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May 5, 2022

Tapping into collective creativity with Dr. Brandi Derr

Tapping into collective creativity with Dr. Brandi Derr

Dr. Brandi Derr is the Director of the Leadership PsyD program as well as Leadership
PsyD faculty. She is one of my professors in my Adaptive Leadership class and I’m
excited to have her on the show today.
We are introducing sociocracy, an idea of ...

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Dr. Brandi Derr is the Director of the Leadership PsyD program as well as Leadership

PsyD faculty. She is one of my professors in my Adaptive Leadership class and I’m

excited to have her on the show today.


We are introducing sociocracy, an idea of decision-making that ensures all people have a voice in the process. I think this is a great way to leverage the talents of others and get out of

the Rat Race. This is all about working Smarter not Harder.


What is it?

How Is It Used?

What are the benefits?


Show Links:


The book, Who Decides, Who Decides? Ted J. Rau



Sociocracy website






Book a Chat with Laura: https://lauranoelcc.com/calendar


Check Out My Website: https://www.ratracereboot.com/

Connect With Laura at: https://www.stretchintosuccess.com/ratracereboot/


Watch/Listen to the Show on:

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoc1sIm3AlUCrmcaFyZaFbw

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RatRaceReboot

Podbean: https://infogtu.podbean.com/










Dr. Brandi Derr Bio –


She has previously served in the following roles: Director of Strategic Planning for

LGBTQ Boston Senior Housing Inc., Co-Campaign Manager for the Williams Boston

City Council District 4 Campaign, Director of Programs for Rogerson Communities,

Adult Day Health Programs, a non-profit providing medical modelled support to elders

and adults with disabilities, Director of Community Partnerships and Outreach for the

Institute for Black and African American Mental Health, Clinician for Pyramid Builders,

Inc., Director of Human Resources for Pathways Hospice, Program Director for

Community Resources for Justice, and Residential Director for Germaine Lawrence,


She holds a PsyD in Leadership Psychology from William James College, with a focus

on: Mentorship, Public Narrative and black, female leadership capacity-building. She

also holds an MEd in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Trauma Studies.

Dr. Derr's Statement of Inclusion: I engage my various roles at William James

College as a person who identifies as female, Black, queer, and Buddhist. I commit to

being mindful and empowering as a representative of these various communities, and

extend an open invitation to all students, faculty, and community members who I

encounter on our shared journey of learning. I take responsibility for creating a safe

container for all who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences with me. As

an antiracist I will advocate for people who cannot advocate for themselves and be a

patient educator for those who struggle to engage inclusively.  I celebrate the wide and

varied gifts that each person brings and welcome them as a part of my own ongoing

growth by continually engaging reflective learning and action research. I eagerly seek

continued methods and ideologies to improve my communication, teaching and support

of all students and faculty members.



people, circle, ideas, organization, group, feel, decision, person, conversation, reboot, delegate, agree, consent, roles, rat race, creativity, shared, oppose, leadership, proposal


Today's episode is all about tapping into the collective creativity with others. And this is a conversation with Dr. Brandy Dare and Dr. Brandy dare is the director of the leadership Psy D program at William James college. And she's also one of my professors in my adaptive leadership class. I'm so excited to have her on the show. Today, we're introducing a decision making style of communicating with one another. And this is about working smarter and not harder. So you're going to want to stick around for today's episode.


The following was recorded in front of a live studio audience at the studio 21 podcast cafe. This is the United Podcast Network.


Welcome to rat race reboot. I'm your host, Laura Noel. And as a certified coach and former 27 year military leader, each week, I provide bite sized mindset pivots that will help you reset your mind reawaken your spirit and regain your control. Hello, hello, and welcome everyone to rat race reboot, I am so excited to have this conversation. And again, I want to introduce you to Dr. Brandy dare. She is an amazing human she is at William James college, one of my professors. And I'm so excited to have this conversation with you about a new concept that it was new to me. And I think it's going to be new to a lot of our listeners on rat race reboot. And it's this idea of decision making in groups. It's called sociocracy. So Dr. Day, I want to give you an opportunity to please introduce yourself, let us know a little bit about you your background and how you came to love this style of decision making.


So thank you so much. I'm so great to be here in this space with you. I I've sort of done a little bit of everything. But really the thing that connects all of it is that I love being in a space with human beings where we sort of mobilize all of our strengths and our passions towards an amazing like vision or mission or task or project. And I think that's where sociocracy really sort of appealed to me. Because I'm not, I'm not really big on sort of top down authority. I tend to love shared shared power, shared passion, shared vision, and shared purpose. And that's definitely sociocracy sort of encompasses all of that as a model for whole systems work and navigating huge projects. Oh,


absolutely. And I love that idea of, of shared work shared responsibility and shared decision making. Because really, the idea of rat race reboot is to help people get out of their own way. And what's the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. And we can get caught up in how we habitually handle challenges and problems and how we navigate finding solutions. And I I really feel like rat race reboot is about tapping into your own intuition, but also masterminding and leveraging the diversity of talents and and ideas among a group of people a mastermind. So just so our listeners have an idea, I want to give you a little bit of a snapshot in a nutshell of what sociocracy is. And it's basically a systems level way of, of decision making. So just to simplify this because we have roughly a 30 minute session together. And I'm gonna leave links here in the show notes, so everybody can read up on it. But if you imagine you have an organization, and you have kind of a general circle of leaders, and then you might have sub circle sub departments, so you might have some people in marketing or finances resource management, it for example, but it's about having collective decision making ability, but also autonomy to do your job. So if you have a circle of maybe five to nine people, you would collectively be making decisions together. So for example, in meetings where you would gather together, maybe you have a huddle once a week or a couple of times a week, you might have a group of people that decide number one, how do we want to operate? What is the infrastructure? How do we want to make decisions, each person in that little circle or that group or subgroup rather, would have different roles assigned to them within the small sub circle? And then there's a process by which people would bring something to talk about to the table and then the the group of people would each add their input, and they would go in rounds to kind of say I have a proposal about this topic of discussion, or I would like to propose we go in this direction. And then people would go in around and actually add input to that proposal. And then they would do other rounds to make a decision. And it's a great way to ensure that everybody in the organization or in that subgroup has a voice. I think this is a great tool for organizations, but also, in any kind of team that you're working in. I think even in a family, I don't know, what are your thoughts?


So I am, I tend to be someone who loves to kind of send people off to do what they love, right? And then like, come back to like a general space to be able to say, what did you get into and what did you find in your sort of autonomous like, satellite world. And I use the example of a local political campaign that I managed, where suddenly 60 Strangers had to come together for the common cause of getting this one woman elected to her office. We didn't know each other. And it was such a huge undertaking. And it actually really helped to have a small sort of circle of folks who could be the delegates for each part of the campaign. So you had one person doing youth outreach, one person doing social media, one person doing platform work, one person doing leadership capacity building, and it was great to be able to come together and sort of share the collective knowledge from each person sort of separate circles, and bring it in. And again, we didn't know each other. But we all knew that we were committed to this one candidate, we knew we were in line with our vision, our mission, our purpose, but we there's no way we could have all sat together, all 60 of us. And then eventually 120 of us, we couldn't have all sat and had a voice all at the same time. So this allowed for each delegate to go back to their circle of people, and be able to like work through projects, and create this huge, massive campaign where everyone, you know, was able to kind of take what they loved most what they had experience and, and contribute to this one common mission. It was just, it was beautiful. It's beautiful. Yeah, that


sounds amazing. And I couldn't imagine, if you had 120 people coming together, and everybody had their roles or different areas of responsibility, I feel and what I've experienced a lot of the times in organizations is people come with a kind of competitive mindset. And they're competing for resources competing for airtime competing for, you know, just any kind of money or personnel, it just, it's competition based. And so I can't What would have happened, if 120 of you had come together to work on this one campaign,


you know, chaos would have been sued. I mean, the beauty of sociocracy is it, it sort of has checks and balances within its structure. So you might feel very passionate about the sub circle you are in. But once you go into the general circle to represent your circle, you get context, you get to hear what's going on in the other circles. And that gives you more information to be able to think about is the resource you're asking for in line with the aim and the scope of what this entire system is doing. And then that allows you to bring information back to your sub circle, instead of trying to have like what would feel probably like a chaotic Townhall.


I love that example. And it's getting me to think about it's it's kind of an ongoing dialogue. So in a hierarchical type of environment, where even I've been in or in an organization. I mean, I served in the military for almost 28 years. And I feel like in my organization, we sort of had that construct. It wasn't run, specifically in this way, but we had autonomy, we had our different bubbles and circles. But at the end of the day, when we would come together for our meeting, and we would bring our ideas from our smaller groups into the larger context. Still, that decision maker would make the decision there wasn't a lot of back and forth. And so what I like about this is there's an ongoing dialogue. So when delegates from each of the departments come together, they each have a turn at the table expressing you know, any challenges or any any ideas based on proposals that have been brought forth or decisions that are kind of in the hopper getting ready to be acted upon. And then when there's more information because they're getting In the whole context, right from everyone, then they can bring that back to their circle, to see if anything's shifted or changed. I love that.


There's the other piece that's really nice is the whole concept of good enough for now safe enough to try, which is sort of the like catchphrase of sociocracy. We live kind of in this perfectionist world where it's like everything must, you know, be the way that I think it should have been. And you almost are giving that power up, and it's freeing. So you come together as a group, whether it's a sub circle, the general circle, you say, what's important to us right now. And you throw that onto a board, and then you say, of what's important to us? What are the ideas and brainstorms we have about that, that goes up on the board. And then from that, you sort of funnel it down into a single proposal. And when you think about forming that proposal, you don't have to come out with what one person wanted. You get to kind of keep going around and around and sort of fine tuning it, shaping it up. Engaging, specific wording, does it include things and you reach a point where you say, Is this good enough for now safe enough to try? So not perfect? Not going to satisfy every single person in the room? But does everyone agree that it hits the aim? And it's good enough for now safe enough to try? And then you go out and do that? And then you come back to say, how did that go? So it's experimental, it's adaptive, but it's very freeing, you know, and not having to be one person coming up with the major idea.


I love that. And it's good enough for now good enough to try that. I love that idea. And the experimentation, because that's really how we tap into creativity. And when everybody has a voice, we're not operating in our own little bubble. We're bouncing ideas off of each other. And I there's another aspect of this, I wanted to bring into the conversation, too. And it's the idea of, oh, is it consensus based? And it's not it's more it's consent. And I want to differentiate between consensus and consent. I remember being in a personal development seminar, and we all had a map, and we were looking for this like treasure somewhere. And when we were kind of going in different directions, or we weren't moving, somebody would say, Are we do we have consent? Do we, and we couldn't move until we had consent or not consent. What's the other word I was just consensus? Consensus, we wouldn't move unless we had consensus. And that was frustrating, because not all of us are going to agree all the time. And that was about, you know, picking the way the perfect way. Do we have consensus, but what I like about this, is it's freeing because we're asking for consent. Look, is it good enough to try? Can we experiment? Do we have consent? And that feels a lot different? What do you think?


So I think that's you said it perfectly. And one of the things that I think we get into the weeds about is, you know, there's always someone in the group, right? That's an that's opposing an idea, or they don't like what's being brought to the table. And this sort of hits that, right. So even if you're prone to sort of a bias towards one thing or another, your oppose has to be in oppose, because the proposal is not going towards the aim. It can't be because you personally don't like it. Or you'd rather be done another way. The opposes, you know, I'm thinking about this. And that goes outside of the scope of what this circle is supposed to do, or I'm opposing this part of the proposal, because it's not, it's actually against the aim we all agree to. So it takes sort of like the personal bias out of the, you know, it doesn't you can't obliterate it, but it reduces personal bias. And you get to, you get to sort of engage accountability in a way that's like, I'm not saying that I personally don't like what you're doing. I'm saying that we're all responsible for engaging this aim, getting towards this one thing we agreed to.


And that purpose is so important. Think about how many meetings maybe you've been a part of where you're just talking in circles, there's no nothing is related. People get sidetracked. The end. What I like about this, too, is if somebody proposes something else that's off topic, it still gets acknowledged to address later but the focus is it's really focused, it's narrow. What's the purpose, even of this meeting? Can we agree on that? That we're going to walk away with XY and Z what we decided on? You know, it's interesting because we had the opportunity to to try this out and I'm with anything new, it can feel, it can feel a little bit clunky. And I liken it to the phrase, and this is what we believe in rat race reboot land is you've got to slow down to speed up. And so even in the context of working with our minds, when we take the time to slow down, and tap into our own creativity, our own thoughts, we can leverage our abilities, and that will push us farther faster. So it's taking that time initially, to kind of learn a new skill, new learn a new way of thinking, and I liken it to this process, because it, it really enables you to, to just go so much farther, faster, you couldn't tap into the creativity and the wisdom of other people, unless you're willing to have that conversation and really listen to one another.


Yeah, that's so true. You know, I think about too, anytime anyone who's done any sort of project management or had to, like lead a huge, you know, sort of initiative, if you try to rush, the prep, the brainstorming and the planning, you might look like you're going faster, you might look like you're getting things done, but people don't understand the rationale for the decisions being made. People may not agree to it, or they may not understand how it connects with the actual mission or the project. So when you take the time to actually do those socio kradic rounds, and have everyone give input to a project, and have everyone consent to the action steps, it means that people are all on board, they're all They're all experienced, you're experiencing, like full buy in. And when you then send them out of the circle to take on those tasks, they're going to do it because they believe in it. And they were a part of forming it. And so things like going slow to go fast. Once you start getting into the flow of those circles, and doing those rounds, so much gets done in such a short period of time, it feels awkward at first, right? When you find your flow, it actually feels so much more productive than trying to sit and have one person be like the end all be all.


Yeah, and, and just for our listeners, socio socio kradic rounds, it's only a small number of people sees me in each group. And what I love is you get to hear from every single person in that group. So I'm an introvert, if I'm in a big group of people, and I feel like people are stepping all over each other and you can't get a word in edgewise. I know enough about myself to know, if I need to fight for what I need and duke it out. I will. But it's not my natural state of being. If I'm if I go unconscious, I will I will stop, I will check out and I will just sit and wait it out. Because I don't feel like I should have to argue with somebody to have a seat at the table, I feel like we should all be able to listen to one another and have a conversation. So what I like about this is if you have a natural tendency to maybe dominate a conversation, it forces you to listen and listening is a good thing, right. And if you have a tendency to get frustrated, and maybe check out because you feel like you're not being heard it, it gives you kind of the the realization that you are going to be heard there's an expectation there so nobody can hide out. And nobody can dominate a conversation, everybody has a point of view that they get to share in the way that is is helpful to them and to the group at large.


And speaking of like just trying to, you know, reduce, like sort of group domination, just the way that people engage their roles in the group. It fits, it helps that as well. So people are elected into roles of leader, facilitator, and Secretary and delegate. And they're elected by their actual group. And when it's done completely, the group actually first defines what characteristics they're looking for in each of those roles. And then when they elect a person into each role, they have to say why they have to say what is it about this person that fits the characteristics that we agreed on as a group. And if you're the facilitator, you care about the process of the circles, but you are not as invested in the outcome. So you're not trying to manipulate the group to get to a specific outcome. If you're the leader, you care about the outcome, because you're going to have to do some delegation, but you don't get to control the process of the group. And if you're the Secretary, you're holding the history of that circle, so that you can always go back to see how did we get to this decision. And when you're the delegate, you are the reference additive, you are the advocate when you're going into the general circle. So it's really nice how you share even those pieces of the group that would normally be housed in one person. And one person would have to hold all of that. Oh, yeah.


And I like the fact that you can change the roles. So it could, it could rotate, you know, monthly, or whatever the group decides. So everybody really has a stake in in running the circle as well. I love that as well. So I'm thinking about benefits. And I'm thinking about organizations in particular, I have a friend who has runs an organization, and there are four owners owners, and they all have different departments, I feel like this would be in addition to your example, they would be a great fit for this type of decision making, because they all have their autonomy, they all have conversations together, but not not quite as often. So it's kind of a way to have a regular dialogue and ensure that the rest of the team understands the context in which in which they work, how they fit into the grander scheme of the organization, I found that oftentimes, that was something that was missing in, in some of the units that I was a part of, in the military, sometimes people didn't understand how they fit into the bigger context, not just of our organization of our unit, but of the group of the command of the service. And I think that gives us a great opportunity to really understand how we fit which also strengthens our resolve, it strengthens our commitment to the organization as well.


I love that example. I think about how siloed components of an organization, they don't just break down and communication they break down and potential resource sharing and cross pollination of ideas and experience and, you know, expertise. And if you're in your example, if you have four owners, that means there are four people who have probably amazing leadership skills and amazing experience and expertise. So if they're not having this amazing way to kind of cross pollinate that, that that would be missed opportunity for each group, you know, to share in that.


Yeah, absolutely. So I'm thinking about, I want to hear from you, too, in terms of what was your experience when you first started employing this mechanism or way of decision making?


Yeah, so I, I tend to operate from a place of experimentation. I'm, I'm less structured than my titles in my work history would, would assume. And so you know, being introduced by Dr. David Wiedemann, I was fully invested, because it, I began to realize that what I was reading about, or what I was practicing, were things that I'd sort of done organically in sort of large project settings and large group or large organizational settings. And it was nice to put a name to something that felt good to do anyway. And then having a few more formal structures to add to it kind of gave it a little bit more legitimacy than when it's just sort of brandy doing like the brandy thing. But it's, it's scary, it's scary to be the facilitator to, to trust in the group, to not have to not have to come up with the answer at the end. And instead to just be encouraging the process. I think it's really hard to be the facilitator. That's, for me the hardest role in the in the circle.


Hmm, yeah. And I just like you, I feel like I kind of intuitively brought that element to any of the groups that I lead, I really felt like it was our group or our organization and our ideas collectively, even though we were following guidelines and things of that nature and other leaders, but we made it what it was. But I do like the idea of having a little bit of structure to it. And having having that purpose behind that. That meeting or this is our aim, this is our goal. And then just ensuring that nobody's sitting on the sidelines that we're hearing from everyone, I can tell you having the structure, because I'm a little bit more. I like a little structure, but sometimes I like to fly by the seat of my pants to it felt like very much like that slow down to speed up kind of thing. I can be very decisive and just want to jump to a decision so I can move on to the next thing. And it caused me to have to slow down and reflect and think a little bit more deeply about some of the actions that we were taking and why. So it felt a little bit clunky kind of like when you're learning to write with the opposite hand and you're in Got really used to it, if you did that for a while you would master it. But initially, it feels a little bit wonky and clunky. But then we started to get into a rhythm. And so I think, you know, this is a great, a great way to open up communication and building trust among among people, too. Because you mentioned earlier how there are different roles in these different sub circles, and how the sub circle is actually choosing people for those roles. And you're having a conversation, I would say, I think brandy would be great for this role. And here's why. And I think Laura would be great for this role. And here's why. So you're really, people aren't doing it behind other people's backs. They're, they're just openly having a conversation about it. And I think that builds trust.


Yeah, I agree. And there's nothing better for building leadership than to hear from your peers, what they see in you. So you may think to yourself, oh, I would, I could never see myself being the facilitator, because I don't like organizing and being in charge of people in any way. But then you hear from your peers, that you're someone who is fair, that you're someone who is thoughtful and mindful. And you're great at sort of holding structure, you're like, oh, yeah, those are my those that's those are the capacities you see in me, like what a great way to to enter into something that feels a little wobbly, than to feel like you're it's strength base, you don't elect someone by saying you should be this because you don't? Are you right, or you're not good at that you get elected in based on all the strengths that your peers see in you. So I just think that empowerment model is it's just like an added bonus to the whole thing. Yeah, we don't do


that enough. Isn't it cool to see yourself through somebody else's eyes, you know, we tend to use feedback at certain points in our careers, you know, maybe a midterm feedback or end up here. But rarely do we offer that kind of feedback that just bolsters our self image, and each other, you know, and that just catapults a group moving forward. I love it. Yeah, this is really been a great experiment for me. And I'm definitely going to see where else I can employ this. Yeah, I you know, for those of you listening, there are a couple of resources. So if you go on, you don't remember this. But it's sociocracy for all.org. That is the website. So that will be in the show notes. So you can look at it. There's a great book here, who decides who decides, and this is a step by step kind of model for implementing this. So you can go to their websites and get the book, kind of try it out. Experiment, have fun, tap into the creativity of your people, your organization, your team, your family, a group of friends, planning your next vacation, whatever that is. Just try it, try something new. I want to thank you so much for being on the show today. This has been a wonderful conversation. I'm so grateful to have spent this time with you. And for you to help me introduce something new to our listeners.


This is great. Thank you for having me.


Oh, absolutely. And if you want to get in contact with Dr. Dare, or William James college, I have loved my program here in Psy D at leadership. Go on to William James, their website. Their website is also in the show notes. read up about them. They have a one many wonderful programs. And if you have questions, you can also reach out to me at Rhett Reese. reboot.com. Just send me a message and I'd be happy to answer your questions. But thank you so much for being on our show today. And we're gonna say farewell. And we're going to end our show as we do each and every week with taking inspired action. So just take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.


And take another deep inhale in through your nose. Hold it for a second and exhale. And I want you to think about your organization your goals for yourself, for your team, for your family, for your organization.


And imagine what it would be like if you could truly leverage the talents of everybody on your team. Everybody had input? Everybody could exercise their creativity. How much greater Could you be? Could your organization be? Do you think you would be moving Much faster toward your goals and your vision.


And I want you to hold that thought for a moment. What would you create? If you could tap into your own creativity, the creativity of those around you working on any projects, or goals that you're working on together. And then building on that creativity with one another. There are no obstacles, only the ones that we create in our own minds. If you could be do or have anything as a team, what would that be? What kind of impact would you have? In your family, your community in the world? Allow your imagination to just go wild. How would you serve? What kind of impact would you have in the world?


And as you're doing your work and making a difference in the world, not just by yourself but with others. How does it feel? Working with that group of people? Does it feel effortless? Does it feel energizing? Do you feel vibrant and alive, loving what you do each and every day? Because you can. And it starts with you right here right now. Entertaining that thought.


If you have any ideas that float up to your mind's eye, just write them down. This is what we call taking inspired action. When you are aligned with a vision of the future, something you want to be do or have individually as an organization with your family. Whatever that is. When you're in alignment with that vision and you're experiencing it in your imagination, and ideas come to you write them down, take action on them immediately after today's session. That's what I call taking inspired action. Those ideas that came to you are in harmony with what you want, not necessarily with where you are right now and what you don't want. So if you enjoyed today's episode, I want you to go onto rat race reboot.com wherever you listen to your podcast, give us a five star review. leave a review, I read those and it means so much to me. It also helps us get this message out to more people. And as always, if you want some support in your organization, or with your goals with your mindset or leadership of your teams, reach out to me, my calendar is also going to be in the show notes. We'll book a quick consultation it's free, and we'll get you pointed in the right direction. But until then, remember, everything is created twice. First in your mind and then in physical form. Always. We'll see you next week.


The views and opinions expressed by the hosts guests or callers of this program do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the studio 21 podcast cafe, the United Podcast Network, its partners or affiliates.