Coming Out
Joplin, MO

Reality is Broken: Collaboration

I finished Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken over the weekend and plan to spend some time reviewing it and my thoughts about it today.  I do think that there is helpful material for ministry in it.

Especially in the final chapters, which really invigorated me.  They are about how gaming is developing skills for collaboration which are much needed in our current world, as we must learn to solve global problems through global collaboration and new technologies are facilitating that.

She writes:

Collaboration is a special way of working together.  It requires three distinct kinds of concerted effort: cooperating (acting purposefully toward a common goal), coordinating (synchronizing efforts and sharing resources), a nd cocreating (producing a novel outcome together). 

The local church is an collaborative organization.  It brings together people from various backgrounds, with various skills and interests, and they work together on common problems.  Some, of course, are better at this than others. 

The church is also a globally collaborative organization in that local churches exist within covenant relations with denominational structures on regional, national, and sometimes international levels.  We have ecumencial partnerships that are often international.  And we, at least in the mainline, have a long history now of interfaith relations and partnerships. 

As a collaborative organization, then, how can we best utilize the skills we learn in church to collaborative problem-solving in our neighborhood and globally?

Here's an interesting insight, particularly for those who resist development in the church:

Finally, hte most extraordinary collaborators in the world exercise a superpower I call emergensight.  It's the ability to thrive in a choatic collaborative environment.  The bigger and more distributed a collaborative effort gets, the more likely it is to become both chaotic and hard to predict.  We know this from physics and systems theory: bigger isn't more; it's different.  That's the principle of emergence.  It's impossible to predict what will happen at scale until you get there, and it's likely to be vastly more complex than you expected.  Of course, with increased complexity comes increased potential for chaos.

Extraordinary collaborators are adept and comfortable working within complex, chaotic systems.  They don't mind messiness or uncertainty.  They immerse themselves in the flow of the work and keep a high-level perspective rather than getting lost in the weeds.  They have the information stamina to filter large amounts of noise and remain focused on signals that are meaningful to their work.  And they practice possibility scanning: always remaining open and alert to unplanned opportunities and surprising insights -- especially at bigger scales.  They are willing to bypass or throw out old goals if a more achievable or a more epic goal presents itself.  And they are constantly zooming out to construct a much bigger picture: finding ways to extend collaborative efforts to new communities, over longer time cycles and toward more epic goals.

BTW: I really like that phrase "possibility scanning."

Another note to keep in mind when recruiting people for collaborative efforts, she describes a game system she designed and "made sure that not one single potential contributor would find hiimself or herself without a satisfying task . . . we seem to be happiest when we are putting our signature strengths to good use in a group setting."  That is what our team model at First Central is attempting to accomplish.

At the start of chapter fourteen, she lists three skills that some "god games" (like The Sims, Civilization, Spore, etc.) help to develop -- taking a long view, ecosystems thinking, and pilot experimentation.  The last is "the process of designing and running many small tests of different strategies and solutions in order to discover the best course of action to take."

Finally, she emphasizes the need to innovate.  If we are to solve the major global problems of our time, then it will require trying things that have never been tried before.

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