Matrix Emerging

by Amina Knowlan | June 2008

Emerging? What Is Emerging? How Does Emergence Occur? What Is Emergence?

A Call to …
Discover and Renew Our Connections
Harvest Our Collective Intelligence
Network for Collaborative Action
Evolve into the Consciousness of Connection

These words convey both the title and the inspiration for the inaugural conference of Matrix Leadership Institute being held this summer, July 24 – 27. The impetus came in part from noticing, as I traveled around the country teaching, that remarkable people from San Francisco, Portland, Chicago and Boulder (among others) were experiencing what they named as a revolutionary transformation in consciousness.

We often name this shift as one of stripping away the paradigm of separateness (“The island of me.” ) and emerging into a consciousness of connection or interconnection. These individuals are often inspired and eager to apply this realization in other group contexts of their lives. They want to bring this awareness — and the techniques and structures to create it — into their families, communities, schools, churches, synagogues, businesses and groups convened to promote personal or social change.

For years, seeing the connections that could be made between a high school teacher in Chicago and a middle school teacher in Brooklyn has inspired me. I have heard innovative ideas about applying Matrix techniques co-arising in corporate consultants who worked in Denver, Seattle and California. An invisible web has been forming.

Those of us who travel around the country teaching Matrix Leadership could sense the interactions that could occur between individuals from different geographic areas. We could feel the exciting synergy and collaboration that would emerge by knowing each other and supporting the development of this work in their own contexts.

For reasons I did not fully understand I knew we needed to schedule a conference that would allow Matrix students and practitioners to meet, share inspirations and challenges and co-develop applications for changing the culture of groups in their lives to one of interconnection. I knew that I would not be the main presenter or transmitter of wisdom. I knew it was time to learn from each other, and for me to learn from all who are developing this capacity in their own contexts.

The title Matrix Emerging, surfaced from an Evanston trainer in our collective planning discussions. At the time we thought, Matrix Emerging… What’s new in the work and how it’s emerging into businesses, schools, and communities. Clever and catchy, we liked it.

Now I am glimpsing an even deeper wisdom in responding to the call to schedule a time and place to gather, reconnect and meet others with similar values and interests. We are creating an opportunity to walk our talk and to birth the next generation of Matrix Leaders. The clues can be gained by looking at a few simple definitions of the word, “emergence.”

…emergent structures are more than the sum of their parts because the emergent order will not arise if the various parts are simply coexisting; the interaction of these parts is central.

Emergence is…

  • 1) What parts of a system do together that they would not do by themselves: collective behavior.
  • 2) What a system does by virtue of its relationship to its environment that it would not do by itself: e.g. its function.

Newsflash! By providing a time and place for individuals to come together, we create the context for the parts — individuals — to interact. It is through their interactions with each other and with the environment (nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado) that emergence can occur.

The collective intelligence, the collective action will emerge, not because we all meet to listen to the gurus, but because we come together to interact in such a way that a common function or purpose that serves us individually and collectively, emerges.

We will meet in Matrix groups to create connections and lay the foundation for working together in open systems. We will meet in application teams to co-design applications for our personal and professional life contexts. We will be inspired by each other’s wisdom. We will form networks to co-create a future in which we realize our interdependence and emerge into just and sustainable life on earth. Join us!

At the beginning of the recent Matrix Facilitator training in Boulder, I was given a vision that this group — along with others — would take the Matrix technology and artistry to the “four corners of the earth.” It was the birth of the second generation. The work is out-growing me, the founder — which is a long-held intention. It is emerging!

1. Wells, Raven, in a Matrix Leadership training, Boulder, CO, 2004.
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence
3. Bar-Yam, Yaneer, Concepts in Complex Systems http://necsi.org/guide/concepts/emergence.html, May 29, 2008.


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There is something so mystical, powerful and practical about the Matrix model that I believe this body of work has the potential to help hospice the old paradigm of separateness and control, and help midwife a paradigm of interconnectedness and collaboration.
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Sunnyvale, CA