Hi! I’m Eugene.

I care a lot about the state of the world and about the craft of collaboration. I’ve been playing and practicing in this space for over ten years now. I have a lot of stories I’d like to share and a lot more to learn. I started this website to help me do both.

I was a social change consultant for more than a decade, focusing specifically on collaboration. That meant helping all kinds of groups — from Fortune 500 companies to global movements — on important, impactful challenges that required deeply collaborative approaches to solving them. Some of my higher profile work included designing and leading Wikimedia’s completely open, movement-wide strategic planning process in 2009-2010 and co-designing and leading the Delta Dialogues in 2012, a multistakeholder process for rebuilding trust and shared understanding in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta around California’s thorny, wicked water issues.

I got good enough at my craft to build a nice, little reputation, which led to a steady stream of challenging, meaningful work. I was extremely fortunate to be in this position, but something was missing for me. I felt like I had the potential to make a much greater impact on the world. I just wasn’t entirely sure how.

One thing I knew was that story would play an important role. When I first got started in this field, part of my strategy to make a broad impact was to share what I learned openly. If I was doing anything worthwhile, I wanted other people learning from it, copying it, and sharing what they learned.

I did an okay job of this. I did not take on work that I was not allowed to talk about. (This led to some interesting negotiations over the years, and I’ve had to turn away my share of projects as a result of this principle.) I started several blogs and wikis, including my personal one, which is over ten years old. I wrote reports and gave talks. I shared my slides, and I tweeted.

I did okay, but I knew I could do better. I wasn’t as committed to storytelling as much as I knew I could be. In particular, I didn’t try very hard to support an audience. My attitude with my personal blog, for example, was to dump whatever happened to be on my mind onto my site. If people happened to read it, great.

I’m going to stick with that approach on my personal blog. It’s a great outlet, and it’s worked for me. However, I also want a place where I can be more intentional about storytelling. I know there are lots of people out there who are hungering for practical wisdom that is grounded in real-life experiences, and who are not necessarily interested in hearing my ramblings about food, photography, sports, or other interests.

I’m going to try to provide a place for those people here on this website. I’m going to tell meaningful, actionable stories — both mine and those of my friends — as well as I can. I’m going to make it as easy as possible to follow what I write. (For example, if you’d like to get these posts over email, you can subscribe to them here. If you’d rather follow this site over Twitter, you can do that too.) I’m going to aggressively (but not overwhelmingly) share what I’m working on and what I’m learning.

I’ve called this website “Faster Than 20.” You can read the full story of why on my home page. The brief story is best encapsulated by this xkcd comic, which my friend, Kate Wing shared after hearing my explanation of the name.

I think it explains things quite nicely.

What kinds of stories would you like me to share? Please leave a comment with your ideas and questions below. Looking forward to engaging with you!

Comments

  1. Very excited to hear you are more intentionally focusing on story-telling. You have a gift for synthesis and sharing, and this is a great service to us all! Looking forward to being part of the conversation.

  2. Great idea, Eugene. I like hearing your stories of what has actually worked. Just the other day, I happened to re-read your account of Groupaya’s Kangaroo Court, which was such a fun, memorable, and positive experiment. I’d love to read more accounts of experiments and techniques that ended up making a difference. That said, failures are also useful to hear about, so bring it all on.

  3. @rapetzel:disqus and @nataliedejarlais:disqus: Thank you both for your kind words. It’s so great to hear from respected colleagues and dear friends. It’s particularly good in this case, because you two will undoubtedly crop up in many future blog posts! 🙂 I have a wealth of stories that I want to tell from my one year at Groupaya alone, so I’ll have to exercise some restraint and spread the stories around a bit. I’m particularly excited to have the space and an excuse to tell the story from my current work, and I hope to do the same with both of you as well.

  4. Hi Eugene, I’m digging this site! I was catching up with Lane yesterday on some of his efforts to increase useful transparency in the medical world. Might a good success story in the making there.

    In this post, some cool stuff I was not aware of — like your explicit principle of not taking on work you can’t talk about. I like your focus on storytelling, and agree that when it’s not an explicit goal, it can get left by the wayside despite all best intentions!

    I’m not entirely clear on whether you’re intending to develop a site that you curate, or something that might grow into a group blog of some sort? Or maybe you don’t have a clear idea about that yet?

    1. Thanks, @pete_forsyth:disqus! I’m sure I’ll be featuring you here at some point, and would love to do the same with Lane.

      I am definitely recruiting people to write guest posts for this site, although I’d like to curate the site fairly carefully. That may seem like a contradiction based on my latest post on giving up control, so I’ll have to see how this evolves. 🙂 If you have ideas, definitely let me know!

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