A Fountain of Evolutionary Insights for Mayors and Public Officials

I feel like I am standing in the centre of an Integral City Square with a Fountain of Integral Insights spraying life-giving rainbows that can refresh a mayor’s way of thinking in these hot fires of summer.

Not surprisingly, this fountain I see, has four quadrants — all issuing flows of emerging wisdom that seem to be tapping a deep well of evolutionary knowledge.

As I walk around this fountain of knowledge, the first quadrant that inspires me is the Leadership Cascade. I recognized it in action in July at the Royal Roads University School of Leadership where the learners I was coaching were seriously engaged in expanding their capacity to apply the tools of leaders that Gerzon (2006) describes as those of the Mediator – Integral Vision, Systems Thinking, Presence, Inquiry, Conscious Conversation, Dialogue, Bridging and Innovation.  These qualities transcend but include the qualities of leaders who are managers and even demagogues — because the situations where those qualities are needed still exist. Building on these qualities, Erin Stewart (2009) (whose RRU Master’s thesis I have just approved), examines similar leadership practices in relation to a community capacity building approach within a health care alliance.

The second quadrant,  I encounter, surged forth as a community of practise process, from last week’s design charette with the Ginger Praxis team. There we mapped out the trajectory of a five day program for leaders who could be in any sector, but who had a change challenge, that demanded new ways of relating to people in the city. The Foundations of Innovation and Transformation, (to be offered at RRU in January 2010) revealed the power of the U process (developed by the Presence (2004) authors, team and institute ) to reveal the stages of development that unfold the Me into the many Me’s, the WE and the ME/WE in the system. We designed a process of initiation, sensing, presencing, co-creating and co-evolving that requires change leaders to engage the increasing contribution and complexity of the collective system.

The third quadrant comes like a water jet — but it was really an email from Jamin Stortz (2009), who shared with me her just completed thesis on the evolution of Public Administration, through the eras of the pre-modern, modern and post-modern into the integral. With clear and firm framing she proposes we must initiate the era of Integral Public Administration to guide the capacities of our great bureaucracies into practises that transcend and include the systematic, strategic and social values that have framed public administration until recently. Unfortunately, most public administrations still operate largely under 20th century structures and bureaucracy. While college courses in public administration, like those described on this public administration degree site, are adapting to new technologies and practices, government programs themselves have been slow to adopt these new methods of administration. In order to take advantage of these developments, city departments and bureaucracies must become more integrated. Stortz describes the qualities of this new integral public administration that can flex and flow with the chaos and complexity of our current times.

The fourth quadrant I admire is the geyser that could be called Planning Theory. In an article crafted by Dr. Gert de Roo (2008), Professor of Spatial Planning, at University of Groningen, NL, he maps out the evolution of planning theory through three systems that can be situated along the spectrum of steady-state technical rationality, oscillating network systems  and unpredictable communicative rationality. Professor de Roo explores the need for yet a fourth system for planning theory to emerge — that of the non-linear, evolutionary system that transcends and includes the first three systems but introduces the elements of time and co-evolution. With the embrace of conscious communications, this sounds awfully like an integral planning theory, doesn’t it?

Leadership, Community Process, Public Administration, Planning Theory — when all these domains converge with new theory and practise, the fountain of what can contribute to a Mayor’s effectiveness really starts to run over. Knowledge of each of these domains is necessary for a Mayor to become an effective integrator. A Mayor needs  expert practitioners and managers and elected officials in each of these domains, who can represent the span of views and situations that arise in the city. But the Mayor then needs to bridge all the separate domains and integrate all the capacities within them so they work together in a value adding, evolutionary way.

With the insights from the Integral Fountain, that I see emerging, the tools, people, capacities and processes seem to be available to mesh the four quadrants of the fountain in a way that makes the waters really dance to a new height!!  What a beautiful and refreshing vision that encourages and refreshes us in Integral City hall square, before we step into the days of the challenging season ahead of us.

References

DeRoo, G. (2008). The Question is Being or Becoming! Confronting Complexity with Contemporary Planning Theory.

Gerzon, M. (2006). Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences Into Opportunities. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Senge, P., Scharmer, C. O., Jaworski, J., & Flowers, B. S. (2004). Presence: Exploring Profound Change in People, Organizations and Society. New York: Currency Doubleday.

Stewart, E. (2009). The Art of Centralized Coordination: A Study of a Provincially Coordinated Strategy in a Health Care Organization Royal Roads University, Victoria.

Stortz, J. (2009). Can Integral Theory Develop Public Administration for Twenty-First Century Challenges? , National University, San Diego.

About the Author:

HI I am the Founder of Integral City Meshworks Inc. and Chief Blogger. Working with cities and eco-regions, I ‘meshwork’ or weave people, purpose, priorities, profits, programs and processes to align contexts, grow capacity and develop strategies for sustainability and resilience in the Integral City. You can read more details about me here http://integralcity.com/about/about-the-founder/

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