An Ecosystem for Movement

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

The great Kevin Kelly recently wrote a post titled “Cities are Immortal, Companies Die.”  He states that

Both are types of networks, with different destinies. There are two basic network forms: organisms or ecosystems. Companies are like organisms, while cities are like ecosystems.

This is a phenomenally helpful distinction.  Our work here at IISC includes network building as well as leadership and organizational development, and we don’t find these to be mutually exclusive.

I am committed to helping my clients develop the best possible organizational structures – the forms that will allow them to do their best work in the world.  However, I am also keen on stating that my commitment to movement is always above my commitment to any organizational form.  I continually invite my clients to transcend organizational constraints.

The fact is that we need both, healthy organisms and a healthy ecosystem where these organisms can thrive.  The industrial mindset continues to shape the social sector, and it can be challenging to transcend our organizations – we tend to over-identify with them, and to compete rather than collaborate with natural allies, this can make for an unhealthy ecosystem.

Increasing complexity and the needs of our age, demand that we develop the capacity to work at both levels simultaneously.  Kelly explains that the difference between the development of an organism and an ecosystem is that the later evolves rather than grows.  He says that growth is always self-limiting, while evolution is unlimited.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that we are fans of evolution here – the industrial age has taken us to the limits of growth for growth’s sake.  The time is now for a paradigm shift and an ecosystem for movement.

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  • Curtis says:

    I think that is a helpful distinction, Gibran, and also an invitation to consider what systems of greater or lesser complexity give us.

  • Jodie Tonita says:

    “Getting people and organizations in sync is the project of our times.” Seth Godin

  • Curtis says:

    “Getting people and organizations in sync and in symbiotic relationship with the rest of Life is the project of our times.” Curtis Ogden

  • One thing that is obvious but wonderful is that personal relationships start out as organizational relationships but then if nurtured quickly transcend the organization and create amazing evolution possibilities. I have seen it again and again. I love some of the missions we have collaborated on but I love the people at the center of them the most and want more of the great ones in new forms.

  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    Yes, David. Organizations, campaigns and initiatives are great excuses to get to know and love people who share our commitment to doing good in the world!

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