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New Artisans - Is it Regenerative?
Day 3 of Alan Moore's 13 Questions
Regeneration is such a loaded word, affixed as it is to everything from agriculture to business.
I think of it in simple terms:
Does the idea of New Artisans contain within it the source and means to evolve into something continually better? In Alan’s terms, does it have an essence of beauty?
At the moment, New Artisans is a space for conversations that challenge our status quo, the habits that go with an addiction to a regular monthly salary, and create an opening for the work that we are here to do to make itself known.
I have no idea what it might turn into or whether it is just a fleeting catalyst for something to emerge. I don’t think it matters, as long as it moves some people along a trail in the undergrowth that otherwise they may pass by, that leads them somewhere they can make a more meaningful contribution than they otherwise might. Serendipity, Synchronicity and unintended consequences are powerful levers.
In his book. “On Trails”, Robert Moor recounts how Richard Feynman, the physicist had an infestation of ants in his bathroom. Being Feynman, he didn’t reach for the ant powder but started experimenting. He put a sugar lump in the bathtub and observed. Eventually, a lone ant discovered it and carried part of it back to the nest. Feynman traced the path it took with a coloured pencil. More ants followed, more coloured pencils. What he noticed was that they didn’t follow precisely the same trail. They cut corners until, eventually, the initial wandering path became a perfectly straight line.
Non-human animals create trails not through intelligence but through persistence, trial and error. Paths differ by objective. Those that are run are straighter than those that are walked, because they meander less. Trails are created by those that meander, then upgraded by those who run. But first, we need those who meander.
From a work perspective, we’ve beaten a path so straight that we don’t even notice it anymore, and because we pay far more attention to what we believe we’re losing than we do to what we might be gaining, we are beset with anxiety.
Regeneration of our relationship with “work”, however we may define it, needs people prepared to meander for a while, to notice what is emerging and make that initial wandering path. Once we have that, then we can think about straightening it.
And also, of course, our relationship with ourselves and others. To step out from behind those masks of resumés, qualifications and roles to glimpse the real people behind them and see where we might travel together.
The best vehicle I know for meandering is a conversation, without agenda, unburdened by performance, and pregnant with possibility. Conversations with those we trust, where we can meander with confidence, where we can depend on their support and consistency, and know that what needs to emerge can do so without the use of any form of force.
Regenerative leadership requires us to meander, to lay the first tentative trails that others might pick up to a more generative and generous relationship with their work.
That willingness to wander off the well-trodden and familiar paths, and look for the evidence of new trails is, I believe, where the power of regeneration of our relationship with work resides.
I see New Artisans as a space, what I think of as a “Third Space”, that we can step into to have these meandering regenerative conversations to create trails by walking them together.