By Lia Aurami for Enlivening Edge Magazine
OK all you systems thinkers out there. Here’s an end-of-year puzzle to exercise your creative powers. I’ll give you some clues about a system and describe its components.
Can you spot the piece of the puzzle, the piece called “emergent future,” that would turn it into a complete picture? In other words, what is the edge of this system that is enlivening?
This isn’t an abstract mental exercise. It can offer each of us some new specific ways to co-create our better world together as we enter the new year.
First clue: This system is even more than an “intelligent complex adaptive living system.” It is also a potential social ecosystem. If the missing piece is discovered and put into place, it could become an actual social ecosystem.
In an actual social ecosystem, all the complex adaptive living systems that are parts of it relate synergistically: the natural functioning of each benefits others as well as itself, so the whole system thrives.
Second clue: In an actual social ecosystem, the synergistic relationships of the components happen at a variety of scales, fractally. That means in detecting the emerging future of the whole, one must look not only at individual components of the system, but also at larger sections of the picture-puzzle.
Third clue: All the components of this potential social ecosystem vary widely yet if we zoom out far enough and gaze at them with our eyes squinted just right, we can see they all share a common purpose, which is to build, to co-create “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” by co-creating a new world of work in organizations.
Each component of this system/picture of the world of work in organizations has a different idea of what “more beautiful” or “better” means. But we can see they fit together nicely into a section of the puzzle that looks like “more humane, more sustainable, for the thriving of people and the world.”
Ready to tackle your mission?
Here are some of the component parts of the current potential social ecosystem; some component parts are not visible yet. Here are some of the ways these parts function and fit together; a lot of their interfaces are too complex or too vague to describe here. What piece is still missing?
First, here are two more clues, to guide your search:
Fourth clue: There is a natural hierarchy among these components, from the components at the most individualized level to the components at a more macro level.
Fifth clue: In the natural hierarchy the more macro-level components serve the growth and thriving of the more individualized components.
First component: Individuals moving into “better ways” in the “future of work”
At the most individualized level of this current system, there are people working in organizations: employees, managers, executives, owners, partners. Some of them are vaguely discontent but not sure what to do about it, or not yet motivated to make a change.
Some are actively looking around for alternatives to their current work situation. Some have discovered and are learning alternatives. Some are well into implementing new alternatives. Some have so much experience in alternatives they are teaching others.
Second component: Individuals and groups teaching and helping others
Some of the people teaching others about new, better, alternative ways of organizing the world of work are doing so as individual consultants or coaches, while others are themselves parts of organizations of consultants, or they are parts of organizations tasked with making changes to a whole organization.
Third component: Larger fractals, groupings
This section of the puzzle has a variety of pieces, parts of the system. These pieces make the picture easier to see yet harder to see, as each changes color and shape over time.
They include communities of practice of new alternative ways of working. They include formal and informal networks, collective initiatives, “movements,” and other larger-scale fractals of the smaller individual parts.
The functions of these parts in the whole system seem to be:
- Providing ways for individuals and groups to discover one another and begin to communicate, to discover whether there is any mutual benefit from further interactions and relationships
- Providing ways for individuals and groups to form communications and relationships that would involve sharing resources for making changes
- Providing ways for individuals and groups to engage in conversations and communications that would begin to co-create and synergize into various larger-scale systems, such as consortiums, networks, professional learning teams, or educational initiatives.
Fourth component: Larger fractals in service to the others
This section of the puzzle also has a variety of pieces that change color and shape over time. These components create offerings “for” the first three components of the system.
- Other hosted meeting spaces
- Newsletters and magazines
- Knowledge gardens
- Platforms for interactions
These are purposed similarly to the third type of component mentioned above, but their purpose is even more strongly and clearly, and on a larger scale, to provide glue, communication arenas, and space for the potential social ecosystem to begin to form and function.
The parts of this fourth component differ from those in the third type of component in another way: even more strongly and clearly, they have a vision of the potential social ecosystem and are themselves in service to that vision.
Sixth clue: Nearly all the parts of each component of the whole potential social ecosystem are still scattered around our tabletop. We can sort of see how they might fit together, but each part is not yet actually fitted together, functioning together, in ways that would be optimal for the whole to emerge.
Where is the enlivening edge?
So. As a systems thinker, where do you think is the most powerful emergent edge in all this? What’s still missing? And having spotted that, do you feel a calling to participate in co-creating that emergence?
What is Enlivening Edge’s answer?
We’re among the fourth kind of component in the potential social ecosystem, and we have begun to spot others in the third and fourth kinds. We have begun to get to know some of them. We have begun to explore potential mutual benefits with some of them. We are actively moving into synergistic relationships with some of them. After all, creating greater connectivity is in our DNA!
Here are a couple of the synergistic relationships we are exploring and co-creating:
The newly re-invented Reinventing Organizations Wiki: Folks in the Wiki and folks in EE are developing ways to enrich and enhance the value of what the other offers to folks in the first two components: individuals, and groups seeking to teach and help others about the new ways of organizing.
Teal Around the World monthly global online meetups and periodic online conferences: We are exploring how we might enhance each others’ offerings and enable more people to benefit from what we each offer, building on our strengths and allowing our differences to be supportive.
Here are a few of the others we plan to be exploring in 2021:
So EE’s sense of the greatest potential for the formation of an actual social ecosystem among all the components is to reduce the silo-ing among all components. We’re being specifically called to that enlivening, emerging edge: reduce the silo-ing among the fourth kind of components.
That is the missing piece of the puzzle. That is the emerging future. That is what EE will seek to complete the puzzle and create the actual social ecosystem, in 2021; increasing relationships and reducing siloing among those serving the innovators in organizations. It’s a large scale on which we express our evolutionary purpose: Catalyzing relationships among innovators who are accelerating the evolution of organizations and social systems for human and environmental thriving. .
Beyond maturing our own functioning, in 2021, you’ll find us exploring and co-creating those synergies. Would you like to play with us?
What did you spot? Where are you called?
 Implicit in this entire Editorial is the scale framework for societal-level changes developed by Margaret Wheatley and described more fully in this EE Magazine Editorial.
 If you spot an emerging edge of a fifth kind of component, namely a consortium of third and fourth kinds of groups, you’re right there with us. Sometime in 2021 some of us will want this next logical step, we believe.
Lia Aurami: Within Enlivening Edge, I energize a variety of roles to express my sacred life mission: to amplify our human capacity for living, working, and relating within shared higher consciousness. That optimizes the chances of success of transformative changes, by operationalizing collective and spiritual intelligence to help organizations be efficient and effective. I delight in creating and amplifying synergistic connections toward all that!
Featured Image by Marcelo Kato from Pixabay, Pink-blue puzzle pieces image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay, Heart-light puzzle image by PIRO4D from Pixabay DNA puzzle image by Arek Socha from Pixabay