"...This sounds unnerving -- I haven't stopped wanting someone, somehow to return with the right answers. But I know that my hopes are old, based on a different universe. In this new world, you and I make it up as we go along, not because we lack expertise or planning skills, but because that is the nature of reality. Reality changes shape and meaning because of our activity. And it is constantly new. We are required to be there, as active participants. It can't happen without us and nobody can do it for us. Meg Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science, 1993
As the calendar turns from '06 to '07, I wonder, does a new year matter? And what is this measure we call 'time'? Keeping time goes back in time ... maybe almost as far back as humans do. Until recently, time was seen and experienced not a linear progression, but as cycles, continuously repeating yet always new. The word commencement signifies endings and beginnings. I like this. December 31st may be an artificial ending and January 1st an arbitrary beginning, but it commands (for me) reflection, digestion, exploration, reframing, ending, or letting go to make room for new emergent explorations.
"Insofar as the past is over and the future has not yet transpired, this midpoint is an open moment of possibility. Properly used, it becomes like the eye of a hurricane, a quiet place at the center of life, a free, unconditioned moment of opportunity." Ira Progoff (At a Journal Workshop, 1975)
My friends and colleagues love the name Tomorrow Makers. It rings true for what we are doing, they say. After months of thinking and considering possibilities, the name appeared in my mind. It wasn't an adaption of anything else; it just showed up and I knew it was right. Today there are many, many citizens of the world and in the world creating better tomorrows. They are making it up because the old rules cannot support a rational, emotional, world wide well being. Social, cultural, technological, and economic entrepreneurial acumen is alive and well.
The tomorrow makers that Tomorrow Makers most supports are those who recognize that tomorrow is best made through collaboration and co-design. Communities are used to debating and compromising ... to taking sides and moving forward in slow incremental steps. This has been the only way forward. There are better ways; it is possible to be more inclusive, to take giant strides, to design for the whole and the parts. Tomorrow Makers process brings together whole communities and "provides a quiet place at the center of life, a free, unconditioned moment of opportunity".
"To argue with someone else's experience is a waste of time. To add someone's experience to your experience,
to create a new experience, is possibly valuable." MG Taylor Axiom, 1983
MG Taylor defines 'compromise' as something that gives neither side the advantage. In fact, in many cases it provides nothing of real value, except that it allows for the game to continue. Tomorrow Making is not about limiting each side so that neither wins, but designing a process that allows for emergence ... for something new and unseen to appear. Something that had not been thought about – that could not be thought about – until all parties engaged in design to create a new answer, to make it up within a new context. As Wheatley says in her words above, it is unerving to work this way, continuously coming up with new answers, stepping outside the known. Where is the solid ground of knowing and following?
One year ago, would any of us predicted that you would be Time's Person of the Year? Five years ago, would any of us have seen the astounding evolution of collaborative writing and research such as found on wikipedia? In 1999, David Brin wrote The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? Brin posed many possibilities in his book. He stated that as corporations and governments learned to scrutinize the actions and spy on its citizens, that so too must citizens learn to hold its govenment and corporations accountable and that could only be by making their actions transparent. Most people I talked to believed this to be impossible, believing we were doomed to be spied on by more and more corrupt people at the top of large, unweildy, unfeeling organizations. But today we have YouTube, MySpace, and many other Web 2.0 communities and tools at our disposal. We now have the ability to make it up as we go. Looking back over the years, it makes sense .... this YouTubing and collaborative open source development. We can see slivers of it peeking through our everyday experience.
The future is rational only in hindsight. MG Taylor Axiom, 1983
For me, 2007 opens a new chapter; a new iteration of design using the emerging tools. As citizens, we are just beginning to get requisite with being able to keep up with the organizations, institutions, laws and rules we have created over the last 100 years. How well will we do as global citizens in making our tomorrows? I read a reference in 2003 that stated that the second super power was us ... the people, not another nation state. I think this is true if we design together. We are at a remarkable stage of development. Scary, yes! We are making it up as we go and we are in unfamiliar territory. There are no experts to shape and guide our direction. What is the covenant that we, as global citizens, make to each other? How do we design better tomorrows community by community?
I remember a phrase from Richard Bach's book, Illusions. He was remembering the promises he had made to himself as a young boy. The dialog is between the man he had become and the promises me had made as a boy. He had promised himself that he would not play it safe, but rather he would "run from safety." This was a very scary promise he made to himself, one he was reneging on as an adult.
"If I did not do what I did today, for example, the entire world would be in some way different.
My acts ripple outward in ways that I do not understand, interacting with the experience of others, and hence, forming world events. The most famous and the most anonymous person are connected through such a fabric, and an action seemingly small and innocuous can end up changing history." Jane Roberts, The Nature of the Psyche: It's human Expression, 1979
I changed the word "you" to "I" in the above paragraph. I think there is great promise unfolding as we tomorrow makers run from the safety of knowing the old rules and create new ones ... as we take responsibility for our own actions. The old rules had us competing in an either/or world, comparing, compromising, winners and losers. We were forced into a finite game, becoming pawns in someone else's game. The rules we are making up provide us with more options.
There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite.
The rules of the finite game may not change; the rules of an infinite game must change.
Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries.
Finite players are serious; infinite games are playful.
A finite player plays to be powerful; an infinite player plays with strength.
A finite player consumes time; an infinite player generates time.
The finite player aims for eternal life; the infinite player aims for eternal birth.
The choice is yours. James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of life as Play and Possibility, 1986
Here is to the foresight and the intent for each of us to find our own communities where we can take part in the emerging group genius of citizens designing new answers ... running from safety. It can't happen without us and nobody can do it for us. We have the chance of our lifetime! 2007 can be a good year to celebrate!