Peggy: It actually makes a great deal of sense. As a matter of fact, one of the things that we've been talking about is, "What does leadership look like in a leaderless movement?" And, one of the places I go with that is, when you look at it through the lens of self-organization or this idea of emergence. The principle that probably the scientists talk about the most when they talk about emergence--the way they put it is, "No one's in charge," which looks an awful lot like what's going on with the Occupy Movement.
Rob: When you say that about the scientists, and you mentioned that earlier, that there's a popular definition of emergence, then there's a scientific version of emergence. Where does science talk about emergence, and how does it appear within science?
Peggy: The whole movement to understand the nature of complexity and self-organization and, in a sense, evolution itself, is an emergent process. And so whether it's chaos theory, which has been helpful in understanding weather patterns, or complexity theory, which is getting use from everything from software writing software, to robots making decisions to understanding the social life of bees and ants, and how those kinds of collective animals work. Those are some of the--So, the applications of the sciences around complexity, of which emergence is one, are telling us things: of everything from biology to evolution to social sciences to physics. So, our capabilities with computers are enabling us to see more complex patterns, which is part of the reason that that shift is happening and it actually--the way it shows up, because my interest in it has to do with what it means for how we as human beings organize to get stuff done. So when you look at it through the lens of society, of our culture and social systems, I come back to this prevailing notion of the idea that "no one is in charge," and the scientists will point [to] everything from how bees or ants or traffic flows work. And for me, the language of it is really telling, because it comes from essentially a hierarchical thinking mindset, because as you say, "No one is in charge," you can just as easily say, "Everyone is in charge." That's more along the model of thinking in terms of how things get done horizontally. I think that one of the major transitions that we're in, and Occupy again is a great model of this--is we're moving from our principle organizing metaphor as hierarchy, and think in terms of pack animals, to an organizing metaphor around networks, and there you can think more in terms of flocks of birds, or ants or bees, or animals that work in the collective.
And interestingly enough for me the notion of no one in charge or everyone in charge, are both a little off the mark. Because in truth, what happens is, we don't know exactly what interactions amongst people are going to make the biggest difference. And as a result of that, what I think is actually the most useful take on this idea of network as an organizing principle for how leadership emerges, I think of it more as situational leadership. and so a great activating insight out of that. is the idea of inviting people to take responsibility for what they love as an act of service. And for me that is kind of the heart of a shift that I think we're undergoing, and that people, particularly those under 30, understand a lot better. And our technology, because it enables us to connect so well, supports us in doing in a way that a generation ago it wasn't possible to even consider, because we didn't have the means to connect so easily.
Rob: Why do the under 30s understand this idea of dealing with love as an act of service better than people over 30?
Peggy: I think because the technologies of connection affirm and support that notion of individual expression in a way that, perhaps those of us over 30, didn't necessarily get the same kinds of messages. I think it tends to be a more cooperative--in a way it almost sounds like a contradiction to say, that taking responsibility for what you love leads to more cooperation, because on the surface it sounds like it would lead to more selfishness. You know, if each of us is off doing our own thing, don't you end up with more chaos?
And the interesting thing that happens, is when people get that invitation, and particularly those of us that who may have been raised more in a follow-instructions-kind-of-world--when we actually start paying attention to that invitation and ask ourselves, "So, what do I care about? What matters to me?" One, that in and of itself can be profound and liberating act; that in the process when people do that, what I've observed over and over is that they dive deeper than their ego to the deeper parts of themselves. And in the process of doing that, because when we're operating out of that place of deep connection to ourselves, interestingly enough, what I found is that it means that we're drawing from the deeper stream of our common humanity. And as such, we tend to zero in on ways of being and things that we do, that do connect with others in a profoundly powerful way. And as a result, as people pursue what matters to them, and discover the others that care about similar things, we feel left alone, we found our partners, and we begin to be connected not just more to ourselves and others, but to our sense of a larger social body. And in that spirit of connection, our differences become a source of creative tension for breakthrough ideas that nobody could have come up with on their own.
Rob: This reminds me a little bit of Jungian psychology, with the collective consciousness and archetypal characteristics, what have you. Reconnecting at the source, almost.