Collaborative Innovation: A Personal Truth

Collaborative Innovation: A Personal Truth

“At this extraordinary time of social, political and economic disintegration, with respect to Collaborative Innovation, what is the most important question we can ask, and why?”

With respect to collaborative innovation, the most important question I ask at this extraordinary time of social, political and economic disintegration is: “WHAT is my personal truth and HOW can I live consistent with my values?”

It’s astounding to see the depth of social, political and economic collapse in front of me. Polite rules of social engagement and protocol are no longer assumed. The pursuit of public service is frequently seen as a farce. The financial institutions that I trusted to provide security have been exposed as deceitful. The premise of respecting people with different values and ideology is challenged daily. The sense of putting country ahead of political party is hazy. People I love are losing their physical vitality. And, my teenage daughter assumes everyone is lying almost all the time. These are examples of the collapse and disintegration I see in front of me.

While the collapse is dramatic, the temperature is high and the dialogue is inflamed, there also seems to be a more direct on-ramp to my own personal truth. I don’t recall a time in the past when my own personal truth mattered as much as it does now. I do recall growing up and looking outside myself to discover my values. I was always afraid and I wanted to be brave. I wanted to comfort my parents and follow the rules. I desperately wanted to be noticed and would often freeze and collapse when I was. I wanted to be a good girl – pleasing and lovable. I wanted the people around me to get along and to see the best in each other and the world around us. I did not want the rage and seething bitterness I felt inside me to see the light of day.


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About the Author

Marilyn SmithMarilyn J. Smith is the director of civil justice programs for the Indiana Bar Foundation where she focuses on access to justice and pro bono grant programs and initiatives. From 2005 to 2011, Marilyn was the Executive Director of the Center for Conflict Resolution where she was responsible for providing dispute resolution, facilitation and training services throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area. Previously, Marilyn served as the Executive Director of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation; the Assistant Committee Counsel for the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service; and as an ombudsperson at William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. Marilyn received her B.A. from Northwestern University and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law. She received a certificate in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School; and certification as a mediator from the Center for Conflict Resolution. She is licensed to practice law in Indiana and Illinois.

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