Harvesting: the Awakening of Collective Intelligence – Part One

By George Pór for Enlivening Edge Magazine

The outer journey

Viola, my colleague in the Hosting Team of the Next-Stage World (a global gathering of practitioners and teams inspired by transforming themselves, their work, their organization), asked me: What do you actually and practically do when you are “knowledge weaving”?

Here’s my reply: An example of knowledge weaving might look something like as follows.

  1. Print out the written record of our last NSW community call from Google Doc.
  2. Highlight any phrase or sentence that strikes you for whatever reasons. Use highlighters of different colors for marking the four levels of harvesting presented below.

GP col Picture1

Source: The Art of Harvesting v. 3.1, by Monica Nissén and Chris Corrigan

  1. Add a tag (key word) to each highlight, which reflects why that quote is important. If you can think of more than one context from which the highlighted quote can be looked at, you may add other tags relevant to each context.
  2. Read all the highlights with their key words, and group them by their affinity and resonance with each other.
  3. Listen for a narrative pattern that connects those groups of highlights, as if you wanted to share their story with a friend who didn’t participate in the call. The story you tell will reflect the collective intelligence of the community, filtered through your meaning-making.

For a richer and maybe a bit more objective output of knowledge weaving, this or a similar process can be repeated by one or two other weavers, then you compare notes and complement what each of you perceived.

At its best, harvesting is a community art form. Its core activity, knowledge weaving of multi-threading, complex conversations is too precious a task to have it carried to completion by a single individual. Raising such harvest calls for the village.

The inner journey

The previous section presented a capsule of only the outer, visible dimension of the knowledge weaving practice. There’s also an inner story that starts before even I engage in the process. It starts with the joyous anticipation of diving into the mysterious service of discovering the expression of collective intelligence hidden in our many voices, which we can hear only when it’s arising from them, as we connect the dots of meaning.

Making the emergent collective intelligence visible to itself is a sacred job. It can be done well only when we approach it with the reverence. That reverence manifests in our deep attention to cultivating the four C’s of harvesting:

  • The Consciousness of who we really are as harvesters: stewards/caretakers of precious messages from the collective heartmind.
  • The Compassion that lets us feel the deeper passion and truth in the words spoken by others, the quest behind their questions.
  • The Competence in holistic sensing, by holding multiple views/perspectives in our awareness simultaneously, and seeing/feeling into what federates them.
  • The Community that became part of you, as you allowed the isolated self-sense to drop away and yield to the expanded sense of the self, in which “I am you because you are.”

GP col Picture2The inner and outer journeys of harvesting complement each other. In fact, in next-stage harvesting, one doesn’t exist without the other. But it’s still only half of the story. Those of you familiar with  Ken Wilber’s Integral quadrants might recognize the outer and inner journeys of knowledge weaving situated, respectively, in the upper right and upper left quadrants.

That leaves us to talk about the culture and systems/tools of knowledge weaving, situated respectively, in the lower left and lower right quadrants. But that will be the subject of another column. Meanwhile, if you want to explore with us other harvesting practices, besides knowledge weaving, why don’t you ask some specific questions about them, in the comments section below. Let’s start harvesting our harvesting knowledge.

GeorgeGeorge Pór is an evolutionary thinker and a strategic learning partner to visionary leaders in business, government, and civil society. He is the originator of Enlivening Edge, and has been publishing the Blog of Collective Intelligence since 2003. A select list of his articles and book chapters on the fields of collective intelligence, organizational and social renewal can be found here.  More about George’s work on the enlivening edge of planetary transformation is here.

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