Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Solving Complex Problems. No One Promised "EASY"

Last week I posted an article under the headline of  "Want to Make A Difference? Spend Time in Deeper Learning"  and pointed to a "How to Help the World" chart created by a group in the UK.

Over the past couple of days I came across an article with the Periodic Table, re-mixed, to show 90 issues that challenge our well-being, locally and globally.

The article says this chart was created by "A 17-year-old Indian school girl who came up with an imaginative way to remember all the elements on the periodic table for her science class. She decided to recreate the periodic table to highlight 90 global issues, using the acronym of each element to highlight a particular problem."

Read the article and look at the issues she includes.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in Chicago in 1993 to try to pull people together to help build and sustain mentor-rich non school  programs helping kids in poverty areas move through school and into jobs and careers.  I started writing this blog in 2005 and many articles, like this, share maps and graphics, that focus on how we get from "here to there".

I encourage others who talk about problems to spend some time with a pen and paper and try to scratch out their own master plan, then share it on-line as I do.

I created the graphic at the right in the 1990s, to recognize that there are many different issues that need to be solved, in Chicago and in other places around the world. Each needs a network of people with various talents and civic reach who are dedicating their time, talent and dollars to solving that problem.

The Periodic Table created by our Indian school girl just emphasizes how many different issues there are which require the involvement of many people, over many years and in many places.

My goal is to find just a few people who focus on the same strategies that I focus on. With the right mix of talent, and deep commitment, we can change the world....or at least have a small impact.

While I'm in Chicago, the third largest city in the US, I've found it really difficult to connect with other people who think the same as I do, and who are willing to commit their time, talent and dollars to working with me on the strategies I've developed.  Nor have I found many using maps and graphics on their own web sites, for their own organization, who focus on the same problem.

The article about the Periodic Table was shared by Sheri Edwards, an educator from Washington state, via a Connected Learning #clmooc Facebook page. I've written about this group before, showing how I've been connecting and building relationships since 2013 with educators from the US and the world.   I've been part of a Webheads in Action group of ESL educators from around the world since 2004.

Both of these demonstrate how people from different places can connect and build relationships and expand what they know, if someone keeps the group alive from year to year and if individuals are willing to devote their own personal time visiting, reading and connecting on an on-going basis

I emphasize this because while there may only be a few people in Chicago who might be interested in the ideas and strategies I share, in big cities around the world, there may be many others who are struggling to find attention and support for the same ideas.  I included this map from an article, in this article on the MappingforJustice blog.

Every one of my articles, Tweets and Facebook posts is an invitation seeking some who will respond.  This graphic illustrates a goal of finding leaders from different sectors.  This talent map illustrates the same idea, with more detail.

I created this 4-part strategy map and this article to illustrate a problem solving strategy that I have been building since 1993. It starts with "what do I know about the problem? Then, "What can I learn from others?"

This strategy, or a version of it, needs to have owners who focus on each of the 90 global issues described in the Periodic Table map shown above. Such groups need to be forming on line, and in each of the major cities of the world, and in each country.

They need to be connected so that people can draw ideas from other sectors, and that people in different sectors can collaborate on building tools that can be used in each place, and in each sector.

This needs to be supported by champions and benefactors from around the world.

As I said at the beginning, this is not going to be easy. Yet, if we don't try, what future can we expect?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Race Riots in Big Cities. Chicago next?

This is a map showing demographics in Milwaukee, where riots have erupted as a result of long simmering frustration.  I included the map in this article on the MappingforJustice blog.

I hope people in Chicago and other cities will take a look.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Stop the Violence. Where are the Leaders?

 On Page 2 of today's Chicago Tribune, Rex  Huppke's article is titled "Past time for senseless violence to mean something to everyone."  He used the word "enough" twice in the first two major paragraphs. He ended by saying,

"So that's my question: Where are the people, the ones who have the resources and knowledge and networks, who care?  Why can't they come together and organize and attack this problem?"

I wish he had been reading this blog for the past 10 years.

I first used the word ENOUGH to create and share actions people could take, in this 2007 article. I've used it often since then.

I created this graphic, and versions of it, in the 1990s, to illustrate the need for leaders from every sector to be strategically, and consistently, involved in solving the problems of poverty, inequality, violence, etc. that plague Chicago and many other cities.

Milwaukee is reaping the harvest of that neglect this week.

In yesterday's article I talked about deeper learning and pointed to this strategy map illustrating a commitment that all those people Rex Huppke is referring to, need to be making and keeping.

You need to open and view all of the links at the bottom of each node to really comprehend what this commitment really involves.  That's part of the "deeper learning" that has to be part of a path toward a solution.

This isn't a new problem, as this article from 1996 shows. My ideas aren't new either. I've been using maps since 1993 to focus attention, and resource, on neighborhoods with high poverty and poorly performing schools, with the goal of helping well-organized tutor/mentor programs grow in these areas.  They just have not been viewed or embraced by very many leaders in Chicago.

Rex said the solution is "not coming from me. I'm a newspaper columnist".

We'll Rex, and others in media, you can be more of the solution than you have been.

Why not use your column to give recognition to leaders who put the strategy map on their web sites, to demonstrate their own commitment.  Then look at this 4-part strategy map (it can be found in the links off the middle section of the strategy map.)

When you give recognition, be specific. Did they do something to improve the information available? Did they use their media, visibility, dollars, to draw more people to the information?  Did they appoint someone in their organization to form a learning strategy and lead a company-involvement effort? Do the use maps to show their involvement around places where they do business, or where employees or customers live?  Do they provide flexible operating dollars on an on-going basis to multiple organizations. Do they encourage others to duplicate their own efforts?

You can even create maps that show locations of leaders doing good work, or companies, faith groups, hospitals, etc. who adopt and lead this strategy. Host them on your web site, right next to where you keep track of homicides.

Keep doing it, week-after-week. Year-after-year.

Here's a presentation showing how you and others can give recognition to good work, in ways that it is continued and duplicated by others.

Had reporters been consistently highlighting strategic efforts that make mentor-rich learning programs available in high poverty areas and that help kids come to school better prepared to learn, and leave school with adults helping them in to jobs and careers, for the past 30 years, maybe Chicago would be recognized as a model for social justice, opportunity and where to raise  a family, rather than for violence and corruption.

This role is not restricted to media. With social media and the internet anyone can look at this information and give recognition to good work being done in different places.  Furthermore, they can connect with each other in on-line communities, like the Connected Learning MOOC #clmooc, and share what they are doing while learning new ideas from peers.

Rex, you could even be writing about that.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Want To Make a Difference? Spend Time In Deeper Learning

Saturday I included this graphic in this article, and pointed to an annotation platform called NowComment, where I highlighted sections of the map, and offered comment to try to help readers build their own  understanding.

As my #clmooc friends Terry Elliott and Kevin Hodgson took a look and added their own comments, I responded. Thus, we've started a conversation around this strategy map, using the NowComment annotation platform.

It takes a certain level of commitment, and time, to create these maps, explain them, and read them. They are not 140 character sound bytes.  Yet, unless people spend that time, they won't know what is being offered and how the ideas might be used by them in their own efforts to help reduce poverty and inequality in big cities like Chicago.

After posting my blog on Saturday I came across an article by the Global Priorities Project,  with the graphic shown below embedded as a Prezi presentation. You can see it at

Just looking at this graphic will probably cause a lot of people to move on to something else. I spent about an hour reading each node and following the lines that helped me move from one point to another. I did not open the links that were provided, and dig even deeper into the ideas, but that would be the next step.  I did respond to the invitation to share my own ideas.

When I started  using the Internet in 1998 I was excited by the potential for putting complex ideas on a web site that other people, from anywhere in the world, could find and their own pace.

I use concept maps the way this group uses a Prezi, to try to guide people sequentially from one part of the map to another.  If you visit this page, you can find a few Prezi presentations done by interns working with me from 2005 to 2014. They work the same way.

In order to teach, and motivate, people to spend time looking at these documents, I think we need to be teaching young people to create them, as part of their own classroom and non-school learning experiences. I've invited others to look at my presentations and create their own interpretations, applying the ideas to their own community, or to the work they are doing in their own tutor/mentor program.

As you do your research, take a look at this article where I introduce systems thinking work being led by Gene Bellinger and apply it to my own efforts.  The graphic is a screen shot from one of Gene's videos.

I hope some of  you will spend some time looking at these presentations and reading the linked blog articles. Then take me up on that offer as you begin a new school year over the next few weeks.

As your students create new understanding through their own work, let's aggregate that work so others will find it and learn from it.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Building Greater Involvement in Problem Solving Strategies

In past articles I've shown some of my interactions with the Connected Learning MOOC (#clmooc), which is an online network of educators from the US and the world. I've done so with the goal of creating a similar on-line community of people who are working to reduce poverty and inequality in Chicago and other cities, through strategies that help kids move through school and into jobs and careers.  

Part of the CLMOOC process involves people from different places creating on-line projects (makes), which then are re-mixed or embedded in blogs and/or social media, so that more people engage with the ideas and each other.  Through this process there is a constant introduction of new places and tools where this work can be done.  

The graphic above was introduced in a blog by Algot Runeman, then remixed by KevinHodgson. I then added my own ideas and re-shared via social media. 

Over the past few days Kevin introduced a new  annotation platform called NowComment, a free site, and posted the graphic here.  

Terry Elliott then used his blog to provide some more encouragement to visit and use the NowComment site.

So I did.  You can see this map here and below.

During the Connected Learning MOOC, participants have been encouraged to "make" and share things. Since most participants are educators, much of the sharing and making tests new ways to engage students in their own learning.  A MAKE BANK has been created where participants have shared some of their work. I've added some of my graphics. 

If you compare my graphics to many of the others, you'll see that I'm trying to engage people in thinking about strategies that would make more powerful learning opportunities available to youth in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.  Furthermore, I'm trying to influence people who look at the graphics and presentations I create, so more will adopt the ideas and apply them through their own efforts, in Chicago or in the communities where they live.

For that to happen, they need to build a deeper understanding of what I'm talking about. Using annotation tools like NowComment is one path toward that greater understanging.  In this particular map I'm showing four steps that are involved in problem solving, that could be duplicated in many places and that require involvement of many people.

I've created maps that show other organizations in Chicago who focus on the well being of young people and on issues such as poverty, inequality, youth and workforce development. This is one. This is another.

I'd like to see strategy maps on every web site that I point to with these maps. I'd like to see their own efforts to draw people together on-line, perhaps learning from the sites I point to.

By sharing these graphics and pointing to these sites, that's what I hope to influence.

I hope you'll take a look. Add your own comment. Make your own version. Share it. Connect with me on other spaces. Help me do this work.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Helping Tutor and Mentor Orgs Grow. Can You Do This, Too?

I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago in 1975, and over 35 years developed a deep appreciation for the positive impact such programs have on many of the youth and volunteers who participate.

Coming from a retail advertising background, I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in Chicago with a goal of a) building a better understanding of what organizations in Chicago offered tutoring and/or mentoring as part of an on-going strategy; and b) finding ways to build greater public attention that would draw volunteers and donors to all of the programs in the city; and c) would help new programs grow in underserved areas.  I have continued to operate the T/MC since 2011 through Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

Drawing upon my list of programs, I'm able to look at their web sites, Facebook pages and Twitter posts to see what they do, and try to share that with others. Here's an example:

This shows the Facebook page of four Chicago youth serving organizations, and a graphic that points to my list of more than 100 Chicago area programs who I found on Facebook.  I built my Facebook list by looking at my master list of nearly 200 Chicago area youth serving organizations.  By clicking into my "pages feed" on Facebook every few days, I'm able to view updates being posted by those who are active in sharing news on Facebook. My Twitter feed offers the same type of updates. 

I shared this with a group of educators who I've met via the Connected Learning MOOC (#clmooc), suggesting that they and their students could be looking for youth programs in their own community, and then creating visualizations that drew greater attention to each of them at key times each year.

Youth and volunteer groups in Chicago can do this too,  I hope they do.  In fact, if 100's of visualizations like this, showing many of the different youth programs operating in the Chicago region, are created over the next six weeks, and throughout the year, more people will take notice, and begin to offer their own support, as volunteer tutors, mentors, organizers, leaders, advocates, etc.

An equally important outcome of such efforts will be that more people will build a deeper  understanding of the different types of programs, and the different types of activities, that are taking place around the city, leading to a sharing of ideas that can stimulate borrowing and constant innovation and improvement among all of the youth serving programs.

That was the purpose of creating the library in the first place, and for continuing to sustain it in 2016...even with almost no financial support helping me do this.

I don't expect this type of example from any of the people trying to get elected this fall. I needs to come from us.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Mapping Activities of Intentional Influence

I created this map yesterday, showing people and organizations I'd touched in July, via email, Twitter, Facebook, or by attending events hosted by others.

In a post last week  I talked about the "village" it takes to raise a child and asked "who's building the village?"  Yesterday's map was intended to show work I do daily to try to help such a village grow in Chicago and other cities by sharing ideas throughout my network.

I shared my map with Terry Elliott, a professor from a university in Western Kentucky, who I've met over past four years through the Connected Learning MOOC (#clmoc). Terry dug deep into my map and then created this graphic, which he shared on his blog.

Then, in my Twitter feed, others from the #clmooc asked "how did I do this?"

I've been trying to think of a way to respond, without turning this blog article into a book long essay.

First, the map was  not created based on random contacts, but as a result of intentionally reaching out to people I've added to my web library, Twitter and email lists, over the past 25 years.

In 1993 when I and six other volunteers created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (which I now lead through Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC), it's goal was to "gather and organize all that is known about successful non-school tutoring/mentoring programs and apply that knowledge to expand the availability and enhance the effectiveness of these services to children throughout the Chicago region."

This concept map shows the four steps involved in this process. I created this PDF to outline those steps, and I hope one, or more, of my #clmooc friends will use their talents to communicate this in other ways.

Step two of the strategy is "increase public awareness", which is outlined in this concept map and describe in this 2013 blog article.

I had worked in retail advertising from 1973-1990, for the Montgomery Ward store chain. We spent over $200 million dollars a year, in the 1980s, to draw customers to our 400 stores every week.  In order to attract public and private sector support to help needed youth supports, like non-school tutor/mentor programs, to be available and sustained, in every high poverty neighborhoods, a similar on-going campaign is needed.

However, without advertising dollars (or any revenue since 2011), we need to be more creative in how we build public awareness and draw people to the information we're collecting (step 1 on the map), and to the different tutor/mentor programs operating in Chicago, where they can offer time, talent or dollars, to make each program world class at what they do to help kids (step 4 on the map).

View this link, to see the four sections of my web library, and this link to see a blog article with a list of pages I point to on a regular basis.

Included in those maps will be a link to a map showing Chicago organizations that act as intermediaries, bringing together others via their own web site, meetings, email, etc.  All focus on the well-being of youth.   The map is a planning tool. I use it to remind myself of who I need to be reaching out to on a regular basis, to try to become included in their process, while trying to share my experience and library.  

The map also shows "empty spaces" where I have limited information, but which needs to be filled. If someone else is collecting such information, I can just point to their web site. We can connect on social media and trying to build visits to such sites.

I keep focusing on "who needs to be involved" and created this talent map to visualize that, and to serve as a worksheet to document who is involved.

For instance, during July, my email newsletter focused on Volunteer Recruitment, because that's what every tutor/mentor program is focusing on during August and September as school is starting.  My Tweets, Facebook posts and other touches ask "What's Your Strategy to help mobilize volunteers for programs in your own network?"

The graphic below illustrates how quarterly events, repeated annually, and supported by many different sectors, can increase the amount of dollars and number of volunteers who are becoming involved in tutor/mentor programs over a multi-year period.  I started building this event cycle in 1994.  It's still a valid strategy, even though I've not hosted a conference since May 2015.

My goal is that more of us are singing the same song, at key times each year, such as volunteer recruitment during Aug/Sept, more people will hear the message and begin to seek out programs in different parts of the city where they can be involved.  This message targets people in business, faith groups, entertainment, sports, politics, media and others beyond those who lead schools and non-school youth programs.

So I browse through my concept maps, my Twitter lists, my Facebook page feed, and my Linked in groups, and post a message, "like" a message, and/or reTweet a message.  Or I attend a meeting that's being held, such as the weekly Chicago Hack Night event or the quarterly SCY Chicago events.  Those are each a "touch".

So are my interactions with people beyond Chicago via cMOOCs like #CLMOOC, or online courses, like the Collaborative Curiosity course hosted by VCU.

I'm trying to bring people together into on-going conversations. I keep pointing to cMOOCs because I don't feel any face-to-face planning process will every engage more than a very small percent of ALL people who need to be involved in an on-going planning and action process which I describe in this PDF.

To create the July Influence Map, shown above,  I pulled up the Intermediaries map, in my CMAP tools on-line folder and deleted those who I had not had contact with during July, then added new nodes showing some who I did have contact with, based on my calendar notes, email history, etc. I'm sure I omitted many.  I included links to their web sites, so that people who view my map are encouraged to go to their web sites and support their efforts.

Last year Terry Elliott took a look at another one of my maps, and added his own interpretation. This one shows how the information I, and others collect, can be a resource for others to learn and borrow from, to support their own efforts to help tutor/mentor programs grow, or solve other complex problems in the world.  In January 2016, Terry took a look at this article on my blog, then created a video which he posted on his blog, guiding his visitors through the information I have been collecting.

Last week I posted this article on my blog, showing a Thinglink done by Kevin Hodgson, another #clmooc member, with the invitation that he, Terry and others use their huge creative talents to "make" new interpretations of my maps and visualizations, then share them in their own communities, for the same purpose that I share them in Chicago.

As educators, they can teach youth to do this!

As people respond I'll try to add links to their blogs to this map, which points to people in different places who are sharing these ideas. I'll also share on social media, so more people respond to their presentation of these ideas.

When I wrote the "village" article last week, which I've actually included in blog articles since 2005, I was trying to model work "others should also be doing". Building this village should be work many are trying to do. Mapping where people need help is an action a few people need to do. But once that is done, many can take a role in drawing attention and resources to places on the map where help is needed.

While millions of dollars are being spent on political elections, we can't depend on political leaders to do this work, or build and sustain this village. It's up to each of us. 

This intent to document actions toward a goal is not something I've just started doing.  I encourage you to visit this OHATS (Organizational History and Tracking System) page and read about the on-line documentation system built in 2000 (which now is not working properly due to lack of tech support).

The four strategies documented in OHATS are the same four shown in the 4-part strategy.  If you have pockets of high poverty and disconnected youth and families in your community, I encourage you to spend time building  your understanding, then consider adopting this strategy. If you don't have any money, or are trying to build a team, start by building a map showing who you want to connect with, then find ways to "reach out and touch" as many as possible, on an on-going basis.

Eventually some will reach back, touch you, and say "let's connect".