Group work is already hard enough, especially when bringing together people from diverse backgrounds with a goal of pursuing actions for the common good. We need practical tools to help us reduce and resolve friction over differences, create integrity in our processes, and measure the qualitative and quantitative aspects of both our project impacts and their costs. But we do also need more …
Sadly, sincere people can inflict horrific damage, even while attempting to do good. In my 40 years of non-profit work and volunteerism, I’ve experienced far too many negative effects of abusive leaders, dysfunctional teams, toxic organizations, and wobbly collaborations. At their worst, these led to leader and/or volunteer burnout, unresolved conflict, emotional abuse, poorly conceived processes, absent procedures, preferential treatment of some, marginalization of others, irresponsible goals, failure to document or evaluate the legacy we’re creating, and gross waste of resources. It is an unfortunate irony that attempts at social transformation could prove so destructive.
I believe we can do better in doing good! That is why I chose to see the personal costs I paid in bad experiences as an investment toward creating an approach to doing good and doing no harm. I do not want to see happen to others what happened to me. Doing some good never makes up for inflicting simultaneous and significant hurts to recipients or participants. So, I’ve written this book with many original, integrative frameworks that explore sources of teamwork conflict and resources for healthy collaboration. I believe it will prove a powerful tonic to counteract change-project toxins …
Do Good, Plus Do No Harm
How to Create Safe Transcultural Connection Zones for Sustainable Social Transformation
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Ground Zero – Getting the Big Picture
A Word of Preface
Probably the two hardest pieces of writing in a book are the first chapter and the back cover copy. Both need to accomplish important tasks related to helping potential readers decide if this book is for them. They do so in different ways. The back cover has to summarize in a few pithy paragraphs what the book is about and who would benefit from it, while conveying enough detail for those browsing to see whether they’re intrigued enough to investigate further.
Meanwhile, that first chapter needs to do far more. It must go beyond making intellectual and/or professional connections, to more personal and relational ones. Let me drop you into my questionator brain for a moment so you can get the gist of what I was asking myself:
Who am I as the author here? What do I think I have to say? Am I enough of an experienced practitioner who has reflected deeply enough on my experiences to be worth hearing out? What is my “voice” – is there a light touch of humor, perhaps even a bit of cheekiness – to balance out the intensity of the topics?
Speaking of which … what topics will I address, what slant on them do I take, and how does that potentially equip those who work through the material? Do I “tell” too much and take away the mystery and the mental homework that spurs people to learn? Do I “show” enough through anecdotes and images to demonstrate how the ideas are useful in the real world?
Who is the material most designed for? Will it serve them well both as individuals and in groups? Am I covering different kinds of configurations or settings? How will it improve their abilities to find personal transformation for themselves, and participate on teams and in partnerships that aim for catalyzing transformative projects for the common good?
The questions to consider could go on and on. But eventually, I had to plunge in and polish something that I felt both shows and tells who I am, what the material is about, and where it would take those who use it. It ain’t perfect, but I think it’s real and relevant, and infuses my personality into it. And I’m happy enough with it to send it forth and see who boomerangs back with The Big Picture in mind and wants more!
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Tentative launch date for Do Good, Plus Do No Harm is October 31, 2013. I’ve divided the blog edition of its initial chapter into three sections. There is an expanded Table of Contents at the end of Part 3. Hope you enjoy what you read and find it stimulating for your work in personal and social transformation!
- NEXT: Part 1: What is “Do Good, Plus Do No Harm” About? – The need for balance by both doing good and preventing abuse.
- Part 2: The “What, So What, and Now What” of This Training Curriculum – Building blocks, benefits, and next steps.
- Part 3: The “What If …?” – What could things look like in a world of good where we do no harm?