On November 5th…remember remember the fifth of November…2015, 170 people came together on the Gold Coast for Big Blue Sky.
The event was extraordinarily successful in many ways. For me the most significant aspect of Big Blue Sky was what I am now calling the Relational Synergistic Design upon which the event, the team, the projects and ongoing works, was built.
My background is medical science, specifically applied science. As a systems thinker, I also look to a 4 billion year history of organisational design, commonly referred to as Nature…because perhaps…just perhaps, nature has figured it out far in advance of us mere mortals with our 50,000 or so years.
Added to this background is 30 years of studying the work of R.Buckminster Fuller. Of building models to understand what exactly he meant by ‘space has shape.’ And indeed, discovering that space has shape. When you build the model it is very hard to argue with it. The invisible, ‘space’ has an equal invisible ‘shape’.
Similarly, tension cannot exist without compression. We are simultaneously in motion of blowing apart and collapsing into a heap. Some days the sense of collapse feels more immanent, other days, it definitely feels like an explosion. (And some days I am not entirely sure if I am blowing part or collapsing in a heap!)
Designing any human system, one where people work together…..ideally in harmony…is well known to be challenging. Almost always they end up either in a collapsed heap, or scattered wide and far, often in an explosive way.
To create the design whereby a group of people can actually work together, build amazing projects together, and to do so in relative harmony, is quite the feat.
What I discovered at Big Blue Sky is there are a few critical components needed to do this.
The design itself might be likened to a cell membrane. In the centre of the cell is the DNA – a hologram of the purpose and intention of the very reason the cell exists. This hologram is shared in a fractal way in all the other cells within the larger system, and indeed, possibly even within the entire system…however entire you would like to make that. Within the cell is also the powerhouse, for everything requires energy, and the waste disposal units. And the field/space in which everything within the cell exists.
The cell membrane itself has advanced intelligence. Its role is to allow the easy flow into and out of the cell all the needed things to enable a healthy and viable existence within the cell. It is also responsible for stopping really important things from exiting, and potentially bad things from entering.
As well, the cell membrane is the intelligence that monitors the interior of the cell and the exterior of the cell. The exterior includes the environment that cell is a part of…for example the Liver, that is a part of the human called Christine, that is a part of a community called the Gold Coast, that is a part of the community called Australia, that is part of the community called Earth……
In order to become a part of the community called the cell, the cell membrane, a threshold, must be crossed. Conditions are required before crossing. (In or out) These conditions are not too hard, nor too easy. Like Goldilocks porridge, they need to be just right.
Finally, the cell membrane, through all of these actions, is responsible for maintaining the tension within the cell. Not enough tension and we have collapse in a heap. Too much tension and we have explosion outwards. This tension is created through polarity, the positive and negative. In our all too egalitarian ‘politically correct’ world, the focus is almost entirely on the positive. At the greatest expense to maintaining tension, space and integrity. We need the negative charge, we need diversity, we need the down to up, the out to in, the bad to good…for space to hold its shape.
The organisation is a living breathing system, where the tension of the container holding the space is critical to the longevity, vitality and success of the cell. The tension itself has its own integrity, and that integrity, along with the DNA, defines the cell.
Indeed, even in a relationship between two people, exactly these principles apply. Too much tension and we explode…fall out of love…not enough tension, and we collapse…fall in love…the integrity of tension means we dance in love. Neither one person falling in or out….Yet our impulse as humans is so strongly to collapse in…to give up our own sovereignty and space to merge with another.
Relational Synergistic Design encompasses all of these dimensions. The leadership role is akin to the cell membrane. (Not, as our current models suggest, the central DNA type role.) Once the design has been set in place and the threshold crossing named, the leader becomes almost invisible. Their chief function is to be in constant communication with the interior health of the cell, and to be scanning and collaborating with the exterior immediate world, then into the far off world outside the system, making fine tuned adjustments to the polarity of the cell to maintain its integrity/shape. Because the cell exists always in relationship to the whole, they must do this in full partnership and collaboration with the whole. At the same time, they must prevent any violation of the central DNA.
This type of leadership is exquisite in its nuance and profound in its ability to do very large things with a very small amount of effort. The effort came in the relational synergistic design. The work that occurred before project launch.
As we build the projects born from Big Blue Sky, I continue to work with a select number of leaders who are hell bent on creating the organisations of the future. Organsiations that serve all of humanity, that operate under a design that does not extract at the cost of anyone. This is the future of business, beautiful business. If this is of interest to you, if you want to deploy relational synergistic design into your organisation, then I would love to hear from you.