Over the past few years and more intensively over the past few weeks, I’ve engaged in multiple conversations on what a new form of organisation could look like…
One such conversation was with author and movement animator Neil Cole as we journeyed together in my car from Liverpool to Chester a few years back (early 2013?) after Neil spoke at the New Wine North Leaders Conference in the UK.
We were discussing the pros and cons of different forms of organisation and what a future form of organising could be like…
As we discussed old forms and new forms of organisation we happened to cross a new bridge that ran parallel to an old bridge…the fact that this happened midway through our conversation was not lost on us and this gave impetus to our conversation as we compared some of the old forms and current forms we were aware of.
However, just as we thought we had a handle on the direction our conversation was going in…suddenly to the left of us, a great flock of birds ascended from the surface of the waters we were crossing over and began a full scale ‘Murmuration‘ in the sky as we watched mesmerised. They formed an aerial display of shape-shifting forms that was in no way comparable to either the new bridge we were crossing or the old abandoned bridge to our right
Our former conversation came to an abrupt holt as we tried to understand what it was we were to learn from this ‘murmuration’ for a new form of organisation
CONSIDER THE BIRDS
Many have sited the V Formation geese fly in as a pattern we can apply to leadership. Why?
‘First, it conserves their energy. Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front of him, resulting in a reduction of wind resistance. The birds take turns being in the front, falling back when they get tired. In this way, the geese can fly for a long time before they must stop for rest […] Consequently, by flying together in a v-formation, scientists estimate that the whole flock can fly about 70% farther with the same amount of energy than if each goose flew alone. Geese have discovered that they can reach their destination more quickly and with less energy expended when they fly together in formation.
Second, […] it is easy to keep track of every bird in the group. Flying in formation may assist with the communication and coordination within the group. Fighter pilots often use this formation for the same reason.
When people work together harmoniously on teams, sharing common values and a common destination, they all arrive at the destination quicker and easier, because they are lifted up by the energy and enthusiasm of one another.’ [Source Material: lenwilson.us and loc.gov)
If only more of us involved with leading social enterprises, businesses and churches learnt from this example of team leadership, a sort of ‘mandate leadership’…however, the ‘Murmuration’ of starlings has no V-formation…it’s appearance is something far more radical…it appears to have no perceivable front or back and it’s form is constantly shifting…
Is the Murmuration a new form of organisational design for the 21st Century?
What is it that holds the ‘Murmuration’ together? What is the glue?
For me one human word stands out ‘TRUST’
But also a set of values that would include – humility, unity, diversity
The Murmuration is a form of organization that is highly adaptive, flexible, intuitive, constantly changing, everyone plays an important part and is characterised by FLOW
The behaviour of the murmuration of starlings is similar to the swarming of fish in the deep. An ancient Prophet, Ezekiel had a vision of a man who took him on a journey which he described as follows…
‘He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank. When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows. Fishermen will stand along the shores of the Dead Sea. All the way from En-Bedi to En-eglaim, the shores will be covered with nets drying in the sun. Fish of every kind will fill the Dead Sea, just as they fill the Mediterranean.”‘ (From Ezekiel 47)
FLOW, FILL, FORM
As we are filled with the Spirit of God, flowing with the right people, in the right places, at the right time, we will fill the land with new forms through tribal networks of innovation that in turn flow together connected by the same Spirit until new forms of organising emerge on regional, national, continental and global trajectories
NEW FORMS FOR EUROPE
Recently a team of Movement Planters working across Europe met at the ‘Picture’ cafe in a small town in rural England. As we sat by the window and conversed about what new forms of organisation might look like across 21st Century Europe…as if by cue, suddenly a ‘Murmuration’ of birds began their dynamic movement in the sky right outside the cafe where we were meeting. This lasted for an unusually long time…
THINK THE UNTHINKABLE
last week I had a discussion with Network Leaders in a bohemian coffee house which then continued over a curry on the Curry Mile of Manchester.
On route between venues we saw some interesting ‘signs’ and ‘writings on the walls’ of the street buildings and bus-stops
‘SPACE TO THINK, CREATE AND ACHIEVE THE EXTRAORDINARY‘
‘THINK THE UNTHINKABLE
Because the Unthinkable Does Sometimes Need Thinking About’
What if we gathered (flocked) together in creative spaces (hubs) as collaborative swarms with the collective mind of Christ to think the unthinkable and create the extraordinary before scattering and diffusing invention across many tribes forming networks of innovation wherever we go…
SOME UNTHINKABLE QUESTIONS
I’ve found myself, along with many others, asking some dangerous questions….the further I go down this list of questions the more excited I become about the possibilities…
What would it look like if more people worked with each other?
What would it look like if leaders worked together?
What might it be like if strong leaders worked together?
What would it be like if strong apostolic/entrepreneurial and pioneering leaders worked together?
What could happen if multi-cultural, multi-gifted, multi-sex, multi-class, multi-racial leaders worked together?
What could happen if those of different backgrounds, organised and organic, mixed ekklessiology, rural and city and of different age and generations worked together?
SYNERGISTIC SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIPS
How can diverse, distinctive tribes and networks collaboratively work together without losing their distinctions or having to ‘come under’ one umbrella?
How do strong leaders work together without there having to be one master leader that the other leaders ‘come under’?
How can the generations work together without the older generation ruling over the younger generations or the younger generations having to set out alone?
CIRCLES, ROUNDTABLES, TRIBAL LANDSCAPES and JAZZ
In the past year I’ve sat in circles and participated in roundtables with leaders working locally, regionally, nationally, across Europe and globally.
These meet-ups flow best when they are Jesus-centred, highly relational and of course when we all leave our egos at the door.
They require deep listening to one another and to what the Spirit is saying through each person and the greater the diversity the greater the need for understanding
It would be so much easier just to get on with our own thing and wave from a distance to others who are involved in other tribes and networks…but it is far more rewarding to go through the painful death that the single grain of wheat needs to go through in order to multiply to release a great harvest and a great catch of fish that can only be pulled in by a wide-ranging partnership across the tribal landscape
And if we do the hard work of extending our arms, hands and hearts to others, particularly those who are so different and almost wholly opposite to ourselves…we may just see a new form of movement washing over our shores in Europe, The West and ultimately the whole world
I hear the sound of a distant murmur…
Do you hear that sound?
If so, Join the Jazz…
[This Article is an Extract from Peter J Farmer’s Forthcoming Book: TRIBAL MISSION]