Our work is not about quick fixes or shallow interventions. The results we long for, and that animate the work of our partners, require large-scale change, and ongoing processes of consciously evolving our systems and communities, the larger culture, and ourselves.
John Ott, JD and Rose Pinard, PhD, co-founders of C4CW, have developed two original, interrelated frameworks—Leadership for Collective Wisdom™ and Living Collective Wisdom™—to help us and our partners embody new ways of leading and living collective wisdom in support of profound results.
Two concepts—collective wisdom and the Four Dimensions of Change™—provide the foundation for both Leadership for Collective Wisdom and Living Collective Wisdom.
In their forthcoming book entitled Leadership for Collective Wisdom, John and Rose write:
When human beings gather in groups, a depth of awareness and insight, a transcendent knowing, becomes available to us that, when accessed, can lead to profound action. We call this transcendent knowing collective wisdom.
This knowing is not of the mind alone, nor is it of any individual alone. When this knowing and sense of right action emerges, it does so from deep within the individual participants, from within the collective awareness of the group, and from within the larger field that holds the group.
Collective wisdom is a potentiality of any group. Whenever two or more of us gather, we have the potential to access this deeper knowing in support of profound action.
Four Dimensions of Change™
A second foundational concept for both Leadership for Collective Wisdom and Living Collective Wisdom is the Four Dimensions of Change. Any complex human undertaking involves at least four dimensions of change: the individual and group interior dimensions of change, and the individual and group exterior dimensions of change.
This concept reflects our adaptation and application of Ken Wilber's work on the evolution of consciousness (see, e.g., Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, Boston: Shambhala, 1996). The following diagram graphically represents these four dimensions:
Many change efforts fail to achieve or sustain their desired results because, over time, they become so focused on the group exterior dimensions of change that they begin neglecting the other dimensions. An underlying premise of Leadership for Collective Wisdom and Living Collective Wisdom is that groups are more likely to experience collective wisdom arising to support our efforts when we engage all four dimensions of change. That is, when groups engage all four dimensions of change in a disciplined and sustained way, we can open a portal for collective wisdom to arise and guide our efforts in the world.
Leadership for Collective Wisdom™
If we can increase the likelihood that collective wisdom will arise to guide us when we engage all four dimensions of change in a disciplined and sustained way, the question then becomes for our teams, our organizations, and our larger change efforts: how do we do this?
This is the focus of Leadership for Collective Wisdom. In this framework, we delineate commitments and practices of self leadership and collective leadership. Self leadership involves commitments and practices in the individual interior and exterior dimensions of change, while collective leadership requires commitments and practices in the group dimensions of change. Leadership for Collective Wisdom maps the different aspects of Self and Collective Leadership to the four dimensions of change.
Taken together, these commitments, and our practices to embody these commitments in the day-to-day work of our systems and communities, are how we begin to cultivate the conditions for collective wisdom to guide our efforts.
If you want to learn more about Leadership for Collective Wisdom, please check out our upcoming 2021 immersion.
Living Collective Wisdom™
Building on the concepts, commitments, and practices of Leadership for Collective Wisdom, Living Collective Wisdom invites us to embody a different way of engaging—ourselves, each other, our systems and communities—in support of population-level and similar large-scale results—what we describe as profound results.
The challenges for such undertakings can seem overwhelming, even intractable. They require diverse stakeholders working together for sustained periods of time to discover and effectively address root causes. They often require radically new and creative approaches that no one entity, institution, or sector can develop or implement alone. Living Collective Wisdom is intended to guide the development of adaptive responses to effect and sustain substantial progress toward such profound results.
This framework begins with a commitment to strengthen four core competencies, what we describe as the DNA of Living Collective Wisdom: leadership (as developed in Leadership for Collective Wisdom), living systems, community, and results.
We embody these core competencies through four developmental aspects of large-scale change: cohering a movement; building the movement; stabilizing a living system; and sustaining the living system.
Together, these developmental aspects and core competencies help guide groups committed to profound results: they affect every facet of a large-scale change effort. While progress can be asynchronous—i.e., progress within one of the developmental aspects may far outpace progress in another—groups committed to large-scale results will more likely sustain progress for the long haul when they continuously tend to all four developmental aspects and their associated core competencies.
If you want to learn more about Living Collective Wisdom, please check out our upcoming 2022 immersion. Note that an immersion in Leadership for Collective Wisdom is a prerequisite for participating in a Living Collective Wisdom immersion.
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