Things seem to be falling into alignment. I picked up a revised edition of Margaret J. Wheatley’s book entitled Leadership and The New Science the other day and I’ve been devouring its contents with relish. There is so much in this book that relates to my research that it’s almost uncanny. In particular, one chapter entitled Change: Capacity of Life resonated with me quite deeply because the three critical areas of the system that she mentions seem to match with the three goals of my greater vision that I have laid out for myself.
My colleagues and I focus on helping a system develop greater self-knowledge in three critical areas. People need to be connected to the fundamental identity of the organization or community. Who are we? Who do we aspire to become? How shall we be together? And people need to be connected to new information. What else do we need to know? Where is this new information to be found? And people need to be able to reach past traditional boundaries and develop relationships with people anywhere in the system. Who else needs to be here to do this work with us?
As a system inquires into these three domains of identity, information, and relationships, it comes more self-aware. It has become more connected to the truth of who it is, more connected to its environment and customers, more connected to people everywhere in the system. These new connections develop greater capacity; the system becomes healthier.
Identity to me is the cornerstone of the system. It allows an individual or organization to know and stabilize itself in chaotic times. In effect, it defines your passion and purpose, the ship with which you sail upon and the star that guides you. It is the context within which all are choices are made. I feel like I need to help both individuals and organizations discover their true identities. What I’m finding surprising about this though is that figuring out individual identities is extremely difficult, probably because people have a hard time observing themselves from a third person perspective. Organizational identities, in comparison though, seem much easier to decipher, probably due to multiple perspectives within the group, which is why I’ll probably focus on them first initially.
Relationships are the foundation of life itself. In effect, the interaction of the parts is actually more important than the parts themselves. I feel I have the knowledge contained within me to help organizations run radically different and better than they do now. What’s more, I don’t even have to prove it because I’ve already seen it done elsewhere and I’ve seen aspects of it work with my own life, both online and off. What I do need to do is to simply document how this new way of working works and explain how it directly relates to relationship building. This of all three is the most clear to me, as I’m even using these principles within my own work life right now for my day job.
Information is what flows between the structured relationship of identities within these systems. Yet today, these information flows are completely inadequate due to them being all dumped out in a single bucket, rather than channeled into different filtered streams or orbits that can be more easily absorbed based upon the context within which they are viewed. I feel that I need to build something like a content management system that is much more than a content management system, yet at the same time something much more simpler than a content management system, giving it an almost playful yet powerful flexibility to it (i.e. a sandbox). It would be something that would both distribute and aggregate information, not only upon a single site but between sites, so as to relay distributed contextual awareness between all nodes of the system. At this point, I have started working on this conceptually and what I’m finding is that it almost has a fractal nature to it. The trick I’m finding is not to focus too much on the details themselves at this point but to understand them within the greater context and patterns of the system first.
So that’s where I’m standing right now with my vision and its three primary goals which woven together would hopefully provide a new way of self-organizing society, thus allowing us to do things collectively that would seem almost impossible to us now under our existing world view. Again it’s important to realize that no one single goal itself is sufficient to initiate the change but it requires all three working together as a trinity to kick start and be a catalyst for the change to occur. In effect, it is the interaction or relationship between the three goals that ignites things.