Submitted for your consideration, as they used to say on The Twilight Zone…
I am a newcomer to the notion of “morphogenetic fields” – basically fields that contain information whereby social or biological structures take shape (see more at Wikipedia)- but whether they exist or not I’m keenly aware of something like that happening in working with groups.
Yesterday I was working with a small group and we saw something happen that surprised me. The field within which we are working is philanthropy and we are designing a program that will help Aboriginal non-profits develop capacity. This work is supported by foundations and other funding and has a great deal of goodwill associated with it. Our work has taken us into designing a program that is based on sharing, free exchange of materials and learning and funding. Our language is full of the language of gifting, sharing and capacity building.
The participants in our design consultation groups were given an honorarium for being in attendance, and yesterday several of those participants donated their honorarium to one organization that provides meals to homeless folks. The gesture was out of the blue, and had no connection to what we were talking about when the first person volunteered their money. That made me curious about where the volition for doing so had sprung from.
I think that as a facilitator, a lot had to do with how we were shaping space, or shaping the field. The conversations throughout the day were about this very thing, and then to have the behaviour manifest so clearly and so out of the blue made me wonder about the power of shaping space, awakening moments, and working with morphogenetic fields. Several folks have been commenting here recently about this idea of shaping space and awakening moments. Here is a concrete example of how doing so creates emergent phenomena like the sudden donation of $500 to a mobile soup kitchen.