There is a difference between being a network by default and being one by intention. Sometimes that can be a big difference. I encounter a fair number of networks that are networks in name and in standing, at least in that they are connected entities. But that is pretty much it. Experience shows there are any number of different ways to structure a network, and name it for that matter.
And what I find is most important is the underlying intention to maximize network effects, including: speeding the spread of resources, ensuring resources reach everyone in the network, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to share resources, growing the overall pie of resources, strengthening adaptive capacity and collective intelligence, growing abundance and equity in many different ways.
What this boils down to is a set of network ethics, which I would summarize (certainly incompletely, and to which I invite additions and alterations) in the following way: Read More
Several years ago I worked with a friend who is an outdoor educator to put together an orientation session for a group of high school students who had signed on to be part of a youth activism project I was directing. The program invited young people to explore issues in their community and to select and address those that spoke to them. As part of our orientation, my friend put together an “alien test,” something he learned from the tracker and educator Tom Brown. Just before the session we scoured the school grounds gathering leaves and bark, plants and nuts, a bird’s egg, soil, and other sundry items and brought these into the classroom where we met after school, along with a series of prepared questions. One by one, my friend laid the objects and questions out in front of the students: What is this? Is this plant edible? Can you tell me whether this soil is healthy or not? Where does your water come from? Do you know which, if any, of the items you ate for lunch today was locally grown? There was a marked silence after most of the questions. The point was made poignantly clear – in many respects we are aliens to our immediate surroundings. For us to do meaningful community change work, we suggested, it behooves us to really get to know our community, or as someone once put it, take a step towards inhabiting it not just residing there. Read More
Last week, IISC staff took a step back to consider what we had been referring to as the roots out of which our collaborative capacity building work grows (we have since wondered whether these may be more appropriately cast as “lenses,” but more on that at another time), and to come to some agreement about what is core to our practice in these imperfectly titled areas:
“the love that does justice”
We were guided in our conversations by the talented Mistinguette Smith, with whom I have had the pleasure of partnering in delivering our joint work with the Center for Whole Communities – Whole Measures: Transforming Communities by Measuring What Matters Most. Anyone who is able to handle a group of facilitators has certainly earned her stripes, and if that person can teach those “process experts” new tricks, well now you’ve really got our attention. Ms. Smith, we are listening! Read More
Toward the end of last year I tweeted about stumbling back upon Don Miguel Angel Ruiz’s Four Agreements, thanks to a reminder from a participant in the Hanley Center Health Leadership Development initiative. They were invoked as being key to keeping people grounded when their collaborative skillsets were being pushed to the limit by challenging circumstances. In thinking about these agreements more deeply over the winter break, they struck me as powerful and appropriate intentions to set for the new year, especially in our social change and sustainability work. Here they are with my own editorializing: Read More
|Photo by --Sam--|http://www.flickr.com/photos/--sam--/4508338966|
Sometimes it takes science a little time to catch up with the world’s wisdom traditions. Recent research findings from a couple of Harvard psychologists, Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, confirm what meditation and mindfulness practitioners have long known – our ability to stay focused in the present has a strong correlation with contentment. Using data collected from a specially designed iPhone application, the researchers report that people spend nearly 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what’s happening in front of them. Furthermore, they find that, “Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness. How often our minds leave the present, and where they tend to go, is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.” You still with me? Read More
|Photo by Peter Forbes|http://www.wholecommunities.org/programs/|
“To work at this work alone is to fail.”
Picking up from where I left off last Thursday . . . How might collaboration be a key to making the sustainability shift? At its best, collaboration is the act of modeling complex systems at work, and with awareness and intention comes critical adaptive capacity. The goal is to achieve collective and distributed intelligence that can respond in timely ways to threats to sustainability (stressed ecosystems, injustice, etc.) and that can be proactive in creating optimal conditions for future generations to meet their needs. That’s the ideal, right? How do we get there?
Last week or so, Curtis tweeted a link to an outstanding book-in-the-making by author-practicioner Peggy Holman. If I follow it correctly, Holman is blogging pieces of her book as she is writing it and inviting folks to comment and give upgrades along the way. She is truly practicing what she is preaching, in that as she writes about emergence, collaboration and innovation— she does it. Pretty neat.
I loved her writing style and am fascinated by her content, so I thought it fitting to bring it forward into this space for our collective grazing. She frames the work of emergence as a way to navigate change – whether on the personal, organizational or global level. Through noticing “patterns of change” through the stories we tell ourselves, Holman calls for a shift in our frames of reference for understanding and engaging Change:
In fact, terms like “bottom up” or “top down” cease to have meaning as we start working from a perspective that looks far more like a network of connections among diverse interacting individuals. As our frame of reference shifts, consider some illustrations of that new story of change. It is not that our traditional story disappears, rather it is integrated into a larger context:
So to riff on Curtis’ most recent blog, Im thinking that part of the what is wild about The Wild of Vermont is that it is a space that incites the engagement of mystery, uncertainty, vulnerability, creativity and humility. It is an approach. Holman’s table above, I think, is his way of making the same case for a re-orientation of approach. Like our 1:1 ratio around planning time to meeting time…I hear a sound that emphasizes Approach as vital to Emergence. As I stated to the participants in last week’s FL, quoting my sister-friend and she-ro journalist Charlayne Hunter Gault, its about when you enter a community, “coming correct”. Its not so much that you’ve arrived, its more about how you enter. Approach matters.
Share! My ears, mind and heart are wide open to musings on how we create spaces for emergence in our work, bring wildness to Cambridge, and/or “come correct” with our clients so that transformation, breakthroughs, innovation….really does happen. And this, not only as “deliverables” for our clients, but frankly, for our own sakes as well. Whats your sense? What do you make of Holman’s “patterns of change” above?