Thrivability is a worldview, a global movement, and an active practice. Guided by what we know about living systems, it is a continual and purposeful drive to create the fertile conditions for life to thrive at the levels of the individual, the organization, the community and the biosphere. Profoundly practical, it is distinguished by a deep understanding of how life works – and by intentional participation in that pattern. The thrivability movement recognizes that only by aligning with life in the spirit of learning, compassion, contribution and play can we find the motivation and the means to collaborate and innovate at the levels required.
The goal of enabling life to thrive is appealing for obvious reasons. But we may be less accustomed to the idea at an organizational or community level. This first requires us to recognize organizations and communities as living systems, sharing a core set of characteristics with rainforests, ant colonies and our own bodies. This then draws our attention to the intrinsic capacity of all thriving living systems to support collaboration and innovation, to develop new, emergent capabilities, to regenerate themselves continuously, to heal themselves and adapt to change, to demonstrate collective intelligence, and to integrate with their environment advantageously. These are exceedingly desirable qualities that, by definition, are latent in every organization and community, waiting only for the proper fertile conditions to be in place.
At any level, then, thrivability is not a static end goal or an absolute, ideal state. Instead, it is an ongoing assessment and adjustment based on emerging insights, evolving internal conditions and shifting context. It is a continuously unfolding inquiry: “What conditions are needed in this moment, within these circumstances, to support life’s ability to thrive as fully as possible at every level?” And it is a purposeful set of responsive actions.
Thus, thrivability calls for perspectives and practices that support wise stewardship of self and system. It includes disciplines of individual and collective sensing and learning. It demands intentional crafting of structures and systems. It necessarily takes a holistic view – which in organizations means linking purpose with passion, brand with culture, and worker with customer and community. It asks us to hospice death and decay as necessary aspects of life. And it invites practical play into most every interaction, since play is how we collaborate and learn best, and the joy that results is one indication that we are thriving.
Together, all of these form a practice, in the sense of a martial arts practice or a spiritual practice. They are what some call the path of the “heart warrior.” Thrivability requires the fierce commitment and discipline of the warrior, brought forth in loving service of life.
In all, then, thrivability is even more than an inquiry and a practice. It is a quest. A hero’s journey. A choose-your-own-adventure story. The challenges we face in our organizations and in the world call for nothing less. And our own hearts crave nothing more.
This is not a journey that can be undertaken alone. It requires a community of practice. A band of brothers- and sisters-in-arms.
So, who’s in?
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