“Does it always have to be the two of you together?” Dive in with Tim, Tuesday and their business coach, Francis Baldwin, as they respond to this very provocative question.
Together, Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart are THE OUTSIDE—systems change and equity facilitators who bring the fresh air necessary to organize movements, organizations, and collaborators forward for progress, surfacing new mindsets for greater participation and shared impact.
3.16 — SHOW NOTES
- Tuesday: Today on the podcast we have Frances Baldwin, who is the business coach to Tim and I; an Outsider by proxy. Frances has helped us as we look at the organization, as we think about what we each want individually, and collectively, for The Outside. We thought we would have Frances on today after a recent conversation we had around the direction of the organization but specifically around Tim and I and our relationship. We’re calling this podcast “Two Is Better Than One” because Frances asked us a very provocative question” “does it always have to be you two together? Could you begin to think about splitting up?” Tim and I came back with a pretty emphatic “no.”
- Frances: It is always an experience to come to The Outside. I feel like I must be nimble every time I’m with you. It’s a good thing. I’m looking to how to bring my wisdom but also be flexible in how to use it and how it applies. I am particularly interested in looking at what we learned from the past, that’s not negotiable, that is still a part of the future.
- Tuesday: As we were thinking about needing a coach, you came to both of our minds. Frances knows a lot about foundational Organizational Development concepts - she has won a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the Field of Organizational Development. Your background in Gestalt, for me as a former psychotherapist, also increased my confidence that you could attend to what’s happening with the organization, what’s happening for us personally within the organization as well as these different parts and how they fit together.
- Frances: My Gestalt training brought everything together for me. I also won the Gestalt Lifetime Achievement Award. That meant so much to me because it was like a transformation that affects my work and how I live and walk in the world. It gives me comfort, assurance and a pathway into the work that I do.
- Tim: This question of ‘two is better than one’ goes back to why we started the organization. I started this organization as a way to hang out with my friend, Tuesday. We think about The Outside as a feasting table where people we love can come together and grow and be nourished and enjoy each other’s company. The depth of learning, as we [Tuesday and Tim] work together across our differences, has been one of the most generative experiences of my life and is also recurrently pointed to as something of the generative energy and engine behind The Outside as an organization.
- Tuesday: I’m with you 100% - delivery is better when we are together. We have very different perspectives. We catch different things and because we do systems change with equity at the centre, having to work across that difference, in every project, lends us both practical experience and credibility. It’s better for the work itself and it somehow lends depth and credibility to our learning over and over again.
- Frances: The understanding I came to on this was that you complement each other but you don’t replicate each other. That means that the two of you together create a wholeness that you bring to the work. If you were to work separately, that would not be the case. There is a spiritual dimension to the existence of The Outside and how you work and who you attract. When you talk about your relationship it is very seldom that you can find a friend or colleague that you can work with and be your whole self.
- Tim: I think where we’re landing in terms of how The Outside might expand or be able to respond to the number and range and scope and scale of requests that we’re receiving is that rather than dividing Tues and I, we’d like to build teams that are able to respond to the circumstances. Tues and I have had this image of being able to build teams somewhat in the image of what we have with each other - of them being across race, class, gender, nationality, upbringing - and then I am also hearing you [Frances] say the word ‘rare’ a number of times and pointing to the synchronicity in that these partnerships are very hard to contrive…. but our business model may demand that we contrive that a little bit. I’m wondering if that is an unrealistic expectation to set for ourselves? You can’t organize magic, can you?!
- Frances: If you could replicate your partnership then that would be the answer to how you grow and expand the leadership or expand the number of people within the organization doing that kind of work. The grounding piece of that would be attracting people who have the same values because once you attract them than it allows you to have confidence that they can do the work. The practical question around that has to be the timing by which you create these additional partners.
- Tuesday: I feel like it is absolutely a timing issue. I feel like every other thing we’ve said, we’ve done. When we put our stake in the ground, things happen but it is a question of timing. Can they sign on to the principles of The Outside, are they committed to the work, do they like the people because these relationship pieces seem to be key - it’s what keeps all of us working a bit too hard and on our edge.
- Tim: Gabrielle [Donnelly], who works with us, has flagged the importance of how central the quality of relationships is both to the loyalty that is engendered to The Outside among Outsiders but also to the experience that clients have with us. I also feel like one of the things I am struggling with is that the first Retrospective was client focused and the second Retrospective was internal focused and we have not stopped to question what we [Tim & Tuesday] want as founders.
- Frances: Tim, you’ve just described the struggles and pain of change for The Outside and so the question becomes, “what are we willing to sacrifice to create what’s going to be necessary?” The two of you are leaders but you’re also contributors. A part of the joy in the work for you is that engagement with clients, watching the progress that the clients make, is that ability to deal with that resistance yourself… so you feed on that and in order for the organization to grow there must be some pause where you are trying to help other people to develop.
- Tuesday: I’m curious if my expectations, of what this kind of leadership looks like, are realistic? This idea of sacrifice feels like it’s up in all sorts of places in my life. What am I learning about that liminal space? Are we moving in the direction we want to be moving in?
- Frances: What do you [we] want to bring to the world? This would require you to think about where you are now as seeding what you ultimately want to be able to offer to the world.
- Tim: We started this off saying that I want us to be small, niche and very high quality. That belief might be shifting in me. I feel the generative power of what we are doing.
- Tuesday: I think part of the work we’ve done, in some ways, really fed my ambition. I think small, niche and very high quality still makes sense to me if I think that is all we could do. I’d rather be small, niche and very high quality if we couldn’t be bigger and do really good quality but I find that the work we’re in and the people (Outsiders and clients) we’re working with is something that runs my ambition. I am willing and want to do something more ambitious.
- Frances: One of the discoveries/insights that is opening up is that what you do actually works. Wouldn’t it be great if it could work for more and more people. The way that you will expand will be as unique as you are as an organization.
Song: “How Deep Is Your Love,” by PJ Morton
Quote: “Don’t only practice your art. But force your way into its secrets. For it and knowledge can raise men to the Divine.” - Ludwig Van Beethoven
New episodes will be available every second Tuesday. If you’d like to get in touch with us about something you heard on the show, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find the songs we’ve played on the podcast - on our playlist. Or search ‘Find the Outside’ on Spotify.
Produced by: Mark Coffin
Theme music: Gary Blakemore
Episode cover image: The Outside
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