From Helen Tichen Beeth's Kosmos Journal Article on Evolutionary Entrepreneurship:
From Helen Tichen Beeth Kosmos Journal Article on Evolutionary Entrepreneurship:
"The word 'entrepreneur' comes from the French verb meaning 'to undertake.' A commitment to action is involved—a determination to manifest a vision and to bring something new to society in the broadest sense.
I use the term 'evolutionary' to describe 'entrepreneurship' in its broadest context as something that engages—directly, consciously and with intent—with the living system, for the good of the whole.
The life path of each of us, embedded in our own unique place in the collective and endowed with our own unique gifts, equips us to play a unique role. Being an evolutionary entrepreneur means stepping up and undertaking to play that role with our full commitment. It means being who we were born to be."
Our wish list, 10 Most Wanted Evolutionary Entrepreneurs, is more focused. Here we're identifying some of the players required to grow a robust developmental ecosystem — one capable of supporting the metamorphosis of our complex social systems.
- Vision Capitalists
- Transformational Leaders
- Paradigm-Shifting Change Champions
- Graphic Illustrators Extraordinaire
- Advance Scouts
- Developmental Mavens
- Bay Area Conveners
- On-Line Community Builders
- Aspiring Designers of Infinite Games
You are systemically savvy. You have been exposed to many of the challenges of organizational learning and change. You've paid your dues. You are well connected in the corridors of power. Your ideas and opinions are highly valued.
You are willing to take a stand. You are willing to take risks in exploring new territory when the prize is great and the consequences of inaction, or unconsciousaction, are serious. You're familiar with the essential role that experienced venture capitalists played in growing Silicon Valley and accelerating the dawning of the information age. You're excited about playing a similar role in the transformational movement from finite to infinite games — movement into the Age of Conscious Evolution.
Fortunately, the early stages of this movement will not be capital intensive. In fact, too much money would probably sabotage the emergence process. What we need initially are funds to underwrite the various kinds of gatherings so essential to attracting, appreciating, connecting, challenging, developing and supporting the different "species" (roles) required to grow this "rainforest."
All players involved in this game of games will be embarking on an incredible action-learning expedition. This will be no stroll in the park. This initiative will be extraordinarily challenging for all of us. We would do well to approach it as a life long developmental journey. The inner, relational, community, systemic, and world development work demanded of each and all of us require time, intention, attention, space and expert support. All of us will be investing developmental time in learning to grow a rainforest-like business ecosystem and to play our respective roles in that venture. But, it will take seed money both to create the protected time and space, and also to engage the developmental expertise required for this movement to take root.
We need capital with the vision, not only to appreciate the developmental nature of this startup, but also the wisdom to invest in ways that nurture its unfolding, in ways that are truly generative. We need to be able to both promote and support the incubation of transformational entrepreneurs.
We need vision capitalists who see this as a long term action-learning expedition worth sponsoring, joining and helping to guide.
Transformational Leaders — You have primary responsibility for a significant organization. This organization could be a business enterprise, a government, an educational institution, a philanthropic foundation, a public institution, or a non-profit.
You are accountable for both its current performance and growing the organization's capacity to evolve itself in a world of ever-increasing change and challenge. You are intrigued with the strategic importance of growing your organization's capacity for learning and change.
Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface, and author of Mid Course Correction, is a great example of a Transformational Leader. He embodies three of the five archetypal roles essential to growing this movement. He is a steward, a champion and a context-shaper.
Without transformational leaders with the vision and courage to explore this new territory, we will remain stuck at the level of concepts—promise without fulfillment. On this evolutionary playing field the transformational leader is the one with the ball and bat. If this player wants to play, we all play.
Paradigm-Shifting Change Champions — Your current role could be that of a line manager, internal practitioner, HR director, strategist, union leader or any other key role within the organization(s) you serve. Whatever your position, you have access and influence with those around you. You are a respected player with your organization(s).
What's central is your deep commitment to catalyzing a fundamental breakthrough in the nature and effectiveness of the organization(s) you serve. It may seem like mission impossible to most all of your peers. No matter. You are able to see waste of all kinds (physical, financial, psychic, energetic, creative, etc.) at all levels of system. This waste reflects some combination of design flaws, organizational unconsciousness, and a lack of capacity for systemic learning and change. It plays out in various forms of individual and collective dysfunction and missed opportunities.
You don't have the answers to these dilemmas but you see the possibilities. You are willing to take a stand for doing whatever it takes to turn these challenges into a transformational initiative. You know that incremental approaches won't do the trick. You want to play a leadership role in shaping and implementing this initiative.
These change champions are the unsung heroes of any transformational initiative. They put their ass on the line from beginning to end.
In addition to courage, these players have perseverance. Transformational initiatives always take longer than expected, cost more, and are more frustrating than imagined. They are messy. They are risky. The organizational immune system tends to fight all that is unlike itself until there is a critical mass of support for what's emerging. There's usually not a lot of appreciation for this role during the early stages of the initiative.
And guess what! If a change champion is masterful in this role, there's not that much public acclaim afterwards either. Everyone involved will see it as something they have accomplished.
On the other hand, there is no faster way to gain mastery in the field of organizational learning and change than to champion and implement a systems-wide transformational initiative. There is no greater satisfaction than in knowing you have helped enliven an organization in a way that contributes to the well being of all affected by that system.
Graphic Illustrators Extraordinaire — You are a visual magician with the capacity to illuminate the complex interweaving of concepts, tools, stories, distinctions, lenses and offerings that will make up this site. You are particularly skilled at cartoon-like illustrations, able to communicate a lot with a few pen strokes.
Your sketches will be woven throughout all major sections of this emerging site in away that —
- Helps clarify and integrate diverse concepts
- Makes specific ideas more memorable
- Helps pull potential "infinite players" into all sections of the site
- Helps make the site lighter, more attractive, evocative, informal and playful
The illumination of this site will be a co-creative undertaking. Our graphics illustrators will be working closely with the concept architects to discover how to transform caterpillar-like linear strings of words into visual language that is a joy to engage. I intend that this site demonstrate the importance of visual practitioners and their special language in supporting the work of transformation.
Advance Scouts — You are a natural learner, deep listener, integrator, connector, student, teacher and writer. You might be an Appreciative Inquiry practitioner, a filmmaker, a grad student, researcher, author, activist and/or a journalist. You are passionate about a particular issue, cause or vision. You want to explore the cutting edge and advance the frontier in your particular area of deepest commitment. You see the potential synergy between your passion and the infinite games we intend to spawn through this site.
You want to produce a value-adding product from your inquiry work. It may be a film, article, book, dissertation, web site or workshop. You want this work to contribute to your development as an infinite player.
There are literally hundreds of truly generative initiatives in play around the globe. They're happening in all sectors. Some of the stories have been told, but they rarely get much traction in our entertainment-drenched sound-byte culture. Many of these stories are so unbelievable that we would discount them, even if we held still long enough to listen to them.
We see the role of the Advance Scout as being central to the success and evolution of this site. We need to learn what works and why it works. We need to fan the embers of innovation throughout our wide interwoven world of organizations. We need to distill pragmatic principles, systemic strategies, provocative propositions and tantalizing theory from these stories.
We need to provide the navigational devices that enable designers of infinite games to avoid the systemic quagmires implicit in finite problem-solving strategies.
Developmental Mavens — You have mastered one or more practices—areas of B-work expertise. You are ready to move to the next level. You are committed to multiplying the lasting contribution you can make with and through the organization(s) you serve. You see the extraordinary potential for synergy through effective bridge building among practice areas. You've long seen the need to tear down the silos that separate and insulate the various organizational learning and change methodologies from each other. You have the courage, humility, curiosity and vision to invest in that quest.
You're concerned that your current work may only be helping to lubricate existing organizational machinery—making only incremental improvements. You want to be a part of transforming organizations so that they clearly nurture life and creativity for all affected.
You want to escape the box of your past successes and shift to a larger game. You are no longer satisfied with only "teaching others to fish." You want not only to expand into C-work, but to help invent strategies and materials that are truly generative, that can have ripple effects long after you're gone—and in organizations that you've never visited.
Bridging among practice areas is very hard work. Even when there is strong mutual commitment to collaborate, differences in language and methods make the journey long and frustrating. Developing materials and approaches that support client independence and self-propagation can seem counter-intuitive when your livelihood depends on your being needed by your clients. However, reinventing our field will require that we continually work ourselves out of our jobs.
Implicit in spawning infinite games throughout the world of organizations is the need to encourage and support entrepreneurial initiatives to expand these frontiers.
Writer/Story-Tellers — You have a gift for taking skeletal information and anecdotal fragments and weaving them together into spell-binding stories. You are intrigued by the history-creating potential of this quest and want to be a part of making and writing that history as it unfolds. You have the vision to see this movement as a limitless field of play—with very interesting players. You are undaunted by the conceptual complexity of the game at this stage of its evolution, and want to make the drama of this emerging story accessible to a wider audience.
Our conscious evolution as a species is limited by the stories we tell. My 30+ years of experience in the field of organizational learning and change has convinced me that complex systemic change work doesn't spawn many innovative storytellers. Our field needs an infusion of story-telling genius.
We need writers with the potential depth and range of journalist/historian David Halberstam to step out of the cornfield and bring this story to life as it emerges and unfolds.
Bay Area Conveners — You are stellar visionaries with mind-boggling depth and breadth of vision—and sense of possibility. You have a deep appreciation for and pride in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. It has given much to you. You want to give back to this region in a way that not only helps it unleash its full potential, but also helps you fulfill your highest purpose.
Silicon Valley, a distinguished subset of the greater Bay Area, played a leading role in accelerating our movement into the Information Age. The emerging Consciousness/Accountability Age is only now becoming possible by standing on the shoulders of the Information Age. We're now at the same stage with the Consciousness Age that we were at in the '60s and early '70s with the Information Age. Collective consciousness is growing, but has not evolved enough to influence deeply conditioned societal patterns. However, the enormity of its impact on the social, environmental and economic state of the world is as unimaginable as the impact of the emerging information age was back in the 60s.
No other region on this planet is better positioned to accelerate the rate of its conscious evolution.
The greater Bay Area —
- Has a long and rich tradition for creative thinking, innovation, conscious exploration and collaboration.
- Enjoys rich diversity in its cultures, topography, micro-climates and economies.
- Is crawling with "energy centers," innovative initiatives already in motion that are aligned with a movement to accelerate our rate of evolution.
- Is here. It's where many of the players in our emerging community already live.
The Manhattan Project unleashed nuclear fission onto this planet. This Bay Area Project could unleash an even greater, and certainly more generative, fusion energy throughout this region, and inevitably, throughout our world.
On-Line Community Builders — You are a master at designing for and facilitating on-line dialogue and collaboration. You have demonstrated the art of the possible in terms of supporting communities of practice, interest, and commitment. You have a deep appreciation for the strengths, limitations and relevance of various platforms in supporting on-line dialogue and collaboration.
The quality of connectivity among any group of committed players is a function of at least four interdependent variables:
- Quality of relationships
- Quality of agreements
- Quality of shared purpose
- Quality of the social/technical connectivity infrastructure used to support the group's work together
You want to be the connectivity maven that helps grow the "nervous system" for this emerging community of allies. You want to be one of the midwives that helps accelerate the birth of the Consciousness/Accountability Age in this region and for our planet.
Aspiring Designers of Infinite Games — The characteristics and beliefs listed in A Profile for Potential Designers of Infinite Games fit you like a glove. And—there's much more to you than this profile. Your special capacities equip you to help pioneer the field of infinite game design—an emerging trans-discipline discipline. You want to make the field of infinite game design your field of play. You want to evolve yourself and your practice(s) in a way that enables you to be a powerful support to all those committed to this emerging movement.
There are many designers of infinite games scattered throughout our world. The problem is that they are mostly unknown and not well connected with each other. These dedicated and inspired souls have demonstrated social alchemy. Each has taken on a seemingly insurmountable challenge and ultimately worked transformational magic. Each has evolved what, so far, seems to be a pioneering infinite game. Here are just a few that show up on my radar screen this morning:
- Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson — Alcoholics Anonymous — 1935
- Mimi Silbert and John Maher — Delancy Street — 1971
- Jaime Lerner — Curitiba, Brazil — 1972
- Herb Stokes — P&G's Albany, GA Paper Plant — 1973
- Muhammad Yunus — Grameen Bank — 1976
- Christopher Alexander — PatternLanguage.com — Over 35 years in gestation
- Amory and L. Hunter Lovins — Rocky Mountain Institute — 1982
- Joan Blades and Wes Boyd — MoveOn.org — 1998
You are ready to dedicate your energies to an inner/outer journey that will lead you to a perfect marriage between your true work and what our world needs right now.
You want be a part of a cohort of committed explorers setting out to pioneer new territory that will be as important to societal evolution as photosynthesis was to biological evolution. As a member of this global cohort you will be a student, a scout, a researcher, an appreciative inquirer, an innovator, a leader, a practitioner, a guinea pig, and more. You will be on a life-long path to develop yourself to serve the world as a designer of infinite games.