Archives for Sensing the whole

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
Continue Reading

Sustainability narratives – which one willyou choose?

A shift in thinking often precedes a change in action. This process is supported by collective narratives, which, for better or worse, help people to emotionally engage and create a different future. Narratives speak to the human capability to find meaning, and consciously and collectively shape the  future. Therefore, when collective leadership decides to engage with transformative change we also need to engage with collective narratives.   Through the lens of the dimensions of the Collective Leadership Compass, narratives co-creates a future that engenders responsibility and enacts future possibilities. But narratives also touch on other principles. They further the dimension of engagement
Continue Reading

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
Continue Reading

Can power be controlled?

Humans have long been fascinated by the dynamism of free-flowing waters. Yet we have expended great effort to tame rivers for transportation, water supply, flood control, agriculture, and power generation. Poff et al, 2008, The Natural Flow Regime  Sometimes life develops as if designed by us. We feel we are in a flow. At other times, things happen that push our life into disarray. We feel we are loosing control. As we fight against feelings of powerlessness we respond by identifying problems developing and implementing a solution for its control. Control is profoundly ingrained within most existing human societies: we
Continue Reading

Patterns of Aliveness, Collaboration and a Sustainable Future

We all know a feeling of aliveness  – when we are happy, yet,  calm, when our heart resonates, when we feel most connected with life and when our humanity expands. At the same time, we are intrinsically linked to the order of life within us and around us – people, architecture, nature. We are constantly being created by this order – as much as we participate in creating this order. When we become aware of Aliveness and the role it plays in our endevours, we also become aware that co-creation works best in a collaborative space where there is “life”
Continue Reading

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
Continue Reading

Mutual support: connecting potential

We are here to support each other to grow, to develop, to thrive, and sometimes to survive. When we support each other we live our whole potential. It is not about being equal; it is about each person’s, each stakeholder’s potential to contribute to future possibilities, to the impact. Our contribution only becomes successful if other people’s contributions are also of  high quality. Mutual support is therefore serving ourselves, the other, and the whole. When we mutually support a sustainable future it greatly increases the vitality of a system of actors –  be it a team, an organization or collaborating partner institutions. Life
Continue Reading

Contextuality- Playing together for a sustainable future

The musicians in the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra has much to teach us about contextuality for sustainability. They play their compositions with three parallel levels of attention:  to their fellow-musicians and how they play as a whole,  to the quality and heartfelt intensity of their own playing, and to the music. The purpose of their  playing is to allow the utmost potential of sound to emerge from the notes. This is collective mastery! What can we learn from it? First, if players were in competition, the result would sound terrible. Second, if everybody did not bring his strong individuality to the
Continue Reading

WHOLENESS is more than seeing a collection of parts

  Sensing the whole and leading toward sustainability are closely connected. Yet, when addressing sustainability issues, we are often trained to focus on fragments of reality, on our own narrow part of a larger story and on our specialized field of expertise. This selective perception brings into focus the difference between us and others. We ask ourselves: How do we move beyond selective perception? Could we somehow connect our individual parts and achieve a sense of WHOLENESS? Or is wholeness more than a sum of its parts? Attending to these three elements heads us in the right direction: contextuality, contribution,
Continue Reading

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
Continue Reading