Hello again, Dear Readers. The past days I feel like I have energetically found a very fascinating puzzle which I very much want to put together, have taken some of the pieces out, laid them out upon the floor, and am now trying to figure out how to proceed. Only the tricky part is, there is no shiny picture on the box to show me what it is supposed to look like: only a lot of interesting-looking pieces in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors and textures that I know need to somehow be formed into something very beautiful and important. You see, this puzzle is about humanity’s future, and contains the map of how to get there. It is huge and incredibly interesting work, as I learn with each piece that I find that there are many other clever humans out there in the world who are also working on this same puzzle simultaneously.
This latest trail of the puzzle was prompted by my curiosity about ‘new leadership,’ a very loose term with broad implications. As I began asking what are some models for new leadership in the world, and researching through the internet, what I have been finding is that the word leadership is fraught with old, outworn and outdated concepts and connotations. Instead, people who are concerned with the future and change, are using a whole range of other words to convey new concepts about what people do together in groups, such as business, education, governance, as well as socially. I found one very interesting article, an interview with Michel Bauwens, who runs the Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives. Here is an excerpt of this interview:
In 2006, I founded the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives. We are a knowledge commons and a global ‘collaboratory’ of researchers into peer production, peer governance, and peer property. I realize I need to unpack these words, so here we go.
Our key belief and hypothesis is that the internet is creating not just a great horizontalisation in communication, but also new forms of cooperation and actual ‘production’, not just of knowledge and code (software), but also the capacity of making things in a wholly new way. It is now possible for people to meet together, declare their joint intention to produce something, and go about organizing this using a combination of ‘virtual’ and ‘physical’ means.
These systems are based on people engaging with their passion, ie. doing things they actually want and like to do, to create a community around it, and to start jointly producing their knowledge online, but also physically coming together in new types of co-working such as hackerspaces, co-working hubs, and the like.
The new rule is: heavy is near, light can be far away, ie. producing locally but cooperating globally. This is happening both from the bottom-up, in every area of human life, in what we call peer production, but also top-down, as existing hierarchical and centralized institutions try to adapt, engage and even co-opt these same possibilities. Thus we have crowdsourcing, collaborative consumption, open innovation and many other trends.
Our purpose then, is to observe and analyze them, but also to work for their advancement, as we believe that freely engaging producers is a great advancement, not just in terms of economic democracy, but also in terms of human life and happiness. So we don’t believe in a utopian future (though there’s nothing wrong with dreaming of a better world) but to actually look at existing practices and seek out how to extend them.
The article, found in http://www.cruxcatalyst.com/2013/02/20/changemaker-profile-michel-bauwens/ calls Bauwens a ‘changemaker’ and I suppose you could also call him a wayshower, futurist, innovator, free thinker, and similar terms. Just within the space of the excerpt there are 10 different terms that might be as unfamiliar to some of you as they are to me. This infers that along with new thinking about humanity’s future comes a whole new language to describe it. Yes, you say, but of course, that is just what happens as new forms and concepts are created, so what?
Well, the so-what for me has to do with the simple fact that in order for people to be able to work, play and live together well, we need to be able to communicate, otherwise known as understanding each other. With the new terms, catch-phrases and lingo being created by the innovation-specialization-systems management segment of society comes a kind of danger; namely that the rest of us regular folk will be left in the dust without a clue as to what in the world these folks are talking about! So language needs to be kept simple and the changemakers need to watch for too much specialization-speak if they really want to change human society as a whole.
“A changemaker isn’t someone who simply wishes for change; they make change happen. They control their destiny through responsibility, integrity and determination. A changemaker doesn’t necessarily have to be a leader, rather someone who is a team player that adheres to their beliefs but approaches every situation with an open mind resulting in the best solution possible. A changemaker not only reaches out to others, but also inspires them to create change in their lives. “–Brianne O’Donoghue (from http://www.sandiego.edu/chalkboard/?p=266)
The articles I have found this weekend are teaching me that what I, as well as they, are really interested in is not a new kind of leadership at all, but rather new ways of being, talking with, working alongside, thinking about one another in social groups, and how these new social forms are now and will continue to shape our future world. Back to Emergentbydesign.com, I read yet more interesting articles by Venessa Miemis, one in particular where she reviews another website’s work called The Lotus.info. Here three researchers, Baan, Long and Pearlman, have written a book about “Authentic Leadership for a Just, Resilient and Thriving World.” Miemis’ blog piece reviews this book, which lays out nine basic principles that leaders should possess for creating a new, improved human world. The principles are:
1. Being Present: Being Present means being fully aware and awake in the present moment – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This includes connecting to others, the environment around you and current reality.
2. Suspension & Letting Go: Suspension and Letting Go is the ability to actively experience and observe a thought, assumption, judgment, habitual pattern, emotion or sensation like fear, confusion, conflict or desire, and then refraining from immediately reacting or responding to the situation.
3. Intention Aligned with Higher Purpose: Intention Aligned with Higher Purpose is the alignment of one’s authentic nature with one’s internal resonance with manifested actions in the world. This alignment trickles down to all facets of life including one’s personal, professional and spiritual dimensions. “Where your deepest personal passion and the world’s greatest needs align, there is opportunity” (Peter Senge).
4. Whole System Awareness: Whole System Awareness is the capacity to quickly switch between different perspectives, scales and worldviews to see the big picture, interconnections within the system, and being able to scale down to small details. Whole System Awareness is not just cognitive – you ‘sense’ the system. It is the understanding that everything is interconnected within a system.
5. Compassion: Compassion is having unconditional acceptance and kindness toward all the dimensions of oneself and others, regardless of circumstance. Compassion involves the ability to reflect upon oneself and others without judgment, but with recognition and trust that others are doing the best they can in any given situation.
6. Whole Self-Awareness: Whole Self-Awareness is the continual, lifelong process of paying attention to knowing one’s self; it involves consciously and intentionally observing various dimensions of the self (including the physical, mental, shadow, emotional and spiritual realms). It is the capacity to observe how one is thinking, relating, feeling, sensing, and judging. Whole Self-Awareness includes perceptions beyond the rational mind, such as intuition.
7. Personal Power: Personal Power is the ability to use energy and drive to manifest wise actions in the world for the greater good, while being aware of one’s influences on a situation.
8. Dealing with Dualities & Paradox: Dealing with Dualities and Paradoxes is the capacity to sit with ambiguity in a facilitation session, manage polarities, and hold multiple perspectives.
9. Sense of Humor: A Sense of Humor, or ‘light-heartedness’, is the universal experience of simultaneous amusement, laughter and joy culminating from an experience, thought or sensation. (from: Facilitating Transformational Change toward Sustainability , reprinted on http://emergentbydesign.com/2012/01/29/9-personal-capacities-of-authentic-leaders/)
Okay, I say to myself as I read these nine principles, this all sounds just fine and quite self-aware, so far so good. But. In order to create new models of society in which all people are treated respectfully and fairly, everyone can contribute their gifts and talents freely, and all reap the mutual benefits thereof, there needs to be more than a checklist of qualifications that everybody ought to strive towards. So I turn again to the clever commentors on Emergentbydesign.com. In this article (http://emergentbydesign.com/2012/11/01/future-work-like/) Miemis explores new models for work. She asks the following questions:
What if we treated business itself as a platform to support personal and social learning?
How can we create nurturing, immersive environments for workers to satisfy their dispositions and talents? What dispositions do we want to cultivate?
How can we develop a structure for lifelong learning, mentorship and development?
How can we create motivational feedback loops to improve personal performance and modify behavior?
How can we create working environments that increase human freedom and agency to make decisions and be self-directed?
What else should we be asking as we move forward?
I think these are important and excellent questions. I also think they are not easy to understand nor to answer. One commenter replies to this article thus:
“One idea I have is to let go of the concepts of “job” and “work” and instead base a new economy of the concept of “task”. Everyone on the planet is perfectly capable of doing one task at a time. We already have all the social platforms at our disposal, to coordinate tasks. If we build structures around tasks worth doing, these structures will serve us, rather than us serving existing structures.”
Another commenter, Frank Spencer, wrote, “You allude to 2 things… hiring for ability to “learn, unlearn, and relearn”…Organizational needs are changing so rapidly that the jobs that we are hired for may be obsolete by the time we get the hang of it, and this increases the value of those individuals who can “hack” their way into any situation or need. The second idea has to do with applying the sharing model to the workforce and talent, much like bike or car sharing within cities. Today’s work environment and the expectations of a new workforce means that people will be working for multiple employers simultaneously, not exclusively. These 2 concepts alone point to a much more flexible, adaptive, resilient, and transformative future of work.”
Dear Readers, you can see from these various quotes and excerpts what I mean about the puzzle pieces. Bauwens ends his interview with these words, which I find contain wisdom and a real map towards the future that I for one would like to help create:
“Combine a steadfastness based on principles, and a long term vision of your strategy, with an adaptation to emergent realities and what the others and the universe will dictate you as the ‘next step.’ The way is the destination. In all likelihood, you will fail, but if you hadn’t made the effort, it’s much more likely that the world would be much worse off. Find the right mix between selflessness for the goal, and the enjoyment of life, ie., engagement with your own wellbeing, those of your loved ones, and the communities you are engaged with. Listen to your heart, your instincts, but also to your reason. Be integral and integrative, not monological in your search for solutions. We’re all just part of the puzzle, but each part of the puzzle is necessary, so the key is to find your right ‘fit.’
And so the research and finding and fitting together of more puzzle pieces in this vastly complex puzzle called Creating the Future of Humanity continues…. as always, your thoughts and any resources you find helpful are very welcome here.
The collaborative economy emerges (winningbysharing.typepad.com)
- Michel Bauwens in conversation about P2P enterpreneurship in the LUZ co-working space in Rio de Janeiro (p2pfoundation.net)