Towards A Konnekted World
How one fractal ritual can power up collective intelligence for sustaining human joy.
“The Times are Urgent, Let Us Slow Down”. Bayo Akomolafe
In my own transformational journey, and in my intervention work with individuals, couples, families, and teams, I noticed that the same principles of well-being and change applied everywhere all the time. I also saw first hand and worldwide the painful and often tragic consequences when those principles are violated. I wanted to live in a deliberately developmental world in which people help each other to do the hard work of helping themselves, and working together constructively beyond their differences. My searching for a scalable solution led me to a simple process which I think would make life work better for all of us quickly and easily. Its aim is to make getting in the game of personal and interpersonal development as frictionless as possible, while generating conditions for cohesion, collaboration, and coherence globally.
2020. Yesterday’s solutions are today’s systemic problems. If human enjoyment of life on this pale blue dot is to endure, we have to solve them well enough roughly at the same time. To do this, we’re going to have to change how we live, whether we like it or not: the C-19 pandemic is giving us but a small taste of that now.
We can willingly design, implement, and manage those changes together, or have them imposed upon us either by nature, by other people(s), or both. I don’t know what the new world will look like exactly — no one does. But I absolutely believe we have the collective capacity to generate congruent and compassionate solutions.
In this introduction I describe in simple terms a framework for generating the emergent properties of cohesion, coherence, and collaboration in support of galvanising our species to design and build those solutions.
The approach is threefold:
- Get everyone in the game of developing themselves and each other — feeling, thinking, and behaving more consciously, conscientiously, and courageously — at speed and at scale, using a simple shared framework based on fundamentals of the life process.
- Rationalise human discourse and knowledge domains around this core framework, amplifying the impact of changemakers, educators, and leaders by cohering around the shared trans-cultural model.
- Integrate the siloed spheres of governance, enterprise, sciences, education, ecology, social relationships, and intrapersonal well-being through fractal application of this framework.
Untangling The Ball Of Confusion
Beyond both romantic and tragic views of the human condition, life is simply self-organisation. All our emotions, thoughts, and behaviours have evolved in the process of creating or maintaining organisation. Everything we do has — at some level — an organisational purpose. (Who says romance is dead?!?).
In thermodynamics, the tendency towards order is known as syntropy, while the tendency towards disorder is known as entropy. For us humans, when disorder prevails, our emotions, thoughts, and instincts impel us to stabilise; when stability stifles, they impel us to reorganise.
As discovered by Prof. Emeritus of Psychology Clare W. Graves, historically, stability has been cemented by deep codes driving self-sacrifice — to tribal tradition, doctrinal obedience, and group approval — while change has been triggered by deep codes driving self-expression — of instinct, egocentric power, and calculated reasoning. Like new parents trying to correct for the errors of their own parents, each emergent code and capacities can be seen as a homeostatic correction to the problems caused by the previous code’s solutions.
Out of the self-express<>self-sacrifice oscillation from animalistic > animistic > egocentric > absolutistic > multiplistic > relativistic codes comes the need for a balancing of instinct, affect, and logic in a self-reflexive systemic synthesis of stability and change.
Bridging The Great Divide
A focus on stability is synonymous with a collective we/us/ours sociological orientation, while a focus on change is synonymous with an individual I/me/mine psychological orientation. (This is the divide which split the first Game B movement, as with countless other initiatives).
Humans may be the only animal with the capacity to transform in an emergent cyclical fashion between individual and collective orientations in adaptive response to changing life conditions. This capacity is possibly the single most important factor in human survival, past and future. While we are in fact radically interdependent in a globalised world, some view life from a self-sacrificial bias, while others view life from a self-expressive bias. We need both of these perspectives — and we need them to play and dance well together.
We’re In This Together
All the dissimilar code artefacts we have ever generated for organising ourselves — tribes, empires, religions, democracies, sociocracies — are now active and competing between each other, with the similar expressions of each code often competing between themselves even more bitterly.
We can call this positional thinking — where we identify with our preference for stability or change (both give us a feeling of certainty ; ), and we can be highly ego-involved with our particular opinions, beliefs, models, theories, teachers, and cultures — often without realising it. What is self-evidently right, true, and good to us can just as definitely be self-evidently wrong, untrue, and bad to someone else.
It is all too easy to believe the rationality and goodness of our intentions and opinions, while ignoring the powerful emotional, instinctive, and environmental imperatives which shape our decision processing. We are often memetically possessed by means values — fixated on the ideological “how” — when we need to be more memetically agnostic — flexibly focused on ends values, or our ultimate purposes. These tendencies must be appreciated and designed for. Without pausing to connect with our conscience, our conscientiousness, our courage — our highest values — beyond our feelings/emotions/instincts, we are vulnerable to the same un-reflexive positional opinions and drives that got us here in the first place (bless ‘em).
Even tyrants, dictators, and barbarians want freedom from oppression, coercion, and barbarism, yet progressives, libertarians, and conservatives often fail spectacularly to grasp that we’re on the same team: the common opponent of us all is entropy. Context is king, and the syntropy-entropy dance is the ultimate context for a life form that values life.
The War On Error
Entropy doesn’t care about you, your feelings, your beliefs, your grievances, your ideology, your philosophy, or your identity. The only thing that balances the flow of entropy is self-organisation. Pragmatic collaboration towards humane syntropy is the singular non-negotiable metric for viability of the human project, and if we wish to avoid genocide and — or by — ecocide, none of our legacy forms of self-organisation alone will cut it: it falls to us to transcend all of the processional problems caused by previous solutions, and organise ourselves so our deep strategic codes are functionally coherent.
Key is a shift in self-identity from positional thinking to developmental process — a central aim of this project. If relativistic thinking conceives of omnipositionality, systemic thinking would be transpositional.
Your Attention Please
Culture is largely a set of shared norms, standards, and conventions, both visible and invisible: norms of language, architecture, technology, currencies, rituals, science, laws, values, beliefs, narratives. Without them, organising almost anything would be impossible.
We will not spontaneously become systemically self-responsible, communitarian, ecologically regenerative, responsively resilient complexity surfers. Sorting signal from noise, and empathising with other perspectives is not automatic. For these qualities to emerge quickly, we must encode and entrain cultural norms across physical, digital, and psychological technologies.
With no base standards for quality of communication, structure, and execution, many if not most organisational transformations fail. Similarly, most intentional communities fail. Living below the Dunbar’s number is no guarantee of viability or well-being, while “strong links” can be fostered remotely if trust-building protocols are followed.
The next form of civilisation will be shared emergence-enabling habits
Google’s team research project Aristotle found 5 key factors for team success and effectiveness: psychological safety; purpose; structure; meaning; dependability. Of these, they said psychological safety is by far the most important. But this condition rarely arises spontaneously, and then only when the people involved are sufficiently mature, and/or consonant in behaviour. It generally emerges over time out of repeated prosocial actions. Training of norms can accelerate this process by establishing trustable conditions for this emergence.
Commune more, consume less 🚦
We have different sets of laws mostly telling us how not to behave, and disparate cultural norms mostly for how to behave, but we have no entrained global cultural standards for how we use our most adaptive asset — consciousness. Psychologically speaking, in every new interaction, we don’t even know what side of the psychological road to drive on, or whether our human traffic lights are saying stop or go. Safer therefore to stick with one’s narrow in-group.
Human viability is now a function of how purposefully, collaboratively, and resourcefully we can operate our minds in the global attention economy. This means executive navigation of emotion and instinct as well as thinking. Through history, people have often been given norms of what to think. To galvanise coherence and liberate creativity, we need a shared cultural norm around our psycho-epistemology, or characteristic method of how we think.
Are You Ready For Your Upgrade?
Human development can be summarised as solving problems better (eg improving communication) so we can solve better problems (eg eliminating plastic from supply chains). I wanted to live in a world in which we actively help each other to grow and contribute, so I started asking some questions:
Beyond all our differences…
- What are the 5% fundamental principles of human development which, if practiced habitually, will automatically build resilient well-being?
- How can they be distilled into one universal “good enough” process which implicitly embodies the explicit principles of systemic/metamodern thinking?
- How can we make that process a lived part of daily culture worldwide?
Turns out the answer was staring me in the face — we’ve been doing it all along. This brought me to a singular conclusion:
…we need a universal psychosocial operating system.
A universal operating system should possess numerous qualities. One of them is that it is simple, such that it can be adopted and used quickly and easily. Another is that it is fractal, such that the same process can apply at intrapersonal, interpersonal, collective, and global scales.
Nature isn’t all that complicated — she only has a few basic moves. Yet untold complexity can be generated by fractal iteration of simple moves — the visual output of the Mandelbrot set being a popular example:
The master maker of simple fractals is nature herself. The pattern of homeostasis — balancing for biological equilibrium — is one of those fractals.
To stay alive, all living things must be able to do three things:
- Know where they are — perception (sensing)
- Assess if they’re OK or not — conception (sensemaking)
- Make things OK again if not— inception (self-initiated action)
The simplest representation of relationships is the triangle — the relationship between two things itself comprising a thing. This has been described by numerous people such as Aristotle, Peirce, Bolzano, Ogden, Richards in the Triangle of Reference or Semiotic Triangle:
The referent is the thing, the reference is our empirical experience of it, and the symbol is what we use to refer to the thing.
For us humans, this translates to something like feeling-thinking-acting, or heart-head-hands, or more abstractly: context-concept-concrete.
The principles of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organisational survival and well-being, in all physical, biological, psychological, and cultural domains, are necessarily derived from the relationships between this triumvirate of master generator functions, recapitulated throughout history in countless triadic variations.
Wise people have been pointing to this process for thousands of years:
🔺Before you read further, please review some examples HERE!🔺
All You Need Is Love, Logic, and Labour
This perennial triad, then, forms the basis for our operating system. These three domains — love, logic, and labour — accessed intentionally, in that order, repeatedly. Now we just need to make it consciously explicit, and get good at it.
Three factors help transcend the factional wars within and between adapt-self-to-environment and adapt-environment-to-self biases:
1. Shared abstraction as strange attractor
Same same but not very different
Humans are always operating implicitly across these three domains, but this shared aspect of humanity is generally obscured by identification with esoteric terminology, proprietary brands, logos, models, charismatic leaders, cultism, and cultural forms. Fundamentally we are singing from the same hymn sheet but splitting hairs with our own “proprietary” terminology and semantic differences about which key to sing in — means values. Competition can spur innovation, but the entropy overhead cost can be high. Unnecessary dysfunction, destruction, and suffering are a result of violation or distortion of this “sacred order”.
Wrds r nt engh
In order to transcend this identification and massively reduce redundancy and duplication, the algorithm can usefully be represented at a higher level of abstraction — symbolically rather than linguistically — around which we can all cohere.
The algorithm also needs to be instructional — one cannot “do” a triangle, quadrant, or spiral — we need instructions to guide action, so I flattened the triangle, placing subjective empirical experience — especially emotional —at the beginning. (With due deference to evolution’s primary value-enforcement mechanism).
For ease of adoption and “stickiness”, I have represented the core protocol as a series of injunctions using the familiar audio transport commands of pause-play-forward:
Pause is the injunction for accessing the realm of the senses in the present moment, where all experience is perceived, including intuition, conscience, the numenous, and purpose. Radical acceptance of what is — “embracism”.
Play is the injunction for accessing the realm of imagination, visualisation, creativity — playful generative possibility, as well as logical reasoning.
Forward is the injunction for accessing the material realm of physicality, commitment, action, movement, creating, and making things happen.
The resulting IKON can thus serve as: core heuristic process for navigation; scaffold for all other domain expertise to be built around, explicitly or implicitly; strange attractor for integrating seemingly disparate endeavours. It does mean one more proprietary symbol and esoteric term, but this time to be shared by all.
Universalising a core mental model allows it to become the main psychosocial load-bearing structure from early school life onwards, facilitating transcendence of differences in worldview, identity, ideology, culture, nationality, memetic bias, geopolitical ambition, personality, and motivation. Direct experiential engagement with the limbic system in the initial step of contextualising is central to this transcendence.
Reductionist simplexity aids rapid penetration in the attention economy, and offers an urgent triage and development platform for next stage operations.
One tool: ⏸▶️⏩
2. Integrating the triad into a single process
Chunking the domains together as a single iterative process softens the emotional and instinctive grip on concepts, leaving us more open and available for flexibility of thinking. This is deepened by questions eliciting values, creativity, and commitment.
Running this algorithm emulates systemic conceptualising, characterised by a high degree of sovereignty, and a fluid locus of control, which mitigates the adapt-self-to-environment vs adapt-environment-to-self bias described above.
Start with the heart ❤️
Importantly, the embrace of emotion and empirical experience first ensures that the contextual sensing functions are engaged before — but not instead of — the conceptual analytical, and enactment functions:
- Context before concept
- Love before logic
- Eco before ego
- Purpose before process
Experience before explanation before execution.
“The mind: a beautiful servant, a dangerous master”. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (ironically)
Primacy is given to the non-verbal immediacy of emotional and physiological experience…so that the mind and body are invited to serve the chosen context/purpose/vision instead of overriding them. It takes time for the various systems of the bodymind to commune with each other, and for (largely subverbal and subconscious) feedback and communication to confirm safety and readiness for full-spectrum consciousness to come online. Just 30–90 seconds can mean the difference between memetic possession and memetic sovereignty. This is the protector of psychological safety.
Follow with the mind 🤔
After the emotional and physiological systems have been felt, heard, sensed, recognised, acknowledged, and accepted, then reason, logic, creative imagination, and generative ideation can be given the space, time, and energy appropriate to them, in a grounded container of embodied immediacy. This is the protector of autonomy, creativity, ideation, and self-expression.
Then take appropriate action 💪🏼
And equally important, there must be action decision followed by congruent action — (or no action if so decided), so that the fruits of sensing and sensemaking can be tested in reality. This is the protector of the physical organism in reality.
Brave New Word
We don’t have a specific collective word for this triadic process, and although neologism is to be avoided whenever possible, language needs to describe and facilitate novel concepts: a new verb — to konnekt — is derived from the universally graspable concept of connection, precisely because it is uncontroversial for both stabilisers and changers.
Like the ⏸▶️⏩ IKON, konnekting does what it says on the tin: it describes the process of connecting, but specifically with the domains in order.
Konnekting helps us to help each other to help ourselves so we can help each other better
This supports those with an individualist/psychological bias to remember the broader context, and empathise with environmental and lived realities; it supports those with a collectivist/sociological bias to keep ideology and reality separate, to not forget facts while feeling, and to give reason its due diligence in processing action choices; it supports those with an action bias in expanding the contextual breadth and depth of their considerations before rushing into action.
Konnekting is agnostic as to cognitive complexity — wherever one is along the developmental journey, the process is equally applicable. Konnekting brings us more intimately into contact with our next “adjacent possible”. That adjacent possible may mean first order incremental change, or second order breakthrough change, or somewhere in between.
Bringing us back again and again to our highest chosen purpose
Two implicit functions in konnekting are executive function and iteration:
- The intelligence using the IKON to konnekt sensing, sensemaking, and action (that’s you!) is your executive function.
- The process is iterative by virtue of its ongoing nature — action changes context in a cyclical emergent agile process.
One process: konnekting
3. Social Processing Across Boundaries
The three domains can only be intentionally accessed through the attentional injunction appropriate to each — some variant of: feel; think; act. This process must be trained and maintained as an existential habit.
I view human consciousness as the most underused and misused resource on the planet, insofar as it can regulate our more powerful biopsychosocial systems. We possess untold amounts of collective organising power, which must now be galvanised into coherent action.
In an overcommunicated, high noise/low signal world, we can no longer afford — metaphorically or literally — to be left to our own devices. In order to exercise our organising capacities coherently, and filter out the siren calls of toxic materialist and ideological persuaders (both external and internalised), we now have to share the feeling, thinking, and doing process.
The most effective and abundant psychotechnology for training this habit is other people.
Peer-konnekting in pairs, groups, or organisations, is a social dynamics superpower, building empathy, trust, responsibility, integrity, and autonomy in community — including, and especially, between people of different personalities, cultures, heritages, experiences, ages etc.
In principle, anyone can konnekt with anyone else — unilaterally or bilaterally — (sign up for guides, and see pantheon for some examples of methods).
- Ask eliciting questions to set the context
- Reflect emotion, thought, and intention
- Ask clarifying questions to identify tactical approach
- Agree commitment to specific actions
Your social environment needs above all to know you are listening to it
Konnekting with oneself or another person telegraphs psychological safety to the limbic and nervous systems. Not only does this bring out the brightest and best in us, it also meets our human needs at a high level (see pantheon: human needs psychology).
Outside of combat, or other high-stakes team efforts against a common adversary, one of the quickest ways to build trust between human beings is through self-directed, self-paced, mutual self-disclosure in a benevolent context. Our nervous systems can sense when it is emotionally, cognitively, and physically safe to explore new possibilities. When people are konnekting — almost ANY people — a microculture of safety, openness, and connection is formed, which has processional effects in the macroculture. Often, the reflection part is all that is required in an interaction — visibility is a key part of all relating. If we want to know ourselves better than Google does, and design our own personal and social credit systems, then we need to generate conditions for humility, self-honesty, vulnerability, creativity, and integrity.
The simple-not-always-easy principles of konnekting apply to all “for-better” communications in all relationship contexts: self, love relationships, families, organisations, and governance.
Me, us, all of us: konnekted
Radical simplexity for scale and speed
hurry up and pause
To be clear, I believe that we need all the expertise, wisdom, insight, breadth, depth, and nuance we can get. However, if we are to survive and thrive as a species among many, I also believe that we must transcend our differences quickly to be able to work as a functional human team. To achieve this at scale and at speed, my intuition is that we need to marshal our collective attention decisively and aggressively on the “bare necessities” appropriate to our species now.
“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week” George S. Patton
Mapping the territory well is essential, but in complexity and uncertainty, we can never have a perfect map — better that we drive our bus roughly in the right direction, in the knowledge that we will course correct. KONNEKT is designed to get us all on board.
How to konnekt
Essential field kit
⏸ what do I want/need?
▶️ how could I best move towards it?
⏩ what will I do when?
Basic field guide — konnekting with self
⏸ PAUSE — Map the territory. Breathe; feel your emotions; sense your body; attend to where you are. Then bring attention to your highest chosen context; see, feel, and embody a challenging and meaningful chosen purpose.
▶️ PLAY — Creatively plan your journey. Play is designing and rehearsing the future. Design creatively the tools, rules, resources, systems, and values that might support you to move ecologically and elegantly towards that purpose.
⏩ FORWARD — Take courageous, timeframed action to reach milestones towards one’s purpose.
⏸▶️⏩ REPEAT — iterate. Review vector, outcomes, and changes to context created by actions and changed circumstances.
(Scripts for konnekting with others available on request.)
⏸ If I were already living this purpose at a high level, what is an even higher intention? x 3–5
▶️ How could I move towards that reality more joyfully, more simply, and more ecologically?
⏩ How can I involve more people in making this happen with less entropy?
Questions are the answer to powering the konnekting process.
These are briefest suggested starter field kits, and are not a substitute for your specialised depth and nuance. But they have functional value, in addition to introducing a common interface and framework/scaffold for more complex processes, of which there are countless variations from countless sources, including you!
How are you konnekting, and how are you konnekting with others?
How to get konnekted
The IKON mark and terminology are to be used freely within any modality or social context — the synergistic cross-cultural benefits will maintain and compound.
Organisations which adopt konnekting can become certified as “konnekted” and display the ⏸▶️⏩ IKON as kitemark.
If you are a scrum master, agile coach, design thinking coach, product owner, project manager, trainer, team lead, your existing framework plugs directly into one or more of the KONNEKT scaffold domains, or may require a diagrammatic or restructuring “dongle” to interface. The pantheon gives numerous examples of how this can be done.
Leaders and managers can use the shared language and model as a conceptual base for bringing silos and departments closer together, without glossing over differences and preferences, or pretending “oneness”.
If you are a teacher, you can begin using the framework and konnekt scripts with your students in considering the context, concepts, and concretes of a project or subject. Oh — and in your staff meetings too!
Who’s already getting konnekted?
Use of the KONNEKT framework has begun on a small scale, mostly in Berlin, Germany. Direct and anecdotal feedback is encouraging: intuitive, memorable, usable, transferable. Scripts and guides for konnekting and integrating your existing specialised knowledge will be downloadable from www.konnekt.net. Incentivisation experiments are yet to be tested.
The hypothesis is predictive and prescriptive: emergence of collaborative coherence at scale will be demonstrated only after adoption by a critical mass of diverse actors in any given (sub)population or group. At this early stage, I am sharing the idea with tribe leaders and readers, gathering their feedback, experimenting, and iterating. The necessary social and technological sensing, sensemaking, and enacting mechanisms will obviously need to co-developed.
Getting konnekted requires subordinating our egos to something new. For some, the konnekting concept may be too touchy-feely, and not concrete enough; for others, too conceptual and not spiritual enough; for others, too outcome-focused and not empathic enough. People who have invested in deep learning of particular approaches may feel resistance to adopting a general framework. Remember that in konnekting, heart, head, and hands are all equally essential, and all can be engaged in your own way, at your own depth, pace, and scale.
The principle remains: we need love, and logic, and labour — in that order. Sensing, sensemaking, and action-taking together is better than any of them alone, or pathologically out of balance for any given context.
If in doubt: konnekt
Systemic problems require systemic solutions
Proposed is a “grand and global alliance” between leaders of thought, education, agriculture, ecology, enterprise, governance, and military, and all their tribes, cohering around a konnekted ecosystem, to instate and defend the syntropic “common law” against diskonnekted parochial bias and reflexive rivalrous power agendas.
The broader aim is to get everyone capable of symbolic thought — whether a 6-year-old child in a Malawi village, or a Tokyo CFO — playing the same basic game of designing and building organisation consciously. What if the simple process of pause-play-forward were a catalyst for building the next stage of the human project?
The metagame is to make getting konnekted as easy and enjoyable as possible, for as many as possible, as soon as possible: firstly by learning and sharing the basic konnekting process; and secondly, by integrating existing knowledge specialisations within the KONNEKT taxonomy, which then become apps and docs running on the ⏸▶️⏩ OS. You are warmly invited to use the KONNEKT framework as a scaffold for building your own apps on, or for integrating your existing schema onto/into.
By training this liberating meta-structure fractally across all scales and contexts as the primary human activity, our species will increasingly enjoy the emergent property of unprecedented collaboration around life-enabling purposes.
The Anthropocene: the age of humility, heroism, and hard work.
In complexity, there is no balance — only balancing. Somewhere between dystopia and utopia lies a viable future. I suggest that that future will be more viable if we’re konnekted.
This is a call to action for you, for us, for all of us to break free from the gravity of our own habitual thinking and behaviour, and generate an emergent revolution, one konnekted action at a time. If we choose to do this together — and we includes you — it will be the most thrilling and rewarding thing we will ever do.
So come all you lovers, magicians, warriors, and sovereigns — the future is upon us.
One World. One People. One Ritual.
KONNEKTWORK is the first “app” based on the KONNEKT OS. It’s a peer-konnekting team and coworking platform, with shockingly good early self-report survey results (formal research planned):
Copyright © Adam Pearson 2019–2021
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The ⏸▶️⏩ IKON and KONNEKT® are registered EU trademarks, (USA pending). Use and attribute under Creative Commons 4.0 Licence.
With special thanks to David Hudnut, Fredrik Langborg, and Julius Pesonen for their thoughtful feedback and suggestions.