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

Emergence is the fundamental scientific explanation for how local changes can materialize as global systems of influence. As a change theory, it offers methods and practices to accomplish the systems-wide changes that are so needed at this time. As leaders and communities of concerned people, we need to intentionally work with emergence so that our efforts will result in a truly hopeful future. No matter what other change strategies we have learned or favored, emergence is the only way change really happens on this planet. And that is very good news.


Berkana’s Four Stages for Developing Leadership-in-Community

Berkana works with pioneering leaders and communities using a four-stage approach. This has evolved out of our understanding of how living systems grow and change, and years of practice and experimentation.

I. Name

Pioneering leaders act in isolation, unaware that their work has broader value. They are too busy to think about extending their work, and too humble to think that others would benefit. Berkana’s first act is to recognize them as pioneers with experiences that are of value to others.

II. Connect

Life grows and changes through the strength of its connections and relationships. (In nature, if a system lacks health, the solution is to connect it to more of itself.) Berkana creates connections in many different ways. We design and facilitate
community gatherings. We host networks where people can exchange ideas and resources. Our collaborative technology supports communities of practice through dedicated websites, online conferences, asynchronous conversations and cocreated knowledge products.

III. Nourish

Communities of practice need many different resources: ideas, mentors, processes, technology, equipment, money. Each is important, but foremost among these is learning and knowledge: knowing what techniques and processes work well, and
learning from experience as people do the work.

Berkana provides many of these sources of nourishment but, increasingly, we find that the most significant nourishment comes from the interactions and exchanges among pioneering leaders themselves. They need and want to share their
practices, experiences and dreams. Creating opportunities for people to learn together has become our primary way of nourishing their efforts.

IV. Illuminate

It is difficult for anybody to see work based on a different paradigm. If people do notice such work, it is often characterized as inspiring deviations from the norm. It takes time and attention for people to see different approaches for what they are:
examples of what the new world could be. The Berkana community publishes articles, tells our stories at conferences, and host learning journeys where people visit pioneering efforts, learn from them directly, and develop lasting relationships.

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