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Start Anywhere and Design Your Life For Emergence

I am almost finished reading Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life, Your Business, and Maybe Even The World.  I bought it a while back for a friend and then asked to borrow it back after reading Where Good Ideas Come From.  I was curious how learning more about design from legendary designers like Bruce Mau could teach me about my own life, my business and my coaching.  As it turns out, design has a lot to offer.

One principle of design: designing for emergence, struck a cord with me.  Quoting designer Van Alstyne:

Each person’s individual life is emergent in the sense that it unfolds in ways that can be surprizing and sometimes quite wonderful.  The nature of emergence is such that it cannot be fully controlled or designed.  But you can encourage it; hence, you can design for emergence by providing the right conditions for growth, blossoming, enrichment, and evolution.

To design your life for emergence, you need to plan for possibilities and also allow for surprizes.  Companies like Google, Facebook and Apple are excellent examples cited in Glimmer of companies who design for emergence. They create a platform that creates the conditions for growth and then marvel at the applications and uses that emerge.

Imagine if you designed your life and business in this way…to keep learning and adapting, focussing on conditions for growth and marvelling at the surprizes that come.

Design offers four principles:

  1. Design your immediate surroundings (your ecosystem) in a manner that is self-sustaining and conducive to growth;
  2. Develop a strong, supportive relationship with the community;
  3. Keep learning;
  4. Keep creating and reinventing.

Some of my clients struggle with creating the life and business they want.  They place too much pressure on themselves for a perfect design and get stalled when they cannot come up with it.  There would be so much more available to them if they simply started anywhere, created a platform for emergence and and started living their design poised to notice and adapt to the marvels that emerge!

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Fibonaci Spiral- image from Wikipedia

Why the sunflower image above? Van Alstyne  talks about how sunflowers are designed for emergence (based on how their growth pattern follows the Fibonacci sequence…I am including this for the benefit of mathmaticians who might be reading…would a mathmatician really read this blog?).  Essentially, sunflowers replicate the same growth over and over again and grow to insane sizes.  He sees our human lives as having the same potential.

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