Honouring the emergent: desenrascanço
I'm grateful to Nancy White who has been blogging the CTC2006 conference in Boston and my ears pricked up with her blogging of John Seely Brown's presentation. He's talking in the context of companies and his question is: How do you tap the creativity of the Global Mind?
This paragraph stands out for me:
Deep collaboration goes way beyond coupling business processes. If you look at any kind of organization, it has a formal, authorized part, formal biz process and the emergent part, the social fabric where work gets done, new ideas and groups form. The power is the interaction between the authorized and the emergent. How to weave them together to create a whole new view of how the organisation works. Ironic that IT has been designed to support the authorized, not the emergent. It may be the emergent where all the ideas come from, the business processes structure the work.
That dance between the authorized and the emergent is one that fascinates me in design - both in designing my own learning and in designing for others. I often reflect on it in relation to Portugal where you have to be good at both the authorised (and the accompanying interminable bureaucracy) and the emergent (desenrascanço) to be successful.
I'm sure that the potential in this tension between the authorised and emergent is not one that is being sufficiently tapped in Portugal. Desenranscanço is all about honouring the emergent. There are also other buzz-words of Web2.0 - like mashups - that seem second nature if you live and work here. But the problem is that the weight of the authorised and of the hierarchy kills this wonderful potential of the emergent.
I bet productivity and innovation would increase if there was a way of of honouring the emergent. Or rather, recognising desenrascanço as a strategy and supporting the creativity and synergies that it offers, rather than just letting it slip by as a reaction to inefficiency, or killing it off at school or University in the struggle to adopt the practices of other countries in Europe.
Tags: desenrascanço, emergent, creativity, learningdesign