Invoking Emergence in Times of Uncertainty

This is one of the best posts / articles I’ve read in a long time on emergence. Peggy Holman, the author, has a unique gift of giving voice and applying it in practice.

I love her story — transforming a prison system where the leader must work with both the tradition needs of a board and yet the visionary needs of the system.

I lover her description of emergence, including the qualities of the new that show up when connected. “Mom’s nose, Dad’s eyes, but still something unique in and of itself.”

I love the three questions she asks to invoke the emergence of the new…

1. How do we disrupt coherence compassionately?
2. How do we engage dissonance creatively?
3. How do we realize novelty wisely?

Her post is here. Enjoy

Community of Kindred Spirits

I have heard and been in many conversations in the last six months about “these economic times.” Meetings with conference organizers concerned about attendance. Colleagues with whom I am hosting events and trainings. There is a strong thread about how meeting together is a luxury, as if it is something we will do again when “these times” pass.

I know the thread well. Yet I also know the need, even more, not to get trapped in the energy of collapse.

I love what Meg Wheatley has written below. It came in an email this morning naming two weeklong semiars she will be hosting during the summer. I love the clarity of description and invitation to support each other in community.

“There has never been a greater need for us to be together –reflecting, learning, supporting each other– as we learn how to sustain our good work in the midst of so much fear and groundlessness. This summer I am offering two seminars that speak directly to the needs of those of us who want to serve others from a place of clarity, peace and sanity. Because this is such a difficult time to be a good leader, each of these seminars will delve deeply into the skills, capacities and perspectives that give us the ability to act well and persevere over the long term.

Even though you may feel you have neither the time nor the money to attend a seminar, I hope you will seriously consider attending. I believe that you will return to your work feeling more focused and confident about how best to serve at this time. And after five days of being in the company of other good and dedicated leaders, you will also feel refreshed, enthusiastic and ready for the challenges ahead. I know this to be true from past experiences and now, more than at any other time, we need to experience the inspiration, imagination and dedication that always blossoms in a community of kindred spirits.”

Learning is the Harvest

I just returned from two weeks hosting. One with friends and colleagues in Illinois that are committed to strengthening families statewide. The other with an amazing web in Indiana supporting a movement for wholeness.

I have so many questions living in me from these two experiences. They feel like they happened in a time warp. In Illinois, one person slipped in speaking and referenced us as being together for 16 days. The event itself was 4 days. In Indiana, the communication slip was 2 years. Working deeply and with intention can feel very full.

As I tried to make sense of all that happened, I was reminded of an old Star Trek, The Next Generation episode. What I remember was Captain Picard finding himself on a planet, not knowing how he got there. He was imported into a community and life. He had no contact with the ship. He didn’t know how he got there. He lived a full life on that planet. Married. Aged. I think, raised children. Lived in community. Learned to play a small flute. He learned to accept the life he was living and began to wonder if the Enterprise was an illusion. The episode ends with him waking on the Enterprise, doctors hovering over him. He had passed out for a minute or two in Enterprise time. He retained the whole of his planet life, including his ability to play the flute. I’m wondering what the flutes are of the last two weeks.

One, a few notes anyway, may be what this awareness of “learning as what we do.”

In Indianapolis these wicked questions were present and nibbling at the edges: What is the most meaningful harvest we can imagine from a large scale café? What core purpose does it serve? I loved what one of the participants named and received it as a gift – “we are not looking for an answer. We are looking for a journey.” What if learning is what we do – sometimes applied to particular projects etc. But the core is supporting the capacity and ongoing process to learn. What if this learning is just the flow of life, in us, through us, around us that enables imagining and manifesting the next level of system that serves?

Harvest — Interior and Exterior

Noticed this thread from the AoH listserve recently. It is a helpful piece on interior and exterior harvests by Chris Corrigan.

I wrote earlier on four levels of harvest (look at the bottom half). Content and process, which fit in with Chris’ exterior. And then relationships and field, which fit in with the interior.

“Just a thought in the harvest piece…For me there are many ways to harvest, but they all come down to either being interior harvests or exterior harvests. Exterior harvests are the ones we see and use to communicate with others, what we sometimes call artifacts. These can be notes, graphics, films, photos and other things that are portable and objective. They may be designed for a broad audience or only for those who were there, as a reminder of the experience, for example. I use all kinds of artifacts, and with most events I do now there is usually more than one.

The interior harvest – the learning and the collective story – needs special support to be useful. For me I use the shorthand of “feedback loops” to think about the ways in which we might create ongoing containers for these interior harvests to be revisited and refined. For example, setting up reflective practices to revisit learning, or setting a future schedule of storytelling sessions to continually work with the meaning arising from an event. These things use strategies of conversation and social technology as well as personal reflective practice to continue to work the interior harvest.

A holistic harvest scheme is an important part of the design of any event – it needs to meet needs, and sometimes that means a reductive accounting of time spent along side the establishment of a presencing practice to revisit personal learning.

It has helped a lot with clients when I say that we are planning a harvest and not a meeting. The meeting simply helps us arrive at the harvest that is needed for the group I am working with. Sometimes the need is just learning, and no external harvest document is necessary. Sometimes the need is a plan.”