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.

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What If You Could Build The Life You Dream

This past weekend, my wife took me to the Tiny House Fest Vermont.  A panel on “Good Design for All” included four architects working in the tiny-house space: John Connell, Mackenzie Stagg, Bill Austin, Bryan Louisell.  One of the questions they explored had an ecosynomic twist.  When looking at the built environment for human residence, there are sheetrock-box shells, living-space interiors, and memory-home life-you-dream.  Commenting on the examples on-site at the fest and in the examples shared, the four architects described what we would call agreements about residence as:

  • just-noun, focus on the outcomes.  Build me a cost-efficient shell, which the panelists observed seems to often end up in sheetrock boxes.  Inexpensive boxes.
  • verb-and-noun, focus on the development of capacities, relationships, and the outcomes.  Build an experience with me, a space where I live, that is also cost efficient.  Beautifully crafted, customized homes.
  • light-and-verb-and-noun, focus on the potential, development, and outcomes.  Build the life I dream, a memory space, that is also an experience and cost efficient.  Living creativity that I creatively live in.

The author of Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir, Dee Williams, suggested, in an earlier session, that the questions you ask about your life, how you experience it, and the residence you build are all agreements.  You can live in a box, an experience, or the life you dream.

 

When 10×10=1,000,000 — 4 Examples of Coupling Social and Technical Innovation

People continuously develop amazing technical innovations: urban agriculture; CRISPR; drones, blockchain; electric cars; work on Mars; language translation.  On all fronts, technology is bringing more abundant solutions.  On a scale of 1 to 10, these technical innovations are 10s.

People also continuously come up with social innovations: crowdsourcing; online platforms; sociocracy; hubs;; sacred hospitality; innovation labs; global action networks.  People are experimenting everywhere with ways to interact more abundantly.  On a scale of 1 to 10, these social innovations are 10s.

While these technical innovations and these social innovations are 10s, bringing 10X impacts to the problems they address, they are small compared to the 1,000,000X solutions people are finding when they combine the two: technical and social innovations.  Something very interesting is happening in this space where people are coupling technical and social innovation.  As part of the Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience, we are very exited about these coupled innovations, finding more of them, and learning with them about what they are doing.  Here are four cases we have found.

  1. Innovation Ecosystems in Mexican Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency.  Technical innovations in energy and finance.  Social innovations in connecting innovation ecosystems.
    • Equitable engagement of the natural and social capital of rural indigenous communities in Mexico with global financial, social, and environmental metrics, and intellectual capital leads to: (1) large-scale carbon emission reduction through renewable energy and energy efficiency; (2) equitable access to energy efficiency and renewable energy; and (3) locally generated economic wealth.
    • See the documentary of this initiative that engaged 286 university professors and researchers from rural universities and local indigenous communities throughout Mexico, leading to 93 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
  2. Fostering Local Wellbeing in South Africa.  Technical innovations in complementary currencies and youth video documentaries.  Social innovations in building local capacity to develop an evolving collective narrative through youth ambassadors and videography, coupled with locally controlled complementary currencies to fund local wellbeing.
    • A two-year long, University of Cape Town African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) research project that took place in two South African municipalities – the Greater Kokstad Municipality in KwaZuluNatal, and the Bergrivier Municipality in the Western Cape, from August 2014 – September 2016. The project engaged out-of-work, out-of-school local youth – the FLOW Ambassadors – to build both individual and community capacity to thrive and innovate in the face of the growing challenges of climate change, resource depletion and inequality.
    • See many of the videos describing this journey in two townships.
  3. Global Anti-Corruption Coalition.  Technical innovations in measuring corruption and in national anti-corruption, pro-transparency policies.  Social innovations in interweaving global policy and attention with local action, across 120 countries, giving a voice to the people seeing corruption and to those affected by corruption.
    • Fighting corruption around the world since 1993.  “We’ve fought to put in place binding global conventions against corruption. We’ve held governments and companies to account, exposing the corrupt and dodgy deals (saving more than US$2 billion in the Czech Republic alone). We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people to take a stand” (https://www.transparency.org/impact).
    • See an Impact Report describing many examples of how people are changing the global discourse and outcomes around corruption, one place at a time.
  4. Portable Solar-Powered Stoves.  Technical innovations in light-weight, solar-powered cookers.  Social innovations in giving free-energy, portable cooking to the global poor, in dozens of countries.
    • Saving lives from indoor toxic smoke from stoves with solar-powered, portable stoves that cost nothing in fuel to run.
    • See videos about the innovations.

Four examples of massively impactful interventions, coupling technical and social innovations to have a much larger impact, orders of magnitude larger.  These technical-AND-social innovators are discovering that either innovation alone–only technical or only social–is not enough.  Coming up with a great technical innovation that stays within the previous social form tends to have only local and limited success in transformative impact resilience.   Likewise, a social innovation in how people interact with the same technology also tends towards the 10X impacts: far less than the impact resilience available when there is an innovation in the what, who, how, why, when, and where–in the technical and the social dimensions.  Innovations where 10X x 10X can equal 1,000,000X.

Shocking News! How We Treat Other Beings Might Influence What We Find

Connecting three dots.

  1. Vast amounts of people, globally, are disengaged at work.
  2. Some people are highly engaged at work, and get far better results, sustainably.
  3. Treating lab animals poorly seems to be decreasing experimental reproducibility of science.

In a piece just out in the prestigious academic journal ScienceStanford University researcher Joseph Garner suggests, “We’re trying to control these animals so much, they’re no longer useful…If we want animals to tell us about stuff that’s going to happen in people, we need to treat them more like people.”  Seeing how most people treat other people in the workplace (see earlier reference to the vastly disengaged workforce), maybe these scientists are arguing that people should treat lab animals better than most people treat people.

If the challenge with lab animals is how to ensure that the animals being tested are in similar conditions, to maximize reproducibility, thus the desire to minimize the number of variables in their living environment, might the challenge with how to treat people also extend beyond energy-depleting cubicle farms?

If nobody had ever tried to figure out how to treat lab animals well AND get good, reproducible results, and if nobody had ever tried to figure out how to celebrate the creative contributions of every individual in a group, then we would really be in deep trouble.  What to do?  Fortunately, there are many people who are figuring this out, and they have been for decades.  We just need to find them and to understand what they are doing.  This is the next frontier for science, at least with people.  How do we need to understand human interactions and human agreements to be able to find, study, and share what those on the forefront are learning.  They experience what we want to experience.  Let’s find them.

The Future Is Already Here

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed,” said cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson.

Prolific management author Peter Drucker observed, in October 1989 in The Economist, “The trends that I have described..are not forecasts (for which I have little use and scant respect); they are, if you will, conclusions.  Everything discussed here has already happened; it is only the full impacts that are still to come. I expect most readers to nod and to say, ‘Of course’.  But few, I suspect, have yet asked themselves: ‘What do these futures mean for my own work and my own organisation?'”

McGill University professor Elena Bennett has found over 500 vibrant social initiatives, which her lab describes as “seeds.” “Seeds are existing initiatives that are not widespread or well-known. They can be social initiatives, new technologies, economic tools, or social-ecological projects, or organisations, movements or new ways of acting that..appear to be making a substantial contribution towards creating a future that is just, prosperous, and sustainable.”

Through the Institute for Strategic Clarity‘s fieldwork in 39 countries and survey research in 124 countries over the past decade, my colleagues and I have identified 457 highly vibrant groups.  We have worked with 149 of them.

The point is that the seeds of our future are already here.  People are figuring out how to live and interact in ways that are more consistent with their own values, their own deeper shared purpose, developing energy-enhancing solutions that result in much greater impact resilience.  The Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience (MEDIR), working with community leaders, academic institutions, networks, and consultancies around the globe, is (1) identifying these seeds of the future that are already here, and (2) developing agreements field mapping (pactoecographic) frameworks, lenses, and processes to understand what people all over the world are learning about making vibrant, energy-enhancing, culturally-relevant choices within their local contexts.  Learning with and from people who are already figuring out parts of the “how to” can accelerate our capacity to find high impact-resilience solutions, solutions that work for everyone, everywhere in our systems, everyday.  That future that we prefer is already here.  The task now is to find it.

Really Real–What You Know About What Is Already Born, An Ecology of Nature

You have superpowers.  You share this with some people, and not with a lot of others.  You can see or sense things that many others don’t seem to see or sense. The question is not whether this happens at all, or whether it only happens to a few people, everyone has some form of these.  It is natural.  The question becomes, what is natural, what is nature, what is the ecology of nature we live in, and that we each seem to have the ability to access in different ways?

Here are two ways of entering into an understanding of this nature; what you already know about what is already here.  Let’s start with nature.  The word nature comes from the Latin nasci “to be born.” So this is an ecology–the relationships of organisms with their surroundings and each other–of what is born.  A system of what is real.  A system of dimensions of reality that are always present, in everything.  What do you know about what is already born?

One way to look at this is through your experience.  You experience creative thoughts, insights.  They seem to come from somewhere.  Some people are better at knowing how and where to access them, on a sporadic or more continuous basis.  Possibilities are there for us to access.  There are specific ways that groups of us see how to manifest possibilities.  It seems that each group of people develops its own way of making meaning out of experience and of finding particular pathways to manifest those possibilities.  We often call this a culture.  You experience the difference in these cultures when you move from one group to another, whether meeting people in another town, another discipline, another country.  Some people are better at seeing the nuances in culture, and others at moving across cultures.  You experience outcomes, nouns, things that seem to be “already completed.”  These are forms that we see, which we can use for other purposes.  A piece of paper, an apple, a profit.  Something that, for an instant, is here now, a noun.  These forms that we can see and engage with also change over time.  Technical and social innovations constantly produce new and obsolete forms.  Some people, such as designers and artists, are able to see forms in possibilities and how to shape them.  A smart phone, the internet, speed dates, slaves, feudalism.  New forms come, old forms go.

You experience extension over space and time.  A fabric in which we live.  Some of us perceive these dimensions in very subtle ways, some perceive over great spans of spacetime, and some of us experience the expanse of spacetime more unconsciously.   You experience movement through space and time.  Some of us are more subtle in our awareness of this movement and some more expansive.  You experience the ability to witness, to experience that something is happening.  You experience this as learning, as change, as evolution.  You are not the same person as ten years ago, or as one year ago, or even as one hour ago.  Things have changed.  Some people are very attuned to this evolutionary process, the cyclic spiral of coming back to the same experience from a new place in spacetime, seeing it anew.

You experience things in their reflections.  We perceive things in their reflection off of something else.  We do not see light: we see the reflection of light off of something else.  Psychologists suggest that we also learn about ourselves by seeing ourselves reflected off of others.  Some people are very aware of these reflections, experiencing very subtle dimensions of what is happening in the reflections off surfaces, off of faces, in body gestures.  You experience form and direction.  Something pulls you in life, to other people, to your avocation.  It is an attraction, a calling, a purpose.  Most people feel the attraction, the pull, and respond to it, consciously and unconsciously, all of the time.  Some people are highly attuned to this attractive force, to recognizing it, naming it, and inviting others into engaging with it.  You experience energy.  Whether it is the energy of life that sustains us, the energy in a relationship or an activity, the electricity in life, or the lack of energy in many groups, we sense it.  Some people are finely adjusted to different forms of energy, able to synch with it or be highly affected by its presence or the lack of it.  You experience love.  Whether it is the love of another person, what you do, a place, an animal, an activity, nature or spirit, you experience it.  Some people are deeply moved by this love, orienting their lives to its expression.

Ten properties or dimensions of nature that are present in everything always, some of which you access more consciously, more readily, than others.  They are all there, all of the time, properties if you will of what is already born, of nature, of your reality.  Whether you access them frequently or infrequently is more a question of your awareness and your practice.  They are there, so they are available, always.

Another way to look at what is already born, what is real, is through physics (from Greek for the knowledge of nature), which has developed supersymmetric string theory.  Through the math of physics, attempting to develop a theory that explains the phenomenon we experience, physicists have come up with 10+ dimensions of reality.  The first three dimensions are length, height, and depth.  The fourth dimension is time.  These first four constitute the spacetime fabric we experience.  The fifth dimension is a different expression of the same 4-dimensional spacetime, where other outcomes, cultures, and possibilities come into being.

The sixth dimension starts with the same initial conditions as our reality, allowing for a plane of different expressions of 4-dimensional space.  The seventh dimension starts with the same universal constants, allowing for different initial conditions.  The mirrors or reflections are constant, and the witnessing forms of evolution vary.  The eighth dimension starts with different universal constants.  Energy still reflects, but is witnessed in different ways.

The ninth dimension is a plane of all the different laws of physics possible, with different universal constants and different initial conditions.  Pure energy.  The tenth dimension starts with all possible reasons for existence of all possible forms, with different expressions of energy or not energy, other purposes, other pulls, the ultimate reason for existence.  After that, there is the before existence, the primordial (from the Latin primordium for the first beginning), the creative force.  Existence comes after or from this force.  

Each of these dimensions described by physics seems to relate to the dimensions of reality we experience, as described above.  Adding these dimensions up, I experience that I exist.  I have form that extends over space.  I evolve over time.  I witness my experience.  I co-create my experience.  I form the pull to love.  I am love and energy.  Subtracting these dimensions, I also feel the pull of intention, I see the calling, I experience a call, I experience change, and I am here now.

So, as beings of nature, we all experience all of these dimensions of reality, of nature, all of the time.  This means that they are part of us, part of everything in and around us, always.  The trick is to know how to work with these dimensions.  Each of us seems to be wired, whether through evolution, mutation, or curiosity, to be able to work directly with some of these dimensions more so than others.  And, there they are.  Available to all of us all of the time, if we want.  Part of what is already here, already born, and we already knew that.

iCo–The Power of Co-hosting

Colleagues in the global Vibrancy community have been working for many years on the concept of co-hosting.  We have found it to be a very powerful way of inviting and leading much greater impact resilience.

First of all, what do we mean by co-hosting?  We started with the analogy of a party.  Are we holding a party, like a meeting, where we are trying to lift the whole thing by ourselves?  It’s heavy, because in the holding gesture we are trying to manage the whole and each of the interactions of the part.  Surely you have been to a party or a committee meeting where you were micromanaged.  How was it?  We realized that we liked parties that were hosted more than parties that were held by someone.  The host tended to create an environment for a fun party, guide us periodically with food, music, or occasional introductions, generally leaving us to our own devices.  By looking for great hosting, we began to notice experiences that were even better than being hosted, where we were invited to be co-responsible for the experience and the outcomes.  We were invited to be co-hosts, hosting tougher, with all of us being responsible.  That is when we started to play with co-hosting.

When we look at co-hosting through the four lenses of the agreements evidence map–the economic, political, cultural, and social lenses–we begin to see a coherent set of practices that we have observed in very vibrant groups that achieve very high levels of impact resilience.

Co-investing.  Through the economic lens, we see co-investing.  What are the light, verb, noun resources we each bring to our interactions with each other?  When we bring all of who we are and all that we can see to the game, we bring potential, development, and outcomes.  We each bring something.  I do not contract you to bring only the capacities you already have, rather I invite you into investing with me, co-investing, everything you bring and everything I bring.  We have found the co-investing gesture to dramatically change our agreements with each other and with the organizations and communities we engage with in our work.  We have begun to measure the outcomes of co-investing by assessing the return on impact-resilience co-investment–the increased return on our investment, in terms of greater impact and resilience from lower costs of scarcity achieved through more powerful agreements.

Integrated conversations.  Through the political lens, we see integrated conversations.  Our colleagues at THORLO call them ICCs, for integrated collaborative conversations.  With decision making and enforcement based on all five primary relationships, who decides and enforces–the political lens–depends completely on the specific relationship-context.  Is it a decision for the self, for the other, for the group, for the creative, tangibilization process, or for the source of creativity?  They each co-exist within an integrated conversation, each with their own principles and responsibilities.  In highly vibrant integrated conversations, we find people contribute freely, interact freely and with mutual responsibility, with the responsibility to participate fully, respecting, witnessing, and learning in the creative process, looking for the sources of creativity everywhere.  Doing this turns out to be easy, very practical, and highly engaging.

Deeper shared purpose.  Through the cultural lens, we see that people are united by a deeper shared purpose.  This deeper shared purpose is what brings us all together, in any specific circumstance, whether we are aware of it or not.  Being clear on what that deeper shared purpose is turns out to be very powerful, as it taps into the deeper values that guide our interactions and invite our greater commitment and contributions.  We have found that by being explicit about the outcomes and experience we expect from our interactions, we are able to consciously choose agreements that align with these deeper value and the ethical principles that guide our interactions.

Collaboration.  Through the social lens, we see that people design their interactions for segregation, for flocking, or for collaboration.  In collaboration we are united, each necessary for our unique contributions to achieving the whole that we all want and need each other to achieve.   While many people say they are collaborating, we find they actually mean something very different.  We have found processes for inviting in and presencing collaboration, which we have synthesized with the O Process. In collaboration, we have found that people are able to continuously evolve their agreements by witnessing what is happening at every step of the creative tangibilization process, from seeing potential, and seeing pathways to manifest that potential, to seeing the outcomes from those pathways.  All an experiment in multiple levels of perceived reality, learning and evolving along the way, a process we now call tangibilization.

In looking at our experience of co-hosting, we now see through the 4 lenses that successful co-hosting requires a coherent set of practices that integrate co-investing, integrated conversations, deeper shared purpose, and collaboration, as four different ways of seeing one experience, that of co-hosting.  When the evidence in the agreements evidence map shows that one of these is at a lower level of agreements, then the co-hosting set is not coherent.  A high level of co-hosting requires coherence of all 4 at the same level of agreements.  While this seems complex at first, in practice it is not.  It is a matter of holding oneself to these principles, leading to a much more vibrant experience and much better outcomes.  Greater impact resilience.

A colleague told me the other day that she thought of herself as a “co” person, because she found herself constantly working in collaboration and co-investment as a co-host.  A very powerful way to invite each of us to be at our best, making our best contributions in our interactions.  Maybe that makes her an iCo.

What Happens When We “Go It Alone” In Complex Systems?

While the need to collaborate seems obvious to many of us who play in the multi-stakeholder, complex-systems space, most people still do not–even many of the “systems thinkers” I have met.  Some say that collaboration is just too hard, while others say that they collaborate, when they don’t.  What they say might sound like collaboration, but when you look at the underlying agreements, you see that they are not.

So what?  Is collaboration just a “nice” thing to do?  Or is there a real “cost” to not collaborating?   Does collaboration bring possible benefits or does the lack of collaboration directly decrease the impact and resilience of large-scale efforts?  In 2016 professors from Stanford, Harvard, and UC Boulder published their study of the state of the science and practice of sustainable social-environmental systems in their book Pursuing Sustainability (2016 Princeton Univ Press).  They provide such an eloquent and brief survey of examples of the unintended consequences of not having a systemic understanding across space (multiple stakeholders) and time (multiple generation), that I quote it in full.

“The new ‘water closets’ of early nineteenth century London achieved their purpose of ridding houses and their adjoining alleys of foul-smelling human wastes.  But by conveying these untreated wastes into Thames River, they inadvertently poisoned the city’s principal source for drinking water.  The innovation of CFCs greatly enhanced society’s ability to provide safe refrigeration of food, but through a perversely complex chain of unforeseen connections it also put the world at risk by causing depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer.  With the introduction of modern technology into the headworks of Nepal’s irrigation system, it indeed worked better at controlling water.  However, because the system was under the control of new technology and nonlocal managers, the local farmers lost their incentive to cooperate with one another, which led to a decay of overall system productivity.  Numerous additional cases can be drawn from today’s headlines–for example, the unintended effects on food prices of government subsidies to promote biofuels over fossil fuels” (pp 63-64).

While we humans are not yet capable of perfectly modeling and predicting the behavior of complex systems or how to intervene in them, a practice of collaborative study, reflection, and purposeful experimentation is far superior to going it alone, and assuming that you know how everyone else will respond or that it does not matter.

How Co-hosting Influenced My Leadership Approach — 14 European Leaders Share Their Experiences

My colleagues Ana Claudia, Christoph, and I recently shared, in a series of 4 blogposts, what we at Vibrancy and the Institute for Strategic Clarity learned, as co-investors with BUILD UPON and the European Climate Foundation, about: (1) co-hosting collaboration; (2) realizing the deeper shared purpose; (3) measuring impact resilience; and (4) scaling impact.

In this blogpost we want to share what leaders of the BUILD UPON team, from across Europe, learned on how to effectively ‘co-host’ large-scale cross-sector collaboration,  In the following set of video interviews, we explored how their application of the co-hosting principles over six months in their own specific contexts had changed their leadership approaches.

Watch the 3 – 4 minute videos here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqKLcbOXltc&list=UUba8q8uz9c3e1r7Fm5eXc7A

Agreements of Transformation — Research with 22 Leaders Across 18 Countries

This blog highlights insights from research into the agreements of transformation.  This research with 22 people across 18 countries on 3 continents was supported by the Institute for Strategic Clarity and the UBA, the German Environmental Protection Agency.

CONTEXT

Individuals and groups in different cultures face situations of change in fundamental agreements on a daily basis, addressing complex and large-scale social issues, as well as daily dysfunctional interactions.  We wanted to understand and describe why people respond to these issues by taking on societal-scale transformations, and how they do it.

THE RESEARCH

A team of interviewers at the Institute for Strategic Clarity invited 22 professionals from around the globe who met a diverse set of criteria to be interviewed for and engage in this research project.

•We asked them to “Reflect on a situation, of which you have been part, where you experienced a change at a fundamental level and basic assumptions in a group (e.g. institution, organization, network) or your area of impact (field, industry, sector, region etc.)?“

•Transformation is defined as: “Involving structural changes and shifts in systemic as well as underlying assumptions in order to change how the components in a system relate to one another, thus achieving fundamental change in relationships, systems boundaries, governing variables, actions and strategies as well as outcomes and consequences.“

METHOD

The team, led by Christoph Hinske, engaged 22 practitioners in a 60-minute, semi-structured, dialog-based, expert interview.  The interviews were then analyzed with narrative-based agreements evidence map to find agreements in a simple but robust way in the practices, structures and processes described during the interviews.

PRELIMINARY RESULTS

The interviewees indicated that they achieved transformation by starting with an assumption of abundance of resources, creating experiences of higher vibrancy, and organizing in a way that they achieved greater harmony in their interactions with others.

  • “Conversation partners shared that money and other resources were often perceived to be limited, but never as scarce.“
  • “Decisions and enforcements (un)consciously strengthen the primary relationships.“
  • “People are in such processes because they want to exponentially increase what they value most.“
  • “Societal scale transformation is a journey into the unknown, framed by a ‘psychologically safe’ support structure, in which members enable each other to find ways to walk into the future they see together.”

You can find out more about the research and its findings in the following sources: