week actions can achieve the stories.

There were about 30 attendees and, after the presentation, many expressed interest in attending a business growth workshop that will be put on by this team sometime in the next several months. We also made about 10 new contacts including a person from a loan association that on occasion assists people who have immigrated to the United States.

Networking was what it was all about at the 5th Annual North Coast Chamber of Commerce picnic at the Frostville Museum in North Olmsted. It was announced during lunch that there were 86 people in attendance today including members from the local chambers of Avon, Avon Lake, Sheffield, Sheffied Village, Westlake, Bay Village, Fairview Park, North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township.

We already knew a lot of the people there but we made around 20 new contacts including a representative from a private school network who talked with us about the problems that two school teachers from Columbia and Chile had when they immigrated to the United States several years ago and about the need for immigration reform. We also talked to people from various assisted living facilities who might need our services if someone from another country wanted to visit the use to care for an ailing friend or relative.

We also had a pleasant conversation about French cinema with Suzanne M. Toppel from Keller Williams Real Estate who had lived in France for several years.

Moreover, it is always fun to visit the Frostville Museum. North Olmsted City Councilman Paul Schumann briefly talked about the museum's 55 year history and tours were available for those who wanted to take one.

What We Do In order to grow the Cleveland region’s economic and social capital, The Cleveland Collaboratory is providing the Collaborative Infrastructure—the physical space, engagement tools, network and support system—for people from across the region to come together to imagine and act upon new possibilities for themselves, each other and the community. These new possibilities will involve citizen, government, business, institutional, organizational and philanthropic participants and will impact how we live, work, learn and play.

The Cleveland Collaboratory’s unique approach for reframing and changing the conversation allows for imagination, ideation, and cross-sector cross-pollination to naturally occur. It is an environment that stimulates fresh thinking and collaborative action, every day.

The Cleveland Collaboratory realizes its mission in a number of ways: 1. Convening diverse groups of people from throughout the community for new conversations and new action around pressing community issues and opportunities, both large and small. Talk. Listen. Learn. Imagine. Co-create. 2. Hosting “New Possibilities” Workshops. Take the first step to realizing a dream, and help others do the same. 3. “Fresh Thinking/Open Source” R & D Lab. Facilitating and coaching for businesses, organizations and individuals looking to build an idea, test an idea or launch an idea. Learn to leverage and extend networks, engage groups for meaningful input, and synthesize the ideas into action. 4. Teaching the Art of Collaboration Seeding transformational action requires a unique set of activities that guarantee a transformational environment. Five elements set the Cleveland Collaboratory apart: 1. Change the Framework. If you ask the same questions, you are likely to get lots of the same answers. The Cleveland Collaboratory partners are well-versed in art of moving from problems to possibilities, and finding just the right words to present a different perspective. 2. Change the Participants. We believe in the unexpected outcomes of improbable pairings. By gathering thoughtful, candid, action-oriented groups of citizen-leaders who would not normally find themselves in a room together, we generate a whole to set of ideas and possibilities. 3. Change the Conversation. Using a variety of innovation and visualization tools, including The Agile Canvas, Contextual Mapping and Open Spaces, we create transformational conversations that keep everyone everyone fully engaged and continuously focused, realistic, aligned, inspired and productive. 4. Think Small. With acknowledgement to Doyle Dane Bernbach for the breakthrough 1960 ad campaign for VW and a century of baseball managers who know that “small ball” can be the recipe for success. Rather than looking to design large-scale initiatives that may take up to a decade to show meaningful impact, we see creating a series of small-scale transformational actions as the best way to demonstrate proof-of-concept. 5. Network Weaving. Originating multiple small transformational actions builds a platform to generate sustainable community and culture change. By connecting citizen-leaders, we form a network of support and inspiration that strengthens each of the actions by allowing for the easier sharing of ideas and resources.

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