The following section of the article, in particular, speaks to the natural creative emergence that is occuring in organizational systems. My own work is based on working with this larger, unfolding, emerging reality and using creative process cultivate it forth, which changes the state of our current reality. It is about understanding that this field of the emerging unknown is a field of creative potential, just waiting to be born and focused into the world, engaging systems to life.
The Field of the Future
The key to the deeper levels of learning is the recognition that the larger living wholes of which we are an active part are not inherently static. Like all living systems, they both conserve features essential to their existence and seek to evolve. When we become more aware of the dynamic whole, we also become more aware of what is emerging and our part in it. Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, spoke of tapping into the continually unfolding dynamism” of the universe, and experiencing its evolution as “an active process that . . . I can guide by the choices I make.”8 He felt that this ability had enabled him to reject common wisdomand develop a vaccine that eventually saved millions of lives.
Many of the entrepreneurs we interviewed had successfully created multiple businesses and organizations. Consistently, eachfelt that the entrepreneurial ability was an expression of the capacity to sense an emerging reality and to act in harmony with it. As one of our interviewees, W. Brian Arthur, a noted economist of the Santa Fe Institute, told us, “Every profound innovation is based on an inward-bound journey, on going to a deeper place where knowing comes to the surface.”
This “inward-bound journey” lies at the heart of all creativity, whether in the arts, in business, or in science. Many scientists and inventors, like artists and entrepreneurs, live in a paradoxical state of great confidence and profound humility – knowing that their choices and actions really matter and feeling guided by forces beyond their making. Their work is to “release the hand from the marble that holds it prisoner,” as Michelangelo put it. While they know that their actions are vital to this accomplishment, they also know that the hand “wants to be released.”
Can living institutions learn to tap into a larger field to guide them toward what is healthy for the whole? What understanding and capacities will this require of us individually and collectively?