4Gen — Bringing Forth the Best of 4 Generations of Leadership — Recommended Readings

Conley, Chip. Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder. New York: Currency, 2018.

Great innovations.  They always come to people when they are in their 20s.  The brilliant wunderkind.  No wait, some of those society-changing innovations came to people in their 40s.  The mastermind.  Oh, and some big-system changes came to people in their 60s.  The philosopher-king.  Then there were those great innovators in their 80s.  The synthesizer.  So, which is the greater generation?  Maybe all of them, each with a different kind of contribution to make.  Maybe it is a difference in kind of contribution, more than a difference in degree of contribution.  It is not that one generation makes more or better innovations, rather that they make different kinds of innovations.

In the recommended book above, hotelier Chip Conley shares his experience in shifting from being the wunderkind-to-mastermind at his own successful company to being an elder philosopher-king at Airbnb.  He highlights what the younger generation brings that he does not, what he brings that the younger folks do not, and how those can meld together into superior value-creating innovation, an intergen approach.

From an ecosynomic perspective, the political question of who decides comes to the front for consideration.  As I explored in a previous post, each generation might have something unique to contribute to innovation.  From this perspective, each generation tends to access and work with power differently.  Each form of power is critical to the power of the whole.

  • Power sensors, typically in the beginning of their careers, have direct experience in direct-contact, functional areas.  They are uniquely aware of how to see what is happening now and on the periphery of a social system.
  • Power brokers, typically 1-2 decades into their careers, have direct experience in managing functional areas and relating with other areas.  They are uniquely aware of how to relate across different perspectives and goals.
  • Power holders, typically in the last 15 years of their employment career, have direct experience in designing and enforcing inter-functional structures.  From this perspective, they are uniquely aware of how to coordinate multiple, differing perspectives towards shared goals.
  • Power formers, typically in retirement, have direct experience in taking an advisory overview of the whole, uniquely aware of how to manifest specific outcomes within complex dynamics, across multiple incentives and over time.

Ecosynomic research suggests that each generation potentially brings something unique and critical to decision making in deep collaboration.  And, that is not how people in any generation today typically see people from other generations.  They could.  It is a choice.

Chip Conley shows how to start an “intergen” practice.  I recommended reading his book.

4 Kinds of Circle Meetings: Different Forms with Different Results

Lots of people say they “sit in circle.”  While sitting in circle is an ancient practice, from quality circles to check-in circles, sitting together in circle has become a common practice.  Two of the key reasons given for forming a circle together are that it gets rid of hierarchy, no head of the table, which promotes collaboration.  When people say they are forming a circle, what do they mean?  I suggest there are actually four different things people mean by this.  They are completely different, and often confused.  Different in form and different in results.

What is a circle?  A circle has points-nodes, links, and a center.  The nodes are linked and the same distance from the common center, the circumcenter.

Node-only “circles”.  You know you are experiencing a node-only circle when everyone in the circle tells their own, completely independent story.  While you are talking, they are thinking about their own story.  While you might have heard each person speak, they each spoke to their own thing, with no connections to a common purpose, and no acknowledgement or support of what others shared.  Technically, the creativity comes only through each node in the circle.  That is not a circle: it is a set of monads–independent units.  In ecosynomic terms, this is design for segregating energy into separate units, which is characteristic of outcome-only or noun thinking.  While it might look like a circle, based on the position of the chairs or the shape of the table, it is actually a bunch of independent nodes with no links or common purpose.  And it feels that way. You speak your piece.  They each speak their piece. The only creativity experienced comes through each node and is only for that specific node–no sharing.  When people say they are forming this kind of “circle,” the key benefit is getting to hear yourself speak.

Link-node “circles”.  You are sitting in a link-node circle when people pay attention to what you are saying, supporting you and curious about what you have to share.  You listened to what they had to say, and your listening and inquiry supported them in delving deeper into their sharing.  Technically, the creativity comes in through the individual’s sharing and through the supportive inquiry–through the node and the link.  That is still not a circle: it is a dyad, two linked nodes.  In ecosynomic terms, this is design for flocking energy, for cooperating, which is characteristic of development-and-outcome or verb-noun thinking.  While it might look like a circle, it is a bunch of nodes with temporary links, with no common center, no common purpose.  The key benefits are that you share your piece, and that others help you see more into what you are sharing, while you are sharing.

Center-link-node “circles”.  You are sitting in a center-link-node circle when you are invited to share your own, uniquely creative contribution to the central purpose of the group forming the circle.  You listen for what each person has to share, you inquire to support them in bringing out their unique contribution, and you listen for how each and all of the contributions support what is in the center of the circle, the group’s deeper shared purpose.  Technically, the creativity flows into the group through the node, the links, and the center.  This is a circle, minimally a triad with a circumcenter.  In ecosynomic terms, this is design for uniting energy, for collaborating, which is characteristic of potential-and-development-and-outcome or light-verb-noun thinking.  The key benefits are that you make your contribution, with the support of others, to a deeper shared purpose.

Double-vortex “circles”.  You are sitting in a double-vortex circle when you experience the simultaneous evolutionary pull to refine your connection to a deeper shared purpose and the pull to refine how you are manifesting clear outcomes of the will you give towards a future you love.  You are in the flow, the resonance field of being in service.  You listen for what each person has to share, you support them in this inquiry, towards a shared purpose that is continuously deepening as you get feedback in outcomes.  The pull towards purpose and the pull towards outcomes, a double vortex which holds the resonance field where you transform potentials into probabilities into outcomes.  Technically, the creativity flows into the group through each node, each link, the center, the vortex of the pull to deeper shared purpose, and the vortex of the pull to manifestation.  In ecosynomic terms, this is design for sacred hospitality, for evolutionary co-tangibilizing.  This design focuses on the alignment of the in-finite creative energy of the pull of purpose and the creative input of feedback from reality given through what actually happened, the outcomes, and the creative input of what is being experienced in the nodes, links, and circumcenter.  The key benefits are that you are contributing with others to an ever-evolving purpose, in service to a deeper calling with greater outcomes.

Where is the center?  Another way to distinguish the different kinds of circles is to see where you experience the center of the circle.  In nodes-only circles, the center of intention and attention is only within each node.  In link-node circles, the center of intention and attention is within each link and each node.  In center-link-node circles, the center is within the circumcenter and each link and each node.  In double-vortex circles, the center is in the in-finite alignment of the field, and the circumcenter and the link and the node.  Said another way, the center of the circle of a monad is within the monad.  The center of the circle of a dyad is within the link.  The center of the circle of a triad is in the circumcenter.  The center of a double vortex is in the in-finite alignment of the field.  While they might all be called circles by someone, where you experience the center of the circle makes all the difference.  Only in the node.  In the node and the link.  In the node, link, and circumcenter.  In the node, link, circumcenter, and in-finite alignment of the field.

The results of each type.  What is more powerful, a “circle” that benefits only from the creative energy coming through each independent node (node-only)?  Or one that adds creativity coming through the links (link-node) and through the circumcenter (center-link-node) and through the evolutionary pull of purpose and feedback (double-vortex)?

Saturday, April 11–Public Online Exploration with Me–From Scarcity to Abundance: Rethinking Money and Other Human Agreements

You are invited, to join me and the global ServiceSpace community, for 2 hours exploring abundance-based agreements.

This coming Saturday, April 11, starting at 9am PT/12pm ET/5pm GMT/6pm CET, I will share our work in Vibrancy and the Institute for Strategic Clarity.

You can sign up to join the call here.

I look forward to seeing you there.

What You See AS Our Basic Nature Depends On What You See IN Our Basic Nature

“Everyone knows that …”. “All people are like …”.  The completion of these sentences includes an assumption about human nature.  What you see as human nature.

What you see AS human nature depends on what you see IN human nature. Our study of four cosmologies (wisdom traditions, physics, daily experience, strategic systems understanding) suggests nine basic dimensions interpenetrating all of reality.  As we humans are reality as well, we are also constituted by these nine dimensions.  Energy that is purposeful.  Experienced because it is reflected off of something and then witnessed.  A choosing of the form it takes, which extends in a resonance field over multiple instances (time) and other resonance fields (space).  The feedback in what results in form is taken up in the reflector, to be witnessed and a subsequent choice made in the next instance.

Another way that this is often described is that all humans experience a pull towards their unique higher purpose, which they engage with their thinking, feeling, and willing, in a physical and non-physical form.  You have morals that guide you.  You have thoughts, feelings, and intentions.  You have physical experiences connected with your body and its context, and you have non-physical experiences in your thoughts, feelings, and intentions.

The dimensions you include in your understanding of human nature determine what you see as human nature. If you only include the pull, the higher purpose, then humans are moral.  If you only include the thinking, then humans are rational.  If you only include the feeling, then humans are social. If you only include the willing, then humans are stimulus-response organisms, purely biological.  If you only include the physical, then humans are an interesting accident of matter with emergent properties.  These simplifying models of what we each know we are, in our own actual experience, are major models of human nature prevalent today.  By focusing on one of these dimensions of human nature, these models tend to exclude the other dimensions as irrelevant, unnecessary, emergent and secondary, or misguided.

Another way to approach the question of human nature, other than reading what a philosopher thinks, is to ask yourself, “What do I know, from my own experience, about the dimensions of my experience?”  For me, I observe that I have a north star—a purpose that engages and guides me—and I have thoughts, feelings, and intentions, which I experience physically and non-physically.  Each dimension seems to be different, in character, and they seem to come together to inform different dimensions of an experience.  It is useful to understand that I have these different dimensions, and that integrating them gives me a fuller picture of my experience.  I can corroborate this picture with the experience of others, and that is useful.

What I see that is included in human nature affects what I see as human nature. Seeing that I, you, and maybe everyone else, have all of these dimensions of experience within themselves leads me to curiosity, to inquiry, with myself, with you, with others, and the creative process, knowing that the ability to create the now, the future we really want is available here, within each and all of us.  There are treasures everywhere to find–I just have to look.  Whether one can see and access this infinitely-available creativity depends on what one sees as human nature, which depends on what one sees in human nature.  The fuller human nature or a more collapsed form of human nature.  It is a choice.  Your choice.  The difference that choice makes might be infinite.

Homo economicus eunomicus vs Homo eunomicus economicus: Which Comes First, Economic Wealth or Social Well-being?

In defining happiness, two ends of a continuum have emerged, providing completely different exemplars of and pathways to happiness.  One defines happiness by economic wealth, the other by overall wellbeing.

The Homo economicus eunomicus hypotheis assumes (1) scarcity and (2) needing to engage the purely rational being.  With success at basic resource needs (economicus) comes relational wellbeing (eunomicus).  This is global aid’s developmental and neoclassical organizational model. Economic wealth leads to wellbeing, so wellbeing is only found through higher GDP.  This framing leads to a GDP-based scaling of economic wealth, human development, and well-being, with the higher-GDP countries paving the way to models of greater success.  Copy the wealthy, and you too will have wealth, health, and well-being.

The Homo eunomicus economicus hypothesis assumes (1) abundance in relationship and (2) engaging purposeful energy. With success at basic relational needs (eunomicus) comes resource impact (economicus).  Wellbeing leads to higher economic impact.  This framing leads to subjective estimates of steady traits and transitory states of psycho-social well-being, with objective estimates of economic development and physical health.  High-well-being groups show up all over the globe. Identify local examples of health, and well-being, and learn with them—they have already figured out how to contextualize success.

Initial data from a global survey in 125 countries and fieldwork in 35 shows social topographic hotspots everywhere (Homo eunomicus economicus hypothesis), as compared to the global map of economic wealth (Homo economicus eunomicus hypothesis). What you can see, in your own experience, in framing humanity as Homo economicus eunomicus vs Homo eunomicus economicus: which comes first, economic wealth or social well-being?

It Is Yours to Do

To decide is a movement towards a future.  Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon framed decisions as including value judgments about a desired future state and factual judgments about how to achieve that goal.

To say systems-change is to say love for something, the system, and its future, the change.  Orland Bishop asks, “For the love of what future do you give your will?”

Equity is the hosting of each other’s gift—unique contributions—to that future.  Fair access to and participation in the system.

The easy work is saying yes to love, for a future to which we give our will. The hard work is doing it every day, together. And this we know how to do.  It is time to do it.

A Tribute to a Great Friend

A tribute, to a great friend, an advocate for abundance-based agreements, an entrepreneur who brought “more life” to millions of people through care for their feet, a philanthropist.  My mentor Jim Throneburg passed last week.  We met 16 years ago.  He inspired me with his work, his vision for what a community—a business—could be.  For what self-discovery leadership could be, every day.  We learned, we evolved, together.  He provided a first example of and a laboratory for ecosynomics.  Jim, I will miss you, we will miss you. Thank you for the many experiences we had together.

Belonging, as Being Seen by the Other

Does it matter whether you experience being seen and appreciated by others?  Recent studies, described in the Harvard Business Reviewshow the value to you and to the group of experiencing that your presence matters, that you are seen, and that you connect with others in the group.

In the EY Belonging Barometer Study, with survey data from 1,000 employed adults in the USA, when people experience belonging at work, they are 3.5 times more likely to contribute much more in their work.   This belonging is stronger when colleagues check in with them regularly, acknowledging them both personally and professionally.

In a survey with 1,789 full-time employees in the USA, and in experiments with 2,000 participants, BetterUp scientists found that high belonging correlates with 56% higher job performance, 50% less turnover risk, 75% fewer sick days.  They calculate that for a 10,000-person company, this equals $52million a year in savings.

Both of these descriptions of belonging correspond with the experience of the relationship to the other between the inner and middle circle (see figure below). You and I see each other for our capacities (inner circle), and we begin to accompany each other in our own learning experiences.  This means that these huge savings come from simply seeing the other, for their basic capacities, by acknowledging and accepting them.

What would be the value of a much deeper experience of belonging, of supporting each other in one’s learning process, through continuous check-ins around one’s own learning (middle circle of the other)?  And, if you and I were to support each other in exploring our deeper potential, to be able to make our own deeper contribution to the group, learning more about myself, because you accompany me, in trust?  If the relationship to the other at the level between the inner and middle circle is as valuable as these studies show, being much more likely to contribute and to be much more present, what is the value of being fully present, as seen in the outer circle?  What do you think?

 

 

Belonging, as Counted in Generations — What Kind of Generations?

I have observed lots of conversations lately where people talk about who belongs and who does not.  They often talk about how long they have been here, wherever that is, as compared to the tenure of others.  A technical term for this tenure is a generation.

The word generation comes from generate, which means to give birth, from PIE root *gene-,” thus meaning born here.  Born here can mean born here in this time, or born here in this space.  In the context of the physics of space-time, it means born in this space-time, this energy field.

Which energy field (EF)?  To keep things simple, let’s call the physical, material EFA, the biological, living EFB, the social, relational EFC, and the cognitive, mental EFD.

From the EFA perspective of physics, matter is energy [E=mc2], and you are from herenow if your material is from herenow.  Most of the matter in your body is replaced every 7-10 years, more or less.  If you have been somewhere specific, for more than 7-10 years, your physical, material body, the body you inhabit, is indigenous to that place–you are made up of matter from that place.  Indigenous means sprung from the land, from Old Latin indu (prep.) “in, within” + gignere (perfective genui) “to beget, produce.” That makes an EFA generation about 7-10 years long.  How many EFA generations have you been where you are?

From the EFB perspective of biology, life is energy, and the EFB that defines your life energy patterns expresses in your genetics.  Your genes–once again, from PIE root “gene-“–come from your parents, basically.  An EFB generation is the time between when your parents had you and when you had your child, which tends to average about 25 years.  How many EFB generations has your family been here?

From the EFC perspective of social relations, the relational energy defines a generation as belonging or identifying with a specific worldview.  Groupings of peoples by their worldview characterizes generations in 10-20 year blocks, averaging around 14 years.  What EFC generation are you part of?  How many EFC generations have been birthed in your lifetime?

From the EFD perspective of mental cognition, the mental energy that defines a generation as those with the same form of aligning reality, of a way of perceiving reality within a sphere of influence–how long people are influenced by a set of ideas. Humans seem to carry much of what they are taught early on with them for the rest of their lives.  In the distant past, these mental generations might have spanned thousands to hundreds of years.  In the past century, the span of a mental generation is getting shorter and shorter, now lasting less than 10 years.  What was taught as obvious a decade ago is quite different today.  How many EFD generations have been birthed since you were in school?

Me?  I have lived in western Massachusetts for the last 9 years, so most of my material EFA is from here, indigenous to western Massachusetts, just like anyone else who has lived here physically for the past 7-10 years.  My relational EFB has been in the northeast part of the USA since the early-to-mid 1600s, meaning my genetics have been here over 375 years or 15+ generations.  My social EFC is from 1965, which means I was born almost 4 worldview EFCs ago.  My cognitive EFD is at least 5+ generations old.  This all shows that I am from here (EFA), have been of this genetic stock for quite awhile (EFB), and that many new social (EFC) and cognitive (EFD) perspectives have been born since I appeared.  I have been here awhile and much new richness has come along in that time.

So, when someone starts to talk about belonging, and whether they belong more or less than you, you can ask what they mean, from 4 different perspectives on generations of belonging.  EFABCD.  Also, when you think about the richness of your heritage and the richness of indigenous, from-here perspectives leading your communities, you can ask how many of the actual EFAs, EFBs, EFCs, and EFD in your groups are represented in leadership.  The heritage and the richness are there for your enjoyment.  It is your choice whether you engage with it.

Regenerative Capacity: What It Is, Why It Is Critical, And Why You Care

Equity must be a central feature of regeneration.  And, equity work can be done in such a way that is degenerative. Diversity, inclusion, equitable involvement, and valuation are crucial to regenerative capacity, and regenerative approaches are key to equity, at the individual, inter-personal, organizational and larger systemic levels.

Regenerative capacity is the capacity to generate again.  To generate the resources needed for one’s system, from within one’s system.  High regenerative capacity means that the system generates all of the resources it needs for its own sustenance, from within the system.  Low regenerative capacity means that the system depends on external sources for its sustenance.

Regenerative capacity invokes capacity (the nouns we have), with which we can generate (the verbs we have), again and again, (from the potential we have) as we grow and learn.  While the capacity to work depends on our nouns, generative capacity depends on our verbs and nouns, and regenerative capacity depends on our potential, verbs, and nouns.  Regenerative capacity is qualitatively different than generative capacity or capacity alone, in that it requires continuous alignment of our potential, verbs, and nouns, as we evolve over time.  This continuous alignment of potential, verbs, and nouns requires full engagement of all of those people who are responsible for the potential, verbs, and nouns.  This full engagement requires equitable participation in the continuous alignment.

Why is equitable participation critical for the continuous alignment of potential, verbs, and nouns in regenerative capacity?  Let’s first clarify what equitable participation means, and then what happens when equitable participation is weak, medium, or strong.  Equitable participation requires inclusion, diversity, and equitable involvement.

Inclusion is having relational access structures to resources, being part of the set of relationships with structures of access to the definition of desired impacts in the community, to determining who is to be impacted by specific efforts, to the factors that are used to decide these impacts and what is learned along the way.  This is to be included, from the Latin for being made a part of.

Diversity considers the requisite voices, those who have the required unique contributions needed to serve the group’s deeper shared purpose.  Diversity considers the processes for how these unique voices make their contributions to the group, honoring what they each bring.  Diversity in the contributions needed, in determining what is of value to the community and how the value is to be generated and received.  This is diversity, from the Latin for turning different ways.

Equity is treating everyone equally, in how they are invited for and engaged with their unique contributions.  This is equity, from the Latin for being equal, treated fairly.

Through ISC’s global research in 125 countries and over two decades of experience in social change systems, we find that the degree of equitable participation determines the degree of regenerative capacity, and that these are both fundamentally determined by the strength of the system’s agreements field.

The system’s agreements field is a whole, a whole that one experiences as a unity, a whole that includes the system’s deeper shared purpose, how it engages people in that purpose, in their unique contributions, in the creative energy their connection and service releases into the system, in the agreements of structures and processes that work with the potential, development, and outcomes in that engaged creative energy, in the ways that the system’s structure transforms that creative energy into the energy of products and services that other stakeholders value and desire, in the resilience of the systems in its capacity to generate access to the resources it needs for this purpose.  These are the dimensions of an agreements field, in how it engages and transforms energy into an energy that it transfers to others.  These dimensions and their levels within a specific system reflect the choices the people in the system make, either unconsciously accepting someone else’s agreements or consciously choosing their own agreements.

The strength of the system’s agreements field directly determines the degree of equitable participation it is capable of, and the level of regenerative capacity it can manifest.  A weak agreements field is degenerative, destroying or extracting value.  A strong agreements field is regenerative, creating and regenerating value.  This is why the strength of the agreements field is so critical to equitable participation and regenerative capacity, it shows where the choice points are.

The following table highlights the difference in low, moderate, and high agreements field strength for the harmonic generated from the synergy of the unique contributions, the basis of the economic power, the leadership’s focus, what is valued in the culture, the forms of equity, and what people understand by regeneration.

  Low AF Strength Moderate AF Strength High AF Strength
Harmonic remains unexpressed in counterspace (E3=0.0) expresses E3<1.0 in experience expresses E3=1.0 in experience
Economic-power basis resource power network power tangibilization power
Leadership focus (political lens) “the book” – one voice, of the founder processes of voice inclusion, to the best we can, for now (2-3 primary relationships) what I/you/we want and commit to for us
Cultural lens Value extraction Value creation Value regeneration
Social lens Coordination in value-exchange gesture Cooperation Collaboration
Equity form “hard,” difficult, at best, lacking AF to engage and transform works sometimes, in pockets “normal” part of who we are
“Regeneration” = embedded resource-extraction structures EFA explicit processes of resource co-generation transparent resource-regeneration structures EFABCD

When a system is able to generate a sustainable net positive flow of resources in the system, meaning that more is flowing in than is flowing out, the system is more resilient in its regenerative impact.  This net positive flow requires equitable participation.  The key inflow, whether it is revenues or other required resources, is determined by the value perceived from those who receive the value generated by the system, which requires a clear and continuous relationship with them to understand what they value.  This is the degree of impact of the system.  The key outflow, in some form of costs, is determined by the responsible ownership of the people who make up the system.  As the system grows and ages, unattended costs tend to rise, unless people are creative and responsible in the ways they work with the outflows, continuously learning how to improve the value generated from resources more efficiently.  Responsible ownership of all stakeholders within the system requires authentic participation, access, transparency, and communication.  Finally, the ability to maintain a net positive surplus of inflows less outflows requires resilience, the ability to shift with changes in the context over time.  This resilience requires that the existing elders and powerholders work closely with the emerging and rising leaders, all four generations, building on what has been learned, is happening today, is emerging soon, and will live on in the distant future.  These three ingredients of net positive flow—the inflows, the outflows, the ability to continue to generate a surplus—highlight the critical nature of equitable participation.

The weak agreements field is a system of embedded resource-extraction structures.  As examples, in the USA, we have the 2008 too-big-to-fail banking bail out.  In Europe, we have the residual artifacts of global colonialism.  In Africa, we have traditional aid examples from the IMF and the World Bank.

The moderate strength agreements field is a system of explicit processes of resource co-generation.  In the USA, we have town meeting in New England.  In Europe, we have the BUILDUPON initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the building stock by 50% in the next 25 years, across all member states of the European Union.  In Africa, we have the Bokaap initiative to generate its own electricity, food, and water, creating independence from the national grid.

The strong agreements field is a system of regeneration as transparent resource-generation structures.  In the USA, we see RE-AMP and EAN VT, where states have taken on sovereignty of their own energy future, moving towards 90% self-generation by 2050.  In Europe, Renovate Europe has integrated the legal structures to support “nearly net zero” building standards for the whole EU, drastically reducing energy consumption.  In Africa, the SHIRE Alliance in Ethiopia developed local innovation ecosystems for the self-generation of electricity, run and maintained by the local community.

Regenerative capacity is the capacity of a system, of a group of people, to generate its own life-sustaining energy, a key proxy of its resilience.  Equity is a critical part of that equation.  A system’s regenerative capacity is reflective of the strength of its agreements field, which means that it is a matter of choice.  A choice of inclusion, diversity, and equity.  Your choice.

A hat tip to my colleague Curtis Ogden for inspiring this reflective exploration of regenerative capacity.