Författararkiv: Jan

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

Organizing retrospective 75

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
Three books arrived this week, Autobiography of a Restless Mind Volume 1 & 2 by Dee Hock, and Gentle Action by F. David Peat. Dee Hock’s book is a collection of reflections written over twentyfive years. It’s a thoughtful book full of unusually tweetable quotes.

Dee Hock, Autobiography of a Restless Mind Volume 1 & 2.

F. David Peat explores gentle action — how we can exercise more effective, creative, and non-invasive action — in his book. Peat encourages the reader to enter creative suspension from which gentle action can emerge. I think this is related to the Quaker’s discerning of the sense of the meeting, Eugene T. Gendlin’s addending to the felt sense, and David Grove’s way of using clean language to draw attention to experience (expressed verbally or non-verbally). Yet another example of suspension is David Bohm’s approach to dialogue.1 Creative suspension is, in short, that little silence that happens when a person stops talking and begins to listen beyond words to ”the promptings of love and truth in the heart.”2

F. David Peat, Gentle Action.

Reflections
I have started to complement my weekly retrospectives with short reflections. Here are the reflections from this week:

Reflections 2 & 3 are based on my tweets from Dee Hock’s Autobiography. Reflection 4 is a further development of reflection 1. Whether people are, or are not, assets depends on the perspective. The systemic and extrinsic perspectives are explicate. The intrinsic perspective is implicate.3

What was good? What can be improved?
I tweeted this morning that I need a break from my reading and tweeting, so I will go silent for a while. I will focus on my own thinking and writing when the time is right.

Jan Höglund (@janhoglund) 2018-01-07. Tweet.

I will continue with my retrospectives and reflections.

Notes:
1 F. David Peat, Gentle Action: Bringing Creative Change to a Turbulent World (Pari Publishing Sas, 2008), pp.97–99.
2 How Quaker Meetings Take Decisions, (London: Quaker Communications, 2006), p. 1 <link> [7 January 2018].
3 Here, I make a connection between David Bohm’s implicate and explicate orders and Robert S.
Hartman’s intrinsicextrinsic, and systemic value dimensions. See David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010, first published 1987), pp. xiii,148, 168–177, 181, 188, 282. See also Robert S. Hartman, The Structure of Value: Foundations of Scientific Axiology, p.114.

Related posts:
Book Review: The Structure of Value by Robert S. Hartman
Organizing reflection 1
Organizing reflection 2
Organizing reflection 3
Organizing reflection 4
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 4

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. Here is my previous reflection.

What is on my mind?
People ARE assets
This is a further development of my first reflection. I wrote in this reflection that people are NOT assets. Well, people ARE assets — systemically. It all depends on whether you take a systemic, extrinsic, or intrinsic perspective:1

  1. People ARE assets from a systems perspective. Their systemic value are as assets.
  2. People also have extrinsic value as a type of asset. Notice that the extrinsic value of people can be compared with the value of other type of assets, say, relationships BETWEEN people. We can claim, as is done in this reflection, that it’s NOT people, but the relationships BETWEEN people that are our greatest asset.
  3. People, finally, have intrinsic value as human beings. This has far-reaching consequences that I will come back to in future reflections. A corollary is that people are NOT assets — intrinsically.

Notes:
1 Systemic, extrinsic, and intrinsic value are three value dimensions defined by Robert S. Hartman. See, Hartman, The Structure of Value: Foundations of Scientific Axiology, p.114.

Related posts:
Book Review: The Structure of Value by Robert S. Hartman
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 3

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. Here is my previous reflection. Here is my next reflection.

What is on my mind?
Money is NOT value
I am tweeting quotes from Dee Hock’s Autobiography of a Restless Mind Volume 1, and get interesting replies. Dee Hock writes that money is not value.1 Gunther Sonnenfeld (@goonth) replies that money can be high value depending on its application.

Gunther Sonnenfeld (@goonth) 2018-01-02–03. Tweets.

I think that Dee Hock points to the intrinsic value in community and relationship, while Gunther Sonnenfeld refers to the extrinsic and systemic value of money.2 These perspectives are, of course, interrelated.

All perspectives are, in fact, needed. It’s important to remember, though, that — axiologically — intrinsic value is more valuable than extrinsic value, and extrinsic value more valuable than systemic value.3  So, what I think Dee Hock is saying is that money has no intrinsic value.

Intrinsic value is often forgotten, although it has the highest value.

Notes:
1 Dee Hock, Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition Volume 1 (iUniverse, 2012), p.19.
2 Intrinsic value, extrinsic value, and systemic value are the three value dimensions defined by Robert S. Hartman. See, Hartman, The Structure of Value: Foundations of Scientific Axiology, p.114.
3 Ibid..

Related posts:
Book Review: The Structure of Value by Robert S. Hartman
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 2

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. Here is my previous reflection. Here is my next reflection.

What is on my mind?
Treasure trove of quotes
Dee Hock’s Autobiography of a Restless Mind Volume 1 & 2 are a treasure trove of quotes. I’ve now started to tweet quotes from Volume 1. I get interesting replies.

Dee Hock, Autobiography of a Restless Mind Volume 1 & 2.

Language is inadequate to convey what is in one’s mind
Dee Hock writes that language is inadequate to fully convey what is in one’s mind.1 Stefan Norrvall (@norrvall) replied that this reminds him of Michael Polyani who said we know more than we can tell.2 Polyani stated that not only is there knowledge that cannot be adequately articulated by verbal means, but also that all knowledge is rooted in tacit knowledge.

Jan Höglund (@janhoglund) and Stefan Norrvall (@norrvall) 2018-01-02. Tweets.

Stefan Norrvall’s reply reminds me of Eugene T. Gendlin’s Thinking at the Edge (TAE), which is thinking from what is unclear and only a bodily sense. TAE requires familiarity with focusing. Focusing enables you live from a deeper place than just thoughts and feelings.3

New book arrived today
F. David Peat’s Gentle Action: Bringing Creative Change to a Turbulent World arrived today. Gentle action involves an initial creative suspension of action, with the aim of developing a clearer perception of the situation in hand. Out of this will flow a more appropriate and harmonious action.4 Peat’s gentle action seems related to Gendlin’s living from a deeper place.

F. David Peat, Gentle Action.

Notes:
1 Dee Hock, Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition Volume 1 (iUniverse, 2012), p.19.
2 Michael Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension, (University of Chicago Press, 1996), p.4.
3 Eugene T. Gendlin, Focusing: How to Gain Direct Access to Your Body’s Knowledge (Rider, 2003, first published 1978), p.4.
4 F. David Peat, Gentle Action: Bringing Creative Change to a Turbulent World (Pari Publishing Sas, 2008), pp.16–17.

Related posts:
Book Review: Focusing by Eugene T. Gendlin
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 1

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. Often, I take up, combine, and add to already existing thoughts. Here is my next reflection.

What is on my mind?
People are NOT assets, neither are relationships
Bob Marschall (@flowchainsensei) tweeted this morning that: ”People are NOT our greatest asset. In collaborative knowledge work particularly, it’s the relationships BETWEEN people that are our greatest asset.”

Bob Marschall (@flowchainsensei) 2018-01-02. Tweet.

I totally agree that relationships are important, but I question whether they are assets? An asset is something which is useful or valuable. It’s furthermore often something which is owned. From this perspective, I’d claim that people are NOT assets, neither are relationships.

New books arrived today
Volume one and two of Dee Hock’s Autobiography of a Restless Mind arrived today. These two volumes were written in the decades spanning the turn of the millennium.1 I am really looking forward to reading these two books.

Dee Hock, Autobiography of a Restless Mind, Volume 1 & 2.

Previously, I’ve read Dee Hock’s book One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization. Here are extracts from the book. It’s a post written by my good friend Simon Robinson, which is based on my tweets at the time.

Notes:
1 Dee Hock, Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition Volume 1 (iUniverse, 2012), p.ix.

Related posts:
Dee Hock in his own words
Dee Hock on control
Dee Hock on rules
Agile software development in the 1970s
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 74

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 only of the last week, but also of what has happened during the year.

Introduction
The series on organizing ”between and beyond” started one and a half years ago, and is inspired by David Bohm and F. David Peat’s notion of ”the order between and beyond” in Science, Order, and Creativity.1 Here is my review of Bohm and Peat’s book.

David Bohm & Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity, p. 274–5.

I think that we need to move ”between and beyond” our traditional ways of organizing work. We need a major shift in how we perceive and organize work, and in how we relate to ourselves and othersHere is an overview of all the posts in the series.

Books
This year, I have read 15 429 pages across 61 books according to Goodreads. I have actually read more books. And no, I haven’t read every page in every book.

Source: goodreads.com

Book Reviews
Throughout the year, I have reviewed the following 25 books (the latest first):

  • The Spirit of Leadership by Harrison Owen is an amazing book! Its message is perhaps even more valid today as when it was written 28 years ago? Leadership is not the exclusive property of the few. It is, on the contrary, a collective and constantly redistributed function. The leadership we need is available in all of us.
  • Leadership Agility by Ron Meyer and Ronald Meijers focuses about leadership styles. The focus is on understanding the qualities and pitfalls of each leadership style. I particularly appreciate that the authors avoid formulating leadership scripts or formulas. The ultimate test of leadership agility is to combine leadership and followership—at the same time.
  • Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart Kauffman is a book about emergence. Kauffman attempts to lay out the scientific foundations for agency and value in the biological world. Life itself seems to maximize self-propagating organization of process. It’s a thought-provoking book!
  • The Werkplaats Adventure by Wyatt Rawson is about Kees and Betty Boeke’s pioneer comprehensive school, it’s methods and psychology. It is very interesting to see how the school succeeded in securing order without force, encouraged freedom and spontaneity, and maintained a sense of equivalence among the children and adults. It’s a great book about the values and attitudes that are needed for organizing and peaceful conflict resolution.
  • Mindstorms by Seymour Papert is about how children learn a way of thinking. The book is about children, but Papert’s ideas are relevant to how people learn at any age. He thinks about a world without schools, and discusses settings that are socially cohesive where all are learning.
  • The Power of Eight by Lynne McTaggart is about the power that is unleashed the moment we stop thinking about ourselves and gather with others into a group. It’s as if the individuals in the group become one brain together. There’s something going on here that we don’t understand.
  • Human Dynamics by Sandra Seagal and David Horne is about a framework for understanding people and realizing the potential in our organizations. The framework feels artificial, but talking about how we need to deal with each other is eye-opening.
  • Anam Ċara by John O’Donohue is about the presence, power, and beauty of inner and outer friendship. John O’Donohue takes his inspiration from his Irish heritage. It’s a beautiful book full of wisdom.
  • Walk Through Walls by Marina Abramović with James Kaplan is about Abramović and how she became a performance artist. The wall is pain. At first, the pain is excruciating, then it vanishes. That’s when you’ve walked through the wall and come out on the other side. And sometimes there’s a deep connection on the other side of the wall.
  • Freedom from Command and Control by John Seddon is about a better way to make work work. The better way has a completely different logic to command-and-control, and that, perhaps, is the reason it is difficult to understand. People interpret what they hear from their current frame of reference, so what they hear is not necessarily what is meant.
  • A Feeling for the Organism by Evelyn Fox Keller is about Barbara McClintock (1902–1992) and her science (genetics). Barbara McClintock was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She had a ”feeling for the whole organism.” I find her life and work most fascinating.
  • Waking by Matthew Sanford is about appreciating and believing in our own experience. It is simply a matter of learning to listen to a different level of presence, a form of presence that subtly connects the mind to the body. The challenge is to step more deeply into our lives, to stay open to our own experience — to not deny it, but rather to simply have it.
  • Focusing by Eugene T. Gendlin is a most interesting book. Focusing is an internal act which is useful in approaching any problem or situation. It enables you live from a deeper place than just thoughts and feelings.
  • Survival in the Organization by Benedicte Madsen and Søren Willert is a small book and a quick read. The book is about Gunnar Hjelholt’s life with a focus on his time in a German Concentration Camp during World War II. What strikes Gunnar Hjelholt are the similarities between the concentration camp and organizations in general.
  • A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry is, in a way, a beginner’s guide to philosopy. I like that Ferry tries to place the different philosophical systems in the best possible light, but I’m somewhat surprised that Luc Ferry describes philosophy as a road to ‘salvation’. Personally, I think loving wisdom – trying to live wisely – is a perfectly valid aim in itself. There’s much in Luc Ferry’s book which I question, but not necessarily disagree with.
  • Artful Leadership by Michael Jones is a wonderful book! Jones brings a unique and most profound sensibility to the art of leading in the now. It’s about becoming present to the ever-present organic flow of learning and change. We are all leaders and followers at the same time.
  • The Future of Humanity by Jiddu Krishnamurti and David Bohm is a small book and a quick read. The book leaves me with mixed feelings. Krishnamurti is very assertive and rather evasive. I definitely lost confidence in him.
  • The Art of Leading Collectively by Petra Kuenkel is about the art of collaborating for a sustainable future.  I particularly like that Kuenkel not only discusses collaboration in terms of tools and structures, but also emphasizes the importance of creating ”life” and aligning action with deeper human values. Collaboration ultimately rests on our humanness. We know deep inside how collective leadership works.
  • Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order by Lloyd Lee Wilson address facets of (Conservative) Quaker faith and practice. Wilson shares many profound insights, but I think that he is too conservative. I believe that all human beings have the ability to discern good order, and that any group can search for unity (regardless of religious beliefs) provided there is trust.
  • The Structure of Value is Robert S. Hartman’s seminal work on Formal Axiology. It was interesting to see how Hartman constructs the foundations of his value science. He obviously knows philosophy, science, and mathematics very well! The book is well-structured and clearly written, but is also very demanding to read!
  • A Key to Whitehead’s Process and Reality by Donald W. Sherburne is a great guide to Whitehead’s philosophy. I realized how influenced I am by David Bohm, who also thought about mind and matter, creativity and order. I think that Bohm went beyond Whitehead’s process philosophy. Order arises from process, but process arises from a deeper order. Active information, rather than process, is constitutive of the world.
  • A Quaker Approach to the Conduct of Research by Gray Cox with Charles Blanchard, Geoff Garver, Keith Helmuth, Leonard Joy, Judy Lumb, and Sara Wolcott has grown out of a decade of experiments employing Quaker processes of communal discernment in research. The book itself is the product of collaborative work. I think that communal discernment is an example of a deeper generative order for organizing.
  • How Does Societal Transformation Happen? by Leonard Joy is a great but small book (87 pages). I think that the individual and societal transformation which Joy writes about is as applicable to organizational transformation.
  • If Aristotle Ran General Motors by Tom Morris is about what Aristotle would have done to create excellence and success in the business world. The book is full of wisdom. It’s an irony that the part of the book on truth is not entirely truthful. With the benefit of hindsight, recognized ”masters at company renovation” aren’t necessarily ”masters” after all. There’s so much hype out there.
  • Pathways to Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander is about two broad approaches to life: the downward spiral and radiating possibility. Resonance is created when there is an attunement between the outside and the inside of us. It’s so easy to put all attention on the outside, and leave out completely the inside.

Next year, I would like to review the following books (which I have read):

Posts
Additional posts that I have published this year are:

To my surprise I have started to write poems. Please, be kind. This is new to me. And English isn’t my native language. Next year, my intention is to spend more time on my own writing. I need to let what I want to say unfold word by word, post by post.

Reflections
There are many thoughts and ideas that I have taken up, combined, and added to during the year. The list below is long and unsorted, but I wanted to gather the reflections in one place (sources are in parentheses):

  • The wisdom of the heart is of a wholly different order than the intellectual insight we synthesize through deliberate rational thought. (Marcel Proust)
  • When we disconnect from a sense of inner — implicate — guidance, we are forced to rely on external — explicate — constructs. (Kelly Brogan)
  • Resonance is created when there is an attunement between the outside — explicate — and the inside — implicate — of us. (Rosamund Stone Zander)
  • Asking for help creates deep resonance within an organization which enables it to act swiftly and decisively. (Rosamund Stone Zander)
  • Holding space requires a readiness to be changed personally, to learn, and to be surprised. (Peter Pula)
  • Most focus on technical aspects, not human aspects — and values. (Bob Emiliani)
  • Perceiving livingness requires mobile thinking perception. Thinking in a living way is required whenever we are dealing with human situations. (Charles Tolman)
  • The inquiry into a deeper generative order for organizing, an organizing beyond, requires that we enter into the territory beyond the explicate order. (Rosamund Stone Zander)
  • Too many are too focused on — explicate — process and tools to notice the — implicate — foundational principles. (Bob Emiliani)
  • The inquiry into generative orders for organizing need to be generative itself.
  • There is something deeply generative in slowing down, inviting moments of silence.
  • Play is authentic order. (David Mezick)
  • Dialogue is fundamental for discernment of collective wisdom. (Leonard Joy)
  • Dialogue provokes reflection, and reflection supports individual development. (Leonard Joy)
  • The lived values of individuals promote societal change. (Leonard Joy)
  • Organizational development is dependent upon individual value development.
  • Skills won’t help if the individual doesn’t embrace the necessary values, and if the organization doesn’t support them.
  • Our values in-forms our organizing.
  • Value-intelligence is an example of a deeper generative order for organizing that is present in anything that’s alive. (Skye Hirst)
  • Organizating principles of healthy living systems: autopoiesis (self-creation), autognosis (self-knowledge), autonomics (self-regulation). (Elisabet Sahtouris)
  • The balance between any holon’s autonomy and holonomy must be worked out as mutual consistency if the holon is to survive as part of a holarchy. (Elisabet Sahtouris)
  • Organizing perspectives (Henri Bortoft, David Bohm, Norm Hirst)
Organizing Perspectives
Authentic
Belonging together
Counterfeit
Belonging together
Implicate
Enfolded
Explicate
Unfolded
Autonomic
Internal values
Allonomic
External rules
  • Mechanism vs. Organism. (Elisabet Sahtouris)2
Mechanism Organism
Allopoietic Autopoietic
Inventor created Self-created
Hierarchic structure Holarchic embeddedness
Top-down command Holarchic dialog/negotiation
System engineered System negotiated
Repaired by engineers/experts Repairs itself
Evolution by external redesign Evolution by internal redesign
Exists for product or profit Exists for health and survival
Serves owners’ self interest Serves self/society/ecosystem
  • A living process requires energy (a sense of purpose), inflow (a sense of direction), inner life (a sense of coherence and wholeness), outflow (harvesting, discernment), and feedback (learning) to stay alive.3
  • Order arises from process, but process arises from a deeper order. Active information, rather than process, is constitutive of the world. (David Bohm)
  • Life itself has a complex and subtle order of infinite complexity and subtlety. (David Bohm)
  • Life’s various suborders are all arranged, connected, and organized together, clearly inseparable from the greater whole. (David Bohm)
  • Intuition is a deeper generative order. If your intuition is misinformed, then your entire synthetic construction will become misconstrued.
  • Life-itself is neither a construction nor an abstraction. Life-itself is direct and immediate.
  • The essence of life-itself only can be penetrated by direct and immediate intuition.
  • Disvalue posing as value a perversion of value. An example is learning children to value not valuing themselves. (Robert Hartman)
  • Deeper generative orders for organizing need to be grounded in intrinsic values.
  • Enlightened organizing is based on openness (relational), light structures (multiple and variable), and presence (nowness, sensing, being). (Dian Marie Hosking)
  • Living beings are resistormers – conformers, yet resistors. (Floyd Merell)4
Resistormity
Conformity Middle Way Resistance
Iteration (Linear) Recursivity (Nonlinear)
Many is of utmost importance Singularity, Oneness, uniqueness, is of increasing importance
Predictability, of the collectivity Uncertainty, of the unique individual
Conventional knowing Unknowing knowing
Knowing upfront is prioritized Knowing through retrospection is usually of greatest value
A ‘Black Swan’ is a shocking and unwanted surprise, hence initially resisted A ‘Black Swan’ is expected, and readily accommodated
‘Grue’ remains virtually unintelligible ‘Grue’ can be made intelligible  (through the ‘middle way’)
  • Soul is the primary organizing, sustaining, and guiding principle of living beings. (Bill Plotkin)
  • Our own feeling and our own thought, which comes from being at home with the place of undivided wholeness within ourselves. (Michael Jones)
  • Generative organizing is going beyond — explicate— techniques into the — implicate — depths of being human. (Michael Jones)
  • Organismic valuing is based on authenticity, autonomy, internal locus of evaluation, unconditional positive regard, process living, relatedness, and openness to inner and outer experience. (Carl Rogers)
  • The collision of values (intrinsic, extrinsic, systemic) goes very deep.
  • Reason alone will not save us and the world. We need to bring our focus ‘upstream’ to where reason and heart may work in common.
  • Emergent organizing is based on knowledge (freely shared), trust (transparency, authenticity), credibility (active questioning), and value-creation (collaboration, cooperation). (Jon Husband)5
  • Experiencing is directly related to deeper generative organizing. (Eugene Gendlin)
  • The next step follows (continues, carries forward, makes sense) from what preceded it. (Eugene Gendlin)
  • Our next step of thought comes from our experiencing. (Eugene Gendlin)
  • There is order in all life. (David Bohm)
  • There is responsive order, which always gives more exact results than could have been constructed or deduced, in nature. (Eugene Gendlin)
  • Experiencing is a non-numerical and precise order which is not limited to any set of patterns. (Eugene Gendlin)
  • The content of experience is generated by experiencing itself. (Eugene Gendlin)
  • We can think everything more truly if we think it with attention to how we think. (Eugene Gendlin)
  • Experiencing is a generative source of felt meaning which unfolds into action, which has further meaning. (David Bohm, Eugene Gendlin)
  • Experiencing is always richer than what can be expressed in language. (Eugene Gendlin)
  • Experiencing is enfolded deep within the generative order.  (David Bohm, Eugene Gendlin)
  • All action, including inaction, takes place immediately according to the meaning of the total situation at the moment. (David Bohm)
  • The challenge is to step more deeply into our lives, to stay open to our own experience — to not deny it, but rather to simply have it. (Matthew Sanford)
  • The closer the focus, the greater the attention, the more we can learn about the general principles by which a living organism as a whole is organized. (Barbara McClintock)
  • The greater the attention to the unique characteristics of a single organization, the more we can learn about the generative order for organizing.
  • Nature is a dynamic process where information and meaning play a key dynamic role. (David Bohm)
  • Tasks which requires understanding lie — in principle — beyond the capabilities of automation. (Roger Penrose)
  • Organizational structures need to grow out of something deeper, out of generally held values. (Václav Havel)
  • A deeper generative order for organizing is related to deeper generally held values.
  • Life, in its essence, moves toward plurality, diversity, independent self-constitution, and self organization, in short, toward the fulfillment of its own freedom. (Václav Havel)
  • Organizational structures need to arise naturally from below as a consequence of authentic social self-organization. (Václav Havel)
  • Organizational structures need to derive their vital energy from a living dialogue with the genuine needs from which they arise. (Václav Havel)
  • A deeper generative order for organizing derives its vital energy from a living dialogue with genuine needs.
  • Do not give your power away to systems and people who are totally unworthy of it. Sometimes we allow people to exercise destructive power over us simply because we never question them. (John O’Donohue)
  • We have four ways to respond when faced with a situation we find problematic: collaborating, forcing, adapting, or exiting. (Adam Kahane)
  • Collaboration cannot and need not be controlled. (Adam Kahane)
  • Collaboration cycles generatively between engaging and asserting. The key is being able to work with both. (Adam Kahane)
  • Love (engaging) is what makes power generative. Power (asserting) is what makes love generative. (Adam Kahane)
  • More democratic variation is needed that flow from exploratory openness. (Richard Youngs)
  • Deeper generative orders for organizing are creative and generative, in other words, feminine.
  • Mother structures are generative orders. (Bourbaki)6
  • Fluid structure arises spontaneously in a community based on no fear, friendliness, and support. (Kees & Betty Boeke)
  • Minimal structure is order without the use of force.

Conclusions
I have come to believe that our organizations work despite the structures we impose on them. There’s a gap between how organizations are said to function and how they actually do function. There’s so much meaning-less structure (I mean this literally). And there’s so much misinformation out there – some of it is unconscious, some of it is conscious. We are all susceptible to the hype. Here are some takeaways:

  • Assumptions are context dependent. This is related to unconscious misinformation. Something which is valid in one context is not necessarily valid in another. An example is that we treat living systems as machines. We acknowledge that people aren’t machines, but we still treat people as cogs in the machine. Mechanical thinking is EVERYWHERE and shows up in our use of metaphors. Here is an example.
  • Always go to the source. And I mean ALWAYS. This is related to conscious misinformation. An example is quotes which are incorrect and thus misleading. Here is an example.
  • We all have our blind spots. My search for better ways of working has become as much an inner as an outer journey. I didn’t expect this five years ago, but it makes sense today. In order to see the big picture, connecting the dots, we need to see clearly.
  • We have to jump into the water to learn to swim. To read about something is one thing, to experience it is another. I was reminded of this earlier this year, when I participated in a Quaker decision-making meeting. The ‘dance’ I observed in the search for unity cannot be fully described in words.

One idea worth exploring is how structure is related to meaning, and vice versa. Structure is ‘explicate,’ while meaning is ‘implicate.’ Meaning generates ‘authentic’ structure. Structure without meaning is ‘counterfeit.’

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 a crucial part of being human: the feminine aspect.

What was good? What can be improved?
It feels really satisfying to see how my love of reading and learning flows into this work. Reflecting on the work itself, I can see three interwoven strands:

  1. The first strand is an inquiry into existing organizing orders. It’s about how we perceive and organize work. See, for example, these posts on organizing  ”between and beyond.”
  2. The second strand is an inquiry into the overall paradigmatic framework. This is about how we perceive the world in general. See, for example, these posts on philosophy and these on phenomenology.
  3. The third strand is an inquiry into life-itself and its organizing principles. See, for example, these posts on autognomics.

Simon Robinson asked here earlier this year if I can begin to write a little about how I’m structuring my thoughts. I think that the structuring is something that happens over time. It grows over time. First, the thoughts are born. Then, the thoughts need to be repeated over and over again until some kind of structure emerges. I consider laying out all the organizing frameworks, approaches, and conceptions that I have identified so far on the floor, and then start walking around to see what structures emerge. The point is that I want to activate my full embodied thinking.

Skye Hirst has become a close friend during the year. Skye is one of the founders of The Autognomics Institue (TAI). TAI has spent decades researching the fundamental organizing principles of Life Itself. It was Skye Hirst who introduced the notion of autognomics, which means self-knowing. Skye has over and over again cracked me open with her questions and suggestions. I am looking forward to our continued conversations together next year.

I need other people’s thoughts to develop my own thinking. And I need other people’s mirroring to see myself. It’s so difficult to see what you don’t see!

Notes:
1 David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010, first published 1987), pp. 275–314.
2 Elisabet Sahtouris, EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution, p.370.
3 This is an adaption of an idea from Lasse Ramquist and Mats Eriksson. See Ramquist & Eriksson, Manöverbarhet: VU-processen—en ledningsmodell för strategisk fokusering, medarbetarengagemang och konkurrens på livets villkor (Ekerlids Förlag, 2000).
4 Floyd Merrell, Becoming Culture (CreateSpace, 2012), p.159.
5 Jon Husband et al., Wirearchy: Sketches for the Future of Work, pp.5–6.
6 The Bourbaki school of mathematics sees more complex structures as combinations of simpler ones, of which the most important are three mother structures.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 73

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 started reading Beyond Being by Brice R. Wachterhauser this week. It’s a book about Gadamer’s philosophy. Conversation or dialogue (Gesprächt) was a key term for Gadamer. He viewed the whole of Western philosophy as a living conversation. It will be interesting to see where this book leads.

Wachterhauser, Beyond Being.

The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by John D. Barrow & Frank J. Tipler arrived this week. I have started reading this book too. It’s well-written, but the authors use ideas in information and computer theory to define life.1 This is a mistake! Living systems stand in sharp contrast to computer systems whose coupling with the environment are specified through input/output relations. Living systems are autonomous and determine the meaning of their interactions themselves.2 They are not information-processing devices.

Barrow & Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.

I’m re-reading David Bohm and F. David Peat’s book Science, Order, and Creativity again. This is the book which inspired me to start this series of posts. Here is my review from last year. I’ve noticed new things in the book. There’s, for example, an essential need for the loosening of rigidly held intellectual content in the tacit infrastructure of consciousness, while also melting the hardness of the heart on the side of feeling.3 For me, the loosening of thought has to do with a willingness to question my own assumptions and the limits within which they are valid, while the melting of the emotional side has to do with getting in touch with my felt sense and raw aliveness.

What was good? What can be improved?
Skye Hirst (@autognomics) and I have an ongoing conversation about living dynamics and life-itself. We had our 79th conversation this week. Thank you Skye! I’m looking forward to our continued conversations and working together next year.

Notes:
1 John D. Barrow & Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 14, 511–23.
2 Fransico J. Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch, The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (MIT Press, 1993), pp. 157.
3 David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010, first published 1987), p. 274.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 72

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 The Tree of Knowledge by Huberto R. Maturana and Francisco J. Varela. It’s a book on knowing how we know. When we examine how we get to know this world, we find that we cannot separate our history of actions from how the world appears to us.1 Knowing is the action of the knower, rooted in his/her living being.2

H. R. Maturana & F. J. Varela, The Tree of Knowledge.

Organization signifies those relations that must be present for something to exist. Maturana and Varela call the organization that defines living beings an autopoietic organization.3 Living beings are alike in their organization, but they differ in their structure.4

One of the most evident features of living beings is their autonomy. A system is autonomous if it can specify its own laws, what is proper to it.5 The being and doing of living beings are inseparable, and this is their specific mode of organization.6 Adding anything to a structural dynamics is quite different from changing its organization.7

All behavior is an outside view of the dance of internal relations of the living being.8 To live is to know (living is effective action in existence as a living being).9 Organisms, and societies, belong to one class of metasystems, which consist of aggregates of autonomous unities. Organisms require operational stability of their autonomous unities, while social systems require operational (behavioral) plasticity.10 Reflection leads you to know your own knowledge.11

The Tree of Knowledge is an interesting book. My only reservation is that artificial systems have been found that are autopoietic but not living. This means that autopoietic organization is necessary, but not sufficient, for living beings.12 How does this affect Maturana and Varela’s conception of mind, matter, and life?

P. J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness, and D. Whyte, The Heart Aroused.

This, week I’ve also read David Whyte’s The Heart Aroused and Parker J. Palmer’s A Hidden Wholeness. These are two beautiful books about ways of working and living that are more resonant with life itself. Here is a review of David Whyte’s book which I wrote two years ago. I will review Parker J. Palmer’s book in the coming weeks.

WGBHForum, Krista Tippett and David Whyte on Becoming Wise, YouTube.

Finally, here is a video with Krista Tippett and David Whyte on Becoming Wise. Krista Tippett says, among other things, that:

  • Beauty is that in the presence of which we feel more alive.”13
  • Wisdom emerges through the raw materials of our lives.”14
  • We actually get at what is universal as we more clearly and honestly articulate what is particular, what we know close up.”15

What was good? What can be improved?
Krista Tippet’s reflections on her writing of Becoming Wise are highly relevant to my own writing of this series of posts. I need to find and give expression to my own personal voice.

Notes:
1 Humberto R. Maturana and Francisco J. Varela, The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding (Shambala, Revised Edition 1998), p.23.
2 Ibid., p.34.
3 Ibid., p.42.
4 Ibid., p.47.
5 Ibid., p.48.
6 Ibid., p.49.
7 Ibid., p.58.
8 Ibid., p.166.
9 Ibid., p.174.
10 Ibid., p.198.
11 Ibid., p.249.
12 Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi, The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision (Cambridge, 4th printing 2015), p.138.
13 WGBHForum, Krista Tippett and David Whyte on Becoming Wise (Apr 17, 2017), Retrieved Dec 17, 2017, from https://youtu.be/Nup6deehcck?t=230.
14 WGBHForum, Krista Tippett and David Whyte on Becoming Wise (Apr 17, 2017), Retrieved Dec 17, 2017, from https://youtu.be/Nup6deehcck?t=418.
15 WGBHForum, Krista Tippett and David Whyte on Becoming Wise (Apr 17, 2017), Retrieved Dec 17, 2017, from https://youtu.be/Nup6deehcck?t=687.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

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. Here is my next 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. Here is my next 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.

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.