The Costs of Empathic Inaccuracy — Recommended Reading

Tashiro, Ty.  Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome. New York: William Morrow, 2017.  Read an excerpt of Chapter 1 here.

When it is appropriate, most people like being seen.  Seen for who they are, for what they contribute, and for their creativity. Appropriateness depends on the context.  In contexts of trust and support, people tend to like to be noticed and supported.  This seems obvious.  And, in many situations, people do not experience being seen.  They are disconnected from others in those contexts.  Recent global surveys seem to indicate that where people spend most of their time, at work, is one of those contexts where many people experience not being seen.  What is the cost to creativity, to innovation, to organizational resilience and impacts when people are not seen?

To experience being seen, someone else has to be doing the seeing.  What capacities are required for this seeing of another?  What happens when people lack these capacities or fail to use them in specific contexts, like at work?  In his recent book on awkwardness, psychologist Ty Tashiro explores the world of empathy, those who lack capacities for seeing another, and how the particular ways that they look at the world bring other gifts.

The World of Empathy.  “Empathy is defined as the ability to understand another person’s emotional state and to deliver an appropriate response” (p71).  To be seen is to be in relationship, a basic need of humans.  Research finds that “humans’ psychological drive to maintain a few gratifying relationships was as fundamental as physical needs such as food and water…When we satiate our need to belong we feel a surge of positive emotion…The strongest predictor of happiness is not our job, income, or attaining our fitness goals, but rather the presence of gratifying social relationships…People with gratifying interpersonal relationships have better physical health and longer life expectancies” (pp9-10).

Specific contexts, and the ways that we agree to enter them, are making many of us more awkward.  That we are always plugged into our devices, completely oblivious to what is happening around us, we become socially awkward, in a high percentage of the interactions we have with others.

The Costs of Empathic Inaccuracy.  Empathic accuracy is the agreement between (a) what you think another person is thinking and feeling and (b) what they are actually thinking and feeling.  How well are you perceiving what is actually happening in the other person?  This is a critical capacity for being able to interact with others, to seeing and inviting their unique contributions, to being able to collaborate on creating something unique together.  The lack of empathic accuracy leads to the costs of empathic inaccuracy.  When we ignore others or talk at them, we have no idea what is actually happening inside of them.  When this happens, none of their FREEE energy is being engaged towards the purpose we are inviting them into.  Despite the obviousness of this, most people in most processes in most interactions seem not to do this.  It requires curiosity, inquiring into the other, which most people, especially at work, seem not to do.  The costs of this are huge.  The potential energy that is always there does not engage.  People get exhausted, contributing nothing.  The lack of innovation and learning decreases resilience and increases the likelihood of becoming obsolete.  The problem, and the resulting costs, do not seem to be a problem with the individuals, per se, rather with the ways people consciously choose or unconsciously accept to interact–the rules of the game, the agreements field they interact in with others.  This is the good news, because we can agree to change our agreements much more easily than we can agree to change the basic nature of who we are and how we function as individuals.

Other Gifts.  While social awkwardness seems to be increasing rapidly, and its costs are huge, we should not be too quick to judge all awkwardness.  Some types of awkwardness bring other skills.  “If you think about the vibe that characterizes your interactions with awkward people, there is often an agitated energy that underlies the interaction, which can make them appear nervous, irritated, or generally upset.  But if you view the awkward person as someone who is experiencing the interaction as particularly intense, then the unusual vibe they give off starts to make more sense…Avoiding eye contact helps them avoid the strong emotional cues conveyed by faces and especially the eye region” (p75).  This type of awkwardness results from a high capacity to focus, on very specific, reduced sets of information.  One term for this is “localized processing style, which describes people who tend to narrowly focus on some of the trees rather than the entire forrest.  When people are disposed to a localized processing style, they tend to create social narratives that feel fragmented and incomplete…Although awkward people are missing important social information that falls outside of their narrow aperture, what they do see is brilliantly illuminated and this gives them a deep nuanced perspective about things that no one else takes the time to notice.  The parts of the world they can see are seen with remarkable clarity.  They become experts in all things stage left and their clear, focused view on their specialized interests give them a unique view of that part of the world” (pp21-22).

Whether the social awkwardness we might experience in ourselves or in others is due to the way the person is or to the way we agree to interact, greater empathic accuracy can help us.  More accurately interpreting what is happening in the other person’s thinking and feeling has great benefits in both cases, and it greatly reduces the costs of empathic inaccuracy.  It is a choice.

 

 

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Top 4 Reads of 2018

The top 4, most-read blogposts of 2018 focused on the big questions that guide how we understand impact, collaboration, and leadership today.

Top 4 Blogposts

  1. 4 Questions that Changed the World, Again and Again
  2. From a Theory of Change to a Theory of Impact Resilience
  3. Collaboration Basics: Essential Agreements
  4. Leadership — How We Get to What We Have and Where We Could Be

The 1st blogpost looks at four questions that have repeatedly changed the world, continuously asking what resources we see as real, who decides and enforces how we interact, what values we use, and what rules guide our interactions.  The 2nd shows how these four questions highlight the linear, short-term logic of a theory of change, and that leading groups are actually working with a systemic, strategic theory of impact resilience.  The 3rd, with my colleague Ruth Rominger, describes what we are finding to be the basics of collaboration, why many groups do not collaborate, how they could, and the benefits of that collaboration.  The 4th differentiates three very different types of leadership, using the four big questions and three levels of perceived reality to show what leaders at each level are able to engage and transform into value.  This makes a set of explorations into how some people are beginning to lead their groups collaboratively towards great impact and greater resilience, by asking the big questions and choosing different agreements.

FREEE Energy: Use It or Lose It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zero Is Not Equal to Free, Reframing Volunteering from Negative to Positive Return on Co-investment

We do not value volunteering.  We ask for it.  We badger for it.  We thank people for it.  But, we do not value it.  We do not put a value on volunteering.  We think it is free.

Volunteering is free, in that it is the free act of giving one’s will.  That meaning of “free” does not mean of no value.  By looking at volunteering, the free giving of one’s will, as of no value, we end  up quickly in “doing good” philanthropy, which does not scale.  The impact remains small, and the resilience of the impact remains low.

By not valuing volunteering, we are valuing the person’s co-investment at zero.  And with zero value in co-investment, we don’t value the return on that co-investment, so there is no return on the co-investment.  Since the volunteer actually assumed the opportunity costs of the volunteering, when they receive nothing back, the return on the co-investment is actually negative.  It costs me to play, with no return–a net-negative investment.

Yet, we volunteer, because it makes us feel good.  We see the impact of our efforts in cleanliness of the schoolyard after a family work day, the paying of the bills because of our work with the accounting group, people fed because we served in a soup kitchen.

If we value the will one gives, then we can honor the value of the co-investment.  Even with a basic assumption of the value of an hour, estimated by some as US$24/hour in the USA in 2017, we are asking the question of what is the co-investment the volunteer is making.  We can then ask, what is the return on the co-investment?  What did your co-investment lead to, what is the value of the “return” for your co-investment?  The reason we cannot usually answer this question is because we do not ask it.

Lots of people are innovating deeply in this space.  One such massive set of innovations is in complementary currencies.  Measuring the current of what is flowing, what is flowing through you in your interaction, your co-investment, and what flows in the community because of your co-investment of currency.  From valuing volunteer time and banking hours to valuing social and natural capital, there are many ways to value the will one puts forward freely.

What is free is the choice to give one’s will.  It has a value.  It is a co-investment.  When we ask the question of the value of the co-investment, we can also begin to ask the question of what is the return on the co-investment.  The value of a clean schoolyard, of bills paid, of mouths fed.  That provides a positive return on co-investment. A return that is possibly orders of magnitude greater when we ask these questions of co-investment of one’s will, of volunteering, than when we don’t ask these questions.  Now that could support its own scaling of impact resilience.

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.

Measuring Impact Resilience — What We Are Learning from BUILD UPON Cambridge, Madrid, and Brussels

In this 3rd of a series of 4 blogposts, we share what we are learning, 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.

MEASURING IMPACT RESILIENCE

The potential we see.  With a shared deeper purpose that brings many diverse stakeholders together, across many countries and industries, the BUILD UPON effort is now ready to ground this abstract purpose, making it a daily reality for all of these stakeholders, showing how they can work together, from their own worlds, in achieving something bigger, locally, nationally, and regionally.  Measurement can support that grounding process, by clarifying:

  1. what we mean by our shared purpose, in very specific terms
  2. how we plan to achieve our purpose, with the unique contribution of each of our efforts
  3. how we can identify and highlight what we are each learning in the development of technical and social innovations

In many organizations, we measure because we are expected to measure, and we manage to the measures.  The reason to measure and manage to the measures is given, by someone else.  While the apparent simplicity of some measures might make them seem straightforward, they rarely are.  For example, profits are revenues minus costs.  For more profits, increase the revenues and decrease the costs.  Simple, until the methods for increasing revenues increase costs faster, or the ways to decrease costs also decrease revenues, such as lower product or service quality.  Or, to decrease the environmental impact of buildings, increase the number of renovated buildings, by increasing demand.  You can do this by making people do it through regulations or by making it cheaper to do through subsidies.  Simple, until the regulations make the technologies much more expensive or the subsidies outpace the supply.

From an impact resilience perspective, we are looking for a more systemic understanding that integrates the multiple stakeholder perspectives on the impacts we are trying to achieve.  With this integrated perspective, we can measure a systemic set of indicators that let us know how resilient we are in achieving our systemic set of impacts.  

To compensate for a lack of clarity of what we are trying to achieve amongst many stakeholder perspectives, we tend to believe that lots of measurement — lots of variable and lots of data — shows that we are very serious.  We measure dozens to hundreds of key performance indicators (KPIs).  To measure lots of variables, we tend to focus on easier to measure variables that are often means to an unspecified, higher-order purpose of the whole effort.  We also leave measures of creativity and collaboration out of the equation, since they seem hard to measure, yet they are critical to the generative processes of creative collaboration.

In the development of a scorecard for impact resilience, we look for a small set of measures that cover the higher-order impacts we want, the strategic areas we want to impact, and the processes that leverage our impact.  While this small set of 10-15 measures can be supported by more detailed reports, specifying how they were achieved in more detail, we want to focus on the most strategic variables and our narrative—our theory of impact resilience—of how they all fit together.  We want to use proxies that directly let us know how we are doing on the strategic variables.  In the impact resilience scorecard, we attempt to do this.

“Committing to measuring process, strategic, social impacts on local, national, international levels would allow the stakeholders joining multilevel collaborative platforms to see the whole and the meaning of their (and others) contribution, but also to improve the way those platforms can work together and, so, achieve greater impact. Sharing simple, meaningful proxies, would allow necessary flexibility, and to get a clear sense of the final purposes all over a complex group of groups. Moreover, and crucially, learnings from best practices could grow geometrically with the network’s dimensions, increasing the ability to be effective, and resilient over time.”

— Sebastiano Cristoforetti, International and Certification Manager, GBC Italia

What we might do.  To assess social, strategic, and process impacts across Europe, at the local, national, and regional levels simultaneously, we can develop a coherent set of a few measures that we can track to identify the common impacts and the specific innovations happening at each level.  As we saw in an earlier blog in this series [link to blogpost “Realizing the Deeper Shared Purpose,”] we developed a draft “Common Vision” with a wide-ranging group of stakeholders across the energy efficiency, renewable energies, and building renovation communities.  The following systems map captures the key elements of that Common Vision, showing how they all fit together (see the blogpost “Realizing the Deeper Shared Purpose” for a description of the systems map).

As these collaborative-process efforts drive the strategic areas and subsequently the social impacts, the growing demand and supply for renovation drives a scaling factor that accelerates social and technical innovation.  Having the clarity of the purpose we share and the dynamics of our system, we can focus the measurement scorecard on the critical variables that express the impacts we want to achieve together.

To measure these social, strategic, and process impacts, we can simplify the work of BUILD UPON into 12 high-level metrics, which can then be supported with detailed metrics, showing systemically how they influence each of the high-level impacts.

The metrics in an Impact Resilience Scorecard, exemplified in the figure above, highlight the social, strategic, and process impacts of a system that leads to greater resilience of the renovation system, at the local, member state, and European levels.  Proxies for each impact measure are provided, which could also include current levels and agreed-upon target levels.

After being exposed to this systemic and high-impact approach to measuring individual and collective success, the participants were asked to reflect on, “What would I need to know and share to fully step up and invest in the future we started to see together?”  The participants shared the need for more knowledge on positively deviating behavior of other members, to be able to increase their own success. Furthermore, they highlighted the importance of continuing the conversation on a strategic level to support their ability to increase their impact and strengthen their resilience. See movie footage here of what they shared.

What could happen.  Much greater collaboration is possible, and it means that the many stakeholders involved in energy efficiency, renewable energies, and building renovation have to see the value in it.  It has to become more than a nice exercise; it has to be interwoven into their ability to succeed individually and together. Collaborative impact is a simple choice, not a complicated option.  A choice we can make every day.  Like the groups we are finding around the world, members of BUILD UPON too can choose their experience and the outcomes they  achieve.

We thank our colleagues at the European Climate Foundation (ECF), the BUILD UPON team, the World Green Building Council, the co-hosts, the Madrid and Brussels participants, the Institute for Strategic Clarity, and Vibrancy—all co-investors in this process together.

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.

 

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.

New Monitor Study — How Funders Can Support and Leverage Networks for Social Impact

I was interviewed recently as part of a Monitor Institute study for the Rockefeller Foundation on “How Funders Can Support and Leverage Networks for Social Impact.” The final report is out, in the form of an interactive toolkit (ow.ly/QxgqG) — please feel free to share it.

My contribution is based on my research into deviant groups — what makes some sustainably amazing and others sustainably awful. Through our Ecosynomics research at the instituteforstrategicclarity.org in 93 countries, we have identified 1000s of groups who have off-the-chart, amazing experiences and outcomes everyday. The Monitor study incorporates some of what we have learned about the collaborative nature of their work.

If you know of any such groups, I would love to hear about them.