This large-ish question appeared on my radar this week. Thank you, Lori Schilling, for meeting with me Wednesday and your willingness to tell your story and have a delightful conversation with someone new. It was from our conversation that this question emerged for me. I also need to thank Doug Nathan for suggesting that I connect with Lori. Lori and I sat in a bakery on Bainbridge Island for two hours Wednesday. She’s amazing. My goodness, is everyone on this island amazing?! Seems to be the case. But I digress… Among the many things Lori does (mom, learner, community builder, educator, etc.), she’s a member of the New Life non-denominational Christian church, and I was there to learn about what’s working in this large, happy, growing, and new-traditional organization. The story of the church—and the amazing small groups within it—will most likely appear in the Different Work eBook series that Bas and I are writing now. Lori, I am so grateful for you and our discussion. Thank you!
Now, in a move uncharacteristic for me, I’m going to be brief on this subject. These are my initial thoughts based on my conversation with Lori and my reflection on her story amongst all the communities, self-organizing groups, and individuals I study and am part of. Let me know what you think!
What matters most about us as community?
As community we:
- Create space in which self-organizing groups can more easily form and thrive
- Cause people, including strangers, to feel welcome and that they belong
- Never stop learning and teaching ourselves how to support ourselves and others in feeling welcome and that we belong
- Experience abundance
What matters most about us as small self-organizing groups?
As small self-organizing groups we:
- Create space in which individuals can more easily thrive
- Expose our own needs and motivate ourselves to continue building connections
- Bring our individual vulnerabilities* out into the open, experience and move with/through them together, and transform them into learning, power, and action
- Create resilient relationships and intimacy that binds us together and persists even after the group ends*
- Expand the boundaries of community as the individuals within them expand their own boundaries
- Make our communities, and individual selves, stronger*
- Experience deep gratitude
What matters most about us as individuals?
As individuals we:
- Are vulnerable, make mistakes, experience humility and fear, and need help—all of which are connection points that make self-organizing groups and community necessary and possible
- Recognize and name self-organizing groups and community
- Identify and protect the boundaries of ourselves as individuals, self-organizing groups, and community
- Experience awe, wonder and delight
*Lori said something similar to this right off the top of her head—indicating to me that she is clearly part of amazing community and small groups!!
Lori Vs. Lori and the outcome is significant as it turns around to Lori with Lori.
I loved this post because it reflects real life experiences from the mouths of the emotionally involved. In particular, I was shaken with this statement and I quote from above “Bring our individual vulnerabilities* out into the open, experience and move with/through them together, and transform them into learning, power, and action”. Trust, cooperation and shelving off shyness are among the fruits of this significantly self-organized group
Salute to Lori and Lori
Hi Ali, thanks for the comment.
Yes, meeting with Lori S was a significant learning experience for me. Because my own adult life experience involved first seeing myself as an individual, then seeing myself as small self-organizing groups, and only recently seeing myself as community. This progression worked but it’s taken many years for me to get to thinking from the perspective of community. Lori S found and joined a community that is already conscious that community creating/building is what matters most and an organization that sees small, self-organizing groups as the creators of strong community–where lasting connections form. It’s not about a few individuals at the “top” even for those at the “top” if there is such a thing. You can hear it in their motto “People becoming the church.” Very cool. From my perspective, her way seems like a pretty efficient way to move yourself into thinking from the perspective of community and into thriving as community. 🙂
I first typed “non-traditional” to describe their experience but that didn’t seem to honor their experience enough, so I changed it to “new-traditional” because that’s what it feels like to me. People rebuilding tradition. Makes me smile just thinking about it.
I love your words “real life experiences from the mouths of the emotionally involved.” While you were typing that I was at my Seattle Consultant’s Grotto meeting saying the same thing. I was saying that I don’t believe community and self-organizing groups can be studied from a distance. You have to be there and close enough to speak with and learn from the people themselves. I’ve found that I can still call myself a “self-orgizing groups researcher” because as an individual I can see the boundaries of small self-organizing groups. However, the term “researcher” doesn’t feel right when I’m learning within/about communities. In part, because I can’t, as an individual, see the edges of community. So “community member” is the title that feels most true. If I can imagine and feel myself as part of your community and you can imagine and feel yourself as part of mine, only then can I learn as community. 🙂 It’s not research. It’s community creation/building. And you don’t need a PhD to do it! Quite the opposite. You lay down your individual title to do it.
“I first typed “non-traditional” to describe their experience but that didn’t seem to honor their experience enough, so I changed it to “new-traditional” because that’s what it feels like to me. People rebuilding tradition.”
This. Is. Fantastic. Moving forward respecting the legacy. Change not as a counteract from the old. But as a conscious revealing of the old (or the stuff that always is/was) in the new context. Hmmm. Sounding like Eckhard Tolle 😀
I agree with writing from the personal perspective/experience. I always have. But only “recently” I make this explicit. Other times I wrote an abstract form about things I was experiencing myself. Or expert like. If I ever make a top 10 of “What Was I Thinking” this one makes it in the top 5:
Oh my. Anyway.
It takes time to get that comfortable talking about it 🙂 But practice makes .. well something.
I do need my title as Project Shrink though. And a cape.
Bas, agree its fantastic. Haven’t read Eckhard Tolle but then again I gave up learning from experts a couple of years ago when I figured out that I learn more as/from/with groups of learners. 😉 I am actually going to go back and interview another person before I write the story of this particular new traditional organization. This is “different work” on an organizational level and it’s just fascinating to me. A pastor in t-shirt and blue jeans. This I’ve got to see! 😉 I’m so glad my work has allowed me to evolve and find self-org groups and community fascinating everywhere I encounter them, since it wasn’t that many years ago that I would have avoided a religious organization like the plague.
I still need my title some days too. May be a cape or a hat (or in my case more like a security blanket like some little kids take to bed with them), but I also like to think that the capital R Researcher me is the me that some people will connect with and there’s really nothing wrong with that.
I like that blog entry you point out. You sound like a total bad ass! Not a side of you I’ve seen. Nice.
Love Havi’s latest blog about wearing a colorful stuffed snake and carrying a floppy stuffed cow through the airport and on the airplane. Now there’s a cape!
Self-organizing groups make a new world, new landscapes that keep growing. They expand and as there are always emerging ideas they are limitless by scope, space or time. Their boundaries, if any, are elastic and shock-resistant. These groups survive. You write Lori on a noble groups that are expansive creatively. So is my respect and attentive care to read your posts
I forgot to comment on your last paragraph, which is so lovely that it can not be left unattended.
If I can imagine and feel myself as part of your community and you can imagine and feel yourself as part of mine, only then can I learn as community. It’s not research. It’s community creation/building. And you don’t need a PhD to do it! Quite the opposite. You lay down your individual title to do it.
This is a great explanation of your logo or motto “share the knowledge”. Sharing must flow to have meaning. Titles are blockages to the flow and I agree with you. If we are truly learners we realize progressively that we grow more ignorant and less learned because we discover how little we know. Topping ignorance with ice-cream titles doesn’t change the fact.
I may add that the connectedness is extensible to knowledge. We have networks of interacting networks of sciences and sciences and art. No more arts and sciences are distant subjects from each other. We need to have basic knowledge of many more fields that was not evident in the past. Networks of sharing knowledge play an important role in satisfying these demands
Ice-cream titles, i like it! Agree that the older I get the more I learn I don’t know. its very freeing. One of my favorite parts of studying the groups is that the goal is no longer to become an individual expert, the goal is to find and become groups of co-learners and communities, which is really more rewarding and even fun.
Disciplines and fields are overlapping. That comes so clear for me as I study these groups in business, education, churches, community-based organizations, online, and so on. If our higher education system evolved a tiny bit faster that is where I’d already be. I just couldn’t bring myself to publish in a system that limits who has acess to information and severely limits who gets to judge what has value. My community (whose voices i carry in my head) just wouldn’t hear of it! So for now, I work in my home based office so that I can be available and move quickly when emergent groups appear to learn with and i speak/guest lecture when asked. And I’m so greatful I do, because, for one thing, by doing this i found you.
The more I study these topics, the more I have the feeling I don’t know anything 🙂 And even that I’m not sure of. At the moment it doesn’t always feel like freeing, but I think I am getting there.
I recently wrote
“It feels I am repeating myself. I think I brought my ideas as far as I can, on my own.” I said.
“Well. That is because you’re not supposed to do this on your own.” Someone replied.
The freeing part for me isn’t just in recognizing how much there is to know and how little I can actually know. The freeing part is that I’ve begun to behave the opposite of my former self and really cool people are showing up as a result. Deep individual expertise is part of my nature and how I’ve made it in the past involved striving for individual expertise and then sharing it and helping others in a fairly one-sided way (rarely needing help myself). Now when studying community, becoming community, every time I listen, seek to learn, or confess that I’m clueless, a whole circle of people show up around me to join the discussion. It’s freeing not to have to always be the expert anymore. Still scary. But freeing to know that there is value within me that is secure and not dependent on my expertise. Could see that in others before but not in myself.
Let me start by quoting your last line and half “And I’m so greatful I do, because, for one thing, by doing this i found you”. Grateful is spelled as greatful. Allow me to call this an emergent feeling. We have feelings that overwhelm our writing and our real inner feelings surface out. For this reason, I am doubly happy that I found such a great human. That is you.
Thanks Ali. Maybe we’ll just call “greatful” our newly invented word that means full of gratitude plus feeling great! 😉 I was typing on my husband’s iPad this morning and typing directly on a small screen instead of a keyboard is tricky!
Emergent feelings. Yep. Just remembered I was beginning to write about this back when I was studying only self-organizing work groups and focusing on how to recognize these groups at work:
I called it “sharing more of myself than expected or planned” instead of emergent feelings. I think I did this mostly because I wasn’t yet ready to use a word like “feelings” when related to work and business. But its there between the lines. 🙂
Yes, it is there between the lines. I liked the explanation of the “Greatful” word.
I use iPad and find it convenient to carry around.
I am surprised that you are not involved in some “windy and woundy” discussions on Bas Blog. I invented the word woundy, meaning causing wounds
Considered joining but decided to stay out of that one. 🙂 I appreciate what you’re doing there and the depth of conversation. Lovely! Sometimes I just prefer to listen and watch groups and don’t feel the need to add my 2 cents. Besides, with both you and Bas in that conversation, I feel that my perspective is already there.
If self-organizing groups involve being 100% yourself by expressing self-feelings and interests then I do not qualify to be a member. You are yourself, and I feel I am not always. My two cents go for you
Just meant that I would be there in spirt if you and Bas—both of whom have read almost as much of the Collective Self blog as I have—were there. But I did just offer my 2 cents to that discussion on Bas’ blog, because I thought that the very smart and interesting Jon was not being as respectful and kind to my friends Bas and Ali as I’d like community members to be. 🙂
I have just responded to your comment on Bas blog. I do appreciate your taking the time to write a response that is honest and straight without being brutal or hard.
Every day I discover the wealth of having known you. You are a unique person. I mean it
Can’t wait to read the interview with Lori. Lori. This truly sounds inspiring.
Contacting her pastor as well to more fully write the story, because the small groups she’s part of are intentionally not work groups. Their purpose is connection making and community building–book groups, activity groups, cooking groups, business groups, scripture groups—all within the church itself. To make it into the Different Work book, I hope to head back and talk to the pastor who started the church 9 years ago, because in this case the “different work” appears to be at the organization and community level. Conscious use of self-organizing groups to get things done. Consciousness that community creation/building is the organization’s purpose and that small groups, not a handful of individual leaders, are leading on that front is not something I’ve encountered studying within businesses. 🙂 Lots to learn from them!
It is this quality of response that prompted me with peace in mind and heart to nominate you and your blog as the best on Bas’ blog. Lori, you have been an exceptional person at all times.
Thank you Ali, I appreciate that. I think we’re part of an exceptional community together. There isn’t a single Collective Self blog post written that is more useful or insightful than the discussions we have together. On my own, it’s just words. It’s when you show up that together we become the change we wish to see in our world. 🙂
Still so nice to be nominated. Thank you!!
Even though I have to rush for a meeting with a very influential business man; yet I find it more propelling to respond to you.
First, I remember that you wrote once you do not respond to comments on Saturday-Monday. I find you responding. That is a rule that is not. Eagerness and engagement override rules.
Yes, together is the name of the self-organizing group. But there must be always an initiator. It is you in this case and I am proud to be a member of your groups.
Sometimes, I fail to find the words to express myself. This time I am.
Hey Ali, yep, you remind me of talking about this back in February. I said “Actually, if I’m deeply convinced that someone is a self-organizing work group member, I’ll toss out any rule—including all those I created for myself—just to open the chance to work with that person.”. (near the end of this post: http://woocommerce-158966-458665.cloudwaysapps.com/fostering-self-organizing-work-groups/find-your-next-self-organizing-work-group-using-these-four-indicators/).
From my perspective, you’re the initiator of our group. I was out here reflecting and writing and talking to myself. We became a group when you found me and started talking. You’re the initiator! I think Bas found me because of you. Now I’m working with Bas on an eBook. Gratitude back to you!
Lori, answering a question opens door for another one. I am surprised how our thinking is similar sometimes. Does this lead to familiarity? I know that total familiarity is not possible, but partial familiarity may even help.
Ali, good question. What do you think? I’m not sure. From my perspective, it’s similar feeling, not similar thinking, that leads to greater closeness and familiarity. Similar sense of feeling listened to and welcome.
Based on what I’ve learned from the groups I’ve studied, I aspire to diversity of thinking and diversity of ways of being in my groups and in being open to difference and doing what I can think of to pull diversity in and help myself and others feel welcome in our difference. So yes, I suppose I think it’s the feeling where unity lies–feeling welcome, feeling needed, feeling listened to.
Wow, that’s not something I’ve consciously thought about before. Very cool.
Ali, this conversation is too good. I’m going to turn it into a blog post so more people can see it! 🙂