Författararkiv: Jan

Organizing retrospective 90

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
I finished reading the following books this week:

  • Mind and Nature by Gregory Bateson. Bateson believes that mental process always is a sequence of interactions between parts. He doesn’t believe that elementary particles are minds in themselves. Contrary to Bateson I do believe that elementary particles have proto-minds. Here is my review.
  • The Myths We Live By by Mary Midgley. Myths are are imaginative patterns, networks of symbols. The way we imagine the world determines what we think important in it, what we select for our attention. That is why we need to become aware of these symbols. Here is my review.
  • The Garden Awakening by Mary Reynolds. This is a book about designing gardens that are radiant with life, bursting with energy.  I think that Mary Reynolds’ approach to garden design is as applicable to organizational design. If we are to treat the organization as a living system, we must think in those terms. Here is my review.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’m really glad that I was able to publish three book reviews this week. Hopefully, I’ll be able to publish my review of Eugene Gendlin’s Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning next week. Gendlin’s book is a groundbreaking philosophical work. He considers felt experiencing in its own right, and explores how logical order can relate concretely to felt experience.

Organizing in between and beyond posts

Book Review: The Garden Awakening

The Garden Awakening: Designs to Nurture Our Land and Ourselves by Mary Reynolds is a book about designing gardens that are beautiful, radiant with life, bursting with energy, in harmony with the Earth.1 Mary Reynolds has discovered through her work as garden and landscape designer that gardens can become very special if we invite Nature to express her true self in these spaces, and then work to heal the land and ourselves.2

We are mirrors for the land and it is a mirror for us, so healing the the land leads us towards our own restoration, back to our true selves. If we allow the light to shine on all the dark places in our lives and have the courage to face ourselves, then recovery and growth will take place. Healing involves looking at the whole picture. We cannot solve a problem by resolving the physical level alone.3. We also need to find and correct the underlying causes of physical symptoms, whether conscious or unconscious.4

Mary Reynolds shows how using an integrated living systems approach removes our incessant war on Nature.5 We can force a child to be someone they don’t want to be, but only with the consequences of unhappiness and retreat. We can, on the other hand, gently discover who the child is, and who they want to be. Every piece of land is the same as this child. By listening carefully and allowing the land to become an extension of ourselves, we can interpret its energy and enable it to emerge through a creative collaborative process.6

Mary Reynolds uses the word co-creation when referring to her approach. Co-creation means that we are building our gardens hand in hand with Nature as a partner. It is based on the acknowledgment that Nature is a real, present, and conscious living entity. Her method of garden design is intuitive. The most important part is establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.7

Mary Reynolds has, for the purpose of the book, distilled her design system into five basic elements:

1. The tool of intention.8
2. Selecting areas to hold specific intentions.9
3. Designing with the patterns and shapes of Nature.10
4. The power of symbols and imagery.11
5. Putting the design on paper.12

Our thoughts, emotions, and intentions are a form of energy. If we focus our energy in a particular direction, we will be propelled there. Using intention allows us to communicate directly with our land.13 The aim is to create spaces that feel right, spaces that appeal to the heart rather than just the intellect.14 The patterns in Nature form a language we can feel rather than understand.15. We know when we have proper relationships because it feels right, it has resonance. Practice makes it easier to recognize this resonant feeling. Like any other skill, it takes time and effort to develop this skill.16

Mary Reynolds emphasizes that the only way to make a sustainable garden system to work is to collaborate with Nature. Fighting against Nature is just plain silly. If we are to treat the land as a living body, we must think in those terms.17 This book is a treasure map for finding our way back to the truth of who we are as living beings. The directions are simple, the methods are intuitive 18 The book is beautifully illustrated by Ruth Evans. This is literally one of the most beautiful books I’ve read. Reading the book is a nurturing experience in itself.

Notes:
1 Mary Reynolds, The Garden Awakening: Designs to Nurture Our Land and Ourselves (Green Books, 2016), p.42.
2 Ibid., pp.13–14.
3 Ibid., p.22.
4 Ibid., p.24.
5 Ibid., p.39.
6 Ibid., p.44.
7 Ibid., p.45.
8 Ibid., pp.46–60.
9 Ibid., pp.61–71.
10 Ibid., pp.71–79.
11 Ibid., pp.79–92.
12 Ibid., pp.93–119.
13 Ibid., p.46.
14 Ibid., p.71.
15 Ibid., p.74
16 Ibid., p.75.
17 Ibid., p.212.
18 Ibid., p.259.

Book Review: The Myths We Live By

The Myths We Live By by Mary Midgley is based on the view that our imaginative visions are central to our understanding of the world. They are necessary parts of our thinking.1 The challenge is that our imaginative visions may mislead us if they are fired up by a particular set of ideals.2

Myths are are imaginative patterns, networks of powerful symbols, that suggest particular ways of interpreting the world.3 In political thought they are at the heart of theories of human nature and the social contract; in economics in the pursuit of self interest; and in science the idea of human beings as machines. The machine imagery began to pervade our thought in the 17th century. We still often tend to see ourselves, and the the living world around us, mechanistically.4

The way we imagine the world determines what we think important in it, what we select for our attention. That is why we need to become aware of these symbols.5 Mary Midgley starts by concentrating on myths which have come down to us from the Enlightenment.6 The machine imagery became entrenched because the 17th century scientists were fascinated by clockwork automata. They hoped to extend this clockwork model to cover the whole of knowledge.7 The great thinkers of the 17th century were obsessed by the ambition to drill all thought into a single formal system. Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, tried to mend the mind/body gap by building abstract systems powered by their models of thought, logic, and mathematics.8

The trouble lies in the conviction that only one very simple way of thought is rational.9 Mary Midgley points out that rationality doesn’t require us to have all our knowledge tightly organized on the model of mathematics.10 We welcome oversimple intellectual systems because they contrast with the practical complexity around us, and we do not criticize them when the particular short-cut that they offer suggest a world view that we like. They express visions that attracts us, and they obscure alternative possibilities.11

Mary Midgley emphasizes that conceptual mono-culture cannot work because, in almost all our thought, we are dealing with subject-matters that we need to consider from more than one aspect.12 She reminds us that we always have a choice about the perspective from which we look, whether it is from the inside, as participants, or from some more distant perspective. And if so, which of many distant perspectives we will choose. We need to combine several perspectives, since they are not really alternatives, but complementary parts of a wider inquiry.13 The trouble comes when we dogmatically universalize our own generalizations and promote them as laws of nature.14

All perception takes in only a fraction of what is given to it, and all thought narrows that fraction still further in trying to make sense of it.15 The concepts that we need to use for everyday life are often in some ways blurred or ambivalent, because life itself is too complex for simple descriptions. The standards of clarity that we manage to impose in our well-lit scientific workplaces are designed to suit the preselected problems that we take in there with us, not the larger tangles from which those problems were abstracted.16

People habitually think that mechanistic explanations are more scientific than ones that use concepts more appropriate to living contexts.17 Those who use the analogy with machines seem to be claiming that we have a similar understanding of plants and animals. Mary Midgley points out that it’s perhaps a rather important difference that we didn’t design those plants and animals.18 She reminds us that obsession with a particular model drives out other necessary ways of thinking.19 Changing the myth is a way to bring about serious change.20 It’s an elegant and thoughtful little book!

Notes:
1 Mary Midgley, The Myths We Live By (Routledge, 2011, first published 2004), p.xii.
2 Ibid., p.xiii.
3 Ibid., p.1.
4 Ibid..
5 Ibid., p.3.
6 Ibid., p.7.
7 Ibid., p.27.
8 Ibid., p.88.
9 Ibid., p.31.
10 Ibid., p.33.
11 Ibid., p.44.
12 Ibid., p.68.
13 Ibid., p.107.
14 Ibid., p.124.
15 Ibid., p.40.
16 Ibid., p.194.
17 Ibid., p.196.
18 Ibid., p.163.
19 Ibid., p.171.
20 Ibid., p.251.

Book Review: Mind and Nature

Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity by Gregory Bateson is built on the opinion that we are parts of a living world.1 Bateson offers the phrase the pattern which connects as another possible title for the book.2 He writes that we have been trained to think of patterns as something fixed. It is easier and lazier that way, but it is all nonsense. The right way to think about the pattern which connects is to think of it as primarily a dance of interacting parts.3

Logic and quantity turn out to be inappropriate for describing organisms, their interactions, and internal organization. There is no conventional way of explaining or even describing the phenomena of biological organization.4 We are ignorant about available insights and unwilling to accept the necessities that follow from a clear view.5 There is a strong tendency to invoke quantities of tension and energy to explain the genesis of pattern. Bateson believes that all such explanations are wrong.6

The whole book is based on the premise that mental function is immanent in the interaction of differentiated parts. Wholes are constituted by such combined interaction.7 Bateson believes that mental process always is a sequence of interactions between parts. He doesn’t believe that elementary particles are minds in themselves,8 but he also admits that he is not up to date in modern physics.9 Contrary to Bateson I do believe that elementary particles have proto-minds. An elementary particle, like an electron, is in David Bohm’s ontological interpretation of quantum theory a spatio-temporal entity, which has a proto-mental quality.10

Bateson is very influenced by cybernetic thought. It’s true that nature is full of circular processes, but a cybernetic system is not a living system. What if mind is immanent, not in the interaction of parts, but in nature itself? It’s a simple idea which opens up an entirely new paradigm of thought.

Notes:
1 Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Hampton Press, 2002), p.16.
2 Ibid., p.7.
3 Ibid., p.12.
4 Ibid., p.19.
5 Ibid., p.20.
6 Ibid., p.49.
7 Ibid., p.87.
8 Ibid., p.86.
9 Ibid., p.93.
10 Paavo Pylkkänen, Mind, Matter and the Implicate Order (Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 2007), p. 204.

Organizing retrospective 89

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
I am still working on my review of Eugene Gendlin’s Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective. This is a philosophical work where Gendlin examines the edge of awareness, where language emerges from non-language. This is a groundbreaking book which addresses pre-conceptual and supra-logical aspects of experiencing and meaning-making.

Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning.

Gregory Bateson’s Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity arrived this week. Bateson offers the phrase the pattern which connects as another possible title for the book.1 The book is built on the opinion that we are parts of a living world.2 We have been trained to think of patterns as something fixed. It is easier and lazier that way, but it is all nonsense. The right way to think about the pattern which connects is to think of it as primarily a dance of interacting parts.3 Logic and quantity turn out to be inappropriate for describing organisms, their interactions, and internal organization. There is no conventional way of explaining or even describing the phenomena of biological organization.4

Bateson, Mind and Nature.

I have started reading Gregory Bateson’s book and Mary Midgley’s The Myths We Live By. Myths are everywhere. In political thought (theories of human nature and the social contract), in economics (the pursuit of self interest), and in science (the idea of human beings as machines). The great thinkers of the 17th century were obsessed by the ambition to drill all thought into a single formal system. Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, tried to mend the mind/body gap by building abstract systems powered by their models of thought, logic, and mathematics.5 However, conceptual mono-culture cannot work because, in almost all our thought, we are dealing with subject-matters that we need to consider from more than one aspect.6

Midgley, The Myths We Live By.

What was good? What can be improved?
It’s good that I’ve got started with my review of Gendlin’s book, but it’s very difficult to create a concise summary of the book. Gendlin examines a new kind of thinking, which begins in the intricacy of felt meaning. The book is highly relevant to my interest in deeper generative orders for organizing.

Notes:
1 Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Hampton Press, 2002), p.7.
2 Ibid., p.16.
3 Ibid., p.12.
4 Ibid., p.19.
5 Mary Midgley, The Myths We Live By (Routledge, 2011, first published 2004), p.88.
6 Ibid., p.68.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 88

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective. Here is my next retrospective.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
Three new books arrived this week:

  • The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Buhner.
    This book explores the complex, multidimensional, intricately connected, living organism that we call Earth. Stephen Buhner has become one of my favorite authors. This is the fourth book of Buhner which I am reading.
  • The Myths We Live By by Mary Midgley.
    Myths are everywhere. In political thought they sit at the heart of theories of human nature and the social contract; in economics in the pursuit of self interest; and in science in the idea of human beings as machines.
  • Beyond the Limits of Thought by Graham Priest.
    This book investigates the nature and the limits of thought. The book is a blend of logic and the history of philosophy.

Last month, I read Masanobu Fukuoka’s first and last major works, The One-Straw Revolution and Sowing Seeds in the Desert. Masanobu Fukuoka criticizes our willingness to reduce life to what is know about it, and to act on the assumption that what we don’t know can safely be ignored. One principle that Masanobu Fukuoka followed was to consider how one could do as little as possible. This was not because he was lazy, but because of his belief that if nature were given the opportunity it would do everything on its own. Here is a compilation of my tweets from my reading Fukuoka’s books.

Fukuoka’s first and last major works (from left to right).

I am currently reviewing Eugene Gendlin’s book Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning. It’s a most interesting book which I mentioned in this retrospective last year. Experiencing, as defined by Eugene Gendlin, is directly related to the deeper generative order for organizing which I’m so interested in. I will post a review of Gendlin’s book next week.

Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning.

What was good? What can be improved?
I am glad that I finally got started with my review of Gendlin’s book. David Bohm and Eugene Gendlin’s thinking are cornerstones in this work. There are interesting parallels between Gendlin and Bohm:

  • Bohm talks about the implicate and explicate, while Gendlin talks about the implicit and explicit.1
  • Bohm explores the nature of consciousness, with particular attention to thought. Gendlin explores experiencing, with an emphasis on the ability to think with the intricacy of the situation.2
  • Bohm proposes that there is order in all aspects of life.3 So does Gendlin, who describes nature as a responsive order.4
  • Bohm thinks that all action, including inaction, takes place immediately according to the meaning of the total situation at the moment.5 Gendlin thinks that we orient ourselves in situations, and make appropriate responses, all on the basis of felt meaning,6 which is present whenever actions and situations occur that have meaning to a person.7

I think that Gendlin’s experiencing and creation of meaning is a Bohmian soma-significant activity, which gives rise to further signa-somatic activity.8

Notes:
1 Eugene Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective (Northwestern University Press, 1997, first published 1962), p.xiii.
2 Ibid., p.xii.
3 David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010-09-01, first published 1987-10-01), p.146.
4 Eugene Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective (Northwestern University Press, 1997, first published 1962), p.xix.
5 Paavo Pylkkänen (editor), The Search for Meaning: The New Spirit in Science and Philosophy, (Crucible, 1989), p.57.
6 Eugene Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective (Northwestern University Press, 1997, first published 1962), p.68.
7 Ibid., p.70.
8 Paavo Pylkkänen (editor), The Search for Meaning: The New Spirit in Science and Philosophy, (Crucible, 1989), p.46.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Masanobu Fukuoka in his own words

This post is a compilation of my tweets from reading of Masanobu Fukuoka’s two books The One-Straw Revolution and Sowing Seeds in the Desert. Masanobu Fukuoka (1913–2008) was a Japanese farmer and philosopher. He was an outspoken advocate of the value of observing nature’s principles.

Masanobu Fukuoka’s first and last major works (from left to right).

Introduction
The One-Straw Revolution is Masanobu Fukuoka’s first book which became a bestseller. It is an inspiring book about agriculture, because it is not just about agriculture. The book is both practical and philosophical. Masanobu Fukuoka criticizes our willingness to reduce life to what is know about it, and to act on the assumption that what we don’t know can safely be ignored. Masanobu Fukuoka uses paradox and apparent contradiction to help break habitual patterns of thought. He opens the consciousness to perception beyond the reach of the intellect.

Sowing Seeds in the Desert is Masanobu Fukuoka’s last—and perhaps his most important—major work. One principle that Masanobu Fukuoka followed was to consider how one could do as little as possible. This was not because he was lazy, but because of his belief that if nature were given the opportunity it would do everything on its own. Masanobu Fukuoka saw nature as a single interconnected reality. And he saw time as an uninterrupted moment of the present with past and future embedded within it.

Quotes from The One-Straw Revolution

Eventually I decided to give my thoughts a form, to put them into practice, and so to determine whether my understanding was right or wrong.

Nature as grasped by scientific knowledge is a nature which has been destroyed, it is a ghost possessing a skeleton, but no soul.

The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.

I was unable to communicate my view to anyone. Eventually I decided to give my thoughts a form, to put them into practice, and so to determine whether my understanding was right or wrong.1

The usual way to go about developing a method is … bringing in a variety of techniques one upon the other. This … only results in making the farmer busier.2

The reason that man’s improved techniques seem to be necessary is that the natural balance has been so badly upset beforehand by those same techniques.

To the extent that people separate themselves from nature, they spin out further and further from the center.

… if people merely become caught up in reacting, moving to the left or to the right, depending on conditions, the result is only activity.

I think that … the world has become so specialized that it has become impossible for people to grasp anything in its entirety.

A single step away from the source can only lead astray.

Scientists think they can understand nature. … But I think an understanding of nature lies beyond the reach of human intelligence. Why … That which is conceived to be nature is only the idea of nature arising in each person’s mind.

The ones who see true nature … see without thinking, straight and clear. If even the names of plants are known, … nature is not seen in its true form.

An object seen in isolation from the whole is not the real thing.

If you want to get an idea of the natural fertility of the earth, take a walk to the wild mountainside sometime and look at the giant trees that grow without fertilizer and … cultivation. The fertility of nature, as it is, is beyond reach of the imagination.

Nature is everywhere in perpetual motion; conditions are never exactly the same in any two years.

… until the general sense of values changes, the situation will not improve.

… all aspects of the problem … must be brought together and solved at the same time. A problem cannot be solved by people who are concerned with only one or another of its parts.

Food that is not fresh can be sold because it looks fresh.3

If you think commercial vegetables are nature’s own, you are in for a big surprise. These vegetables are a watery chemical concoction … with a little help from the seed.

… if you decide to try to make money … you get on board of the profit wagon, and it runs away with you.

The act of defense is already an attack.

Fast rather than slow, rather than less—this flashy ”development” is linked directly to society’s impending collapse.

Though he was called a poor peasant … The New Year’s holiday lasted about three months. Gradually this vacation came to be shortened to … a three-day holiday. … There is no time in modern agriculture for a farmer to write a poem or compose a song.

I do not particularly the word ”work.” Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think this is the most ridiculous thing in the world.4

[There’s] a distinction between techniques undertaken in conscious pursuit of given objective, and those which arise spontaneously … free from the domination of the volitional intellect.5

Quotes from Sowing Seeds in the Desert

… one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them …

Discriminating knowledge is derived from the analytic, willful intellect in an attempt to organize experience into a logical framework. … Non-discriminating knowledge arises without conscious effort … without interpretation of the intellect.

Human life is not sustained by its own power. Nature gives birth to human beings and keeps them alive. This is the relation in which people stand to nature.

Nature is in constant transition, changing from moment to moment. … The face of nature is unknowable.

Trying to capture the unknowable in theories and formalized doctrines is trying to catch the wind in a butterfly net.

Discrimination, a fragmented and incomplete understanding, always forms the starting point of human knowledge. Unable to know the whole of nature, people can do no better than to construct an incomplete model of it …

There is meaning and basic satisfaction just in living close to the source of things. Life is song and poetry.

Just as human beings do not know themselves, they cannot know the other. Human beings may be children of ”Mother Nature,” but they are no longer able to see the true form of their mother. Looking for the whole, they only see parts.

… the discriminating and analytical knowledge of scientists may be useful for taking nature apart and looking at its parts, but it is of no use for graping the reality of pure nature.

People do sometimes sense the sacredness of nature, such as when they look closely at a flower, climb high peaks, or journey deep into the mountain. Such aesthetic sense, love, receptivity, and understanding are people’s most basic instincts—their true nature.

If we have not grasped the intrinsic greenness of the grasses and trees, which originates with the life at their core, we cannot say that we really understand what true green is.

People simply believe they understand by making a distinction based on the outer appearance.

I believe that there is a limit to our ability to know nature with human knowledge.6

In the end, it will require some courage and perhaps a leap of faith for people to abandon what they think they know.7

Plants, people, butterflies, and dragonflies appear to be separate, individual living things, yet each is an equal and important participant in nature. … They form a single living organism.8

In the end it is love, really, that sustains our spirit.

Gradually I came to realize that the process of saving the desert of the human heart and revegetating the actual desert is actually the same thing.9

… what the world sees as cause and effect can be deceptive.10

The first step we must take in countering desertification is not to redirect the flow of rivers, but to cause rain to fall again. This involves revegetation.11

The problem is that the water, soil, and plants are considered separately … A permanent solution will never come about this way.12

Both in the past and at the present, human beings with their ”superior” knowledge, have been the ringleader in turning the earth and the human heart into wastelands.13

I first saw the desert and began to have an interest in it the summer I flew to the US … in 1979. I was expecting the American continent to be a vast, fertile green plain … , but … it was a brown, desolate semi-desert.14

Modern agriculture in the desert is based on the idea that you can grow anything if you just have water. … I advised people, on the contrary, to use as little water as possible … … high temperatures from radiant heat are of greater concern than lack of water.

… una typical scientist I have not tried to … systematically formulate measures for preventing desertification. Instead, my desert prevention measures are strictly intuitive and based on observation. I arrived at the by using a deductive method.

My immediate concern is that unforeseen changes are occurring in the communities of plants and soil microorganisms as a result of using chemicals.15

… while modern agriculture appears to be increasing yields, net productivity is actually decreasing.

As mechanization was introduced … increased harvests became the overriding goal, and efficiency declined sharply. Now … the energy produced is only half that invested.16

… modern petroleum-based farming is not producing anything at all. Actually, it is ”producing” a loss. The that is produced, the or the earth’s resources are being eaten up. In addition, it creates pollution and destroys the soil.

… by using mass-production techniques, the meat and fish industries severely pollute the earth and the sea.

… rather than bombs, it would be better to sow seeds in clay pellets from airplanes that had previously been used as military bombers.17

I do know … the usefulness of aerial seeding for revegetating large areas in a short period of time.18

The problem … is not that a place becomes a desert because there is no water … The relationship of soil, water, trees, and human communities is not as straightforward as specialists would have us believe.19

Originally, water, soil, and crops were a single unit, but since the time people came to distinguish soil from water, and to separate soil from crops, the links among the three were broken. They became isolated and were placed in opposition to one another

… instead of thinking that grasses and trees grow in the soil, it is actually the grasses and trees, other plants, animals, microorganisms, and water that create the soil and give it life.20

… efforts should not be centered on rules and techniques. At the core there must be a sound, realistic way of seeing the world. Once the philosophy is understood, the appropriate techniques will become clear as day.

… the techniques will be different for different situations and conditions, but the underlying philosophy will not change.

Without understanding what it is to know things intuitively, people have sought knowledge and have become lost.

My method of natural farming aims at liberating the human heart.21

Notes:
1 Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution, p.5.
2 Ibid., p.15.
3 Ibid., p.88.
4 Ibid., p.115.
5 Ibid., p.119.
6 Masanobu Fukuoka, Sowing Seeds in the Desert, p.35.
7 Ibid., p.36.
8 Ibid., p.43.
9 Ibid., p.47.
10 Ibid., p.60.
11 Ibid., pp.60–61.
12 Ibid., p.64.
13 Ibid., p.79.
14 Ibid., pp.70–71.
15 Ibid., p.89.
16 Ibid., pp.89–90.
17 Ibid., p.100.
18 Ibid., p.101.
19 Ibid., p.107.
20 Ibid., p.108.
21 Ibid., p.140.

Organizing retrospective 84-87

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective. Here is my next retrospective.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
This is a retrospective, not of the last week, but of the last month.

The following books arrived this month:

  • Kidnapped in The Amazon Jungle by F. Bruce Lamb.
    This is the true story of Manuel Córdova-Rios and his life among the Huni Kui, an isolated tribe possessing sophisticated knowledge of the curative powers of jungle plants and the habits of the many animals that lived with them in the Amazon jungle.
  • Rio Tigre & Beyond: The Amazon Jungle Medicine of Manuel Córdova-Rios by F. Bruce Lamb.
    This is a continuation of the story in the previous book. The word psychosomatic hardly scratches the surface when it comes to a master like Manuel Córdova-Rios in the use of jungle plants as medicines.1 Interestingly, Córdova-Rios felt that his part in the healing process was not to eliminate or directly counteract the trouble, but rather to create a condition of harmony and stability that would allow the body to heal itself.2 Similarly, I think deeper generative organizing is about creating conditions that allow people to organize themselves. The follow-up question then is, what are these conditions?
  • Many Voices One Song: Shared Power with Sociocracy by Jennifer Rau and Jerry Koch-Gonzalez.
    This is a new book which probably will be out in June. Jennifer Rau asked me in February whether I was interested in reviewing the book and I answered yes! The book is a collection of tools, methods, formats that support acting as one while celebrating our many voices. I share Jennifer and Jerry’s view that organizations need be life-serving and all-embracing, that is—they need to work for everyone and hold care for everyone affected by the organization. Here is my book review.

This month, I also published this review of Kelvy Bird’s book on Generative Scribing: A Social Art of the 21st Century. Kelvy’s writing and drawing resonates deeply with me. Kelvy’s approach can, furthermore, be applied to other arts, crafts, and practices as well. I love the book!

Kelvy Bird, Generative Scribing.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’d really like to immerse myself fully in this work, but I’m working full time with other things. I need to find a solution to this!

Notes:
1 F. Bruce Lamb, Rio Tigre & Beyond: The Amazon Jungle Medicine of Manuel Córdova-Rios (North Atlantic Books, 1985),
1980), p. 158.
2 Ibid., p. 160.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Book Review: Many Voices One Song

Many Voices One Song: Shared Power with Sociocracy by Jennifer Rau and Jerry Koch-Gonzalez is a new book on sociocracy. The book is a collection and description of sociocratic tools and practices.1 Sociocracy is a set of principles and tools for shared power. The assumption is that power sharing requires a plan.2

Sociocracy is designed to distribute power.3 Sociocracy enables each team to contribute to the organization’s mission.4 The teams decide themselves how they govern themselves.5 Values translates into principles that are the underpinnings of the tools described in the book.6 Equivalence and effectiveness are the two major principles in sociocracy. Equivalence is defined as everyone’s needs matter equally.7 Sociocracy strives for both effectiveness and equivalence.8

There are three reasons for why Jennifer Rau and Jerry Koch-Gonzales have written the book. The reasons are (1) to build skills, (2) to avoid reinventing the wheel, and (3) because they care deeply about equivalence. In the book, they share what they know about shared power and how to do it.9

The book has six major chapters covering the:

  • Organizational structure (68 pages).10
  • Consent decision-making (60 pages).11
  • On feedback and learning (28 pages).12
  • How to run a sociocratic meeting (56 pages).13
  • Roles and elections (29 pages).14
  • Implementing sociocracy (37 pages).15

Jennifer Rau and Jerry Koch-Gonzales write that implementing sociocracy is harder than running an organization sociocratically. If you are the one who is in power, you have to be willing to share the power. And if you are not in power, you have to ask the one who is in power to share it.16 This means that the implementation of sociocracy starts in your mind.17 No matter what you do, you need to have two things absolutely clear: (1) a commitment to equivalence, and (2) a clear aim. You need to start with a shared agreement that you will strive for equivalence. The shared aim is necessary for effectiveness.18

To summarize, this book is a sociocracy manual. Jennifer Rau and Jerry Koch-Gonzales are very experienced. They say themselves that if you are a beginner, the book probably gives you a level of details that is way too much.19 The book requires, in other words, a combination of reading and practicing and reading again.

The paradox, for me, is that 300 pages are required to describe what basically is common sense. People have cooperated for as long as humanity has existed. The principles behind sociocracy are not new.20 Nomadic hunter-gatherer societies practice it, and have likely been practicing it, since prehistoric times.21 The book can help you to become more effective, provided you embrace equivalence and shared power. The latter is not so common.

Notes:
1 Jennifer Rau and Jerry Koch-Gonzalez, Many Voices One Song: Shared Power with Sociocracy (Sociocracy For All, March 2018), p.ix.
2 Ibid., p.1.
3 Ibid., p.2.
4 Ibid., p.1.
5 Ibid., p.7.
6 Ibid., p.3.
7 Ibid., p.5.
8 Ibid., p.6.
9 Ibid., p.7.
10 Ibid., pp.16–84.
11 Ibid., pp.85–145.
12 Ibid., pp.146–174.
13 Ibid., pp.175–231.
14 Ibid., pp.232–261.
15 Ibid., pp.262–299.
16 Ibid., p.262.
17 Ibid., p.263.
18 Ibid., p.266.
19 Ibid., p.13.
20 Ibid., p.ix.
21 See Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi.

Related posts:
Book Review: Sociocracy by Gerard Endenburg
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi

Book Review: Generative Scribing

Generative Scribing: A Social Art of the 21st Century by Kelvy Bird is, as the title says, a book about generative scribing, which is a visual practice and an art form, functioning in the moment, across boundaries, as a device for social seeing.1 The primary value of generative scribing is in-the-moment collective sourcing and reflection. Through scribing, a group can see a course to take and find their direction. The scribe aids the group to induce a greater vision and turn it into action.2

Generative scribing activates and makes visible the unseen—yet felt—inner life of the social field. This means that scribing only takes place within a group of people. It doesn’t depend on one scribe’s view, but on the input of many views. The drawing has the power to influence and to transform the thinking in the room.3 With the aid of seeing together, a group can more clearly choose and chart its path. Views become shared and problems become solvable.4

The book is intended as an approach to the practice of generative scribing and is divided into five sections:5

  • Be: Bringing forward your most authentic self. Being matters.6 When we draw, disconnected from interior knowing, we represent an interpreted reality and miss the opportunity to create from inside out.7 Scribes need to stay open and connected to the flow of meaning that wants to be mapped. Staying open, while listening and drawing, is a key skill and a real challenge.8 By staying open the scribe becomes a channel for what wants to come through, for something that wants to be seen.9 Scribes contribute to social fields by showing up from inside out.10 By being in touch with themselves at the truest level, scribes are in a position to meet the truth in the room through what they draw.11
  • Join: Engaging across boundaries. Boundaries dissolve when we activate our deeper humanity.12 Scribes meet intuitive knowing—beyond the literal understanding of words and concepts. Relaxed, scribes can receive and join as conduits for the flow-through of meaning.13 The meaning doesn’t come after the interaction. It comes alongside and involves listening. Listening is a through line to any generative practice.14
  • Perceive: Noticing with a broad, systems view. Seeing is how we perceive our way into thinking and structures, to reveal dynamics and shift outcomes. To see is to comprehend.15 Moving through uncertainty, we experiment. With experimentation, we experience and perceive. Through perception, we orient and choose. And through choosing, we direct our action.16 It is far too easy to inadvertently close our minds to what is actually going on. A closed mindset serves no one.17 If something is not clear, slow down.18 The framing of the mind influences the organization of the drawing. What others see influences their understanding of the structures in play.19 Reframing allows us to see things from multiple perspectives.20 It is directly related to seeing with fresh eyes.21
  • Know: Discern coherence to inform choice. In any moment, when we want to understand, we can inquire into the underlying order by asking: How does this make sense?22 Trying to see the greater context enhances our perspective.23 In generative scribing, we can impose structure and/or we can inquire into what is seeking new form. Seeking coherence demands trust. And trust encourages us to consider that this drawing or that conversation is exactly what is meant to unfold in this particular moment. It is a piece of the greater context that is becoming known.24 Scribes have to choose what to draw. Part of this is subjective, based on listening skills; part is objective, based on ordering ability; and part is generative, based on connecting with source.25 Listen deeply to the space between the words for what wants to be seen. If nothing comes, nothing is yet meant to come.26
  • Draw: Giving form to content. Drawing is a weaving together of multiple inputs from the social field. Through our drawing we have the power to represent the possible, and to help initiate it into the present moment. Scribing helps the unborn to birth, and brings a new reality to life.27 We draw what we must draw, in the present moment as it unfolds, in the right time.28 Generative scribing is a drawing process with which we open to the unknown to bring it to life.29 If our craft or practice is something other than scribing, then we can apply a generative approach to that too.30

To summarize, this is a book for all who care about how we exist together, and who want to explore our interior functioning, both as individuals and as a group.31 Generative scribing is fluid motion. The book can be read in the same way. It is written in such a way that it encourages the reader to jump around at will to find what is most needed.32 Kelvy Bird’s writing and drawing resonates deeply with me. This is the kind of book you don’t stop reading!

Notes:
1 Kelvy Bird, Generative Scribing: A Social Art of the 21st Century (PI Press, 2018), p.1.
2 Ibid., p.5.
3 Ibid., p.5.
4 Ibid., p.10.
5 Ibid., pp.12–13.
6 Ibid., p.49.
7 Ibid., p.50.
8 Ibid., p.53.
9 Ibid., p.56.
10 Ibid., p.61.
11 Ibid., p.63.
12 Ibid., p.67.
13 Ibid., p.71.
14 Ibid., p.77.
15 Ibid., p.87.
16 Ibid., p.92.
17 Ibid., p.93.
18 Ibid., p.97.
19 Ibid., p.100.
20 Ibid., p.102.
21 Ibid., p.103.
22 Ibid., p.120.
23 Ibid., p.122.
24 Ibid., p.123.
25 Ibid., p.124.
26 Ibid., p.127.
27 Ibid., p.133.
28 Ibid., p.142.
29 Ibid., p.143.
30 Ibid., p.146.
31 Ibid., p.11.
32 Ibid., p.14.

Organizing retrospective 80-83

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective. Here is my next retrospective.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
This is a retrospective, not of what happened last week, but of what has happened during the last month.

The following books arrived this month:

  • The Epochal Nature of Process in Whitehead’s Metaphysics by F. Bradford Wallack.
    F. Bradford Wallack tries to gradually elucidate Whithead’s theory throughout this book, introducing Whitheadian ideas one at a time. Two world-views, materialism and organism, are contrasted throughout book.1 Each chapter is provided with both an introduction and a conclusion, all of which taken together summarize this book. One of Wallack’s conclusions is that there is no way to conclusively prove a particular interpretation of Whithead’s philosophy, since it contains enough ambiguous statements to satisfy opposing theories.2 I still have to read the book.
  • Voltaire’s Bastards by John Ralston Saul.
    John Ralston Saul writes that ”rational elites” have turned West into a vast directionless machine, run by process-minded experts—”Voltaire’s Bastards”—whose cult is scientific management. He wonders why a Western white- or blue-collar worker should be interested in loyalty, participation and teamwork when the units they work for are disposed of by management or speculators with an indifference reminiscent of the slave trade. The void in society has to do with the absence of intrinsic values.
    John Ralston Saul thinks that West has mistaken management techniques for moral values. ”The rational advocacy of efficiency more often than not produces inefficiency. It concentrates on how things are done and loses track of why. It measures specific costs without understanding real costs.”3 Doing away with themselves is not among the options considered by management. When people have a clear belief in the purpose of an organization, they find a sensible way to run it by themselves.4 It’s a well written and though provoking book!
  • Ensouling Language by Stephen Harrod Buhner.
    This book is written for those who have fallen in love with the luminous power of language.5 ”Trust that the things you feel, that insists they be said, are there inside you, pushing on you, for a reason. Trust that there are people out there that need to hear those things, just as much as you need to say them.”6 There is something more at the heart of any craft than the mechanics of it. We have forgotten something essential about our humanness. ”Feeling is the key to deep meaning.”7 I am currently reading the book.
  • Generative Scribing by Kelvy Bird.
    Generative scribing is a visual practice, in the moment, for social seeing. Kelvy Bird describes it as: ”We draw while people talk.” And in that ”while” are ”Be” (bring your authentic self forward), ”Join” (engage across boundaries), ”Perceive” (notice with a broad view), ”Know” (discern coherence to inform choice), and ”Draw” (give form to content).8 Generative scribes ”seek to represent what is beyond image that characterize inner life or the literally spoken word.”9 ”Fields […] inform form.”10 Kelvy Bird’s writing and drawing resonates deeply with me. This is the kind of book you don’t stop reading. I will write a book review.
  • The Harvest of the Years by Luther Burbank with Wilbur Hall.
    Luther Burbank made innumerable and unique experiments with plants. He had an intimate friendship with them. Burbank’s thoughts, reactions, observations, and philosophies are stored in this book thanks to Wilbur Hall.11 I am currently reading this book.
  • The Bushman Way of Tracking God by Bedford Keeney.
    Bradford Keeney shares the oldest teachings every given for how we can find meaning, purpose, and joy in life.12 What it requires is our fullest humanness and a sincere desire to be willing, able, and ready to be moved by life itself.13 We have thousands of years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom in this ancestral culture that was utilized before other cultures were born. ”It is no accident that the Australian Aboriginal people speak of songlines, for the Bushmen also say that their songs are the lines.”14 I am currently reading this book and will write a book review.

What was good? What can be improved?
It was good that I finally got this retrospective written. However, it would be better if I can get back into my habit of writing weekly retrospectives. I am doing this work in my spare time and would like to spend more time on it than I actually can.

Notes:
1 F. Bradford Wallack, The Epochal Nature of Process in Whitehead’s Metaphysics (State University of New York Press,
1980), pp. 4–5.
2 Ibid., p. 199.
3 John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West (Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2013, first published 1992), p. 582.
4 Ibid., pp. 234, 266.
5 Stephen Harrod Buhner, Ensouling Language: On The Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life (Inner Traditions, 2010), p. xv.
6 Ibid., p. 15.
7 Ibid., p. 38.
8 Kelvy Bird, Generative Scribing: A Social Art of the 21st Century (Presencing Institute Press, 2018), p. 13.
9 Ibid., p. 42.
10 Ibid..
11 Luther Burbank with Wilbur Hall, The Harvest of the Years (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1927), p. ix.
12 Bradford Keeney, The Bushman Way of Tracking God (Atria Books, 2010), p. xxi.
13 Ibid., p. xxiii.
14 Ibid., p. 112.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Klee Irwin on a theory of everything

Klee Irwin is the director of Quantum Gravity Research (QGR), a Los Angeles-based group of theoretical physicists working to discover a new quantum gravity theory, or a first principle theory of everything.

Klee Irwin, The Quasicrystalline Nature of Consciousness in the Universe, YouTube.

The following is a transcript of Klee Irwin’s presentation from The Science of Consciousness conference in April, 2016, on The Quasicrystalline Nature of Consiousness in the Universe,1 where he presents seven clues for what a first-principles theory of everything should look like:

1. Information. Information is meaning in the form of symbolism. Both classic and quantum theory indicate reality is made of information. In fact, there is no evidence it is anything other than information. Quantum mechanics states clearly that the class of information is binary (any language with two symbols or states). It is illogical to assume mathematical symbolism or any other language can exist without consciousness to assign meaning to it.
2. Causality loops. Einstein showed how the future and past exist simultaneously in one geometric object. In 2014, scientists in Israel demonstrated that particles can be entangled over time and not just space. Daryl Bem of Cornell published rigorous evidence that retro-causality exists, where future events loop back in time to co-create past events. Obviously, the past co-creates the future. But what happens when the future also co-creates the past? An evolving feedback loop results. If every moment is co-creating every other moment both forward and backward in time… …reality is technically a neural network of information spanning space and time. This type of network would possess a strange quality… …it would be self-actualized — its own creator.
3. Non-determinism. Prior to the 1920s it was popular to believe in the clock-work universe idea of reality being a deterministic program playing itself out. … It was just following a deterministic algorithm. The famous double-slit experiment ruled out determinism, ushering in the new paradigm of quantum indeterminism. But even without the double slit experiment, the existence of freewill rules out the clock-work universe theory.
4. Consciousness. John Wheeler, who coined the term black hole, said reality is made of information created by observation — by consciousness. It certainly exists in the universe — at least in us. And relates deeply to quantum mechanics in ways not yet fully understood. The definition of information involves the perception of meaning, and meaning is a subjective, freewill choice — an act of consciousness. So when one realizes that energy is pure information, it becomes clear that reality itself deeply ties into consciousness in some way… …as though the fundamental stuff of reality is somehow consciousness. Did consciousness and information emerge in a causality feedback loop?
5. Pixelation. Werner Heisenberg developed the first equations of quantum mechanics using matrix math. He deduced that space and time were pixelated into indivisible Planck units, like a mosaic. The mathematics indicated this… …and there was no solid experimental evidence for smooth space or time. This new idea was too radical for most scientists of the day except for Niels Bohr, who agreed with Heisenberg. However, most scientists today still believe spacetime is smooth and without substructure — so not pixelated. On the other hand, most agree that a length can be no shorter than the Planck length — which suggests reality is pixelated. So there is a good deal of confusion. Until a powerful quantum gravity theory of pixelated spacetime is discovered, the issue will [probably] remain confusing.
6. E8 Crystal. The largest and most expensive object humans have ever built is the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. It peers down into the subatomic realm by colliding particles together and giving us data on how they break apart. … We [have] learned that all fundamental particles and forces, including gravity, convert into one another according to the geometry of a shape related to an 8-dimensional Platonic solid. It forms a crystal structure in eight dimensions called the E8 lattice. It’s the maximum packing density of 8D spheres and can be built entirely of regular tetrahedra… …rotated from one another into higher dimensions by a golden ration based angle.
7. Golden Ratio. The golden ration may be the fundamental constant of nature. Along with its rational form, called the Fibonacci sequence, it is ubiquitous in the universe, from quantum to celestial scales. … A theory of everything must unite general relativity (the theory of space and time) with quantum mechanics. And a black hole is where these two theories converge at their limits. In the case of general relativity, black holes are the maximum possible density of mass/energy. … Reality appears to be made of binary information. The idea is known as the holographic principle… …and it comes from a mathematical proof called the Maldacena conjecture. It states that the total amount of binary information from all the mass and energy pulled into a black hole is proportional to its surface area… …where every four Planck areas of its surface encode the state of a fundamental particle that fell into it. … Black holes and quantum mechanics deeply relate to the golden ratio, binary information and the number 4… Perhaps it’s a clue about the missing quantum gravity theory of everything. …

Nature has given us seven clues about a theory of everything. So what is the key to this puzzle? QGR’s research program is focused on projecting the E8 crystal to 3D and 4D, which creates a golden ration based binary code of pixelated space and causality loops requiring emergent consciousness. …

When you think of a crystal, such as a checkerboard, you can imagine its fundamental cell, the square. So to understand the E8 crystal, you can understand its fundamental 8D shapes. The cell shape of E8 that best represents it is the Gosset polytope with 240 vertices. When we project this to 4D, it becomes two identical shapes of different sizes … The ration of their sizes is the golden ratio. They are called 4D icosahedra och 600-cells. And each is made of 600 regular 3D tetrahedra rotated from one another by a golden ratio based angle. The 600-cells intersect in seven golden ration based ways and kiss in one particular way to form a 4D aperiodic mosaic tiling called a quasicrystal. A quasicrystal is a code or language. This is because the ways you can arrange the building block geometric symbols or shapes are governed by rules (like a language). But within the rules, you must make choices that are not forced by those rules. So because it is not a deterministic or forces set of building instructions, there is freedom to create many patterns while still obeying the rules of the code. It is a language in every sense of the word… …specifically it is a language of waves or vibrations. The 4D quasicrystal is represented in 3D with regular tetrahedra related by golden ration based rotations … The language is binary, where tetrahedra form an invisible possibility space and are chose to be ”on” or ”off” in each frame, according to the language rules. Over many frozen quasicrystal frames, dynamic wave and particle-like patterns emerge…

Remember, evidence prevents us from believing in the deterministic Newtonian clock-work universe. And code cannot be operated by randomness or they breakdown and cease to generate meaning. So if reality is based on something like our E8 physics, WHO or WHAT is choosing the steps in the code that require freewill? It is certainly not us because this is a code that operates down at the Planck scale. And again, randomness does not generate meaning in languages. Plus, there is no first principles explanation for randomness or even experimental evidence for it. Can a consciousness that emerges from the code be the origin of the code in the first place — making it a logically consistent causality loop? A universal collective consciousness could be the answer. But how could such a thing emerge from a universe made of information? And where would the information have emerged from in the first place? Clearly, evolutionary emergence by self-organization is how the universe works… …where small and simple things self-organize into larger emergent things. Our minds are an example of this.

The power of the neural-network like universe is in its massive connectivity — both forward and backward in time. Networks harness the mathematical power of exponential growth. … There are no laws in physics that place an upper limit on what percentage of the universe can exponentially self-organize into freewill systems like us humans. All the energy in the universe can be converted into a single conscious system that is itself a network of conscious systems. Given enough time, what can happen will eventually happen. By this axiom, universal emergent consciousness has happened somewhere ahead of us in space-time. Because it is possible, it is inevitable. In fact, according to the evidence of retro-causality time loops, that inevitable future is co-creating us right now just as we are co-creating it.

Notes:
1 Klee Irwin, The Quasicrystalline Nature of Consciousness in the Universe (May 13, 2016), Retrieved Feb 24, 2018, from https://youtu.be/ILUlqd6O0MQ.

Organizing retrospective 78-79

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective. Here is my next retrospective.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
This is a retrospective what has happened during the last two weeks.

Books
The following books arrived these weeks:

  • The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World by James Hillman.
  • The Winged Life: The Poetic Voice of Henry David Thoreau by Henry David Thoreau, Robert Bly (Editor), and Michael McCurdy (Illustrator).
  • The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka, Frances Moore Lappé (Introduction), Wendell Berry (Preface), and Larry Korn (Editor).
  • Sowing Seeds in the Desert: Natural Farming, Global Restoration, and Ultimate Food Security by Masanobu Fukuoka, and Larry Korn (Editor).
  • The Fractal Geometry of Nature by Benoît B. Mandelbrot.
  • Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Beyond the Doors of Perception into the Dreaming of Earth by Stephen Harrod Buhner.
  • Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now by Margaret J. Wheatley and Deborah Frieze.

So far, I’ve only finished reading Walk Out Walk On. Wheatley & Frieze’s book is based on the insight that community is nothing like a machine, and that people can’t be programmed, motivated, and supervised through external force and authority. Here is my review.

Article
Simon Mont’s Autopsy of a Failed Holacracy caught my attention last week. I got interested in Holacracy five years ago when I started searching for life-giving ways of working. Today I’ve changed my mind. The turning point was reading Brian Robertson’s book on Holacracy. Here is my review.

Brian Robertson has a mechanistic view of people and organizations. I’ll let Robertson speak for himself. He writes:

  • ”An organization … is equipped with sensors — … the human beings who energize its roles and sense reality on its behalf.”1
  • ”One powerful way … is to harness the tremendous sensing power of the human consciousness available to our organizations. … When those tensions can be processed quickly and effectively, … then the organization can benefit …”2
  • ”The whole point of Holacracy is to allow an organization to better express its purpose.”3
  • ”… an ”organization” is an entity that exists beyond the people, with its own purpose to enact and with work to do beyond just serving the people doing that work.”4
  • ”Organizations running with Holacracy are first and foremost purpose-driven … with all activities ultimately being for the sake of realizing the organization’s broader purpose. Every member then becomes a sensor for that purpose …”5
  • ”The organization is depending on you, as its sensor, to give voice to the tensions you sense so that it can evolve.”6
  • ”Holacracy is focused on the organization and its purpose—not on the people and their desires and needs …”7
  • ”Many of the rules … are there specifically to ensure that the focus is only on what’s needed for the organization to express its purpose, … not on … anything else.”8
  • ”… we are installing a system in which we no longer need to lean on our connections and relationships to be able to process organizational tensions.”9
  • ”… the organizational space is the result of working together role to role and governing those roles for the sake of the organization’s purpose.”10
  • ”[Holacracy] keeps human values out of the organizational space, which also keeps the organization out of our human-value space.”11

Holacracy prioritizes the systemic value of thought by keeping intrinsic human values out of the organizational space. However, making use of control, not for the good of those who are in the system, but only for the system’s own benefit is problematic. It’s problematic when intrinsic human value is given second priority.

The organizational structure in Holacracy is a holarchy, a term coined by Arthur Koestler. What’s interesting is that Arthur Koestler not only coined the word holarchy, but also criticized the mechanistic view of organisms. People are not passive automata. Here is more on that.

The proposition of Theory U is that the quality of results is a function of the awareness that people in the system are operating from. There’s a center, a quietness within, from which action occurs. This quiet place has to be known and held. This can be learned, but not directly taught. It goes beyond processing tensions.

What was good? What can be improved?
What was good is that Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze provide examples on organizing based on intrinsic human values. Walk Out Walk On is a learning journey where people create their future with their hearts, hands, and relationships. Connecting and relating are fundamental to us as human beings. It is not something we ”lean on” and that we would be better off without. Intrinsic human value must in-form systemic value.12

Notes:
1 Brian Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy, (Penguin, 2015), p.4.
2 Ibid., p.7.
3 Ibid., p.34.
4 Ibid., p.148.
5 Ibid., p.166.
6 Ibid., p.194.
7 Ibid., p.198.
8 Ibid., p.199.
9 Ibid., p.200.
10 Ibid., p.201.
11 Ibid., p.202.
12 Value is used as defined by Robert Hartman. For those interested, I can recommend Hartman’s biography Freedom to Live, and his seminal work on The Structure of Value. Hartman was born in Germany in 1910. Seeing the Nazis organize evil, he fled Nazi Germany for his opposition to Hitler. Hartman devoted the rest of his life to organize good. This led him to a life-long quest to answer the question, ”What is good?” and how to apply the answer to help preserve and enhance the value of human life. When life has meaning, it has value. The richer its meaning, the richer its value.

Related posts:
Book Review: Holacracy
Book Review: Freedom to Live
Book Review: The Structure of Value
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Book Review: Walk Out Walk On

Walk Out Walk On by Margaret J. Wheatley and Deborah Frieze is a book about walking out of limiting beliefs and assumptions, and walking on to create healthy and resilient communities. The message is that more is possible, and that walking out walking on can propel us beyond the safety of our daily routines, the security of our habitual ways of thinking, and send us out into the world to find answers.1

The book is based on the basic insight that community is nothing like a machine, and that citizens rarely surrender their autonomy to experts. Exchanging best practices often doesn’t work. What does work is when team from one organization travel to another and, through that experience, see themselves more clearly, strengthen their relationships, and renew their creativity.2

In Western culture, the primary focus is to create easily replicated models and then disseminate them. This process is based on the assumption that whatever worked here will work there—we just need to get it down on paper and train people. The assumption is that people do what they are told. So instructions get issued, policies get pronounced. When we don’t follow them, managers just create more. When we still fail to obey, we’re labeled as resistant to change.3 People don’t support things that are forced on them. We don’t act responsibly on behalf of plans and programs created without us. We resist being changed.4

Change starts with a few people focusing on their local challenges and issues. They experiment, learn, find solutions that work in their local context. Word travels fast in networks and people hear about their success. They may come to visit and engage in conversations. There’s usually a lot of energy in these exchanges, but these exchanges are not about learning how to replicate the process or mimic step-by-step how something was accomplished. Any attempt to replicate someone else’s success will smack up against local conditions, and these are differences that matter. What others invent can inspire us to become inventive, and show us what is achievable. Then we have to take if from there.5

Many managers assume that people are machines, that they can be programmed, motivated, and supervised through external force and authority. This command-and-control approach smothers basic human capacities such as intelligence, creativity, caring, and dreaming. Yet it is the most common form of management worldwide. When it doesn’t work, those in power simply apply more force. They threaten, reward, punish, police, and legislate.6

People resist the imposition of force by withdrawing, opposing, and sabotaging the manager’s directives. Those in charge then feel compelled to turn up the pressure and apply even harsher measures. They seldom notice that it’s their controlling leadership that creates the resistance. And so the destructive cycle continues to gain momentum, with people resenting managers and mangers blaming people. This cycle not only destroys our motivation, it destroys our sense of worth. This destruction of the human spirit is readily visible in places where people have suffered from oppression. It’s also visible in rigid hierarchies where people, confined to closed spaces, can’t remember when they last felt good about themselves or confident in their abilities.7 Power of this kind breeds powerlessness.

The familiar weapon of control must be consciously abandoned. Communities have what they need. The human spirit can never be extinguished, even in the darkest places.8 The work of community change can be done with play without suffering, with confidence that our efforts will make a difference. What does the community need? What do you care about?9 When did we become estranged from work? Why do we deny human needs? How did we forget to who we are? Do you want to play at transforming the world?10

Margaret J. Wheatley and Deborah Frieze write that:11

  • Play is not a foolish waste of time.
  • Play is not a mindless diversion from work.
  • Play is how we rediscover ourselves.
  • Play is how we ignite the human spirit in which our true power lies.

To summarize, the book is a story of what becomes possible as we work together on what we care most about, discovering what’s possible when we turn to one another. This is a new story and an ancient one. The book is filled with insights for how we can work together now to create the future with want. It’s a future already being practiced in thousands of communities around the world.12 They share the following principles:13

  • Start anywhere, follow it everywhere.
  • We make our path by walking it.
  • We have what we need.
  • The leaders we need are already here.
  • We are living the worlds we want today.
  • We walk at the pace of the slowest.
  • We listen, even to the whispers.
  • We turn to one another.

Walking out is never easy. We have no idea where they will lead, what we’ll do, or what we’ll become. Yet our first actions are a declaration of our new identity. We accept the risk, step onto the invisible path and walk into the unknown. And there, we discover other people already bringing this new world into form.14

Walking on is often invisible. None of us can do this work alone. When we gather together, we learn quickly from one another, discovering new ideas and solutions. Little by little, our work becomes recognizable as evidence of what’s possible, of what a new world could be.15

This is a book full of deep insights on how to work together on what we care most about. See for yourself. See your self.

Notes:
1 Margaret J. Wheatley and Deborah Frieze, Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2011), p.14.
2 Ibid., p.35.
3 Ibid., p.44.
4 Ibid., p.45.
5 Ibid., p.46.
6 Ibid., p.68.
7 Ibid..
8 Ibid., p.69.
9 Ibid., p.70.
10 Ibid., p.72.
11 Ibid..
12 Ibid., p.219.
13 Ibid., pp.220–225.
14 Ibid., pp.227.
14 Ibid., pp.226.

Organizing retrospective 77

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective. Here is my next retrospective.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
This week, I finished reading Stephen Buhner’s The Secret Teachings of Plants. It’s a book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, especially the second part. The book is full of quotes by Goethe, Henry David Thoreau, Henri Bortoft, and others. Stephen Buhner mentions, by the way, that the best general work on Goethe is by Henri Bortoft.1

S. H. Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants.

Stephen Buhner’s key point is that understanding living dynamics forces a substantial change in our orientation. It’s too often forgotten that the relationship with nature is at root a feeling, not a thinking, thing. It’s a change from mental constructs, theoretical analysis, and thought to feeling. We are immersed in a conflict of values and assumptions, specifically the belief that feeling is inferior to thinking.

We have lost the response of the heart to what is presented to the senses. That loss can be seen daily in the environmental devastation of our world. It can also be seen, although it’s somewhat harder to perceive, in the devastation of our internal worlds. Part of this is that we often denigrate our capacity to feel, or apologize for its emergence.

We no longer understand that feeling can be raised to the same level of sophistication as thinking, that the heart is an organ of perception and cognition equal, and perhaps superior, to the brain and its capacities. For its use automatically engenders empathy with, as well of, complex interdependencies. Its use automatically involves caring. This caring itself is crucial and involves the emergence of complex understandings inaccessible to the brain. Some things have to be felt to be seen.

Stephen Buhner writes that businesses embody the perspectives, beliefs, and orientations of their owners. Businesses convey to customers specific meanings through the feelings the customers experience, though they many not normally be able to say what those feelings are. It is possible, after much practice, to identify these feelings, and from them to determine the organizational structure of a business, the impact it has on its customers, its level of psychological and financial health, and many other things.2

Here is a compilation of my tweets from Stephen Buhner’s excellent book.

Finally, here is another reflection from the week. Changing the system doesn’t necessarily change people’s behaviors.

What was good? What can be improved?
I really enjoyed reading Stephen Buhner’s book. It reminds me that I need to re-read Henri Bortoft books on The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe’s Way of Science and Taking Appearance Seriously: The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought. Five years ago, I wrote here that we need to take the dynamic way of seeing seriously if we are going to be able to see life both in nature and in our work.

Notes:
1 Stephen Harrod Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature (Bear & Company, 2004), p.293.
2 Ibid., p.277.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Quotes of Stephen Buhner

This is a compilation of my tweets from Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature.

… the things that you need to find you will find, if only you will follow your heart.

Once people have a name for something, their tendency is to think they understand it and once they think they understand it, they quite experiencing it fresh and new each time they encounter it.

Ultimately life must be, is intended to be, experienced.

You are learning a different kind of language now, and you must be suspicious of the word. Words are the domain of the linear mind …

Allow your sensory perceptions to be your thinking. Sense instead of think.

Eventually you have to move from looking and go into feeling, realizing that feeling is a sense, too. Not the touch of the fingers, but the touch of the heart. This kind of touch has another dimension, deeper than that possessed by the fingers.

… if you have an assumption about the form in which the knowledge will appear, you will overlook much that is important.

We are meant to feel the touch of the world upon us.

The use of direct perception … is an extremely elegant way of truly knowing, not thinking …

In the initial stages of developing your natural capacity for direct perception, the learning itself, the experience of the work, takes all your attention.

The process is a long one. Each year that you use this mode of cognition the more phenomena you will encounter, each of which will demand a greater clarity from you.

You will find that once you begin this process, the world will shape you; the things that come to you will be the ones you needed to meet in order to become yourself, to attain a 360-degree perspective once more.

… direct perception initiates an unavoidable encounter with your own personal history. … unfinished emotional baggage … will interfere with your ability to see clearly … All human beings possess these unclarities — these histories.

The human organism naturally restructures itself around the meanings that are experienced.

… encountered meaning reorients the human, entrains the human, to reflect that meaning.

We live in a world … of meanings.

Our perception of the meanings in the phenomena around us connects us to those meanings; observer and observed become linked through the process of perception.

… the Earth … is not two-dimensional words on a page, not a static thing, but a living, ever-flowing communication of meaning.

Direct depth perception of … any phenomenon in Nature will always reveal dimensions to its being that science can never see because those dimensions are invisible to the linear mode of consciousness.

The difficult thing is to not turn these skills you are learning into merely a method … Ultimately, this mode of perception is not just a tool, it is a way of life, a mode of being.

You will know the importance of the lesson by the power of its touch upon you.

The use of direct perception in gathering knowledge from the heart of the world is extremely ancient. … it is pervasive throughout all cultures and all times.

Stop
Take a deep breath
Look at what is right in front of you.
How
does
it
feel?

… consciously perceive and identify the embedded communications that come from the world around you and are felt in subtle emotions.

Because Nature does not lie, the direct perception of Nature means that each of us who does lie, each part of us that lies, even in our deep unconscious, must reorder, must restructure, if we truly want to perceive deeply in Nature.

Ultimately, the use of direct perception as a mode of being, as a normal way of cognition, begins to erase mind-body dualism.

When we accept the reality of this mode of perception, begin to use it regularly in a continual, participatory interweaving, we enter a geography of meaning … of which the physical forms of the world are only one aspect.

The drive to know, the intention, is crucial, but it is not the only factor at work. You are establishing a relationship … It is an act of intimacy that is extremely deep.

We are engaged in communicating through a highly complex, nonverbal form of linguistics, of which our language is only a reflection. Our brains perform an act of translation. … But this translation must be continually reconnected to the origin itself …

It is our capacity for perceiving meaning that is primary, not language. Our language is a created form expressed out of the original nonverbal languages that human beings have always apprehended. It is a shadow, a reflection, a copy.

The use of direct perception … is an extremely elegant way of truly knowing, not thinking …

You must understand … that this approach … is not a technique. It is not a reductionist series of steps … It is a communication.

When someone truly sees us
and, in caring, urges us
into the warmth of a loving embrace,
we leave the darkness
in which we have taken refuge
and come once more
into the light.

If you follow those feelings they lead you on the most amazing adventure, and you end up becoming yourself in the most wonderful way.

The multisensory nature of human perception and feeling is so commonly repressed that it is often confusing, or scary, or awkward when you open up to it once more. Still, allow yourself to notice whatever you feel and … don’t make any judgments about it. Just notice it.

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Organizing reflection 6

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to reflect on subjects occupying my mind. I make no claim to fully believe what I write. Neither do I pretend that others have not already thought or written about the same subject. More often than not, I take up, combine, and add to already existing thoughts and ideas.

What is on my mind?
Changing the system doesn’t necessarily change people’s behaviors
Changing the system doesn’t necessarily change people’s behaviors because their underlying values are unchanged. John Schinnerer writes in a mail to sociocracy.groups.io, January 12, 2018, that (my emphasis in bold):

we humans are quite good at not changing our behavior, regardless of change of some aspect of a system. There is no system that is proof against human behavior.

So if I want to I can still live my prejudicial behavior, my un-equivalent behavior, my autocratic behavior, and so on, within a sociocracy (or Holacracy, or ”teal organization,” and so on) by name. I might have to ”work the system” differently, but it is always possible
to some degree.

John Schinnerer specifically addresses human power relations:

The basic means of human power-over are available one way or another, because they involve far more complex systems of human relating than just the formal governance processes and structures.

I think a key point is, there is so much more to human power relatings than is addressed either explicitly or implicitly by the SCM or any other implementation of sociocracy.”

An example of human power-over is when a sociocracy facilitator subtly manipulates the sociocratic decision-making by putting time pressure on the person who has an objection. I have seen it happen.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 76

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective. Here is my next retrospective.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
New books
I mentioned last week that I need to take a break from my reading. Well, guess what? Two new books arrived this week.

My books

One book which arrived this week is Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World by Geoff Mulgan. Mulgan writes that he was helped writing the book by his PhD in telecommunications.1 This surprised me since I don’t see the connection between telecommunications and collective intelligence. Or, rather, it’s not that connection that I am interested in. I am, however, as interested as Mulgan in the space between the individual and the totality of civilization,2 but I think it’s a mistake to reduce it to a study of digital systems.

Geoff Mulgan’s bigger mind is the brainpower of people and machines. Mulgan’s central claim is that every individual, organization, or group can thrive if it is tapped into this bigger mind.3 The book is about methods, tools, and resources, and how these can be consciously orchestrated by specialist institutions and roles.4

Geoff Mulgan hopes that new kinds of consciousness will be generated as human brains and digital intelligence are combined.5 Well, it depends on what you mean by consciousness and intelligence. Machines are not conscious. Calculation is not intelligence.

My point is that collective intelligence is as old as the human species. It’s that intelligence I’m interested in, and it has nothing to do with digital machinery. Connecting humans with machinery, digital or not, has on the contrary a tendency to turn us into machines.

G. Mulgan, Big Mind.

The other book which arrived this week is The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature by Stephen Harrod Buhner. The first half of the book is filled with analytical explanations of why and how, while the second half is filled with poetry and doing. Stephen Harrod Buhner calls the first half systole and the second half diastole. Systole is when the heart contracts. Diastole is when the heart relaxes.6 The book is full of quotes by Goethe, Thoreau, Bortoft, and others.

S. H. Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants.

Reflection
Here is my reflection on mechanistic vs. dynamistic thinking, which is based one of the quotes of Goethe in Stephen Harrod Buhner’s The Secret Teachings of Plants.7

Source: S. H. Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants, p.62.

Article
Finally, here is my summary of an article on New Possibilities: A World That Works For Everyone – Part I by Skye Hirst. Skye Hirst explores ten essential organizing processes for life in the article. A take-away is that it’s essential that we have the

  • opportunity to find right and effective actions,
  • guided by our intrinsic intentions and meanings,
  • while feeling connected to the greater whole.

This is a healthy environment in which we can learn, adapt, and thrive.

What was good? What can be improved?
I read 60+ books last year (2017) and have been reading ever since I started this blog six years ago (2012). I have been in systole since then. Now, it’s time for diastole.

Notes:
1 Geoff Mulgan, Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World (Princeton University Press, 2018), p.1.
2 Ibid., p.2.
3 Ibid..
4 Ibid., p.4.
5 Ibid., p.228.
6 Stephen Harrod Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature (Bear & Company, 2004), p.xi.
7 Ibid., p.62.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Essential organizing principles for life

This is a post in my organizing ”between and beyond” series. Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to explore essential organizing principles for Life.

Background
This post is based on the article New Possibilities: A World That Works For Everyone – Part I by Skye Hirst. Skye Hirst explores ten essential organizing processes for life in the article. Her intention with the article is ”to study and learn how to foster Life-environments that enhance and allow the realization of these processes” (p.3). I share Skye’s conviction that ”with greater awareness of these necessities for living, a more peaceful, healthful and meaningful existence can occur for humanity everywhere” (p.3).

Organizing principles
Skye Hirst identifies the following ten organizing processes and needs in the article:

  1. Intrinsic intention
    Living, Learning and Acting in concert with one’s own nature” (p.3). All life forms have an intrinsic uniqueness. Living beings have an inherent right to be themselves, to thrive, and to flourish. We need to be able to act in concert with our own knowing.
  2. Intrinsic meaning
    FIND Sense of Purpose & Meaning” (p.4). We feel fulfilled when we act from our our inner knowing. Doing something which has a coherent overall felt sense feels meaningful. This intrinsic felt sense gives our lives direction and focus. We feel creative and alive.
  3. Right action
    Use SELF-INTEGRITY to find right action” (p.4). We feel an internal integrity, or coherence, when we act in concert with our intrinsic selves.
  4. Effective action
    A need to EXPERIENCE A SENSE OF FULFILLMENT AND ACCOMPLISHMENT OF YOUR OWN CHOOSING” (p.4). Choices that feel like effective action inspires us to keep going to achieve our intention over and over again.
  5. Self-management
    A need to feel in charge of and able to manage our own lives” (p.5). Self-confidence and self-esteem grows from inside out. The richer the learning experiences are, the more confident we become. Confidence grows through action from intrinsic intention.
  6. Self-mastery
    A need to grow to be challenged Beyond Our Boundaries, Recognizing and Realizing our Genius, a chance to be ”somebody” because we are being what we were born to be” (p.5). We need to feel useful. And we need be challenged to develop our skills. There is something which no one can do as well you do.
  7. Self-inquiry
    A need to be aware and confident that we can think, learn and grow” (p.5). We need to discover and use our own unique learning abilities. There is an intrinsic self-satisfaction in pursuing self-directed inquiry.
  8. Wholeness of life
    A need to Recognize we are part of larger whole, a bigger picture and that we contribute to that picture in a meaningful way” (p.6). We are all connected. Nothing truly separate. We need to discover the bigger picture. We affect the whole, and the whole affects us.
  9. Spirit of life
    A need to experience a connection to the Spiritual, our inherent loving nature, the breath of life that breathes us, and there, find inspiration and integration” (p.6). We need time for reflection. We need to integrate our experiencing and learning. Doing something creative feels inspiring. Lovingness opens the space.
  10. Life is change
    A need to Develop the Ability to sustain “Not knowing” Taking Risk (The body/mind likes risks) Life requires creativity and novelty” (p.7).  We need to sustain the inquiry needed for learning, adapting, and living. Life is change. Tolerating ambiguity increases the variety and depth of learning.

Conclusion
It’s essential that we, as living beings, have the opportunity to find right and effective actions, that are guided by our intrinsic intentions and meanings, while feeling connected to the greater whole. This is a healthy environment in which we can learn, adapt, and thrive.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 5

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to reflect on subjects occupying my mind. I make no claim to fully believe what I write. Neither do I pretend that others have not already thought or written about the same subject. More often than not, I take up, combine, and add to already existing thoughts and ideas.

What is on my mind?
Mechanistic vs. dynamistic thinking
Mechanistic thinking is everywhere. Not only do we see our organizations as machines. We even view ourselves and our bodies as machines. They are not. Goethe explained two hundred years ago why mechanistic thinking has become the order of the day (my emphasis in black):

We can grasp immediately causes and thus find them easiest to understand; this is why we like to think mechanistically about things which really are of a higher order. . . thus, mechanistic modes of explanation become the order of the day when we ignore problems which can only be explained dynamistically.1
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The belief that we can stand outside a system and make up a series of rules and suggestions for actions (like ”best practices”) is everywhere too. Possibly for similar reasons as Goethe pointed out (my paraphrasing of Goethe in black):

We can grasp immediately processes and rules and thus find them easiest to understand; this is why we like to think algorithmically or procedurally about things which really are of a higher order. . . thus, computational modes of explanation become the order of the day when we ignore problems which can only be explained non-computationally.2

We need to replace our fixed strategies by approaches involving a constant dance forward into the doing and then back again to take into account the overall context and meaning of a situation. It is a dance that each individual and the organization as a whole need to perform together.

Notes:
1 Stephen Harrod Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants, p.62.
2 An algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other operations. A procedure is a series of actions conducted in a certain order or manner.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts