Författararkiv: Jan

Organizing reflection 25

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?
It’s not ok to sell, to buy—or to rent—human beings.

Today’s reflection is based on David Ellerman‘s arguments against the rental of human beings at the Abolish Human Rentals website. (The contents of the website are also available as an ebook., which is compiled by Daniel Trusca.) This site examines the standard employment relationship, the human rental, and seeks to promote an understanding of the problems associated with it. The abolition of human rentals is a profound idea, which has revolutionary implications. David Ellerman writes (my emphasis in bold):

Inalienable rights are based on the already broadly held principle of the non-transferability of responsibility for one’s actions. That principle, taken to its logical conclusion, means the rental of humans have no more legitimacy than their sale. The issue is not one of coercion, willfully choosing to be rented, or the treatment and compensation of workers. Humans cannot choose to be rented for the same reason people cannot choose to sell themselves into slavery or sell their vote, regardless of their consent or how much they are paid.

The alternative to human rentals is universal self employment in democratically managed worker owned businesses, or worker cooperatives. Workplace democracy eliminates the alienation of decision making power, and worker ownership means workers appropriate any resulting profits or losses, thus bearing financial responsibility for their actions.

Human rentals involves two key features.

The first aspect is the agreement to follow orders within terms of the rental. … The rented person must obey, or risk being fired.

The second aspect of a human rental is the transfer of responsibility for the actions of the person while at work. The most obvious is the transfer of responsibility for any profit or loss that results from the worker’s actions.

Since the abolition of slavery, humans ownership has been banned. People are no longer allowed to sell their labor by the lifetime. Instead they must rent themselves temporarily for a salary or wage.

The inalienability of personal responsibility is the foundation of the abolitionist argument from which all else follows. … The legal system clearly recognized this principle in the prosecution of crimes. All participants in a crime are held responsible. The law does not excuse a hired criminal because they were following orders.

The inalienability of responsibility for ones actions does not disappear when a crime is not being committed. It holds in all cases where human action is involved. In particular it applies to productive labor. However, the legal system pretends otherwise… It allows financial responsibility for profits or losses resulting from labor to be contractually transferred violating a principle it readily acknowledges in the commission of a crime.

Isolated individuals can rarely overcome a system, organization is necessary. The employment system has demonstrated a remarkable robustness in insuring human rentals remain the dominant form of labor exchange.

Progressive change is inherently a bottom up activity. It involves people getting together to discuss common problems, coming to mutual decisions, and taking action. It requires building trust and relationships, both time consuming activities. …

It is not rugged individualism which solves problems, but cooperation between people which provides the solution. …

Parallel approaches are essential, because they cater to the different assessments and abilities of individual participants. Organizing efforts can and should take place simultaneously on different fronts.

The point is that the best solution is not known. There are promising directions in the current environment, but circumstances change. History can only provide so much of a guide. Creativity and experimentation in the organizing process is a necessity.

In the end education and awareness are necessary but not sufficient, structural change is also needed. The structure of work and the employment system must be fundamentally changed.

There are many steps that can be taken to abolish human rentals. By analogy one can think of appropriate actions if we were seeking to abolish slavery.

Advocacy on this issue carries significant risk and the need for mutual support is essential. Efforts to provide support and build a viable alternative should not be neglected.

Worker Cooperatives are democratically run, worker-owned businesses. They are the alternative to the … alienating employment system, involving collaborative self-employment by groups of individuals.

While technically trivial to implement, the transaction is simple it is unlikely to happen. The primary reason this won’t spontaneously take place is that equity holders are unlikely to be willing sellers at the net asset value. It would be the equivalent of slave owners spontaneously deciding to free their slaves.1

Generative organizing involves people getting together to discuss common problems, coming to mutual decisions, and taking action. It requires building trust and relationships. Creativity and experimentation are necessary.

Notes:
1 David Ellerman, Abolish Human Rentals | Support Worker Cooperatives (accessed 2018-08-18).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 24

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?
I am currently reading Managing as a Performing Art by Peter B. Vaill. Peter writes that he has found the following statement by Chester Barnard to be ”worthy of continual rereading and reflection”.1 He goes so far as to say that ”there is no statement in the entire leadership and management literature that more neatly captures” what he is interested in.2 Chester Barnard writes (my emphasis in bold):

The executive functions … have no separate concrete existence. They are parts or aspects of a process of organization as a whole. …

The means utilized are to a considerable extent concrete acts logically determined; but the essential aspect of the process is the sensing of the organization as a whole and the total situation relevant to it. It transcends the capacity of merely intellectual methods, and the techniques of discriminating the factors of the situation. …

It is a matter of art rather than science, and is aesthetic rather than logical, For this reason it is recognized rather than described and is known by its effects rather than by analysis.3

In the eighty years since Chester Barnard wrote these lines, not much has happened to alter his conclusion: we know it when we see it. It is a felt experience.

The essential aspect of generative organizing is the sensing of the whole organization and the total situation. It’s a felt experiencing which transcends logical analysis.

Notes:
1 Peter B. Vaill, Managing as a Performing Art (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1991, First published 1989), p.99.
2 Ibid., p.100.
3 Chester Barnard, The Functions of the Executive (Harvard University Press, 1938), p.235

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 23

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?
Today’s reflection is inspired by Rachel Naomi Remen. Rachel writes about wholeness in her book Kitchen Table Wisdom (my emphasis in bold):

Often in times of crisis when we reach for what we have considered our strength we stumble on our wholeness and our real power. How we were before we fixed ourselves to win approval. What has been fixed is always less strong than what is whole.1

Everyone’s wholeness is unique… Our wholeness will look different… Our wholeness fits us better… Our wholeness is much more attainable for us… We usually look outside of ourselves for heroes and teachers. It has not occurred to most people that they may already be the role model they seek. The wholeness they are looking for may be trapped within themselves by beliefs, attitudes, and self-doubt. But our wholeness exists in us now. Trapped though it may be, it can be called upon for guidance, direction, and … comfort. It can be remembered. Eventually we may come to live by it.2

… most often the experience of wholeness happens in very ordinary times and ways. It is common to not even notice.3

Actually, we are all more than we know. Wholeness is never lost, it is only forgotten. Integrity rarely means that we need to add something to ourselves: it is more an undoing than a doing, a freeing ourselves from beliefs we have about who we are and ways we have been persuaded to ”fix” ourselves to know who we genuinely are.4

Often in reclaiming the freedom to be who we are, we remember some basic human quality, an unsuspected capacity for love or compassion or some other part of our common birthright as human beings.5

Generative organizing calls upon wholeness for guidance and direction. It’s more an undoing than a doing, which we often stumble upon in times of crisis. When we reclaim who we are, we also remember our basic human qualities. We already are the role models we seek. Wholeness is never lost, only forgotten.

Notes:
1 Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal (Riverhead Books, 1997, first published 1996), p.105.
2 Ibid., p.106.
3 Ibid..
4 Ibid., p.108.
4 Ibid., p.109.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 22

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?
Today’s reflection is inspired by this article by Esko Kilpi (@EskoKilpi).

Esko Kilpi writes:

… the only way to guarantee agility and resilience is to actively and widely participate in the conversations that matter in an enriching way.

Richer connections and more challenging, more exploratory conversations leave people feeling more alive, more inspired and capable of far more.1

Generative organizing is to actively participate in exploratory conversations that matter. This leaves people feeling enriched, inspired, and alive.

Notes:
1 Esko Kilpi, I am not I | Medium, 2018-08-13 (accessed 2018-08-15).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 21

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?
Today’s reflection is inspired by this and this post by Michelle Holliday (@thrivability).

Michelle writes (my emphasis in bold):

It usually takes more than action to generate and support change. …

We need to reconnect with what matters. We need to rediscover our place in the whole of life. …

Ultimately, what we need is to find the collective will to cultivate life’s ability to thrive … in every sphere of society. …

The outgoing worldview has been dominated by persuasion and even coercion, “driving” and “incentivizing” change.

Cultivating thrivability is not a discrete item on your to-do list; it’s an ongoing life practice…

Everything comes down to our ability to acknowledge and celebrate the precious gift of aliveness, source of our kinship with all existence.

It is through a sense of place … that we connect with the generative dimension of life most directly.1

Michelle also writes (my emphasis in bold):

Beyond specific techniques or the latest management fads, then, thrivability calls for a conscious commitment to nurturing life. It asks us to recognize the life in our organization—acknowledging that the organization isn’t something we can fully manage and control, but that our role is as stewards and participants, creating fertile conditions for life to flow and thrive across the fullness of the organizational ecosystem and beyond. —

For individual organizations, the lesson seems to be: get on in whatever way you can… Keep moving forward. … Adjust your speed and direction until you find the flow. And you will find it.2

Generative organizing calls for a conscious commitment to creating fertile conditions for life to flow and thrive accross our organizational ecosystems and beyond. It’s about reconnecting with what really matters, acknowledging the precious gift of life itself. It’s about finding and staying in the flow.

Notes:
1 Michelle Holliday, Beyond Best Practices—How to Listen for Generative Threads of Aliveness in Stories of What Works | Medium, 2018-08-13 (accessed 2018-08-14).
2 Michelle Holliday, Lessons from Amsterdam | Medium, 2018-08-14 [first published 2013-10-31] (accessed 2018-08-14).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 20

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?
Today’s reflection is a continuation of this and this reflection.

The discussion about Open Space Organizations continues in the World wide Open Space Technology email list (OSList). I find it most interesting.

Harrison Owen wrote August 11, 2018 (my emphasis in bold):

I think we save lots of time and energy when we are sensitive to what is already present and try to enhance or enable it… as opposed to starting from scratch. … Certainly they [clients] might have formal meetings, issue memos, emails etc – but in the “crunch time” (American for serious talk) they would “huddle up.” Which is just another word for forming a circle. Really effective organizations (High Performing Systems) simply bypass the formal stuff and get right to the circle. We can help them do that.1

Generative organizing bypass “formal stuff” and happens in the “crunch time” when people “huddle up.”

Notes:
1 This is from Harrison Owen’s mail 2018-08-11 21:27 UTC to the World wide Open Space Technology email list (OSList).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 106

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 posted the following reflections on generative organizing:

  • MondayGenerative organizing requires witnessing, experiencing, and feeling. We need to move ‘up‘ into our hearts (‘up‘ because intrinsic value has ‘higher‘ value than systemic value).
    Inspiration: A conversation with Skye Hirst (@autognomics).
  • Tuesday — The paradox of authentic organizing, is that you have to take off the systemic order and then put it back, such that the systemic order is a reflection of the organization’s intrinsic order.
    Inspiration: A combination of input from Joseph Campbell (a mythodological story), Robert S. Hartman (intrinsic/systemic values),and David Bohm (notion of order).
  • WednesdayGenerative organizing requires open space. It ceases as soon as the space closes.
    Inspiration: A mail from Harrison Owen to the OSList.
  • ThursdayGenerative organizing looks for the presence of life/well-being/beauty, rather than superficial bureaucratized order. This requires a willingness to observe and feel.
    Inspiration: This post by Petra Kuenkel‘s (@PetraKuenkel) on co-creation, collaborative spaces, and aliveness. Petra and I are both inspired by Christopher Alexander. Here is, by the way, my review of Christopher Alexander’s book The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth
  • FridayGenerative organizing is appropriate for riding waves of uncertainty. It relies on collective decision-making, abductive logic, and human judgment. Generative organizing is impossible if constraints are fixed.
    Inspiration: Cynefin and Dave Snowden’s insights to leading and managing organizations.
  • SaturdayGenerative organizing is about uncovering what is already happening in and around us, creating conditions that enable it. It requires listening for the potential which is trying to actualize itself. It means listening to life from the place in us that is whole and connected to the wholeness around us.
    Inspiration: Thoughts and ideas from Harrison Owen and Rachel Naomi Remen. Both speak about who and what we already are.

I am currently reading Rachel Naomi Remen’s two books—Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings. I will review both books.

  

This week, I also finished reading Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics, and started reading Peter B. Vaill’s Managing as a Performing Art: New Ideas for a World of Chaotic Change. I will review Michael Pollan’s book later.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’m very pleased with my daily reflections.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 19

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?
In today’s reflection, I combine thoughts and ideas from Harrison Owen and Rachel Naomi Remen. Rachel’s two books—Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings—are about opening space in our lives. I’m currently reading both of Rachel’s books.

This is also a continuation of this reflection. There’s an ongoing discussion about Open Space Organizations in the World wide Open Space Technology email list (OSList) which I find interesting.

Harrison Owen wrote August 10, 2018 (my emphasis in bold):

By my reckoning – All organizations are (already) Open Space organizations… they are just doing it very badly. Premise is that self organization has been the operative force with ALL systems for roughly 13.7 billion years. … And to play an old song: Open Space is not a method, technique, procedure – it is simply a remembrance of who and what we really are.1

Rachel Naomi Remen speaks to who and what we already are (my emphasis in bold):

The power to repair the world is already in you.2

Often … we may have ideas about life that keep us from experiencing what we already have.3

In befriending life, we do not make things happen according to our own design. We uncover something that is already happening in us and around us and create conditions that enable it.4

Everything is moving toward its place of wholeness. Befriending life requires that we listen for that potential which is trying to actualize itself over time.5

It is not about mastering life, controlling it or exerting our will over it, no matter how well intentioned our will may be.6

It means listening to life from the place in us that is connected to the wholeness around us. The place in us that is also whole.7

Generative organizing is about uncovering what is already happening in and around us, creating conditions that enable it. It requires listening for the potential which is trying to actualize itself. It means listening to life from the place in us that is whole and connected to the wholeness around us.

Notes:
1 This is from Harrison Owen’s mail 2018-08-10 20:38 UTC to the World wide Open Space Technology email list (OSList).
2 Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging (Riverhead Books, 2001, Kindle Edition), Loc 323.
3 Ibid., Loc 349.
4 Ibid., Loc 2759.
5 Ibid., Loc 2760.
6 Ibid., Loc 2763.
7 Ibid., Loc 2765.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 18

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?
In today’s reflection I’m looking into the Cynefin complexity framework. Here is an interview where Dave Snowden, the creator of Cynefin, shares the philosophy underpinning his work. He talks about how people can apply his insights to leading and managing organizations.

Dave Snowden says among other things that (my emphasis in bold):1

We should manage the evolutionary potential of the present, rather than aiming for some idealized future state.

If you have a highly constrained environment, you can manage it through rules and objectives, because you’ve got predictability. … In a complex system, you have to manage in a different way. …

The great liberation of complexity science is that it gives you a base in science to say you’ve got a non-causal system. The minute you realize that systems can be non-causal, everything becomes simpleIf you believe causality is a necessary condition, life becomes very, very, complicated.

There’s a basic difference between … an enabling constraint and a governing constraint. A governing constraint is context freeand an enabling constraint is context sensitive. … A governing constraint is a container. … Within this boundary you can do whatever you want. A fixed constraint says, this is the way you do it. No variation is permissible.

Excessive constraints actually produces deviant behavior. … Human beings will accept constraint. … One of the great things about humans is that we actually have constraints … like laws, and also things like acceptable forms of behavior, and rituals. … We like order. We are really good at it. There’s nothing wrong with it.

But there is a big difference in Cynefin between order which is self-evident, which everybody buys into, and order which could only be understood by experts. Obvious vs. complicated, best practice vs. good practice, fixed constraints vs. governing constraints.

Cynefin is a typology, not a taxonomy. Taxonomy puts things into rigid chategories. Typology says this is different perspectives, different ways of looking at it. Actually, cynefin is a mixture of both. … The primary division of ordinary, complex and chaotic is a taxonomy. … Within that there are different gradations and that’s typology.

The difference between the obvious and the complicated is basically a gradient, it’s not a rigid boundary. … The point is that there are right answers. … The boundary between obvious and chaotic is a catastrophic cliff … If you become complacent you restrain a system which shouldn’t be constrained because it will break catastrophically. …

Complex to complicated is when you stop doing your multiple safe-to-fail experiments. … You’ve come out of the mist, you know roughtly what to do, but you’ve not settled yet. … You kind of know where you’re going, then it becomes complicated.

The liminal domain to chaos is drawn as a closed space. It’s open on the other one, because that’s where you dip into chaos for innovation. Or, you dip into chaos for mass sensing. No agent is connected with anyother agent. … The issue is, if you enter into chaos accidently, it leads to disaster. If you enter into it deliberately, … it’s a good thing to do. …

If people are arguing about the details, that’s liminality. … We know this is probably right, but we don’t know how to do it yet. That’s liminal. … Liminality is a good concept, because it’s a state of transition. And the longer you hold it in a liminal state, the more reliable is what comes out of it. … You’ve got a tradeoff between speed and reliability.

You move technically from deductive to abductive logic. … Deductive, if A then B. Inductive, all the cases of A have B, therefore the likely association. Abductive is a logic of hunches, plausable connections between apparently unconnected things. …

Human beings have evolved to think abductively. … Human beings have evolved to make decisions collectively, not individually. … That’s our strength, we can cooperate. … If you can increase the number of people in the collective decision-cycle, you can make it more objective.

One of the dangers we got with the engineering approaches which came in the 80s is people try to get rid of human judgment. … One of the big things over the next two decades is human judgment. … Artificial intelligence … is the second existential threat to humanity after nuclear war. … Part of the problem is that we’re reducing human beings to following rigid processes

Vector measures says am I going in the right direction, at the right speed, for the right effort. It doesn’t have a specific outcome. … It basically says I need to move in this direction, I need to shift in this direction at this pace. Am I doing it? … You still measure, but you measure appropriately.

Are you riding a wave of uncertainty, which means you have to have a sense of direction, and keep moving to maintain balance? Or are you in a highly stable position where you can say what you should achieve? Context is everything. … Always start from where people are, unless you can kill them and start from fresh, but that’s rare.1

Generative organizing is appropriate for riding waves of uncertainty. It relies on collective decision-making, abductive logic, and human judgment. Generative organizing is impossible if constraints are fixed.

Notes:
1 #12 Managing in Complexity—Dave Snowden | Being Human, 2018-06-15 (accessed 2018-08-10).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 17

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?
In today’s reflection, I combine Petra Kuenkel‘s (@PetraKuenkel) thoughts about co-creation and collaborative spaces with Christopher Alexander’s insights into how to create built environments that have life, well-being, beauty. Actually, Petra Kuenkel refers to Christopher Alexander herself. I simply add to it. (Here and here are my reviews of Petra Kuenkel’s two books Mind and Heart and The Art of Leading Collectively. And here is my review of Christopher Alexander’s book The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth.)

Petra Kuenkel writes in this post on Co-creation, collaborative spaces and aliveness (my emphasis in bold):

Over my years of working in complex collaboration projects and institutional change management I noticed that certain elements consistently shift actors into more collaborative spaces. …

When I looked behind the scenes of collaboration initiatives … one insight emerged. It was simple and at the same time complex.

It reminded me of the writings of the American architect Christopher Alexander. … Christopher Alexander concluded that … [the] perception of a degree of “life” in an external structure … was not arbitrary. Nor was it simply a matter of taste.

So my (rather simple) conclusions is the following:

Co-creation works best in a collaborative space where there is “life”, a sense of vitality rather than superficial harmony. … There is usually a strong feeling of igniting each other’s vitality. You have fun. You feel alive. Your energy is boosted.1

Christopher Alexander says in this interview from 2011 that (my emphasis in bold):

Make sure, whatever you are deciding, or whatever you are doing, or whatever you are making—any action you are taking—make sure that it has inner beauty.

If you take that seriously, it will change everything. … When you come face-to-face with real beauty it changes you, and it changes the other people who are witnessing it, or who are thinking it, and they will take a different road. … Although this is so simple, it’s extremely powerful, because it only comes from the heart. … If you take this advice … it will change your own life.2

And, in this interview from 1994 Christopher Alexander says:

What you are looking for is the presence or absence of life. … It doesn’t imply that it’s lively, it could be very quiet. … But anyway, that it has its life. …

You can’t do this … without being willing, in effect, to make that judgment. …

Can one make such a judgment? Is it reasonably objective? Is there really such a thing? … Technocrats will not admit that there’s such a thing. So if you have a technically organized bureaucracy, they will either refuse to perform it, or perform it quite wrong by assigning arbitrary technical criteria. …

It wasn’t esoteric at all … to perform this thing. … The kinds of questions that people were asked to report on were very straightforward. … The only operative thing … necessary is people had to be willing to record their feelings. …

So much of rule bound society, in effect, makes it not okay to do that. Of course, people have feelings, but the question is: Is it alright to use it? … The general rule of thumb has been: No, it’s not okay to do that. …

They tend to twist it into bureaucratic forms. … Things that can be quantified very easily appear, therefore, to have some legitimacy that are actually no where as near as telling these larger, more global feelings.3

So, in other words, does it feel right?

Generative organizing looks for the presence of life/well-being/beauty, rather than superficial bureaucratized order. This requires a willingness to observe and feel.

Notes:
1 Petra Kuenkel, Co-creation, collaborative spaces and aliveness | Petra Kuenkel—The Future of Leadership is Collective, 2017-09-08 (accessed 2018-08-09).
2 Interview with Christopher Alexander by Hiro Nakano | YouTube,  2011-09-05 (accessed 2018-08-09).
3 Interview with Christopher Alexander by Greg Bryant | YouTube, 1994-01-06 (accessed 2018-08-09).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 16

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?
Today’s reflection is based on Harrison Owen’s mail to the World wide Open Space Technology email list (OSList) yesterday.

Harrison Owen is one of my favorite authors. (Here is my review of his book The Spirit of Leadership. I also write about his book Wave Rider in this retrospective.)

The following is an excerpt from Tales from Open Space. The text is written by Loyd Kepferle and Karen Main. They write (my formatting and emphasis in bold):

One might assume that an organization doing business in an open space mode would accomplish little. That does not seem to be the reality, for Open Space frames the total operation, and internally there is an appropriate alternation between open exploration of new opportunities and pre-determined, structured responses to known situations.  …

The main idea … is that ”People who care most passionately about a problem or opportunity have the RIGHT and the RESPONSIBILITY to do something about it”. This basic idea supersedes all notions of a hierarchical organizational structure …

There are only five constraints on this model of personal empowerment:
1. When a problem or opportunity is to be discussed, there must be wide notification of the meeting time and place so anyone who is interested can attend.
2. Proposed solutions/ideas must be broadcast widely …
3. Proposed solutions cannot be hurtful to anyone else.
4. Proposed solutions should channel our limited resources in such a way as to have maximum impact on achieving our goal.
5. Accomplishing the work for which we were hired takes precedence over our group work. However, if the RIGHT people (those who really care) are involved in any topic, they will find a way to make sure their work is completed and the work of the group is brought to a successful conclusion.

There are NO CONSTRAINTS on the following:
1. Who can call a meeting.
2. The type of problem or opportunity that is being addressed.
3. The availability of time to have a meeting.
4. Who may attend a meeting.
5. The availability of information necessary for a group to work.

Open Space assumes a consensual process will be observed by the ad hoc groups that form and that all ideas will be considered respectfully by the people in the group.  … The ad hoc group may choose to modify its plans based on feedback.

While we believe this is a good way to develop a truly successful organization, it is an approach to organizational behavior which is fraught with insecurity which, in the short run, may produce fear, anger and frustration. It will take a long time for those of us who have lived in hierarchical and paternalistic organizations to believe we are really empowered.

We … recognize this philosophy is somewhat revolutionary and will be uncomfortable for all of us some of the time. But we also believe people do their best when they are empowered to control the conditions that affect them. We also think that solutions which are imposed on people rather than generated by the people who are affected are doomed to failure.1

In short, open space enables generative organizing. Generative organizing requires open space. The generative organizing ceases as soon as the space closes.

Notes:
1 This is a story about the use of Open Space at The University of Kentucky Center for Rural Health by Loyd Kepferle and Karen Main. See Harrison Owen (Editor), Tales from Open Space (Abbott Publishing, 1995), Chapter VI, pp.39–43. This book (and many other publications) can be downloaded for free from openspaceworld.com.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 15

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?
In today’s reflection, I’m combining Joseph Campbell (a mythodological story) with Robert S. Hartman (intrinsic/systemic) and David Bohm (order).

I stumbled upon the following quote by Joseph Campbell this morning (my emphasis in bold):

… the old Sufis … spoke of wearing the outer garment of the law, that is to say the order of the society in which one is living …

Now, in order to find the inner garment, you have to take off the outer garment and let it go. … But unless you can put the other garment back on again, you haven’t really come to the sophistication that let’s you know that this is that, and that is this—that this outer garment is the outer reflection of the same laws and principles that you’re finding within so that you should be at ease somehow in the two worlds.1

This can be paraphrazed as follows (my emphasis in bold):

Now, in order to find authentic organizing, you have to take off the systemic and let it go. … But unless you can put the systemic back on again, you haven’t really come to the sophistication that let’s you know that this is that, and that is this—that the systemic is the outer reflection of the same laws and principles that you’re finding intrinsically within so that you should be at ease somehow in the organization.2

The paradox of authentic organizing, is that you have to take off the systemic order and then put it back, such that the systemic order is a reflection of the organization’s intrinsic order.3

Notes:
1 Joseph Campbell, The Vitality of Myth.
2 In paraphrazing Joseph Campbell, I’m using Rober S. Hartman’s distinction between intrinsic and systemic value dimensions. See Robert S. Hartman, The Structure of Value: Foundations of Scientific Axiology, pp.112–14.
3 The notion of order is from David Bohm and F. David Peat. See David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010, first published 1987), pp. 97–146.

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Organizing reflection 14

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?
Yesterday, Skye Hirst and I talked about the dis-valuation of intrinsic value and the over-valuation of systemic value. The valuation of the systemic over all other value dimensions is very common—and it is a core issue!

The systemic is easy to organize, because it’s about right and wrong. But if I dis-value myself as a person, I have to come up with a system of thought what makes me a good person. And it doesn’t matter what I come up with. It’s still abstracted, made up. If the systemic is over-valued, and is my only value, it leaves out other values, like the value of life, the value of being imperfect, or whatever is unacceptable in a systemic world.

We’ve got to witness each other’s lives! —Skye Hirst

Until I can help you witness my pain, you’re not going to understand. We’ve got to talk about our feelings, pain, struggle. We need to find a common place among us. That’s where we get to the intrinsic. Feeling, experiencing, and witnessing, telling stories, are intrinsic ways of communicating.

Generative organizing requires witnessing, experiencing, and feeling. We need to move ‘up‘ into our hearts (‘up‘ because intrinsic value has ‘higher‘ value than systemic value).2

Notes:
1 The distinction between intrinsic value and systemic value is from Robert S. Hartmans value theory. For more details, see my reviews of Robert S. Hartman’s books Freedom to Live and The Structure of Value.
2 Systemic, extrinsic, and intrinsic value are the three value dimensions. Intrinsic value is more valuable than extrinsic value, and extrinsic more valuable than systemic value. See Robert S. Hartman, The Structure of Value: Foundations of Scientific Axiology (Wopf & Stock, 2011, first published 1967), p. 114.

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Organizing retrospective 105

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 published the following (almost) daily reflections:

  • WednesdayThere are no formulas—except that this is a formula! I attribute this idea to Skye Hirst (@autognomics). There’s a focus on formulas, methods, and techniques, literally, everywhere. It’s easier because it’s tangible (explicate), but I’m more interested in what’s intangible (implicate). I wrote in this post that order arises from flow, but flow arises from a deeper order. I need to come back to this!
  • Thursday —  The dimension of ‘coming into being’ is essential to generative organizing. What’s generative/genuine/authentic requires ‘coming into being’. It’s Simon Robinson (@srerobinson) who has introduced the concept of ‘coming to being’ to me. This is a profound concept. Simon and Maria Moraes Robinson (@DoraMoraesR) discuss ‘coming into being’ throughout their book Customer Experiences with Soul, which I’m currently reading. Here is a succinct review of their previous book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet matter. I need to review Simon and Maria’s new book too.
  • Friday  — We need to see life’s intrinsic value, and act accordingly! This includes honoring intrinsic human values—not least at our workplaces. I share Emma Taylor‘s (@generativeOD) interest in actively cultivating more generative ways of working together. Emma has started this project On Feeling and Knowing: Authenticity, Creativity and Love which I find inspiring. I will keep an eye on Emma’s work.
  • SaturdaySeeing differently seems, to me, to be key for regenerative living—and working. This is a line of thought which is inspired by Michelle Holliday (@thrivability). Michelle invites us to see differently in this article. Here is my review of her book The Age of Thrivability: Vital Perspectives and Practices for a Better World.
  • SundayGenerative organizing requires a community of people who are engaged in each other’s movement towards wholeness. An example of this is Rachel Naomi Remen’s (@RachelRemen) healing communities. I’ve added Rachel’s books Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings to my reading list.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’m very pleased with that I’ve got started with my blogging again after a break of two months. My intention going forward is to establish a practice of posting daily reflections.

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Organizing reflection 13

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?
Here is an excerpt of an interview with Rachel Naomi Remen by Jeffrey Mishlove. Rachel emphasizes that we cut ourselves off from the life force when we edit ourselves in accordance with the approval and disapproval of others. Her distinction between teams and communities also caught my attention.

Rachel Naomi Remen says:1

My experience of anger … is that the anger is often the first way we encounter the life force. It’s the part in us that wants to resist distortion, that wants to preserve our integrity, that wants to say no to the idea that we are broken. . . . In the form of anger, it is often not very useful. It can help us preserve our integrity. But often we have to connect to that kind of an energy directly as the life force, in order to live a life.2

I think often we have edited ourselves. We have fixed ourselves to win the approval of others. And certain of our human dimensions are birthrights we have repressed, disavowed, or disconnected ourselves from. In our particular culture, anything that is intangible—the soul, the intuition, the heart—are repressed.3

When a person becomes ill often they need their wholeness in order to recover, and they may need to reclaim for themselves the things they have been taught are not valuable, because these things may be the very thing they need for their healing.4

I think it’s a very human thing to trade wholeness for approval. And anything that has been fixed like that isn’t as strong as something that is whole … as a human being. It’s very difficult. The whole culture denies certain things. We are a very lonely people. We take pride in our loneliness. . . . Independence is not as strong a position as being able to receive and give in community, and to know oneself connected to larger realities through communion.5

The interesting thing about the medical system is that it is a reflection of the culture that is around it. All of the strengths of our culture, all of its dreams, all of its power is reflected in its medical system. And all of its illusions, all of its flaws, all of its woundedness, is also reflected in the medical system. So, the loneliness of the people in the culture, that loneliness is amplified between people in the medical system.6

A healing community are people who are engaged in each other’s movement towards wholeness, as much as they are engaged in the patients recovery of their integrity and wholeness. It isn’t focused on the patient. It is a relationship among professionals, which the patient is included into—a healing community. As the work gets harder and harder health teams burn out. Healing communities become inspired by the work, and are actually fed and nurtured by it.7

Generative organizing requires a community of people who are engaged in each other’s movement towards wholeness, as much as they are engaged in the integrity and wholeness of their work.

Notes:
1 Rachel Naomi Remen: The Life Force (excerpt) — Thinking Allowed with Jeffrey Mishlove, published 2010-08-28 (accessed 2018-08-05).
2 Ibid., at 0:10.
3 Ibid., at 2:05.
4 Ibid., at 2:35.
5 Ibid., at 3:20.
6 Ibid., at 4:44.
7 Ibid., at 8:42.

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Book Review: The Dynamics of Transformation

The Dynamics of Transformation: Tracing an Emerging World View by Grant Maxwell is a book about how a new world view has been emerging over the last few centuries. We participate in the unfolding meaning of the world. Participatory insight is an outcome of an integrative method, which seeks to reconcile opposed assertions. The integrative method recognizes that opposed assertions both contain partial trues within their appropriate contexts, and seeks to synthesize them into a reconciling third perspective. Grant Maxwell reminds us that our relation to experience suddenly and abruptly can change.1

Like water boiling or ice melting, world views are susceptible to comparatively abrupt transformations precisely because they are not given, but are elicited by our participation in the creation of the world’s meaning.2

Different assumptions lead to different ways of relating to experience.3 In order to reconcile opposing beliefs, one must move beyond what makes the beliefs seem irreconcilable.4 Life seems to go through relatively distinct periods. These are expressed in subtle and constantly shifting meanings.5 Grant Maxwell suggests that entropic disorder perhaps should be complemented with a syntropic teleological impulse toward novelty, consciousness, and order.6

… if we change our beliefs, whether intentionally or impelled by the witnessing of new evidence, the world can appear suddenly and radically different to us …7

Grant Maxwell points out that all that is required to make the transition from one world view to another is a decision. The integrative method is indispensable for this transition.8 We do not decide to adopt a new world view primarily for rational reasons, but because of changes in our bodily experience.9 We are not passive observers of the emerging world view, but active and integral participants.10

[The] … participatory perspective acknowledges that if human consciousness is evolved from and embedded in the world it seeks to know, then the mind can be understood as the world coming to know itself.11

Fundamental transformation can happen suddenly when all factors align.12 Grant Maxwell describes a world where the activities and interactions of billions of people are set against the background of the multivalent quality of each moment, reflected in a radically new archetypal cosmology.13 This new cosmology is in itself an outcome of the integrative method.14 It’s a thought-provoking book. I liked it.

Notes:
1 Grant Maxwell, The Dynamics of Transformation: Tracing an Emerging World View (Persistent Press, 2017), p.30.
2 Ibid..
3 Ibid., p.32.
4 Ibid., p.41.
5 Ibid., p.45.
6 Ibid., p.54.
7 Ibid., p.57.
8 Ibid., p.78.
9 Ibid., p.103.
10 Ibid., p.121.
11 Ibid., p.136.
12 Ibid., p.149.
13 Ibid., p.151.
14 Ibid., p.142.

Organizing reflection 12

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?
Michelle Holliday (@thrivability), author of Age of Thrivability (here is my review), shares her impressions from a recent gathering of people dedicated to regenerative life-aligned ways of living in this post .

Michelle noticed that:

… patterns of patriarchy and domination are still occasionally present, even within this well-intentioned, peace-loving movement. … And it took a dedicated conversation … to tease out when and how those patterns appear, why it matters and what might be a fruitful way forward.1

The first breakthrough in the conversation was moving from analytical problem-solving to seeking the inherent potential in what is, together discovering what could be. The second breakthrough was moving from gender to the language of archetypes that Michelle had offered in her keynote presentation. Michelle’s starting point are the following conditions, which are present in all living systems:2

  1. Divergent Parts
  2. Patterns of Relationship
  3. Convergent Emergent Wholeness
  4. Self-Integration & Self-Organization

The point is to create conditions for Life itself. Michelle proposes the following supporting conditions for life to thrive:

  • A field of action
  • Rootedness
  • Community
  • Rhythm
  • Practices
  • Nourishment

Michelle also invites us to engage in any, or all, of these conversations:

  • Ourselves—What more could it mean to be able to bring the best of ourselves?
  • Infrastructure—What more could it mean to support playfulness, learning and joy?
  • Purpose—What are we called to express and create together, in service of life?
  • Nourishment—What would bring the most life to this situation?

Michelle Holliday invites us to see differently!

Seeing differently seems, to me, to be key for regenerative living—and working.

Notes:
1 Michelle Holliday, When Warriors Try to Weave, 2018-06-30 (accessed 2018-08-04).
2 Michelle Holliday presents the core conditions of living systems, in a variety of contexts, throughout her book The Age of Thrivability.

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Organizing reflection 11

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?
Emma Taylor (@generativeOD) has started a new project On Feeling and Knowing which I find both interesting and inspiring. I share Emma’s interest in actively cultivating more generative ways of working together. The following core themes have emerged as part of the work:

  • Authenticity — Being in touch with who we are
  • Listening Deeply — Receptivity to openness
  • Letting Go — Embracing the continuous flow of experience
  • Interconnectedness — Grounding self and the other in an ecological context

Emma thinks that:

… we known that this world of unrelenting consumption and economic self-interest will not change unless we … change our ways by turning towards life sustaining business practices. Now is the time when we each need to take responsibility for the work places we co-create. We need to wake up and stop denying that our old ways of working will suffice. … This requires a courageous participation that is centred in purposeful collaboration that reaches beyond individual self interest. Catalysing … acts of openness not judgement and kindness not criticism.1

Emma asks the following questions for those who chooses to see:

  • What if we each just took a deep breath and stepped into the collective vulnerability of our not knowing?
  • What if we allowed the future to form by intentionally letting go to our fixed ideals and objectives?
  • What if we chose to start from a position of truly wanting to understand the other?
  • What if we chose to meet one another exactly where we are, without expectation or shame?
  • What if we allowed ourselves to be fully seen?
  • What does it take to create the conditions in our work places that enable us to show up in all our imperfections?
  • What would it take for us to truly come into contact with each other, to listen, or ask for a helping hand?
  • What will it take for us to breakthrough our sense of disconnection and ever present absence
  • What is our deepest most heartfelt purpose for the world?
  • What are our common threads of connection?
  • What makes us feel truly alive?
  • And, how can we facilitate life affirming conversations?

Yes, what if?

This requires that we see life’s intrinsic value, and act accordingly!

Emma quotes Andreas Weber:

…it could be that the planet is not actually suffering from either an environmental crisis or an economic one. Instead, it could be that the Earth is currently suffering from a shortage of our love.”2

We need to love Life itself, and show it! This includes honoring intrinsic human values—not least at our workplaces.

Notes:
1 Emma Taylor, About This Project—On Feeling and Knowing (accessed 2018-08-03).
2 Andreas Weber, Matter and Desire: An Erotic Ecology (Chelsey Green Publishing, 2017), p.3.

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Organizing reflection 10

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?
I’m currently reading Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson’s book Customer Experiences with Soul. Simon and James Souttar, a designer and communication consultant, both studied with Henri Bortoft. Simon and Maria have had many conversations with James in relation to Henri’s philosophy and how it relates to design of customer experiences.1 James says the following, which I find interesting:

The fundamental flaw with ‘design thinking’ is that it prioritises a perfected outcome over a fulfilling journey. This is giving us a world of constantly improved things which are yet strangely unsatisfying and increasingly inhuman in their perfection. … It is a paradigmatic example of what Henri Bortoft called ‘finished product thinking’, missing completely the dimension of ‘coming into being’.2

I think this applies, as well, to leadership, to organizational design, garden desing, and even to architecture.

  • Here is my review of Harrison Owen’s book The Spirit of Leadership, which, one might say, is about leading with soul.
  • Here is my review of Mary Reynolds’ book The Gardening Awakening, which is about designing with soul—in this case, gardens radiant with life, bursting with energy.3
  • And here is my review of Christopher Alexander’s book The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earch, which is about building with soul. The purpose of architecture, according to Christopher, is to provide opportunities and contexts which support and enhance life-giving human situations.4

The dimension of ‘coming into being’ is essential to generative organizing.
What’s generative/genuine/authentic requires ‘coming into being’.

Notes:
1 Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson, Customer Experiences with Soul (Holonomics Publishing, 2017), pp.67.
2 Ibid., pp.68-69.
3 Mary Reynolds, The Garden Awakening: Designs to Nurture Our Land and Ourselves (Green Books, 2016), p.42.
4 Christopher Alexander with HansJoachim Neis and Maggie Moore Alexander, The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth: A Struggle Between Two World-Systems (Oxford University Press, 2012), p.7.

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Organizing reflection 9

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?
There are no formulas—except that this is a formula!

I attribute this idea to Skye Hirst. It’s based on her long experience working with clients. I think there’s much truth in this idea. We have an overreliance in tools, methods, and techniques. I see it in my working environment.

I think this is related to what Nora Bateson writes about in her new book Small Arcs of Larger Circles: Framing Through Other Patterns. The solutions expected, and ways predicted, are often far removed from the options that surface when viewed from a wider context.1 Nora Bateson has spent much time defending the possibility that trying to solve a problem by going directly at it is only occasionally effective.2 She usually receives bewildered looks and a plea for methods and techniques. But, so often, we instead make more a of a mess.3 Relying on formulas is a way of short-circuiting which is often destructive.

Notes:
1 Nora Bateson, Small Arcs of Larger Circles: Framing Through Other Patterns (Triarchy Press, Second edition, 2017), p.77.
2 Ibid..
3 Ibid..

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