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Dadamac is an example of emergence.

The article on Lifecycle of Emergence describes what we are experiencing, and shines light on why we believe that we will have major impact. As the authors state “Change begins as local actions spring up simultaneously in many different areas. If these changes remain disconnected, nothing happens beyond each locale. However, when they become connected, local actions can emerge as a powerful system with influence at a more global or comprehensive level.”

That point of increasing connection across local actions is where Dadamac stands at present. Having worked intensively with some remarkable locally driven projects in Nigeria, we are now making similar connections with (and between) other locally driven projects elsewhere in English-speaking Suh-Saharan Africa  – see   Steps towards critical mass and International Development disruption

The article on emergence puts our work into a wider theoretical context, so I’ve taken a few quotes from the article and added my italics.

Lifecycle of Emergence: Using Emergence to Take Social Innovation to Scale

By Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze, 2006

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.

(snip)

Through these relationships, we will develop the new knowledge, practices, courage, and commitment that lead to broad-based change

(snip)

As networks grow and transform into active, working communities of practice,  suddenly and surprisingly a new system emerges at a greater level of scale. This system of influence possesses qualities and capacities that were unknown in the individuals

(snip)

Since its inception in 1992, The Berkana Institute has been experimenting with the lifecycle of emergence: how living systems begin as networks, shift to intentional communities of practice, and evolve into powerful systems capable of global influence. Through our work with communities in many different nations, we are learning what’s possible when we connect people across difference and distance. By applying the lessons of living systems and working intentionally with emergence and its lifecycle, we are demonstrating how local social innovation can be taken to scale and provide solutions to many of the world’s most intractable issues—such as community health, ecological sustainability and economic self-reliance.

Why we need to understand networks

Researchers and social activists are beginning to discover the power of networks and networking.

(snip)

Networks create the conditions for emergence, which is how Life changes. Because networks are the first stage in emergence, it is essential that we understand their dynamics and how they develop into communities and then systems.

Yet much of the current work on networks displays old paradigm bias.

(snip)

What’s missing in these analyses is an exploration of the dynamics of networks:

  • Why do networks form? What are the conditions that support their creation?
  • What keeps a network alive and growing? What keeps members connected?
  • What type of leadership is required? Why do people become leaders?
  • What type of leadership interferes with or destroys the network?
  • What happens after a healthy network forms? What’s next?
  • If we understand these dynamics and the lifecycle of emergence, what can we do as leaders, activists and social entrepreneurs to intentionally foster emergence?

What is Emergence?

Emergence violates so many of our Western assumptions of how change happens that it often takes quite a while to understand it. In nature, change never happens as a result of top-down, pre-conceived strategic plans, or from the mandate of any single individual or boss. Change begins as local actions spring up simultaneously in many different areas. If these changes remain disconnected, nothing happens beyond each locale. However, when they become connected, local actions can emerge as a powerful system with influence at a more global or comprehensive level. (Global here means a larger scale, not necessarily the entire planet.)

Full article –Lifecycle of Emergence: Using Emergence to Take Social Innovation to Scale – By Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze, 2006

My take on this

I write in www.DadamacConnect.london to connect people, organisations and ideas. This post connects:

  • The theoretical work of the Berkana Institute
  • Personal reflections and insights which connect my practical work in Dadamac to theoretical work on networks, emergence, organisational change and deep systemic change.
  • The practical UK-Africa work of www.dadamac.org (if clicking the link takes you to a Dadamac Foundation logo, instead of a Dadamac.org logo, please be aware that a major makeover is in progress)