Impact Resilience with Network Power

“Complex systems have somehow acquired the ability to bring order and chaos into a special kind of balance. This balance point–often called the edge of chaos–is where the components of a system never quite lock into place, and yet never quite dissolve into turbulence, either. The edge of chaos is where life has enough stability to sustain itself and enough creativity to deserve the name of life,” according to author Mitchell Waldrop in Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos.  What does this mean for social systems, systems of human beings?

As the most complex system that sustains us as human beings, life’s stability is found at the interface of outcomes and development, of the already-finished state of nouns that are balanced by the becoming state of verbs.  Life’s creativity is found at the interface of development and potential, of the becoming state of verbs and the possibility state of light energy.  Finding this interface, where life is creative and manifests, evolving as some innovations work better in the ever-changing environment, is the power of healthy networks.  Embedding a process of evolutionary discovery and alignment with a deeper shared purpose scales network power into tangibilization power, where deep collaboration brings orders of magnitude greater impact and resilience.

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FREEE Energy: Use It or Lose It

All the energy you need, for whatever you are doing, is Forever Right-there in Everyone Everywhere Everyday (FREEE).  [It is free, with an extra “e” thrown in, at no extra cost.]  It is all there.  If you engage it, you use it towards the purpose you invited it to serve.  If you don’t engage it, you lose it, usually at great cost to yourself.  Engaged energy is FREEE, lost energy is not.  Lost energy comes with a cost.

This is the exact opposite of what we are usually taught.  We are told that it costs something to use energy, and that not using it costs nothing.  Let’s see.  You already have the people in the room.  You have invited these people to work with you–to co-ordinate, co-operate or co-llaborate–towards a deeper purpose that you want them to share.  The ones who are there with you showed up.  Each person generates massive, seemingly infinite, energy, on any scale we can see.  They generate this energy by their existence, whether you engage it or not.  Now you need to engage that energy.  How you engage it and how much of it you engage depend on the agreements field you have generated.  Weak agreements fields engage very little of the energy available.  Strong agreements fields engage much of the energy available.  The point is that you are completely responsible for the use or loss of this energy, as well as the benefits or costs that come with it.

There is a massive cost to not engaging that energy.  The law of the conservation of energy, aka the first law of thermodynamics, applies here as well.  You have to account for all of the energy generated.  It has to go somewhere.  Purposeful energy, that which humans generate continuously, goes to one of three purposes: (1) the invited purpose; (2) another purpose; or (3) self-preservation.  Analogously, the energy will go into the invited activity, diffused towards other activities, or dissipated as heat.  The energy generated by the people in the room that is not engaged towards the invited purpose has high costs.

If the energy is diffused towards other activities with other purposes, it disengages the people present, which recent, global studies have shown to be very expensive.  They are not actively engaged in the activity, the purpose, for which you invited them.  Just because they are in the room physically, does not mean that their energy is serving your purpose.  They are thinking about something else.  And, that is for the diffused energy towards another purpose.  The energy that is dissipated as heat comes from those in the room who are trying to serve your invited purpose, or their own, and yet the agreements field you generated does not allow either form, yours or theirs, to engage in a healthy way.  This ends up in dissipated heat, which serves as self-preservation, which can be very destructive.  You know this form of energy loss as burnout, fatigue, distress, active disengagement.  It comes with huge costs, such as the costs of turnover and presenteeism.

So, there are no extra costs to engage the energy available in the room, and there are huge costs to not engaging it.  The difference between engaging it and not engaging it is a function of the agreements field you have generated.  There are 8 guiding principles for the strength of an agreements field.  While each principle, on its own, is relatively straightforward, strong agreements fields require all 8.

  1. Is the deeper shared purpose clear and inviting?
  2. Are the people invited into the room clear about and continuously connected to the deeper purpose? Is it consciously shared on a continuous basis?
  3. Is it clear to each individual why they and everyone else is in the room?  Why their individual contribution is unique and important in the service of the deeper purpose?
  4. Is each person clear on their experience of this relationship to their own self, to the other, to the group, to the creative process, and to the creative source?
  5. Do the group’s collective agreements consciously invite, acknowledge, and engage the potential, development, and outcomes available to the group?
  6. Does the system they work in leverage the efficiency of their direct actions, the effectiveness of the feedback dynamics they interact with, and the coordination of those different dynamics towards the deeper purpose?
  7. Are the agreements, that are embedded in the impact they generate for other stakeholders, agreements that the stakeholders want to and capable of engaging with?
  8. Does the system have the capacity to engage the amount of energy it needs to generate its desired impact, towards its deeper purpose?

All the energy you need is already available, right there in the people who are already there with you.  As Einstein showed over 100 years ago, the amount of energy in a very small amount of matter is far more than we typically understand.  The energy is there, in potential.  You just have to learn to work with it.  And, if you bring it in the room, it is there, and you have to account for it.  Use it or lose it, to your own benefit or detriment.  The only thing that is not cost-free is not using it once it is there.  Said another way, it costs you greatly to not use it.  How to use it is well understood and easy to do, as millions of people demonstrate every day, everywhere around the planet.

Huge Hygge — Recommended Reading

Russell, Helen. The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country. London: Icon Books, 2015.

Hygge.  Danish for something cozy, charming, or special.  It is also the art of creating intimacy.   Author Helen Russell explores how hygge might be one of the secrets of Denmark’s perennial position in the top ranks of the happiest countries.  To understand her experience, over a year-long journey of living in Denmark, she shares many funny anecdotes of her daily life, and she uses her journalistic skills to meet and interview Danish experts in the many aspects of daily life that she explores.

She uncovers widespread attention to the environment one creates in one’s home, to being comfortable on one’s own, to being honest with and supportive of others, to respecting and supporting the many contributions people can make to society, to the creative process and getting feedback about what one is learning, and to celebrating the creativity that is everywhere, if one looks.  In ecosynomics terms, these are co-hosting the five primary relationships.  The global Agreements Health Check survey (from 124 countries) shows that as people get better at co-hosting the five primary relationships, they experience greater vibrancy, more hygge.  I highly recommend this fun, well written discovery of the secrets of living vibrantly every day, even where it is very cold.

Moving Through Time or Space, Where Does Your Energy Go?

Do you use your energy mostly for moving through space or for moving through time?  Does it matter?  Is there a purpose to the question?  Yes and yes.  It matters how the energy is used, the purpose to which you put it.

A little physics helps us see why.  Einstein’s theory of special relativity showed that as more energy goes to moving through space and less to moving through time, time seems to slow down–as velocity (distance in space over a period of time) increases, perceived time slows down.  At the extreme velocity, the speed of light, a photon does not experience time.  Conversely, the more energy goes to moving through time and less through space, it takes more time to cover a specific distance, or less space is covered in a period of time–as velocity decreases, perceived time speeds up.

Here is the part that seems to be confusing.  As time seems to slow down for the observer, more time is passing for the other, the non-observer.  Time seems to be going very slow for me, and passes more quickly for others.  We will get back to what this means in a minute.

Translating this insight from physics, we see that energy is always purposeful, meaning that energy has an attractive force, a gravity, as shown by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, a force that makes it cohere.  This energy goes into movement through time and space.  According to the founders of quantum physics, the normal understanding and use of time is obsolete.  They suggest it is more useful to understand that what we call time is actually a series of instances, in which choices are made.  Choices where something reflected the purpose, the state of the environment, the state of the organism, and a choice was made, something happened.  Lots of these instances occur in what we normally consider to be a second of time.  Energy, by definition, changes.  A choice about its changes occurs every instance.  Somehow, something makes this choice every instance.  The series of choices we experience is what we call time.  We also experience this energy as a form with extension–it extends over multiple dimensions, such as the three dimensions of length, width, and depth.  This is what we tend to think of as space, extension.  In summary, we experience energy over time (a series of choices for each instance) and space (in extension).

When we experience our energy, our purposeful energy, going into time, it goes into our processes of witnessing what is being reflected of our purpose and our own organism, and we choose, consciously or unconsciously, what to do.  When we experience our purposeful energy going into space, it goes into form-in-extension.  Our purposeful energy goes into time and space, a mix of reflector-witness-choosing and of form-in-extension.

If time seems to be slowing down, more of your purposeful energy is going into space, more into the form-in-extension, and less into reflector-witness-choosing.  When time seems to be speeding up, more of your purposeful energy is going into time, more into reflector-witness-choosing, and less into the form-in-extension.

In plain English, this means that when time seems to slow down, you might be focusing your (purposeful) energy more on the outcomes in your immediate environment.  When time seems to slow to a creep, when it takes forever for a second to pass, most of your purposeful energy might be going to your awareness of the immediate outcomes in your surroundings.  You could take this as an opportunity to be severely bored or disengaged, like in that endless meeting, or you could take this as a signal to yourself that you are not giving enough attention to your purposeful energy, your awareness, to being aware of the alignment between your purpose and your choices.

When time seems to go by very quickly, when whole spans of time seem to have passed without you being aware, most of your purposeful energy might be going to your awareness of the alignment between your purpose and your own organism’s choices.  You can take this as an opportunity to be lost in reflection–witnessing the reflection of your purpose and your organism’s choices–or you could take this as a signal to yourself that you are not being aware of what is manifesting in your immediate environment.

Maybe the reason both extremes, time goes too slow or too quick, seem to be wasteful, is that you are wasting the opportunity to choose how much of your purposeful goes towards being aware of your purpose, your environment, and your choices.  Balancing these uses of your purposeful energy allows you to tangibilize, to see what you want (purpose), what is happening outside (environment) and inside (organism), and to choose your response (form-in-extension).  When you are not doing balancing these, you give yourself signals, time goes by too fast or too slow.

You can transform your purposeful energy into an alignment of purpose, reflecting, witnessing, choosing, and extension-in-form, learning from what happens from what you saw, and adjusting what you witness.  You can move your energy through time and space, as you choose.  It matters, and it has a purpose.

Revisiting Agreements–Are Your Agreements Static-Dead or Dynamic-Living?

Most of us humans tend to act and interact as if our agreements, the guidelines for our interactions, are fixed.  If they are fixed, they are permanent, static.  Dead.  If they are fixed, then they cannot be changed.

And, if they actually are agreements, a mutual understanding, then we can decide what they are.  This means that we can change them.  They are just agreements.  They are changing, impermanent, dynamic.  Living.

If they are living, then agreements are constantly evolving, changing in content as the context changes.  If they are constantly evolving, then it would probably be a good idea to revisit them periodically.

In my own practice, I used to focus on making the best decision.  After all, I have advanced degrees in the decision sciences.  And, once I had followed a good decision making process, and made a good decision, I was done.  Complete.  On to the next decision.  A few years ago, I began to see the brilliance in “rushing to failure,” learning from trying something, making mistakes, and adjusting.  Much more interesting.  And, it was a mind shift to focus on getting to the awareness of the mistakes quicker.  While the rewards were high with this focus on failure, the fail language brought in lots of scarcity and feelings of weakness.  We were constantly asking about and focusing on our failures.  Good learning, and a bit debilitating in the language.

A couple of years ago, a colleague and I started experimenting with the practice of tangibilization.  Through the O Process, we would imagine possibilities, see a pathway of relationships and activities to manifest it, and a tangible outcome.  We would then look for the feedback in the pathway and outcomes, over time.  With this feedback, we would re-envision the possibilities, adjusting the pathways and outcomes we saw.  We were engaging an evolutionary process–learning and adjusting.  Over time, we saw that in this process we were constantly revisiting our agreements, adjusting them based on what we learned along the way.  With this realization, we shifted our language from “rushing to failure” to “revisiting our agreements.”  Now we actively seek and celebrate the feedback, with a reinforcing feeling, continuously evolving our agreements.

At first, this might seem inefficient.  Surely it is more efficient to decide once and be done.  Less time spent on process.  Right?  Back when we focused on making one decision and being done with the process, we observed that we actually ended up spending much more time on fixing the consequences of agreements that no longer worked.  This is analogous to the observation that most organizational work is spent correcting mistakes made from poor planning.  This does not mean spending endless time talking through every agreement over and over.  That IS a waste.

We found that it was far more efficient to continuously iterate the O Process, remembering the potential, pathways, and outcomes we saw, comparing those with what actually happened, and adjusting.  This is also known as the scientific process.  It turns out to be much more efficient and effective to revisit our agreements frequently, adjusting based on the feedback we received from the universe.  We learned that our agreements are dynamic, alive, so we revisit them continuously.

Energy Innovation Ecosystems in Rural Mexico

Acuña, Francisco, Guillermo Cedeño, Ramon Sanchez, Leith Sharp, John Spengler, and James Ritchie-Dunham. “Energy Innovation Ecosystems in Rural Mexico.” ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America XVIII, no. 1 (2018): 108-09.

This recently published article describes a very vibrant initiative, bringing innovative energy ecosystems to rural Mexico.  To understand the wild success of the initiative, the Institute for Strategic Clarity was invited to use the Agreements Evidence Mapping tool to understand what happened.  In essence (see figure below), by connecting (1) the low perceived value and social impact rural universities with (2) the moderate perceived value and social impact of the rural communities, (3) the academic knowledge and global network of Harvard, with (4) financial capital, they were able to generate a high perceived value and social impact energy innovation ecosystem.

Initially the rural universities are resource poor, providing theoretical, technical education with low practical social impact because of underemployment of graduates, locally. Initially the indigenous communities are rich in social capital, and poor in the financial and intellectual capital to exploit their wealth in natural capital.  The Harvard Applied Leadership in Renewable Energies Program engaged rural universities and local indigenous communities throughout Mexico, where 286 university professors and researchers proposed innovation ecosystems for 93 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that were developed and funded (e.g., wind in Oaxaca and biodiesel in Sinaloa).

A documentary and casebook detail the whole project, and the subsequent social and economic potential impact of these projects, including 953.3 MW of wind energy, 512 MW of installed capacity of photovoltaic energy, 1.36 MW of biomass electricity, 40 million liters of ethanol/year, 7.2 million liters of biodiesel/year and 9 million liters of bio-jet fuel/year. This program proved that shifting away from centralized-only thinking with low ROIC, for high-impact, economically-resilient, national renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Mexico, think massively local innovation ecosystems with a much higher, more resilient, and more equitable ROIC.  This model of social innovation is particularly relevant in the multitude of countries facing rapid rural-to-urban migration in part because of investment inequities.  The project leaders are meeting now with Mexico’s ministers of economy and social development to replicate this.

Acknowledgements.  This project includes dozens of rural, indigenous communities in Mexico, over 100 rural Mexican universities with 286 of their faculty, the Mexican Secretariat of Energy, global investors led by InTrust Global Investments LLC, and the Center for Health and the Global Environment in the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University.

 

Confusing Unison, Harmony, and High Creativity

Recent studies suggest that too much harmony or collaboration is bad, killing creativity and value-generation.  They find that too much time spent agreeing with everybody else and minimizing differences leads to lower creativity and innovation.  While they might be right, I suggest they are confusing interacting in unison with interacting in harmony.

Unison means one sound.  Monophony.  This is where everyone makes the sound, the same note.  All the same.

Harmony means an agreement of sounds.  Polyphony.  This is where everyone makes different sounds, with different notes, that combine in a specific way.

It seems to me that the studies are criticizing too much unison and too much submission.  Too much process focused on getting everybody to the lower common denominator, where they can find something that they all agree on, and then submitting to someone else’s will, in honor of the group’s health, over-processing everything.  Unison and submission lead to people shutting down their creativity, their insights into new, unique contributions they can make towards the health of the group, and the others, and themselves.

It seems to me that the studies are then suggesting that people need to find ways to efficiently bring out their best, unique contributions, together, in a way that creates new value for those participating and for those who are recipients of the efforts.  These are the definitions of harmonizing and collaborating.  Bringing out the best of each other’s unique contributions (what makes us each different), each other’s own note, in a highly efficient way that generates something new.  To do this, efficiently and effectively, requires listening to one’s own voice, to the other’s voice, and to the resulting harmonic for the whole, continuously improving all three.  Not doing so is a waste of time.  So maybe the recent studies mean to say (1) that people are mislabeling harmony and collaboration [they mean unison and submission] and (2) that too little harmony and collaboration is bad, killing creativity and value-generation.  Maybe.

10 Principles for a High-impact Life

You want to have an impact.  Your efforts are your investment.  The return on your investment is the impact.  The impact is the energy transferred, the energy that you generated transferred to someone else.

There are 10 principles for a high-impact life.  These 10 principles derive from the specific way agreements fields work.

  1. Identify your higher purpose.  Why you do what you do.  Choose to continuously ask yourself what your higher purpose is, and how it is showing up in your life.  As you get older and as your life circumstances change, your understanding of and your ability to work with your higher purpose changes.  This is the life energy that is yours to work with.
  2. Connect to your higher purpose.  Everything you do can be connected to and aligned with your higher purpose.  This is a deliberate and daily practice.  Most of us forget most of the time to connect to our higher purpose.  You can teach yourself to connect more and more continuously.  You can learn to connect more and more of what you do, all day long, to your higher purpose.  This is the purposeful energy that is yours to guide.
  3. Connect the best in others with your higher purpose.  In everything you do, you need others to bring their unique contributions, combining them with your unique contributions to achieve your higher purpose.  This is the power of the mirror that invites the best in each person to contribute to the harmonic of the energy that is yours to invite.
  4. Choose the vibrancy you experience.  Every experience you have consists in a set of relationships, with yourself, with another, with a group, with nature’s creative process, and with spirit’s source of creative energy.  Sometimes you experience low vibrancy.  Sometimes you experience high vibrancy.  When you experience higher vibrancy, you experience greater trust, greater energy, and more of your own creativity comes through, with others.
  5. Consciously choose the agreements about your interactions.  The outcomes and experiences we have are driven by our interactions.  Our interactions are determined by a set of agreements.  We unconsciously accept most of these agreements.  We consciously choose some of them.  We can choose to see and make conscious the agreements we want.  Agreements that engage healthier interactions, leading to better experiences and outcomes.  This is the power of the chooser, the alignment of intention, attention, emotion, and volition.
  6. Strategically leverage your actions.  You can simply do something.  Or you can do things in a way that is much more efficient, getting far more output for the same input.  You can also work with the underlying dynamics of a system to get far greater outcomes from your actions.  And, you can coordinate the work of others with you, in the influencing of multiple underlying dynamics, to shift the behavior of a whole system.  This is the dynamic energy of systems. The power of choosing the form your energies will take as they are transformed for others to receive.
  7. Connect and communicate virally. You can connect with others in ways that they can work with the purpose and level of your agreements, using the power of networks to greatly scale the number of people connecting to your higher purpose.  To connect with others, you need to understand what agreements they are able to see and work with, what they are able to grow into, the higher purpose they serve.  Knowing this, you can use this power of connection, of extension in space to others, of inviting others into contributing to a shared higher purpose.
  8. Increase the resilience of your contributions.  Your ability to continually impact the world, towards your higher purpose depends on a balance in the resources you need and the resource you have.  That determines your resilience.  You can be ever-more efficient in the resources you need to have the impact.  You can also increase your access to the resources you have through alignment of principles 1-7.  You can increase your impact resilience, the power of extending your impact over time.
  9. Define the reach of your efforts.  Your impact is the energy transferred from your efforts to others.  How you define the energy received by others defines the impact you can have.  Your impact is a function of (1) how many people you transfer to the energy too, (2) the geographies you can reach, and (3) the continuity of that reach.  Everyone everywhere everyday.  That is the greatest impact.  Is the impact continuous?  Does it reach people in all of the different cultural, social, economic, political geographies you want?  Does it reach all of the people in each of those geographies?  This is the power of system definition, the clarity of who is to be impacted and how they are impacted, the power of access to impact for those often marginalized.
  10. Align principles 1-9.  Most people tend to pay little to know attention to these 10 principles for a high-impact life.  Very few pay attention and align them.  It requires paying attention.  Attention to their deeper purpose, to their inner experience, to the outer structures they engage in, and to the impact their life has.  That is a lot of paying attention.  Is it hard?  In that it takes more attention.  Maybe.  Is it harder to have a low-impact life?  In the fatigue, boredom, and lack of purpose.  Maybe.  It is a choice.  A choice to work with each of these principles, and a choice to align them, towards a much higher impact.  To work towards strengthening the field of agreements.  This is the power of alignment, of choice.

To increase the return on your investment of effort, the impact of your life, you can choose to work with and align these 10 principles of agreements fields.  Towards a high-impact life.  A choice that starts with your own purpose.

The Ooos of Impact

Impact is the energy transferred, from one thing to another.  You can look at impact in three ways.  The 3 “O’s” of impact.  Outputs, outcomes, and opportunities.

Outputs. If you focus only on the noun level of agreements, in ecosynomic terms, you can only see your outputs.  You are only focused on the specific outputs, the observable nouns, of the resources in your immediate environment.  You might be able to make assumptions about the impact of your outputs, but you cannot see the impacts, because that would require seeing over space in your relationships with others and over choices made in time.  These over-space-time capacities are not allowed in noun-only thinking.  The math of noun-only thinking integrated out movement over space and time to see how much noun is available.  You can see your outputs, as you react to what is happening.  You have some impact (X).

Outcomes.  If you focus on the verb and noun levels of agreements, in ecosynomic terms, you can see the outcomes of your activities, as they impact others over time.  At this level, you can see the  outputs, the activities, and the outcomes–a much richer picture than just the outputs.  You can learn from your outcomes, improving your activities to get better outcomes.  You can multiply your impact (nX).

Opportunities.  If you focus on the light, verb, and noun levels of agreements, in ecosynomic terms, you can see the opportunities, in what is being learned from previous activities and from the new possibilities emerging.  The intersection of what was learned from the outcomes of past activities and the emerging possibilities is where you find opportunities, potentials that you can experiment with, finding pathways of relationships with which to manifest the potentials.  At this level, you can see the outputs, the activities, the outcomes, the lessons learned, the emerging potentials, and the opportunities to manifest them.  You can evolve your learning and your activities, asking new questions, scaling the impact you can have (X^n).

When you look at impact, you can choose to look at outputs, outcomes, or opportunities.  You can have an impact, multiply your impact, or scale your impact.  What is the return on your impact investment?  Is the investment for opportunities much greater than for outcomes or outputs?  Which is more efficient, more effective?  It is a choice, a choice that depends on your agreements.

A hat tip to HA for the distinction of outcomes and outputs.

Who Controls Your Impact?

The impact of your efforts is the amount of energy transferred, from the force generated by your efforts, to something or someone else.  There are five elements in your impact.  They each influence your efforts and subsequent impact.  The question is, who is controlling these elements?  You?  Consciously? Unconsciously? Someone else?  Consciously?  Unconsciously?

The five elements are:

  1. the purpose that determines the direction and magnitude of your efforts
    • why you are doing it and the intensity with which you do it
    • Is it your purpose, that you arrived at consciously, or a purpose that you accepted unconsciously?
  2. the framing of the efforts
    • your understanding of what to do, towards that purpose
    • Is it an understanding that you have developed and tested for yourself, or a “should” that someone else placed on you?
  3. what moves you
    • your feelings about your purpose and efforts
    • Do your feelings reflect your experience of the alignment of your purpose and your efforts, or are your feelings fed by someone else’s fuel, something they persuaded you to do?
  4. outputs of your efforts
    • choices made about what specific efforts to take
    • Are you choosing your efforts consciously, or are your actions guided by someone else?
  5. outcomes
    • the results, in the past, of your efforts
    • Are you choosing how you assess the outcomes of your efforts, or are you accepting someone else’s definition of successful outcomes?

I observe three ways that people engage these five elements of impact.

  1. Most of the Time” Impact
    • Most of the time, most of us human beings seem to be accepting someone else’s definitions of all five elements–someone else is completely in control of our impact.
  2. “Some of the Time” Impact
    • Some of the time, some of us seem to be in control of some of these elements–the rest of the elements are either under the control of our own subconscious or someone else.
  3. Choice” Impact
    • Every now and then, someone shows us how to integrate all five elements, at the same time, into one choice, a choice to completely control their impact.  They choose their purpose, their understanding of how to frame their efforts towards their purpose.  They experience whether there is alignment between their purpose, their experience, and the outcomes they achieve.  They adjust the choices they make about their efforts, along the way, learning from what increases impact in any given context. And, they choose how to define success, determining how they assess what actually happened from their efforts.

It seems that we Homo lumens are designed to be able to choose the outcomes, experience, interactions, and agreements we want.  Most of us do not, most of the time, letting someone else choose for us.  And, we are completely capable of making that choice, to control our impact–the energy we transfer to another through our efforts–for ourselves and by ourselves.  It is a choice.