Last week several of us launched a social media driven fundraiser for our friend and colleague Jamie Showkeir who is courageously facing ALS.
In just one week we sailed past our goal and raised over $60,000!
I am thrilled for my friend, and it has reaffirmed my belief that the natural movement of humanity is toward goodness.
I had hoped an emergent network would arise, but in my wildest dreams I never expected it would be this strong.
That’s the thing about emergent networks -they are unpredictable.
What is an emergent network and why is it so powerful?
An emergent network is a type of community that arises in response to an issue, and once the goal has been achieved, naturally dissolves. They ebb and flow like ripples on the surface of a lake. Uncontrollable and unpredictable, they can be quite powerful and often trump traditional structures.
They are a growing phenomena due to the opportunity for easy access and connection afforded by the Internet, particularly through email and social media.
The loose, non-hierarchical Internet is a perfect environment for emergent networks to thrive.
It is almost impossible for an emergent network to arise in traditional, control-oriented organizations because their very nature is fluid and flexible. They have a life of their own, and require a non-hierarchical view of leadership, as described in my article Emergent Leadership Topples the Pyramid.
In their book A World Gone Social, Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt provide many examples of what these powerful networks have accomplished.
What makes an emergent network so compelling?
We are social beings and it is our nature to seek community. We thrive when we have a sense of connection and shared purpose.
What is most exciting about an emergent networks is:
- It does not become stale. It prospers while needed and naturally dissolves when the work is done.
- The decision to be involved is up to each individual, and you can be part of multiple emergent networks at any given time.
- You know it is aligned with your values and goals, because you have chosen it (as opposed to being assigned to it by someone else).
About the “Keep Jamie at Home” Campaign
Last spring my good friend and fellow Berrett-Koehler author Jamie Showkeir received the nightmare diagnosis of ALS.
By summer, he needed the support of a cane. By fall his legs no longer supported him. Today he has only 20% use of his arms, cannot feed himself, and needs total assistance getting in and out of his wheelchair and with other tasks of daily living.
Throughout all this, Jamie has remained a bright, loving, generous man, who is mentally sound and engaged in life. He is teaching us about the true meaning of authenticity and courage.
Health insurance does not cover in-home care, and Jamie now needs caregivers full time – to get him out of bed, shower, shave, and dress him in the morning; provide toiletry and other personal care, move him, feed him; and at night to undress and prepare him for bed, and reposition him when he awakes at night.
We set up the Keep Jamie at Home campaign to raise $60,000 to cover in-home care for 16 hours a day for six months.
Here’s the power of an emergent network – one that arises in response to a real need.
We knew it was a challenging goal, and expected it would take a lot of time and effort to reach it. We were absolutely blown away when we sailed through that goal in just ONE WEEK!
Deepest appreciation to all who joined this network of love and support. Jamie and his wife Maren are drinking from a fire hydrant of gratitude.
Emergent network– a just-in-time response from one heart to another. That is what you, Bill Treasurer, Jennifer Kahnweiler and Becky Robinson have created for our friends. Giving is good and you all are GREAT! Thanks, Jesse
Thanks for participating in this wave of love and generosity, Eileen. There are many unexpected gifts.
Beautiful and relevant on so many levels, Jesse. You are an amazing spirit, and a very good friend to have.
Thank you, Amy. It was an unexpected gift to experience the power of an emergent network from the inside.
Thank you for writing this – I wanted to tell you that I am a new member of the BK Coop, and am working on a book related to how compassion becomes organized. We have published peer reviewed research related to compassion and networks like this, which I so love (you can find it on http://www.compassionlab.com) – and I am teaching this concept to students who are interested in leadership as well. I am so grateful to be part of the new emergent network. I hope that we have a chance to meet as fellow travelers sometime.
How timely. This is a great case study for you to share. Welcome to a wonderful community, Monica. I look forward to connecting more with you.
Your heart is so big, your willingness to act is so inspiring, the story of Jamie’s diagnosis is sad but the way he has touched lives and the support he is getting is beautiful. And the additional lesson about the power of emergent networks and social media is worth noting.
Thank you for doing what you can, with what you have, right where you are!
Thank YOU, my friend, for diving right into this wave. Glad I can add some additional understanding to this amazing phenomenon.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; for it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead. Thank you Jesse, for your transparent concern, your commitment and your caring.
One of my favorite quotes! Thanks for your kind words, Gary.
What a wonderful story. Emergent networks work, indeed they do. Well done Jesse on helping to improve the quality of your friend’s life. Hats off to you!