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Living Collective Wisdom®

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. Living Collective Wisdom® helps us and our partners embody new ways of leading. learning, and living collective wisdom in support of profound results.

Foundational Concepts

Two concepts—collective wisdom and the Four Dimensions of Change—provide the foundation for Living Collective Wisdom.

Collective Wisdom

In their forthcoming book entitled Living 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 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:

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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 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.

Collective wisdom

Four Core Competencies


This transformative, scaleable approach to organizational and large-scale change is organized around four core competencies: leadership, living systems, community, and results. 

Through the leadership core competency, participants learn how to increase their creativity and capacity for innovation—their potential to access collective wisdom—when confronting adaptive dilemmas and stewarding ambitious change efforts. They are introduced to commitments and practices of self and collective leadership, strengthening their proficiency for reflection, authentic engagement, and dialogue. They also explore processes for improved relationship-building, problem-solving, and decision-making that can help groups avoid the emergence of, and heal from past experiences of, collective folly, the continuum of behaviors that erode trust and amplify dynamics of othering and conflict.

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The living systems core competency offers a highly accessible orientation to systems thinking. Participants are helped to better understand and manage interdependence, complexity, and emergence within human systems, and how to identify high leverage actions in support of achieving and sustaining successful change efforts.

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The community core competency helps participants learn how to move beyond transactional relationships to foster relationships of mutuality, particularly among people with divergent perspectives and people within hierarchical organizations who hold different levels of authority. Participants also explore how to create healing movements in contexts beset by past conflicts and trauma, and pursue effective community-building strategies.

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The results core competency builds upon the first three competencies. At the heart of this competency is a user-friendly, data-driven process called Wisdom Dialogue©. The process is organized around five iterative practices: (1) extending the invitation; (2) defining the change and how we will assess progress; (3) exploring the current reality; (4) discerning right action, including small bets and low-cost and no-cost options; and (5) acting, reflecting, and adapting.

Four Developmental Aspects


Building on these four core competencies, Living Collective Wisdom posits four developmental aspects of large-scale change committed to achieving profound results: cohering a movement, building the movement, stabilizing a living system, and sustaining the living system. Each developmental aspect is grounded in one of four core competencies. The diagram below offers a visual illustration of this framework. 

© Center for Collective Wisdom LLC

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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 consider registering for one of our upcoming Immersions

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