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Transcript of a presentation by Peter Merry at Klima Forum 09 in Copenhagen We're facing a series of interconnected issues all of which are related to each other, and all of which are reaching a kind of critical moment in time. Here we¶re talking about climate change as the main header, but we can¶t really separate it from issues like poverty, food, healthcare etc. We¶re facing a moment in time of a complexity and challenges we've never had to face before as humanity. So how do we deal with this? How do we look it in the eye? How do we deal with this level of complexity and organise ourselves as best we can? So what we have here (slide) is a picture of the evolution of humankind over a period of time by Professor Lazlo. He looked at the key steps we have taken as humanity from when we were farmers, to feudal times, industrial times. What's important is that each of these steps that we took were nonlinear in their nature. This means they didn't just gradually change; there was a lot of experimentation and then at some point the whole system just shifted. It¶s what Malcolm Gladwell calls the tipping point . So we reach a moment in time when we've been doing things a certain way and we suddenly realise that the way we've been doing things doesn't work any more. You can't solve problems with the same level of thinking that created them. So we start searching for solutions, we start experimenting. It's what you see as you walk around Klima Forum, all these explorations, all these initiatives to try to work out what are we going to do, because the challenges are very significant, and we don't seem to have all the answers. There is a massive amount of experimentation going on. We¶re in one of those periods where the old system has run its course and has created a whole set of problems which it itself cannot solve. We¶re now having to find a new way of thinking and a new way of organising ourselves to actually try to engage with those challenges. We¶re in a non linear context. If we take climate change, it¶s a very good example of the non linear nature of change that we¶re in. All these different issues are affected by climate change. So as the temperature rises they increase in impact on each other. We¶re having to think about what we really want here, what scientists say it¶s necessary to do. When we ask that question we find ourselves at a level of challenge that there's no way we can find answers to with µbusiness as usual¶. These aren¶t challenges that we can solve through small changes here and there. We¶re being called into a massive leap in our thinking, our consciousness, in our organizations, to be able to deal with this. I came across this (referring to slide on screen) about five years ago; at that point they (Omega Institute) were calling this the worst case scenario of climate change. As I looked at it, it was pretty depressing. We could lose about 80 to 90% of the world's population; 75% of the land area become uninhabitable; lose 90% of the marine life. Since then all the information that we seem to be getting from scientists says that it's worse than their worst case scenario. Why is that? It¶s because we¶re in a non-linear period of change but they're trying to predict things from a linear gradual change process. But all the feedback loops from climate to tundra to methane to CO2 are all reinforcing each other. So we are facing a level of challenge that if we don't respond could lead to this kind of situation (referring to slide). So what do we do with that? Because this isn't about generating fear, but we do need to look reality in the face. Brain scientists tell us that the way we respond to challenges, when we let them in, if we look it in the eye, is that our brain will attempt to rewire itself to deal with that challenge, but only if we face it. But if we deny it, or don't look at it, we don't give ourselves a chance to respond. A critical part of the challenge we face is just to really look it in the eye and allow all the feelings and emotions that come with that to be present .We really have to let it into ourselves; our body needs to know that we're facing this kind of challenge right now, because we then give ourselves the chance to respond.
´ The second one is anger: ³This is totally unfair and I'm going to blame you and you and you. How do we deal with this? We're not being naïve. how nature evolves and grows. there¶s no guarantee. We decided this would be a great time to really work out. for example . So you can see this kind of process going on in society as we¶re faced with the science and faced with the world's biologists telling us that we're currently in the sixth great extinction on the planet. give us more time. the first one being denial: ³I don't believe it. eg from media and energy companies and regional governors. can we make it last a little bit longer. the organisations where is the knowledge we need to be able to collect together to specifically achieve this goal. to make choices. where are the people.´ That felt to me like a pretty good coping strategy. Jim was in Brazil talking to people about this idea and for some reason the Brazilians really ³got it´. And that¶s what we call meshworking. We have the capacity as humanity to. that it'll be fine. what the challenges are. The last was the dinosaurs and 90% of the world's biologists believe that we¶re already in the next. it can't be happening. . I got this little poem the other day and it ended like this: ³How to prevent world catastrophe´. So that's exactly what we mean by mesh working: If we as humanity need to be achieving certain things. We got wide support. The difference is that the change going on right now is largely caused by us so we also have the chance to swing it around. how societies change. given what we know about how individuals work.´ That got my interest because I'm a change process person. When I want to.You may be familiar with Kubler Ross¶ work on how individuals deal with death and facing death. what do we do? We met Jim Garrison from the State of the World Forum who ran a series of awareness raising activities in the 90s. the brain is pulling bits of itself together. He said something which grabbed my interest: ³W¶e¶re not just going to do events. (I thought. and to make things happen to really swing it around. if we let it in and face reality. I¶d like to tell you a bit about that. but remind ourselves that it could go the other way. We put our attention on the possibility of the new civilisation as it¶s emerging in places like this. We really have that capacity to respond. how organisations change. Research shows we tend to go through five major phases of grief. respond and organise really quickly. but we put our energy and intention and vision on the future that is emerging in places like this.´ Then you move on to depression or sadness and then after that there's the stage of acceptance. thinking that we all can definitely make it. what we saw in the Omega Institute study. What does that tell us about how we can be organising ourselves right now in this change context? So we agreed to collaborate on this to see what we could do.. that there won't be any suffering. to put into practice a lot of the stuff we¶d been beginning to discover working on a small scale about how we can best collaborate with each other to deal with these complex challenges. the nodes of the brain pull together to perform things. we¶re going to focus on a ten-year process to try to help humanity organise ourselves as effectively as possible to meet the kind of targets that we need to meet if we're really serious about climate change. So that's where the concept of meshworking came from. the sixth. ³Great!´) ³1) Admit it could happen (which is what we¶ve just been talking about: look it in the eye).They stopped in 2000 and said they¶d start again this year with a focus on climate change. It could happen. What we put our attention on grows. So we as the Centre for Human Emergence in the Netherlands and a group of colleagues from all over the world were thinking what do we do. wave my hand. 3) Commit your vision and energy to number 2 without ever forgetting number one. The word comes initially from the brain sciences. how the universe unfolds. I'm interested in how we evolve as human beings. 2) Decide it will not happen.The problem is that in the previous great extinctions it¶s been the lead species who has died.´ The third is you try to negotiate: ³Can we have a few more years. as we try to work out what we really want to do. Now that's not good news for us because we happen to be in lead species position. either of ourselves or of people near to us.
but that can be used in other places. The technology solutions are there. GE discovered this when they¶d got all these great technology solutions but they weren't getting the change that they wanted. You see a kind of evolution from just a network of people who have linked up because they¶re interested in each other. make it visible to the rest of the world and help it get adopted in different places. we need to realise that we¶re all part of the same emerging puzzle. We don't have time to sit in our own little ego shells saying µI invented this. All the knowledge that we need for technology exists. Adoption is the people piece. to a group of people who are doing similar things. So there's all this stuff going on as you will know from walking round here. a Facebook kind of thing.feeling that they¶re alien. We find those things. and biologists call them imaginal cells because they're imagining the future of the butterfly. What happens in the body of a caterpillar when it¶s in its cocoon is new cells begin to emerge. Look at the diversity in this room. that can see the potential and to reach the tipping point of emergence where like the butterfly the new civilisation emerges and the old one dissolves. So they realise they're all part of the same emerging body but that they have different functions to perform in that body.A key principle of meshworking is creating graded coherence. They realize one cell is there to help the brain develop. So if you take that metaphor and can be inspired by nature to think about how does transformation happen. and we help them get taken up so that we can speed up and accelerate the change. What happens in these times of emergence is that we start experimenting. the cells of the new civilisation that are imagining the future. We have to understand how people and societies work and change. Quality technology solutions have to be matched with adoption. an incredible amount of wisdom. look what we've discovered and how could you use it? Where is it useful and where is it not useful? What context is it useful for? There¶s this whole question around technology solutions. one is there for the antennae. There are thousands of people here that can help us as long as I know what you can do.one is there for the wings. what's often called a community of practice. This has been observed by Margaret Mead and her colleagues. The metaphor I like to use is the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. But first the caterpillar starts to attack the cells. When they realise that. we try things out. If there¶s one thing that is at a premium right now it¶s time. We have to understand how people work. Who in this room is holding a solution that doesn't just work in your context. It's truly remarkable what happens. what you can do. So they paid their consultants millions of dollars to find out and they came up with this equation: q times a equals e. So that's really the strategy of meshwork. We need our technology scientists. We need to be working together to get the change that we need. So what we need to do is to find where are the solutions. So maybe I¶m an expert in .And that's the complex piece because we¶re all different. We've all got different functions or roles to play in that. It¶s only when the cells begin to connect up with each other that they realise there are more cells here and they're all part of the future butterfly. the caterpillar dissolves and the butterfly emerges. each person in this room and the organisations we work with we can think of as imaginal cells. What we are discovering is that this is not really a technology challenge. future cells of the butterfly. Why should they change their behaviour? Why should they adopt new technologies? We can't just parachute a technology in anywhere and expect it to be picked up and work. You can see as people get together that actually we evolve in how well we work together. but where we are now we need to think about how we generate greater collaboration and coherence between everything that¶s going on. but we also need our people who understand people. then I know who to talk to if I¶m faced with a specific challenge. this is only good for me. So that's really what meshworking is set up to do. and who start to learn from each other. insight and projects going on. we make them visible to the rest of the world. We need to be asking ourselves which piece of the puzzle do I have? What role do I have to play in the transformation? What role does my organisation have to play? I don't have to save the world entirely by myself. Another key part of it is to find the stuff which is working already. Only then can we really get the change we need.¶ We need to be saying to the world. and we discover remarkable solutions that work.
psychology and biology .reducing deforestation. to help you profile yourself and let the world know who you are. Then we ask ourselves if that¶s what we¶re trying to do what are the really key areas that we need to be working on in order to achieve that? The areas of discussion came from using the knowledge of everyone in the room. that¶s called systems of influence. Brazilians do this really well. what is all the data telling us about where the critical acupuncture points are. that collaboration together to focus on the key things that are really going to make a difference right now and get the change as quickly as possible. We don't just have meetings where we have people sitting on a stage telling everybody how it must be. different dimensions of the puzzle and to create space for that wisdom to come out. So there's the online platform. We use the experts when needed bringing their insight but we also use the collective intelligence of the people who are in the room. we like to do things together. So we actually have to help people work in this way. sociology. We make sure first that there is a heart connection behind the purpose. so that what we do is informed and intelligent. not only do I learn from you and take that back to my own context. what do we really need to be doing? What I'm describing is something you can do in your own city or town. The people who are just sitting here right now could be an incredibly powerful organisation if we just sat down and asked each other. We need to develop these new forms of collaboration that will make us more effective. but we now realise that you've got some specific expertise in a certain area. They were scribbled down on tablecloths. what do you know. any reports or research you know that might be relevant to other people in your field. What is it we really care about? What are the things that make me really want to work with you beyond my own interests.and that is designed precisely to do what I just described. which piece of the puzzle you've got. competing for funding etc. It¶s very simple. There was lots of great music and dancing. We asked the question. to an 80% CO2 reduction by 2020. That's basically what we started doing when we launched the Global 2020 Climate Leadership campaign in Brazil in August. I didn't .org . We start to act together to have significant influence in the world. So to really acknowledge that each person has a piece of the puzzle. Because often people are unused to working together. on the walls. anthropology. And there¶s a step beyond that as well. And then supporting the implementation of solutions.all the ologies. it¶s personal development work and it is also organizational development work. We basically need to be asking which ology has which solution and who needs to work with whom in order to achieve progress. align behind the goal. We need to have an intelligent system that tells us what does the earth need now. There was a good mix of quite formal people with activists. so we can find each other and combine our knowledge as quickly as possible and then track our progress in terms of how well we're doing in moving down the key pathways that we need to move down if we're going to do what we need to do. I like this slide because it has a number of different areas like economics. So. which is the size of France. people are used to doing their own thing in their own organization. we like to talk. One piece is online technology . and then there are physical meetings like this where we help people work out what we need to do in order to collaborate together. So there¶s five core pieces in meshwork. who you¶ve worked with and upload any solutions which you have developed or are aware of. You take the lessons I've learned back to your context and I take what I've learned from you back to my context and we go on and do our own thing. We might wonder whether people would do that. I find someone else is as well and we talk about what works for us. If we actually got our act together and started implementing solutions together. as well as international experts. what do you know.2020climatesolutions. but we¶re human beings. We took all the ideas and clustered them on the wall. of building our collaboration capacity.www. So we had this big fanfare and then we went into a three-day working conference with 220 experts from different sectors of Brazilian society. The regional governor had just declared that he was going to commit his region. That¶s essentially what we¶re framing as meshwork. I've got specific expertise in a certain area and if we work together to solve this problem we have a far bigger impact than I would on my own or that you would on your own. We find a collective goal that inspires us all to collaborate. That's a great acceleration in our potential for learning and collaboration.
for anybody else working on climate change who has a piece of the puzzle. Once we have identified these key conditions. what do we really need to collaborate on. this pattern language. in what¶s called a maturity model. we work out what are the top priority things we need to focus on.) µWe are entering a new land. where is the knowledge. where are the organizations that have the expertise. 230 people got it down to about 10 different key areas. We want to avoid reinventing the wheel as much as possible right now. given we¶ve got a limited amount of resources and time. which means we include the environmental and social costs of products. So in ecosystems the top one that came out was reducing deforestation. The whole point is to create the space for ongoing collaboration after Copenhagen. it changes everything. In economics the one that came first was full cost accounting. you act. find the stuff that works and aligning behind the key things that we need to be doing. If you've got particular expertise in any of the areas we¶d like you to sit at the appropriate table and talk to us. so we accelerate our learning. We sense what do we need to do now. To finish. This is available for you to use. And getting on with it is not a five-year plan.know if we were going to get any coherence. The process here is the further development of this understanding. On the back wall here you can rate your country's progress in these key areas which means that if we find that if one country is ahead of others in a particular area they can help each other to progress.The reason that it's not a five-year plan is that things are changing so quickly that if you try to make a big plan you take one step. where you¶re not actually attached to the outcome of your action. we identify the areas for success. So you feel as if it¶s the right thing to do. and your plan is out of date. some of us as intentional immigrants. our key areas. The second one was increasing carbon taxes. our key focused conditions and our knowledge. So you then ask if we've got these key areas like ecosystem resilience. we identify the knowledge that is already there that can help us. (which is where we don't understand what to do. We were thinking as individuals. we review the whole thing and then we get on with it. you act. We align behind the goal. for your organization. see how far your country has developed in each area. we do that and we stop. This online system will be there for the foreseeable future. because we need to know exactly what it is you have to offer. People need to know exactly what is your piece of the puzzle. This will continue to evolve. the world is changed. Our old organisational approaches of long term planning that attempt to control and predict everything don't work in a non-linear change context. This is just a kind of summary of the different steps we go through that you can do at home. choosing . this framework. What's critical is to take a few moments to profile yourself properly. and then you check again ± it¶s as simple as that. that can help us get there quickly and not reinvent the wheel. Have we missed anything and have we got the prioritisation right? You can. we act again and then we check again: what's the reality now? It is a process of action. things we need to be working on. what are the breakthrough things that we should really be focusing our attention on. And that's what the online system enables you to do. we ask ourselves where are the people who know how to do this. learning. that are really going to make a big difference. We got a set of key areas that came out of that. So we have our goal. the second was increasing carbon in the soil. the best practice and solutions that already exist. We need to pick the things that are going to shift the whole system fundamentally.but we were also thinking as one mind.Because you don't know what impact your actions are going to have as there's loads of other people and organisations involved as well. We don't have time to play around with the small stuff. sustainable economics. acting and sensing. Had the collective mind worked? Sure enough as we did it we noticed there were indeed patterns. I like this quote from the International Futures Forum: 10 Things to do in a Conceptual Emergency. So we need to try to be present to how things are now. what we need to do next. The exercise was a prioritisation exercise to see.
which ends: µIt¶s about living the future now Yes is the answer to how « We are the ones where the ocean hits the shore We are the ones we've been waiting for. others are just being pulled along as refugees.timmerry. That is our choice: do we intentionally choose to co-create a new civilisation with each other or do we allow ourselves to be pulled along all the time? He finished with a poem by his brother Tim (www.com): µAre You Ready?¶.¶ .to go there.
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