Complexity-Aware Thinking is Ready for Primetime

 

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This blog is a guest post and companion to the Voice America Interview on “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” with Christopher Cooke and Sheila Cooke on October 17, 2017, Navigating the holistic Worldview Membrane.

The Netflix series, “Designated Survivor”, offers a refreshing story about a president who is able to manage incredibly difficult circumstances.

In the TV series, low-level cabinet member Tom Kirkman unexpectedly becomes president after a devastating attack on Washington, D.C. He gets in by emergency protocol because he was named “designated survivor”. In the conspiracy, his forced selection is intended to lead to social failure, making way for dictatorial takeover. Yet against all odds, he and his administration lead with aplomb.

Why? Because his thinking is different – he values civility and all life. He envisions novel solutions that work. He engenders flexible and creative thinking in others. He is unafraid of disturbing the status quo. Yes, it is fiction, but the fact that a TV scriptwriter could conjure this story tells us a new way of thinking is emergent and ready for prime time.

What’s really going on in this TV series?

It’s about the emergence of our species. Humans are continuously co-evolving with their life conditions. As the world complexifies, new capacities emerge, or not. This is what we define as human emergence.

Today’s life conditions are testing the limits of the adaptive capacities of all life forms, not just human. Earth is fragile. Society is fragile. Threats of nuclear war, the ever-widening income gap, and the sixth mass extinction challenge every basic assumption.

Surviving such complexity is challenging, and we offer a simple principle:

Be and act at least a half-step ahead of the life conditions.

“A half-step ahead” refers to the capacity to look back in from the balcony to discern what’s really going on, to flexibly morph and fit oneself to the circumstances, to lead from a strong sense of purpose that is aligned with all life. Such an individual can suss out trouble, navigate obstacles, and make quality decisions that impact positively on all life.

As long as old ways of thinking remain entrenched, latent complexity-aware capacities are unable to be released within an individual or society. Simply becoming aware that our development is not yet finished, and that more is possible, stimulates the legitimacy and utilisation of new ways and means.

How can one support one’s own emergence, or that of another?

It is possible to learn how to stimulate human emergence by using research instruments, such as those offered by 5 Deep Vital Signs. These instruments hold a mirror up to the individual or to the organisation, to reveal patterns of thinking that cannot be discovered through self-examination.

The next big wave of human emergence can only happen volitionally. In other words, we need to wilfully seek it. It is like deliberately rubbing your own magic lamp to call out your inner genie, the hidden treasure inside.

About the Authors

Christopher Cooke: (MSc. B.A. FellowRSA) Is the founder and a lead consultant for 5 deep. He is an international senior manager, consultant, coach, confidante, counsellor, therapist, trainer and qualified engineer, with over 28 years’ experience in pioneering and supporting personal and organizational change. He is focused on the release of latent human capacities to navigate gracefully through complexity, innovation and change. Christopher has become a leading figure in the practical demonstration of The Graves Technology, Spiral Dynamics, and Integral Theory since 1997. His commitment and focus has seen application in as many contexts as possible.

Sheila Cooke (MBA, B.A.) is a Director and lead consultant for 5 Deep. With over 20 years experience in leading international business, Sheila specializes as a designer and trainer of virtual and face-to-face collaboration processes that build resilience and adaptability within organizations to lead through complexity, by building capacity for self-organization. She leads Land and Livestock Management for Life (an operating division within 5Deep) which is part of the Savory Institute Network.

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