Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Network Building - A Process

This graphic and this article describe a process of network-building that I've been doing informally and formally since I started leading a tutor/mentor program in 1975.

Below are a couple of message threads that illustrate this long-term process. The first is an email received from Vance Stevens last Monday after I had facilitated an on-line Webheads discussion on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012.

Thanks to Dan Bassill for his remarkable presentation yesterday. I found Dan's work to be very similar to that of Webheads except that his is much more focused on a tangible social goal. But both are exemplary attempts at bringing social media to bear on scaling our efforts beyond our immediate circles of those we can reach directly.

I posted the archive here:

You can find the recording here: from Blackboard Collaborate(Elluminate)
Thanks also to Ali Boumousa, Dave Weksler, and Indrit who joined us from Montreal, New Jersey, and Doha, respectively.

Then, today I received this message from John Hibbs

Hi Dan: You may or may not remember me by way of our talks about you being a presenter during Global Learn Day - I don't recall the
"Voyage Number - Seven? Eight? Six? In any event, though not an English language instructor, I am one of Webheads biggest fans; and like you, have "unlimited" respect for the work of Vance Stevens.

The two of your are truly remarkable people. By copy of this to Vance, I want to thank him and webheads for putting you on their stage last Sunday.

(I missed it but listened to the podcast, reviewed your web site, and like all that I saw and heard.) Congratulations!!!!!

I am now deeply involved in "Healthy Oceans" as per In fact, in a couple of days I will amend my "Plan" to include mention of your network and the model it offers.

When I make that post, I will send the URL. You might peek at the elements of the Plan here

Very short version here

Anyway this is simply to shake your hand in admiration and respect and sent in the hope we can find ways to work together. There may be more important issues than preserving and protecting the Ocean, but I am not sure what that would be. ...(although teaching ESL is pretty darn important too.)

Kind regards,

John Hibbs

I was introduced to John and Vance nearly 10 years ago and as I build my network with them they connect me to their networks. I'm honored by the praise both John and Vance offer and I'm equally impressed by their work.

I hope readers will follow the links and get involved with one or all of us.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Blog Exchange with Fermi Memorial Outreach

It is really gratifying when I find other programs talking about what the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Exchange, LLC are trying to do to help them and other programs in Chicago. Here's today's blog article on the Fermi Memorial Outreach blog which talks about the Mentoring Summit we hosted in January.

This program's organizing a big fund raiser and has written some Fundraiser Wednesday blog articles to tell people about it.

I have just completed updating links in the Tutor/Mentor Connection library and one section points to blog articles by organizations like Fermi Memorial Outreach. There are only 19 blog links in this section meaning not too many tutor/mentor programs in Chicago are using blogs to tell the weekly stories of what happens in their programs or, I just don't know about them.

Spread the word. Blogging is a way to attract attention to your organization. It also can offer a writing opportunity for your teens.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Streetwise features Tutor/Mentor Institute in Jan 25 issue

I encourage you to take a look at this pdf of a Jan. 25, 2012 Streetwise article about the Tutor/Mentor Institute's support of mentoring and tutoring.

One of the strategies I've followed since 1993 is to try to get more media coverage of tutor/mentor stories so more people might become volunteers, donors, leaders in support of one or more programs in the Chicago region. The story below was in the SunTimes in 1996. You can see the pdf here.

Take a look at this full list stories. I've been able to generate this level of media coverage because of the strategy I propose which supports the growth of mentor-rich programs in all poverty neighborhoods of the city, not because of a big advertising and PR budget or celebrity name recognition.

Thus, imagine how much media coverage a business, professional association or celebrity might generate if they were to adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy and invest their own time, leadership and dollars.

Thank you Streetwise for the great coverage!

Interns Help Visualize Hope and Opportunity

Visit this page and you can see visualizations created by Korean students who were interns with me for the past six weeks. This graphic is one of those projects.

I provided the assignment for the students to work on in this post.

I was looking for a way to create graphics that showed the emotional connection between a volunteer and youth without identifying the specific youth and volunteer involved. Since I'm no longer leading a tutor/mentor program I'll not have access in the future to photos showing kids and volunteers in action as I have in the past. Can you see me and Tangela in the grphic that Song Mi created? I think there are a lot of ways to do these graphics so I'd like to encourage arts volunteers to step forward and help me create a library of these.

Chicago Mentoring Leaders Share Ideas

On January 30 leaders from several different volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago gathered to share ideas about mentoring and the challenges facing mentoring programs. This is the second of five videos posted on YouTube.

Find all five videos and others from panel discussions hosted by Jordan Hesterman and Becoming We the People at this link.

See more videos on the Tutor/Mentor Institute YouTube channel.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mentoring Panel Discussion - Jan 30, 2012

This is the first video from the Mentoring Panel Discussion held on January 30, 2012 at the First Unitarian Church in Hyde Park. The panel was organized by Jordan Hesterman of Becoming We the People.

To view the rest of the videos of this panel, click here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

G-8, NATO Events In Chicago. How to Compete for Attention?

Part of the strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) has been to increase public attention on volunteer-
based tutor/mentor programs so more people would seek them out to be volunteers, donors, etc. Doing this without any advertising or PR dollars has been quite a challenge.

This is even more difficult when major events like the G-8 and NATO meetings being held in Chicago this May will be grabbing most media attention. Since we know these events will be coming, I wonder what we might do in social media from now till the end of June to leverage these events to help keep some attention focused on tutor/mentor programs and other efforts intended to help youth living in poverty, not just in Chicago, but in other cities, too.

One thing that we might do is share this graphic on Facebook and other places so we can build a more comprehensive list of major conferences taking place around the world during this period, which might offer some talking points related to volunteering, philanthropy, strategic thinking and/or collective action.

One talking point between now and June would be a focus on building a better understanding of what types of services are currently available to youth in high poverty areas, and where there are too few services.

This graphic illustrates a goal of mine that youth from high schools, colleges and volunteers from companies and faith groups step forward to help collect and map information about volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago. Teams in other cities could be doing the same for their own community. If we plot that information on maps anyone can look at this information, even the leaders (and demonstrators) coming to Chicago this summer.
Our goal is that the messages we post on Facebook, Twitter, Linked in and our blogs can encourage groups of people in every sector to begin discussing the role volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs play in expanding the number of people and resources involved in helping kids through school and into jobs and careers. As that happens, more will seek out individual programs, using our on-line directory, and offer help as volunteers, donors, leaders, etc.

While the G-8 and NATO meetings are in May, the National Conference on Volunteering and Service is in June and there are other conference in Chicago and around the world during the same period that must offer opportunities for us to talk about the needs of poor people and how these interact with the needs of wealth people and businesses and affect world peace and the world economy.

I'm going to make an effort to write about this frequently from now till July (and then I'll continue for the next six months beyond that). I hope you'll join me.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hacking the Future - Collective Intelligence

The last couple of days I've focused on an article from Forbestalking about new systems to support talent development.

While you're thinking about that I encourage you to read this article titled An introduction to hacking the future

In my comments below the "quoted text" refers to ideas taken from this article.

While the word "hacking" conjures up negatives in my mind, such as someone taking over my web site, or taking over a big government web site, this article opens me to a new way of thinking about hackers. It describes a community of people who are "sharing of knowledge within communities of interest or practice".

The article describes hackers as a community of people who recognize that "where many people are able to contribute their individual knowledge to a coding problem collectively – the ability to solve that problem rises exponentially."

This graphic is one of many I use to illustrate my goal of helping people from around Chicago, the US and the world connect with myself and each other "to create the future they want to exist in".

In the middle is a "birth to work" message showing that the goal of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and Tutor/Mentor Connection is to support the efforts of leaders in every sector who are working to help more kids move from living in poverty to working in 21st century jobs and careers once they are adults.

In the links and program locator library at I point to more than 2000 organizations already doing something focused on youth, poverty, philanthropy, workforce development, education, etc. Many of the web sites I point to have libraries that point to thousands of other sites.

If we can connect enough of the people and ideas who are already working to help kids in poverty move to adult lives free of poverty we can create a community where we can "imagine solutions to what others thought to be impossible".

We can "creatively explore what new forms of possibility might look like."

If business leaders engage their current employees in this process, they begin to learn how to be part of this connected and collaborative community and they bring back their knowledge to the workforce.

If a greater number of volunteer-based tutor/mentor program and social justice organization leaders can find ways to engage in this process they connect their organizations with a much wider range of ideas and resources and partners that can enable them to stay in business and connected to youth and volunteers for longer time frames and with greater long-term impact.

If young people are engaged in this process from the time they are in elementary school they grow up and enter their adult lives already embedded with the ideas of this "hacker" philosophy. They become the talent business and society need to innovate new solutions to complex problems that will face us well into the future.

Sharing these articles with you and others is just one step in trying to build this connected "hacker" community.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

System for Continually Developing Talent

The purpose of the articles I write is to help volunteers connect with young people when they are in elementary and/or middle school and then stay connected to them as they go through school and into adult lives. I connected with Leo in 1973 when I first became a volunteer tutor/mentor at the Montgomery Ward Headquarters in Chicago. Leo is now an independent film producer in Tennessee. We're still connected.

I use maps to show that in order for volunteers to connect with kids like Leo, organized tutor/mentor programs need to be located near where the kids live, and in locations convenient for volunteers to participate. Such programs need to be in all poverty neighborhoods. Clearly, based on our maps and data base, they are not in all poverty neighborhoods of Chicago. The green stars on this map represent programs in my database. For programs to operate in every neighborhood we need to reverse the way they are supported. Right now non profit organizers need to be good at building programs that connect youth, volunteers and learning opportunities, and also be great at marketing and fund raising so they have consistent resources to operate and innovate better ways to keep kids and volunteers connected.

If industry leaders saw their involvement with tutor/mentor programs as a strategy for "continually developing talent" many would be more strategic and consistent in the way they support tutor/mentor programs and how they help good programs become available to young people in more places.

Last week I wrote about an article in Forbes, titled The Empowered Employee. Below are some of the key phrases I highlighted in the article.

"While the ranks of the unemployed continue to swell globally, the number of unfilled jobs for skilled labor are also on the rise.....There's a gap in preparation...."

Instead of viewing employees as costs, "shift attention from the cost to the value side". "View employees as assets capable of delivering ever increasing value"

"Address how enterprise will need to change in order to help people develop more rapidly and achieve ever higher levels of performance."

Find ways to "facilitate persistent engagement" the say way retailers are trying to stay connected to a consumer "before, during and after she visits a store"

"Re-craft the employee-experience so that they can learn faster on the job in their day-to-day work environments."

Build "systems of engagement (SOE's)"

"It takes time and effort to find the requisite people, connect with them, and access relevant data and analytical tools"

"Create records of exceptions they handle so other employees can learn from the experiences of the few directly engaged in resolving each exception" and "make patterns of exceptions more visible"

Create "real-time dashboards". Make way for the "distributed social-data command center"

"A recent look at HR in the media reveals a deep interest in the many things that promote performance." "Happier employees tend to perform better."

"Great experience maps to great performance."

"Where and how could we help our employees to learn faster by connecting them with relevant talent in customers,business partners and suppliers?"

"Shift attention from short-term job deficit to the long-term mismatch of talent and needs" "Focus on continually developing talent."

"The web is less than 20 years old...a teenager, not yet legal. The infrastructure supporting the post digital revolution is sill under construction."

If someone in your business or industry is thinking of these things, then maybe they will consider some of the ideas I offer for building future workers by engaging current employees in volunteer-based youth mentoring programs and by supporting the employees and their programs with "Systems of Engagement" that enable them to learn from their volunteer experiences and apply what they learn to their work experiences.
Recognize that employees who are deeply involved and satisfied in their community service and social problem solving are probably happier and more loyal employees if they recognize how much their employer is helping them engage in this effort.

While there are probably numerous efforts to support this engaged workforce, few combine the library of information and directory of local tutor/mentor programs that are part of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC's platform for social problem solving. These tools support employee engagement in multiple locations and multiple ways, making it likely that more employees will get engaged and say engaged in changing roles as their careers develop.

It is this long-term engagement that builds knowledge, networks and a passion for a cause. This is what turns customers into advocates, and what motivates people to work harder, smarter and with greater efficiency to achieve hard-to-reach goals.

If we can teach these skills to future workers through the mentoring and involvement of current employees we have a system that will be "continually developing talent."

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Empowered Employee is Coming - Forbes

I encourage you to read this article titled "The Empowered Employee is Coming; Is The World Ready?" written by John Hagel, Suketu Gandhi and Giovanni Rodriguez and published on the blog.

Companies who support employee involvement in social problem solving with company tools, technology, dollars, etc. will gain a more motivated, better trained and more networked employee. Companies who encourage teams of employees to work with Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and other intermediates to build pipelines from birth to work will gain future employees and customers at the same time as they are growing and nurturing their current employee.

See Role of Leaders and other ideas in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

Invitation to Engineering & Architecture Field

Last Friday I attended a STEM education summit and wrote a summary titled War on Poverty. Today I'm doing some follow up and reviewing my notes before I file them in one of my binders. Here's a couple of quotes/comments that I want to share.

"We need to develop habits of minds, persistence and problem solving."

"If we knew what it was we are doing, it would not be cause research."

"Imagination is more important than knowledge (Einstein quote). We want students to imagine a better world!"

"Engineering team works with scientists to develop a concept, then custom design and build the technology to implement the idea."

I wrote this while Dr. Ross Powell,a professor at NIU was describing the work done to develop the scientific research tools being used in a project to predict climate changes and future behavior of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The graphic I used in this article was created for me by an intern from IIT who goes to college in Korea. Imagine what type of blueprint, tools and strategies we might innovate if volunteers from STEM industries were working with us to "develop a concept" and "design and build" the programs and services needed to reach more of the kids who are not being reached with STEM mentoring and education opportunities.

I've been reaching out to STEM firms and volunteers for almost 20 years with an invitation to take on this role. I've been pointing to work done in the field with links in our library.

If you run a high school or college service learning/STEM education project, why not connect with me and let the ideas I've collected over the past 35 years support work young people and workplace volunteers do to design and build "a better operating system" for helping youth living in high poverty areas move through school and into STEM and other careers.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Where Good Ideas Come From

Thank you to my Facebook friends for sharing this video with me. I encourage you all to take a look at it.

As you look at this, I also encourage you to browse the articles I point to in i this set of linksn the Tutor/Mentor Connection library.

These links point to articles like the one about TRIZ, the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, enable people to connect more consistently with ideas (or hunches as this video calls them) that stimulate creativity, innovation and problem solving.
By aggregating information about tutoring, mentoring, and how to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in more places on my web sites I'm trying to stimulate innovation and creativity across the entire sector of youth serving organizations, as well as within the sector of companies, philanthropist, volunteers and others who must also be innovating new ways to make these programs available for decades, not just a few years.

I have never had the resources or philanthropic investment needed to support the work I am trying to do. However, I describe the vision and strategies to support it in this wiki. By sharing my ideas like this, I'm leaving myself wide open for others to borrow them to stimulate their own creativity and innovation, meaning they might attract donor and investor interest in implementing these ideas before I can. Or it might mean I'll never generate the support needed to build these ideas from my own base of operations.

If that means I no longer can support this information sharing, then the innovation well dries up for everyone who has found this useful. However, if it means that some other people can put these ideas into practice better than I can, and do more to help build systems of support for more inner city kids than I can, that's a good thing.


Saturday, February 04, 2012

Birth to Work in Every Neighborhood

For many years I've used this graphic to try to illustrate the need for mentoring and rich learning supports at every age group, from first grade through high school graduation and into the workforce. I've created a concept map to illustrate this idea.

However, in my mind I see a three dimensional map of Chicago where you can see all of the high poverty neighborhoods. I've created maps like this which you can see at the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator site.

However, this does not really communicate the long-term nature of support needed the way I see it in my mind. So I tried today to create this image, combining one of my maps with a graphic of an oil well.
I'm sure some graphic designer could do this a thousand times better than I can. Maybe one of our will try.

However, as you read the articles I've posted on this blog, does this help you think of the stages of support that we need to make available to youth who don't have enough natural systems of career-focused mentoring in their neighborhood, because of the high levels of poverty?

Battle Plan for War on Poverty

I attended a STEM Education Summit in the Chicago area on Friday, hosted at Oak Park/River Forest High School. While the speakers at this Summit were not talking about the high school drop out crisis, which I've written about in past articles, they were talking about a workforce crisis that will result from baby-boomers retiring and not enough young people preparing to go into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related careers.

Over the past 18 years I've created a variety of graphics to illustrate this problem. The one below shows that the "pipeline to careers" is not working well enough to reach kids at an early age and provide a wide range of mentoring and learning supports that would result in a larger number finishing high school and post high school education and entering careers in STEM or any other avocation they choose.

In the conferences I go to and web sites I browse I don't see many who are using maps and charts and thinking about this problem the way generals and CEOs think about the distribution channels and logistics needed to win military wars, or business wars.

A few years ago I created a graphic that illustrates the planning that would need to take place to enable more and better mentor-rich programs to be in neighborhoods where kids don't have an effective entry point into the "pipeline to careers" nor to that have enough effective supports along the way. As a result, we're losing kids to street violence, bad health, poor nutrition, and lack of preparation for adult jobs and responsibilities.

I've been trying to think of a way to communicate this idea in an article that I could post on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site or in the collection I've been building on

If you look at this chart you'll see how I compare the planning process needed to support military forces in many places to that needed to make tutor/mentor programs available in many places. While many might want to create "pilots" or "demonstration projects" we can't really afford not to have some sort of learning support reaching K-12 kids in all of the high poverty areas of Chicago with intense forms of learning support and mentoring, while also providing needed supports to kids in all other neighborhoods who may need more inspiration and support to succeed in school and/or choose STEM careers.

Maps can help us focus our attention on specific parts of a problem. Out of all the people talking about education reform, perhaps some can focus just on high poverty neighborhoods, while others can focus on non-poverty areas. If we can segment our focus then we're talking about the same problems and able to converge on better solutions than if we have a mixed bag of discussion where the words are the same but the meanings are different, depending on what the economic and community support is for the kids you're talking about.

So, if we have a team focused on helping kids born in poverty be starting STEM careers in 20-25 years, the first step is to be building a library of information and ideas that the group can use to innovate new solutions that might generate more consistent support, and a better distribution of resources in more places.

To reach youth at every age level in more places with age-appropriate mentoring and learning a huge range of programs will be needed, meaning the planners need to be thinking of ways to recruit, train and equip thousands of program organizers, leaders, tutors, mentors, coaches, etc.

Imagine the logistics needed to put military forces all over the world and keep them supplied with food, weapons, ammunition, medicine, etc. The army of teachers, tutors, mentors and leaders needed to reach kids in every poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region requires the same type of on-going support.

The War in Iraq lasted over 8 years. World War II lasted 4 years. WalMart has been growing for more than 40 years! Imagine the thinking that is being done some place in the headquarters of the military and at companies like Wal Mart that enables them to constantly recruit and train new talent to take the place of those who retire, resign or are lost in combat. We need this same type of thinking preparing young people for STEM careers, and for careers leading programs that prepare young people for these careers!

We've spent billions of dollars fighting wars. Big business spends billions of dollars on their human resource development so they have well-trained people in the jobs that need to be filled in order for the companies to be successful. We need people who are innovating ways to generate revenue to support this massive infrastructure of youth development, mentoring and tutoring programs in just the same way.

It all comes down to how well you can build and sustain public attention, interest and support for the war effort. Companies spend millions of dollars on advertising and public relations to maintain support for their business strategies and to attract customers to their products and services. While there are events like National Mentoring Month, National Volunteer Week, Make A Difference Day, Black History Month, etc. where is the coordination and planning needed to turn these into an orchestra of events needed to build long-term public support for this battle plan to end poverty by help more kids through school and into 21st century jobs and careers?

I have been trying to map these ideas using the types of graphics I've used in this article, and using on-line platforms like this Debategraph tool.

I'm not sure how clearly I've communicated this idea. I invite others to do their own version of this story. However, while I may not be communicating as clearly as I'd like, I've spent more years thinking about this from a systems perspective than many others in this country. I've written more than 1000 articles on this blog alone, and created numerous illustrated essays posted on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site and in many other places.

If you're trying to develop a strategy to mentor kids to jobs and careers, I'd like to encourage you to read some of the articles I've written. I also encourage you to hire me to help you understand these ideas. I can come to you and talk about any of the articles on this blog, or that I've posted in the Tutor/Mentor Institute library or the library.

If you've been fortunate to amass great wealth and you want to leave a legacy, why not put your name on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC or bring the Institute to alma mater where it can be integrated into the work a university does to prepare young people for adult roles.

If you'd like to connect, just post a comment or meet me on Twitter or Facebook.