July 7, 2022

How to Build Inclusion and Collaboration by Designing for Belonging with Susie Wise | Partnering Leadership Global Thought Leader

How to Build Inclusion and Collaboration by Designing for Belonging with Susie Wise | Partnering Leadership Global Thought Leader

In this episode of Partnering Leadership, Mahan Tavakoli speaks with Susie Wise, founder and former director of the K12 Lab Network at the Stanford d.school. Dr. Susie Wise is a co-creator of Liberatory Design and author of Design for Belonging. Susie Wise shares the crucial role leaders play in creating feelings of inclusion within their organizations. She also shared practices for reducing chances of othering and increasing a sense of belonging in teams and organizations. Finally, Dr. Susie Wise shared perspectives on how managers can redesign their meetings for a greater sense of belonging. 


Some highlights:

-Susie Wise on how we can better understand people and work together towards a common goal

-What it means to be a full member of the community

-Susie Wise on the definition of belonging and how it relates to organizational culture 

-How leaders can design better gatherings and meetings

-How to achieve a greater sense of belonging in the organization


Mentioned:
- Sarah Stein Greenberg, author and  executive director of Stanford D.school  (Listen to Sara's episode on Partnering Leadership)

- John Powell, African, director of the Othering and Belonging Institute and Professor of Law

- Emergent Strategy by Adrian Marie Brown



Connect with Susie Wise:

Design for Belonging Website 

Design for Belonging on Amazon

Susie Wise on LinkedIn


Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:

https://mahantavakoli.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mahan/

 

More information and resources are available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website: 

https://www.partneringleadership.com/

Transcript

Mahan: 

Susie Wise, welcome to Partnering Leadership. I'm thrilled to have you in this conversation with me. 

Susie: 

Thank you so much. I'm really glad to be here. 

Mahan: 

Can't wait to talk about Design for Belonging: How to Build Inclusion and Collaboration in your Communities. Great book and beautiful visuals, Susie. I love the content that Stanford D-School was putting out. Had a conversation with Sarah Stein-Greenberg, and your books, including Design for Belonging are art pieces. 

But before we talk about that would love to know Susie whereabouts you grew up and how your upbringing has impacted the kind of person you've become.

Susie: 

Thank you for the question. I think it's a really interesting way to start. I grew up in Washington, DC. South Bend, Indiana and Salem, Oregon. So, three places and those places impacted me. But more than that, my childhood was impacted by the fact that my father was a civil rights attorney and my mother, a social worker.

So, we were very involved in thinking about how people got to show up and be themselves. And from an early age, I ended up working on racial relations. We would now call it social justice at the time we thought about it more as ending discrimination. 

Mahan: 

You were involved from a young age in understanding equity in the environment what were you seeing in your father's work that interested you at that age?

Susie: 

Yeah. Since we're referencing DC too, I'll say that the other thing in my childhood that impacted me is that my parents got divorced. And I sometimes talk about that in terms of belonging, we can maybe share that story later. But in terms of the work and the civil rights work, my father ended up moving back to DC and I stayed with my sister and my mother in South Bend Indiana.

My father was part of the Carter justice department that was doing school desegregation. And he ended up doing most of his work in Alabama, but he also ended up being the lead attorney on the case to desegregate the schools of South Bend, Indiana, a school district that I was in fact, a student in. So that was really interesting to me.

So, I had this lens on the importance of schooling. Like I learned about brown versus board of education, almost as a story book, I wrote early reports on it. So, I was really steeped in the history of the civil rights movement from the sixties and seventies, and that there was still so much work to be done.

And that work mattered wherever you lived. And that you needed to be really paying attention to how folks that had been historically marginalized were being treated. 

Mahan: 

It sounds like you wanted to pursue that further, including by getting involved in politics coming to DC as an intern on the hill. How did that experience work out for you? 

Susie: 

That was really interesting. I loved it. This was now where gosh, it would've been the very late eighties. I worked for a Congressman from Oregon, because I had gone to high school in Oregon. His name was Congressman Les AuCoin and I really enjoyed working with him and getting to know the staff. I had a job to go back. Actually. They offered me a job to go when I graduated. 

And then the last minute I decided I didn't want to take the known path. Which to me, going to DC and working on the hill represented a kind of known path. And I decided to choose the unknown path, which was to move to California without a job and without real clarity about what I would do.

But I had a vague sense that I wanted to try and do some work that might later than apply in a policy field. And I had a vague notion that might be education. And ended being education was a big body of work of mine. Designing and redesigning high schools in particular. But I didn't know that at the time I was really finding my way and, supporting myself, working in restaurants at night so that I could get volunteer gigs to go into schools and learn about how learning was taking place.

Mahan: 

That's outstanding with all of the experience that you then had in at ed-tech and education. I know design thinking is big. Of what your book is all about because it's Designing for Belonging. When we talk about design thinking, Susie, what is design thinking? 

Susie: 

So, design thinking has been described in a lot of different ways. I like to think of it as creative problem solving that draws on tools that came out of the history of design and using those then to solve all kinds of problems, but also to find all kinds of opportunities.

So, design thinking, we think about how do we understand how people are really living and what are they grappling with. Now we take design thinking further to think more deeply about co-design. So how can we work side by side, hand in hand with folks in community to find opportunities and solve problems.

There's also then, in addition to this, human-centeredness of working together to understand what we should design. There's also an orientation towards prototyping and trying things and learning by doing. So that we're not trying to force fit solutions where they don't make sense. And we're not trying to put solutions on top of people, but we're both trying to generate them together and also really test and understand how things are working in the real world. 

Mahan: 

That's really important because the way things operate in the real world is that it's a complex system. Therefore, we have to understand how the introduction of one element can impact other elements. That's where I think there is real value in a design thinking approach as opposed to just tackling issues one at a time. 

Susie: 

I like the way you bring up that notion of complexity. We can think about problems sometimes being complicated, which just means we need to work really hard to figure them out.

But complex challenges are of course ones where the solutions are going to be emergent because we create change in the system. We can't actually see or understand necessarily in advance all the ramifications and desperate impacts that might have. 

In design, we have to be really conscious that we are working in real time and we're looking for how things emerge. That when we're thinking about building prototypes, we're actually building probes to understand what's working and what's not. And to understand more deeply, what is the problem or the systemic inequity that we're trying to unravel or address.

Mahan: 

I love the experimentation element and the probes that you're talking about, which is part of the process. It's not coming up with the right answer and implementing the right answer. There's a continual experimentation that goes into it. 

Now your book is also titled Design for Belonging, being something that really important has been important for years maybe forever for humans, but how do you define belonging, Susie?

Susie: 

I think one of the most important things that we need to do when defining belonging is to recognize that it's a feeling. So, we can't actually design it precisely. We can only design for it to emerge. So that's where that notion of probes really come back into play. 

But belonging is not just fitting in, belonging is knowing that you can be your whole self, that your contributions are not only accepted, but sought after. At certain point, belonging also means that you can share what is and isn't working that you can offer dissenting views. Belonging ultimately means being a full member of the community that you're a part of. 

Mahan: 

It is one of those things that really drives us. I've been fascinated recently in studying about some of the conspiracy theory groups and the fact that in many instances, a sense of belonging to the group is as big of a driver as a belief in the conspiracy theory.

So that belonging really pulls people together in all kinds of environments and for all types of cause. 

Susie: 

And I think that's really interesting too. It shows how much we need it, that we might follow a conspiracy that can probably be debunked and there is evidence around it, but because it feels like you're getting to be a part of something that's such a powerful draw.

Mahan: 

So, I wonder Susie as also over the past couple of decades, even way before the pandemic hitting, people's associations with religious organizations in the community have gone down. 

Association with civic groups has gone down. Whether they look for more of that sense of belonging from their organizations. Therefore, increasing the importance of organizations, being able to generate the belonging.

Susie: 

I think it's an interesting theory. I, and it may also, we have evidence of it in terms of the kind of always working cultures that we have. If your work is your primary place of belonging and you don't have other things that are drawing you in, that are in your life, that can lead to that kind of overwork. 

So, all kinds of organizations become really important places to understand who's feeling belonging, where are they feeling belonging? That's something that we can dig into when we start to recognize it as this important feeling that we're talking about.

Mahan: 

I like the way you talk about belonging rather than let's do DEI. In that DEI, for some organizations, has been seen as an initiative, and initiatives start and end. Belonging can be more expansive. Can you talk about why belonging is way for organizations to approach it even when they want to do DEI better?

Susie: 

Yeah. I think we're at an interesting moment in time where we have a kind of recognition that led to the proliferation of DEI practices. And they've become a bit reified and stale in some context, not in all.

 The thing that you do on third Thursdays or the thing to your point that kind of starts and ends. As opposed, recognizing that diversity is a fact of our world. Equity is a kind of goal. Inclusion practices are what can help us get there, but belonging is the feeling that we're seeking. 

So, I think remembering that's the feeling, that we're seeking, really helps ground the work in a more relational, less technical approach. That becomes important. If in the context, things have become an initiative that's only somebody's job or et cetera, et cetera. The kinds of things that make things feel not alive, belonging is this human feeling that we need to grow and thrive. So, focusing on that is really helpful. 

It can also help us because almost everyone, regardless of their racial identifiers or their past history or how they identify, has probably had some feeling of belonging and some feeling of not belonging in a wide range of contexts. 

So, if you can tap into, wow, everyone has felt this somewhere. But who gets to feel it here in our organization? And how often does this subgroup get to feel it? You can start to then apply those analytic modes to the feeling to understand where you need to work. 

Mahan: 

That's why I like some of the exercises that you have in the book, including the emotional journey map, because it can help every single individual in the team relate to the fact that there are times where we feel like we belong and there are times where we feel like we are being othered, regardless of our background ethnicity, gender. 

So, the fact is everyone can then be part of it and recognize it and associate with it. 

Susie: 

And it's important to do that so that you recognize the importance. Then when you do look at patterns and see, wow, this feeling of belonging is unequally distributed. Then that can be your cause for concern. You're grounded in a felt acquaintance of the feeling that you're going for and that you wish to support for folks that haven't had the opportunity to feel it, either historically or contemporaneously. 

Mahan: 

So, in trying to understand belonging a little bit more, Susie, I've been thinking about some of the organizations where there is great pride in being associated with the organization. Even within the community, when I see members of the organization, we feel like we belong to a group and we hug and there is a strong connection. So, does everyone at all times need to feel like they belong? 

Susie: 

So, a couple things to think about.

One is it's never a zero-sum game. You're never all belonging or all not belonging. And that's from an individual level. What you're looking to understand when you're thinking about the group is, are there any predictable patterns about who gets to belong and who doesn't because that then would be, cause for concern. That could be indicators of bias or discrimination that you want to really address. 

And depending on the size and scale or type of your organization, you may very clearly want to have different kinds of groups that you get to belong to in different ways. It can be exciting to be the newcomer in a group, right? We're not trying to eliminate ever feeling some of that discomfort, because that can be really productive and interesting. It can drive creativity, et cetera. 

What we're really working to eliminate is othering. And any kind of othering that is systemic, or that is being done explicitly. And, as we tune in, we also want to pay attention to patterns often come from implicit moves that people are making. So, we want to pay attention to those. 

Mahan: 

That's a great way of putting it belonging versus othering, which you also go into in the book. So, as leaders are listening to this and say, I get it. I want to have team members and people in an organization that feel a sense of belonging. 

What are some practices and approaches that can help generate an environment of greater belonging? 

Susie: 

What I share in the book is a framework that is feeling, seeing and shaping. So, we've been talking a little bit about the importance of identifying belonging as a feeling, and then thinking about, and feeling into when and where you have that, and if there are any patterns around that.

Once you've done that, and that can be individually, team based, whole organization, then there may be that you've uncovered, perhaps you've done an emotional journey map. Perhaps you've just looked at what I call these moments for belonging. And my set of moments for belonging is not an exhaustive list, full invitation that any organization might have particular ones that are part of your own work culture that are important to bring forward.

But there are also some types. They're the kind of moments that are about entering, joining, the invitation. Those pieces of how people get to come into an organization. And then, they're once a little bit further if we're imagining it in terms of a time-based journey about how do you get to grow? How do you really contribute in this organization? Making a contribution to an organization is a really powerful moment of belonging. 

You feel it deeply when your contribution, your gift as Peter Block calls it, has been received by a part of the community. So those are very powerful. 

And then also this notion, and here I draw a little bit on John Powell, from whom I first learned of this framing of othering and belonging, his framework is really helpful. He also raises the notion that dissent and making demands is actually a part of belonging. 

So, it's not just the nice invitation that brings you in, or that feeling of being welcome. But you're so much a part of the organization that you can actually offer critical feedback. And leaders may know that sometimes they're not great at encouraging or allowing for that. 

So that's the kind of moment then to see into and design for. And so, that third piece of the model feeling, seeing, shaping, the shaping is to say, all right, let's think about the contribution moment. How are people able to make contributions? Wow. We are understanding that people don't always feel comfortable to make a contribution. Let's look at that specifically and think about what are some ways that we can shape and reshape. In other words, design for that. 

And what I try to do in opening up the notion of shaping belonging is to remind us that we have a whole range of levers of design that we can pull from. I imagine every listener has been in a situation where they've received an email that is laying out some whole new vision for something in an organization and emails are great. 

You and I could not be talking here today, if not for email, right? It's a great tool. Not knocking email. And, it doesn't need to be the only tool that you're using to design with. So, you can think concretely about space, physical or digital. You can think concretely about roles. We sometimes in organizations get very stuck in there's always been a manager. There's always been this team. That's maybe true, but maybe it doesn't have to be always true, if you're finding that there needs to be a new role that's helping to seek who’s contributing, that might be really interesting. 

Or maybe there's a role on fostering dissent. Maybe that role just exists in a particular kind of meeting where you say, okay, every time we do this meeting, this review meeting, we're gonna have one person who offers dissent and maybe that's a rotating role until you walk in and you sit in that chair and you're the one to offer dissent today.

That's useful because that role helps you then practice with something. So, you might not always need that role down the road. But for right now, you've designed a role to help you move in this direction of being able to allow, encourage, and work with dissent. 

Mahan: 

I love that. And I think that's a great takeaway point for everyone listening in that to a certain extent, you can see the sense of belonging and the psychological safety that exists with the team based on the amount of pushback that you're getting from people, the kind of conversations that go back and forth. Some of that you can actually observe. 

Additionally, part of what you're saying Suzy requires a certain level of reflection on the way the team is operating and interacting. 

Susie: 

Absolutely

Mahan: 

Beyond just going through the motions. A little bit like in the movies they showed someone's ghost coming out of their body and observing things in action. Sometimes we need to come out of the normal flow of business meetings and operations to see how things are working in order to be able to improve it for a greater sense of belonging.

Suzy: 

I love that and absolutely. Part of the essence of design is bringing that intentional looking, that noticing of what's happening and being able to say, oh, I'm noticing this interaction, dynamic, and I think this is actually a moment that we should attend to. And then you bring that consciousness to it to say, and you open up a design process, okay, we wanna look at this moment. 

What's really going on? What are the range of feelings? There may be feelings of belonging. There may be feelings of othering. There may be other feelings. There may be frustration. There may be exhaustion. So, you're looking at what's actually going on from a deep human emotional sense. And then asking yourself, how would we like to change it? What's the change we'd like to see in this world? Then opening up your creative toolkit to say, what are some different things that we could try? 

I'm a real advocate for the safe to fail experiment or prototype where we try something. And often it's good to try a couple things. So, if you're redesigning a meeting in your organization, maybe you try it three times. Three different ways. And then have a conversation to say what you liked and didn't like about each of those. And that might generate a fourth option that you might try. And maybe you play with time.

Time is a really interesting lever. I love to raise it up to remind us that yes, we have time-based on when the sun comes up and when the sun goes down and we have the seasons. But we aren't always in organizations as flexible with time as we could be. Our experience in the pandemic has taught us to work with it in some different ways.

But I think it's really interesting to remember that it's a thing to design with too. 

Mahan: 

Susie, you also mentioned experimentation with the meetings and designing the meetings, trying different things. What are some practices that you have seen and you would recommend for managers to test and to be able to advance the sense of belonging in their teams?

Susie: 

So, just honest, exact point. Meetings are really interesting. So, for a manager, I would say, think about the worst meeting. Everybody knows what the worst meeting is, and start there. Cause probably there's only one way to go, which is up. The worst meeting that you have. 

That might be that it's boring. That might be that it's contentious. Like it could have different flavors of what makes it the worst. It might just feel long. So, look closely at that meeting and think about what it is that you like, and don't like about it? And all and really tune to in that context, where is belonging happening or not?

Because it's possible that not feeling a great sense of belonging maybe one of the root causes of what's making it not great. That might not be the case, but it could be so going into that and thinking about it and digging in and then opening up to say, okay, this is the meeting that I don't like, what don't I like about it?

I don't like that we only hear from some folks. So, designing there to say, what am I gonna do to build new kinds of contribution? So that might be that you introduce a new kind of agenda.

It might be that you offer a new kind of role. It might be that you offer a colleague that is never in that meeting to come and lead that meeting because they don't know those dynamics and they can. If it's a 10-person meeting, they can be sure that they involve each of those 10 people. So, you can really just open up to think about what are some things that you can shaft.

One of the exercises in the book is assumption storming. So, if I pick that meeting that I don't love, I might say, what are all my assumptions about that meeting? I assume that it's these 10 people. I assume that it's me leading it. I assume that it's in this space or it's on this zoom channel or that we eat food or we don't eat food. Whatever, all those assumptions are, any of those can be flipped to be any number of other ways that you try it. And that's an experiment.  Even flipping one of those assumptions could be an experiment. 

Mahan: 

I love the assumption storming exercise and would highly encourage people to go through that process, both by themselves and also, they can go through it with their team. Going through all those assumptions and then evaluating each.

And part of what you mentioned, I wanna underline is that then leads to experimentation that doesn't lead to the answer. The way scientists would look at it, hypothesis, we think the meeting is not working for this reason, based on the assumptions, let's try to do it in half the time.

Let's try to have someone from outside to facilitate. It's not trying to come up with the perfect right answer. That's not the way design thinking works.

Susie: 

That's right, exactly. And it's back to that word, emergence that we're using. You wanna try something new and see what emerges. Remembering that meeting might have turned worse with that outside facilitator. So, you're wanting to make sure that it is actually safe to fail. You don't wanna injure anyone or cause harm so you're thinking about that. 

And hopefully in the context of thinking about meetings, you have some degrees of freedom so that you can experiment in order to see what emerges. And it may be that meeting just keeps changing for quite some time, which can be really useful because these things in our organizations that get reified can be trouble.

Especially if you're trying to diversify the team. Especially if you're trying to bring in new voices and new ways of seeing things. We're not in a moment then to just keep things the way they were, because they always have been. 

Mahan: 

This develops additional capabilities in the team to be able to change and adjust a lot faster. So, it's really a great example for leaders to test out. And almost all the leaders I interact with Susie at this point are spending more time in meetings than they would like to. 

The average professional is spending more than 21 hours a week in meetings. So, I'm sure everyone has a meeting that they can think of that is horribly done, that they can do some assumptions storming about and do experimentation.

It can't get much worse than what is going on right now. 

Susie: 

You're right. Just that notion of sun setting, I think is really important that when we are curious about what is, and isn't working in our organization. And we want to make change. Part of change can also be releasing things. So, maybe that worst meeting just goes away and we work on the one that's just a little bit better than that as a thing to try. 

Mahan: 

That's why we go back to that assumption storming, because a lot of times the assumptions are well, no, we can't because we think so, and so wants us to continue or because of this reason or another.

So, you challenge those assumptions. So, this process to implement it with meetings becomes a great way of generating a sense of belonging in the team as they tackle this together and developing additional capabilities. 

Now, another thing you mentioned is the importance of storytelling in creating a sense of belonging. What role can storytelling play? 

Susie: 

Storytelling. I also think of it as communications broadly. Storytelling is such a great word to use because belonging, it's this deep part of humanity. As long as we've had belonging, we've had stories. Historically stories are part of the way that we learn to belong. We learn the history of our organization. We learn the history of relationships. So, storytelling in a deep human way really matters when we bring it to thinking about work culture and contemporary life. It's also really important because it's where we get the information about who can belong.

So, the representation which might be about who's on the team. It might be about where ideas come from. It could be about how we are working with or serving community members or clients or whatever it is, whichever way we're working. Stories become these incredible vehicles for possibility. 

Mahan: 

What I wonder is because you also mentioned the authenticity that needs to go in the storytelling is what role can leaders play in effectively communicating that story. And then, example to share with you is, I was at a meeting and saw a CEO do an admirable job, talking about his own faith and how it's really important to him and how he would like to engage with other people in his organization on their faith.

He's open to it. He's open about his own strong belief there were two things that were going on in the back of my mind, Susie. One was, there was tremendous amount of authenticity in that his faith was really important to him, for him to share it with his team members and everyone else. 

On the other side, I was wondering if it was someone much lower in positional power in the organization of a different faith. If that person would feel just as comfortable to be really authentic in sharing their faith and their belief. 

So, when leaders think about that authenticity of storytelling, how far should they go to create a sense of belonging rather than because of my position as CEO of a fortune 100 company, I can talk about my religious belief, but if you are lower in the ranks, might be a little bit different.

Susie: 

It's a little bit the danger of the single-story notion, there too is the power that has. So, part of why I think about storytelling is really to open up the representation. So, for leaders, I often think about, don't just tell your own story. Tell your story in addition to others, but step aside and decenter yourself and let the stories of the teammates, also includes clients or customers that are part of the stories.

I think storytelling is a place where we can really shatter some of our norms and understand different perspectives. Because that's part of belonging in a plural-reversal world is actually getting to share and understand multiple perspectives. 

Mahan: 

Whose stories we choose to tell, communicates a lot. So, that's really important that it is not just the story of the individual leader or CEO, although that is important, that needs to be combined with the other stories and all those stories put together. What image do they portray that makes a big difference. 

Susie: 

Right. Then, that's then becomes the narrative. Is that greater sense of the multiplicity of stories. 

Mahan: 

Susie, when you are thinking about recommending to leaders, how they should create office environments and work environments, hybrid and in person that are designed for belonging. What are some things they should consider in creating those environments?

Susie: 

I'll take us back to the notion of doing some emotional journey mapping. We are in this time coming out of the pandemic, I would love for leaders to be doing some journey mapping with themselves and also their teammates. To look at the highs and lows of belonging that they've experienced. Let's say across the pandemic and coming out of the pandemic.

What were some of those highs and lows of belonging, and to choose to accentuate some of those high points and to address some of those lower points, and to open up the levers that they can use. Because the good news and the bad news is, we now know how to use zoom. We now know that a lot of work can happen in a distributed way.

And we also have real feelings about the things that we miss from the way things used to be. But there's no going back so that's like the first thing. To just recognize there's no going back and design is the way to go forward. And understanding what people experience as highs and lows is a really nice empathic designer way to start to work with that. Depending on the scale of your organization, the team that you're leading, then you can make a lot of different choices.

And, you can think about space. You can think about digital space. You can also think about time because we recognize that we don't have to be, if we're not forced to all be at home on zoom, we have the opportunity to join together in spaces, but maybe we don't wanna do that as much as we once did.

People may have found some highs of belonging when they got to finally get back together, they might have also found some times when they had time to work on their own and then show up to a collective experience and make a contribution in a new way. I'm an optimist, so I can say a really interesting and exciting time to redesign work. I don't have the answers, but I do think that this process of feeling into it, intentionally picking the moments that you wanna design for, and expanding your palette of what you think you can do intentionally is the way to go.

So just to throw out a couple more of those notions, I'm very interested in working with time. I'm very interested in working with space. There are lots of different ways to think about groupings in new ways, too. If we've always worked in this team or had this reporting structure. What kind of crosscutting interactions can we have if we're not gonna be having the water cooler conversation anymore, those become really interesting.

And I'm excited to mine from this time, what people are doing if they're intentionally redesigning based on this new landscape. 

Mahan: 

What a wonderful opportunity for leaders to use this exciting time to think about that time space and groupings and do it with intentionality.

Now there is the opportunity to design rather than try to go back to the way things work. 

Susie: 

Yes. And one of the things that I've been thinking about, I heard somebody reframe the great resignation as the great reflection. And I think that's a really interesting frame for leaders to think about. We are in this time when, because of the resignations and which also means, the other side of that is new team members. New folks that aren't normed to pass practices. 

So, there is a necessary reconfiguration that we're engaging in and that reflective piece of people are thinking more consciously. What groups they wanna be a part of what work streams they wanna be a part of. We are in that reflective mode that can remind us to be intentional and to design the future we wanna see. 

Mahan: It's a process that we can keep going back to. So, the emotional journey mapping that you talk about in the book, and you've mentioned in the conversation is something that we can revisit on an ongoing basis and determine what are the high points of belonging for the team members.

So, we can have more of those high points, whether it ends up happening with virtual interactions or in person interactions. So, this is not one and done in the designing, it is ongoing revisiting of it. Ongoing experimentation and ongoing adjustments to make sure we have a greater sense of belonging in the organization and team.

Susie: Yes. If we are leading for emergence, it's going to be ongoing. 

Mahan: Susie, in addition to your own book, are there other books or leadership practices that you typically find yourself recommending to leaders as they want to increase the sense of belonging of their team members in the organization?

Susie: Yeah. So, one book that I love and always recommend is Emergent Strategy by Adrian Marie Brown. I think it's really powerful. And for many leaders is disruptive in a really interesting way. 

I'll also say that in my book, I have this section of folks that I call the Host Heroes of Belonging. And that's an interesting set of people for me. These are not designers per se, but there are influences that I drawing in. 

So, thinking about them, one of them, it will not surprise you, is Brené Brown. For many people, she popularized some of the notions of belonging, but her work on leadership continues to be very interesting. So, listening to her work is really useful. 

Also, Carolyn Finney is in residence at Middlebury College. And she's somebody who thinks a lot about representation and storytelling. So, she's not necessarily speaking about organizational leadership. But the lessons that she has around representation and storytelling are really applicable.

So, she's another host hero that I think is really useful for people to pursue and think about. Then I would never not mention my pals at the national equity project. They have beautiful frameworks. We collaborated on a framework that we call liberatory design.

They're excellent leadership coaches in particular, focused on a leading for equity framework. 

Mahan: What great recommendations, including a couple that I need to read. I really appreciate that Susie. So, for the audience to find out more about you and your book, where would you recommend for them to go?

Susie: The best place to go is designforbelonging.com. And you can also find more information about the book and other books that are coming out from the D School at dschooldotstanford.edu. 

Mahan: Susie Wise. I really appreciate your insights on designing for belonging. Thank you so much for the conversation, Susie Wise. 

Susie: Thank you so much for having me. It was a great pleasure.