Wholeness, Interconnectedness and Co-creativity
Co-intelligence can be defined as
the ability to use wholeness, interconnectedness
to collaboratively guide
the evolving coherence of life and understanding
towards greater wholeness, interconnectedness and co-creativity.
To get a better grasp on what this means, let's explore how we
would deal with intelligence differently if we took wholeness,
interconnectedness and co-creativity seriously...
If we took wholeness
We'd include more of what was involved --
and more of who was involved -- in any situation we were
dealing with. We'd try to consider anything that might be relevant,
and we'd make sure all stakeholders were involved. Ideally, we'd
include anything and anyone related to the situation -- as much
as we could tolerate. Of course we all have our limits, but we'd
continually stretch our ability to embrace more and more reality
-- more and more viewpoints and approaches and diversity and nuance
and complexity. We'd want to get a sense of the whole picture
-- or as close to it as we could get. The
experiment in Canada -- in which a dozen extremely diverse
citizens thrashed out a powerful consensus vision for their country
-- is a good example of this.
We'd recognize there was more to whatever we were dealing with
than we could articulate and analyze. We'd sense into it, looking
for hints of the bigger story, the underlying feelings, the growing
edges of the situation, the mystery. We'd make sure our intelligence
involved more than our own logic and individual smarts -- that
it involved things like emotion and intuition and each other --
so we could embrace life more deeply. At its best, science is
like this -- collegial, passionate, humble, intuitive, awed and
curious, as well as rational.
We'd realize there is much more to us -- as whole individuals
and groups -- than any particular label, role or aspect of who
we are. Everyone is bigger than their name or function or our
estimation of them, and therefore worthy of respect -- even when
we don't like them. This is true of every thing,
as well. It requires constant vigilance, in my own life, to not
slide into judgments and stereotypes so I can really see the unique
person or thing before me. Practitioners of permaculture
(a system of "permanent agriculture") try to design
productive ecosystems in which each element -- each animal and
plant, each piece of land or water -- performs multiple functions
which utilize its unique qualities.
Our feeling and thinking would be broad and deep -- about the
long term, about system dynamics, about the oneness of humanity
and nature. And we would, whenever possible, move beyond "either/or
logic" and "win/lose conflicts" to explore the
larger picture painted by "both/and logic" and "win/win
possibilities." This long-term, integrative, healing impulse
is exemplified in the Native American search for solutions that
benefit the seventh generation after them.
We'd explore the role of circumstances, environment, culture and
other contexts as factors influencing outcomes. We'd recognize
that taking things out of context is one of the best ways to miss
the whole point. We see this in our criminal justice system, in
which the community takes little or no responsibility for the
misdeeds of its members, removing them to isolated cells instead
of healing the damaged community with reparations and mutual efforts
to help the damage never happen again (as is done in many tribal
We would ground our ideals in wholeness. For example, since the
words health, healing, wholesomeness, integrity and holiness (sacredness)
all refer to wholeness, we would give these values high priority
in our personal, economic and community life. The work of people
like Gandhi and Rudolph Steiner embody this effort to nurture
wholeness at and among every level of life. They provided paths
to develop whole people who could sustain healthy communities
together, with a sense of sacredness, in harmony with nature.
If we took interconnectedness seriously...
We would recognize that we are not alone in the world, but are
embedded in human and natural communities. We share our fate with
these communities. Global weather and finance are teaching us
this, catastrophe by catastrophe.
We would seek to understand the relationship between
people, things, life forms, fields of study, approaches, etc.
-- considering the relationships between them as important or
more important than their individual characteristics. We would
use that understanding to establish peer, synergistic relationships
wherever we could. More often than not, we'd find that healthy
relationships were the solution; and where they weren't,
they were powerful resources for finding the solution.
Individual solutions for addiction, for example, do not succeed
as well as solutions that utilize the peer support of recovering
We would realize the power of shared realities, shared stories,
shared experience and the sort of communication systems that support
such sharing. One of the most powerful techniques for creating
bridges between ideological enemies is to have each person share
the story of how they came to believe what they believe. Common
humanity almost always shines through the differences.
We would appreciate (and use) webs of relationship and system
dynamics as major factors in whatever happens, and not focus on
trying to control (or blame) individual people, situations, problems,
etc. Family systems therapists work from this perspective, attending
to a family's patterns of interaction.
If we took co-creativity seriously...
We would realize that we all have roles in whatever happens. We
would try to make our roles more conscious and positive by working
together to understand and shape our individual and collective
lives. This factor showed up in an experiment demonstrating that
groups of female executives were better at solving hypothetical
wilderness survival problems than groups of male executives.
We would support participatory decision-making, collaborative
problem-solving and co-operative activities of all sorts. We would
support social equity, opportunity and access so that all voices
could be heard and all contributions brought to the table. We
would advocate the sharing of co-created benefits -- and of co-created
consequences. Instead of focusing on opponents, we would seek
out all actual and potential allies. The wiser we were the more
successful we'd be at finding and engaging allies. William Ury's
and Roger Fisher's Getting to Yes is a classic how-to
manual to help those of us in adversarial relationships see each
other as allies in meeting our separate and mutual needs.
We would avoid nailing down blame or isolating single linear causes
for any condition or event. We would try to understand and address
as much as we could of the many causes and fields of influence
at work in any situation -- and to get clear on our role
in all that, so we could improve it. This is very similar to items
described under "wholeness" and "interconnectedness,"
above, which serves to demonstrate how all three of these are
facets of one reality.
We would acknowledge the dance of order and chaos which is inherent
in a co-created reality (since no one's actually in charge) and
learn to let go of attachment, certainty and our need for control.
In fact, if we were really good, we'd use letting go
of control to enhance productive self-organizing systems; we'd
use lack of attachment to enhance serenity and responsiveness;
we'd use lack of certainty to enhance openness and ability
to learn. All of this would enhance our ability to co-create as
partners with the life around us.
Co-intelligence involves stretching our sense of what's needed,
of what's relevant, and of who's involved in any given situation.
It involves stretching in the direction of wholeness, interconnectedness