Finally I have a Category

Over the years family and friends have often asked me, “Exactly what is it you do?”

For most people, it’s a relatively straightforward question. For me, not so much.

Although it took me far too long to figure out, I am an inherent systems-thinker who needs the picture on the top of the puzzle box in order to put the pieces together.

Being wired to view the big picture I assumed other people saw it as well. Unfortunately, most of them did not.

Typically, their emphasis instead was placed on just one or more pieces of the puzzle.

Quite early on in my life I figured out I didn’t quite fit in anywhere. It happened without me really understanding that my organic, right brain was trying to fit into a world typically ruled by left brain linear thinkers.

So, while I didn’t necessarily like the idea of being slotted into a category, there has always been a part of me that wanted the comfort and legitimacy a category could bring.

Over the years I’ve described my work as being community development, community building, community leadership, social innovation, futurism, systems-practice, systemic collaboration, organizational and network capacity building, and a dash of digital optimization.

The descriptors were sometimes hard for potential clients, as well as friends and family, to embrace. In part this was because the words I used were more about the impact being pursued, rather than the more mainstream job category or title most people were accustomed to hearing.

The good news is that recently I’m beginning to see posts for “Community Development Consultants”.

While somewhat reassuring, it isn’t quite the best description for what I do. Yes, my work is always grounded in community-led development. However, to support others in responding to complex issues such as poverty, climate change, food insecurity, stressed health care systems, affordable housing etc., there are other essential components that need to be factored in.

Ideally the foundation of community-led development, needs to be augmented with systemic collaboration, strategic foresight, and digital optimization if today’s complex and critically important issues are to resolved.

Community Development Consultant will do for now as a category but perhaps we need a new one for those who have been, and are increasingly being called on, to work as Community Complexity Coaches.



Posted on 03-28-23

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