Archives for Harnessing collective intelligence

A pattern of human competences in interaction

Over my years of working in complex collaboration projects and institutional change management, I took notice of what shifted actors into a more collaborative space. Shifts tended to occur around personal competences. People brought these competences in or they developed them jointly with their collaborators. Although, nothing I noticed was radically new – what was new was the uniquely unfolding combinations of these competences, forming a constantly changing pattern of mutually supportive ingredients . And it was the aliveness of this  presence that made a difference. In a stuffy room in Salvador de Bahia all the ingredients were there. Each participant had a very valid reason for
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Taking Collaboration Seriously – where to start?

Let us examine a typical sustainability challenge: An agricultural commodity is produced in Africa – in a limited amount of countries. As is often the case, small-scale producing farmers are organized in cooperatives, but these cooperatives have competence gaps within their management.  Moreover, there are also discrepencies in the trading and production aspects of this commodity. Many traders bring the commodity to each national commodity board. In one country all commodities needed to be auctioned, in another country they could be auctioned or could be traded directly to the buyers. And at the level of individual farms, practices may not be
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Creating a paradigm shift

Donella Meadows’ article: Leverage Points – Places to Intervene in a System is  an inspiring reminder, a timeless contribution that makes one think – and hopefully act. Reading it you might recognize how many aspects of sustainability initiatives are still stuck in regulatory approaches that – according to Donella – are lowdown on the list of effective leverage points. The second highest effective leverage point, she suggests, is the power to create a paradigm shift. This is what she says about how to create a paradigm shift: “You keep pointing at the anomalies and failures of the old paradigm, you keep speaking louder and
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Crisis invites us to move beyond command and control

Recently, a group of ecologists – working with large-scale terrestrial, fresh-water, and marine ecosystem – identified how crisis can add resilience to a system. Ecological change is not uninterrupted and steady –  rather, it is erratic. The slow increases of natural capital, such as biomass or nutrients, are interspersed by sudden releases and reorganizations of that capital – through natural processes or human imposed devastation. However, it is the very introduction of these interruptions which produces environmental diversity and variation. And it is often through attempting to control and lessen such impacts that a system loses resilience.  “That is, a
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Trump and Climate Change: Can crises be opportunities?

Trump’s policies of deservedness Experiences of powerlessness, defeat and crises can be gateways to deeper perceptions of reality. The most disconcerting experiences sometimes help us to access a deeper sense of life in all its possibilities. For example, Donald Trump’s order to end to all federal action on climate change as well as his preliminary budget proposal challenges us in many ways – especially with regards to our worth as human beings. His proposal cuts right back on funding for many important social structures and support programs such as infrastructure, rural and urban housing assistance and homelessness programs, nutrition for
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Iterative learning: the core of a sustainable future.

Collaboration initiatives for sustainability are collective learning journeys – with no final answers to the challenges ahead.  The complex challenges of sustainability forces us into setting up iterative learning structures that everybody can participate in.   We therefore need to build a  culture of iterative learning, characterized by an openness  to adjust plans and strategies as we learn from the past. Moves we make in the right direction today may not be the right moves for tomorrow. As a result we must constantly adjust our strategies in order to find higher level solutions – which in turn probably require more complex collaboration structures. It is
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Why we need diversity

We know collective action toward sustainability requires bringing actors with different perspectives and diverging interests together. But what if diversity becomes a threat? How do we deal with the complexity of diversity? It is very human to assume that everybody is like us, and if not, should become so. When you take a deep dive into complex collaboration initiatives for sustainability,  you will observe this phenomenon. Diversity is a constant learning curve of processing difference into progress. I think we can learn from large multinational companies operating on several continents. There is always a point when they notice that sending
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The quality of our dialogues matter

It is not only our conversations that matter, it is the quality of our conversations that matters. We know we are engaging when we experience meaningful conversations that tap into our desire to make a difference. We feel satisfied, when a meeting leads to clarity and results. The intention of stakeholder engagement in collaboration is, in essence, dialogic: to get people from different walks of life and with different perspectives into a conversation that will lead to a practical outcome. Dialogue allows for the integration of different perspectives, standpoints and interests into planning and implementation processes. That’s the theory, and
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COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE

“Why would we stay locked in our belief that there is only one right way to do something, or one correct interpretation of a situation, when the universe demands diversity and thrives on a plurality of meaning? Why would we avoid participation and worry only about its risks, when we need more and more eyes to be wise? Why would we resist the powerful visions and futures that emerge when we come together to co-create the world? Why would we ever choose rigidity or predictability when we have been invited to be part of the generative dance of life?” Margaret
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THE EMERGENCE OF COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE

When people think of dialogue, they often imagine an original form of dialogue where participants sit in a circle and open up to meaningful conversation with each other. The purpose of such a conversational format often is to slow down communication. Not only are words and their meaning listened to, but the space between the words also gets attention. People who have experienced open dialogue sometimes report an impactful experience: new insights occur, their positions shifted, their judgments about other people changed, or they see new paths opening during the conversation.   It is important to keep the original purpose of
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