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Express Innovation Living and Learning Success!

By Susie Tessel

12/12/13

What comes to mind when you think of hummus and lafa bread, camaraderie, raffles, creating a menu, laughter, warmth, connecting with friends and learning from each other?   An Express Innovation Living and Learning of course! Congregational teams gathered together for our Fall Living and Learning in Great Neck, New York held at the Persian Kosher Restaurant Colbeh. Along with the delicious Middle Eastern fair, Express Innovation educators and lay leaders reconnected to learn from each other, reflect on our successes and take-aways from the fall webinars, and dug deeper and explored issues of team building together. Express Innovation is an initiative of the Congregational Learning department at The Jewish Education Project that quickly brings new models of Jewish education to synagogues.

Our connection question, based on our communication booster, explored the way we liked to be contacted. This helped us all realize that to be most effective we must use all types of communication to reach our audience. To introduce the concept of team building, we adapted a Team building Activity to our Persian setting. Each table created a menu of Persian fare, suitable for four that could not exceed a budget of $175.00. With enthusiasm, participants jumped right in to create mouth-watering menus. Not surprisingly each table came up with something different. Lessons about collaboration and team building were easily deduced. To dig deeper we discussed the importance of assembling a team that works well together identifying key characteristics that help or hinder team building.

Our time together came to a close with peer consulting groups. Each group left feeling the wisdom is in the room, and was astonished by how helpful the process is for them.  As one participant exclaimed, I have participated in many different peer consulting networks.  I was skeptical about including it in Express Innovation.  To my surprise, it has been so helpful and on such a high level, it is one of my favorite parts of Express Innovation.

Throughout the afternoon, the festive atmosphere with allowed us the freedom to work productively in a relaxed manner. There were many take-aways from the afternoon…several lucky participants won Starbucks gift cards, each participant received a list of team building exercises, and a list of other team building resources. As people said their goodbyes they left recharged and ready to put to work many of the ideas discussed, shared and learned from this talented group.

photo (2) group photo 1

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