Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

"Go to work, and above all co-operate and don’t hold back on one another or try to gain at the expense of another. Any success in such lopsidedness will be increasingly short-lived. These are the synergetic rules that evolution is employing and trying to make clear to us. They are not man-made laws. They are the infinitely accommodative laws of the...universe."  R. Buckminister Fuller, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, 1969

Gail_longhair.jpgI met Matt in 1976. He had created Renascence Library and was teaching a course called Redesigning the Future. It was there that I was introduced to Buckminister Fuller by reading his book, Intuition.  Matt had a long list of books, more than 500 that he believed necessary to read and understand if one was to successfully navigate the future and thrive well into the 21st Century.  His course brought the contents of these books alive and always he gave credit and recognition to the authors and their bodies of knowledge.  Some of the books explored ancient histories and others forecast futures.  The list recognized every field and every religion. Some were fiction, others non-fiction.

While my field was education, I had come to know that as a teacher, I should be reading a vast variety of books outside of my field.  Through the Learning Exchange, I was introducing teachers and children to a world of ideas and linking these ideas to their work, showing how ideas build upon each other.  Nothing came from nothing, but rather through the assimilation of a collection of thoughts and ideas perturbing our minds and catalyzing new ideas... perhaps higher order ideas.  I take much joy in this reality.

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Diversifying Diversity

Inevitably, at any community event focused on catalyzing change or improving the quality of life within the community, "diversity" - and the lack thereof among the existing body of participants - is pointed out as a key ingredient in success - or failure. I found this to be true whether the group gathered numbers five or 50, and whether the participants know each other or are new to one another. "Diversity," as I hear it used in these instances, refers pretty much exclusively to race, ethnicity and gender. Occasionally, age and economic status are included.

Acknowledging the essential role that these kinds of diversity play in community building and collaboration, other means of identifying and cultivating diversity may have an equally important place. Indeed, diversities are like dimensions - they exists in multitudes, yet at any given moment, we typically 'see' only a few. In addition to those mentioned above, a few lenses of diversity that come readily to my mind and seem important to a communities self awareness and ability to transform include: kinds of intelligence, family size, work/job experiences, time lived in the community and places traveled to outside the community. Granted that on a national or global scale, these measures of diversity may not cut as deep into what makes a person who they are, I believe at the level of local communities, measures such as these provide context and information that can be every bit as critical to catalyzing change.


follow up: Creating A Cultural Shift

Following up on a previous post, further evidence of the cultural shift within the World Economic Forum:

  • I see that they have selected "The Power of Collaborative Innovation" for the theme of their 08 Annual Meeting in Davos - a theme well outside the imagination - collaborative, collective, or otherwise - of the Forum only a couple of years ago.
  • The WorkSpace has continued to get prominent placement and widespread engagement this year, with return deployments to the Middle East and Africa, as well as inaugural trips to China (including sessions entirely in Mandarin) and India (coming in December).
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I've recently joined the Facebook community. Many of my design colleagues in The Value Web have been using it for a while. After receiving several invitations, I figured it was was time to check it out. Though I don't yet know what to 'do with it' exactly, I'm finding it fun, engaging, and sticky - just what you'd want out of a social networking utility, and just what is missing from my experience of networking sites such as LinkedIn. Reportedly now signing up around 150,000 new users a day, Facebook has struck a nice balance between professional/business and personal/play...

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3 AM

"If you did not do what you did today, for example, the entire world would be in some way different.

Your acts ripple outward in ways that you 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

Michael Ventura wrote a book about the 60's and 70's called Shadow Dancing in the USA. One of the concepts that fascinated me is his believing that many of us are awake at 3 AM in the morning ... wondering, worrying, playing with ideas, intuiting and creating our future.  At a gathering with some of my friends in Point Arena and Gualala, I shared this thought and from here an idea took form. Anne Kessler took the lead and has organized a really fun event. On April 1, 2007 we are hosting the first of what we think might be many...


Do you have an idea, a dream, a project, a vision? Our dynamic community is filled with brilliant and creative people whose ideas and projects will totally amaze you! Do you have a project that is community minded, or a plan for a business, or just a really wacky idea? Could you use some help? Would you like to let people know what you are thinking?  

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Creating A Cultural Shift

"People don't resist change. They resist being changed."
—Peter Senge

Since the premier of the WorkSpace at the World Economic Forum 2005 Annual Meeting, it has hosted well over 50 sessions and workshops, traveled from the Alps to Egypt and South Africa, and brought several thousand participants into an unprecedented depth of collaboration and co-design. From climate change to the creative imperative, ending chronic hunger to ending intellectual property rights, tribal dynamics to information epidemics, WorkSpace sessions have taken on issues that touch about every individual, community and society on the planet.

Individually, many of these sessions have been a highlight of participants' experience, and have done as much as any other session to shape the Forum's annual agenda. More importantly for the Forum, the cumulative impact of the WorkSpace has been a cultural shift within the Forum community.

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“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing wax—
Of cabbages—and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings.” - Lewis Carroll

This coming Wednesday evening, twelve of us from the Redwood Coast (Mendanoma) are having a conversation.  We don't all know each other but we have one thing in common: we are hungry for real conversations. We're out of practice. We know how to instigate projects and fight battles. We know how to be against things and for things, but really we don't know the art of conversation.

 In preparation I have just finished reading a book named: Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives by Theodore Zeldin.  "Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits. When minds meet, they don't just exchange facts: the transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, engage in new trains of thought. Conversation doesn't just reshuffle the cards, it creates new cards."

Our first conversation will revolve around "What is conversation?" I guess this is a bit like an Escher design of his Drawing Hands.

What new cards will be created as our Redwood Coast community instigates and practices conversation?  What stories and ideas will unfold? What difference will this small effort make over time?


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2007 - Cycles Unfolding and Enfolding

"...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.

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Navigating in a Networked Economy: Value Webs Reach a Tipping Point

"A network economy does not think in supply chain terms or in departmental boxes. It thinks and acts as a web of ideas, people, processes, markets, tools, environments. The parts and the whole grow stronger together. Threads weave together, forming new patterns, new connections, new capabilities. Producers, customers, and investors design, invent, build, market and sell as an ecosystem.

"Co-creation replaces the linear way of thinking and doing where each part gets it 'right' and passes it to the next part to get it 'right' who passes it on and so forth. ValueWeb communities work concurrently, changing 'hats' where appropriate, competing, cooperating ... constantly evolving to bring higher order solutions, people, and opportunities into the web." - Gail Taylor, 1998

boe2.jpgA decade ago I was introduced to a conceptual model of the networked enterprise that is now referred to as the "Value Web" model. Matt Taylor had been actively working with it and introducing it to MG Taylor clients since the 80's, but for the first time, executives and organizational leaders were beginning to embrace it. Today, in a world more fully immersed in the flows and fluidities of the networked economy, value web-like structures are becoming a mainstream means of organizing and getting things done. In the ongoing evolution and learning of how we organize and work together, this way of working is gaining fitness fast.

In essence, what I am suggesting here is that the idea of a "value web" has, after multiple trieswith each result feeding back into and changing the idea – escaped to a higher order. Whether its with the well-known, well-chronicled  Big Ideas such as Open Source, P2P and Web 2.0, or any of a vast array of less publicized but equally compelling experiments, value webs have moved from "model" to "paradigm" – a new way of seeing reality.

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Emerging Attractors for Escaping Communities

Structural coupling, then, is the process through which structurally-determined transformations in each of two or more systemic unities induces (for each) a trajectory of reciprocally-triggered change. This makes structural coupling one of the most critical constructs in autopoietic theory. -Encyclopedia Autopoietica

I have been thinking about the structural coupling processes that help create and define a community.

Of all the elements and relationships of elements that make up a community at any given time, those with the greatest attraction tend to produce the strongest coupling behavior. Which elements are the strongest at any given time is dynamic. Some elements and relationships of elements have appeared as strong coupling agents for hundreds or thousands of years. Others grow strong and dissipate with more fluidity.

At times, a new coupling agent or a new relationship among agents emerges and the social structure of the community undergoes a phase change -- a perturbation in which a new (relatively) stable-state is achieved.

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Group Genius

"There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named. The search which we make for this quality, in our own lives, is the central search of a person, and the crux of any individual person's story. It is the search for those moments and situations when we are most alive."

..."This quality in buildings and in towns cannot be made, but only generated, indirectly, by the ordinary actions of the people, just as a flower cannot be made, but only generated from a seed."  – Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building

Christopher Alexander's work has moved far beyond his field of architecture.  I did a google of "Quality Without a Name" and noted that there are 13,000 references to it. References span across many industries and sources... each defining the essence of what it means to bring something more than can be known from the parts of a body of work or knowledge. Recently, I read Eugene Kim's blog  where he defines—or attempts to—the Danish word Hygge and compares it to Quality Without A Name. Eugene provides this interpretation: "Hygge denotes a sense of intimacy and closeness, and is often used to describe gatherings of people, where you share a sense of familiarity and fun with those around you. Think 'hug,' but not as wishy-washy. It's a sense of wholeness that comes from being around others, and there's a strong association with the space that helps create this wholeness." Eugene calls this "high performance collaboration." I call it Group Genius.

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Must be present to win

"The poet Rilke asks, Why are we here? Why do we have to be human? And he answers: '. . . because truly being here is so much; because everything here apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some strange way keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all.' Everything living gives and receives according to its nature and its possibilities. What specifically is a human being designed to give—to others and to the earth itself? In a culture dominated by money and by the principle of personal gain, could there arise a wholly realistic way of giving and serving beyond the clichès of altruism and hidden fears for our own safety or the opinions of others? What could Rilke mean by speaking not just of our 'being here,' but of truly being here? Is there a quality of awareness that is itself something we receive as a gift, and is there a quality of awareness that we can give to our world without needing to take anything?" -Jacob Needleman, Money and the Meaning of Life, pp. xxi, 1991

Shopping at my local Trader Joe's last weekend, I caught a glimpse of a t-shirt that offered me the title of this journal entry:

Must be present to win

Now there is a useful re-minder, I thought to myself with a smile and a nod. I've no idea of the particular cause or context of the t-shirt slogan. It is, of course, a play on the all too familiar message, "need not be present to win," embedded in the inescapable daily barrage of advertisements, promotions and giveaways that fill our air waves, television screens, and mailboxes (both electronic and snail).

Well, you may not need to be present to win that classic Stratocaster with whammy bar, the six-piece stainless steel fondue set, or the 5-night / 6-day all inclusive Vegas vacation, but when it comes

to recognizing the sublime in everyday experience;
to walking in new shoes and creating new experiences;
to understanding our role in the emergence of an unfolding future;
to learning and making meaning of the world ...
for these, present we must be.

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Community Escapes

I recently joined in with a gathering of people who have identified themselves within the Dialogue & Deliberation community. It marked the fourth community coming-together I've been involved in with Tomorrow Makers this year—each of a very distinct nature and intent. From each and from the collection as a whole, I'm left with a clear recognition of the growing interest in and sophistication of organizing structures and processes used to compliment the content and body of knowledge.

Beyond the wealth of good "process tools" that are capable of adding significant value, there is a growing willingness and, in many cases, eagerness among organizers, speakers and participants to not only use these process tools, but innovate how they can fit together to amplified effect as a whole. Community gathering is on the verge of finding meta-structures and meta-processes which can transform or fundamentally reframe the community's awareness of itself and the world.

Successful design on this level utilizes and leverages the complexity and relationships created in the discrete modules. The whole becomes not only 'greater' than the sum of the parts, it emerges a different, deeper quality of experience. The system escapes to a higher order.

These escapes – or phase transitions – are the fascination and the essence of Tomorrow Makers' raison d'être. It is precisely these situations for which the system and method that we have been practicing and coming toward knowing since 1979 was invented...

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