Collective Intelligence is the New Guru – Part 1: Evolutionary Competencies
By Anna Betz, written originally for Enlivening Edge Magazine
Part 2 of this article is here.
The NoGuru Forum (1) (Singapore, 12-14 Oct, 2018) was a unique gathering of organizational leaders from different countries and cultures to meet and engage in deep personal and organizational inquiries, during a 3-day transformational journey.
Supported by the Matrix Leadership methodology (2), NoGuru circles self-organized on the first day and became the nurturing and generative environment for deep listening, transparency, deep dialogue, transformation and synergy. When the world is changing faster than any one individual leader can make sense of it for themselves or their organization, such skills and competencies are essential to develop future-responsive visions and transformation strategies.
During each day of the Forum, participants had the opportunity to go on individual and paired vision walks in the best natural and cultural locations in Singapore. These 3 days felt as close as I could imagine to an event that enables everyone to become ever more transparent, enlivened, co-creative, and soulful and also to behave as integral parts of an evolving living organism.
Increasing our capacity to absorb complexity: an evolutionary competence
George Pór, a member of this gathering’s Wisdom Council, invited us to visualize the transformational initiatives around the world as an ecosystem where each one is represented by a node connected to other nodes.
“For the sake of greater impact, every initiative needs to increase its capacity to cultivate meaningful, co-creative connections with other nodes. That depends on relational competencies, good maps of the web of our connections, and the alignment of our team or circle.
“If one person can hold and cultivate 15 or up to 20 meaningful, co-productive relationships, then a well-aligned team would have the multiples of that number, with huge implications for their collective transformative power.”
It might take years of development to achieve that, but that’s what it will take to make a difference for the world and with a higher impact. Being a node in the ecosystem of transformational initiatives is the key capacity George himself embodies and helps others to cultivate so beautifully. Not surprisingly he has been called “the most connected person in the world.”
He said, “How much life energy a team is able to channel into the cultivation of its relationships is the measure of how real and significant their contribution is to evolution, to life itself. Helping to build strong teams with complexity-absorbing capacity many times bigger than that of anyone single individual, is one of the arts of organizing that Community Intelligence (3) is cultivating.”
Trends and why we need to watch them
When knowledge is expanding much faster than we can make sense of what on Earth is happening, the global “we” knows more and more while we as individuals and even as organizations know a smaller and smaller portion of what’s worth knowing.
In the routine of our daily work we don’t think of the general direction and pace with which the future is unfolding, whether it’s the future of organizations, of technology, or the world of business.
Even if we don’t think about the direction that influential trends point towards, it doesn’t mean that those trends aren’t affecting us, thinking about us, and sometimes thinking for us.
Our best bet to read the signs of “weather” conditions affecting the winds of change correctly is to turn towards each other and listen to the collective intelligence of our various communities of practice.
Ecosystem of trends
We can distinguish among kinds of trends. There are evolutionary trends, the ones aligned with the direction of evolution. There are other kinds of trends more like fashions and fads that come and go. When we pay attention to the interacting relationships of various evolutionary trends and align our strategies with them, we allow the wind of evolution to blow into our sails.
When creating a vision for the future of business, being informed by the ecosystem of evolutionary trends is crucial.
To deepen our understanding of their interdependence and the multiple effects on business models, strategies, structures, and cultures, George introduced us to the transformative power of collective intelligence.
There are business think tanks, futurists, forecasters, trend-spotters and other professional “crystal ball”-gazers, who do their best to predict the shape of things to come.
But their best is rarely as good as the insights of those who have realized that the best way to predict the future is to co-create it.
Hence the pivotal role of organizational change-makers and their collective intelligence (CI) in identifying and taking into account global technological and socio-economic trends.
Leaving them out from the equations with which we try to respond to the future would lead to unpleasant surprises.
CI is growing, thanks to the power of connecting to our personal wisdom and intuition, as well as to the power that emerges from the in-between space of individuals, groups, and organizations. It is not the intelligence of one plus one plus one and adding all the others. That’s known as additional or aggregate collective intelligence.
The CI worth boosting is the “emergent collective intelligence,” as Alia Aurami calls it. It is a deliberative intelligence arising from our connections, from our conversations, what each of us cares about, what the common things are that connect us, rather than what only increases our individual smartness and the sum of that.
To make wise decisions about what we want to use technology for, we need to learn how to augment our emergent CI.
The kind of connective conversations that create CI started happening at the NoGuru Forum on the 1st day. It didn’t mean just talking about CI. We experimented with it, played with it, and enjoyed it.
Participants were invited to take a closer look at the trends, while they were also listening to their own sense-making and to what was resonating with them. They were encouraged to accept and understand that these were not the only trends. There might be others, including some they could discover themselves.
It was important to notice one’s own reactions while reading them. Notice which felt more resonant and more important than others. Ask oneself why this was so, and share observations in pairs and small groups.
Exploring the trends that affect their organization’s future, during the forum, enabled participants to discuss what kind of robust strategies they should develop, that will perform well in a great variety of circumstances.
The forum also provided a unique opportunity for leaders to learn about themselves, each other, and how collective intelligence grows and solutions emerge when conversations connect.
In Part 2 of my report, Collective Intelligence is the New Guru: Powerful Questions for Discovering Evolutionary Purpose, you will learn about another area of the NoGuru Forum conversations, through which we grew a more intimate relationship with Evolutionary Purpose.