Författararkiv: Jan

Organizing retrospective 71

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?
Books
This week, I’ve read The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience by Francisco J. Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch. I haven’t written a review yet, but the section on Self-Organization Revisited, in Chapter 8, caught my attention.1

The authors write that autonomous systems stand in sharp contrast to systems whose coupling with the environment is specified through input/output relations. A computer is an example of the latter kind of system. Living systems, however, are far from being in this category. We cannot, in general, specify the operation of a living system through input/output relations.

This means that the meaning of an interaction is not prescribed from the outside, but is the result of the organization and history of the system itself.2 This has huge implications, since organizations are living systems, but often are treated as machines.3, 4

Varela, Thompson, & Rosch, The Embodied Mind (left), and Maturana & Varela, The Tree of Knowledge (right).

I’ve started reading The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding by Humberto R. Maturana and Francisco J. Varela. This is a book recommended by Jeff Loeb (@JDLoeb).

And I’ve continued reading Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and his Emissary this week. This is a book recommended by Marcus Kempe (@KempeMarcus). It’s a thick book (500+ pages), which doesn’t invite causal reading. It will take weeks to get through this book. Partly, because of the sheer size of the book. Partly, because of the book’s structure. Chapter 2 is almost half a book (62 pages) in itself.

Videos
Two videos caught my attention this week. One is Jeremy Scrivens’ A Lean Social Enterprise co-creates and extends the flow of Social Good. Jeremy asks: ”If we are looking to move from good to great, why do we focus on bad?5 He also suggests that we should focus on flow rather than on waste.

Jeremy Scrivens, A Lean Social Enterprise co-creates and extends the flow of Social Good, YouTube.

Another video which caught my interest is Eric Whitacre’s Deep Field: Creative Connections in Science and Music, which is about the creation of his work Deep Field. Eric Whitacre is joined by composer Steven Bryant, as well as members of the team from The Nerdery, who created the app that forms part of Deep Field. Eric starts discussing his creative process 17 minutes from the start of the video. Steven joins in 24 minutes from the start.6 Their discussion is most interesting.

The Coral Stream, Eric Whitacre’s ”Deep Field”: Creative Connections in Science and Music, YouTube.

What was good? What can be improved?
I appreciate the book recommendations and the feedback I receive from my readers.

Suzanne Daigle (@DaigleSuz) wrote on Facebook that she has read a few of my book reviews, which led her to my other between and beyond posts.

Suzanne Daigle’s comment on Facebook, Dec 9, 2017.

Eric Whitacre and Steven Bryant’s discussion reminds me that I need to revisit and update the ‘architecture’ of this series of posts on organizing between and beyond.

Notes:
1 Fransico J. Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch, The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (MIT Press, 1993), pp.151–157.
2 Ibid., p. 157.
3 One example is Lean Six Sigma, which focuses on determining the equation yi = f(xi) that relates process outputs, yi, to process inputs, xi.
4 Another example is Sociocracy, which is based on cybernetic principles. See this post on why cybernetics is a poor metaphor for living systems.
5 Jeremy Scrivens, A Lean Social Enterprise co-creates and extends the flow of Social Good (Dec 4, 2014), Retrieved Dec 10, 2017, from https://youtu.be/6C2h2vSlZ5E?t=338.
6 The Coral Stream, Eric Whitacre’s ”Deep Field”: Creative Connections in Science and Music (May 5, 2015), Retrieved Dec 10, 2017 from https://youtu.be/9jkJbkF9qSw.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Book Review: The Spirit of Leadership

The Spirit of Leadership: Liberating the Leader in Each of Us by Harrison Owen is an amazing book! Its message is perhaps even more valid today as when it was written 28 years ago?

Harrison Owen writes that ”leadership is not the exclusive property of the few or The One.” Leadership is, on the contrary, ”a collective and constantly redistributed function.” ”As long as leadership is viewed as the exclusive prerogative of the one or the few,” the relationships between leaders and followers will be ”some form of passive dependency.”

What I particularly like is that Harrison Owen is fully aware of that there is ”more going on than meets the eye.” His word for this is ”Spirit.” He writes that it’s one of those ”things” you know when you run into it, and you know when it is not there. What cannot be achieved by ”formula” may be achieved by attention to the ”flow of Spirit.” Structure ”follows Spirit,” and to reverse the order is to ”invite disaster.”

”To manage is to control; to lead is to liberate.” The leader’s work is not so much ”telling people what to do” as it is ”making connections and drawing out the implications.” There is no easy way of doing this. Encouraging ”appropriate structure to emerge is a critical function of leadership.” The function of leadership is to ”grow structure, not to impose it.” ”Appropriate structure increases focus, while removing eddies, distractions, and obstacles.”

The leadership we need is available in all of us. It’s up to each of us to liberate the leader within.

Organizing retrospective 70

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?
This week, I saw a little girl, crying, on her way to school, and wrote this poem.

Articles
An aspect of organizing is that situations need to be progressively clarified in interaction and conversation. Research on social networks suggests that strong pairwise relationships are the most conducive to cooperation.

  • Here is an article on The reason why we need to talk by Esko Kilpi.
  • Here is Peter Reuell’s article on Where cooperation thrives.

Books
Stuart Kauffman’s book Reinventing the Sacred arrived this week. This book describes a scientific worldview that embraces the reality of emergence. It’s a though-provoking book. Here is my review.

S. Kauffman, Reinventing the Sacred.

Finally, here is also my review of Leadership Agility by Ron Meyer and Ronald Meijers. Agility has become a buzzword, so I was a bit skeptical at first. But it’s a great book. The authors emphasize that there are no leadership formulas. I also appreciate the human values expressed in the book.

R. Meyer & R. Meijers, Leadership Agility.

What was good? What can be improved?
The little girl, standing there, crying, touched me. What are we doing to each other, and ourselves? Now, it’s time to break the chains.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Book Review: Leadership Agility

Let me first say that I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so that I could review it. I accepted writing this review since I’m interested in deeper generative organizing. The dance between leadership and followership is part of this dynamic. So, here is my summary of the book together with some impressions.

R. Meyer & R. Meijers, Leadership Agility.

The core of Leadership Agility: Developing Your Repertoire of Leadership Styles by Ron Meyer and Ronald Meijers consists of ten opposite pairs of leadership styles.1 These ten dimensions represent many of the balancing acts leaders are faced with.2 Each dimension deals with a different leadership task, and each task differs in nature and scope.3 The focus is on understanding the qualities and pitfalls of each leadership style.4

The authors believe that leaders need to “have the capacity to switch between leadership styles, and adaptively master new ones, in rapid response to the specific needs of the people and situation they want to influence.”5 Keywords here are flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness. Leadership agility is, in short, sensing into what is required in the situation, while attuning to people’s needs.

The authors explore the various leadership styles throughout the book. They also clarify what they believe is the essence of leadership,6 for example:

  • Leadership is about engagement instead of enforcement.7
  • Leadership can be exercised by anyone at any time depending on the situation.8
  • Leadership is helping people to make sense of the situation and themselves.9
  • Leadership is helping people to find their own meaning in what they do.10

As soon as we want to influence people to move in a certain direction, we are leading. We are, in fact, leading all the time. 11 This also means that leading is relational, involving two or more willful beings. The authors point out that getting people to follow requires more than key performance indicators. You can manage things, but people have a heart and mind of their own.12

All this sounds like music in my ears. The authors, furthermore, emphasize that formulating a ”leadership script” is useless and misleading. There are simply too many variables that need to be taken into account in order to arrive at a simple leadership formula.13

There are many ways of being an effective leader. You have to figure out yourself what works for you under what circumstances.14 This book may help you to expand your leadership style repertoire, but moving outside of your comfort zone is something you have to do yourself. You have to experiment and see what works for you.

The authors end the book with a few words on the “paradox of leadership and followership.”15 People are leaders and followers—at the same time. The ultimate test of leadership agility is combining leadership and followership.16

There are thousands of books on leadership — and agility has become a buzzword — so I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about the book. But it’s a great book. The focus is more on leadership styles than leadership agility. I particularly appreciate that the authors avoid formulating leadership scripts or formulas. I also share the human values expressed in the book. People are living beings and not things to be managed.

Notes:
1 Ibid., pp. xx, 18, 21.
2 Ibid., p. 17.
3 Ibid., p. 19.
4 Ibid., p. 227.
5 Ibid., pp. xvi–xvii.
6 Ibid., p. 3.
7 Ibid., p. 7.
8 Ibid..
9 Ibid., p. 11.
10 Ibid..
11 Ibid., p. 13.
12 Ibid., p. 14.
13 Ibid., p. 16.
14 Ibid., p. 17.
15 Ibid., p. 258.
16 Ibid., p. 259.

Book Review: Reinventing the Sacred

Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart Kauffman describes a scientific worldview that embraces the reality of emergence.1 We live in a universe, biosphere, and human culture that are not only emergent but radically creative. Kauffman attempts to lay out the scientific foundations for agency and therefore value in the biological world.2 He has a great deal to say about organized processes, for they are less understood than we might think.3 We have as yet not theory for systems that do work to build their own boundary conditions, and thereafter modify the work that is done, and then modify the boundary conditions as they propagate organization of process.4

An organized being is […] not a mere machine, […] but it possesses in itself formative power of a self-propagating kind …
—Immanuel Kant5

We live our lives forward, often without knowing, which requires all our humanity, not just ”knowledge.”6 Much of what we do when we intuit, feel, sense, understand, or act is non-algorithmic.7 Stuart Kauffman emphasizes that the human mind need not act algorithmically,8 nor is it merely computational.9 A central failure of the ”mind as a computational system” theory is that computations, per se, are devoid of meaning.10 Agency, meaning, value, and doing are real parts of the universe.11 Astonishingly, ”order for free,” does exist.12 Life itself seems to maximize self-propagating organization of process. It’s a thought-provoking book!

Notes:
1 Stuart A. Kauffman, Reinventing the Sacred (Basic Books, 2010), p.5.
2 Ibid., p.11.
3 Ibid., p.35.
4 Ibid., p.92.
5 Ibid., p.88.
6 Ibid., p.89.
7 Ibid., p.235.
8 Ibid., p.77.
9 Ibid., p.195.
10 Ibid., p.192.
11 Ibid., p.78.
12 Ibid., p.106.

Poem: Chains

I saw
a little girl
this morning
crying
on her way to
school

It could have
been me

And
here I was
on my way to
work

Fifty years later

Now,
it’s time to
break the
chains

Organizing retrospective 69

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?
Three new books arrived this week. The first one is Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and his Emissary.

I. McGilchrist, The Master and his Emissary.

The second book is Judy Brown’s The Art and Spirit of Leadership. Here are some of the chapters:

1) Listen to yourself. Know what makes your heart sing
5) Create open spaces…
6) Practice creativity…
8) Take the risk of being less than perfect
10) Follow the threads of aliveness
11) Risk speaking your natural voice

J. Brown, The Art and Spirit of Leadership.

The third book is Wyatt Rawson’s The Werkplaats Adventure: The Story of the Great Pioneer Comprehensive School. This is an old book which was first published in 1956. Wyatt Rawson describes how the school which Kees and Betty Boeke started in 1926 was built up, step by step. The Werkplaats Adventure is not only a story about education, but also about organizing. It’s a most interesting read! Here is my book review.

W. Rawson, The Werkplaats Adventure.

What was good? What can be improved?
The Werkplaats Adventure is an amazing book. I think that The Werkplaats Adventure provides a practical example of minimal structure for maximal freedom. It’s an example about how fluid structure arises spontaneously in a community based on no fear, friendliness, and support. Minimal structure is order without the use of force.

I have previously reviewed Brian Robertson’s book on Holacracy and Gerard Endenburg’s book on Sociocracy. Here is my comparison of Holacracy® vs. sociocracy. My conclusion was that if I would add anything to sociocracy, it would be conflict resolution. Otherwise, I would keep the method to an absolute minimum. The Werkplaats (or Workshop in English) is an example of this.

The secret of the school’s success lies in the way in which it dealt with the frustration of school life. The school community was a collaboration between the children and staff. Much of the organization of the Werkplaats was deliberately left fluid. This included the composition of the committees, which arouse spontaneously as needed. Human factors were paramount!

The Bespreking (or Talkover in English) embodied the spirit of the Werkplaats. The Bespreking arouse out of the family atmosphere of Kees and Betty Boeke’s original school. From the Bespreking, the Ronde was developed. Its purpose was to deal with all matters of order. The Ronde dealt with what was going wrong, not who had done wrong. There was no judging or condemning.

Related posts:
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy
Book Review: The Werkplaats Adventure
Book Review: Sociocracy
Book Review: Holacracy
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Book Review: The Werkplaats Adventure

The Werkplaats Adventure by Wyatt Rawson is about Kees and Betty Boeke’s pioneer comprehensive school, it’s methods and psychology.1 The Werkplaats, or Workshop, aimed at making all types of education available. It seeked to give the children an understanding of all aspects of life – the world within as well as of the world without.2

W. Rawson, The Werkplaats Adventure.

The Werkplaats is an example of how ideals like freedom, democracy, and equality can be put into practice. It is very interesting to see how the Werkplaats succeeded in securing order without force, encouraged freedom and spontaniety, and maintained a sense of equivalence among the children and adults.3

The Werkplaats Adventure is not only a story about education, but also about ourselves and the values and attitudes that are needed for organizing and peaceful conflict resolution. Thirty years had passed since the school was started when the book was first published in 1956. The school contained 850 children at the time, and was recognized and supported by the Dutch government.4

Wyatt Rawson describes how the school was built up gradually, step by step. Wyatt Rawson first met Kees Boeke in 1935. Wyatt visited the school several times in 1954. He talked to teachers and children, and discussed the problems of the school with Kees. The contact with the life of the school and its founders made a deep impression on Wyatt.5 He eloquently shares his personal experiences of the school.

The book is divided into two parts. Part One describes the school’s origin, its working and psychological aspects. Part Two is more concerned with educational methods and the curriculum. The last chapter is about the personal influence which Kees and Betty Boeke have had on the life of the school.6

The Werkplaats demonstrates that just as children love freedom and spontaneity, they also love structure and order. The problem of school life is to find a minimal structure that supports maximal freedom. Order can, of course, be created by force, but fear puts an end to all naturalness and spontaneity. Some other way must therefore be discovered of securing order without the use of force. Thus came the principle of no compulsion to be established. The methods employed at the Werkplaats are based on this principle.7

Two things particularly impressed Wyatt Rawson when he visited the school: (1) The great friendliness with everyone, and (2) the ease and naturalness with which the school seemed to work. There was much natural ease and spontaneous laughter. The older children helped the younger. There was no litter, and no fights. There was an absence of pressure and no use of force – or the threat of force.8 Another noticeable feature of the Werkplaats was the quietness and calm that seemed to pervade it. There was no rampaging around.9

The secret of the school’s success lies in the way in which it dealt with the frustrations of school life. The Bespreking, or Talkover, embodied the spirit of the Werkplaats. The Bespreking arouse out of the family atmosphere of Kees and Betty Boeke’s original school. It was a gathering where all matters that concerned the school as a whole were talked over. Each member of the school had his or her say. And ideas were combined in order to find solutions which represented the common will. Kees and Betty Boeke got this idea from the Quakers and their gatherings, in which no voting takes place and where there is a search for the ‘sense of the meeting’.10

Although no force can be used at the Bespreking, and all decisions must be made by consent, there is no guarantee that the right atmosphere will prevail.11 Wyatt Rawson writes that its success depends upon a family atmosphere, where the minority opinion never is callously overridden. The family atmosphere also explains the spontaneous friendliness between the adults and children. It arouse naturally out of the circumstances in which the school was founded.12

Wyatt Rawson mentions that there is a distance between the staff and the children, but that it confers responsibilities rather than rights, and that it does not entitle the teachers to act as masters over the children. The essence is that children are to be respected like any other human beings. He writes that human beings deserve respect, consideration, and love.13

Wyatt Rawson writes that it’s impossible to wear a mask at the school. You may not want people to know how you feel, but you cannot hide it. Others will immediately know if you are disappointed, or if things have gone wrong in your work. Although being without a mask is not always easy, this spontaneity also gives great joy.14

The Werkplaats encouraged the children’s creativity. Activities in which the children wholeheartedly could throw themselves, ensured the atmosphere of vitality and joy in life.15 The point is to let the children’s interests bring them to the point where they wish to learn. And it worked. The effect was that the children felt that their individual needs were being met as far as possible. It’s also a feeling which was essential for maintaining the atmosphere of freedom at the school.16

Interestingly, an unexpected result of the freedom granted was the spontaneous acceptance of responsibility. Children took responsibility, even at those moments when the teacher was away.17 Human needs were seen and met in the minimum of time.18 Wyatt Rawson points out, however, that the children were not expected to organize everything themselves. Children and staff formed one group, one community. The only danger was that the adults could take over, and thus deprived the children of their own initiative and responsibility, so that the children couldn’t have any of the excitement of organizing and creating something.19

The balance between freedom and order has to be found if a community is to be healthy. The Werkplaats achieved this by combining three things: (1) No fear and threats; (2) friendliness towards wrongdoers; and (3) constant support.20 This does not mean that there were no sanctions, or that nothing was done if a child misbehaved.21

The point is that the child was not judged or condemned.22 Judging and condemning are worse than useless.23 No indignation was shown. The child was simply asked, ‘Why did you do it?’ The sense of guilt arises naturally. With it also comes the desire to make amends. The question then was, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ The absence of threats meant that there was no one to oppose.24 The choice of reparation was the child’s. Personal antagonism was avoided.25

Wyatt Rawson writes, however, that the moral pressure sometimes was so strong that some children felt it as oppressive and rebelled. A few even left the school, even though the vast majority were grateful for being helped with their difficulties. The school’s methods even helped children with mental disturbances to regain their balance. This took a term or two.26

The school community is a collaboration between children and adults.27 The underlying idea is that the children wish to learn, so it’s up to the children to preserve the order necessary for learning. There was originally only one committee, the Bespreking, which met one a week or more often if necessary. All other committees at the Werkplaats developed out of it.28

From the original Bespreking, the Ronde was developed. Its purpose was to deal with all matters of order. All members in the Ronde were equally responsible for solving a problem in which they all were involved. Wyatt Rawson points out that when there’s trouble, it’s usually not due to one child alone.29 The atmosphere of the group is as much accountable for something going wrong as is the lack of control of any particular member.30

Much of the organization of the Werkplaats was deliberately left fluid. Human factors were paramount and not technical points. This included the composition of the committees. The Ronde is, for example, an instrument of the Bespreking of the whole Werkplaats.  Committees arouse spontaneously as a result of the rapid growth of the school, when the organization became inadequate to deal with the large inflow of new children.31

Children do not always keep to the rules, even when they have made them themselves. They learn from their failures, so they must be given the chance to make mistakes. Conflict will always exist. When a solution is found, the conflict is usually shifted somewhere else. Children are spontaneous and will momentarily follow impulses without thought of others. More important than the order itself is the learning received.32 There are, however, children who don’t listen.33 And there is always a minority whom nothing seems to alter.34

Wyatt Rawson shares a rare special case of disorder where the staff actually decided to leave. At first, the children couldn’t believe the staff wouldn’t be coming back. A girl took action and called a general meeting, at which a number of rules were made, and it was decided that anybody who broke them must leave. After less than a week the school was back to order. The lessons had been learned.35 This is an interesting example of the latent powers of self-organization that the school could call upon, even when the staff was no longer available.

Spontaneity was expected at the Werkplaats. It is natural for children to act spontaneously. For those adults who resented it, the atmosphere became intolerable.36 The inflow of new teachers greatly increased these difficulties.37 Action and reaction were the order of the day. What we feel in our heart of hearts is what we do and say with every gesture and word.38 Nothing can prevent this, so an honest humility, together with a willingness to admit mistakes, is required.39 There was also the constant emotional strain that exists in all groups working together.40 Day-to-day difficulties arise in any group.41

The authority at the Werkplaats was vested in the group and not in the teacher.42 The Werkplaats principle of no compulsion compelled the teacher, as well as the children, to accept a part of the responsibility for whatever went wrong. This required the elimination of the personal element in the wrong-doing, and the willingness to see the whole situation without any recriminations.43 The Werkplaats took for granted that all want friendship, and that loving is a much happier condition than hating.44 Aggression melted away in the atmosphere of mutual give and take. Together we can make life finer and richer for all.45

The Werkplaats Adventure is a well-written book about an amazing pioneer school. It’s a story about how fluid organization arises spontaneously in a community based on no fear, friendliness, and constant support. It’s also a story about Kees and Betty Boeke’s unquenchable delight in life itself, and their reverence for all that is fine and beautiful in people, nature, and art. Their spirit shines through Wyatt Rawson’s words. Only when the mind is still and the heart at rest, can we enter into communion with the deeper rhythms of life.46

It’s a beautiful book!

Notes:
1 Wyatt Rawson, The Werkplaats Adventure (Vincent Stuart, 1956), p.1.
2 Ibid., p.141.
3 Ibid., p.9
4 Ibid..
5 Ibid., p.10.
6 Ibid..
7 Ibid., p.16.
8 Ibid., p.31.
9 Ibid., p.87.
10 Ibid., p.32.
11 Ibid., p.33.
12 Ibid., p.34.
13 Ibid., p.37.
14 Ibid., p.38.
15 Ibid..
16 Ibid., p.39.
17 Ibid., p.41.
18 Ibid., p.42.
19 Ibid., p.43.
20 Ibid., p.45.
21 Ibid., p.47.
22 Ibid..
23 Ibid., p.149.
24 Ibid., p.47.
25 Ibid., p.48.
26 Ibid., p.49
27 Ibid., p.50.
28 Ibid., p.51.
29 Ibid., p.52.
30 Ibid., p.55.
31 Ibid..
32 Ibid., p.56.
33 Ibid., p.59.
34 Ibid., p.60.
35 Ibid..
36 Ibid., p.65.
37 Ibid., p.73.
38 Ibid., p.66.
39 Ibid., p.67.
40 Ibid., p.68.
41 Ibid., p.76.
42 Ibid., p.73.
43 Ibid., p.74.
44 Ibid..
45 Ibid., p.76.
46 Ibid., p.153.

Organizing retrospective 68

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?
This week I’ve read Seymour Papert’s book Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. The book was first published in 1980, but I think that many of Seymour Papert’s ideas are still valid today. Here is my review.

Seymour Papert introduces Bourbaki’s notion of mother structures. The Bourbaki school of mathematics sees more complex structures as combinations of simpler ones, of which the most important are three mother structures.1

Jean Piaget observed that children develop intellectual structures (knowledge of how to work the world) that are similar to the mother structures.2 My own observation is that the mother structures of order are generative orders.

S. Papert, Mindstorms.

Another book which I’ve read, or rather re-read, is Harrison Owen’s book The Power of Spirit: How Organizations Transform. Wow, what a book! It is beautifully written book (Harrison Owen is one of my favorite authors). And the book’s message is profound. Open some space and let self-organization work for you.3

Harrison Owen suggests that there is no such thing as a non-self-organizing natural (or human) system.4 If this is the case, then the issue is less about designing systems that are efficient and effective, 5 and more about letting the magic of self-organization happen all by itself. Here is a poem on that theme, which I wrote yesterday.

H. Owen, The Power of Spirit.

What was good? What can be improved?
I love reading! However, it can also become a distraction. I need to spend more time on my own writing—expressing my own voice.

Notes:
1 Seymour Papert, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas (Basic Books, 1993), pp. 159–160, 207.
2 Ibid., p. 160.
3 Harrison Owen, The Power of Spirit: How Organizations Transform (Berret-Koehler, 2000), p. 207.
4 Ibid., p. 56.
5 Ibid., p. 107.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Book Review: Mindstorms

This book is about how children learn ”a way of thinking”. Seymour Papert has a background as ”a mathematician and Piagetian psychologist” (p.166). He writes about ”what kinds of nurturance are needed for intellectual growth” and ”what can be done to create such nurturance” (p.10). The book is about children, but the ”ideas” are relevant to ”how people learn at any age” (p.213).

Two ”ideas run through” the book: 1) change in ”patterns of intellectual development” come about through ”cultural change”, and 2) the ”likely bearer” of this ”cultural change” is the ”increasingly pervasive computer presence” (p.216). It’s worth noting that the book was originally published in 1980.

Seymour Papert defines ”mathetics as being to learning as heuristics is to problem solving”. Principles of mathetics ”illuminate and facilitate” learning: 1) Relate ”what is new” to ”something you already know”, and 2) take ”what is new” and ”make it your own” (p.120). Different metaphors can be used to talk ”mathetically” about ”learning experiences”: 1) ”Getting to know ” an idea, 2) ”exploring an area of knowledge”, and 3) ”acquiring sensitivity to [subtle] distinctions” (p.136).

Jean Piaget’s contribution to Seymour Papert’s work has been deep. Piaget’s ideas have ”contributed toward the knowledge-based theory of learning” that Papert describes (p.156). ”For Piaget, the separation between the learning process and what is being learned is a mistake” (p.158). It’s not unusual that Piaget, at the same time, refers to ”the behavior of small children”, and to ”the concerns of theoretical mathematicians” (p.158).

Seymour Papert uses ”learning to ride a bicycle” to make more concrete ”the idea of studying learning by focusing on the structure of what is learned” (p.158). The conclusion is that ”learning to ride does not mean learning to balance, it means learning not to unbalance, learning not to interfere” (p.159). A deeper understanding of the ”process of learning” is, in other words, acquired through a ”deeper insight into what is being learned” (p.159).

Another example is that we can ”understand how children learn number” through a ”deeper understanding of what number is” (p.159). The Bourbaki school of mathematics sees more ”complex structures” as combinations of ”simpler structures” of which the most important are three ”mother structures” (p.160).

Interestingly, the ”theory of mother structures” is a ”theory of learning” (p.160). The ”knowledge of how to work the world” is the ”mother structure of order” (p.160). Jean Piaget observed that children develop ”intellectual structures” that are similar to the ”mother structures” (p.160).

Seymour Papert presents a ”mathetic” vision in his book, one that helps us to ”learn about learning” (p.177). He shows how a mathetic culture can humanize the learning experience and make it more personal. Papert’s philosophy is ”revolutionary rather than reformist” (p.186). He thinks ”seriously about a world without schools” (p.178) and discusses settings that are ”socially cohesive, and where experts and novices are all learning” (p.179). It is the ”very youngest who stand to gain the most from changes in the conditions of learning” (p.213).

Many of Seymour Papert’s ideas are still valid today!

Poem: Organizing

ORGANIZING

isn’t about logic
or engineering

it’s less about design
and more about aliveness

on paper, our systems
look marvelous

in reality, they
are deadening

the solution is not
better management,
or more control

but about having fun,
playing more

anything else is
terribly wrong

unhappy people
make for
unproductive work

when people
do what they love and
love what they do

everything is
possible

Organizing retrospective 67

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 have continued to follow the events in Catalonia.

Fernando Betancor has written several posts on the crisis in Catalonia. Betancor describes how Partido Popular have changed the laws in a partisan fashion, how Mr. Rajoy obtained carte blanche from the EU to deal with Catalonia, and how the Catalan desire for freedom is a truly popular desire.

Below are quotes from Fernando Betancor’s many posts (in chronological order):

2014
”The Populares have always equated their political interests with Spain’s national interests, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary; and have always ignored the difference between law and justice.”1

”It is particularly ironic … that the party that has most vehemently argued for an uncompromising defense of the Spanish Constitution … is the same party that is so savagely attacking the rights of citizens guaranteed within that same document.”2

”… only Partido Popular…voted in favor… They have done so despite … the protests of civil society, the deep misgivings of Spanish … constitutional authorities, and the … objections of human rights organization and the EU.”3

2015
”The history of the European Union … ought to dispel any illusions that democratic legitimacy matters in the slightest”4

”Mr. Rajoy will request and receive carte blanche from Berlin to deal with Catalonia …”5

”… the government now has the legal tools to fine, prosecute and imprison pretty much anyone it finds offensive”6

”…a substantial proportion of the Catalan population could be persecuted should the gov … choose to do so”7

2016
”These are shocking revelations — or they should be, even for a country as jaded as Spain. … It is an unfortunate truth that Spanish politicians have to be caught committing murder in delicto fragante for them to be forced out of office …”8

2017
”Sedition … inciting people to rebel… Rebellion … the action … of resisting authority, control, or convention. But any act of protest is an act of resisting authority …, which means the Spanish government could charge anyone protesting their actions …”9

”That is the failure of Europe: the failure to progress beyond a club of member states.”10

”Had the country in question been a small country … or a rebel like the UK, you can be sure that the Europen Union would be sending commissioners, preparing indictments … and levying fines … for violating fundamental human rights … As it is, Spain gets a pass.”11

”Rajoy’s plan – I use that term very generously – seems to be to jail everyone the Catalans elected”12

”… the European Union will happily ignore democratic mandates whenever it deems it necessary.”13

”… the Catalan desire for independence is a truly popular desire: arrest all the leaders … and there are still two and a half million more leaders waiting to take their places.”14

New books
The new book which arrived this week is Shakti Leadership by Nilima Bhat and Raj Sisodia.

N. Bhat & R. Sisoda, Shakti Leadership.

Shakti is described as the creative force from which all structures arise.15 Shakti is understood as creative and generative, and is therefore represented as feminine.16 Deeper generative orders for organizing are, in other words, feminine.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’m deeply impressed and moved by the Catalan people, their democratic values, their non-violence, and their amazing organizing capabilities

Work doesn’t have to deplete us. It can be most meaningful. But to get there, we need to recognize that our workplaces have largely been devoid of of a crucial part of being human: the feminine aspect.17

Notes:
1 Fernando Betancor, The Partido Popular Assaults Spain’s Constitution, 2014-12-22 (accessed 2017-11-22).
2 Ibid..
3 Ibid..
4 Fernando Betancor, Catalonia: A Flawed Strategy, 2015-02-26 (accessed 2017-11-12).
5 Ibid..
6 Ibid..
7 Ibid..
8 Fernando Betancor, Spanish “Witch Hunt” Against Catalans Revealed, 2016-06-22 (accessed 2017-11-12).
9 Fernando Betancor, Catalonia Update: Political Prisoners Return to Spain, 2017-10-17 (accessed 2017-11-12).
10 Fernando Betancor, Catalonia Demonstrates the Limits of European Integration, 2017-11-03 (accessed 2017-11-12).
11 Ibid..
12 Fernando Betancor, Catalonia: Change the Rules or Lose the Game, 2017-11-07 (accessed 2017-11-12).
13 Ibid..
14 Ibid..
15 Nilima Bhat and Raj Sisodia, Shakti Leadership: Embracing Feminine and Masculine Power in Business (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2016), p.ix.
16 Ibid., p.xviii
17 Ibid., p.xvi

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 64-66

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?
This is a retrospective of what has happened during the last three weeks since the middle of October.

Catalonia, Spain, and the European Union
What’s happening in Catalonia has been on my mind since the beginning of October. I’ve mentioned it here and here how deeply disturbed I was seeing the Spanish police brutality during the Catalonia referendum on October 1. I was also utterly surprised by how timid the European Commission’s response was the day after the referendum.1

United Nations Human Rights and Amnesty International have repeatedly urged Spain to respect democratic and human rights, while the EU basically has been silent. The perpetrator of the violence, the Spanish Government, has on the contrary been declared worthy of EU’s trust. The irony is that the person whom the EU trusts as the defender of the rule of law, the Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, also leads one of Europe’s most corrupt political parties. Rajoy’s Popular Party has been on the wrong side of the law dozens of times over the past few years.2

The EU has so far maintained its support of Spain in the subsequent escalation of the conflict. Only a few European leaders have protested—perhaps most notably the Belgian prime minister Charles Michel. The vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, took the opportunity to emphasize the rule of law when addressing the European Parliament on October 4. And the French president, Emmanuel Macron, restated this position during a trip to Guyana. The Swedish Government also fully supports the Spanish Government.3 The Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallström, has appealed to Spain to show restraint in Catalonia.4 I wish the Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven, would have acted more like his Belgian counterpart.

Here’s what the EU leaders forget. A state’s constitution is not the sole determinant on the legality of actions taken within that state. A fundamental principle of international law is that a state’s constitution, in this case Spain’s, must equate with international law. This means that the principle of Spain’s territorial integrity is superseded by Catalan’s human right to self-determination.5 So, when Rajoy, Timmermans, and others talk about the rule of law, it’s worth remembering that international law doesn’t stop at EU’s border.

Mariano Rajoy’s refusal to try to solve the conflict through international mediation or dialogue is difficult to understand. John Carlin, who loves Spain and so is against Catalan independence, writes that the concept of ”I cede a little and you cede a little so we both end up winning” is alien to the Spanish political mind. Instead of working to preserve the unity of Spain, Rajoy actually fuels the drive for independence. Carlin hopes that, maybe, the EU will intervene and knock sense into Spanish heads.6

The failure of the EU is that it’s a club of national governments. The EU has no mechanism for dealing democratically with the aspirations of its citizens, in this case the Catalans.7 Democracy was suppressed by technocracy from the very beginning in the EU.8 The events in Catalonia reflect a structural problem with European democracy. The EU’s ambivalence to the violence of the Spanish police, and to the arrest of Catalonian leaders and Catalonia’s democratically elected politicians, adds to the disappointment with the union.9

The future of the EU depends on whether democracy can be made more effective, and more participative. Traditional politicians don’t understand the generative capacity of decentralized self-organization. What is going on in Catalonia is an exercise in democracy. Barcelona is a vibrant hub of democratic innovation. Spain could have been phenomenal at hosting Catalonia’s autonomy—and be honored for that. And the EU could have been phenomenal at hosting the autonomy of all Europe’s regions—for the benefit of all.

Now, some words about the books I’ve read recently.

Collaborating with the Enemy
The first book I’d like to mention is Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust by Adam Kahane. We have four ways to respond when faced with a situation we find problematic: collaborating, forcing, adapting, or exiting.

A common assumption is that collaboration can and must be controlled. This is an unrealistic fantasy. Adam Kahane makes it clear that collaboration cannot and need not be controlled. We cannot know our route before we set out. We can only discover it along the way. This can be both exciting and unnerving.

The challenge of collaboration is that in order make our way forward, we must work with others. Collaboration cycles generatively between engaging and asserting. The key is being able to work with both. Love (engaging) is what makes power generative. Power (asserting) is what makes love generative. It’s a great book. I’ll write a book review.

A. Kahane, Collaborating with the Enemy.

Beyond Words
Another fascinating book is Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina. It’s a beautifully written book where Carl Safina challenges assumptions that have been around for centuries. Sometimes it seems that humans do think, but do not deeply feel or listen.

Watch. Simply listen.
They will not speak to us, but
to one another they say much.
Some of it, we hear.
The rest is beyond words.
—Carl Safina

I will not write a book review—at least short-term—but I do recommend the book.There is no more wondrous fact than that we are kin, bee and bird, and great elephant—stardust all.

C. Safina, Beyond Words.

Leadership Agility
The third book I’ve read is Leadership Agility: Developing Your Repertoire of Leadership Styles by Ron Meyer and Ronald Meijers. Leadership agility is to have the capacity to flexibly switch between leadership styles, and adaptively master new ones, in rapid response to needs. The core of the book consists of ten opposite pairs of leadership styles. Leadership is about engagement instead of enforcement.

I particularly like that the authors avoid falling into the trap of trying to come up with a leadership formula, a ”leadership script.” Effective leadership is like effective clothing. It depends on the context. There are simply too many variables that need to be taken into consideration in order to arrive at some simple formula. I will review this book too.

R. Meyer & R. Meijers, Leadership Agility.

The Puzzle of Non-Western Democracy
Finally, I’d like to mention that I’m now reading The Puzzle of Non-Western Democracy by Richard Youngs. I discovered Richard Youngs through his articles about the EU and Catalonia. Western-style democracy is suffering ill health. There is a need to rethink democracy—and even to go back to basics. More democratic variation is needed that flow from exploratory openness. The issue in Europe is that people have little effective influence over the decisions elites make.

Western democracy reduces a noble ideal to formal procedural rules. The West has been too concerned with ”institutional development” and fails to live up to its own rhetoric about building consensus and social justice. Trends in legal pluralism question the singular focus on the rule of law that underpins Western democracy. The focus of many other cultures is not so much on the concept of law as on forms of dispute resolution. It’s an interesting book!

R. Youngs, The Puzzle of Non-Western Democracy.

What was good? What can be improved?
It was most revealing to read Adam Kahane’s Collaborating with the Enemy in the light of the conflict in Catalonia. The Catalans have become so tired of adapting to Spain’s forcing that they now want exiting. The only way forward, however, is collaborating. It’s now up to the EU to convince Rajoy of the necessity of collaboration, like it or not. Spain must stop breaking heads, arresting people, and making ultimatums.

Leadership is about engagement, not enforcement.

Notes:
1 European Commission, Statement on the events in Catalonia (Statement/17/3626), 2017-10-02 (accessed 2017-10-08).
2 Richard Youngs, EU needs a smarter response to the Catalonia crisis, 2017-11-03 (accessed 2017-11-05).
3 Government Offices of Sweden, Statement – Catalonia, 2017-10-30 (accessed 2017-11-05).
4 Radio Sweden, Wallström appeals to Spain to show restraint, 2017-10-02 (accessed 2017-11-05).
5 United Nations Human Rights, UN independent expert urges Spanish Government to reverse decision on Catalan autonomy, 2017-10-25 (accessed 2017-11-05).
6 John Carlin, Catalan independence: arrogance of Madrid explains this chaos, 2017-10-07 (accessed 2017-11-05).
7 Fernando Betancor, Catalonia Demonstrates the Limits of European Integration, 2017-11-03 (accessed 2017-11-05).
8 Richard Youngs, The EU Beyond the Crisis: The Unavoidable Challenge of Legitimacy, 2013-10-08 (accessed 2017-11-05).
9 Richard Youngs, Catalonia and European Democracy, 2017-10-06 (accessed 2017-11-05).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 63

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’ve read The Power of Eight by Lynne McTaggart this week. It’s a fascinating book which gives glimpses into what’s possible when we connect deeply with each other. Lynne McTaggart uses a special word to describe this type of connection, ‘homothumadon‘. Here is my book review.

L. McTaggart, The Power of Eight.

I’ve also continued following what’s happening in Catalonia. As mentioned here last week I’m deeply concerned with what will happen next, in Catalonia, Spain and Europe. UN has repeatedly urged Spain to respect democratic and human rights, while EU leaders have been remarkably timid in their comments.

Here is an excellent article about Catalonia and European Democracy by Richard Youngs. Richard Youngs writes that:

  • The EU clearly prioritizes the rule of law over participative democracy.
  • Rule of law is not simply about obeying rules.

The Spanish government now calls for a strict application of the rule of law when it comes to preventing Catalan independence. Yet in recent years it has itself been criticized for undermining the rule of law through its political control over the judiciary. Madrid has also called for flexibility in EU rules in order to overrun its deficit.

What gives me hope is that there’s close cooperation and experience-sharing between local democracy innovators in both Madrid and Barcelona. This has made Barcelona a vibrant hub of democratic innovation in recent years. I’ll try to get more information on this.

Here is a news report from BBC where Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly says that he ”does not back Catalan independence, fearing others may follow the same path.” Jean-Claude Juncker also urges Mariano Rajoy ”to bring the situation under control.” I’d like to challenge this by asking:

  • What if it’s impossible for Spain to ‘control’ the situation?
  • What if the only way to govern Europe actually is to give all regions full autonomy?

Jean-Claude Juncker should instead urge Mariano Rajoy and Carles Puigdemont to collaborate. A most relevant book in this context is Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust by Adam Kahane. I’m now reading the book and will write a book review next week.

A. Kahane, Collaborating with the Enemy.

What was good? What can be improved?
The recent events in Catalonia have reminded me that deeper generative orders for organizing are as relevant in politics as in business. There’s an important distinction between being autonomic (obeying self-law), and being allonomic (obeying some other’s law).1 People are autonomic, while rule of law assumes that people are allonomic.

This means that Spain may use force to coerce, but that Catalonia still will have its desire for freedom. The bigger the external force, the greater the resistance. This is also why Mariano Rajoy never will be able to bring the situation under control. Mariano Rajoy and Carles Puigdemont have to collaborate even if they don’t agree, like, or trust each other.

Notes:
1 Norm Hirst, Research findings to date, Autognomics Institute (accessed 15 October 2017).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Book Review: The Power of Eight

Introduction
The Power of Eight by Lynne McTaggart is the story about the miraculous power we hold to heal ourselves, others, and the world. This power is unleashed the moment we stop thinking about ourselves and gather with others into a group.1 But what is it about a group of people thinking a single thought at the same time that produces such dramatic effects?2

Outbursts of passion in unison
The only thing that appears to be needed is any sort of group.3 Throughout the ages, small circles of people have held a special significance in many cultures and among indigenous groups.4 Prayer groups have been used in most religions.5 The greek word homothumadon is used to described group prayer in the Bible. The word itself is a compound of two words: homou (‘in unison’ or ‘together’), and thumuous (‘outbursts of passion’ or ‘rush along’). The word emphasizes group prayer as a passionate unity, with a single voice.6

When people are involved in a passionate activity […],
they transmute from a solitary voice into a thunderous symphony
.7

A familiar feeling rarely experienced
Group meditation and prayer certainly promote a sense of unity among the participants, but usually not as deep as in homothumadon.8 In homothumadon, the participants move away from their isolated state of individuality into a pure bond with others. It’s a state that is familiar when felt, but rarely experienced.9 It has nothing to do with the outcome and everything with the act of participation.10 There is one essential element: other human beings.11

Working for the greater good
A sense of connectedness increases altruism. People have a natural desire to help when they temporarily step into a state of oneness.12 Working for the greater good produces more than just a warm feeling — it’s strengthening for both mind and body. There are health-giving effects in focusing on anyone besides yourself.13

Something about the desire to do something for someone else,
with no strings attached or personal benefit, has an impact on
health and wellbeing far and above that of anything else […]
14

Conclusions
Lynne McTaggart provides glimpses into what’s possible when we connect in homothumadon. A Power of Eight group is more than just a collection of separate individuals. They are not just connecting, they are merging.15 It’s as if the individuals in the group become one brain together. There’s something more going on here that we don’t understand.16 Some things in our lives are just beyond our explanation or understanding.17 It’s a fascinating book!

Notes:
1 Lynne McTaggarts, The Power of Eight: Harnessing the Miraculous Energies of a Small Group to Heal Others, Your Life and the World (Hay House, 2017), pp. xvi–xvii.
2 Ibid., p. 53.
3 Ibid., p. 50.
4 Ibid., pp. 55, 107.
5 Ibid., p. 56.
6 Ibid., p. 57.
7 Ibid., p. 61.
8 Ibid., p. 95.
9 Ibid., p. 97.
10 Ibid., p. 98.
11 Ibid., p. 140.
12 Ibid., p. 179.
13 Ibid., p. 185.
14 Ibid., p. 186.
15 Ibid., p. 225.
16 Ibid., p. 231.
17 Ibid., p. 233.

Organizing retrospective 62

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?
This is going to be a political post. I was deeply disturbed by the Spanish police brutality during the Catalonia referendum last Sunday. I’ve been thinking about this all week. I’m really concerned what will happen next, in Catalonia, Spain and Europe.

The statement from the European Commission on Monday that ”violence can never be an instrument in politics” is, to say the least, timid.1 Amnesty International has confirmed on the ground that members of the National Police force’s Police Intervention Unit and Civil Guard officers used excessive and disproportionate force.2 United Nations Human Rights in Geneva urged Spanish authorities on Tuesday to fully respect fundamental human rights.3

And yet, the First Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, defended the use of force by the Spanish police in a debate on the Catalonia crises in the European Parliament on Wednesday. He said that ”it’s the duty for any government to uphold the law”.4 Well, here’s the thing. Rule of law isn’t everything. Apartheid was legally enforced in South Africa. And general Franco had his rule of law. Actually, all dictators are big on the rule of law.

What’s happening is that Spain is attempting to impose rule of law without democracy on Catalonia, while the European Commission ignores its obligations under the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in its response. The Spanish police contravened the following articles during the Catalonia referendum:5

  • Article 1: The Right to Human Dignity
  • Article 6: The Right to Liberty or Security of Person
  • Article 11: Freedom of Expression and Information
  • Article 12: Freedom of Assembly and Association
  • Article 54: Prohibition of Abuse of Rights

The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his government has, in fact, ruled primarily by decrees since 2011. Further evidence of the authoritarian turn of the Spanish government is the approval of repressive laws that criminalize many forms of protests in order to protect public order.6

Spain could instead choose to host the freedom of Catalonia, but that would require a different political leadership. When rule of law takes precedence over human rights, we end up with coercive repressive systems. The danger that threatens democracy is the tremendous gap between those who think in terms of human values and those who think in the terms of rule of law.7

What was good? What can be improved?
All I’ve said above about political leadership is applicable to organizational leadership as well. Authoritarian leadership is ubiquitous. Coercive repressive systems are everywhere. There’s a callousness to intrinsic human value behind all this.8 Nothing will change until the underlying values are changed. Do not give your power away to systems and people who are totally unworthy of it.9 Sometimes we allow people to exercise destructive power over us simply because we never question them.10

Notes:
1 European Commission, Statement on the events in Catalonia (Statement/17/3626), 2017-10-02 (accessed 2017-10-08).
2 Amnesty International, SPAIN: EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE BY NATIONAL POLICE AND CIVIL GUARD IN CATALONIA, 2017-10-03 (accessed 2017-10-08).
3 United Nations Human Rights, UN experts urge political dialogue to defuse Catalonia tensions after referendum, 2017-10-04 (accessed 2017-10-08).
4 Maïa de la Baume and David M. Herszenhorn, Brussels defends use of ‘proportionate force’ in Catalonia, POLITICO, 2017-10-04 (accessed 2017-10-08).
5 Official Journal of the European Union, CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (2012/C 326/02), 2012-10-26 (accessed 2017-10-08).
6 Monica Clua Losada, Catalonia’s referendum unmasks authoritarianism in Spain, The Conversation, 2017-10-05 (accessed 2017-10-08).
7 This is a paraphrase of Robert Hartman, who said that ”danger that threatens life” is the ”tremendous gap between those who think in terms of human values and those who think in the collective terms of non-human systems”. See Robert Hartman, Freedom to Live, p. 124.
8 The ”sickness which we have suffered throughout history can be clearly attributed to our callousness to the intrinsic value of life coupled with our sensitivity to the systemic value of thought”. Ibid., p. 114.
9 This is something John O’Donohue discusses in his books. See, for example, John O’Donohue, Anam Ċara, pp.174–182, 264, and Eternal Echoes, p.93.
10 John O’Donohue, Anam Ċara, p.174.
Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 61

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?
I’ve read Human Dynamics by Sandra Seagal and David Horne this week.1 Sandra and Seagal introduce a framework consisting of nine different personality dynamics of which five make up over 99.9% of the population. The framework feels artificial somehow. I didn’t feel fully at home in any of the personality dynamics described. Here is my review.

I’ve mentioned in this retrospective that Roger Penrose strongly argues that mind cannot be described in any kind of computational terms. This week, I found an interview with Roger Penrose by Robert Lawrence Kuhn on YouTube. Roger Penrose explains in this interview why consciousness is non-computational, i.e., why consciousness can never be simulated. If Roger Penrose is right, then tasks which requires understanding—in principle—lie beyond the capabilities of automation. There are limits to what can be automated.

I’ve also discovered that Václav Havel has much to say about organizing. He writes in this article on The Need for Transcendence in the Postmodern World that the ”conception of the world” that science has fostered ”now appears to have exhausted its potential.” ”Man as an observer” has become ”completely alienated from himself as a being.” Havel also mentions the urgent threats facing humanity. He says that ”it is clearly necessary to invent [new] organizational structures”, but that such efforts are ”doomed to failure if they do not grow out of something deeper, out of generally held values.” A deeper generative order for organizing is related to deeper generally held values.

Václav Havel writes more about organizing in this article on The Power of the Powerless. He writes that ”life, in its essence, moves toward plurality, diversity, independent self-constitution, and self organization, in short, toward the fulfillment of its own freedom”. Havel believes in the ”principle of self-management”. He also thinks that the ”principles of control and discipline ought to be abandoned in favor of self-control and self-discipline.” It’s the only way to achieve ”genuine (i.e., informal) participation” and ”a feeling of genuine responsibility”. The organizational structures should arise naturally ”from below as a consequence of authentic social self-organization”. They should ”derive [their] vital energy from a living dialogue with the genuine needs from which they arise”. When the needs are gone, then the organizational structures should also disappear. ”The principles of their internal organization should be very diverse, with a minimum of external regulation.” A deeper generative order for organizing derives its vital energy from a living dialogue with genuine needs.

What was good? What can be improved?
I always appreciate comments and reading suggestions. Sophia Montgomery (@Sophiam1973) sent a link to an audiobook, The Language of Archetypes: Discover the Forces that Shape Your Destiny by Caroline Myss. And Jesse Soininen  (@jessesoininen) sent this article on Confronting the Technological Society by Samuel Matlack. It’s an article about Jacques Ellul’s life and work. Ellul was a French historian, sociologist, and lay theologian. He has much to say about technology. Ellul writes that the machine has created the modern, industrial world, but that it’s a poor fit for society. Social conditions have been adapted to the smooth churning of the machine. ”All-embracing technique is in fact the consciousness of the mechanized world.” The primary concern for everyone involved becomes improving the means, while the ends—the ultimate purposes—move out of sight.

Notes:
1 Sandra Seagal and David Horne, Human Dynamics: A New Framework for Understanding People and Realizing the Potential in Our Organizations (Pegasus, 1997).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Book Review: Human Dynamics

Introduction
The underlying direction and purpose of Human Dynamics: A New Framework for Understanding People and Realizing the Potential in Our Organizations by Sandra Seagal and David Horne is to enhance the quality of life that people express individually and collectively.1 People are different both in how they process information, and in what information they process.2

Nine Personality Dynamics
Nine different personality dynamics are identified based on people’s mental, emotional, and physical capacities. The book presents five of them, which make up over 99.9% of the population.3 The authors claim that most people in West are emotional-physical (55%) or emotional-mental (25%), while most Japanese are physical-mental, and a majority of Chinese are physical-emotional. The authors suggest that the fundamental difference between East and West derive more from these differences in personality dynamics than from the differences in culture.4 What if it’s the other way around—or, at least, works both ways—that the culture influences each individual’s personality dynamics?

Conclusions
The construction of the nine different personality dynamics feels artificial to me. While reading, I couldn’t identify my own personality dynamic. Maybe it’s because I had difficulties in remembering each personality dynamic. Or, maybe, it’s because I’m in that 0.1% of the population which isn’t covered by the book? Anyway, the key takeaway for me is that people have genuine, and often drastically different, ways of looking at the world. Different ways of perceiving, processing, and acting. Talking about that and how we need to deal with each other is eye-opening, challenging, inspiring, and painful—regardless of the framework used.

Notes:
1 Sandra Seagal and David Horne, Human Dynamics: A New Framework for Understanding People and Realizing the Potential in Our Organizations (Pegasus, 1997), p. 13.
2 Ibid., pp. 30, 32.
3 Ibid., p. 23.
4 Ibid., pp. 32–34.

Organizing retrospective 60

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’ve read John O’Donohue’s book Anam Ċara. Here is my review. John O’Donohue writes that it’s very difficult to bring the world of work and the world of soul together. I’ll explore this further in the coming weeks.

J. O’Donohue, Anam Ċara.

I’ve also read Doug Kirpatrick’s Beyond Empowerment: The age of the self-managed organization, and John Seddon’s In Pursuit of Quality: The Case Against ISO 9000 this week.

Doug Kirkpatrick’s book is about self-management, which interests me, but the format—an imagined story—didn’t work for me. Chapter Eight: Self-Management Comes to the Organization is worth reading. I’ll come back with more on this.

D. Kirkpatrick, Beyond Empowerment.

John Seddon’s book In Pursuit of Quality: The Case Against ISO 9000 gives an interesting perspective on ISO 9000 and its history. The message is that management by command-and-control must be replaced by managing the organization as a system. The main arguments are repeated over and over again throughout the book. The last chapter contains a final review of the arguments set out in the first chapter. It’s a repetitive reading.

J. Seddon, In Pursuit of Quality.

I agree with much of what John Seddon is says, but I don’t think he goes far enough in his argumentation. Yes, management by command-and-control treats people as cogs in a machine, but managing the organization as a system is still like treating the organization as a machine. The case against ISO 9000 can actually be extended to include Lean and Six Sigma as well. John Seddon criticizes Lean in these books.

Here is also a post on the historical parallels which Bob Emiliani sees between Scientific Management and Toyota Management. Again, it becomes evident that the focus is on technical aspects, while human aspects are largely ignored.

Living dynamics cannot be ignored in a living company.

Living organisms have an adaptive intelligence. External force may be used, but the organism will rebel as soon as the force is removed. Here is a post on Norm Hirst’s distinction between machines, which are allonomic, and organisms, which are autonomic.

Finally, here is an article by Paavo Pylkkänen where he discusses David Bohm’s interpretation of quantum theory, including mind and matter. David Bohm went as far as to say that electrons have a ”primitive mind-like quality.” Maybe it is not so surprising then that a very complex aggregate of matter is accompanied by a mind that guides it? This certainly goes against the prevalent mechanistic way of thinking!

What was good? What can be improved?
I’m making progress. I’d like to spend more time on this work than I can today.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Paavo Pylkkänen on David Bohm’s interpretation of the quantum theory

Paavo Pylkkänen discusses David Bohm’s interpretation of quantum theory, including mind and matter, in this article — Is there Room in Quantum Ontology for a Genuine Causal Role for Consciousness?

Source: Twitter.

Here are some quotes from the article (my emphasis in bold):

… active information is playing a key causal role in physical processes at the quantum level.

organisms that are conscious of their own and others’ mental states have a better ability to interact, cooperate, and communicate.

… conscious experience … presents us with the options to choose from …

… certain conscious states … have an intrinsic motivating force … as an indivisible part of the experience itself.

… consciousness seems to be decisive for meaningful interactions with our environment.

… consciousness, flexible control, free will, and unified and integrated representations are all interconnected.

… information in conscious mental states is globally available to a number of different mental subsystems …

… information in conscious experience is typically very rich in its content — it is unified and integrated.

… consciousness both enables the sort of information that flexible control requires, and it also makes it possible for such information to reach the subsystems that are required in the execution of the control.

matter at the quantum level is fundamentally different from the sort of mechanical matter of classical physics

then it is perhaps not so surprising that a very complex aggregate of such elements … has a body, accompanied by a mind that guides it.

Bohm proposed that we understand mental states as involving a hierarchy of levels of active information.

Bohm saw nature as a dynamic process where information and meaning play a key dynamic role

the higher level of thought can organize the content in the lower level into a coherent whole.

Bohm went as far as to say that electrons have a ”primitive mind-like quality,” but by ”mind” he was here referring to the ”activity of form,” …

… we could say that suitably integrated active information is conscious.

… in my view a major reason for its being ignored is that it goes so much against the prevalent mechanistic way of thinking …

Bohm’s suggestion was that a natural extension of his ontological interpretation of the quantum theory can include mental processes and even conscious experience …

More flexible control means … that the organism is able to choose from among different options the one that best fits the situation

In Bohmian terms … consciousness enables the organism to suspend the activity of information.

… flexible control in the Bohmian view seems to involve higher-order, meta-level information that we are conscious of …

there isan interesting analogy between Bohm’s notion of common pools of information at the quantum level and the notion of collective intentionality in social ontology.

… Bohm emphasizes that information is typically active …

One possibility is that the presence of consciousness increases the level of activity of the information.

… quantum active information … is semantic and has both factual and instructional aspects …

… our ethical judgments (e.g., ”the choice of the best”) can typically also affect the way information is activated, and consequently our behavior.

Our choices of ”the best” are somehow related to value intelligence.

Related posts:
Book Review: Mind, Matter and the Implicate Order
The meaning of meaning
Meaning as being
Free flow of meaning