The term ‘inspiring leadership‘ is almost certainly a pun knowing Don Hill . He is a media thought leader based out of Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). This is the title of his show on CKUA radio. Two things – it may imply leadership that is inspiring and suggest that you are going to be exposed to some through his various interviews and spoken pieces. The more interesting interpretation of the term ‘inspiring leadership’ is reading it as a question. In other words how do we inspire leadership? What will it take to cause people to rethink leadership? Should leadership be evolving to meet the needs of the age we live in? What will it be like? I believe these are some of the questions Don is attempting to explore in his series on CKUA.

My own take is that leadership per se is becoming less important unless it is connected to the concept of ‘followship’. If we are to move from highly stratified structures within organizations and society, toward a flatter network, leadership becomes something that flows through a group of people. Rather than hanging around the usual suspects, networks allow leadership to travel to where it is needed depending on the circumstances. Followship in this case is the ability is giving up the leader role for the good of the group as a whole. I don’t know about you, but I was not brought up to think like this.

I think Don is asking some of the cleverest questions about leadership that I have heard for a long time. I of course begin wondering what sort of leadership is required to allow our collaborative intelligence to expand. Watching ant and termite colonies it is hard to identify any leaders, at least in the human sense of the word. Ants and termites have been organizing themselves in colonies for well over 40 million years. Maybe there is something to learn here? I wonder what out society will look like when we have been at for 40 million years – better still – could we learn to collaborate more effectively without it taking that amount of time?

Within the Zen tradition there is a story about two fish. One fish starts telling the other of a strange experience it had.

“I was swimming along and noticed a tasty morsel. I grabbed it, but a sharp, shiny, hard thing got stuck in my mouth. Suddenly, I was pulled from the water and the next thing I knew, I was in a whole new world. A great big thing grabbed me and pulled the sharp, shiny, hard thing from my mouth and threw me back into the water.”

The other fish looks shocked and asks, “Water? What water?”

The last animal to discover water would be a fish, and we would be the last ones to discover our assumptions about reality because we are so immersed in them.
The same is true of other assumptions we might have about ‘reality’ (a much over rated concept) especially about the importance of competition. Many people consider life to be a struggle in which the things we want or need in life must be fought for. Upon closer examination nature is based on cooperation, a part of which is competition. The deeper structures of nature however consist of finely balanced synergies not turf wars for resources. Something to consider as we look around at how nation states are conducting themselves. This is part of the reason I am slightly obsessed with ‘Collaborative Intelligence’ as a principle that will serve all of humanity at this point in time.

Enterprise Facilitation — articles

A few days ago I had the great fortune to attend a talk by David Peat. David gave a fascinating description of the history of science to the present day. He then went on to comment on some the pitfalls associated with trying to change systems. Especially ones that other people have to live in that we don’t. The example used was well-intentioned people from ‘first world countries’ trying to solve problems faced by communities in the ‘third world’. David then mentioned ‘Enterprise Facilitation’ which I had never heard of. What I discovered on the net is fascinating and well worth a look for anyone concerned about what we trying to do in our own lives to solve the ‘world’s woes’.

When I was ten years old my mom sent me with tea and biscuits down to the fields where my father was plowing. When I got there, he had just started a new field and was half-way down the first furrow. I decided to wait until he came back up the field. He took ages – every now and again getting off the tractor to tap something, or adjust part of the plow. By the time he returned to my end of the field I had begun to wonder just how long it was going to take him to plow the whole field. “Dad,” I said, “I have watched you plowing the first furrow and if it takes you as long to plough every furrow, it’s going to take you all day to plough this little field.” “Well son that was the first furrow of the field – it’s the most important, because it sets the pattern for the rest of the field.” He went on to tell me that when it came time for me to plow a field and if I found I didn’t like the pattern when I had finished, I should check the first furrow and I would usually find that the problem started there.


In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.
Harry S. Truman

On reflection I realize my dad was sharing a valuable insight. So often we become aware of patterns in our lives that we don’t like. Sometimes we even try to fix the pattern, the one that is ‘out there’ somewhere, when really the first furrow is where the pattern is set, within ourselves. In human relations (and communication) the human heart is where the first furrow is cut. How we relate to ourselves, sets the tone and the shape of the cut line for the ones to follow. It is easier to look out than look in. Often an ounce of change made within will easily outweighs a pound of change made ‘without’.
The first furrow connects personal development (the responsibility to develop ourselves) to professional development. To pretend that they do not affect each other is naive.

First words « Getting Clever Together

Welcome to ‘Getting Clever Together’ a blog dedicated to an exploration of ‘Collaborative Intelligence’ , CQ as I call it.