From Innovation to Revelation

Today we had our latest experiment with Street Wisdom. The basic hypothesis we are testing is that we can learn most of what we need in the very streets we usually just pass through to go from A to B. To do so however requires that we shift the way we usually experience the street. Most of the time I am busy in my head with various ponderings or thinking about the place that I am going to.

The experiment we have unleashed is simple really, but not obvious. Most of us in industrialized civilization have created a concept and experience of our mind being a separate entity that floats somewhere above the body, the latter being a cumbersome vehicle that we just have to look after enough to transport our head around. This is why we are so little present with the physical environments that we are walking through (one of the core reasons we have neglected the earth so badly).

When we remember that our mind is actually a property of our body, that every cell in our body also has mind qualities in it, then we start to experience our environments in quite a different way. We walk around with our body as one big sensor. The Street Wisdom experiments have been evidence of that. The first time, we experimented with walking very slowly down the street. It is amazing how one then really begins to see the world around us with new eyes and experience it with greater intimacy. Today we tried walking in a fully embodied way down the street, seeing the beauty in everything, sensing if things gave or took energy from us, and pondering the stories of everything we encountered (as sequential experiments).

It’s hard to describe if you haven’t done it yourself, but it opens up a relationship to whole dimension of life that we normally just float through. What we call the inanimate world suddenly comes alive. You experience a reciprocal relationship to life. I look at the plant or the car, and it looks back at me. I have a feeling of moving through a field of living beings that are energetically interacting with the world around them. It reminds me of how my young kids experience reality.

We then took it one step further and entered this dimension of the street with a question that we were looking for insight on. No sooner had I recalled the question and looked up than insights bombarded me from all directions, from signs on shop windows to posters on billboards to objects on the street. Those initial inspirations then started to form themselves up into a coherent deeper answer to the question I held. And all of that in the space of a few minutes.

If that had just been me we could have written it off as purely subjective. But a small group of us had remarkably similar experiences.

The key insight for me was that actually everything we need to know can be found in the space around us at any time, if we are present in our mind-bodies with it. Our continual drive for more and better, our obsession with innovation, all move us away from what we already have right under our noses. That is why I suggest that we shift from thinking about innovation to focusing on revelation – revealing that which is already accessible right here now.

Assuming that everything we need is already there and learning to reveal it, rather than assuming lack and pouring our energy into trying to create it, has a number of implications:

– we can relax, into ourselves and our environment
– we come to appreciate the richness of our current reality
– we waste a whole lot less as we see the usefulness of what is already there
– we reconnect to the energy of plenty which vitalises us (as compared to stressing us which is what scarcity does)
– we build relationships with the people around us and come to see the wealth of resources that they hold
– we have to travel less to get the profound experiences we seek, as we discover that we can have them on our doorstep

You get the idea.

This is the start of an exploration. It is emerging out of a friendship between myself and David Pearl, with friends and colleagues co-creating as we go. Next time we intend to invite a bigger group to see where that may go. Watch this space and why not give it a go in your own backyard?

The Hague Center for Global Governance, Innovation and Emergence

Just a note to say that the Center for Human Emergence Netherlands has submitted a proposal to the Dutch government to host the Hague Center for Global Governance, Innovation and Emergence. There was a funding opportunity which made us focus an intention that had been around for a while. This is going to happen, whether this particular funding comes through or not. Great partners have emerged, and conversations show that the time is right. A go-to place that initiates, supports and promotes an integral approach to global problem solving. You can download the proposal and accompanying documents, including letters of support from here. We’d love to hear your thoughts on what this Center could do.


In conversation with my brother Tim over Christmas, we identified a pattern in the kind of work that we are doing, that helped us to become more conscious of its essence. It emerged as:

Rapid / Resilient
Innovation, of the

Tim was drawing specifically on his experience of transforming some of the most challenging kids from Yarmouth (Nova Scotia, Canada) into leaders in a (r)evolution in youth work (see particularly the video stories of the individuals).  I was drawing on the last two years of work helping to transform a fear-ridden business unit in IBM BeNeLux into one of their biggest growth and innovation centres. Sensing into that, we found this deeper pattern that connected to the rest of our work.

Rapid : The U-Process combined with Chaordic Design that form a core part of the transformation technology we work with is proving itself to rapidly, powerfully and sustainably shift groups of people from old ways to new ways. Once through that first iteration, it proves itself to beResilient.

Indigenous : We work from the principle that the next step for a group already exists within the system, and that it is our job to facilitate its emergence. The client is the content expert, and what we do is release their highest creative potential to create what they really care about. Insight from models such as Spiral Dynamics Integral enable us to make the approach fit. There are usually also content insights which we feed in, which become part of the unfolding scenario that emerges in its essence from the client.

Scalable : In enabling the emergence from the local system itself, we always notice a deeper Source Code or DNA that is relevant for the broader sector as a whole or even wider.  There is a core approach that can be transported to other contexts. The Code is scalable. The Content is indigenous.

Innovation : Truly new ways of being and doing always emerge.

Next Generation : There are two levels to this. It is always of the next generation within the system itself – so the product of those creative agents who are leaning into the future. And it is always of service to the planet as a whole and the next generation of human beings living here. The reason for the latter is that the space that we open and hold connects people to their individual and collective essence, which is as we know ultimately that of the Universe unfolding with the general directionality of increasing compassion and embrace.