IWB Sangha Call: Dynamics of Emergence - Local Economic Development

Integral Without Borders Sangha Call
Dynamics of Emergence - Local Economic Development

Our Feb Integral Without Borders Community Call will be on Feb 8th, 2014 on the Dynamics of Emergence -- Local Economic Development.

As you may know, our intention with these IWB sangha calls is to co-create the kind of 'integral community' we want, one that is deep and wise in its content, supportive in its interpersonal connections, and world-centric (even kosmo-centric!) in it's moral embrace. Each call will focus on an aspect of integral practice in development with certain practitioners leading on these topics and with participants contributing examples from their integral projects.

Saturday, Feb 8th, 2014, 9-10:30am Pacific Time. (Find your time zone here).

Register: If you intend to attend, please be sure to drop us an email, so that we know you're intending to be on the call and also so that we can send you the audio clip afterwards.

How: The conference call line is a North American number, but it can be accessed by calling the number via skype.
Conference Dial-in Number: (605) 475-4810
Participant Access Code: 988715#

Price: For now, while we fine-tune these sangha calls, they will be by donation. Go here for donations and to read more about the call.

Topic: The call will be on the Dynamics of Emergence, lead by Jock Noble of World Vision Armenia. Jock Noble is the Economic Development Hub Lead with World Vision with over a two decade working in community economic development. He has been an active member of IWB since 2008 and is always in a process of inquiry and innovation with how to more effectively alleviate poverty and build community resilience in the least developed parts of this world. Read below for more context about this topic.

Dynamics of Emergence - Local Economic Development
By Jock Noble, Economic Development Hub Lead with World Vision International, based in Armenia

The integrally informed emergent spiral uses local economic development as its subject but conceptually could be applied to any development sector. It depicts the relationship between apprehension and action of lived experience and demonstrates multiple ‘exit’ and 're-entry’ points each of which is not an end but a new beginning of another spiral. In this context the movement depicted is ‘upward’ as it can be argued that all movement is intrinsically ‘upward’ if given enough time. Below are some excerpts from the full article attached below for free download.

The purpose of this short paper is to suggest a different paradigm for an increased alignment between Donors, Agents of Change (AOC) who are often NGOs and Beneficiaries, which ultimately is likely to be more authentic, more effective and more durable.

International development generally involves a process where a donor desires to assist human beneficiaries by giving some form of value, often in the form of infrastructure , technology, food, equipment or education and training, so that they can have a better quality of life. Western based AOC’s (typically Non-Government Organizations known as NGOs, INGO’s or Aid Agencies) receive donations to enable an impact to be made for a particular cause and this transaction typically includes what may be called the “donor promise”. This promise, mostly implied, is that the donors money will be used in the way the donor thinks it will be used, to deliver outcomes that the donor perceives are better value for money, as they perceive value, than the donors other alternatives. To deliver on this promise the NGO typically engages of a number of intermediaries (see Fig 1 below).

In making a “promise” to the donor, the AOC will describe some proposed outcomes and how they will be achieved and state or imply that the donor will also have less risk in achieving these outcomes if they use the particular “delivery mechanism” of the AOC (mostly NGOs).  And this is the beginning of a process that is often flawed and paradoxically works against the very things that the Donor and the AOC set out to achieve, and as Oscar Wilde famously said “All men kill the thing they love”.
In seeking to conceive and communicate impact through their delivery channels, the AOC typically takes a linear world view that starts as a concept and ends up in action that is planned and delivered with the intention to achieve outcomes.

This linear world view sees the development process as a linear progression, anything on or above the line meets the donor promise, and anything below the line would be seen as a failure to deliver on the intended outcomes.

Here a paradox is created because of the simple truth, that to grow as humans and as communities we learn from and become stronger and more resilient through our challenges and mistakes; it is these that cause us to reflect and evolve whether that is through an increasingly sophisticated and nuanced world views, application of wisdom or harnessing a greater range of material options. For individuals and groups of people who are poor, to broaden their perspectives in ways that increase their options, generally requires some shift in worldviews and for this shift to take place it is likely to require some kind of dis-ease, failure or real risk of failure. But risk of failure is unattractive to donors and both donors and AOCs tend to indentify outcomes below the donor promise line as failure.  Thus in a effort to attract donors, AOCs try  as much as possible, to take risk out of the programming equation which in turn undermines  a communities ability to make choices which could potentially cause a “program” to fail, at least within the scheduled timeframe.

This linear worldview can be revised to show the development quandary when a deviation occurs that may be perceived as a potential program failure or alternately as an injunction that is necessary for resilience building. The problems for the AOC is whether, when and how much to intervene, if useful intervention is possible and what to communicate to donors.

In fact this risk aversion is also likely to curtail the AOC’s own aspirations as they tend only to “program” interventions that they think they can guarantee, if necessary though their own efforts, rather than risking embarking on a journey with a community, the destination of which is still to emerge. And this type of intervention can actually disempower a community, as the AOC’s objectives have usurped the beneficiaries true objectives, like a cuckoo’s egg in the poor communities nest.

This aversion to failure is akin to never letting a child fall and so that child never learns to walk on their own, or a human body that is never allowed to encounter disease and so cannot build the strength and resistance that will sustain it more safely into the future.
Shifting perspectives from Linear to Integral Emergent

Conceptualisation of development in communities that are poor can generally be best thought of as “Wicked” problems (Rittel, 1973). A Wicked problem is one in which each situation is essentially unique, evading definitive scoping, where there are no defined ends, solutions are partial and better or worse rather than being right or wrong; where every intervention counts, altering the entire situation and all within the context of being a part of another problem.

Shifting interventions from ‘linear solution thinking’ in overcoming development challenges to wicked problem thinking requires a new way of conceptualising what is to be done, when and by whom.

The Integral perspective as described by Ken Wilber  provides a framework for conceptualising development as an iterative process and has advantages both in the way of perceiving what is in fact closer to an actual development process, as well as broadening the scope the options and possibilities apprehended. Adapting Wilber's approach in the context of development, the “Spiral of Emergence” is depicted below.

The Benefits of Integrally informed Development – Reframing the mess and reenergising the process.

Using the Integral AQAL approach potentially provides increased depth, understanding and a more nuanced picture of what gaps exist between current levels and future preferred levels in the elements necessary for future positive change to occur. This allows for a number of possibilities that can begin to address the current development “mess” described earlier.
(a)  By identifying the observable positive changes that are desired and then tetra-meshing the left hand quadrants with those in the right will provide a framework for more effective development as it will:
Allow for the articulation of desired end levels that are needed in the “I” and “We” quadrants.
It will allow for the interiority of sustainable development to be conceived and articulated as a necessary and valuable development outcome within the context of more traditional “visible” outcomes.
Enable the exploration and formulation of strategies and actions that are likely to meet the gaps between a current situation and desired future levels in all quadrants.
Allow for the multidimensional and incremental measurement of outcomes and in shorter timeframes that can be affirmed by all stakeholders and communicated to donors as opposed to longer lag time, two dimensional success/failure propositions.
(b)  The AQAL ‘map’ provides the potential for making decisions on the nature of interventions in the individual and community levels that are most likely to lead to the greatest changes in the exterior dimensions of the highest possible number of elements that are restraining sustainable livelihood development.
(c)  Through the collection of data from a number of programs that have Integrally informed designs and monitoring and evaluation frameworks there is a high likelihood of being able to demonstrate to donors, that allowing for the real possibility of failure and the more intentional consideration of changes in the interior dimensions, consistently demonstrate greater material and sustainable development outcomes in the longer term. And that working intentionally with all AQAL dimensions does in fact provide greater return on investment than more shallowly conceived programs which focus on faster definitive exterior achievements without paying the necessary attention to the interiority of a situation.
(d)  In the context of development, the four AQAL dimensions provide the potential to change program designs from the fear that individual program or program components may fail, to focusing on tetra-meshed end states that allow for a myriad of flexible shared learning opportunities. This focus can more fully utilise the initiative, creativity and energy of staff and community members on the ground, to generate continuous iterations of relevant and timely interventions and apply them towards end states. This approach also allows for an increase in flexibility and for the ongoing adjustment of approaches as successes are achieved and complexity increases. In this framework measurement of progress and positive change is also possible when none of those involved could have predicted what change would happen or how or when and in what form the change takes place.
(e) The use of AQAL as a “map” also allows for consideration as to the roles of field staff, as their worldviews and available resources can be overlaid on the present and future map of the community and the changes that it will be necessary for them to bring to the process if they are to play a constructive role.
Jock Noble; November 2011 (Jan 2013)

Integral Emergence.pdf548.65 KB