Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Look Deeper to Understand Complex Problems

Below is a graphic from this video, which offers some important tips about network building and bringing people together to solve problems, something I've been focused on for many years.

I love how the Hippo was used to illustrate that what you see above the water line is just the tip of a much more complex set of problems, which are often hard to see. 

I started using the Iceberg graphic below more than 10 years ago to illustrate a similar concept. In my graphic (created by one of my Northwestern University Public Interest Fellows) what you see above the water is a youth and a volunteer, meeting in a tutor/mentor program.  What you don't see is all of the infrastructure needed to enable that program to be near enough for the youth to participate, and organized well enough that she and a flow of volunteers will be motivated to participate week after week for many years.

I combine this graphic with many others to illustrate that it's not enough to support one or two great tutor and/or mentor programs in a few places. Chicago has more than 200,000 youth who might benefit from these programs, spread throughout the city.  There are more youth who might benefit living in the suburbs.

So take a look at this graphic.  The oil well icons represent well-organized programs that reach youth when they are in elementary or middle school and stay connected as the youth moves through high school and beyond.

I ask "Can you help make this happen?" because there are not enough of these programs, and the few that exist are not evenly spread into all high poverty areas of Chicago.  Each needs a team of people helping a program build the infrastructure that supports great mentoring, learning and youth development.

I think that every neighborhood, or Ward. in the city should also have a team, working to assure that there are enough good programs to reach at least 25% of the kids in different areas.  A team at City Hall should be working for the same purpose.

I've been writing this blog since 2005 and started creating visual ideas like this in the 1990s, when I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  There's a lot of information to review, which is why I keep reaching out to universities and high schools, to offer my Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site and blogs as content for a service-learning course, intended to develop leaders who apply these ideas.  Here's a recent article that focuses on this leadership development.

At the left is a picture of Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley, along with Montgomery Ward CEO Bernie Brennan, taken in 1990 when Daley visited the tutoring program I had been leading since 1975.

Imagine if these two leaders had given their full support to the ideas I've been developing for the past 25 years. Would the Chicago map be filled with more and better programs? Would some neighborhoods show different patterns of violence, employment, education levels, in 2019, as a result of that many years of consistent leadership? 

Maybe the new Mayor, or other business, university and/or philanthropy leaders in Chicago, or in other cities, will embrace these ideas. It's never too late. 

PS: If you value what I'm sharing please visit this page and send me a contribution to help pay the bills. Thank you.

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