The Deliberately Developmental Practitioners Network
-- Growing Life-giving Organizations
To cultivate a community of practitioners evolving their capacity to discern and act from the wholeness and interconnectedness of living systems, in a way that enables us to engage organizations in uncovering and pursuing potential and breathing new life-generating energy into processes, systems, structures, and culture, so that people and organizations play their vital roles in the flourishing of ecosystems (e.g. customers, communities, industries, social-ecological systems, etc…).
This Network has been formed around its own unique set of agreements and premises. This is the core of our identity and essence.
First, our premises distinguish us: We are focused on building whole developmental organizations; our method is centered on individual and collective development; we operate from evolving capacity paradigms that are grounded in the interconnectedness of living systems (i.e. above the line), and we are building community.
Second, we are global in scale with the aim of influencing one million organizations to work developmentally. This scale and scope require that we operate on multiple levels from individuals to communities and organizations to societies.
Third, we are non-denominational: we use many sources, frameworks, and practices to support our premises and aim.
Finally, we ourselves are committing to working developmentally so each practitioner, the network as a whole, and the organizations we serve all evolve to be able to make their unique contributions.
These factors not only distinguish us, but they also help us have discernment about how we think about ourselves and what we include and exclude. Our premises in particular help define the boundary that defines us. For example:
- Developmental of whole organizations means that we’re thinking holistically about the organization both in the role that the organization plays in its own environment and how the evolving capacity of the organization builds a developmental culture.
- Individual and collective development means that we are not only interested in individual development, but also concerned about how groups and organizations develop and the interconnection between individual and collective development.
- Operating from an evolving capacity paradigms that is grounded the interconnectedness of living system means, at a minimum that we acknowledge that life organizes itself into systems of interconnected wholes through reciprocal relationships.
- Building community means that we value each other because of our uniqueness and inherent value and are willing to go beyond our habitual judgments and defenses to a deeper place of connection
For each of these premises, there are no clear answers, defined approaches, or just one way to think and to practice. The point of being non-denominational is to be consciously open to different approaches, systems, and practices. This does not, however, mean that we relax our discernment around our premises, and although we may not know what the answer is, we sometimes know what it is not. Some examples are:
A focus on developing whole organization means that we cannot go along with the notion that individual development or leadership development leads to building developmental organizations without additional approaches and methods.
- Similarly, a focus on individual and collective development means that systems that only focus on individual development are not enough—we must leave room for collective development at different scales to be part of our approach.
- Being grounded in paradigms that are above the line means that we must develop our own capacity to not operate below the line from one of the disconnected paradigms: we do not operate from an extracting value paradigm that views organizations transactionally and people as competition that is separate from us; we do not operate as if people and organizations are machines to be optimized and perfected to some ideal, and we do not impose our version of truth or good on others.
- And finally, building a community means that we be willing to not stop at group effectiveness or efficiency.
Wholeness requires boundaries—a discernment about what is in and what is out. This discernment is not directed at people, but at ways of thinking and practicing that are not compatible with our premises, with who we are.
I am part of an Aikido dojo. Aikido is a martial art that operates from a paradigm that is very different from most other martial arts. Rather than viewing the “attacker” as someone to defend against and defeat, we view the situation as one that has become unbalanced—out of harmony. We work to care for the attacker and bring harmony to the aggressive situation. No competition, no attack, no win or lose.
Anyone is welcome in an aikido dojo, but when they are there they are asked to practice Aikido, not another martial art. If they punch, we don’t punch back. If they try to overpower, we blend instead. If they try to make Aikido something it isn’t, we keep practicing Aikido. We’re all learning, so of course, we make a lot of mistakes. But we’re there to practice Aikido. Not karate, or judo, or kickboxing. We learn things from those other art forms, but they only get incorporated into our practice if they fit with Aikido’s premises.
This Network has been formed around these agreements and premises. This is what makes us who we are. It also defines the boundary of a rich territory that we’re only just starting to scratch the surface of understanding and practicing.