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Using Emergence

Using Emergence

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Published by Nick Wilding
Despite current ads and slogans,
the world doesn’t change one
person at a time. It changes as
networks of relationships form
among people who discover they
share a common cause and vision
of what’s possible.
Despite current ads and slogans,
the world doesn’t change one
person at a time. It changes as
networks of relationships form
among people who discover they
share a common cause and vision
of what’s possible.

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Published by: Nick Wilding on Jan 19, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/29/2013

 
The Berkana Institute
Using Emergenceto ake Social Innovation to Scale
Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze
 
The Berkana Institute
1
Despite current ads and slogans,the world doesn’t change oneperson at a time. It changes asnetworks o relationships ormamong people who discover they share a common cause and visiono whats possible.
 his is good news or those o us intent on changing the worldand creating a positive uture.Rather than worry about criticalmass, our work is to oster criticalconnections. We don’t need to con- vince large numbers o people tochange; instead, we need to connect with kindred spirits. Trough theserelationships, we will develop thenew knowledge, practices, courageand commitment that lead tobroad-based change.But networks aren’t the wholestory. As networks grow andtransorm into active, workingcommunities o practice, we discoverhow lie truly changes, which isthrough emergence. When separ-ate, local eorts connect with eachother as networks, then strength-en as communities o practice,suddenly and surprisingly a new system emerges at a greater levelo scale. his system o inuencepossesses qualities and capacitiesthat were unknown in the indi- viduals. It isn’t that they were hid-den; they simply don’t exist untilthe system emerges. hey are prop-erties o the system, not the indi- vidual, but once there, individualspossess them. And the system thatemerges always possesses greaterpower and inuence than is pos-sible through planned, incrementalchange. Emergence is how liecreates radical change and takesthings to scale.Since its inception in 1992, he Berkana Institute has beenexperimenting with the liecycle o 
Using Emergence to ake SocialInnovation to Scale
Margaret Wheatley & Deborah Frieze
 
2
emergence: how living systems be-gin as networks, shit to intentionalcommunities o practice, and evolveinto powerul systems capableo global inuence. hrough our work with communities in many dierent nations, we are learning what’s possible when we connectpeople across dierence and dis-tance. By applying the lessonso living systems and work-ing intentionally with emergenceand its liecycle, we are demon-strating how local social innovationcan be taken to scale and pro- vide solutions to many o the worldsmost intractable issues—such ascommunity health, ecological sus-tainability and economic sel-reliance.
 Why we need to understandnetworks
Researchers and social activists arebeginning to discover the powero networks and networking.And there is a growing recognitionthat networks are the new ormo organizing. Evidence o sel-organized networks is everywhere:rom social activists and web-basedinterest groups to terrorist groupsand street gangs. While we now seethese everywhere, it is not becausethey’re a new orm o organizing.It’s because we’ve removed our oldparadigm blinders that look orhierarchy and control mechanismsin the belie that organization only happens through human will andintervention.Networks are the only orm o organization on this planet usedby living systems. Tese networksresult rom sel-organization, whereindividuals or species recognizetheir interdependence and organizein ways that support the diversity and viability o all. Networks createthe conditions or emergence, which is how lie changes. Becausenetworks are the rst stage in emer-gence, it is essential that we under-stand their dynamics and how they develop into communities and thensystems. Yet much o the current work onnetworks displays old paradigm bias.In social network analysis, physicalrepresentations o the network arecreated by mapping relationships. Tis is useul or convincing peoplethat networks exist, and peopleare oten ascinated to see thenetwork made visible. Other net- work analysts name roles played

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