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CEO Perspective: Emergence

By Renee Pietrangelo posted 01-09-2014 12:30 PM


This is truly an exciting and interesting time to be alive. Our world is changing at an incredible pace with new frontiers opening up in nearly every aspect of our lives---personal and professional. It’s a period of renaissance and paradigm-shattering, so much so that it’s near impossible to keep up. As a result, we find ourselves on a dizzying merry-go-round, living in the tension between excitement and anxiety, and ping-ponging back and forth—overwhelmed, disconcerted, intellectually and emotionally burdened. The issues at stake are serious, summoning us to a place of awe-full responsibility and an historic nexus of emergence.

The word “emergence” has been used in diverse and multiple disciplines. Emergence theory recognizes all the places and ways in the universe that the collective whole is greater than we would have expected or assumed based on the individual parts. It describes a view of the world that finds its power not in irreducible parts but in complex cohesion—exactly where we find ourselves, as business in general dramatically restructures; economics and demographics drive how public/human services will be funded into the future; we deal with a predominant focus on integrated health care; and the melding of traditional “disability” silos continues.

We’re in the midst of a “re-formation” of supports and services, experiencing a thread-by-thread unraveling of the models and answers that have worked so well historically. At the same time, we are moving from an era of competition and distinction to one of mutuality and collaboration that will dramatically change models, structures and practices.

Where does that leave us? It leaves us with a mandate to create new answers to fit our emerging context by shaping policy, sharing solutions and strengthening community. With ANCOR leading the way, it is our collective responsibility to make educated guesses about what is happening and facilitate productive solutions for the future. Action is needed, understanding at the same time that we are not fully in control of what is happening.

Perhaps surfing is an apt metaphor for our situation. Though we can choose our surfboard, our spot on the ocean and the wave we take; we are not, in the end, able to control the movement of the ocean. We cannot determine the tide, the length of the wave, or its intensity. We must ride the wave and ride it capably in order to arrive safely and healthily on shore.

Our steadfast “known”, however, is the need for community. Building and strengthening community must be our touchstone into an uncertain future.