Iris Lemmer’s career includes more than 20+ years in innovative human resources and organizational development experience. Iris is a strategic, results-oriented leader skilled at developing and implementing complex change initiatives to improve organization performance. Iris has a passion for creating breakthrough learning experiences utilizing the spirit, knowledge, and transformative potential that resides within various Communities of Practice. As a result of this passion, Iris is a founder of Sound Connections, a community-based organization that is focused on igniting positive change by linking people and their aspirations together to develop integrated solutions that create extraordinary outcomes, supporting Social Entrepreneurs, social innovation, and meaningful work. Within Sound Connections, business and community leaders create collaborative, win-win partnerships between for-profit and NGOs to build new capabilities, support emerging economies, and empower individuals to grow and evolve new business models for economic sustainability. Iris led efforts at Microsoft to help evolve the organization’s aspirational culture by building the company-wide platform called Career Models – the foundation for Microsoft’s integrated talent management system. Iris also consulted with leaders across Microsoft on how to integrate employees’ grassroots efforts into their work to fully engage employee’s hearts and minds for long-term business success. Prior to Microsoft, Iris was the Organization Development Director in Sales and Operations for Kraft Foods, Northfield IL. During her 14 years at Kraft, Iris led the Operation’s function in their evolution to high performance work systems. Iris holds a Masters Degree in Whole Systems Design and Organization Systems Renewal from Antioch University. She is the recipient of OD awards for her work in integrating talent systems, High Performance Work Systems and organizational change.

Tell us about a meaningful experience you have had with self-organizing and/or ways you are engaging with new forms of leadership and organization.: Being the founder of Sound Connections has been an incredible experience for me. I have been working with a self-organized team to plan and conduct quarterly community events. These events, called Sound Connections Community Forums, provide an opportunity for social innovators to connect with other like-minded people who can either help to expand their ideas, help to move their ideas forward, or provide valuable resources and support. These forums utilize Open Space, World Café and other methodologies to create a safe environment for these conversations to occur. These conversations create an awareness of the people and skills available in the community through sharing, surfacing issues and exploring their relevance, and building collaborative partnerships. Bottom line, SC brings socially conscious projects and organizations to life and will ultimately help to change how the market operates. SC also participates and plans local festival activities around networking, and grassroots social improvement ideas. We have the forum activity as an ongoing project in Seattle, a growing list of participants, interested leadership teams in multiple other locations, and the beginning of an infrastructure we can use for our larger network.

When you think about leadership in a self-organizing world, what questions are cooking you? What do you hope to learn at this gathering?: How can we best use the power of self-organization to link people to their place of greatest passion? How can we create the collaborative leadership needed to help addresss the world's most pressing issues?