Kategoriarkiv: Articles

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

Source: Twitter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… Bohm emphasizes that information is typically active …

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

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

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

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

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

Enlightened organizing

This is a post in my organizing ”between and beyond” series. The post is part of my exploration of deeper generative orders for organizing.  Other posts are here.

Organizing assumptions
Organizing is based on many different assumptions and beliefs. A dominating one is the positivist belief in a rationally structured world that can be known and acted on by individuals who are capable of rational action and rational language. Technical rationality has been given a key role as a thought style and mode of inquiry. There are, however, other possible beliefs. One example is Dian Marie Hosking’s enlightened organizing, which is relational rather than rational.

Enlightened organizing
Enlightened organizing is based on openness, light structures, and presence:1

  • Openness – A relational view suggests that dialogue offers an alternative to rational action and fixed structures. In dialogue, the emphasis is on ways of relating that open space for co-emergence and improvisation. Dialogue is an open and curious way of relating characterized by:
    • Listening, questioning, and being present.
    • Suspension of one’s certainties and assumptions.
    • Reflexive attention to the ongoing process.
  • Light structures – The idea is to provide enough, but not too much, structure. Light structuring makes space for being in the now. It invites and supports open and coherent unfolding. Structuring is light when it has multiple and variable forms, rather than some singular and stable hierarchy.
  • Presence – Implicit in openness and light structuring is being present in the now. Nowness, listening, and action are connected. Listening is embodied participation. It’s an aspect of participatory thought. Sensing and being with allows space for action. This is not simply a technique graspable by the rational mind.

1 Dian Marie Hosking, Organizing a Buddhist Way. See Peter Case and Hugo Letiche (editors), Belief and Organization (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012), Chapter 5, pp. 69–89.

Learning to see in the dark

Here is Dahr Jamail’s interview with deep ecologist and systems theorist Joanna Macy on Learning to See in the Dark Amid Catastrophe.

Joanna Macy says:

”[…] you can’t do it alone. The dangers coming down on us now are so humongous that it is really beyond an individual mind all by her/him/itself to take it in. We need to sit together, grab each other and be together as we even take in what is happening, let alone how we respond.

[…] I’m doing this work so that when things fall apart, we will not turn on each other. […] And we don’t have to waste time being scared of each other.

[…] We have to help each other wake up to how we are destroying everything we love […] To discover how much we really love being alive. To give ourselves a taste of what that passion is. To let us fall really in love with our planet, and its beauty, and to see that in ourselves, as well as in each other.

[…] Take stock of your strengths and give thanks for what you have, and for the joys you’ve been given. Because that is the fuel. That love for life can act like grace for you to defend life.”

Value-intelligence as organizing order

Value-intelligence within life is related to my interest in organizing principles. I think it’s an example of a deeper generative order for organizing that is present in anything that’s alive. Here are my other posts on organizing.

Skye Hirst, Co-Founder of The Autognomics Institute (TAI), presents here the idea of a Value-Intelligence present in living organisms. Skye Hirst writes (my emphasis in bold):

”… capacities for value-intelligence are operative throughout all living contexts …”

”… anything … alive … is a dynamic organism, and … functions according to similar organizing principles.”

”… we act from assumptions that are formed through our value lenses …”

”[The Hartman Value Profile] … points to the existence of … organizing principles of value-intelligence within life …”

”[The] … inner intelligence does not control; it liberates and frees living entities to find the most effective acts …”

”… there are organizing principles that allow … for all life to be co-creative, self-organizing …”

Skye Hirst introduced me to the Hartman Value Profile in February 2017. It was amazing to experience how quickly Skye helped me to picture my own inner relational realities. I could understand some of how my own value intelligence has developed. And it was immensely helpful to see where I have my own strengths and blindnesses.

Related post:
Book Review: Freedom to Live


Bob Emiliani on Scientific Management and Toyota Management

Bob Emiliani

Bob Emiliani is a professor of Lean Management. Here is his post on the historical parallels between Scientific Management 100 years ago and Toyota Management today.

People flocked to Scientific Management to become consultants. They would then install something similar in appearance to Scientific Management. Soon an efficiency movement was born, which installed dilutions of Scientific Management.

Similarly people became aware of Toyota’s Production System (TPS) in the 1970s. Interestingly, most studied the technical aspects of TPS, but not the human aspects. Soon a small army of consultants started to sell TPS tools. TPS is seen as a production system. Yet, TPS was Toyota’s management system. In 1988, the term Lean production was introduced. This resulted in a huge army of consultants and the Lean movement was born, which implemented dilutions of TPS.

Business leaders are devoted to finding the latest tools that help them achieve short-term gains. Consultants are more than happy to help, regardless of whether the movement is called Lean, Agile, or something else.

Here are Bob Emiliani’s recent blog posts.



Några tankar om regler

I vilken utsträckning följer vi regler, om vi inte måste? Ett villkor är att det är viktigt på riktigt. Och den som avgör det är du!

Ett exempel är trafikregler. Vissa regler följer vi självmant, t.ex. högerregeln. Det handlar ju ytterst om överlevnad. Andra regler, t.ex. hastighetsbegränsningar, kräver åtgärder i form av vägbulor, hastighetskameror och böter för att säkerställa efterlevnaden. Och, handen på hjärtat, hur många gånger har du ökat farten igen efter hastighetskameran?

Ett annat exempel är EU-regler. I den här debatt-artikeln i Ny Teknik, Nr 38, 2016-09-21, tar Fredrick Federley upp att instiftade lagar inte efterlevs. Han skriver att ”VW-skandalen visar på ett systemfel i EU”. Volkswagenfallet är enligt honom bara ”ett av exemplen på när EU inte sett till att implementera beslutade regler”. Federley har en poäng i att om ”beslut inte genomförs … så spelar det fina beslutsmaskineriet knappt någon roll”.

Källa: Ny Teknik, Nr 38, 2016-09-21, s. 20.

Är det kanske så att systemfelet i EU bygger på ett tankefel — en övertro på lagar och regler? Jag tror att tvångsmedel är nödvändiga ibland, t.ex. när människors liv och hälsa står på spel. Men jag ser också en begränsning i hur mycket man egentligen kan styra med regler. Enligt biologerna Humbero Maturana och Francisco Varela kan man inte kan styra ett levande system, bara störa det. Irrelevanta störningar ignoreras. Tvång leder, förr eller senare, till motreaktioner.

Otto Scharmer on absencing vs. presencing

Otto Scharmer

Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT, Professor at Tsinghua University, and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. Here is his article on the watershed moment we have entered after the American presidential election. Scharmer writes:

”We have entered a watershed moment not only here in America, but also globally. It’s a moment that could help us wake up … or a moment when we could spiral down into chaos … Whether it’s one or the other depends on our capacity to become aware of our collective blind spot.”

”Summing up, the blind spot at issue here concerns the dominant paradigms of thought that have legitimized the economic, political, and [cultural-]spiritual divides  …”

The key takeaway, for me, is that we concsiously have to choose which way to take at this crossroads. The choice is between the cycles of absencing or presencing:

  • ”The cycle of absencing: denying, de-sensing, blaming, and destroying (closing the mind, heart, will).”
  • ”The cycle of presencing: seeing, sensing, crystallizing, and co-creating (opening the mind, heart, will).”

Related post:
Organizing retrospective 16

George Lakoff on Big Lies and Truth

George Lakoff

George Lakoff is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is a longtime researcher in linguistics and cognitive science. Here is an article on American politics, in which he gives advice on how to deal with Big Lies, and how to communicate Truth. George Lakoff writes:

Direct vs. systemic causation
“Direct causation is easy to understand, and appears to be represented in the grammars of all languages … Systematic causation is more complex and is not represented in the grammar of any language.”

Worldviews vs. languages
“Language that fits that worldview activates that worldview, strengthening it, while turning off the other worldview and weakening it.”

Unconscious vs. conscious thought
“… most of thought … is unconscious. Conscious thought is the tip of the iceberg.”

Manipulation of unconscious thought
“… unconscious normal brain mechanisms are manipulated by …

  1. Repetition …
  2. Framing …
  3. Well-known examples …
  4. Grammar …
  5. Conventional metaphorical thought …
  6. … metaphor and metonymy …”

Big Lies
“… Big Lies repeated over and over are being believed …”

“… unconscious thought … shapes conscious thought via unconscious framing and commonplace conceptual metaphors.”

Communicating Truths
“Understanding how people really think can be used to communicate truths, not Big Lies …”

“First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false … claims and then rebut them with … facts. Instead, go positive. Give a truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use … facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.”

“Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying.”

“Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. … Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. … Be prepared. You have to … stand calmly …”

Related post:
Organizing retrospective 16

Wheatley & Kellner-Rogers on the future of organizing

Here is an article from July/August 1996 on The Irresistible Future of Organizing by Margaret J. Wheatley & Myron Kellner-Rogers. They write:

”Organizations-as-machines is a 17th century notion … Three hundred years later, we still serach for ”tools and techniques” …”

”The tension of our times is that we want our organizations to behave as living systems, but we only know how to treat them as machines.”

”It is time to change the way we think about organizations. Organizations are living systems. All living systems have the capacity to self-organize … They organize … themselves … withouut any externally imposed plan or direction.”

”… change is the organizing force … Structures and solutions are temporary. … Leaders emerge from the needs of the moment. … Experimentation is the norm.”

”… self-organization is not a new phenomenon. It has been difficult to observe only because we weren’t interested in observing it.”

”… as we describe organizations as living systms rather than as machines, self-organization becomes a primary concept …”

”Order is the unique ability of living systems to organize …”

”The [living] system organizes itself.”

”Synchronized behavior emerges without orchestrated planning.”

”… the conditions that create organization are … focus … connections … information … and … collective purpose …”

”Organizations assume different forms, but … emerge from … similar conditions. … shared meaning develops. … relationships take form. Information is noticed, interpreted, transformed. ”

”All organizing efforts begins with an intent, a belief that something … is possible …”

”… we create worlds based on the meaning we invest in the information we choose to notice.”

”… we primarily use information that is already in us to make sense of something new.”

”Information from the outside only perturbes a system, it never functions as objective instructions.”

”You can never direct a living system, you can only disturb it.” (—Maturana & Varela)

”… every organizing effort … needs to begins by exploring and clarifying the intention and desires of its members.”

”… clarity [about purpose] frees people to contibute in creative and diverse ways.”

”Clear alignment around principles and purposes allows for maximum autonomy.”

”Structures … come and go, but an organization with a coherent center is able to sustain itself …”

”Information lies at the heart of life. Life uses information to organize itself into material form.”

”Information is a difference which makes a difference.” (—Gregory Bateson)

”Information is that which changes us.” (—Stafford Beer)

”Information that flows openly through an organization … is the nutrient of self-organization.”

”Only when information belongs to everyone can people organize rapidly and effectively …”

”When information is available everywhere, different people see different things.”

”… it is information — unplanned, uncontrolled, abundant, superflous — that creates the conditions for the emergence of fast, well-integrated, effective responses.”

”Through relationships, information is created and transformed …”

”The more access people have to one another, the more possibilities there are. Without connections, nothing happens.”

”… people … need to be free to reach anywhere in the organization to accomplisy work.”

”… many of the behaviors we fear in one another dissipate in the presence of good relationships.”

”… self-organization is not new … it just takes different eyes to see it.”

”Self-organization has been going on all the time, but our attention has been diverted to perfecting the controls and mechanisms that we thought were making work happen.”

”The problems we see in organizations are artifacts of much deeper dynamics … If we inquire at this deeper level, if we can inquire into the dynamic heart of organizing, both the problem and the solution will be discovered.”

”If self-organization already exists in organizations — if people are naturally self-organizing — then the challenge … is how to create the conditions that more effectively support this capacity.”

”The path of self-organization can never be known ahead of time. There are no prescribed stages or models.”

”The road is your footsteps, nothing else.” —Machados

”Plans do emerge, but locally, from responses to needs and contingencies.”

”This is not an easy shift, changing one’s model of the way the world organizes.”

Organization is a process of continous organizing.

The limits of automation

Here is an article on Robots Will Replace Doctors, Lawyers, and Other Professionals by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind in Harward Business Review, October 11, 2016.

They ”expect that within decades the traditional professions will be dismantled, leaving most, but not all, professionals to be replaced by less-expert people, new types of experts, and high-performing systems.”

They write it’s an empirical position to claim ”that computers are incapable of exercising judgment or being creative or empathetic, and that these capabilities are indispensable in the delivery of professional service.”

Well, maybe not?

Roger Penrose argues strongly in his book Shadows of the Mind that mind cannot be described in any kind of computational or algorithmic terms. If Penrose is right, then matters which requires understanding and other qualities, such as moral judgments, lie — in principle — beyond the capabilities of automation.

Diane Musho Hamilton on exploring truth in all points

dianemushohamiltonHere is an article1 by Diane Musho Hamilton where she comments on the US presidential election 2016. Hamilton writes (my emphasis in bold):

… because [truth] … is fragmented, our interiors feel fragmented. When it becomes so difficult to find the truth, we start to allow crude and reductive discourse to limit our own minds. We let our capacity for complexity be reduced. And we start to become adversarial, … refusing to conduct ourselves with compassion.

In the midst of this wild and aggressive discourse, we have to work even harder to see into what other people are wanting and needing. This is essential—because if we don’t understand more deeply, we aren’t going to be able to affect the process positively, let alone, the outcomes.”

Things get even more disorienting when we confuse limits to behavior with limits to our thinking. We do have to draw boundaries around behaviors that threaten our safety and oppress others, but we don’t have to draw limits around our curiosity or willingness to try on another point of view more deeply.

By bringing our curiosity forward we can increase our creative potential for working with others. Instead of letting ourselves become adversaries (because we all know where that goes), we can choose to humble ourselves and lead with a question: How do we promote change in service of growth and higher levels of understanding?

1 Diane Musho Hamilton, The Truth of Trump—Every Perspective is True and Partial, LinkedIn, 2016-03-30, (accessed 2016-09-21).

Tamsin Woolley-Barker on deep patterns in life

Tamsin Woolley-Barker is an author and evolutionary biologist. She looks for the deep patterns in life. Here is an article1 where Tamsin Woolley-Barke writes:

Organizations can’t keep growing the way we structure them today.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with hierarchies. In fact, nature uses them all the time—to stop change from happening. … Hierarchies are important and useful. But they aren’t the right structures for adapting to change …

Superorganisms … have been networked for a very long time.

Team performance emerges in real-time … Superorganisms break large, complex problems into tiny bites of action, building until tipping points are reached and change is triggered. There are no forecasts, budgets, meetings, or plans. There is no boss. Strategy happens organically, all the time, everywhere, and decisions are frequent, small, and imperfect.

If you want your company to change and grow, nimbly and continuously, … what you need is a living thing.

1 Tamsin Woolley-Barker, Want to build an organization that lasts? Create a superorganism, The Biomimicry Institute, 2016-03-25 (accessed 2016-09-16).

När livet står på spel och tillvaron rubbas

”Jag har arbetat i mer än trettio år och jag är djupt oroad över det som sker … Det finns otaliga exempel på beprövad erfarenhet … som visar på vad som är väsentligt då livet står på spel och tillvaron rubbas. … Det är inte individuella diagnoser … som är det primära. Det väsentliga handlar om … att vara omgiven av andra människor … Om betydelsen av att vara behövd, att ha en plats och att räknas med.”
—Carina Håkansson1

1 Carina Håkansson, Det är något som inte stämmer, Göterbors-Posten 2016-08-31.

Elisabet Sahtouris on living systems

Elisabet Sahtouris asks in this talk (my emphasis in bold):1

Why is it that our culture, which is made up of people who are alive (so presumably we are a living system), knows so little about living systems? […] And yet we pretend to understand life. […] if we as human beings don’t understand ourselves as living systems within larger living systems, on which we’re dependent, we aren’t going to make it in this game. […] we seriously and disastrously disrespected life. What is it that so makes us disrespect each other and all of life?

1 Elisabet Sahtouris, Living Systems, the Internet and the Human Future, talk presented 2000-05-13 at Planetwork, Global Ecology and Information Technology a conference held at the San Francisco Presidio, (accessed 2016-09-01).

David Bohm on ecology, organization, thinking, dialogue, and wholeness

David Bohm on ecology, organization, thinking, dialogue, and wholeness:1

… the ecology in itself is not a problem. It works perfectly well by itself. Its due to us, right?

The earth is one household really, but we are not treating it that way …

… the more you made society big and you had organization, and you had to get to the top, and people on the bottom would suffer. … it’s a mistake.

So the first thing we have to do, in the long run, is to look at our way of thinking …

Now, that means that people have to participate, to make a cooperative effort, to have a dialogue, a real dialogue …

… wholeness is a kind of attitude or approach to the whole of life. It’s a way. If we can have a coherent approach to reality then reality will respond coherently to us.

1 Wholeness: A Coherent Approach to Reality – David Bohm | Creative by Nature (2014-10-01) (accessed 2016-08-20).

Overview of organizing orders

This is a post in my series on organizing  ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. The series is inspired by David Bohm’s and F. David Peat’s notion of ”the order between and beyond”.1 I wrote in the 1st post that organizing ”beyond” is a ”deeper order” of organizing which transcends the compromises in ”existing orders”. And I identified a number of questions in the 2nd post which gives a direction to the search for a ”deeper order.” The purpose with this post is to start the exploration.

Let’s see what organizing ”orders”2 we can find. Let’s see how they are entwined within each other in ways that are basically incompatible. And, finally, let’s also see what other clues to a ”deeper order” we can find. The focus for now is on getting an overview.

What we are interested in, as a first step, is to identify existing ”orders” of organizing. Many different frameworks, approaches and conceptions have been developed over the years. The challenge is that these approaches cannot be thought of as being well-defined organizing ”orders.” However, they all contain leadership/followership and individual/collective decision making in one way or another. The following table shows some examples (unsorted).

Organizing Idea Sources Descriptions
Centralization & Decentralization Book:
Ori Brafman, Rod Beckstrom,
The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.
The authors compare centralization (spiders) with decentralization (starfishes) and describes how the leadership is different between these organizational setups. I think the title is somewhat misleading since decentralized ”leaderless” organizations do have leaders.
Leadership & Followership Book:
Mark Van Vugt,
Why Some People Lead, Why Others Follow and Why it Matters.
The author lists a number of STOP strategies to overcome the powerful leader: Gossip and ridicule, Public meetings, Replacing leaders, Disobedience or rebellion, Desertion, and Assassination.
Spiral Dynamics Book:
Don Edward Beck, Christopher Cowan,
Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change.
Spiral Dynamics is an evolutionary human development model.
Teal Book:
Frederic Laloux,
Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage in Human Consciousness.
The author describes different organizational paradigms which are identified by the colors Red, Amber, Orange, Green, and Teal. Holacracy is used as an example of Teal. My own impression is that Holacracy is neither Teal, nor Green, but is Orange. My arguments are here.
Cynefin Dave Snowden The Cynefin framework has five domains: Obvious, the relationship between cause and effect is obvious; Complicated, the relationship between cause and effect requires analysis; Complex, the relationship between cause and effect can only be perceived in retrospect; Chaotic, there is no relationship between cause and effect; Disorder, the state of not knowing what type of causality exists.
Chaordic Book:
Dee Hock,
Birth of the Chaordic Age.
A chaordic organization blends characteristics of chaos and order.
Agile The Agile Manifesto The Agile Manifesto is based on twelve principles.
Lean Lean is centered on making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else. The term was coined in 1988. Taiichi Ohno, the man behind the Toyta Production System, unequivocally warned against using any kind of label. See also John Seddon on lean.
Open Space Technology Book:
Owen, Harrison,
A brief user’s guide to Open Space Technology.
OST is an approach to purpose-driven leadership, which is based on five principles and one law: 1) Whoever comes is the right people; 2) Whenever it starts is the right time; 3) Wherever it is, is the right place; 4) Whatever happens is the only thing that could have, be prepared to be surprised!; 5) When it’s over, it’s over (within this session). The Law of two feet is descriptive rather than prescriptive.
Theory U Otto Scharmer Theory U has come to be understood 1) as a framework; 2) as a method for leading change; and 3) as a way of being. Leading from the Future as It Emerges: Tapping Our Collective Capacity; Illuminating the Blind Spot; Leadership Capacities. 1) Holding the space of listening; 2) Observing; 3) Sensing; 4) Presencing; 5) Crystalizing; 6) Prototyping; 7) Performing.
Democracy Democracy is government by the people; especially rule of the majority.
Organizational Democracy WorldBlu WorldBlu has put together ten principles of organizational democracy: 1) Purpose & Vision; 2) Transparency; 3) Dialogue + Listening; 4) Fairness + Dignity; 5) Accountability; 6) Individual + Collective; 7) Choice; 8) Integrity; 9) Decentralization; 10) Reflection + Evaluation.
Quaker Decision Making Book:
Michael J. Sheeran,
Beyond Majority Rule: Voteless decisions in the Religious Society of Friends.
There are a number of factors characteristic of Quaker decision making: Unanimous decisions, no voting; Silent periods at start of meeting and when conflict arises; Moratorium when agreement cannot be reached; Participation by all with ideas on the subject; Learning to listen, not going to meeting with mind made up; Absence of leaders, the clerk steers but does not dominate; Nobody outranks anybody; Factual-focus, emotions kept to a minimum; and Small meetings, typically limited numbers.
Sociocracy Book:
Gerard Endenburg,
Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making.
The ”equivalence” of each individual is very important to the author. Policy decisions are made by consent. All roles are elected by consent. The Operations Leader manages day-to-day operations (most often) autocratically within established policies. The organizational structure is a hierarchy of circles. The circle decides and measures results. The operating idea is cybernetics. Here is my post on ”the way of seeing” in sociocracy.
Holacracy Book:
Brian J. Robertson,
Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy.
The author’s aim is to harness the sensing power of the human consciousness available to the organization. People are sensors for the organization and have a basic responsibility to act as role fillers. Role and soul are separated. The Rep Link, Facilitator, and Secretary are elected roles. The Lead Link is not an elected role. The Lead Link assigns other Roles. Roles have exclusive day-to-day control of Domains. The power is in the process. The organizational structure is a holarchy, a term coined by Arthur Koestler. Here is my comparison between Holacracy and Sociocracy.
Wirearchy E-book:
Jon Husband et al., i.e.,
The Wirearchy Commons,
Wirearchy: Sketches for the Future of Work.
Wirearchy is an emergent organizing principle based on: Knowledge, which is shared freely; Trust, which emerges through transparency and authenticity; Credibility, which is earned through collective intelligence and developed through active questioning of all assumptions; and Value-creation, which is enabled through collaboration and cooperation, including the furthest possible distribution of authority. The term wirearchy was coined by Jon Husband in 1999.
Holonomics Book:
Simon Robinson, Maria Moraes Robinson,
Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter.
The authors place the business within the overall ecosystem of the biosphere. Holonomics is a combination of ‘holos’ (the whole) and economics. Holonomic thinking doesn’t replace mechanistic thinking or systems thinking but expands the thinking. The business is no longer seen as separate from people and nature. A key insight from is that our thinking is an intimate part of our seeing, and vice versa.
Biomimicry Article:
Tamsin Woolley-Barker,
Want to build an organization that lasts? Create a superorganism.
The author proposes that if you want your organization to change and grow, what you need is a living thing. There’s nothing wrong with hierarchies, nature uses them all the time — to stop change from happening. In nature there are no forecasts, budgets, meetings, or plans. There is no boss. Strategy happens organically, all the time, everywhere, and decisions are frequent, small, and imperfect.
The Art of Convening Book:
Craig & Patricia Neal
with Cynthia Wold,
The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations.
Convening is the art of gathering and holding people, in a safe and generative space, for the sake of authentic engagement. Steps are: 1) At the Heart of the Matter; 2) Clarifying Intent; 3) The Invitation; 4) Setting Context; 5) Creating the Container; 6) Hearing All Voices; 7) Essential Conversation; 8) Creation; 9) Commitment to Action.
Orpheus Principles for Collective Leadership Book:
Harvey Seifter & Peter Economy,
Leadership Ensemble: Lessons in Collaboration Management from the World’s Only Conductorless Orchestra
The authors describe the eight core principles used by the Orpheus Conductorless Orchestra to consistently bring out the best in each musician: 1) Put power in the hands of the people doing the work; 2) Encourage individual responsibility; 3) Create clarity of roles; 4) Share and rotate leadership; 5) Foster horizontal teamwork; 6) Learn to listen, learn to talk; 7) Seek consensus (and build creative structures that favor consensus); 8) Dedicate passionately to your mission. Metaphor: The leader as concertmaster (the first among equals).
The Circle Way Book:
Christina Baldwin, Ann Linnea,
The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair.
In circle, ancient ways of distributing leadership and responsibility are remembered. Leading from every chair means calling on the capacity for leadership from everyone in the circle. Everyone is accountable to everyone else as peers, and to the intention of the circle.
The Three Principles The Three Principles are defined as: Mind—The energy and intelligence of all life; Consciousness—The gift of awareness; Thought—The creative agent we use to direct us through life.
Voice Dialogue Books:
Hal & Sidra Stone.
The energetics of relationship enables people to work directly with the interpersonal and intrapsychic life.
Thrivability Book:
Michelle Holliday,
The Age of Thrivability: Vital Perspectives and Practices for a Better World.
The author presents the core patterns of living systems in a variety of contexts. The point is that the underlying conditions for living systems to thrive are the same conditions needed for an organization to thrive. The following four basic patterns are universally present across organizations and communities: 1) Divergent Parts (Individual People); 2) Patterns of Relationship (Connective Infrastructure); 3) Convergent Wholeness (Shared Identity & Purpose); and 4) Self-integration.
The Art of Action Book:
Stephen Bungay,
The Art of Action: How Leaders Close the Gaps between Plans, Actions and Results.
The author defines principles which enable organizations to realize their goals in complex, uncertain, and changing environments. Summary of arguments: We have limited knowledge and independent wills; We should not plan beyond the circumstances we can foresee; We should strive to make choices about what is most important to achieve; We need to make sure others understand what we are trying to achieve and why, to explain what we are doing and check back with others, to have necessary resources, to take independent decisions and actions, to adapt our actions according to our best judgment.
Living Attentively Book:
Emma Kidd,
First Steps to Seeing: A Path Towards Living Attentively.
The author encourages us to fully notice life by paying acute attention to the ways in which we see, think and act, every day. At the root of everything we create is the mind that created it, including the organizations in which we work and the societies in which we live.
ISO 9000 ISO The ISO 9000 quality management systems help organizations ensure that they meet customers/stakeholder needs and related product requirements. At least, that’s the claim. ISO 9000 includes eight management principles upon which the family of standards is based.
CMMI CMMI Institute CMMI is a process improvement training and appraisal program. CMMI has three maturity levels for processes: Initial, Managed and Defined.
PSP/TSP Watts Humphrey The PSP/TSP was created by Watts Humphrey to apply the underlying principles of the CMM. I used to be an authorized PSP trainer and a certified TSP coach and will write a separate post about my experiences.
Living Structure Christopher Alexander Christopher Alexander says that there is something we objectively can call ‘living structure.’  My hypothesis is that there is a ‘living structure’ in organizations as well. I have written about it here and need to explore this further. Here is my review of Christopher Alexander’s book The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth: A Struggle Between Two World-Systems.
Viable Systems Model Book:
Stafford Beer,
Brain of the Firm.
The Viable System Model is a model of the organizational structure of any autonomous system capable of producing itself. One of the prime features of systems that survive is that they are adaptable.
Systems View of Life Book:
Fritjof Capra, Pier Luigi Luisi,
The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision.
The authors integrate ideas, models, and theories underlying the systems view of life into a single coherent framework. Key concepts such as autopoiesis, dissipative structures, social networks, and a systemic understanding of evolution are examined. The implications for health care, management, and global crises are also discussed.
Governing Common Pool Resources Book:
Elinor Ostrom,
Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action.
Common pool problems are sometimes solved by voluntary organizations rather than by a coercive state. The author provides empirical data to explore conditions under which common pool resource problems have been satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily solved.
 Process View of Organization Book:
Tor Hernes,
A Process Theory of Organization.
The author draws upon process thinking in a number of areas and hows how actors operate in an on-going present in which they draw upon their past and project their past as ambitions for the future. A key construct of the book is that of events, which provide force, movement, and continuity to organizational life. The author assumes process is constitutive of the world.
Conversations in Organizations Book:
Patricia Shaw,
Changing Conversations in Organizations: A Complexity Approach to Change.
The author invites us to stay in the movement of communicating, learning and organizing. The assumption is that conversation itself is the key process through which forms of organizing are dynamically sustained and changed.
Conversations for Action Book:
Fernando Flores,
Maria Flores Letelier (Editor),
Conversations for Action and Collected Essays: Instilling a Culture of Commitment in Working Relationships
The essays offer a framework for developing more effective, productive relationships in any context where a person must coordinate with others to make something happen and to create something of value. Commitments are made and spaces are opened up when people engage in conversations.
Play Peter Gray Play is self-chosen and self-directed; intrinsically motivated — means are more valued than ends; guided by mental rules, but the rules leave room for creativity, imaginative; conducted in an alert, active, but relatively non-stressed frame of mind; identified in nonhuman animals.
Integral Management Book:
Lasse Ramquist,
Mats Eriksson,
Integral Management.
The authors describe hwo to make a company come together as one team. It can only happen by mobilizing the brains and hearts of each and every person within the company.
OpenSpace Agility Book:
Daniel Mezick,
Deborah Pontes,
Harold Shinsato,
Louise Kold-Taylor,
Mark Sheffield,
The OpenSpace Agility Handbook
OpenSpace Agility (OSA) incorporates invitation, Open Space Technology, game mechanics, storytelling, and more. OSA can be used together with other framworks and practices.
Organize for Complexity Book:
Niels Pflaeging,
Organize for Complexity: How to get life back into work to build the high-performance organization.
This is a book about complexity and work. The author provides an introduction to the theory and practice of organizational high performance.
Future Fit Book:
Giles Hutchins,
Future Fit.
Future Fit is a response to the inter-related challenges which face our enteprises. The book is full of insights and examples.
Open Participatory Organizations Bonnitta Roy Bonnitta Roy proposes this manifesto for open participatory organizations: 1) Access over reciprocity; 2) Participation over commitment and consistency; 3) Reputation over social proof; 4) Legitimacy over authority; 5) Connectivity over liking; 6) Abundance over scarcity.
To be continued…

When analyzing the approaches in the table above, the notion of ”information”3 becomes important. And ”misinformation”4 becomes particularly problematic! As an example, Taiichi Ohno, the man behind the Toyota Production System unequivocally warned against using any kind of label on grounds that people then would view it as a ready-made package.5 He counseled, never codify method, because it is the thinking that is the key. This means that the label Lean, in itself, is misinformation. And the same is true for Agile, which has become an arena for consultants and vendors. Another example of misinformation is Holacracy’s use of the term holarchy,6 a term coined by Arthur Koestler.7 Holacracy is said to abolish the hierarchy, while a holarchy, according to Koestler, is a hierarchy. Identifying misinformation is very time consuming but necessary. Furthermore, an approach may not only generate ”misinformation,” but might also be misinformed, which is why ”active questioning of all assumptions including our own” is important.8

Another step in the analysis is to identify how the various approaches are entwined within each other in ways that are basically incompatible. An example is how Holacracy is entwined with Sociocracy.9 Another example is the incompatibility between value and method in Sociocracy. There is a strong emphasis on ”equivalence” in Sociocracy,10 while the ”equivalence” at the same time is limited to decision-making on ”operating limits” only.11 A third example is the incompatibility between Holacracy, where the power is in the process,12 and Agile, which values individuals and interactions over processes and tools.13

A third step in the analysis is to look at the history of the approaches to understand how the thinking has evolved. This can be particularly valuable and revealing. An example is Sociocracy, which not only is influenced by cybernetics,14 but also by how Quakers make unanimous decisions.15 Another example is Holacracy’s patent application from 2007,16 which gives insight into the historical development of Holacracy and its relation to Sociocracy. The patent application was subsequently abandoned. Sociocracy is prior art. These are just a few examples. Again, the focus is on getting an overview. The analysis will require considerable time and creative energy.

Here is the next post in the series. Here are all posts.

1 David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010-09-01, first published 1987-10-01), p. 275.
2 The notion of ”order” is from David Bohm and F. David Peat. Bohm and Peat explore the meanings and implications of ”order”. They try to deepen and extend the understanding, rather than making a definition or exhaustive analysis. Ibid., p. 98.
3 Bohm and Peat introduce the notion of ”active information,” which is important in explaining generative orders. Ibid., p. 80.
4 Bohm and Peat view ”misinformation” as ”pollution”. Ibid., p. 249.
5 John Seddon, Freedom from Command & Control (Vanguard Consulting Ltd., 2nd ed. 2005), p. 149.
6 The type of structure used for organizations in Holacracy is not a traditional hierarchy, but a ”holarchy.” See Brian Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy (Penguin, 2015), p. 38.
7 Arthur Koestler defined a holon as a node in a hierarchic tree which behaves partly as wholes or wholly as parts, and a holarchy as a hierarchy of holons. See Arthur Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine, (Last Century Media, 1982, first published 1967), pp. 48, 103, 348.
8 Jon Husband et al., The Wirearchy Commons, Wirearchy: Sketches for the Future of Work pp. 5–6.
9 See my comparison of Holacracy vs. Sociocracy.
10 Gerard Endenburg, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making, (Eburon, 1998), pp. 44, 49, 143, 167.
11 Ibid., p. 23.
12 Brian Robertson emphasizes that ”rules and processes reign supreme” in Holacracy. See Brian Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy (Penguin, 2015), p. 21.
13 Agile values ”Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”. See the Agile Manifesto.
14 The engineering perspective is strong in Sociocracy. The way of seeing is the engineer’s. The operating idea is cybernetics. I have written about it here.
15 Michael J. Sheeran, Beyond Majority Rule: Voteless decisions in the Religious Society of Friends.
16 See Brian Robertson’s patent application Pub. No. US2009/006113 A1. The patent application was filed in 2007, became public in 2009, and was subsequently abandoned.

Revision history:

Date Comments
2016-07-29 First draft published.
2016-07-30 Table updated. Information section added.
2016-07-31 Table updated (additions). Sections updated and titles changed. Notes added.
2016-08-01 Table updated (additions). Taiichi Ohno’s name added. Minor changes in the text.
2016-08-06 Table updated (additions). Notes updated.
2016-08-07 Table updated (addition).
2016-10-03 Table updated (addition).
2016-10-21 Table updated (additions).
2016-11-01 Table updated (additions).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Bioteams obliterate permission structures

Here is a post by Doug Kirkpatrick where he reviews Ken Thompson’s book Bioteams: High Performance Teams Based on Natures Most Successful Designs. Thompson notes that bioteams obliterate permission structures, which are so common in traditional organizations. Accountability is instead a natural consequence of the transparency and reliance on reputation in bioteaming.