From my point of view, the challenge of being intentional about connecting – mind-to-mind is worth accepting – because the stakes are so very high. I believe that we live in times where interdependent thinking holds real value for all mankind.
People engaging in conversations where transformation has the potential of occurring are people who can help form adaptive interactions. Adaptive responses to the status quo can help create futures focused on the common good. Yes, I use the word “can” because there is no assurance that common good will be the shared focus.
Ron Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky in their book: The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World (2009) write about adaptive leadership. Their definition: Adaptive leadership is the practice of mobilizing people to tackle tough challenges and thrive (page 14) sounds like the kind of leadership many of us might want to experience. Tackling tough challenges and thriving is the direction to the future that I want to put my energy into. For me that sounds like the ‘common good’.
These conversations need to be more intentional than casual. Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman in their chapter Creating Communities of Thought: Skills, Tasks, and Practices from The Power of the Social Brain edited by Arthur Costa and Pat Wilson O’Leary (2013) write: “When, how and with whom we participate shapes the possibilities of our lives. Participation fuses with purpose when catalytic questions energize the cognitive reaction.
Purpose, process, and reflection are the essential components of provocative and thoughtful inquiry. The challenge of the questions that we ask ourselves, and now we ask those questions, make the difference between committees and communities.
We offer the following formulation: Purpose + Participation + Catalytic Questions = A Sustainable Community of Thought”
The ‘with whom’ part of the above quote is crucial to think deeply about. I suggest that we need to get very good at engaging with people across differences.
The ‘how and when’ part of the above quote is not to be taken lightly either. These two components are fundamental to reaching to potential that is possible when people think together across differences. Working toward reaching a solid consensus is a worthy goal as is being sure to tackle tough problems when there are engaged people ‘in the room’ who look at the issue or topic from varied perspective and are willing to work together to attempt to find a consensus agreement.
Thinking together in complex times requires being willing to develop our skills, abilities, and dispositions. We have knowledge to gain. We have capabilities to develop. And it is worth our effort to begin this journey toward developing our social brain.