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Lawil Karama
Lawil Karama

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The Art of Reflection

The program team often gets caught up in the daily grind of managing multiple grant programs that are in different stages of their execution.

The speed of the changing tides of activities and troubleshooting can be overwhelming, to process it all I sometimes close my eyes and take a deep breath and at times I catch myself in a moment of reverie.

During these moments, I have a recurring image of Lakoma dancers, The Lukeme is a traditional Acholi dance where a group of the performers balances an x... amount of pots on their heads while participating in a communal effort.
The number of pots increases until the dance is done or an imbalance occurs. The dance, Is about building, creating, and structuring, and when pots fall on reflecting on the collaborative effort.

The Lukeme is a dance that often reminds me of my participation in the Interledger Program team. The overarching activities of the Interledger Program Team, are brainstorming and designing grant programs, supporting, onboarding, and maintaining our network. And highlighting the efforts made by our awardees.

Even before I joined the Interledger the Program team was a well-oiled machine, The smooth collaboration I have witnessed between, @chrislarry, @julaireh, and @ayeshaware is incredible.

Chris once mentioned the similarities between the Avengers and the Program team collaboration. (We still need to figure out who is who πŸ€—)

Avengers Assemble

All of this flattery does not make being part of a team less challenging since everyone has their personality, qualities, and abilities.

There are days and projects that are a tough row to hoe but once we climbed the mountain of tasks and journeyed through the unknown terrain of work relationships, communication, and teamwork we usually find each other in the process and tackle the End boss(End Boss = Final phase of a Project).

The program team comes together to reflect on our performance. collaboration as a team, and the implementation of the grant program, to simplify, to reflect on what we could have done better and what we experienced as failures, please keep in mind that there are rarely absolute failures.

My personal preference is to start a project with a goal in mind. Let’s use the F|M grant as an example of this exercise.

Let's start this exercise with the goals.

Goals: To support the arts and culture sector, launching an Arts and Culture grant, To expand and differentiate thought in our ecosystem.

  • Grant Timeline: 8 months for awardees.
  • Project timeline: 9 months for Interledger foundation (onboarding/ offboarding).
  • Awardees: Find up to eight participatory artists.
  • Launch Date: Launch the grant on the agreed date.

This list is a 3 high-level summary of the entire grant program and is meant as an example of our process.

Once the program is up and running and we have gone through the process the team schedules a retro meeting. Retro meetings are our moment of reflection. To note, there is not a specific moment within a grant timeline that we choose to call in this meeting. It often results from a pressing need to realign our collaborative efforts.

We use a Mural board with three different tables, what went well, what didn't go well, and actions. Once everyone is settled in we give the team about 5 to 10 minutes to reflect and write down a keyword or a short sentence on a digital sticky note on what we can recall from that specific time. Once everyone is done we arrange the sticky notes into the categories.

Here is our Mural for the Future|Money Retro
Image description

To be able to fully participate in a retro exercise, you need to be honest since the exchange of our experience is a reflection of your own capabilities and shortcomings.

These conversations touch on themes such as,

  • how we can improve our grant programs?
  • What did we learn from the process of designing this specific grant?
  • What common obstacles do we as a team experience?
  • Are there new obstacles?
  • What conditions allow us to be the most productive and collaborative?
  • Why did something not go well?
  • How are the dynamics in a team?
  • Is everyone being heard?

To give a proper example let's use a sticky note in the what didn't go well pile.
Image description

External communication is what we are looking for.
This note highlights the juxtaposition of the arts and culture grant and the Interledger Foundation as an entity.
This year we deviated from our previous grant programs and

our moment of epiphany was during our office hours, we often received questions relating to Blockchain, NFTs, and other Web 3.0 services.

The outcome of this specific example was a conversation on how intentional language and knowledge are a part of designing a grant program.

Questions such as,

  • What is the value of an Arts & Culture grant in our ecosystem?
  • How could Artists create new pathways?
  • How can we improve our knowledge exchange for new community members who apply for our grants?

My conclusion on the retro meetings is that we might not have the answer to our questions but the introspection results in a higher functioning, more self-organizing, and cohesive team.

What I have learned from the design process of this grant is that there is a difference between having my practice as an Artist and the design of an Arts and Culture Grant The Future|Money is that it's a completely new terrain. It's exhausting, thrilling, and exciting to be part of something that seeks to inspire. We do hope you will join our Awardees at the Future|Money Open Studios at the Summit ❀️

I would love the learn more about how you reflect on your own work practice, I hope you will share your techniques and experiences in the comments.

Top comments (3)

gfam profile image

Love this insight into the Foundation's specific processes... but also processes we can use in our daily work too! I usually work on really large multi-year projects and so usually when we've done retro meetings (or lessons learnt) we've forgotten most of the issues at the start of the process.

ayeshaware profile image
Ayesha Ware

I think we make a heck of team. And shoutout to you @lwlkarama for being part of our team. We form like Voltron!

davoweb3 profile image
Davo Ramirez

That's a great comparison , I like Voltron :)