Skills & Capacities
            "What skills and capacities manifest themselves in this field?"


EXCERPT: The Wise Leader by Ikujiro and Hirotaka Takeuchi

In an era of increasing discontinuity, wise leadership has nearly vanished. Many leaders find it difficult to reinvent their corporations rapidly enough to cope with new technologies, demographic shifts and consumption trends. They can't develop truly global organizations that operate effortlessly across borders. And they find it tough to ensure that their people adhere to values and ethics. The authors assert that leaders must acquire practical wisdom, or what Aristotle called phronesis: experiential knowledge that enables people to make ethically sound judgments. Wise leaders demonstrate six abilities: (a) They make decisions on the basis of what is good for the organization and for society. (2) They quickly grasp the essence of a situation and fathom the nature and meaning of people, things and events. (3) They provide context in which executives and employees can interact to create new meaning. (4) They employ metaphors and stories to convert their experience into tacit knowledge that others can use. (5) They exert political power to bring people together and spur them to act. (6) They use apprenticeship and mentoring to cultivate practical wisdom in others. [Harvard Business Review Executive Summaries, May 2011]

EXCERPT: The Round Table & Collective Leadership by Diana Durham

This article is excerpted from Chapter 20: The Round Table & Collective Leadership, part of a new (and not yet fully completed) book by Diana Durham, with the working title: "Who We Are Is What We Do - Decoding the Wisdom Teachings, East & West." Diana opens up our thinking about possibilities of collective leadership and important distinctions between collective intelligence and collective wisdom.

“… creativity is... ultimately the action of the infinite in the sphere of the finite -”
- David Bohm from Soma-Significance and the Activity of Meaning

EXCERPT: Interview of Peter Senge by Prasad Kaipa

A useful lens through which to view the field of collective wisdom is as one might view the spiritual traditions, to varying degrees all include three fundamental elements: study, practice and service. In an interview by Prasad Kaipa with Peter Senge, these three elements are brought to focus: “There is a study, a body of knowledge that you are studying, but it is meaningless if it’s not in line with your practice. Whatever is your practice -- your meditation practice, your cultivation practice ... is that present state of your mind-body system ... Then there is a reason for doing it all, which is your service -- how you are trying to be of use to the world.” Peter Senge suggests that a needed next stage in our development of consciousness is to bring back an interior sensitivity and awareness, to be in balance with our exterior awareness embodied in action. This comes through the discipline of study linked to practice linked to service. He speaks of whereas a world community we might next turn our attention: “I think science, spirituality and society will be the new nexus for our attention. It’s not the old individual spirituality any more. It is about collective awakening.”

EXCERPT: Sense of Wonder: The Capacity to be Open to Surprise

Vital to our ability to access collective wisdom is cultivating our capacity to maintain a “sense of wonder”, to remain open to surprise. Sense of wonder is the capacity to appreciate and delight in groups, in the intricacies of events and in details available to our awareness in the moment. Jon and Maureen Jenkins bring focus to such a state of consciousness in their new book, The Nine Disciplines of a Facilitator: Leading Groups by Transforming Yourself. Excerpted here is Chapter 10, “Sense of Wonder: Maintaining the Capacity to Be Surprised”. They describe with personal and anecdotal illustrations this way of being, adding suggested exercises and guidance for practice. Made real and felt are such concepts as “encounter”, “entrapment”, “collegiality” and “co-creation”, thus adding to our language for describing collective transformational experience.

EXCERPT: Individual and Collective Practice of Presencing

Some say collective wisdom entails a different way of knowing: direct, spontaneous, and alert to what is emerging. More spatially-oriented than time-based, and akin to the awareness of the artist, the practice of collective wisdom requires a mind in readiness, present to the moment, alert to hidden wholeness and receptive to an insistence that presents itself. Surrendering Control aptly describes this receptive creative stance.

Weaving together extensive interviews with personal experience, Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, Otto Scharmer, and Betty Sue Flowers explore this different way of knowing in their book, Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, which contains the above excerpt. These four authors refer to this way of knowing with its inherent call to action as "presencing." They speak of simultaneously holding this receptive stance with a capacity to act as "surrendering into commitment"To study the original interviews from which the concept of presencing was derived in-depth, go to A good place to start in deepening your understanding of capacities for collective wisdom is the interview with Eleanor Rosch, "Primary Knowing: When Perception Happens from the Whole Field," which focuses on her research in cognitive psychology and study of Buddhism, Taoism and meditation. See also Tools from The Presencing Institute.
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SEED PAPER: Nurturing the Emergence of Collective Wisdom

Pele Rouge reflects on her years of experience convening and caring for the learning experiences of people (in groups) in a sacred circle. She identifies and illuminates several key capacities that (she has found) enhance the emergence of collective wisdom, beginning with setting and holding clear intention and ending with the ability to be “pierced” by beauty. Pele is a carrier and teacher of an ancient body of Earth Wisdom Teachings, which were passed to her in an eight year formal apprenticeship with WindEagle and RainbowHawk, co-founders of Ehama Institute. These teachings, which represent the collective wisdom of thousands of years of human experience, help The People remember how to walk in respect, wholeness and in balance with the self, with others and all of life.

SEED PAPER: The Presence of the Circle Being

Many agree that circle practices contribute to the deepening of groups. What skills and capacities of individual participants make it possible for this deepening to occur? How do individuals pass over the threshold into the collective experience, and how does this enhance collective capacity and the emergence of collective wisdom? Otto Scharmer’s interview with the Circle of Seven, a group of woman who has been meeting together for eight years, sheds new light on these questions.

SEED PAPER: The Courage to Convene

An invisible aspect of enabling the appearance of collective wisdom is the capacity to gather groups together, in particular over a period of time. This role and capacity to convene is itself a personal practice and a describable art form. Vicki Robin illuminates some essential elements of the role and competence of the convener using her recent experience of the Simplicity Forum as a point of reference. For more reflection on her own development as a convener, see My Call to Convene.

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