Is the Core the new Edge? (or Mindful Innovation)

One of the most problematic metaphors I have heard in changemaking and social innovation is that of ‘the core’ versus ‘the edge’. Changemakers can often be heard to speak of ‘the core’ representing all those aspects of the world which involve the existing system; features that have become so entrenched and enshrined to be unchallenged assumptions of daily existence.

In contrast, many changemakers see themselves as operating on ‘the edge’ – that zone which lies outside of the existing paradigm or system; pushing the boundaries of existence and what is possible. The edge is the space where newness flourishes, innovation bursts forth and discovery happens.

If the core is a place of boundaries and knowingness, the edge is the place of fuzziness and unknowingness. It is the contrast that is powerful, and yet it is the core that is often referred to negatively while the edge the alluring positive. All the while I cannot help but see a necessary yin-yang dynamic here, as if both are necessary and deeply entwined with each other.

In the beginning of heaven and earth
There were no words,
Words came out of the womb of matter
And whether a man dispassionately
Sees the core of life
Or passionately sees the surface
The core and the surface
Are essentially the same, Read more

Change by sword or hug…or both?

Last week I had the great privilege of hanging out with uncompromise (aka Cameron Burgess). We did some work together with the School for Social Entrepreneurs around organisational architecture, or how to design your organisation to achieve maximum impact.

I love Cameron’s passion and drive in the world – his energy is really contagious. We were talking about our different approaches to change-work and he shared an analogy of ‘change by sword’ versus ‘change by hug’. This is grossly simplifying what was actually a beautiful wisdom story of a monk, which I can’t seem to recall right now.

We talked about how Cameron often takes the role of the sword, and uses his intellect and sharp tongue to cut right through issues and get straight to the heart of what is happening for people. His experience with hypnotism has taught him that sometimes it is critical to be sharp like this to break through people’s resistances. In our chats this seemed to contrast with my more soft (or feminine perhaps) style of operating. I loved the conversation because the way he spoke really triggered some things in me and showed me aspects of myself which I was challenged by.

When we got around to running our workshop on the Tuesday however, things seemed to flip. Read more

Finding Joe, and the changemakers’ journey

On Monday I saw the documentary “Finding Joe” at the Wake Up Sydney event. The film explores the Hero’s Journey and the wisdom of Joseph Campbell. The thing I loved the most about this film is that it takes the story well beyond film and myth, to look at its application to personal psychology.

The thing that I have been contemplating on since though is ‘changemaking’ as an archetypal journey. In the classic “hero’s journey”, the stories and myths are about a hero who experiences ‘separation’ from their community or tribe, to depart and have a series of experiences that add up to the gaining of wisdom. The hero then returns to the community to share the wisdom gained.

For the changemaker it seems to be a different kind of journey. Firstly, the separation is quite different. Often in my observation, the changemaker stays embedded within the community they are seeking to serve. The separation is less a physical one, and more of an inner separation. Read more

Seeking Metaphors shaping our world

In the lead-up to Gathering ’11 I wrote a post on the SSE Australia blog called “8 (non-war) Metaphors for building a better future“. This post was driven partly by an interest in metaphor, but also by a strong desire to be conscious in the language we are choosing in describing and creating futures.

The title of the post looked at the prolific use of war-like metaphors for not only describing a change process, but also in creating it. This is the power of metaphor. Metaphors do more than describe reality; they also go a long way to creating it.

I find metaphor to be a powerful tool in communicating, and so often it is done unconsciously. I am on the look out for more metaphors that are shaping our world, with a view to create a sort-of library of metaphors. Please comment with suggestions, ideas and places to look….