We should shift our focus to proximities, when it’s appropriate, effective and enjoyable. Proximity thinking and connectedness make this easier.

A connected world, combined with some new concepts and processes, presents the possibility of shifting our focus to proximities when it’s appropriate, and when doing so can be more effective and more enjoyable.

So why don’t we? Probably because our current systems and approaches have so much momentum and we’re so used to them. So to change becomes a matter of both learning what is now possible in a connected world, why and when it makes sense to change, and then getting our feet wet (transitioning) by making some changes to limited proximities.

I’ve written something which makes the case for what is possible and why and when it makes sense. It’s a letter I wrote as part of the online course Let’s Be More Alive — Intro to ProxThink. I’m sharing it below, along with a short intro for the letter which summarizes the key points I’d like you to notice for the purposes of this blog post.

Also, perhaps the letter will help persuade you to explore and enroll in Let’s Be More Alive — Intro to ProxThink. 🙂

Four Key Related Parts of the Following Letter

If you don’t have time to read the whole letter below, here are four key parts related to shifting our focus to proximities when it’s appropriate, effective and enjoyable.

One key idea is about when using the ProxThink growth model is more appropriate:

… the [ProxThink] growth model is probably more appropriate for proximity-oriented situations. However, we are facing many proximity-oriented situations, and they may be our most critical situations. Yet some older approaches we’re still using were developed before we were so networked and connected, and perhaps don’t translate well to networks.

The above section mentions proximity-oriented situations, and you might be wondering what I mean. For more on that, see the post For Shared Challenges and Shared Situations, We Need Networked, Proximity-Oriented Approaches.

Here’s more about what the ProxThink growth model can do, when used by people who are connected and networked, especially via their mobile devices:

… since the growth model helps people in a shared situation treat the proximity more like a person, or one element, instead of many unconnected elements. I think this helps the proximity seem and act more like a living thing, and in turn enhances liveliness for people who are a part of it.

The following section talks about how, when a proximity becomes more of a living thing, it should increase variety and enjoyment for people:

… when a proximity feels like a living thing, people will likely want to keep it going and enjoy doing so. Further, since people using the growth model focus in part on the life of the proximity, and keeping the proximity alive, it can allow more variety in their lives. Why? If the focus is more on the proximity (which is actually a blended focus on the proximity, elements and relationships) then while valuable differences may need to be created, adapted and/or maintained, it may matter less who does the needed creating, adapting and/or maintaining of valuable differences, as long as someone does it. When many different people can do what needs to be done to help create, adapt and/or maintain valuable differences in the proximity of their shared situation, there’s a greater chance that whoever decides to do what needs to be done may want to do it and will enjoy doing it.

And here’s more about the benefits of the increased variety in people’s lives:

… this may open up possibilities for people to have more varied lives, sometimes doing one thing, and other times doing something else to help create, adapt and/or maintain valuable differences. It may not be necessary for people to become such specialists, and then feel or get stuck being specialists if they don’t want to be specialists so much of the time. These possibilities for variety will likely enhance people’s minds, bodies, moods and social lives! And these possibilities for variety can create more sustainable variety and liveliness.

I hope the excerpts above highlight for you key parts of the full letter below, which is from the online course Let’s Be More Alive — Intro to ProxThink.

A Letter to Explain and Invite

Hello!

I hope you’ve found the course interesting so far, and that you think it has potential for you and/or your proximities. At this point, you will probably get more out of the following letter. I want to talk a little more about how the ProxThink framework can help us be more alive, and then invite you to get involved in some groups and projects.

I hope you’ve begun to see how the ProxThink framework can be useful for creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. These uses apply especially well for individual people who think and relate with the framework. These uses can make for more productive, lively and enjoyable thinking and living for individuals.

But perhaps you’ve also begun to see that the ProxThink framework may have broader uses that can improve our lives and help us be more alive. This is especially true of the ProxThink growth model, since it applies to collaboration and shared challenges, both of which are shared situations. And, I think the growth model works at many scales. As mentioned earlier in activities for your shared situation, the growth model is probably more appropriate for proximity-oriented situations. However, we are facing many proximity-oriented situations, and they may be our most critical situations. Yet some older approaches we’re still using were developed before we were so networked and connected, and perhaps don’t translate well to networks. Since the growth model evolved on and was designed for networks, I think and hope it has some potential to change how we live, for the better.

I think the growth model approach, especially when applied via mobile devices and networks, can simultaneously help us create both more sustainable proximities and more sustainable variety. In fact, I think sustainable proximities and sustainable variety evolve together, reinforcing each other. Together, sustainable proximities and sustainable variety help us be more alive.

I’m using the term sustainable broadly here. By sustainableI mean that the complexity of growth and life can persist, adapt and change as needed. In this sense, you might think of sustainable as often meaning lively. We can’t instantly make the world sustainable, but we can make the proximities of some situations more sustainable. And since proximities overlap, this sustainability can perhaps spread.

In particular, proximities can become more sustainable with the growth model since the growth model helps people in a shared situation treat the proximity more like a person, or one element, instead of many unconnected elements. I think this helps the proximity seem and act more like a living thing, and in turn enhances liveliness for people who are a part of it. Not only is sustainability built into the Vadi Agreement, with the process of creating, adapting and/or maintaining valuable differences, but when a proximity feels like a living thing, people will likely want to keep it going and enjoy doing so. Further, since people using the growth model focus in part on the life of the proximity, and keeping the proximity alive, it can allow more variety in their lives. Why? If the focus is more on the proximity (which is actually a blended focus on the proximity, elements and relationships) then while valuable differences may need to be created, adapted and/or maintained, it may matter less who does the needed creating, adapting and/or maintaining of valuable differences, as long as someone does it. When many different people can do what needs to be done to help create, adapt and/or maintain valuable differences in the proximity of their shared situation, there’s a greater chance that whoever decides to do what needs to be done may want to do it and will enjoy doing it. At the same time, this may open up possibilities for people to have more varied lives, sometimes doing one thing, and other times doing something else to help create, adapt and/or maintain valuable differences. It may not be necessary for people to become such specialists, and then feel or get stuck being specialists if they don’t want to be specialists so much of the time. These possibilities for variety will likely enhance people’s minds, bodies, moods and social lives! And these possibilities for variety can create more sustainable variety and liveliness.

So I think and hope that the ProxThink framework can create not only more lively thinking and problem-solving, but also more lively collaboration and shared situations. This combination can help us be more alive.

It’s in this spirit of creating more sustainable variety, and being more alive, that I invite you to visit loughry.com to see some projects and groups you can take part in, adopt, adapt and/or join. Each relates in some way to the proximity thinking framework. Since you’ve taken this course, you’ll feel more comfortable with them from the start. And, each provides you ways to get involved and help this effort grow, improve and evolve.

I hope to meet you or hear from you at some point! But first, please check out loughry.com and get involved in some of the groups and projects! 

Thanks,
David Loughry

New post on the Shared Situations site: How Good Feelings Might Arise from Using the Shared Situation Guide

As you may know, the Shared Situations Guide is built on top of the ProxThink growth model. I recently wrote a new piece for the Shared Situations blog: How Good Feelings Might Arise from Using the Shared Situation Guide.

The Shared Situations site has links to begin using the guide, provides starter sets for some common situations, points to workshops for learning the guide, and helps people find and collaborate with others using the guide for shared situations. Check it out at sharedsituations.wordpress.com.

Using ProxThink-Based Shared Situation Guide to Collaborate on Meetup Ideas/Planning

I’m using the Shared Situation Guide (which uses the ProxThink growth model), as a collaborative document to collect meetup ideas and plan meetups for the Variety People LA meetup group. Here’s an upcoming meetup related to that. If you live in the Los Angeles area, please consider joining us!

If you’d like to adapt this document for your meetup group, or other meeting or event planning, please contact me.

Let’s Collaborate on Meetup Ideas/Planning (it’s also an ongoing mobile process)

Tuesday, Nov 15, 2016, 7:00 PM

No location yet.

1 VariPeeps Attending

I’ve started a collaborative Quip document for collecting ideas for meetups and planning them. RSVP for this event, and I’ll send you details about how to join the document. On the date of the meetup, we can get together for an orientation to the Quip document, discuss ideas for meetups, and have a beverage and/or something to eat at a location tha…

Check out this Meetup →

Some Situations Call for Proximity-Oriented Approaches Like the Shared Situation Guide, Leading to More Sustainability and Variety

Some Situations Call for Proximity-Oriented Approaches

Hello,

Are you, as an individual or in your organization, exploring ways of thinking about and relating to situations that could make more progress on the big and small challenges you face, and humanity faces? Whether you’re exploring or not, what follows will expand your possibilities. First, these four definitions will help with what’s coming up. A situation is whatever you are dealing with or considering. An element is anything you’re considering as separate, including a person, place, thing, idea, feeling, time, group, relationship, etc. A relationship is any kind of association or connection between elements. And, the proximity consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways. With the proximity thinking framework I created, you can consider situations and challenges with the four basic terms situation, element, relationship and proximity. Although considering elements, relationships and the proximity may each be important in dealing with situations, sometimes one or two of them may dominate our attention and activities, even when that is less effective. You may see that many of our approaches for dealing with challenges, which are kinds of situations, tend to be more element-oriented and/or relationship-oriented. For example, approaches like markets, politics and hierarchies are typically more element-oriented and/or relationship-oriented, meaning they have a greater focus on elements and/or relationships than proximities. No doubt, certain kinds of situations are most effectively dealt with by element-oriented and/or relationship-oriented approaches. However, some of the big and small challenges we face are shared situations, and may be more context-related or environment-related, or may relate to diverse elements across areas that may not typically be connected, so they are more proximity-oriented. And, sometimes it’s easier and more effective to consider a proximity, such as when relationships between elements are hard to define or in flux much of the time, so element-oriented approaches become difficult. Plus, sometimes it just becomes clear that we need to focus on a proximity. For example, consider shared challenges like climate change, sustainability, shared projects, shared spaces, shared resources (whether big like water or power sources or small like parks or kitchens), or shared events (whether big like a festivals or conventions or small like potlucks, picnics or meetings). These kinds of shared challenges are more proximity-oriented. In these kinds of challenges, it can help to relate more directly to the proximity of the situation. Networked technologies, when combined with some new proximity-oriented processes I’ve developed, let us relate more directly to proximities.

While developing the proximity thinking framework, I created some new proximity-oriented approaches that let us relate more directly to proximities. How? By deploying the four ProxThink growth model processes of RelatePoints, ProxMonitors, Vadi Agreements and ProxRewards (proxri) on a collaborative, networked, mobile platform. The ProxThink growth model was developed to work with networks, and grew partly out of asking myself, if you want to relate to a proximity sort like we relate to a person, what would be needed? A RelatePoint is a primary starting point or place for coordinating relationships in the proximity, and is similar to the ability to meet and/or talk to someone. A Proximity Monitor, or ProxMonitor, provides greater awareness of and information about the proximity, similar to the feedback we get from facial expressions, voice tonality, body language, and of course what someone is saying, when we relate to them. Similar to commonly accepted standards of behavior and ways of interacting with people are Vadi Agreements. The term Vadi (pronounced vah’dee) is short for valuable differences. Vadi Agreements acknowledge that differences are a part of relationships and some differences have value, and provide relationships and agreements which can help valuable differences persist, adapt and change as needed. ProxRewards (proxri) are somewhat similar to the need, when dealing with someone, to provide encouragement, positive feedback, rewards, and so forth, which help one or both of you, and which keep the relationship flowing. So a ProxReward is a reward which relates elements in the proximity, and is often a reward made with the proximity in mind. ProxRewards are also called proxri for short (pronounced prox’ree).

When deploying the four growth model processes discussed above on a collaborative, networked, mobile platform, you have proximity-oriented approaches that are integrated conceptually and technologically. With them, people can relate more directly to the proximity of their shared situation. These approaches can help us make more progress on the big and small challenges humanity faces, but also everyday challenges and shared situations. In the process, these approaches help create more sustainable proximities and sustainable variety. It’s both fascinating and a nice surprise that these approaches can make our lives more sustainable as well as more interesting, healthy and vital with more variety. I think sustainable variety is closely related to what nature does, which is perhaps a clue that these approaches have value and potential.

The proximity-oriented conceptual and technological approaches mentioned above come together in a specific form in the collaborative and mobile Shared Situation Guide. You can use it for shared situations with friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and others. It works on your Android phone or iPhone, your tablet and your computer. I’d like you to try it. It helps your group relate more directly to the proximity and each other, improving shared situations. It turns the proximity into more of a tangible, living thing, making it easier to relate to. It also gives people chances to relate to the proximity and each other in a wider variety of ways. Combined, these things can help groups with a shared situation come alive and thrive, and life becomes more enjoyable. There may be other people in proximities you share who are already using the guide, or if not, you can start collaborations that others can join. Keep in mind that the Shared Situation Guide is a preliminary implementation of proximity-oriented approaches, and more will need to be done to integrate the processes it uses into our systems and lives. Learn more, access and try the Shared Situation Guide, find guide workshops, access guide starter sets, and discover other people who are using it, at sharedsituations.wordpress.com.

If you explore the proximity thinking (ProxThink) framework and the Shared Situation Guide, you’ll learn more about and use the concept of proxri, briefly introduced above. You’ll also see that the framework and Shared Situation Guide are offered via proxri. Proxri in practice are sort of like the give and take of a neighborhood, relationship, friendship or perhaps being a considerate traveler. How do you proxri? Basically, you consider the proximity, including your benefits, your circumstances, the other party’s circumstances, and some wider context, and then proxri as appropriate. A proxri may include money, things, services, ideas, tasks, relationships, actions, and so on, as well as a combination of these. So a proxri to me for the framework and guide might also be a referral, consulting or speaking engagement, teaching gig, grant, or other opportunity. In addition, I’ve created a collaboration deal so that people who collaborate on or improve the framework and guide can get proxri. If you think my work might be, or is, useful, interesting or has potential, please consider a proxri for it. You can find out more about my circumstances via this ProxMonitor. You can learn more about proxri here. You can make financial proxri here or via the proxri links on most any page of proxthink.com. As far as non-financial proxri, you can let me know about them by contacting me via the contact methods mentioned below.

Please contact me with any questions, comments, or for other related reasons, via the contact links on the Shared Situations or ProxThink websites. Also, if you’d like to get involved in growing the shared situations approach on various levels (social, technical, legal, organizational, etc.), please get in touch.

Thank you,
David Loughry
Shared Situations website: sharedsituations.wordpress.com
ProxThink website: proxthink.com

Video Update About the Shared Situations Website, Workshops and Guide

I hope to do more video updates and discussions, both live and recorded. Here’s the first of what will probably be a series. It introduces the Shared Situations website, as well as a couple workshops and two new versions of the Shared Situations Guide (Sleek plus Sleek & Flipped). It’s an HD video, so you can read all the text if you view it full screen.