*groundswell /ˈɡraʊn(d)ˌswɛl/ noun
1. An increase in particular common knowledge among a large section of the population.
2. A large or extensive swell in the sea.
3. A diverse network of aligned movements collaborating around a common theme.
I just returned from the amazing SHIFT Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. My heart, mind and spirit are all buzzing from the wonderful new connections, conversations and ideas encountered.
I was reminded of something I've thought much about throughout years of involvement with many projects. When we are working on a business, organization, movement, or campaign there are certain distinct mindsets involved. However, our state of mind when building a groundswell is decidedly different, more flexible, ambiguous, and self-less.
In a session facilitated by Jane Wei-Skillern I learned about what I'll call a "groundswell state of mind" (you may use the words movement, network, mindset, collective, complex, strategy, web or collaborative). Through her extensive research and surveys Jane found that successful networks all have four things in common. They all resonated with work I've been involved with in the past involving sea turtles, indigenous leadership, plastic pollution and now Blue Mind.
When we are working on a business, organization, movement, or campaign there's a certain mindset involved. Our state of mind when building a groundswell is decidedly different.
1. Mission over organization. Every organization falls apart. Movements grow when they break into pieces artfully, intentionally and beautifully. Many movements working together create a groundswell.
2. Trust rather than control. Innovate, collaborate, create and adapt new ideas based in trust in the mission. Share what you know widely and wildly.
3. Humility above brand. If you trust in the mission, that will humble you and be bigger than any "brand".
4. Node vs. hub. There are many centers and many leaders, not one. Every blue marble creates a new node or the movement.
Each of these four principles has been built into all of the successful movements and networks I've been involved in. Some, that haven't been successful, notably fell short on one or more of these principles. That doesn't mean that they failed, rather they became businesses, organizations or campaigns with different goals from those of movements or networks.
If our work to make "blue mind" common knowledge is to be successful we will continue to be a non-organization, operate from a place of trust and sharing, continually be humbled by creative people, new ideas and research, and the inspiration from waters around the world, and promote the constant dissemination, translation, and creation of common knowledge.
Ten years into this work we are encouraged to see the phrase "blue mind" now being freely used by organizations, businesses, projects, campaigns, movements, and artists around the world. We see the Blue Mind Ethos at work across all WET HEARTS sectors. That's the unstoppable power of a groundswell.
"Groundswell" is a better word for what we are doing, given the confusion and current overuse of the word "movement", which is now commonly used to describe everything from new hashtags and campaigns to long-term efforts to build change.
“The centrality of group effort to human life means that anything that changes the way groups function will have profound ramifications for everything from commerce and government to media and religion.” ― Clay Shirky
Wei-Skillern, Jane and Silver, Nora (2013) "Four Network Principles for Collaboration Success," The Foundation Review: Vol. 5: Iss. 1, Article 10.
Shirky, Clay. 2008. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.