June 10, 2010

In defense of complexity

Somebody wrote in a group on "Transforming Capitalism" in the Presencing community  :

> all complex civilisations have collapsed at one point or another. Only 'simple' societies have managed to survive.

Cellular Complexity by David Sweatt.gifIn the spirit of helping each other unearthing our assumptions, let me point out that the feudal society that invented the first forms of science was more complex than the slave-based mode of production that, in turn, was more complex than the hunter-gatherer mode of production. The same is true for capitalism that is more complex than the feudal society, and emerging, post-capitalist reality that is moving towards global-scale self-organization and collective intelligence, which will be more (not less) complex than the capitalist world. More complex means capable to differentiate, absorb and integrate more variety.

Just think of nature. Hasn't life been moving towards increasing complexity from the single-cellular to the multi-cellular organism, from worms to mammalians and humans? (To let that really sink in, use the Cellular Complexity painting above, by  David Sweatt, as a meditation object.
Click on the image to enlarge.
) You can find another example of increasing complexity in your own life. Isn't it a story of increasing the variety of phenomena that you were capable to differentiate, absorb and integrate, from kindergarten, to school and adulthood?

The move towards more complexity doesn't stop in adulthood. The development of such subsequent value systems depicted by Spiral Dynamics as TruthForce, StriveDrive, HumanBond, FlexFlow, GlobalView, is also an evolution towards more complexity. (I wrote more about it in Communitas Sapiens that you can find in the files of the London Integral Circle, and in my paper on Collective Intelligence, Collective Leadership .) In fact, 2nd tier stages of development, starting with FlexFlow and GlobalView are the first ones that cease to think of complexity as an enemy to defeat and start appreciating it.

Facing the overwhelming complexity of today's world, the "natural" response is to look back and long for a lost "natural rhythm and pace." That's the best that our individual ego can find when one's world is growing more complex than one can fully comprehend. It is the best that it can do, simply, because it cannot see what is above its head: the next level, at which the assumption that I, me, mine, is the most important in the world is recognized as an increasingly useless assumption.

What if
what we sense as overwhelming complexity was only evolution's trick to seduce us  into the collective identities and shared minds needed to make sense and higher meaning out of our world? What if someday we woke up realizing that we left the fixation with the narrower perspectives behind just as we did with toys that we've outgrown in the kindergarten? What if that day was today?

I know, it's easier said than done. Spreading good practices worth replicating does help. Here is a beautiful example. The good news is there's a growing number of us who recognize that awakening communities are not the death of our individuality, only the death of our ego. In fact, autonomy gains never before experienced depth and richness in the unfolding dynamics and interplay between autonomy and communion. So, what are we waiting for? :-)

July 21, 2008

"What the hell are all these connections and social media for?"

I rarely choose to fall even further behind on my GTD Next Action list, by adding a comment to blogposts, which may never will be read, but your intriguing question caught me because I've been asking myself, for quite a while, the same:

Bev Trayner asked, "what the hell are all these connections and social media for?"

We'll see in 2-3 years from now but that's not an answer to my wanting to sense the lay lines of our emerging planetary reality, as they emerge, so that they can inform wiser actions: mine, my clients' and communities'...

Holding that question for a couple of years led me to the first sketches that you may want to take a look at here and here and here.

What kind of social learning system would be appropriate to address the challenges inherent in those posts?

Regarding our shared "falling behind" syndrome, what if it was only evolution's trick to help us recognize that resistance to distributed cognition and collective intelligence/wisdom is futile, the relevant cognitive unit is not me but we?

(By "relevant" I mean capable to develop the functionally fit differentiation of one's contribution to the whole, based on relatively accurate maps of our social and technical ecosystems.)

April 17, 2005

The subtle, the causal, and the evolutionary movement

Fernanda Ibarra is a visionary of virtual communities of practice, who wrote in the Club of Amsterdam Journal "The main source of value creation is shared knowledge and collective intelligence, not land, labour or capital. It is that shift in the basis of value creation, what propelled virtual communities in the limelight as collective players with largely untapped potential for radical innovation."

She has just commented (see below) on my entry about Collective consciousness: a “peer to peer” phenomenon?, which inspired me to learn more about her thinking.

Continue reading "The subtle, the causal, and the evolutionary movement" »

June 19, 2004

Evolutionary leadership, ubuntu, and the homecoming of CI

In my previous entry, I mentioned that I'm working on the design, with Peter Merry, of an EVOLUTIONARY LEADERSHIP Learning Expedition that we'll launch in September. We say, evolutionary leadership is about the practice of looking at and thinking from the biggest context with the greatest clarity, AND acting to meet the needs of all parts for the good of the whole.

Meeting those needs requires competence in freeing and mobilizing the collective intelligence of the whole. We need to learn enabling and empowering the self-organization of all communities of practice and communities of co-creation involved with the situation. It’s a core competence of evolutionary leaders, that we want to help developing in the Learning Expedition.

Talking about "freeing and mobilizing the collective intelligence", I'd to share with you what a colleague wrote to me in our pre-Basecamp email exchanges:

Continue reading "Evolutionary leadership, ubuntu, and the homecoming of CI" »

May 28, 2004

Is self-awareness a requirement for CI?

In a comment to The emergence of CI, an online experiment, somebody asked this question:

> In other words, is self-awareness a requirement for being a CI?

I choose to respond here, in this entry, as to give more visibility to that question, the importance of which cannot be overestimated.

Continue reading "Is self-awareness a requirement for CI?" »