The Melbourne Emergence Meetup

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —December 15, 2004
Filed in Collaboration

We started the Melbourne Emergence Meetup three months ago as an experiment in developing a face to face community of practice. Our aim (apart from learning about complexity) is to discover how a community might form without online discussion forums. We meet monthly at 6pm at the Melbourne City Library. This group consists of about 20 people who are interested in the application of complexity science to management practice. So far each meeting is has been attended by 5-6 people.
Our meetings have been characterised by lively and wide ranging discussions. Last night we explored possible tools to foster emergence. Andrew Rixon facilitated the session and introduced us to emergent development of font faces, online content such as wikipedia, and jazz. We then meandered through Cynefin’s ABIDE method, trust as an emergent phonemena, the impact email has on trust, what was an attractor (mathematically and socially), email practices designed to put a spotlight on disfunctional email behaviour–such as implementing a ‘no email Friday’.
We finished the meeting by asking the question: What will be the key characteristics that will help foster this type of community? Energy, interest, mutual respect and having people help organising events and activities for the group are a few things I think will be important.
What do you think?

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. Denham says:

    * Establish a rhythm e.g. monthly meets & quarterly ‘events’
    * Invite interesting outside speakers
    * Collect and air issues, news and questions
    * Draft a yellowpages directory or contact list so members and peripheral particiants can connect
    * Start ‘projects’ e.g. glossary of key terms, directory of thought leaders, annotated bibliography…. so members cab ‘practice’ and engage

  2. Matt Moore says:

    Er, Denham… They have established a rhythm (monthly meetings). They are doing the issues news & questions.
    I would suggest they only need to invite outside speakers when their own conversations start getting boring.
    The Yellow Pages bit is a good idea – but keep it simple eh? Name, organisation, phone & email.
    As things develop, the ‘project’ bits gets quite important but don’t make it too onerus otherwise either no one’ll do it or the ones that do will feel martyred.
    I think you should keep it small – temptation with these things is always to ramp them up. But the dynamics of having 5-6 regular attendees vs 25-30 are very different.

  3. Mark Randell says:

    You are asking essentially the central question of ‘community development’ – how do we foster new communities? The approaches vary from needs-based approaches to (social)asset-based approaches — I am working on s knowledge-based approach. We need deeper tools than the current ‘meet-and-greet’, ‘do art together’, and ‘form a resident’s lobby group’ approach. We need a theoretical framework – I believe one could ’emerge’ (ha) from complexity-based approaches. On trust; the classical psychological factors involved in trust are things like ‘transprarency’ (I know what you are doing, and are going to do)…

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