What’s Next for The Mighty Minds Club? (1 of 3)

Email sent to members of The Mighty Minds Club. Re-posting it here so more people can catch up on what’s been going on and what’s ahead!

Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash

Welcome, fellow Mighty Minds!

After several weeks away from this newsletter (and Mighty Minds in general), I’m back! And, I’m sending this from a shiny, new, email provider — fingers crossed that this reaches everyone.

If you’ve signed up recently, in the last month or so, this is an atypical email. You may want to check out the backlog of previous email newsletters, to get a better feel for what this has all been about.

Otherwise, read on…

TLDR

  • Mighty Minds is shifting to a community, first and foremost, for people who want to make and share ‘things to think with’
  • There’s a survey I’d like you to complete! [NOTE: If you’re reading this on Medium, I’ll keep this survey open until the end of December 2020]

Here, I want to share things I learned, good and bad, as well as offer a glimpse at what’s next for The Mighty Minds Club.

I’m a planner. I will think through every detail and analyze all possibilities. This can be a gift, in some cases, as when I’m trying to understand and synthesize a lot of complex information.

This planning can also be dangerous.

A year ago, when the idea of a Mighty Minds Club was just forming, I took some time to identify the negative tendencies I have that might sabotage my efforts. Of the things I identified, one of them was a tendency to plan, and never do. The antidote was simple: Just try some stuff out. Launch and learn.

Moment of candor. As a solopreneur, I’m aware of my negative tendencies!

Fast forward to this summer. I launched and learned — in a very public way. For a token two US dollars, 350+ of you signed up to see this crazy thing I was launching. And since then, another 200 folks signed up for this newsletter (or the version that preceded this!)

Throughout this process, I’ve been very candid about my fears, hopes, concerns, and so on. I feel there’s great value in this transparency, something I’d love to see more of in the world!

Here’s a recap of what I learned, and a glimpse at what’s next for the Mighty Minds Club.

What I learned:

Here’s what I learned.

  • A “Method of the Month” is unsustainable for me, at this time. My first report took nearly three months, and — for all my intrinsic interest — left me burnt out. Not good!
  • I also learned it’s kind of fun to host meetups with interesting people. With relatively little effort on my part, about 2 to 3 dozen of you regularly gathered to hear from the likes of Christina Wodtke, Denise Jacobs, Jorge Arango, Donna Spencer, Dan Brown, John V. Willshire, and more.
  • I was also reminded I am NOT (yet?) good at online community management. That’s OK. It’s good to know your strengths and weaknesses. In case you’re wondering, you’re not missing out — Slack has been kind of dormant for the past few weeks, while I stepped away to reassess things.
  • I got some unexpected personal joy from curating and writing content for the weekly emails. And I’m proud of how steadfast I was about doing that — every week for 15 weeks I showed up and cranked out an average of 1,600 finely crafted words (in case you missed this, here’s an archive of these past emails — if this is the first email you’re reading, check these out as they’re much more useful than this one!).
  • I also learned a ton about the kinds of tools and services you need to start and run something like this. The devil is in the details, and I believe there’s a place for consultants who can specialize in hobbling together a constellation of no-code tools and mailing lists, etc.

Those are some highlights.

I also observed several tensions:

While there’s a strong desire for the kind of curated information and content that’s been shared, it’s also a lot of noise. Only a few of you have the kind of schedule that affords active participation and consumption of this content.

With the deep dive into ‘Four Futures’, I published over 200 slides, and — if I can brag a bit — is probably the most comprehensive source for information all about this one tool. However — yes, whew! — that was a lot for anyone to consume, let alone put into practice. While there’s a lot to love about this, it also left me wondering what I could do differently to make this more actionable.

With the email newsletter, while many of you wrote to me about how much you appreciate the curated content and personal musings, I also pieced together an image of a small number of you setting aside time each week to spend with all that was shared.

I also found myself questioning the time spent each week writing these emails (about 6–8 hours) and what — of lasting value — could be made in that same time? And what was I not working on by writing these emails?

And then I returned to some of my core values, which have everything to do with learning, and creating the conditions for learning, and I had to check myself: Does a comprehensive report or a weekly email help YOU put new ideas into practice? Or, is it more input, at the cost of time that you could spend on output and activities? I want ‘things to think with’ and ‘simple tools for complex problems’ to be front and center. And for us to be testing and using these things.

So, where does this leave us?

OPTION A: Pull the plug. End this little experiment, here and now.

This would certainly be the easiest path forward for me, personally. One less thing on my plate. Communities require gardening and nurturing, which I’ve known all along is not my strength.

But… What would be lost?

I believe there’s an opportunity here that doesn’t exist, anywhere else. Let me explain:

I look around, and where else is there a community devoted to tools for thought, agnostic of the application? There are of course design communities and facilitator communities and tech communities and other places that share tools for their job family, but where is the place that cuts across domains, and talks about what makes these tools work, or not?

There’s also another interesting opportunity here. When I launched the Mighty Minds back in the summer, I described community as the “oxygen” for ideas, but I was thinking mostly about the deep dives and topics I would bring to the table. As time has gone on, I’ve spoken to a number of you working on or developing your own toolkits, workshop activities, books, canvases, and other ‘tools’. Something clicked for me: What if Mighty Minds became a platform for creating and launching new things to think with? YOUR ideas. YOUR topics and toolkits. For trainers, what if there was a safe space to ‘alpha’ test new activities? For authors, a safe space to share early drafts? For makers, a place to test early prototypes of your card deck or game? A place to not only share things to think with, but to also make things to think with. And what if we could nerd out on this making process? Make frameworks and models that help us think about (conceptual) tools as… well, tools. As I’ve been organizing the salons, one thing I tell potential speakers is this: Think about something you’re’ not sure about, or would like feedback on — this is a great place to learn from others. When folks like Denise Jacobs talk about turning her book into a card deck, but isn’t sure where to start, I look around and see other people who’ve made this journey and published their own decks. There’s the potential for some awesome connections and powerful combos here.

Which leads me to one other things I don’t want to lose:

YOU.

I look around, at who shows up for the Salons, and the mailing list, and… this is a brilliant group of folks.

Some of you I knew before, and some of you are new friends I’ve made through this adventure. And while I’m still not quite certain how to articulate the thread that weaves us together, I know that this ‘together’ is not something I want to let go of… And I want this same connection for all of you, something not afforded through emails or even Slack. I want to see more connections and friendships made across domains and disciplines. I want to see more individuals meeting other individuals to discuss a broad range of complex topics, so we can all ultimately, make things that make sense. I’d love to see some of you forming cohorts and learning groups by way of this community. I will, of course, keep adding to my circle of professional friends, as will you, but what if this was our circle of friends, with some common center around tools for complex problems?

Which leads us to OPTION B: Become a community, first. Keep this going, as a platform for people who want to make and share things to think with.

And… I’ll share more specifics in the coming weeks.

But, I do have a request of you, today: What are your thoughts? What would you like to get out of this community? And, how would you like to help? I’d be grateful if you’d answer a few survey questions — this will give me a better sense of where you’re at, what your priorities are, and ways that you all might like to help with this little adventure!

Cheers!

Stephen

Speaker, educator, and design leader. On a mission to make learning the hard stuff fun, by creating ‘things to think with’ and ‘spaces’ for generative play.

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