The 2-5pm workshop stirred up some interesting conversations. One interesting question that I believe Michelle asked rooted a few conversations I had over the next few days. She raised to the group the issue of priority, of which relationships and networks to build first. If the goal is connecting MBEs to anchor institutions or networks of nonprofits, for example, should we first build the networks of nonprofits and anchors or the networks of MBEs? The ensuing back-and-forth and an exchange I had the next day with Felipe led to what I’m holding as takeaways from the weekend, ideas that are essential to the upcoming work of drafting a business plan for CPA Boston. Here’s where I’m at:
My first inclination when I’m faced with an either/or question like is to see what happens when I say “neither!” or “both!” or otherwise reframe the question. In this case, to the question of what to prioritize, I say “both!” We need to be building these networks in unison, allowing them to iteratively recreate, inform, and inspire each other.
To the additional question of how to message that, I say (hellooo personal edge) be honest. It’s complicated to message a complicated process, to share honestly that building power in a network means focusing some of the earlier wins and processes on saving money and building trust, and that the economy-bending, wealth-building work of channeling collective purchases towards black/woman-owned/minority-run businesses, may not bear fruit until later. Honest strategy. Collaborative, authentic, complexity-embracing, willingness-to-listen-and-be-changed, humble. Leadership. I don’t know exactly what this will look like in Boston. As I see it, it’s not up to me. It’s up to this network we’re building. It’s up to all of us.