How Do We Figure Out How To Pay Attention To The Needs of Everyone Everywhere Every Day?

Everyone has a different genotype. Therefore, for optimal development..everyone should have a different environment,” according to James M Tanner, an expert on body growth and development  (JM Tanner, Foetus into Man, 1990, Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, p.120).  According to Wikipedia, the genotype is the part of the genetic makeup of a cell, which determines a specific characteristic (phenotype) of that cell/organism/individual. Genotype is one of three factors that determine phenotype, the other two being inherited epigenetic factors, and non-inherited environmental factors.  Not all organisms with the same genotype look or act the same way because appearance and behavior are modified by environmental and developmental conditions. Likewise, not all organisms that look alike necessarily have the same genotype.

In other words, we are all different, so the environment we each have, the systems and agreement structures that support each of us and we each support, should be designed to meet each of us.  Well, that seems like a hard problem to solve.

It seems really hard to figure out how to meet everyone’s needs all of the time.  Philosophers have been worrying about this for thousands of years.  Is it better to let everyone figure this out for themselves, which free-market philosophers love, or is it better to calculate the best good for the most, which utilitarian-collectivist philosophers love, or is it best to make sure everyone gets the same treatment, whether it is great, good, or not so good, which egalitarian-justice philosophers love?  While they all acknowledge that it would be better to satisfy everyone everywhere all of the time, it is just too hard to do, so they have developed self-acknowledged, suboptimal solutions, for which they have to make some rather radical simplifying assumptions.  Well, they say, it works for many folks much of the time, which is better than nothing.

Maybe it is time to let go of this assumption that it is too hard to do.  We have placed the robot Philae on a comet and the New Horizons probe has passed Pluto, while still sending back data and pictures over a very long distance.  We have grown the world economy to over US$100 trillion, we generate about 4 billion tonnes of food a year, and we have created a network of roads extending over 20 million miles across the globe.  These are amazing accomplishments, which we have achieved because people set themselves to figuring it out: they made it important.  It was very hard to figure out, and they did.  It took 100 years for a lot of people to figure out how to test part of Einstein’s theory of relativity, but they did, and for that some of them won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics.

So if we can figure out these things, why can’t we figure out how to understand the needs of 7.6 billion people?  They are right here, and we can ask. Maybe it is because we don’t think it is important enough to figure out.  Maybe it is time we do, and maybe we now have many of the tools we will need to do so.  And maybe some people are starting to figure this out, and we should find out what they are learning.  We could start by understanding the memetic code of the agreements fields that most influence each of us, and then, like the influence of the genotype, epigenetic, and environmental factors, we could begin to understand the evolution of the metamemetics and epimemetics of the agreements fields that most influence each of us–how we unconsciously accept and consciously choose the interwoven set of mostly hidden agreements that most influence each of us.  That might be a good start, one we could take now.


The Memetic Code of an Agreements Field

Juanita has worked for two years with a high-performing, very engaging team developing website ads for local nonprofits.  She is very comfortable in the creative processes and high-participation expectations of this team.  She has worked hard and really enjoyed it.  Over the summer, she is recruited to a new company and asked to join a new team.  This team achieves much lower performance and is less engaging, with a strong hierarchy where people are expected to follow directions and only speak up when asked to do so.  Will Juanita’s disposition to higher performance and engagement bring greater vibrancy, performance, and outcomes to the team or will the team’s lower engagement, outcomes, and vibrancy win out?

It turns out that Paul was recruited over the summer by Juanita’s previous company.  While Paul was very comfortable working on a low vibrancy team with poor performance and low engagement, he was asked to join the high-performing team that Juanita used to work on.  Will Paul’s disposition to lower engagement and results lower the team’s vibrancy, performance, and outcomes or will the team’s higher vibrancy win out?

In these two examples, we are looking at the agreement disposition of both the individual and the team.  Which one dominates?

We can provide hypotheses for both.  Clearly an individual predisposed to greater engagement and performance can inspire a team to higher performance in a more engaging way.  Or, clearly the team culture provides the stronger influence on what is possible.  That we can argue either way, individuals dominate groups or groups dominate individuals, makes it an exploratory question.  We don’t know the answer, and it could go either way.

Under which conditions does the higher vibrancy disposition dominate?  When does the individual disposition dominate?  The group disposition?  To assess these questions, we can assess the agreement-field memetic code of both individuals and the collective, and see how the agreement field evolves on a fitness landscape, where fitness is assessed by the outcomes (impact resilience) and experience (harmonic vibrancy).

First of all, if we start with the assumption of Homo lumens, then we assume that every person has the potential to experience all levels of harmonic vibrancy.

Second, the agreement field that an individual or a group is most comfortable with–they know how it works and how to interact successfully in it–is distributed over a range of lower to higher vibrancy and agreements.  They usually function at one level, sometimes at a higher level, and occasionally at a lower level.  We can label the higher as (P)otential, the middle as (L)ikely, and the lower as (C)ollapsed.

These three levels are probable states of the individual’s or group’s agreement field.  Over time, one can assess the probability of the agreement field being experienced in its (P)otential, (L)ikely, or (C)ollapsed state.  We might find that Juanita’s group experiences the (P)otential level 20% of the time, (L) 65%, and (C) 15%.  Or that Paul experiences P 8% of the time, L 87%, and C 5%. We could then say Juanita’s team’s agreement field probability is 0.2P/0.65L/0.15C, and Paul’s is 0.8P/0.87L/0.5C.  This is a rough estimate of the distribution of experience states available to Juanita and Paul’s teams.

We can then map the level of agreements that are (P)otential, (L)ikely, and (C)ollapsed.  Each of the 4 lenses can be characterized along a 9-point continuum, from low to high.  The Economic Lens of how much varies from levels 1, 2, and 3 of scarcity to 4, 5, and 6 of sufficiency to 7, 8, 9 of abundance.  The Political lens of who decides, likewise varies from 1-3 of one primary relationship to 4-6 of multiple relationships to 7-9 of all 5 relationships.  The Culture lens of what criteria varies from 1-3 of low vibrancy, 4-6 of medium, and 7-9 of high vibrancy.  The Social lens of what rules varies from 1-3 of melody of one voice to 4-6 of chord of multiple voices to 7-9 of harmonic.  We then have an agreement field distribution for the individual or group. (See Paul’s in the table below.)

Pauls Table 081516post

While Homo lumens ultimately has the whole spectrum available to be experienced, knowing how to interact within a specific set of agreements seems to be distributed across a narrower normal range.  This assumption remains to be tested.

This agreement-field memetic code assessment will allow us to see what happens when an individual or a group is exposed to a memetic code of higher performance and vibrancy.

The Whole Agreements Field Is Always Active — Sometimes Towards Purpose, Often Not

All elements in an Agreements Field are always active.  Always.  This is the picture of Homo lumens interacting with the self, other, group, nature, and spirit.  All five relationships are always there, whether consciously included or not.  The three levels of perceived reality are always there, whether they are perceived or not.  People are having an experience of less or greater vibrancy.  The interactions are resulting in outcomes, of lesser or greater impact and resilience.  The agreements, whether consciously chosen or unconsciously accepted, are there.

Agreements Field Mapping 071916a

This means that the whole experience of Homo lumens is always present.  The whole agreements map is active.  That only part of it is seen by the people interacting means that the other part is active and not seen.

AEMap 072516a

In their latest book, An Everyone CultureHarvard professors Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, suggest that most people are actually engaged in two jobs at work: (1) the contribution they are hired to make; and (2) protecting themselves.  “Imagine you’re paying a full-time wage for part-time work to every employee, every day” (p.2).

“In businesses large and small; in government agencies, schools, and hospitals; in for-profits and nonprofits, and in any country in the world, most people are spending time and energy covering up their weaknesses, managing other people’s impressions of them, showing themselves to their best advantage, playing politics, hiding their inadequacies, hiding their uncertainties, hiding their limitations.  Hiding.

We regard this as the single biggest loss of resources that organizations suffer every day” (p.1).

In measuring the impact resilience of a set of agreements, we have identified the “costs of scarcity,” the costs of not engaging the full human being.  The costs of Kegan and Lahey’s “second job” are just the start.

Another way of understanding this is to realize that the agreements that are seen and in the group’s awareness might be aligned with the group’s deeper purpose.  Often they are not, but they might be.  Our recent research suggests that those agreements that remain unseen, that are not part of the group’s awareness, where Homo lumens is not fully engaged, are usually not aligned with the group’s deeper purpose.  While unconscious competence might generate temporary alignment sometimes, it is not resilient to perturbations in the system, which always appear.  This lack of alignment has huge costs, much greater than the costs of the second job Kegan and Lahey highlight.  People are expending energy towards a purpose other than the group’s–vast amounts of energy.

If all elements of the agreements field are always active, they are doing something.  The question is whether this activity is aligned with the intended purpose or not.  Whether it is moving the group towards the purpose or away from it.  Most, if not all, of the elements that are not consciously part of the agreements exact a huge cost.

This changes the question, from whether it would be nice to incorporate more of the learning and possibility experiences, to whether it is highly ineffective and inefficient, when interacting with human beings, to not consciously choose to incorporate all three levels of perceived reality.  The first assumes an outcomes-only reality is more real and the development and potential levels of perceived reality are nice add ons.  The second assumes that humans are always in the process of being in potential and development and tangibilization.  For the first, engaging people requires a huge investment.  For the second, not engaging people has a huge cost.  Our recent research, and that of Kegan and Lahey, suggests that the second better explains why some groups have much better experiences and impact resilience than most.  Which do you choose?

Agreements Field Mapping

You interact to have experiences and to get results. That is why you do what you do. The agreements you consciously choose or unconsciously accept define how you interact. Those agreements are based on embedded, interwoven assumptions.

Our experiences, outcomes, agreements, and assumptions form an “agreements field.”  A field is the environment in which individuals or groups interact.  This concept is widely applied in physics, and less so in the social sciences.  By an agreements field, I suggest that in looking at our experiences, outcomes, agreements, and assumptions, we are describing one entity, from multiple perspectives–one field where we can perceive the outcomes and the experience of people interacting based on conscious or unconscious agreements founded on underlying assumptions.  One field.  One agreements field.

To describe the different perspectives within the agreements field, to map the social topography of agreements fields, we have developed and globally tested a set of mapping tools.

Together these four mapping tools describe four key perspectives of an agreements field.

Our work at the Institute for Strategic Clarity now focuses on further developing and applying agreements field mapping to map the global social topography of human agreements, through the Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience (MEDIR).  With our colleagues around the world, we are beginning to see that the social topography of human agreements is as varied as our earths’s geological topography. Peaks and valleys in many forms. Treasures abound. Things we have never imagined around every corner. The flatearthers of human agreements are missing out–there is a lot of treasure out there, ready for all of us to discover, marvel at, and learn from. It only takes the quest(ion) to find it.  If you are interested in contributing to this global initiative, please contact us.