Unbundling Enspiral — part 1 of 3: Community.

What is the Enspiral Network? What is it not? How does it work?

Enspiral has never been an easy thing to describe, a shapeshifting, moving target that always moves faster than our somewhat vague website can keep up with.

What is the Enspiral network?

We’ve been growing and changing (a lot) through our first formative years and have started to gain more global attention lately.

From global thought leaders pointing at Enspiral as something of promise, to press coverage in places like Vice, we are learning that as our story and reputation grows so does the ambiguity and mis-understanding about what we are and what we are trying to achieve.

So. Enspiral. What is it? What is it not?

Like all observable things in this subjective universe — Enspiral isn’t one thing and no one person (not even the branding obsessed, more vocal people like me) has a monopoly on the ‘what is’ question.

However, from my little corner of the network there are a few strong threads of coherence that can hopefully provide some clarity on the topic. One of my closest colleagues Silvia Zuur insists that things organise in 3s. Silvia is probably right more than she is wrong, so Enspiral loosely unbundled as 3 parts…

Enspiral is a community of friends and co-workers building companies together.

In my opinion something uncommon, and pretty amazing started happening about 5 years ago in Wellington. Enspiral was an idea. A distributed twinkle in the eyes of a few people. Hope on the wind.

A community formed around an idea and a strong sense of purpose. For me, this community was the voice of wake up call that was (and remains) loud and clear:

As a species we are contributing to some really dumb cycles of violence, oppression and inequality .

We’re building economies and ‘progress’ by destroying the core living systems of the environment we depend on.

We’re exterminating millions of years of evolution and making Earth a much worse planet for the humans coming next.

In this way of being, are we human even long term viable species on this planet?

We can’t just drop the ball saying its too hard — we don’t have anywhere else to go. We also can’t just sit around dreaming about utopia and ignore the bleaching coral and warming winters. As every generation of humans that have come before us, we need to leverage and improve the current systems we have to make as much positive impact as we can.

  • Higher wages so more people can enjoy life with disposable income.
  • Increasing GDP and building economies that improve our living standings.
  • Addressing inequality and the erosion of social fabric, cohesion and justice.
  • Navigating climate change and the stressed base support systems that sustain all life.
  • Healing biodiversity collapse and this phase of human caused mass extinction.

These are collective problems to solve. As individuals, if we’re lucky enough to be educated enough to see it and feel it, we need to do something about it.

The secret ingredient is love.

Self employment requires a strong sense of individual autonomy — you need to be independent and motivated by your own sense of purpose.

Joining Enspiral and becoming part of a group of very strong individuals trying to see beyond themselves and form an unlikely, diverse collective of professionals solving problems bigger than themselves was weird — and really awesome.

Advice to anyone serious about throwing themselves at anything important: Whatever difference your individual energy can make, your impact will be exponentially greater working in a collective.

  1. Find people who care about the same problems enough to find a way to support each other to work on them.
  2. Build companies and livelihoods with those people.
  3. Go large.

In retrospect the early Enspiral community was extremely lucky to have the right mix of high value professional skills, group facilitation artists, deep community builders, freedom from debt and responsibility, naivety, generosity, activism and collective vision to try something that made little sense, or was highly improbable at best. The right people showed up and solved the problems in front of them and collectively — whatever that mix was, this ‘other way of working’ was able to gain a foothold.

Over these formative years the community has changed shape. We’ve grown, and we’ve grown up (a bit). Enspiral as a professional community is unusual and valuable. We are a multi-skilled group that know each other really well, trust each other and care about each other well beyond the jobs we do together. Every week we collectively gain more experience and empathy, by working through harder and harder problems together.

We’re slowly getting better at founding and building companies, gaining wider circles of respect, building a brand and attracting friendly collaborators across the world. The initial community has grown beyond the physical limits of trust and now feels much more like several interwoven sub-communities where some people know each other really well, and others are more or less strangers.

From where I sit, the initial close community of trust and care is the real magic of Enspiral. It’s the part that I believe is impossible or fruitless to try and scale but highly possible to replicate.

The Enspiral community campfire can only get so big, and its fire so bright. It can’t warm the hearts of the world, but groups of people can cut the wood and find a lighter anywhere.