Extreme Human-Weather Effects

Is it normal for you to be engaged or to be disengaged?  By normal we mean that this is what you expect, what you expect of your life.  Do you expect, in any given day, to be engaged in what you do, in who you are, in how you interact?  By extreme, we mean furthest from a common point, furthest from the desired state.  Do you prefer to be closer to your desired state or the furthest from it?  Assuming that you prefer to be closer to it than furthest from it, why are so many people disengaged and disaffected today?  Maybe it is because they are experiencing the effects of extreme interactions.  How might we understand extreme interaction effects?  Let’s look at a parallel experience in extreme weather effects.

News about “extreme weather effects” is all over the news these days.  What is extreme weather? What are the effects of extreme weather?  Weather is the interaction of temperature and pressure changes in the air, water, and earth.  This is the interaction of the earth’s elemental spheres; the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere.  Now these elemental spheres seem to be mixing, as they always do, in new ways, in extreme ways to which we humans might not be as resilient.

In parallel, a lot of attention is going to the globally disengaged workforce and strong political swings around the world.  The usual framing of disengagement and disaffection is to try to engage people, usually in the same, already-existing form of interactions.  Maybe it would be more helpful to realize that the reason so many people are disengaged at work these days is because they are experiencing “extreme interaction effects.”  Through more engaging experiences they have in other realms of their life, they now have an expectation that they will be treated like creative, contributing humans beings who learn, who are social, and who love to engage their deeper potential towards a purpose that moves them.  When the agreements field they are in becomes too turbulent, when the elemental spheres of human interaction mix in extreme ways, in ways that exclude the individual, the other, their unique, creative contributions, their learning and evolution, then they experience extreme interaction effects, human-weather conditions to which they are not as resilient.

Maybe people are more resilient in human interactions that require more and deeper connection, connection to a deeper, shared purpose, connection to their own higher self, connection to the other in support of their expression, connection to the gifts of the group, connection to the evolutionary process of creativity, connection to the infinite creative source.  Maybe disengagement and disaffection come from extreme interaction effects.  Maybe we can change the human-weather patterns, and thus increase our resilience and engagement, by choosing how we interact, away from the extreme interaction conditions of exclusion, scarcity, and collapse, towards the normal interaction conditions of inclusion, abundance, and engagement.  It is a choice, a choice you can make right here, right now.

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Resilience at Scale — Recommended Readings

Coleman, Peter T. The Five Percent: Finding Solutions to Seemingly Impossible Conflicts. New York: Public Affairs, 2011.

Homer-Dixon, Thomas. Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2006.

Rose, Jonathan F.P. The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life. New York: Harper Wave, 2016.

Thompson, Michael. Rubbish Theory: The Creation and Destruction of Value. New Edition ed. London: Pluto Press, 2017.

West, Geoffrey. Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies. New York: Penguin Press, 2017.

Resilience is the capacity to bounce back, when the context changes.  Scaling is the ability to maintain a level of interaction while growing the volume of interactions, often by orders of magnitude.  Being resilient at scale is the ability to bounce forward even while scaling beyond known boundaries.  The five authors in these highly recommended readings share their deep observations about what resilience at scale is and how to achieve it.

Physicist and complexity theorist Geoffrey West provides a rich journey through an understanding of how nature scales and what that means for the challenges facing humanity in the coming decades.  Looking for nature’s principles of growth, research on scaling shows that animals ranging from a mouse and a small bird to a dog to an elephant scale logarithmically in the relationship of their body mass to their metabolic rate.  With this ratio and many others (i.e., patents to population, income and assets to number of employees), Geoffrey West and colleagues suggest there are “a few simple rules that all organisms obey, indeed all complex systems, from plants and animals to cities and companies” (p2).  “When an object is scaled up in size, its volumes increase at a much faster rate than its areas…This has huge implications for the design and functionality of much of the world around us” (p41).  Nature does not scale linearly, rather nonlinearly.  “For every order of magnitude increase in strength, the weight that can be supported increases by one and a half orders of magnitude” (p45).  This ratio of areas and volumes lies at the foundations of nature’s scaling, maximizing metabolic rate by maximizing surface area.  The book shows how this logic applies to the scaling of resilient infrastructure.

Urban planner Jonathan F.P. Rose applies complexity theory to the urban setting, starting with its metabolic boundary, the area of food production it requires to feed the people in the urban setting.  He finds examples through history of cities where the metabolic boundary grew to support urban development with more and more people producing things other than food.  The metabolic boundary grew to be far greater than the boundary of where these people lived, and that requirement of building food production and transport systems far beyond the city boundaries lowered the city’s resilience, leading to the city’s eventual demise–more and more of its energy went into generating enough energy, a disastrous feedback loop.  For an urban setting to survive, as it scales, it must increase the coherence of, the circular flow of its metabolism of the energy, information, and materials flowing through it, the harmonic interaction of the community of citizens, compassionately balancing the health of the individual and the collective.  The book provides many examples where cities are developing these capacities.

Political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon looks at the energy return on investment, looking at the ratio of the energy produced and the energy required.  Pulling from many examples, the ratio must be “much greater than  1 to 1..to run a society” (p51).  Like with the metabolic boundary, if more energy is required to run the society than it produces, it loses resilience.  A change in its context, which continuously happens, leads to catastrophic failure.  There are many systemic stresses on an urban setting, and when they combine, the system can fail catastrophically, as the interrelated elements kick off nonlinear overload.  The more interconnected a system is, the more likely this is to happen, and the more the system has to be designed to be resilient to these shocks.

Michael Thompson frames catastrophic failure as an unexpected event in the mix of groups of people trying to evolve a system and those attempting to maintain a system.  The system can be experiencing continuous change, meaning the change happens smoothly, when all of a sudden it experiences discontinuous change, an abrupt, often massive change, which the system is often not resilient enough to survive.  This dynamic inevitably occurs in urban settings, generated by the dynamics between what some call the durable and others the transient.

Psychologist Peter Coleman explores the terrain of “intractable conflicts,” which seem to emerge in this space of scaling urban settings, where multiple stresses converge and lead towards catastrophic collapse, dramatically reducing a city’s resilience.  To address these complex problems, most people seem to oversimplify them, generating the conflict traps that Michael Thompson also described.  An initial step to resolve these conflicts, according to Peter Coleman’s work, is to conceive of the social phenomenon as a field of attractor forces, seeing the relationships among these attractors, and embracing the conflict, looking for evidence of what is actually happening.

The rich histories and case studies provided by these authors show the importance of embracing the complexity inherent in a network of interactions, understanding the deeper shared purpose that holds the interactions together and drives the desire to scale growth, for more to share in the deeper purpose.  It is possible to come together to see the shared purpose, the dynamics generating the boundary issues, the agreements that could generate new dynamics and sufficient resilience, avoiding catastrophic collapse while scaling growth.  It is also possible to agree on the evidence that supports the testing of these hypothetical shifts and measures the progress along the way.  This requires shifting from a theory of change to a principle-based, theory of impact resilience.  From looking at only the local, short terms needs and actions to address them, to looking at the local and overall needs, short and long term, and the dynamics that generate them.  This shift is a choice.

How Many Generations Lead Your Efforts? — A Clear Indicator of Long-Term Resilience

How many generations are actively engaged in the leadership of your efforts?  In many groups, whether they are companies, families, communities, government agencies, schools, nonprofits, cities or whole nations, leadership is mostly in 1-2 generations.  In some groups, it is only young leaders.  In some groups, they are only elders.  Sometimes there are 2 generations, rarely there are 3, and very seldom there are 4.  What difference does this make?  Two immediate consequences of the number of generations in leadership come up: leadership experience and leadership relevance.

Leadership Experience.  Leadership requires understanding and engaging others in the group’s deeper purpose, in engaging people outside of the group (external stakeholders) in interactions with the group, in understanding the complex dynamics of human interactions to achieve the group’s goals efficiently and effectively, innovating along the way, and in accessing the resources required today and tomorrow to support the work of the group.  This is a lot.  And, it requires different kinds of experience.  Understanding how to access current structures of resources is in the experience of current power holders.  Innovation is in the experience of current and emerging leaders. The complex dynamics of human interactions within and outside the group are in the experience of the elders.  Engaging the deeper purpose and outer groups is in the experience of current and emerging leaders, each with their counterparts.  The ability to align purpose, understanding of the external and internal environments, accessing the required resources, in complex interactions requires all three types of experience: that of the emerging leaders; the current power holders; and the elders.

Leadership Relevance.  Leadership is relevant when it can provide guidance in today’s context towards the group’s goals today, while strengthening the group’s resilience to be able to achieve tomorrow’s goals.  Today and tomorrow.  Achievement of outcomes and strengthening of inner structures.  Flexibility, stability, and resilience.  This is what we look to our leaders to provide.

What works today and how to access power structures today is the domain of the current power holders.  What will work tomorrow and how to be resilient in emerging structures is the domain of the emerging leaders.  It is the domain of what is coming, how people engage, interact, and structures of access to resources in the emerging future.  The complexity of the underlying dynamics in the current and the future is the domain of the elders–how to see the patterns, and how to test ideas of what to do with them.

If resilience is the ability to adjust to changes in the context, one of the critical factors that constantly changes in the context is how to connect with, engage, and interact with the population, which itself contains multiple generations.  Most organizations have one generation leading. some two, how do three or four strengthen a group’s current work and future resilience?

Where This Applies.  In companies and communities, succession planning is a big deal, and often a big reason for long-term failure.  The current leaders are not able to understand (1) what specific competencies made their organization successful, so (2) they do not know what competencies to look for and develop in the next generation of leadership.  Current leaders also do not know how to invite emerging leaders to take on responsibilities, in ways that make sense to the new leaders in their context.  The new leaders see the world different and are preparing their community for an emerging reality.  This is often hard for the current power holders and elders to see.

A different way of looking at this is to have multi-generational leadership with emerging leaders bringing in resilience for new realities, the current power holders breaking down barriers and providing access to resources, and elders providing the wisdom of seeing many cycles.  This is the possibility of intergenerational improv.  Mutual mentorship of the emerging, the power structures, and patterns of cycles.  A framework for abundance-based succession planning.

What Power Is More Resilient, Coercion or Collaboration?

Why do some people coerce people into doing things?  Why do others invite people into creative, collaborative work together?  Which is more powerful?  Which one is more resilient?

Power is the amount of energy for a given period of time.  In physics it is calculated as the work done over a period of time.  More power can get more work done in the same amount of time.  Power, or the energy available, to get things done can be used to get things done for oneself or for others.

There is an old saying that power corrupts.  Having power often leads people to the power paradox: while they get their power–the energy to get things done–from others because of their work for others, they can also begin to use the power to do things for themselves.  In the power paradox, people who begin to use their power for their own ends, start to lose their access to and grip on power.  To maintain their relative power, they have three options.  They can get more power through co-benefit, by doing things that benefit others, who give them the energy to do work.  They can co-opt the energy of others through coercion, forcing others to give them their energy.  They can decrease the power of others, through coercion, tipping the balance of power back in their own favor.  So, people can increase their relative power by (1) doing good for others, (2) coercing others, or (3) decreasing the power of others.  With the first, power is co-generated–they get more power, and others keep their power.  With the second, power is diffused–they get more power, and others lose their power.  With the third, power is dissipated–others lose their power to heat, to self-preservation.  The first is generative.  The second and third are coercive and destructive.

Power gains that are based on destruction must be less resilient, over time, than power gains based on co-generation.  Resilience is the ability to continue to function when the context changes.  While coercion can appropriate the energy of others, it must be mostly in the form of the energy resources of others, the capacities they already have.  Energy gained through generative interactions often engages (1) the energy resources of others, and (2) their development of relationships and capacities over time, and (3) engagement of their creative potential.  While destructive forces can get (1), generative forces can engage (1), (2), and (3).  That has to be more resilient.

In our Institute for Strategic Clarity research on groups that focus more on coordination, cooperation, or collaboration, we find that collaborative efforts engage people around a deeper shared purpose, to which everyone contributes their unique gifts, their energy resources and learning and potential.  We find that cooperative efforts invite people to contribute shared resources, and that coordination efforts assign people to use their own energy resources to do their own work, which might be pieced together later.  In the three cases of coordination, cooperation, and collaboration, each group keeps their power, and is invited to contribute ever greater levels of it to the group effort.

In coercive efforts, the power of others is diminished.  It is co-opted by the coercive enforcer, taking the other’s energy, their will, and using it for the coercer’s purposes.  This can be done consciously and unconsciously.  In conscious coercion, the coerced know they are being coerced, that their energy is being usurped for another person’ purposes.  Bullying fits in this category.  In unconscious coercion, the coerced have often unconsciously accepted a set of agreements where their energy is used by the coercer for the coercer’s purposes, without the coercer knowing that this is what they are doing.  Many social settings fit this category, such as the use of fiat currencies to enrich the currency owners–we get loans and pay interest rates, with no clue as to how the monetary system works.

In collaborative efforts, the power of each individual and of the group is increased.  The energy is co-generated by the impact resulting from the engaging and leveraging of the unique contributions of each individual.  Everyone keeps their power and ends up with more.

In coercion, someone ends up with more, and others end up with less.  In collaboration, everyone ends up with more.  Which leads to greater resilience?

Too Much Resilience?

Can you have too much resilience?  It seems to depend on how you define your system.

To have energy resilience, in the form of calories available for your body, you need more calories available to you than you use.  That is the definition of resilience–the ability to continue to function when the environment changes.  You need to have enough calories available to burn in activities, given whatever activities that changes in the environment will require of you.  You can store those available calories inside or outside your body.  Inside your body, calories are basically stored as body fat.  To be more inside-body calorie-resilient, you need more body fat.  And, too much body fat, when you are out of calorie-balance, impedes proper body functions and leads to many diseases.  You can also store calories outside your body, in access to food.  To be more outside-body calorie-resilient, you need more access to food.  Since food goes bad quickly, you need access to continuously-replenishable food sources.  We do this by spending more time on getting food, having more people work on getting food, or by having more preserved food available.  It takes energy, the burning of calories, to increase calorie-resilience, whether we store the energy inside or outside our bodies.  And this increased use of calorie-energy for accessing the calories leads to the requirement for even more access to calories.

To have energy resilience, in the form of creativity available to do work, you need more human creative energy available to you than you use.  I am currently working on a model of human creative energy, which I call Homo lumens, where humans are beings of light energy, which comes straight from physics.  One challenge with energy resilience in human creativity is that the creative energy seems to dissipate very quickly.  We seem to have a creative moment, whether thinking of new possibilities, answering a question, or seeing how to apply a screwdriver to a screw.  They all take an instant of human creativity, of lumens.  To be resilient, we need to have enough lumens being generated to use in all of the required applications.  If this creative energy dissipates quickly, then essentially all of the lumens energy generated goes either into a specific activity or it is dissipated, used in some other way.  Following this logic, having more creative energy generated than is engaged in specific activities leads to more creative energy being dissipated.  This is inefficient.  Putting more energy into the system with the same output is less efficient, a waste of creative energy.  This probably leads to burnout, to people being disengaged or otherwise-engaged.

Energy resilience, whether in calories or lumens, seems to lead to a question of resilience versus efficiency.  Since both calories and lumens dissipate relatively quickly, we need to have constant access to them.  The activity of accessing them requires even more access to energy sources.  Having access to more than we need becomes inefficient.  We spend energy accessing energy that will dissipate before we can use it–wasted food, wasted creativity.  Not very smart.  Not having access to enough leads to low resilience, the inability to continue to function when the environment changes.  Not very smart either.  This suggests that to be smart, we have to figure out how to increase our access to energy, whether calories or lumens, without increasing the energy used to access it or losing lots of energy to dissipation.  One way to do that is by increasing the ability to access and tangibilize the potential energy available, without expending much more energy.  Until we need the energy, it remains in its potential form.  When we need it, we tangibilize it.  I explore how to do this, through our agreements fields, in a previous post.

You Cannot Rule Resilience — It’s The Principle of the Thing

We want our efforts to have an impact.  If we invest a lot of effort, we want the impact to last longer.  The impact we want is the result of effort we put into a system: our family, our kid’s school, our church, our work, the local community, a regional initiative, a global change effort.  A sustained impact requires that the system we are putting our efforts into be resilient.

And, life happens. As life happens, things in the system change.  People get older.  New people are born.  People change jobs.  Local perspectives or conditions change.  New politicians are elected.  New products arrive in the market.  As all of these things continuously change, they change the system they interact in.  To sustain the impact of our efforts, the systems we put those efforts into need to be resilient to these changes.  Resilience, in this context, means the ability to adjust to changes (from the Latin resiliens, to jump back), to absorb these changes without collapsing into a qualitatively different form with a different set of processes.

Impact resilience, sustained impact from the co-investment of our efforts, requires that we rethink how we design, lead, and administer our systems. Many of the words we use to describe the design, leadership, and administration of human systems come from the same PIE root *reg- “move in a straight line.”  To rule, to reign, to regulate, and all of their derivatives, such as sovereignty, regimen, regulation, orient our designs, leadership, and administration towards directing in a straight line, towards stability, towards sameness.  And, life happens, which moves  us and the systems we interact in away from sameness and stability.  Impact resilience is about working with the changes, not against them.  The changes will happen, all of the time, in every system, so our efforts are more resilient when we work with the fact of changes.

One way to be more resilient is to shift from thinking about rules to standards and principles.  John Rawls, a moral and political philosopher, highlighted in his book, A Theory of Justice, the differences amongst the terms rules, standards, and principles.

Rules are straight lines, asking yes/no questions, looking for triggering conditions that something is changing, seeking predictability and certainty.  Ex ante, the thinking is that this rule should and will provide this stability.  Put it in place, and let it work.

Standards are balancing feedback systems, with a gap between a stated goal and the actual state driving action that changes the actual state, like a thermostat.  This system looks for balancing factors in a set of relevant considerations and options, providing a range of choices.  Ex post, this thinking asks whether this standard maintained the behavior within a desired range.

Principles are systems to be considered, providing guardrails for the feedback loops–standards–to include, and how the choices made in actions might be interpreted.  In reflection, this thinking asks whether the system of standards and rules under consideration increases resilience of the desired impact.

By working with principles, we are designing the systems we put our efforts into to embrace the changes that will happen continuously, constantly adjusting, asking the questions and considering the choices in actions that can be taken to continue to meet the standards we set.

There is nothing wrong with rules and standards.  Impact resilience comes from organizing our efforts in systems based on principles, where the standards and rules play their part in increasing the ability of the system to jump back, to be resilient to changes.  Low resilience often comes from focusing only on the rules, and not being clear about the implicit standards and guiding principles in the system.

This requires that we rethink all of the terms and processes based primarily on ruling, regulating and reigning, reframing them as principle-based systems that embrace the changes that will happen, because the system is alive.  We want our efforts to have impact, resilient impact: that is the principle of the thing.

Why We Care About the Resilience of Our Agreements — What We Lose When Our Agreements Collapse

Everyone lives in complex, turbulent times.  Will our agreements survive the changes we face?  How resilient are these agreements?  We can look to ecologists for how to think about the resilience of systems and to anthropologists for what has actually happened in human systems.

From earlier work by the ecologist C.S. Holling and colleagues, as described by the Resilience Alliance, “When resilience is enhanced, a system is more likely to tolerate disturbance events without collapsing into a qualitatively different state that is controlled by a different set of processes.”  From an ecosynomic perspective, this means that resilience is the ability to keep a similar level of agreements, meaning the levels of perceived reality they consciously include.  A collapse is then a qualitative shift in the level of agreements.

Anthropologists, like Joseph Tainter, have looked at societal collapse, finding, “The process of collapse..is a matter of rapid, substantial decline in an established level of complexity. A society that has collapsed is suddenly smaller, less differentiated and heterogeneous, and characterized by fewer specialized parts; it displays less social differentiation; and it is able to exercise less control over the behavior of its members . It is able at the same time to command smaller surpluses, to offer fewer benefits and inducements to membership; and it is less capable of providing subsistence and defensive security for a regional population” (Tainter, 1988 pp. 38).  An example of a loss of a level of complexity might be the loss of consciously accepted agreements at the level of the development of capacities and relationships–the verb level–to focus solely on the level of outcomes–the noun level.

Thus, ecologists and anthropologists observe that a more resilient set of agreements is more capable of dealing with changing environments without losing whole levels of complexity in the agreements.  You can find more on the ecosynomics of impact resilience here.

 

Resilience through Social Capital and Nudges — Recommended Readings

Halpern, David. The Hidden Wealth of Nations2005, Cambridge: Polity.

Halpern, David. Social Capital2010, Cambridge: Polity.  Click here to see Chapter 1.

Halpern, David. Inside the Nudge Unit2015, London: WH Allen.  Click here to see Chapter 1.

In a career of academics at Cambridge and politics in the primer minister’s office, David Halpern has interwoven the relevance of practice with the rigor of research to develop his framework for highlighting and enabling the ability of a community or nation to be more resilient, leveraging the hidden wealth of its social capital.  Halpern shares the evolution of his framing over three books, coming out one every five years.  For Halpern, social capital “refers to the social networks, norms and sanctions that facilitate co-operative action among individuals and communities” (SC pp 38-39).  Halpern’s frame “incorporates three different dimensions of social capital: its main components (networks, norms and sanctions); the level of analysis employed (individual-, meso- and macro-levels); and its character of function (bonding, bridging, linking)” (SC p 39).

I highly recommend reading this series.  For me, reading them in order of publication helped set the frame, embracing its simultaneous rigor and relevance, with deep dives into the underlying philosophical fields of inquiry underlying human prosperity and resilience, social capital, and behavioral economics, the evolution of these philosophies, and the vast amount of data gathered and experiments engaged to test and evolve the frame.  In the end, Halpern convincingly frames an evidence-based story of how the social capital needed for human resilience resides within us and can be accessed through awareness and intelligent experimentation.

 

Measuring Your Impact Resilience

Impact.  Resilience.  The impact you want to have in the world, as a result of your efforts.  The resilience in the ability to respond to internal and external changes, over and over again, sustainably.  We all seem to want greater impact resilience, yet most efforts seem to lead to low impact, with most efforts failing to achieve the desired impact, and people being less engaged after the effort than before it.  To compensate for the low results and engagement of the efforts, they have high direct costs.  Not the benefit-to-cost ratio most of us foresaw when starting the efforts.

Might a measure of impact resilience help, before, during, and after?  The current mainstream framing of impact resilience focuses on net profits or funds available from the effort.  Essentially, the direct benefits should be greater than the direct costs.  Profits = Revenues – Costs.  Funds Available = Funds In – Funds Out.   This kind of logic leads to the prevailing framing of strategy as the direct interventions that will lead to direct outcomes, often called a “theory of change.”  In explorations my colleagues and I have made into the agreements supporting the very high impact resilience of positive deviants we have found around the globe, we find an alternate framing, which seems to lead to much higher impact resilience.  We call this alternate framing a “theory of impact resilience,” where the focus is on the ability to engage the potential value present in any group, in a very resilient manner.

The measure of impact resilience, as we are using it today, encompasses:

  • impact:  what we want to achieve, the potential value available, the costs of scarcity, and the ecosynomic value realized in service of what we want
  • resilience: the ability to thrive in change, continuously, over time

We use three specific tools to measure the impact and two to measure the resilience.  We assess impact with the tools of (1) deeper shared purpose, (2) reference behavior pattern, and (3) ecosynomic value realized (EVR). We assess resilience with the tools of (1) probability of survival, and (2) the multiples of EVR.

Impact tools.  The deeper shared purpose is the reason why the group comes together in the first place and why it needs a specific mix of voices.  The process for the “deeper shared purpose” tool is described in the O Process.  The reference behavior pattern explores the group’s definition of how the deeper shared purpose is measured, how well the group has done at achieving it historically, the most probable outcomes of the deeper shared purpose going forward, the desired outcomes going forward, and the gap between the most probable and the desired outcomes.  The process for the “reference behavior pattern” tool is described in my chapter applying the tool to poverty alleviation.  Ecosynomic Value Realized (EVR) is the total value realized minus the costs of the utilized resources minus the costs of scarcity.  Said another way, EVR is the total value generated by the recognized resources less the costs of the recognized resources less the costs of the unrecognized resources.  The cost of the unrecognized resources is the total potential available in the available resources, as described through the three levels of perceived reality in an agreements evidence map, less the value of the recognized resources.  This accounts for the costs of not engaging the potential resources available–the costs of scarcity. The process for the EVR tool is described in the Costs of Scarcity framework.  We use the combination of these three tools to determine (1) what we are trying to achieve together–the deeper shared purpose, (2) how we are doing at achieving that impact, and (3) net results in value realized through our efforts.

Resilience tools.  The probability of survival is the probability that the group will continue to have sufficient resources to survive in the future.  Most initial efforts never even get off the ground, and most efforts that do, die within the first years.  This means that the probability of survival for most efforts is very low.  Resilience is the ability to increase the probability of survival.  The probability of survival is the average of the probability of survival for each of the three levels of perceived reality: the risk of stockout at the outcomes level; the risk of not learning at the development level; and the risk of obsolescence at the potential level.  The risk at each level depends on the level of conscious agreements at each level of perceived reality.  Where the agreements are conscious, the probability of survival (one minus the risk of not surviving) is much higher than where the agreements are subconscious, unconscious, or non-existent.  The multiples of ecosynomic value realized convert the probability of survival into a number of probable years of survival, which when discounted over time suggest a multiple of this year’s ecosynomic value realized (EVR).  This multiple times the current EVR suggests a valuation of the current set of agreements of what is valued and engaged, as seen through the agreements evidence map.  We use the combination of these two tools to determine (1) the probability of survival of the agreements in place, and (2) a valuation of the probable lifetime of the agreements.

With the measures of impact and resilience, we have a better sense of (1) the current state of the agreements, (2) the benefits of shifting the agreements, and (3) the costs of not.  We can also assess how the set of agreements compare to other sets of agreements, indicating both what is possible for groups and where to invest for greater impact resilience.  We do this assessment through the five levels of impact resilience.

The five levels of impact resilience range from simply achieving some impact over time to generating great impact resilience by engaging all of the potential value available.  The Institute for Strategic Clarity has set up a certification process for each of the five levels of impact resilience.  Level 1 Impact Resilience is achieved when a group is able to demonstrate that is has achieved its stated impact over five years.  Level 2 is achieved when a group achieves both Level 1 and measures its impact resilience, as described above, independent of whether its EVR is positive or not.  Level 3 is achieved when a group achieves Level 2 and its EVR is net positive.  Level 4 is achieved when a group achieves Level 2 and its Return on Potential Value (RPV = EVR/Total Potential Value) is greater than 0.3, meaning its conscious agreements are well into the development level of perceived reality.  Level 5 is achieved when a group achieves Level 2 and its RPV is greater than 0.6, meaning its conscious agreements are well into the potential level of perceived reality.

Coming back full circle, we find that groups that are able to achieve the higher impact resilience every group imagines, initially–yet few groups actually achieve–score much higher on impact resilience.  By examining what differentiates high impact resilience groups from lower impact resilience groups, we have developed the impact resilience measurement system.  Groups that want to know where they are in their impact resilience, with the desire to achieve much greater impact resilience, can now assess the specifics of what supports their current levels and what agreements are needed to achieve higher levels of impact resilience.  Those groups who are able to demonstrate that they can meet the higher standards of impact resilience can be recognized by impact resilience certification.  This provides that group with a cohort of groups at their level of impact resilience, mentors for the next level, and certification for possible investors and donors of the quality of their agreements in achieving higher impact resilience.

 

3D Tangibilization of Impact Resilience — Recommended Reading

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance2016, New York: Scribner.  Click here for an excerpt.

Duhigg, Charles.  Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business.  2016, New York: Random House.  Click here for an excerpt.

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. 2006, New York: Ballantine Books.  Click here for an excerpt.

To make something real, to make it tangible–to tangibilize–takes a potential, an idea that was seen, and a pathway for developing the potential, the possibility, into an outcome.  To tangibilize is the pathway of seeing the possibility, developing it, and completing it.  This is the creative process.  And while this seems obvious, because we all live this process all day long every day, most of the agreements underlying how we interact within and amongst organizations focus predominantly on the outcome, and very little on the potential and the developmental pathway.

And, there are positive ecosynomic deviants who are very focused on this process and its subtleties.  We know about these positive ecosynomic deviants mostly because of the results they achieve–results that shock us, leading us to assume that these outliers are superhuman, achieving extraordinary results unavailable to the rest of us.  They are able to achieve these results, over and over again, resilient to difficulties on their path, over sustained stretches of time.  I recommend three books I have read recently that uncover different dimensions of these positive deviants: their growth mindset; their ability to persevere; and their ability to be much more productive.  Written by three easy-to-read writers, who bring together great stories with lots of rigorous research–all Ds–Duckworth, Duhigg, and Dweck–they dig into what makes ordinary people capable of achieving high levels of impact and resilience.

Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck shares her vast research on mindsets, showing how having a growth versus a fixed mindset enables people to learn, to grow.  Her work shows that the fixed mindset–“believing that your qualities are carved in stone” (Dweck 6)–is predominant, socially embedded in many of our unconsciously accepted agreements.   People with the growth mindset–“the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts…believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training” (Dweck 7).  With many examples, Dweck shows how “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life” (Dweck 6); full of possibility and growth or not.

University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth focuses on what drives people to find their passion and stick with it to find extraordinary levels of expression of that passion.  Duckworth sets the tone of what is possible, quoting William James, a founding father of modern psychology, “‘Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake.  Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked.  We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.’  There is a gap, James declared, between potential and its actualization…James asserted that ‘the human individual lives usually far within his limits; he possesses powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use.  He energizes below his maximum, and he behaves below his optimum‘” (Duckworth 22-23).  Bringing together years of her own experimental research and field experience with that of many of her colleagues, Duckworth has nuanced what grit is–“perseverance and passion for long-term goals“–what it takes to achieve it, and what it does.  Summarizing all of this research, she finds that grit requires a passionate interest, connection to a higher purpose, lots and lots of practice, and an optimistic perspective that deliberate practice will lead to something.

New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg delves into the contextual factors that lead to some people being able to be much more productive than others. He finds that productivity paragons are much more motivated, focused, and tend to work in groups of psychological safety.  “To teach ourselves to self-motivate more easily, we need to learn to see our choices not just as expressions of control but also as affirmations of our values and goals” (Duhigg 31).  “To become genuinely productive, we must take control of our attention; we must build mental models that put us firmly in charge” (Duhigg, 102).  When people are in groups that “feel a sense of psychological safety…[they] succeed because teammates feel they can trust each other, and that honest discussion can occur without fear of retribution” (Duhigg 69).

The 3 Ds highlight decades of rigorous research and experience that show that the people we most see as exemplars of extraordinary outcomes often are actually ordinary people who have found their passion, spend lots of time applying it, growing in their craft over time, in a very focused, hopeful way, with lots of support from their community.  This might mean that what is out of the ordinary, as the William James quote above suggests, is not that people live into their potential, rather that more people don’t.  What is it that we as humans do in our agreements that shuts down the process of tangibilizing our own unique impact resilience, every day?  I call this negative ecosynomic deviance, and explore what it takes to stop doing it.