Enticing emergent solutions

Most of the solutions to problems with education, governance and the environment can only come about emergently. We cannot make these solutions happen or manufacture remedies that function effectively. The problems are systemic, widespread and multi-leveled. The solutions need to be equally complex and "in network".

Most "make-it-happen" solutions backfire. They do more harm than good by disregarding repercussions. The solutions turn out to be more of a problem than the original problem. The solutions try to make a change happen and make many things worse instead. The solution ends up being too much of a good thing or a good thing gone bad.

Imposed solutions start from a premise of getting someone or something to stop. These solutions are a by-product of binary thinking about problems and solutions. They ignore the fact that the problem has a life of its own. The system that maintains and perpetuates the problem's functionality pushes back to preserve itself whenever we try to make solutions happen.

Emergent solutions fall into place. We only make the space for the solution to come about easily. When we let go of controlling the system, we can trust the inherent processes at work. We do things that defy our rules for staying out of danger. We work with the system that "wants the problem" as it evolves into less desperate means of survival.

Emergent solutions start from a premise of giving "go messages". They give permission to "do your thing", "take your time" and "continue causing trouble". They complicate the binary thinking about problems and solutions. They act as if the problem is a "solution in use" and the imposed solution is a worse problem for the time being. Emergent solutions make paradoxical sense that come about when distinctions vanish.

Don't apply this to any problem you're currently trying to solve. You already know there are countless advantages to making changes happen and getting others to stop what they are doing. You're a clever person who knows how to stay out of trouble. You'll only get into trouble if you merely provide the space for solutions to come about emergently.

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  1. You said, "Imposed solutions start from a premise of getting someone or something to stop....Emergent solutions fall into place."

    My take on this is that imposed solutions are reactionary in nature while emergent solutions are based on creativity. When we are trying to get someone or something to stop, we are reacting to that particular someone or something. When things fall into place, it is because we have been creative on the front end to solve possible disasters.

  2. Great insights Herman! When we are reactionary, we take the evidence at face value and miss the underlying dynamics that bring about emergent solutions. We misdiagnose the person or thing as needing to be stopped. When we get creative, as you say, we redefine the problem, explore other diagnoses and realize what the system wants to have "fall into place"

    Thanks for bringing the distinction between reacting and creating into this.