When Should We Collaborate?

Some of us are very passionate about generating collaboration wherever we go in many different contexts because collaboration has not be emphasized as an approach in our business and organizational domains. Other people are less inclined to collaboration because they feel they work better alone or they see collaboration takes a lot of resources and time. Even if you are passionate about working toward solutions together, it’s important to discern when collaboration is most needed and effective as an approach.

The first question to ask is “what kind of problem are we trying to solve”?  Different situations require different approaches to understanding the nature of the problem and responding. This has implications on whether or not we need to collaborate as well as how we communicate the solution.  In business as well as other organizations, focusing lots of resources (people’s time, energy, skills) to collectively resolve an issue or innovate can be a costly effort, prompting mindful, wise discernment.  Sometimes, one or two people with the right information and skillset can handle previously experienced issues or someone needs to step up into leadership to determine the path forward.

The Cynefin (pronounced “cunevin”) Framework, originally created by Dave Snowden, provides an accessible framework for use in those moments when we’re trying to determine the appropriate approach to solving a problem.

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There are five elements in this model:

  • Simple – This is a problem where the relationship between cause and effect is obvious to all. Our approach is to sense what’s happening, categorize it in relation to known experiences and constraints, and respond accordingly. An example of this in an office environment is when we press print and no copies come out of the printer. We sense that something is not working with the printer, and we start to look into the categories of well-known solutions, such as checking to see if it has paper, checking to see if there is enough toner or even checking to see if we turned it on.  When we identify the correct category, it is apparent how we need to respond.
  • Complicated – Complicated issues have multiple answers or solutions.  Our approach is to access data and other information about possible solutions and perform an analysis  to evaluate the best approach before determining response.  We move through compromise and into convergence fairly quickly.  Continuing our office copier example, if the copier breaks down repeatedly and a technician is called in, they will test all aspects of the copier system to identify what’s occurring. After these discovery efforts, they provide a set of options for the office manager to discuss with others in the business, taking into consideration the company budget, operations strategies, and perhaps conflicting priorities.  Given those factors, compromise is reached and the best option selected.
  • Complex – This is where real collaboration is most effective.  We need everyone’s contribution into a space where someone has identified a problem and brings it to the group.  All the questions and ideas that emerge are part of the probing and sensing into the complexity of the issue. Eventually, the group’s work is facilitated into convergence. In our copier example, this may be the situation where the office is growing very quickly which results in a significant increase in the volume and types of copies that are needed on a daily basis. The office copier machine in the break room is no longer sufficient. With new technologies being developed, the office is also not certain if the increased volume and types of copies needed will be sustained over the long term. The team needs to determine the right questions to ask about the growth trends and needs over the longer term and may need to experiment with different options to gain more knowledge of the needs and find the appropriate solution(s).   
  • Chaotic – This is when a rapid response is needed – the proverbial “hair’s on fire” situation. In this situation, searching for the right answers may waste time, and the group needs to act quickly, gain a sense for what needs to be done and respond.  In these circumstances, often a leader will take charge and act because there’s little time for collaboration. For example, a firm might get a last minute giant opportunity that requires duplication beyond what the organization has experienced before and it all needs to be done by the next day. A project leader emerges and rallies prioritization and support for taking immediate action, then orchestrates all aspects of a response. They must negotiate a budget, inspire people to work on the project, select and coordinate with an outside vendor to complete the job, and deliver the final copies to the customer on time. That project leader needs to manage deadlines, engage people’s cooperation, and smooth any barriers in the path so that the project is delivered successfully.
  • Disorder –  Disorder is the space in the middle signifying you don’t know where you are. From there, you need to find enough information to move yourself into one of the four other spaces. Imagine coming into your business or organization’s office and finding that it has been severely vandalized the previous night.  Office machines are wrecked, computers are missing, files are strewn everywhere, and people’s workspaces have been turned upside down.  Everyone is in a state of shock.  Work obviously has come to a standstill.  

Understanding the type of problem sets the need for collaboration, and if needed, the tone of collaboration.  A shared framework like the one we’ve outlined above can provide the basis for a team’s agreements and approaches to taking action.

How would you apply the Cynefin Framework in your work and workplace?  What scenarios come to mind for each of the problem types?

The Chemistry of Collaboration

Following on last month’s post, we are beginning our exploration of what we’ve named the Zone of Collaboration.  This month our focus is on the personal capacities that our 2015 workshop participants identified as necessary for collaboration to happen. Our workshop participants defined the key fundamentals as willingness, openness, vulnerability, emotional intelligence, and being skilled in listening and communicating. Developing these abilities lays the foundation for practicing with mutual tolerance and respect, trust and trustworthiness, and the ability to compromise.

Collaboration is a kind of chemistry and the Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.35.04 AMpersonal and professional abilities, personalities and experience of participants are the elements being combined.  The personal capacities, beliefs, skills and attributes of potential collaborators are therefore critical and need to be shared and explored together as the group forms.  

Emotional intelligence is defined by Daniel Goleman and other theorists as the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions, as well as understand and influence the emotions of others.  Empathy is seen as a basic capacity in the development of emotional intelligence because it opens the path to careful, deep listening, respect, openness, vulnerability, trust, and the forming of healthy relationships.  These capacities were also elements of our workshop participants’ wisdom, and they shared in common a belief that when we, as collaborators, experience this kind of open and caring relatedness, we tend to more deeply share our knowledge, skills and wisdom.

Want to build your personal empathy or that of your team? Check out the resources made available by the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy, especially the Empathy Circles.

Even when we’re in a group with lots of capabilities, one of the most daunting experiences is when serious conflicts arise during collaborative activities. This is when mutual
tolerance, respect, trust, trustworthiness, and compromise are critical practices to have developed. Think about a time when you were in a business where such a conflict arose within a group. Some conflicts might be interpersonal; many are due to the complex situations we face at work, the diverse ideas we contribute, and the need we have for frameworks and processes that help us navigate that diversity and complexity.  

Next month, we’ll focus on discerning when collaboration is most needed and effective as an approach to solution-finding, and introduce a framework that supports identifying what kind of problem we are trying to solve.

The Work of Remaking Our System, Together

Human societies work like ecosystems or, more strongly, committed collaborations; diverse, interdependent specialists, working together in a mutually supportive, living network.

Because we are first and foremost a learning species, societies are being described as knowledge ecologies, information-processing communities whose survival depends on our joint ability to weave diverse perspectives into improved mental maps that help us create more functional responses to pressing issues.

Economy, the management of resources, is a critical part of our societal ecosystem. In response to centuries of economic extraction and disparity that have undermined our connection to each other and our environment, there are growing movements across the world to create a just, sustainable and flourishing economic system – the “next economy”. As we engage in this transformation, we ask ourselves “what is needed to create this next economy?”  In the above quote, futurist Sally Goerner and her co-authors of The New Science of Sustainability: Building a Foundation for Great Change, among many other visionaries, encourage us to do the work of remaking all aspects of our ecosystem together.  They state that becoming skillful collaborators is necessary to our evolution and our ecosystem’s “fitness” for sustainable performance and survival.

We strongly agree.  For the next six months, we will dive into the detailed complexity of collaboration with the hope of giving inspiration and insights into making collaboration work.  From entrepreneurs and business students, we have learned how daunting collaboration seems for many people.  Often, we hear painful stories of frustration and failed teaming efforts and even statements like “I’m better off working alone” or “teamwork is just too hard.”Collaboration Cartoon

In the United States, we live in a society that elevates the individual.  We’ve mostly been provided models of how to compete and succeed individually with perhaps a few experiences, in activities like sports or the performing arts, of being part of something larger than ourselves.

Even in those groups, we may have seen the individual elevated, for example as the “star player”, in ways that encouraged aggressive competition, downplayed each person as a valued team contributor and perhaps undermined a whole sense of “team”. The biggest obstacle to real collaboration is seeing our own needs as separate, or even opposed to, the needs of others.

As in our opening quote, we emphasize that we need diversity and specialization as individuals; the developmental edge we shine a light into is our capacity to be fully and strongly interdependent and co-creative, allowing our specialized individual contributions to combine to create something greater than we can ever create alone.

Because we recognize the importance of collaboration in the work scene, we started doing the Collaborativity at Work series at Impact HUB Oakland  in 2015.  In each workshop, we did a “wall of wisdom” on which we captured participants’ responses as we explored 1) what is necessary for collaboration, 2) where we get stuck and blocked from collaborating well, and 3) what makes collaboration experiences amazing.  

Zone of CollaborationAs we analyzed participants’ responses, we recognized a pattern in what they had communicated.  Achieving even basic collaboration requires an essential mix of certain personal capacities, group values, and environmental attributes.  Understanding that these are the basic ingredients helps us to make sure we are gathering the people, developing the culture and structuring the environment that successfully establishes this “zone of collaboration.”

In the next few months, we’ll “unpack” the components of the zone of collaboration in more detail.  We’ll start with what’s necessary for collaboration to happen at work, and then we’ll dive deeper in future blog posts.

Impressions of Holacracy: Purpose, Freedom, Accountability and Evolution

Sometimes, if you pay close attention, you can feel the tectonic plates shifting and grinding underneath our entire social and economic system.  As we imagine shifting business and the larger system into more collaborative and democratic patterns, we also must imagine shifting the way we organize to do work. A critical question that always seems to surface is “How do we do that when there’s so much at risk?”  Making deep structural changes to organizations means facing the uncertainties and discomforts of change and feeling the “earth” move under our feet.  No simple thing to experience, but many think it’s a reality for our future, nevertheless.

Bucky Fuller quoteHow are organizations beginning to think about reorganizing work to foster more creative freedom and collaboration?  Some of the first things to consider are organizing around shared purpose and values, clarifying roles and authority, and building trust and accountability. Some approaches use structures such as stakeholder engagement models, consensus decision-making, and systems for increasing transparency and decentralizing power.  Because there’s a lot at stake in business, organizations wanting change seek models that combine rigor with creative autonomy.  And, let’s admit it, we modern humans have kind of lost the knack for creating workplaces that are freedom-focused instead of fear-based, so we’ve got some relearning to do.  

Holacracy is a new way of running an organization that removes power from a management hierarchy and distributes it across clear roles, which can then be executed autonomously, without a micromanaging boss.”  It’s an approach to organizational structure and governance that is being prototyped in startups and existing enterprises. Holacracy is part of an emerging workplace democracy movement that also includes other concepts like Freedom at Work, the Happy Startup School and cooperative-ownership models such as Mondragon and our local Arizmendi. Recently, Nika Quirk spent two days in a Holacracy training in the East Bay and came away with many impressions and thoughts to share.

Rani_Nika_closeRani: You recently participated in a two-day immersion into the Holacracy method.  Would you be willing to share why you were attracted to this training?

Nika: Over this year, I’ve been working as a coach with Miakoda Taylor, founder of Fierce Allies, an enterprise that fosters deep partnerships across divides of power and privilege.  Exploring the potential of Holacracy for her growing organization, Miakoda connected with Karim Bishay, founder of Clearer Paths Consulting to facilitate the Fierce Allies training and invited me to participate. Because collaboration is a core focus for me and I look forward to engaging with Fierce Allies as it grows, I embraced the opportunity to train with Miakoda and her team.  

Rani:  Why do we need Holacracy? And, how does it work?

Nika:  (Laughing) I look at my beehives, Rani, and I say “that’s the point of Holacracy!”  All work is oriented to the purpose and prioritizations of the whole system.  The structure and practices seek to articulate roles with crystalline clarity (purpose, ownership, responsibilities and accountabilities) and streamline the application of energy to all work in the system.  This is a lean, sustainable system of work.

Holacracy is intended to engage every participant in governance, shaping both work activity and the evolution of organizational structure.  Everyone’s knowledge is valued, expressed and integrated and since participants have clear authority in their roles, they act with a balance of freedom and accountability. When implemented with fully distributed governance, Holacracy could be viewed as a powerful “hive mind” but with no “queen bee” governing over all.

Rani: What are some of your impressions from your experience with Holacracy in this training?

Nika:  One of my first impressions was that it has deep roots in natural systems thinking and integral perspectives.  This alone puts it in sharp contrast to our current reality in organizations and the greater social system since both of these ways of thinking about human life are unfamiliar to most people in Western culture.  My second strong impression was that this holacratic structure is a highly disciplined set of practices that I thought of as a “human maturity bootcamp” for the 21st Century. It’s very aligned with the Third Wave Business perspectives you and I are sharing in this blog.

Rani:  Would you unpack these impressions a bit more?

Nika: Early in the first training day, we learned about Holacracy’s focus on roles (“organizing around the work being done”) and ways of processing information in both tactical and governance meetings.  I made an immediate connection between this and the tendency in organic systems to “specialize and integrate”, leveraging the power of specialized knowledge and action through communication and collaboration across boundaries.  I believe this is one of the key benefits of holacratic process.  It supports the “natural fluidity of power”, fully empowering the flow of intelligence and energy through the system in service to agreed upon purpose.  

There’s much evidence of the systems view in Holacracy.  I’m quite fascinated with the core practice of identifying and processing “tensions” (what needs to change in the current reality). I understand from Karim’s experience that this becomes very fast adaptive practice in tactical meetings, processing potentially large volumes of items that turn into owned actions to move blockages, fill gaps, realign resources, and add work tasks. Once again, I’m thinking of the “bee meetings” I’ve witnessed in my hives through which streams of information are processed via touch, movement, and pheromones, resulting in individual and group action.  He shared that once you’ve gotten used to Holacracy meetings, you can never go back to what we typically experience in work meetings without feeling incredibly frustrated.

From an integral view, Holacracy integrates all quadrants and aims for continuous spiral evolution of the organizational system.  I believe it’s intended to develop a culture and community of purposeful work and develop individuals’ capacities to participate in mature collective leadership.  The tactical process guides the work and the governance process evolves structure in a distributive way. Even though organizing is around work and not people (“roles vs. souls”), I sense that individuals in the holacratic system are not anonymized. It’s likely they are valued, supported in many ways, and free to fully engage in their roles and in the distributed governance of the enterprise.  

As I stated above, throughout the training experience, I kept thinking about what a huge stretch Holacracy participation would be for most people.  Foremost, it requires a high level of maturity grounded in humility, reflexivity, equanimity, focus, succinct communication, integrity, and adaptability.  In his blog The Workologist, Sam Spurlin identifies four things he sees as necessary to succeed in an organization with a high level of autonomy such as exists in Holacracy.  These are akin to the leadership capacities we explicitly emphasize in our Integral MBA in Creative Enterprise and that are implicit in your classroom activities in Uptima Business Bootcamp – embodied awareness, curiosity, courage, reflexivity, empathy, collaborativity, creativity, and creative inquiry skills.

Redesigning and Prototyping the Culture of Business

Over the past forty years, we have become increasingly aware of the total impact of the Industrial Revolution and Information Technology Age.  Many of us are among those who dream of a shift to a more flourishing world. What will it take for us to actually shift our economic culture and systems?  In March and April, we touched on how important clarifying our definition of success and realizing our purpose is to shaping the world we dream of.  This month, our focus is on how individual behaviors can powerfully influence our economic culture and systems.  

First, let’s imagine a designer who is looking to produce an eco-friendly clothing line.  They’ve formed their business on a set of values statements like “fair wages”, “organic”, “locally sourced”, “sustainably produced” and “locally made with love”. While preparing their supply chain structure, they were excited to find a Western US fabric source during a trade show and made a “hand shake” deal to contract with them as a vendor.  As the designer moved through the contract process, they realized how the wholesale cost of materials would impact their profit margin and pricing.  Feeling uncertain about their customer’s purchasing behavior and their own ability to successfully market their products at a price that would make their business financially sustainable, the designer contacts a fabric producer in India (who doesn’t really match their values) and cuts a deal at half the wholesale cost of the US vendor.  Feeling rushed to get their first product line out before the winter holiday shopping season, they didn’t research the true cost of this “cheap” material which would include manufacturer’s fair labor, environmental practices, ongoing communication with a foreign vendor, and the energy costs of overseas shipping. This designer also didn’t consider the impact of reneging on their verbal agreement with the US vendor, including their own reputation in the industry, potential for future business with that vendor, and the financial burden on the vendor due to lost business.

With their stated values, how has this designer gone so awry?  Are they behaving in ways that model and generate the economic structures and culture of business they believe in?

To offer a holistic set of perspectives as a foundation, we’ll first provide a very basic introduction to the four quadrant Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 10.52.22 AMframework of Integral Theory.  In the integral view, every moment holds the complexity represented in this image, the inter-relationship of everything.  When we as individuals are reflecting on situations and making decisions, it’s important for us to pay attention to each of these quadrants.  This attention to all the potential issues, ideas, influences and impacts supports decisions and actions that are grounded in greater awareness, compassion and positive intention.  Such practice supports our understanding of our impact in the world.  When we develop and participate in cultures and when we create and reinforce systems, we potentially affect the experience of individuals, including their beliefs, mindsets and behavior.  We as individuals and as groups also have the power to influence cultural and system change.  As we’ve so often heard, we need to “be the change we want to see in the world.”

Looking at the example of the designer, they believed and represented that they would be a sustainability-based business. However, in practice, they didn’t build that into their business culture and systems or into their own behavior as a business owner.  This is likely to be rooted in their own beliefs and mindset. For example:

  • Anxiety and fear around their ability to market and sell the products at a price that could sustain the business
  • Belief that profit needs to be maximized to ensure the sustainability of the business with little regard for the impact of the cost-cutting actions they took to support that goal
  • Belief that it was just okay to back out of a handshake deal because it wasn’t really perceived as their active commitment to another business
  • Belief that the current culture of business supports their actions, e.g. larger organizations are seen to focus on maximizing profit, do business based on signed contracts, and seek cost-cutting in any way possible.

In a flourishing world, what does the culture of business need to be?  Who do we need to be in order to create that culture?  We believe that these are the essential questions we all need to reflect on and wrestle with as people in business.

Psychologist Bill Plotkin characterizes modern society (including our business culture) as egocentric, an adolescent society where many adults are still behaving (and encouraged to behave) in adolescent ways.  He also frames our current state as an opportunity, saying, “adolescence holds the key to our becoming fully human…The adolescent [of whatever age] comes to know what she was born to do, what gift she possesses to bring to the world, what sacred quality lives in her heart, and how she might arrive at her own unique way of loving and belonging.”   

We agree that this is a time of opportunity and accompanying challenges. A time in which we are designing and prototyping a culture of business where we can know and act on our purpose, bring our gifts, engage our hearts, and co-create an economic system rooted in loving and belonging.

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Designing as Humans; Designing with Humans

As we ended our August post, we invited you, our readers, to consider your vision of a flourishing world and how the realization of that world depends on your personal evolution.  Many of us raised in Western cultures have been “designed” to respond in design processes by advocating our individual ideas or agendas, and this is mirrored in the organizations we create and lead.  However, the best solutions are now seen to arise from truly collaborative solution-oriented dialog and design processes where all stakeholders are at the table and fully participating.

Ask anyone who facilitates these conversations about the challenges of supporting funders, investors, public sector, community organizations and social enterprises to engage in collaborative tables and extensive learning & sharing environments. Tara Marchant, Oakland Director at Emerald Cities Collaborative speaks to this challenge in this webinar “Collaborating for Change: The Long Game”. She shares that collaboration involves 1) Agreement 2) Engagement 3) Listening 4) Feedback 5) Leadership and 6) Flexibility. Emerald Cities Collaborative has multiple councils through the country made up of business, public sector, small business, unions and community advocates.

If we’re going to use a relationship-oriented approach to designing what’s next, we need to have the capacities to participate effectively.  Capacities such as empathy, reflexivity, collaborativity, humility, curiosity, courage, vulnerability, imagination, creativity.  Honing these strengths fosters our success in participating in collaborative design processes like human-centered design (HCD).

“Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem solving… It’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs. Human-centered design is all about building a deep empathy with the people you’re designing for; generating tons of ideas; building a bunch of prototypes; sharing what you’ve made with the people you’re designing for; and eventually putting your innovative new solution out in the world.” (www.Ideo.org)

HCD approaches support critical thinking in the design process.  For example, they prompt participants to ask “Who are we designing for?”, “Who are we designing with?” and “What is the impact of what we’re designing?”  The process itself encourages curiosity, doubt and questioning and the continuous integration of feedback loops.

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(Graphic from Hasso Plattner Institute of Design d.School at Stanford University)

Human-centered design also incorporates divergent and convergent thinking, a process that assists designers to create choices (diverge) and make choices (converge) with an aim to find the best solution(s) possible.

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If we continue to narrow down the solution in a vacuum, the best solution(s) are missed. If we completely leave ourselves open to possibilities, there are a lot of ideas available. So, how do we choose the best solution(s)?

When we use divergent thinking we can imagine any possibility, head off in any direction and deliberately diverge from the conventional.  Criticism and judgment are temporarily suspended while we explore possibilities. When we use convergent thinking we are trying to narrow down options to one or more preferred choices. We use analysis, criticism, logic, argument and reasoning to arrive at a selection. We eliminate less attractive possibilities in order to choose a way forward. The two styles of thinking are very powerful when used sequentially but much less so when they are mixed.

Remember that these types of thinking cycle as feedback loops in the continuous design process. When we’ve converged on an idea and prototype it, we take it out into the marketplace through user acceptance, environmental impact assessments, feasibility studies, production planning.  This continues the convergent process although when we hit blocks or critical issues that must be resolved, we may rely on the creativity of divergent thinking to find new ways of moving forward.  Even when a product, service, program or initiative has rolled out in its final form, the process of opening to user/customer/ participant/community suggestions is a necessary part of staying connected to their needs and refining our solutions.

This may sound easier than it is in actual practice.  So, what capacities and skills does this require of us as participants? As we indicated earlier, capacities such as empathy, reflexivity, collaborativity, humility, curiosity, courage, vulnerability, imagination, creativity.  (These are what we emphasize in leadership development in Meridian University’s Integral MBA program.) And also skills such as negotiation, feedback, ability to engage with complexity and uncertainty, and emotional intelligence skills such as self-regulation and motivation.  What are some ways that we can find support to develop and hone our abilities to participate strongly in collaborative dialog and design processes?  

What We Design Designs Us

We’ve critically thought about business success, about engaging with and sharing our ideas, and this month, we’re exploring “how do we approach bringing those ideas into reality”?  As we brainstormed about this question, we agreed that bringing ideas into reality rests on a core process of interior-exterior development in the context of a flourishing world vision. First, we’ll unpack that statement a little.

Let’s start with “the context of a flourishing world vision”.  Just what do we mean by that?  Visions of the better world we want to live in are as diverse as the people who envision them.  Each of us holds a vision emerging within us; we may find other visions that resonate and communities we can begin to align with.  We can see many authors, educators, futurists and organizations lifting up these initiatives, and we can hear the ideas of people close to us and in our networks.  Futurists like Charles Eisenstein, author of The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, offer possibilities for who we might become as humans and how we might reshape our system:

Our healing will come from the margins. How could it be otherwise, as the center falls apart?

It will come from the people and places that were excluded from full participation in the old Story of the People, and that thus preserved some piece of the knowledge of how to live as interbeings.

It will come from the ideas and technologies that were marginalized because they contradicted dominant paradigms. These include technologies of agriculture, healing, energy, mind, ecological restoration, and toxic waste remediation.

It will also draw from marginalized or near-forgotten social and political technologies: consensus-based decision making, nonhierarchical organization, direct democracy, restorative justice, and nonviolent communication, to name a few.

It will engage the kinds of skills that our present system suppresses or fails to encourage. People who have languished outside our dominant economic institutions, working for very little doing what they love, will find their skills and experience highly valued as pioneers of a new story.

It will liberate the marginalized parts of people who have been suppressing their true gifts and passions in order to make a living or be normal. To some extent, this category probably includes every member of modern society. We can feel the stirring of these suppressed gifts any time we think, “I wasn’t put here on Earth to be doing this.”

It will embody and validate marginalized parts of life, the things we neglect in the rush and press of modernity: qualities of spontaneity, patience, slowness, sensuality, and play. Beware of any revolution that doesn’t embody these qualities: it may be no revolution at all.

Others describe developments that lead to aspects of a more nature-connected, more collaborative, and more socially just world vision.  Restoring our connection to nature, providing specific nature-based practices, is the path supported by Bill Plotkin’s book Soulcraft. In Biomimicry, Janine Benyus shares how we can tap into nature’s intelligence. Authors like Marjorie Kelly and Jessica Gordon Nembhard illustrate how cooperative ownership plays a significant structural role in creating an inclusive system where all might flourish together.

Escher Drawing Hands
Drawing Hands. M.C. Escher 1948

What does this have to do with bringing our ideas into reality?  Here’s what we notice.  Our ideas need to be designed both for what people need now and as transformative elements that move us toward the reality of the better world we wish to create.  Our ideas need context. And as well, we need to be developing as people who are designers of that world.  Whether we are conscious of it or not, what we can design can design us as well. This is the basic idea of ontological design. Accompanied by stunning imagery, Jason Silva, currently a presenter and producer on the Discovery Channel, provides a concise explanation of this concept in this short documentary, which includes professor and author Costica Bradatan’s description of our inter-relationship:

Just as you grow into the world, the world grows into you. Not only do you occupy a certain place, but that place in turn occupies you. It’s culture shapes the way you see the world, its language informs the way you think, its customs structure you as a social being.

As we work toward realizing the envisioned flourishing world, internal work (as individual or as an organization) needs to continuously happen as we are designing and constructing. A flourishing world needs to be co-created by people who are transforming themselves to live flourishing lives.  The world we create depends on our own evolution. If this sparks your inspiration, you might discover more through the next Evolutionary Leadership Bootcamp on August 23 in Oakland presented by the Institute for Evolutionary Leadership.  Here’s a preview.

We’d love to hear your thoughts…leave a Comment below.