Friday, May 16, 2014

Shifting systems

I fly back to Adelaide from Melbourne tomorrow, after a week here of meetings and meaningful conversations.

The strongest recurrent theme has been the challenge of change.  In particular, how can we translate doing good work (at an achievable scale) into something that shifts the system.

Stand-out messages
  • growing new ways of being must happen from the inside and in togetherness; neither works by itself (Brigitte)
  • we must meet the system where it's at (Onur)
  • nobody has a compelling narrative for scaling up collaborative practice and transform systems at larger-than-project scale
And some more flowing thoughts...

There is unanimous agreement that the work we're doing, whatever it is, does not fit 'the current system' and ways of doing things.  This is an unresolved question of mine... are we really working towards a 'new paradigm', or are we just working on different, alternative improvements to what we have?  Should we aim to transform the system to something distinctly different, or should we just find ways to improve what we have?  I still am not convinced of the need for paradigmatic shift, but I have noticed that most of us assume this

This good work has variously been described as (real) collaboration, authentic, feminine, life affirming and cocreation— and I'm sure there were a couple dozen other variants too.  I does seem though, that we'd all agree that we're working in fundamentally the same direction.  Even if we all think our way is the best way. : )
as far as I can tell, this 'thing' we're all working for is indistinguishable from the concept of cocreation that we seemed to all share at Ci2i.  In fact, the definitions of collaboration that have come up are much more cocreative than I would have thought, leaning in particular on concepts of emergence and shared creation.

I have also noticed that many of these clued-in practitioners of collaboration are working for exactly the same thing as us cocreators, simply retaining use of the word that we have shied away from thinking about the alternative future system we'd like to (co)create might be getting ahead of ourselves.  This future needs to grow and emerge.  It cannot be built.  Being too visionary might be a counter-productive imposition of the ego

In fact... it might not be possible to create a macro-scale system that reflects the values that we hold.  Even if our ways of working are an alternative paradigm or philosophy, we may be heading instead towards an integrated synthesis that balances the tension between distinct patterns of practice: On the one hand life affirming, cocreative microcosms (especially in interpersonal and group contexts where we know it works and is incredibly rich), that are destined to remain nested in fundamentally inhuman systems.  Hmm...

If this is the case, we will be able to improve our experience of participation and the efficacy of our efforts, but will the world still be f#$*ed?