Nurturing, Managing, and Inspiring Synergy
John Hardman does not take himself seriously enough. He teaches regenerative leadership but what I take from the course is regenerative living. Yesterday was another huge milestone in my understanding of what that actually is. Eusebius is my classmate, he's about half my age, and yet he possesses at least twice my wisdom: our products are always stages of success when we work together. Teamwork becomes an essential notion in regeneration. What a revelation.
There is this fascinating exercise called the Marshmallow Challenge which asks participants to construct the tallest free-standing structure, within 18 minutes, with the following items: 20 pieces of dry spaghetti, a few yards of string, scissors, a roll of tape, and a marshmallow. The objective is to successfully create the structure from the items only within the allotted time such that the structure can support the marshmallow on top. We do this in groups. There is no other constraint .. Who does best? Consistently it's the kids for several reasons: their assumptions about structures are necessarily quite limited and therefore they do not have a 'best design' from the get-go, they learn successive-prototyping from the scenario on the fly because of their fluid intelligence, and they learn the skills required including (the essential) teamwork again because of their fluid intellects. This learning experience ceases to be just a 'classroom exercise'; it becomes a way of life.
This is further evidence John does not take himself seriously enough .. Yesterday, I attempted to engage the President of our university about John. She does not know him. It's a pity; what an understatement if there ever was. Here I know, who is likely the finest educator at our university, who essentially teaches collaborative learning, a man who is so humble, but yet goes unrecognized by university leadership. I have used this expression before (not lightly): it's a sin. But enough about John; I'm sure he'd prefer we guide the conversation away from him specifically – back toward regeneration.
The exercise outlined above teaches us critical elements required for regenerative living:
fluid intelligence: must have
teamwork: must have
relevant skills: must have
successive-prototyping: must have
The last appears from the data as a 'suggestion' but I contend it's a requirement. I lied: the kids were only beat-out by trained architects and engineers working together. What this tells us is that when there is any level of ignorance about approach toward problem solving, we must fall back toward the more conservative successive-prototyping. Generally speaking, most of our problems include some level of ignorance .. There is another aspect of the exercise quite illuminating: when we give incentives for product, and when combined with lack of skills, this is a guaranteed recipe for failure. This is profoundly illuminating because in real life, we always have incentives and we always have lack of skills .. The only global (in terms of general problem solving) solution is the regenerative framework outlined above.
How can I say this with authority? Because although I am not a chess master (yet have invented a novel form of chess), I am not a professional/registered engineer (yet I have designed AA and am approaching synergy control), I am not the 'best friend in the world' (yet I am always there when you need me), and I am not the best problem solver in the world – yet I can outline a procedure (above) which essentially can solve any problem, we must recognize some level of expertise residing in my consciousness.
The notion of fluid intelligence I garnered from this free online course. I recognized it immediately during class yesterday.. The rest was simply reframing GPS (general problem solving) within that context + the RF (regenerative framework). The notion of reframing comes from here. So.. Where do we go from here? Let me review what we've accomplished in this brief essay: we've taken a professional's global-impacting product, the RF, and synthesized it into an explicit process that can be used to solve any problem the world faces. Again, John does not take himself seriously enough.
Next, our attention is guided to examples of non-sustainability: Walmart:
the largest company on the planet
equivalent product/consumption of a country
performs clearly non-sustainable practices
John, in his textbook, makes one 'critical flaw': p32: “forcing leaders to learn the art of shared leadership” (italics added). Why is this a mistake? Because it's adversarial and old-school.. John is clearly the preeminent visionary of our times, but he does not take himself seriously enough and here falls into the trap of old-school thinking. Once there, it's hard to 'get out'. I know from personal experiences that we can spend our entire lives 'going in circles' with respect to 'old ways of thinking'. From one perspective, it's a typo; from another, backsliding.. It's relevant here because we must inspire RL (regenerative living) in several ways: our personal lives must be obvious reflections of the RF, our professional/work lives must as well, and I contend: our spiritual (internal) lives must reflect the RF.. John essentially agrees: we must shift our awareness (both individually and collectively) in order to make any progress as a civilization.. Unfortunately, he under-appreciates his role in this process of 'reengineering our world' in a sustainable context .. Back to Walmart. How can we inspire the leadership of Walmart to adopt more sustainable practices? We must give them incentives. We cannot mandate/order/coerce/legislate sustainable practices. We must provide 'success stories' (as John has done in his book). We must work together as a global society to stimulate and nurture sustainable initiatives (and so I have proposed to John we create RIO: Regenerative Initiatives Organization). And we must actively jump on any opportunities to participate.. This is where John's academic bent fails his global objectives .. Walk the talk.
Enough about John; we need to focus on RL and how to get the world to 'catch fire' with it. One fascinating concept John introduces in his course is: backcasting. The idea is this:
we imagine a desirable future and all its implications
we 'reverse engineer' it temporally – determining all required steps to get there from here
we implement them
It sounds simple but is quite profound in its approach. Key phrases are: 'all its implications' and 'all required steps'.. Implementation, in this way of thinking, becomes almost trivial. We need to use the RF outlined above in order to address those key concerns effectively .. I ask John to forgive my criticisms of his humble bent and backsliding; there is nothing wrong with humility unless it stands in the way of true progress; we should never approach each other as adversaries; we should always approach each other as potential friends/collaborators. The RF becomes a way of life: RL .. As a final personal note, the reason I can 'so easily' 'fall into' RL is because my spiritual values were already aligned with the RF before I even heard of the stuff.. I beg you dear reader to look within, become aware of your value system, make it explicit (write your values down), imagine a 'future you' say 10 or 20 years into the future, imagine what kind of values you will have at that time, and backcast them to now. If there is any discrepancy between the future-you and the now-you, perhaps you should reevaluate your dreams .. My personal question to you is: do your personal dreams include dreams for our civilization? If so and if they're positive, I cordially invite you to work with me on backcasting our shared vision for utopia on Earth together.