Emergent Strategy

To be honest, I would never have read Adrienne Marree Brown’s Emergent Strategy if it had not been recommended to me by Laura Webber who worked with us at AfP this summer on our neuroscience project. Laura is an amazing young woman who combines an interest in peacebuilding, wicked problems (her grandfather literally coined the term), and spirituality. Knowing my own interest in systems work and my reluctance to tackle unconventional  spirituality either in my work or my personal life. So, knowing i’d read anything she gave me, she gave me Emergent Strategy.

We were both right. It’s not the kind of book I’d ever have picked up on my own. But it’s one those of us who have adopted systems and complexity theories in ways that reflect our  our privileged, mainstream backgrounds absolutely have to read.

Brown is an inner city, black lives matter, healer, poet, and activist who is now based in Detroit. The book is a rumination on all the work she does as a systems-driven activist, covers all the ground I would expect from the likes of Rob Ricigliano and other intellectual leaders at places like the Omidyar Group, and does so with a mixture of reflection, poetry, and prayer.

Again, not my kind of book.

That’s why i kept plugging away at it, because it reflects how the key themes I’ve picked up from likes of Rob can be used directly with underserved and underprivileged communities like the one she lives in. If you much about systems and complexity, these themes won’t surprise you.

  • fractals
  • intentional adaptation and how we can take our mental evolution into our own hands
  • creating more possibilities
  • self-assessment and learning
  • taking projects to scale

I could not hope to do justice to her pose. So, I won’t even try.

Just read the book. It will be an unsettling and mind-provoking few hours. Well spent.