Assumptions about both the abundance of how much resource there is and the vibrancy in the value experienced set the frame within which humans interact. How people interact is also an agreement, which I will explore in this series of posts.
Using the lens of “how do the relationships interact?” to look at the five primary relationships in the three levels of perceived reality highlights three very different organizing principles. In the inner circle of harmonic vibrancy, I find the predominance of competition and the contract. In the middle circle, I find cooperative-competition and the alliance. In the outer circle, people tend to organize around collaboration and expanding invitations. What do the three levels of perceived reality show about the dominant principles organizing human interaction in each circle?
Everything people do together, whether they are aware of it or not, is influenced by the way they organize that work together. I will start with the basic questions of organization, the why, how, and what. These questions take us down the path of why people come together in the first place, the agreements people make about how to work together, and the specifics around what they will each contribute.
Why we come together
There is something that you/we want to achieve. You have a goal. Whether it is to have some friends over, to create a community, to educate kids, or to offer a new product to the world, you have a reason for creating a new group. This is the “reason for being” of a group, its organizing principle. From the very simple, short-term project to the very complex, long-term project, you have aspirations for something you want to achieve for which it seems that you need others. I suggest that you have this experience all of the time. One way to see this is to realize that almost everything you do on a daily basis, you do by yourself. You wake yourself up, you feed yourself, you move yourself through the day. You do most things by yourself. Some things you do not. For some things you engage with others. The starting point is to understand why – the reason for bringing people together.
The “goal” question of why people come together to do something is the question of effectiveness, where effectiveness is the ability to achieve a goal. Based on what they want to achieve together, they can design how they want to do that. This becomes the organizing criteria, and the arbiter used for deciding whether their combined efforts are being effective. Goals can range from very short-term, such as having lunch together or carrying a heavy object a short distance, to very long-term, such as creating a family, a company, or a nation.
How we agree to work together
You need others to achieve this goal. Most things you do alone. Some things you do require working with other people to get it done. You ask someone to help. You do this all of the time, often unaware you are doing it. You ask for help directly and indirectly, for small activities and for big activities. Directly you ask people to help you in this moment, preparing a meal or designing an event together. Indirectly you ask people to help you by providing you something. You ask farmers to help you produce food when you buy produce at the grocery store. You ask the truckers for help in getting the food from the farms to the store. You do this asking for small things, like setting the dinner table. You also do this for big things, such as running the government or a company, or deciding the energy future of the state. You experience this asking for help from others all of the time.
When you ask others to help us, you are asking them to work with you. The how of working together uses the technology of agreements. I have already spent a great amount of time exploring agreements in the relationships you have with your own self, the other, the group, nature, and spirit. The technology of agreements allows you to describe how you agree to work together or cooperate.
You experience different kinds of agreements in different groups. Some groups focus only on the things-noun level. These groups want you to do a specific job, asking for none of your deeper capacities or contributions. In these groups, you know only what others are required to do and little to nothing about their other capacities. The individuals contribute to the group what they are told to do.
Recently I went with my son to a large retail sporting goods store to buy shoes for baseball. I was talking with the kid working in the socks section about what he knew about the socks he sold. Remember that I have worked in the sock industry for a few years, so I was curious what he knew, and how he engaged the people who bought the socks. As an employee, he knew very little. He said that the store did nothing to educate him on the attributes of the different socks and how they worked differently with different shoes, based on the activity of the athlete. While we could have ended the conversation there, I delved further. He started to tell me about being an active athlete himself, specializing in snowboarding. It turns out that he has many years of experience with high-end footwear and the importance of foot health for his ability to be a great snowboarder. When I engaged that part of him, he started to bring forth his own experience in what sock attributes were important for my son’s experience. He helped us find just what my son needed. When I asked him about his work – the agreements in the workplace – he told me that he was supposed to stay in the shoe department and help people buy shoes. They gave him no training in this. Nobody ever asked him about his own experience with athletic footwear or his own athletic pursuits. To them he was cheap labor. He had no idea what other people in the store knew or what they did outside of the store. He was clear that he was supposed to just stand there and do his job, in his area. These are agreements focused purely on the inner circle of agreements in the relationship we have to our self, the other, and the group. When I began to engage more of his own knowing, his deeper capacities and experience, he instantly brought more of his experience and relationship with the other, in this case my son, to help him find the best solution for his baseball footwear needs. This is the development-verb level of agreements.
What supports our agreements
The why question defined the goal you want to achieve. The how question described the agreements you make with others to achieve that goal. The what question looks at the incentives and structures that support the agreements you make to achieve the goal. The incentives and structures explore what you agree to do, what motivates you to do that, and how to coordinate the work together. We need to understand the what from two different perspectives: the we and the I, or the group and the individual. From the perspective of the group, the what question looks at the specific work to be done. What outcomes are wanted from the individuals and what specific tasks are they to do?
From the perspective of the individual, the same what questions have a different flavor. Outcomes from the group’s perspective are the goals that motivate the individual. This repeats the next level of a whole system. The individual is both a part of a larger group, making a contribution to the group’s why, and a whole onto herself. As a system unto herself, the individual has her own why, how and what questions. The why is the motivation, the value the individual perceives in being part of the group. The how is the set of agreements of how the individual is in the five relationships with the group. The what is the understanding of the specific tasks to be done.
Motivation is the value you experience when you engage in the world. At the things-noun level, this might look like the specific needs met in the value exchange, often being expressed as money. At the development-verb level, you experience the flow of value in your life, as you engage in it more deeply. At the possibility-light level, you experience the light potential of what is possible, in me, you, and us. These are very different levels of access to the harmonic vibrancy of light that motivates you.
To work with others, you need to know what specific activity to do, what your motivation is for doing that, and how to coordinate your work with others who are doing their part. What to do is about how to direct your will – what you do with your will to act. Your motivation is the moving force behind your will. It is the catalyst for engaging the will. You need to engage it towards something. Coordination is about how to do this engaging of the will in concert with others who are engaging their wills.
 To co-operate is literally to work (operate) together (co).