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Incubator Session 1: Moving Bold Ideas Into Action

On February 16, 2017, Cyd Weissman led the first in a series of six sessions as part of the Reconstructionist Learning Networks Innovators Incubator. In this first session, participants discussed how to turn bold ideas into action. Below are highlights from the session, with links to resources discussed.

The world is changing rapidly around us. How do we respond?

Blackboard full of arrows, one pointing the opposite direction from all the rest

”I find that people want to make truly personal connections in smaller micro-communities. People want to offer their gifts and talents in meaningful, rich, deep and spiritual ways.” Shelly

“How do we find meaning? What does spiritual growth look like? How do we truly nurture our children and open them to spiritual life/Jewish connection?” Joshua

“Amen to Shelly! In our case it’s holding a very anxious, mostly progressive, many-endangered-federal-workers community — which includes moral and spiritual and communal support — as well as building up a growing youth program…” Marla

Organizational Change Maps Vs. Entrepreneurial Maps

Live the Questions Now - Rainer Marie Rilke

Organizational change is a slow, collective process. It focuses on executing a known product to known recipients. An entrepreneurial map offers a different lens.

An entrepreneurial map requires humility: Admit that you don’t know the answer. You must have empathy: Begin with the human, not the program.

What Are Our Core Values?

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people. - Abraham Joshua Heschel

“Humility. Pluralism. Deep respect. Active listening. Openness. And still, clarity in our own values.” Marla and Fred

“Honoring all ideas. Open hearts and open minds. Care for each person. Collaborative spirit. Safe communication, safe environment. Trust.” Shelly

“Asking questions from a place of curiosity. Before we speak, asking ourselves, ‘Of what benefit will my words be?’” Joshua

“For me, it’s most important to cultivate and honor curiosity. Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.” Jacob

“Active listening and succinct speaking.” Elliot

Soaking in the Torah

Moses and Jethro

Shelly shared some words of Torah from Parashat Yitro. She said this parashah reminds us: What do we need for our sanity?

  • Wisdom from Yitro to Moshe: “It is not good, the thing that you are doing. You will surely wear away, both you and this people that is with you; for the thing is too heavy for you; you are not able to perform it yourself alone.”

  • “And the people saw the sounds…”: How do we see things in new ways?

  • May we support one another in strength. How do we lift each other up?

Mission Model Canvas

Mission Model Canvas diagram

Download the Mission Model Canvas here: http://masterfacilitator.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/the-mission-model-canvas.pdf

Put this up on your wall. Play with your team!

The Mission Model Canvas, based on the Business Model Canvas, is a startup model that focuses on a series of unknowns that invite you to think about your project in terms of customer needs. Instead of simply implementing your great ideas, you take the time to investigate your customers’ needs, to ensure that what you are offering lines up with what they are seeking.

Whiteboard full of post-it notes

Important: Never put answers in writing. Answer these questions with post-its. Because we don’t know the answer!



Value Proposition Canvas

Value Proposition Canvas diagram

Wisdom from Cyd: “If you don’t make a shidduch between your values and your customers’ needs, you go into bankruptcy”

In the Jewish community, we have traditionally started from a place of our own values. We may have brilliant ideas for programs, and expect that people will come and benefit from them. The value proposition canvas advocates that you start with people’s needs. Understand who your customer (beneficiary) is. What are they trying to get done, or what do they need? Emotional need? Social need? What are their gains? Their pains? In what way does my program speak to that?

Note: You may identify different segments of your target audience. Grandparents, people with kids, etc.

Cyd Recommends

Only those who dare greatly can achieve greatly

Book cover: Mission In A Bottle

It is important to remember that entrepreneurial approaches are mission and vision driven. On this topic Cyd recommends: Mission in a Bottle, by Seth Goldman (co-founder of Honest Tea). Check out this recap of Seth Goldman’s visit to RRC, with plenty of good advice for rabbis and entrepreneurs alike.

Fail Forward. Be willing to fail. We fail in order to learn. For more on embracing failure, read Cyd’s blog on the topic.

Incubating Ideas to Action

Elliot presented his work-in-progress: Prayer in the Square, bringing Friday night services into areas of public, political consequence (congresspeople’s offices, town council’s office, etc.). Goal is to meld social justice and spirit.

Who is your beneficiary? People who are focused on social justice and are spiritual seekers (who may or may not be congregation members).

What is their job/task or their need? To pray for the values that they seek to defend or promote. To pursue social change in concert with spiritual practice.

What gets in the way? People feel alienated, unsure whether Judaism and prayer is connected to their political vision. Folks don’t know how to find each other. Logistical challenge to find the right time to meet.

What is the benefit they desire? Feeling of agency, shleimut, wholeness, integration. Feeling of power to make change. Rootedness in tradition.

You become a more human-centered designer by holding the empathy and understanding of the human beings you’re trying to engage. At this point we just have assumptions. Next step is to test those assumptions.


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