This post is a change of direction for Dadamac Connect. I’m not going to write about people, organisations or events today. Instead I’m going to share a couple of connected ideas, which I think help to explain our turbulent times. They are very simply ideas, but they take some explaining. I’m not explaining them in depth here. I’m just raising them, and pointing out that they are connected and that my current work relates to exploring and explaining them.
One idea is related to top down systems and horizontal ones. Nikki and I shared this idea in the context of International Development on Jan10th 2015 at an event called “Africa-UK Connections in Practice – New Approaches for 2015” – now captured in this short video “#dadamac2015”ours.
There are related slides and posts scattered around the place. I am working to pull them together. We are exploring them in practice in many ways through our work in Dadamac Foundation. To me my work in Dadamac Foundation is about patterns of change and connectivity as much as it is about helping particular projects or people. We all have our own reasons for giving our time to different endeavours.
The relationship between top down and horizontal systems in one of the key ideas I’m exploring related to systemic change.
One idea relates to the “meeting point” between horizontal information flows and top down ones – and the turbulence we find there.
One of the great challenges of our times is to learn to “navigate” in that very “turbulent area” where top down and horizontal meet. (I’m not explaining fully here, but related ideas are zones of confluence, and convergence). This area of turbulence relates to ideas and organisations, to new collaborations and directions. It iconnects aspects of organisational systems, networks, institutions, habitual thought patterns, etc. It is an area of great disruption and huge potential. I believe that we need to understand it if we are to make a smooth transition from our disconnected world to the connected one.
Another idea relates to how we see and understand things. The basic idea is very simple. We are currently living our lives in two different worlds – the connected one and the “pre-connected” one.
We live part of our lives in a world where the fact that it is a connected world is taken for granted. In that world turning to the internet is as automatic as turning on a water tap , or an electrical switch. We expect a flow of information, electrical power and clean water. We assume that we can connect easily with people who are scattered across the globe. We take all these services for granted as much as the air we breathe. In that connected world we have almost forgotten that these things are infrastructure, not nature.
In another part of our lives things look and feel very much the same. Water and electricity flow as we have come to expect. But information doesn’t, and we don’t expect it to. It’s an unconnected world and things tend to operate in silos.
In this unconnected world things are carrying on pretty much as they did before the Internet was invented. That makes if a very different kind of world – with different expectations, different hierarchies, and different ways of doing things.
The fact that we live in these two worlds would be less problematic if we moved from one to the other through some kind of passport-showing, border-control system. But we don’t. Sometimes we are definitely in one world. Sometimes in the other. Most of the time we are living in both worlds at the same time – and totally unaware of the fact. I suggest that this “living in two parallel worlds at the same time” is one of the underlying reasons for many of the tensions we find.
It’s an idea I’m currently working on with Za Nonsuch and others in a book called “The Reluctant TIme Traveller – How to Survive and Thrive When the System Shifts”
So when I say that Dadamac Connect connects people, organisations and ideas – these are the kind of ideas I’m talking about.