Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, by Adrienne Maree Brown
Inspired by Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns.
Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a resolutely materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction, a visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.
“Adrienne has challenged me, enlightened me and reminded me that transformation happens in our natural world every day and we can borrow from it strategies to transform ourselves, our organizations, and our society.” —Denise Perry, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD)
“Drawing on sources as varied as poetry, science fiction, forests, ancestors, and a desired future, Emergent Strategy speaks with ease about what is hard and brings us into that ease without losing its way. Savor and enjoy!” —Elissa Perry, Management Assistance Group
From the start of Strategy, brown focuses on elements of the natural world because we are part of it and reflect its organizing structures. I have believed this for a long time but generally don't go there because I can't articulate it. Brown can. On the first page of the first chapter, in fact. Among the core principles of her practice of emergent strategy, brown lists:
"Small is good, small is all. (The large is a reflection of the small.)
Change is constant. (Be like water.)
There is always enough time for the right work.
There is a conversation in the room that only these people at this moment can have. Find it.
Never failure, always a lesson. ... "
So Strategy is not so much about how to overcome the opposition with ... um, something like five killer arguments to take down your racist uncle. It's more about overcoming your own issues as an activist and maintaining a focus on the best objectives and strategies.