The Community as a Whole is More than the Sum of its Parts – Work in Progress

I’ve been working on this mind map this whole weekend and will be working on it some more. You can, if you like also work on it (best to enlarge it before you do that – and even if you want to see it in more detail)… or comment. (More work from 1 & 2. Sept below)


This is the “Community” part of a larger whole that will incorporate “The Internet of Things”. It seems to me that I need to have this part straight before I can go to the next one…

2. Sept.

Have added an important branch to the above map that can be closer (and probably easier) studied on this map:

Challenges of Community and Collaboration

challenge

Being an aficionado for collaboration, so much so that I’ve created a job for me being a Collaboration Ecologist, recently more often than not I’ve come to inquire into the question, “If, as seems to be the case, many if not most people and organisations in the world seek collaboration and want to become communities of mutually aided flourishing, how come it is not the greatest hit on Earth?”

Or as my friend Doug who’s profession is coaching CEO’s, among other things,  tells me, “In the US now all companies want to collaborate. They just don’t know how.”

Remember New Year’s resolutions? Remember, what you wanted to change in your life this year? To be honest, I never make any resolutions on New Year anymore, since remembering them later on is such a pain. The reason is most likely the same that keeps all the good willing people on this planet, including the businesses and organisations, from collaborating to change the course of the planetary commons – we don’t like to face the deeper challenges that need overcoming. Actually I think the are the stuff out of which our advances are made.

So here are the challenges as they show up on my radar:

  • Challenge # 1: Probably the mother of all challenges to collaboration and community – Trust, patience, ‘deep’ listening and heartfelt connection.
    Looking at my experience in life, business and relationships, and of course at many, many theories of what community and collaboration is really based upon, these 4 ‘values’ seem to be the most persistent ones.
  • Challenge # 2: If #1 is the mother of all challenges, # 2 is the father – walking in somebody else’s shoes.
    People do not only have different characters and views, convictions, beliefs, theories and opinions, they are also on different levels of evolving towards what we could call “wisdom”, something that doesn’t come with age (as any acute observer of world- and human affairs has already noticed) but with developing all kinds of skills, lenses, and intelligences (heart, mind, gut, social, relational etc.). On the way to some wisdom, for a long time, people live in a land where they wouldn’t know what it means to “walk in somebody else’s shoes”, leave alone that they would actually be able to do so. Yet, it is prerequisite to anything that resembles true collaboration.
  • Challenge # 3: This one is centered around the question of leadership.
    Community and collaboration are situated far beyond democracy – which is based on quantity, counting the number of voices, and not quality, what these voices are saying. The challenge is to find ways and means to govern ourselves so that the good, right and beautiful things are accomplished.
  • Challenge #4: In the famous words of the Clinton Presidential Campaign in the USA, “It’s the economy, stupid!
    Collaborations and communities, on top of being simply a good and soul-nourishing thing to participate in by and of themselves, often also produce goods and services, and a commons that is recreational, inspiring, relaxing etc. (a source of aliveness; something like that, and also something that can be marketed). Who gets to share what of the communally created revenues is the fourth major challenge that needs facing, if communities and collaborations are to be more than a hype.

If you thought that I have the answers and that I’m going to give them here, I have to disappoint you. Not that I don’t have a number of very good ideas, processes and experiences around them (as many of my readers do as well), but if I were to tell them here, at maximum we would have a very interesting exchange of ideas and stories, and maybe even beliefs and convictions.And, so sorry, but I’m not really interested – mostly, because doing that will most likely lead to trying to make technical change out of the needed adaptive change.

There is a world of difference between technical change and adaptive change. A technical change you can manage using the given instruments and procedures. Often these revolve around a more effective use of the given instruments. You get long and wonderful To Do lists, that basically you need to check one after the other. Adaptive change asks you, on the contrary, to leave behind the old instruments and develop new ones. It requires you to adapt to a situation or process that you cannot yet analyse, and as such adaptive change is an “emergent phenomenon”… simply put, “Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is – and you cannot control it either.”

Sure, regarding myself as a Collaboration Ecologist I’ve got quite a number of processes and interventions up my sleeve that I can use in situations where people want to collaborate, and want some help. Often, I cannot do without them, yet these are not the secret of creating great ecologies in which collaboration and community flourishes. The real secret is this, “Find whatever helps the people present face the above challenges co-creatively, and go with what emerges in this group.” If you’ve got compassion, experiential knowledge, a working intuition and some intelligence you will, most likely, empower the people to squarely face these challenges. Then, and so far I can speak for 100% success, what comes out of that process you will advance into the Fields of the Future where Collaboration is Natural again.

Self-Empowered Spirituality

(This is the non illustrated version; after I get proper permission, I will have some beautiful pictures alongside this blog)
I have been writing about what I consider true 21st Century Spirituality before (on my zaadz blog), about Open Source Spirituality (here & on zaadz), and now I’ve had the opportunity to test some of the principles in the first free seminar I facilitated in over a year (I did work with managers etc.; but that was all a set agenda – this was not).
Looking back to the times when I was still a guru, more or less, there is a remarkable difference in how I felt during this seminar; there was none of the very subtle tension, the subtle power-game that was always there in the back-ground for me in the past. (Just to be clear: I perceive that subtle tension in retrospect – if you would have asked me then, I would have most probably denied its existence.)
Let me explain: When you are guiding people towards a higher spiritual realization on a vertical ladder of ascent to a spiritual ‘highest goal’ you must be both, at least one step further than they are (so as to also provide for the ‘transmission’ of the energy from a higher altitude), and you need to have ways and means at your disposal to help them move upwards. This is possibly one factor for that subtle tension.
Another one is that, when there are other men present, there is a basic masculine principle at work – you have to ‘prove your status’. Since the spiritual leader, guru, master, or whatever you want to call him, is also the alpha-male, and this also always translates as status, it is subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) under attack. Hence, tension.
The spiritual path understood, as it almost always is, as a path of acention (Wilber, Cohen, others love to talk about altitude; a higher/lower hierarchy where higher is regarded as ‘more enlightened’) you quite naturally needs leaders, gurus, masters, ‘spiritual teachers’. If you are called to play that role, as I felt I was for some 6-7 years, then quite naturally you always stretch to the ceiling, do your very, very best to stay within the higher reaches of your realization all the times (at least when you’re not in the realm of sahaj samadhi, spontaneously going on, which nobody is as I know from being personally with some ‘enlightened teachers’ in their private life beyond the need to ‘perform their role/service’).
People who have been following this blog know that I quit my ‘spiritual career’ a year or two ago, and have – to my own satisfaction at least – deconstructed the myth of the spiritual authority significantly, and I’ve also shown the patriarchal, authoritarian, gender-biased and abuse-prone tendencies in what I call ‘vertical spirituality’. So I won’t go into that here now. I just mention it to explain why I – in retrospect – know that I was under tension before, and now I’m not. The whole drama of that type of spirituality seems to have dropped off from me, and I’m very happy that I took that long a break from conducting or facilitating free and open-2-all seminars.
Since some of the participants in this seminar used to participate in my seminars in former time, in the beginning of this one I firmly deconstructed my leader’s role and our tendency to look for expertise and leadership in areas which belong to our heart of hearts, our innermost being. And as that was well taken, the beauty and joy of mutual empowerment and support, the mutual apprenticeship that flowered where incomparable and a source of a ‘group love-affair’ without the collusion that very easily crops up under such circumstance.
Creating Dynamic Presencing constellations, doing a constellation (Hellinger style) on helplessness, anger and sadness, and using all kinds of other methods to both, look at issues that challenge us, and freely explore the deeper spiritual and mystical dimensions – the seminar revolved around self-empowerment, finding and expressing what we really and truly want, and gaining trust in our indwelling authority on all things that concern our deeper life and higher meaning.
Being truly and effortlessly at peace with myself as a malleable, fallible, imperfect human crossroad of being and becoming; championing mutual empowerment and mutual apprenticeship; understanding that it is a most joyful activity to be true to myself and others; doing and not-doing what I truly want and thus being an encouragement to others to do likewise, it has become visible, clear and obvious (in a real-time situation, in the experiment of this 5 day seminar) that the vertical energies and powers (the light that streams down on us from ‘on high’; the angelic forces that can ‘overshadow’ people; the healing that emerges from deep sources of being; etc.) are truly natural to us and therefor naturally unfold in a field of people that move to a more authentic space, that are courageously being whoever they find themselves to be, in a field without a leader claiming or (subtly) expressing higher authority, revelation or enlightenment in word or behavior…
I’m well aware of the ambivalence and paradoxical nature of an endeavor where I was clearly facilitating the process and leading in some manner, yet, as a servant of people re-claiming their own spiritual authority and power. And when someone said, “What you have been expressing these days – I already knew it inside of me; maybe it wasn’t as clear, but it was there…” I was very, very happy.
So what have I learnt?

  • Dynamic Presencing works just as wonderful when I hardly ‘do’ anything; it is self-generating significant experiences for its participants which shows as:
    – streams of light pouring down from ‘on high’
    – waves of spiritual & also simple joy
    – feeling to be one with all creation
    – feeling human closeness / intimacy
    – liberation of ancient sadness
    – being “overshadowed by” and eventually becoming an angel
    – seeing the factuality of the beauty of all things
    – participating in divine ecstasy
    – seeing deep into the soul of an other
  • I’m relaxed utterly, being whatever it is I am; feeling whatever I feel
  • I don’t have to do anything
  • Not having a spiritual goal in mind I freely surf the waves as they appear on the shore of my awareness
  • Deconstructing external authority, and reconstructing one’s inner guidedness relaxes everyone
  • It’s very, very easy to truly listen; not as a method to get anywhere but as a� natural happening
  • Affirming my fallibility and imperfection is joyous and relaxing
  • I have a new gusto for spiritual experiment and research.

So I’m happy to embark on the path of doing more of these seminars – and the organizer of this one already booked me for next year (to do a whole series; among others a training in “Dynamic Presencing Constellations”). And I feel I’ve reached a milestone on my mission to:

Co-create a society and culture that supports and empowers individuals and groups to live according to their innermost values and insights, and that can make their living with what they really, really want to do.

Collaboration versus Institutions

In this prescient 2005 talk, Clay Shirky shows how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning.

Me to the Power of Us

A beautiful video illustration a visionary statement by Michel Bauwens which expresses most beautifully the Path I find myself to be on.

“Anyway, this is what the changes are about, augmenting the individual through relationality, with the object of creating common value collectively, through self-aggregation. The whole push of the p2p revolution is to create the infrastructure for this, designing for inclusion, and for convergence of the indiviual and collective interest, through value-conscious design.”
From Our new digital selves and their relational augmentation by Michel Bauwens

The coming age of cooperation

Howard Rheingold talks about the coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action — and how Wikipedia is really an outgrowth of our natural human instinct to work as a group. As he points out, humans have been banding together to work collectively since our days of hunting mastodons.

What is possible cannot be determined by opinions, but only by attempt. And we were determined to make the attempt. � Dee Hock

1. Everybody is a leader

Leading by being
Community Development professionals (CDPs) are the change they wish to see.

CDPs provide relational and situational information and knowledge to members, who are seen as quite capable to judge for themselves what, given their values, purposes and principles, they should do in the best interests of the community as a whole.

Collective Intelligence
The intelligence and intuition of the whole community by far exceeds any partial intelligence by individuals and manifests in many � sometimes unprecedented � ways.

CDPs trust the collective intelligence of the whole and are constantly on the look-out for ways and means to capture its patterns and processes so that community members can more easily know of it and participate in it.

Permission Granted
Accountability and authority are regarded as a natural part of everybody�s character.

CDPs provide and live principles (not rules) to foster the free expression of the community�s members. All members of the community are regarded as being fully accountable for their words and deeds.
If conflicts arise they act like �people whisperers� and/or mediators to help turn possible mistakes into lessons that the whole community profits from. They do have the authority to mandatory refer members who disrupt the community�s functioning to a mediating �Council of Community Elders�.

2. Promote connectivity and collaboration between the community�s members

Connectivity & collaboration
Provide tools and occasions for maximum connectivity between members.

CDPs seek close connection with their community and are therefore most of all available to be contacted with any issue at any time � within reason; they might delegate this obligation at certain times to CDPs of other communities.
CDPs are always on the look-out to improve tools, procedures and situations that foster deeper and wider connectivity and are very keen of bringing opportunities to collaborate to member�s attention.

Synergy
Treat members of aligned external communities as fully trusted community members.

CDPs � with the aid of Gaiaspace�s Alignment Process and their colleague CDPs � are actively seeking out synergies, and having found them they carefully create connections and suggest collaborations. Once connections and collaborations have been committed to by these partners they are regarded as fully trusted community members.

Cluster
Nurture the community�s internal and external networks and connections

CDPs pay attention to the networks within the community and networks with which the community is connected and even embedded in. They know how systems become systems of influence by being well connected in larger networks and networks of networks.
They also ensure that the information coming in through �weak ties� from the world in which their communities are situated is fed into the community�s collective intelligence.

3. Experiment, collaborate and support mutual apprenticeship

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk. � The Dalai Lama

Purpose, principles & people
People guided by robust purpose, having developed principles that guide the realization of that purpose create strongly aligned behavior that gets things done in fast and often unprecedented ways.

CDPs understand that guiding principles derived from overarching purposes that align the community unite people and they therefore support members of their community to find and/or express their very personal purpose first. They secondly support finding and/or expressing the principles of communication, connection and action that foster and support this. Then they continually support the alignment of personal with universal purposes and the powerful collaboration, action, behavior that results from this alignment.

CDPs take a keen interest in anything which might foster the development of deeper, wider and more effective community whether it�s within anybody�s defined role or not. They therefore strengthen a culture of mutual apprenticeship in which everybody can learn from everybody else.

Transparency & Fair Share
Transparency about personal agendas and the fair sharing of � material and immaterial � outcomes fosters the necessary trust for real collaborations in community.

CDPs understand that �Win-Win-Win� is an outcome and not a strategy. If the community as a whole is to profit from its being and collaboration and knowledge-ecology a sophisticated behavior is needed: acting in trust, freedom and clarity, always also thinking about �how to fairly share the outcome with everybody who had an input?� Therefore at times CDPs also address the “what’s in it for me” question for each member of collaborating networks within the community.

Fluid Dynamics
Learn through experimentation, differentiation, mutation, mutual apprenticeship, trustful relationships, collaboration and appreciative inquiry and review.

CDPs understand that communities are held together by a sense of identity that results from shared purposes, principles and personal bonds between its members. The also understand that community is more akin to a fluid than a solid, and that to help it to continually and creatively reinvent itself invigorates it and keeps it alive. Therefore they see purposes and principles as processes in flux and encourage challenging questions, experiments and all kinds of creative proposals and behaviors � if necessary balancing it so that a dynamic equilibrium is maintained.

4. Support natural forms of organization

Autopoiesis (aka “Self-Organizing Networks”)
The vital communities of the 21st Century are self-organizing entities in a state of continual self-transformation in concert with an exponentially accelerating growth of diversity, complexity and rate of change of the cultural and natural environment

CDPs, understanding and accepting the exponentially accelerating rate of change in this century, support all tendencies toward self-organization and self-transformation of the community they serve. They therefore support servant-leadership on every level; they are always on the look-out for members with leadership potential and make it their priority to support and mentor them towards becoming a community development professional. CDPs understand their role to be temporary � they work towards the community�s self-organization whose servant-leaders grow from its own members; this being part of the self-transformative trend of every community.

Alignment
Self-organizing networks seek maximum alignment with other networks, communities and individuals that advances their purpose(s)

CDPs are always looking out for other communities, networks and individuals whose purpose might align with the community they serve. The wheel has been invented many times over; most likely humanity as a collective has or can easily develop all the know-how and procedures needed to cope with any and all challenges it faces on the micro-, midi- and macro-level. The open alignment of purposes, goals, intentions makes this much more apparent, and the culture of appreciative co-humanity makes it easier accessible. Therefore CDPs are an example of collaboration across all boundaries, and have a basically pluralistic view on values � looking for alignment instead of for differences (yet without ever diminishing diversity).

Emergence
All ecologies, be they natural or cultural, have natural cycles of growth and emergence.

CDPs are well aware of natural cycles of community growth, flourishing and transformation. They know that sustainable development is not to be managed or controlled because the resilience of such �artificial� growth is low and needs to be artificially supported continually. They therefore trust in the community�s own rhythm and cycles of development which the serve and support. Their ability to allow uncontrolled development and �being the change the want to see� creates space for novel and unforeseen flourishing.
� Mushin J. Schilling, Berlin, Dec. 2007

Integral Community Building & Collaboration Ecology – 04 Collaborating for Community

Collaboration that creates and applies knowledge, understanding and eventually wisdom to create real community is very sophisticated behavior. Apart from subject matter expertise, skills, competence and experience (which are basic to competitive endeavours as well) the communities of practice that Community Development Professionals build require agreement and shared values, trust among individuals and organizations, and the efficient, full sharing of ideas, information, practises and processes. It rests upon the participants’ alignment with common intentions and works towards realizing a common purpose, goal or vision which is typically creative or innovative in nature.

As much as it is true that community development — being a dynamic, interdependent process with a diversity of participants — can be learned only through experience, it is also true that there are environments and processes that greatly enhance this learning. As a complex[1], and because of the required trust, potentially fragile process it needs a safe surrounding to germinate. Professional community development can really only be achieved properly by people who have matured sufficiently beyond the need for personal stardom (egotism), and who have understood that collaboration requires equal respect of all for all. Resilient, sustainable communities can best be regarded as voluntary, self-managing processes that can only be encouraged and facilitated — there will most likely never be standardized practices beyond the creation of an ecology of values, purposes and principles that foster collaboration and the personal contact with and facilitation by a Community Development Professional. The replicability of this process lies in the education of and in sufficient support structures for Community Development Professionals.

Community development starts with rediscovering or creating common ground: shared experiences and/or values, intentions, visions. The environment in which it develops easily is one of being attentively and open-mindedly present to others, giving authentic feedback and “being yourself”, expecting others to likewise be; a willingness to accept differences in perspective, perception and opinion. This is relatively easy once a deep mutual understanding of “our commonality of intention, vision and value” has taken root.

To use economic terms, “Developing community requires ongoing investments in intangible assets over extensive periods of time.” Building trust, which is the major ingredient of effective and successful communities, takes time as does creating an atmosphere or ecology of common values, purpose and all the other hard to measure human traits that community is made of. Engaging conversations that connect people and are the stuff relationships are mostly made of; developing community is an investment in people and their creativity and inventiveness and it involves unpredictable outcomes. Developing communities that have real value, if it is regarded as an actual financial investment done by one or more stakeholders, is a challenging “business” and should be well considered beforehand. However, the economic results are definitely measurable as they demonstrate reduced risks, faster performance and greater or new sources of revenues; and solving organisational, social and environmental challenges through the application of collective wisdom, challenges that, if not handled properly, easily can cause substantial economic losses.


 

 

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5

[1] Actually the process of collaboration is only complex when regarded through analytical and linear lenses. When regarded from within a collaborating entity it is a naturally unfolding emergent dynamic system which is often better regarded as a work of art, ‘practical beauty’ is a term that comes to mind; a beauty that is easily seen in a natural landscape or ecology.

Sustainability Market Collaboration

Just in case you wondered where I’m going to be in the next few days… I’m at the

Energy EASE07 UnConference on Sustainability Market Collaboration

in San Francisco November 16-18 at Fort Mason

Berkeley, CA. Energy EASE07 opens in San Francisco on Friday with sustainability leaders and participants collaborating to develop market growth, exchange and governance guidance for the exploding green energy economy. Inspired by Spotlight Speakers including Hunter Lovins, Elisabet Sahtouris, FireHawk, Gil Friend and others, participants meet over three days at Fort Mason, to share ideas and forge relationships.

Using a collaborative un-conference format, attendees identify programs and policies that, with further development, can shape the future of the sustainability marketplace. To begin the discussions, EASE organizes around eight market functions: create, manufacture, distribute, use, finance, regulate, arbitrate and educate. In its inaugural year, EASE looks into the New Energy market of solar, wind, water, bio-fuels and associated sustainable energy innovations.

EASE invites all those interested in market collaboration and community building to participate in these conversations at no charge. By openly sharing ideas and visions, individuals have the opportunity to find partners, communities and projects with a shared purpose. Collaborative exchanges of resources and knowledge enable companies and projects to forge into larger, more influential communities. Their common understanding of purpose and action enable these communities to swiftly address the most important issues and opportunities of a group, region or industry.

Tom Atlee, visionary social activist who has written extensively on leading-edge issues in politics, philosophy and social transformation, calls EASE a daring mix of familiar and innovative approaches to conferencing that could prove revolutionary and a conference and on-line network designed to catalyze the sustainable economy with a level of sophistication seldom seen.

Energy EASE07 is dedicated to the life and work of John McConnell, founder of Earth Day. For Mr. McConnell, Peace is an honest understanding of another persons point of view. Justice is an equal sharing of all the worlds resources by all the worlds people and creatures. Without peace and justice, environmental care of Earth is a one-legged stool.

Interested un-conference participants should pre-register on line at www.easeinitiative.com.

Contact: Susan Mills 510-851-1536 susan@easeinitiative.com