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Conference Observations

The process of planning, convening, and reflecting on the Conversations for Creating the Future event was instructive and revealing on many different levels. It offered insights that may be helpful as the BSOM plots its course forward. This summary is an attempt to capture and document those insights for use in future work.

The People

1. The faculty, staff, and students of BSOM are passionate about the mission of the school and about their part in advancing that mission.

2. There is a critical mass of junior faculty, staff and students (the VIA) who are willing and able to take on leadership roles in the school.

3. There are many faculty, staff, and students at BSOM who were not part of CCF who have demonstrated interest in the conference and its outcomes.

4. The BSOM has many existing and potential partners around eastern North Carolina who want to work with us to better serve the people of our region.

The Methods

1. Participants in all phases of the project overcame initial skepticism about unfamiliar approaches to sharing information and solving problems (Liberating Structures, Open Space, SOAR and the like) and embraced these processes.

2. Gathering the wisdom and insights of a wide variety of people (the VIA, the Venerables, CCF attendees) was integral to the event’s success.

3. The planning process worked most effectively when work was done asynchronously, with individual volunteers taking on pieces of the project and working on them independently.

4. Relying only on fully-attended face-to-face meetings of large groups for planning purposes slows the process and is unnecessarily cumbersome.

The Content

1. There are many areas in which BSOM is succeeding (e.g. education of its students, offering medical services for eastern North Carolina)

2. There are some areas in which BSOM has opportunities for growth (e.g. getting out into rural communities, expanding research, recruiting and retaining faculty)

3. At least fifteen specific projects have support from some members of the BSOM and eastern North Carolina communities who are willing to work toward making them realities.

4. Even with a “ground-up” approach, central leadership is necessary to keep things moving.

The Passion

It is difficult to truly capture this phenomenon in words, but the most overwhelming occurrence was the incredible energy, excitement, and passion that was present in New Bern. Amazingly, this thing continues as was evident at the most recent open forum concerning the CCF. Undoubtedly, of all the tangible goals that were established during this process, it is this force that will drive these projects to fruition and translate the conversation into action and results.

Prepared by:

Janet Malek and Mark Bowling, Co-Chairs of Conversations for Creating the Future

Bruce Flye, BSOM Director of Planning and Partnerships