Choose the Language: Sharing Your HSD Story

In July, I wrote a blog post about the need to tell the “bigger story” by using narratives that explore the dynamics of interactions between and among humans. In HSD we teach people to see, understand, and influence those dynamics. We constantly seek to use engaging and accessible narrative to share stories that help people leverage the complexity around them to find their next wise action. I believe that if narrative includes an exploration of the complexity in our interactions, it can also help us, individually and as a group, share our stories in more relevant and compelling ways. I also am caught up in the question of whether it can also help us to reach across the differences that divide us to create greater understanding and empathy.

As I have continued to explore this question, it has occurred to me that there are a number of ways to talk about complexity. We can choose which approach will work best in any given moment to create a more generative engagement.

First we can use the scientific language of complexity to help us understand HSD. We can talk about algorithms and nonlinear equations. We can use phrases like, “self-organizing criticality” or “dissipative structures.” We can borrow from any of the branches of science, as Glenda describes them in her article, Circle of Sciences. This approach is useful when the individuals involved are from those fields of study and practice, when someone is particularly curious about the foundations of the work, or when you want or need to be precise in saying where an idea originated.

Another idea is to talk about the philosophical perspectives about a complex situation. We can explore what it is to “know” about and understand complexity. We can also  consider what it is to exist and relate to others in a complex world. These  studies explore the epistemological and ontological questions of HSD, and Glenda has explored these perspectives in her description of the HSD paradigm. This helps us question old assumptions, even as it can help us formulate new ones.

Additionally we can talk about the praxis of HSD. We can talk about the ideas of HSD (theory) and applications of HSD concepts and ideas (practice). In the Learning Triangle, we describe the relationship between theory and practice. We can use that model/method as a tool to help us understand and create effective learning ecologies.  

 Then we can talk about the applications of HSD in our workplaces, communities, and homes. We can use HSD to help us understand the patterns of culture, resolve conflict, explore the use of power, and create more generative and innovative relationships. We can use HSD in so many ways to see, understand, and influence  patterns of interaction and decision making in all aspects of our lives. We can even use HSD to help us think about the patterns of our lives and of the legacies we want to leave as we consider our life’s patterns in relationship with death.

Finally one method of sharing HSD that we have not fully explored is the use of metaphor. We use metaphors as tools in our other ways of talking about HSD. We talk about butterfly wings, and  the idea of a learning “ecology” to describe how HSD can enhance and inform our lives. We do not yet, however, use the full potential of metaphor to describe or understand the power of complex relationships and interactions. One way I use metaphor is in writing haiku that represents the concepts we teach. We have not, however, found a way to explore that potential more deeply.

In closing, please indulge me as I share a few examples of haiku I have written to explore and represent  the meaning and power of “community”.

Simple Rules and coherence in a community:

As one, birds take off.

Swirling and flying, each heart

Beats the flock’s rhythm.

Fractal nature of human relationships:

Trees repeat their forms,

Life in trunk, limb, branch, and twig.

Strength in a fractal.

The potential for generative engagement that builds community:

            Touch and sound connect,

Acts guided by shared knowing.

Our boundaries hold strong.

The power of the whole, the part, and the greater whole:

Strangers together,

Share in the task at hand.

They create their world.

What we say is important; how we say it is critical. What are ways you have shared your HSD story? How do you want to hear ours? Be in touch and share your preferences and interests with us.


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