Kategoriarkiv: Books

Organizing retrospective 78-79

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

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

Books
The following books arrived these two weeks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Walk Out Walk On

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaret J. Wheatley and Deborah Frieze write that:11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organizing reflection 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

F. David Peat, Gentle Action.

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

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

Organizing reflection 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organizing retrospective 74

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: goodreads.com

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

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

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

Posts
Additional posts that I have published this year are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Book Review: The Spirit of Leadership

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Leadership Agility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Reinventing the Sacred

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

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

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

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

Book Review: The Werkplaats Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a beautiful book!

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

Book Review: Mindstorms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: The Power of Eight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Human Dynamics

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Anam Ċara

Introduction
Anam Ċara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World by John O’Donohue is a book which is intended to be an oblique mirror where we might come to glimpse the presence, power, and beauty of both inner and outer friendship.1

John O’Donohue was born in Ireland and spoke Irish as his native language. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul, and ċara is the word for friend. So anam ċara means soul friend. In the Celtic tradition, the anam ċara was a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life.2

Overview
John O’Donohue writes that friendship is a creative and subversive force.3 He describes friendship as an act of recognition and belonging.4 Your forgotten, or neglected, inner wealth begins to reveal itself in the belonging between soul friends. The soul is the house of belonging, and the body is in the soul.5

Where you are understood,
you are at home
.6

John O’Donohue not only explores outer friendship, but also the art of inner friendship. Solitude awakens new creativity within us. And when our inner lives can befriend the outer world of work, new imagination is awakened and great changes can take place.7 It is, however, very difficult to bring the world of work and the world of soul together.

Work […] should be an arena of
possibility and real expression
.8

John O’Donohue contemplates our friendship with the harvest time of life, old age. He even reflects on death as the invisible companion who walks the road of life with us from birth.9

Conclusions
The book is a broad and deep reflection on friendship. John O’Donohue takes his inspiration from his Irish heritage. The book is, in essence, an inner conversation with Celtic imagination and its spirituality of friendship.10 It’s a beautifully written book full of wisdom. I will return to the book again and again!

Notes:
1 John O’Donohue, Anam Ċara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World (Bantam Books, 1997), p15.
2 Ibid., p16.
3 Ibid., p15.
4 Ibid., p16.
5 Ibid., p17.
6 Ibid., p36.
7 Ibid., p17.
8 Ibid., p169.
9 Ibid., p18.
10 Ibid., p19.

Book Review: Walk Through Walls

Walk Through Walls by Marina Abramović with James Kaplan is a memoir. It’s the story of Marina Abramović’s life and how she became a performance artist. Marina grew up in Belgrade and was often punished for the slightest infractions. The punishments were almost always physical.

Marina Abramović’s mother and aunt used to hit Marina black and blue. Sometimes they would lock her into a closet. Marina was afraid of the dark and used to talk to the ghosts in there.1 Marina’s father was often absent but he never hit her. She came to love him for that.2

It’s incredible how fear is built into you,
by your parents and others surrounding you.
You’re so innocent in the beginning;
you don’t know.
3

Art was holy to Marina Abramović’s mother, so she encouraged Marina to become an artist.4 Actually, art was the only freedom Marina had. There was money for painting, but not for clothes.5 Marina Abramović realized however that two-dimensional art truly wasn’t her thing.6 Instead, she became interested in performance art.

A curator from Scotland visited Belgrade at the end of 1972, looking for fresh ideas for the next Edinburgh Festival.7 This gave Marina Abramović the possibility to visit Edinburgh.8 While performing Rhythm 10—which is a violent game with sharp knives—at Endinburgh a strange feeling came over Marina. She became one with the audience. A single organism.

Marina Abramović describes this feeling of total connection with the audience as she—at the same time—became a receiver and transmitter of a huge Tesla-like energy. The pain and fear was gone. She had become a Marina which she didn’t know yet.9 It felt as though the possibilities for performance art were infinite.10

Marina Abramović was later invited to Naples in 1975,11 where she turned herself into an object in Rhythm 0. There were several objects that anyone could use on her as desired. There was even a pistol with one bullet.12

At first not much happened, but then someone cut her neck with a knife and sucked the blood. A very small man put the bullet in the pistol and moved the pistol toward her neck. Someone grabbed him. The audience became more and more active, as if in trance.13 Marina Abramović realized after the performance, half naked and bleeding, that the public can kill you.14

In 2010, over 750 000 people waited in line for the chance to sit across from Marina Abramović in The Artist is Present. From the beginning, people were in tears—and so was Marina.15

…to achieve a goal,
you have to give everything until you have nothing left.
And it will happen by itself. That’s really important.
This is my motto for every performance.
16

The wall in the book title is pain. At first, the pain is excruciating, then it vanishes. That’s when you’ve walked through the wall and come out on the other side.17 Marina Abramović grew up with very much pain. She has spent a lifetime transcending pain through her performance art—not only her own pain, but also the pain of others.18 And sometimes there’s a deep connection on the other side of the wall.

Notes:
1 Marina Abramović with James Kaplan, Walk Through Walls (Penguin, 2016), p.7.
2 Ibid., p.8.
3 Ibid., p.1.
4 Ibid., p.13.
5 Ibid., p.14.
6 Ibid., p.48.
7 Ibid., p.56.
8 Ibid., p.57.
9 Ibid., p.60.
10 Ibid., p.64.
11 Ibid., p.67.
12 Ibid., p.68.
13 Ibid., p.69.
14 Ibid., p.70.
15 Ibid., p.309.
16 Ibid., p.146.
17 Ibid., p.75.
18 Ibid., p.342.

Book Review: Freedom from Command and Control

Freedom from Command and Control by John Seddon is a book about a better way to make work work. The focus of the book is on the translation of the principles behind the Toyota Production System for service organizations.1

The better way has a completely different logic to command-and-control, and that, perhaps, is the reason it is difficult to understand. People interpret what they hear from their current frame of reference, so what they hear is not necessarily what is meant.2

The cornerstone of command-and-control is the separation of decision-making from work. Command-and-control is based on top-down hierarchies where managers manage people and money. Managers make decisions on budgets, targets, and so on.3

The command-and-control management pioneers were Frederick Taylor (scientific management), Henry Ford (mass production), and Alfred Sloan (management by numbers). The issue is not that command-and-control was without value, but that we have not continued to learn. The problem is a problem of thinking.4

Taiichi Ohno at Toyota developed a radically different approach the management of work.5 Instead of top-down command-and-control management, Toyota uses local control at the point where the work is done.6 This philosophy is fundamentally different. The attitude is no longer to make the numbers, but to learn and improve.7 It requires power-with, rather than power-over, and runs counter to the underlying hierarchical command-and-control philosophy.

People who work in a command-and-control environment become cogs in the machine. Management makes the decisions and manages the scheduling, planning, reporting and so on. It’s an environment that works with information abstracted from work.8 Integrating decision-making with the work produces a totally different management infrastructure.9

Measures are usually derived from the budget in command-and-control organizations. Moreover, connecting work to arbitrary measures creates the need to have additional people scheduling work, reporting on work, and making demands on those who do the work. Separation of decision-making from the work is the defining logic for command-and-control-management.10

Integrating the information needed with the work itself changes the point of control, from external to internal, and, consequently has a positive impact on motivation. Optimizing the flow leads to lower costs because you only do what you need. Moving the locus of control to the worker makes it possible for him or her to perform different work depending on what is needed.11 Moreover, if something goes wrong it can be seen and corrected at once.12

In manufacturing you ‘get away with’ command-and-control because the products you make are standard. Traditional command-and-control responds to variety by establishing procedures, standards, and the like. The consequence is enourmous amounts of waste when applied to service organizations.13 Maximizing the ability to handle variety is central to improving service and reducing costs. This can only be done by intelligent use of intelligent people, where workers are connected with customers in self-organizing relationships.14

Diversity of flow is the hallmark of good service. In managing flow the work itself is the information, and this in turn comprises the information required to direct operations in the work. It is an unquestioned assumption in command-and-control that managers should have and set targets and then create control systems to ensure the targets are met. In Toyota these practices simply do not exist. To make service organizations work better, they need to be taken out.15

The Toyota system exemplifies economies of flow, which is a step beyond economies of scale. The concepts associated with the economies of scale have governed management thinking for the last century and more.16 Economies of flow represent a challenge to current beliefs. It is a challenge of of such a scale that this becomes the most important hurdle for managers to get over. The ideas themselves are simple, logical, and practical. However, they are different, unfamiliar, and, as a consequence, often perceived as a threat. They are certainly counterintuitive to the command-and-control mindset.17

The management principles that have guided command-and-control are logical – but it’s the wrong logic. The better way has a different logic. John Seddon uses the entire book to eloquently explain this better logic.

Notes:
1 John Seddon, Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work (Vanguard Consulting Ltd, 2005, 2nd edition), p.23.
2 Ibid., p.8.
3 Ibid., p.8.
4 Ibid., p.9.
5 Ibid., p.15.
6 Ibid., pp.15–16.
7 Ibid., p.16.
8 Ibid., p.17.
9 Ibid., p.19.
10 Ibid., p.19.
11 Ibid., p.20.
12 Ibid., p.21.
13 Ibid., p.21.
14 Ibid., p.22.
15 Ibid., p.22.
16 Ibid., p.22.
17 Ibid., p.23.

Book Review: A Feeling for the Organism

A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock by Evelyn Fox Keller is a story of the interaction between an individual scientist, Barbara McClintock (1902–1992), and a science, genetics.1 The book serves simultaneously as a biography and as an intellectual story. Evelyn Fox Keller shows how science is both highly personal and a communal endeavor.2

The role of observation in Barbara McClintock’s experimental work provides the key to her understanding. What for others is interpretation, or speculation, is for her trained direct perception.3 McClintock pushed her observational and cognitive skills so far that few could follow her.4 She talked about the limits of verbally explicit reasoning and stressed the importance of having a ”feeling for the organism.” Her understanding emerged from a thorough absorption in, and even identification with, her material.5

The word ”understanding,” and the particular meaning Barbara McClintock attributed to it, is the cornerstone of her entire approach to science. For McClintock, the smallest details provided the keys to the larger whole. It was her conviction that the closer her focus, the greater her attention to the unique characteristics of a single plant, the more she could learn about the general principles by which the plant as a whole was organized.6

Over and over again, Barbara McClintock emphasized that one must have the time to look, the patience to ”hear what the material has to say to you,” the openness to ”let it come to you.” Above all, one must have ”a feeling for the organism.”. ”No two plants are exactly alike. They’re all different, and as a consequence, you have to know that difference,” she explained. Both literally and figuratively, her ”feeling for the organism” extended her vision.7

For Barbara McClintock, reason — at least in the conventional sense of the word — is not by itself adequate to describe the vast complexity of living forms. Organisms have a life and order of their own that scientists can only partially fathom. No models we invent can begin to do full justice to the prodigious capacity of organisms to devise means for guaranteeing their own survival. It is the overall organization, or orchestration, that enables the organism to meet its needs, whatever they might be, in ways that never cease to surprise us. That capacity for surprise gave McClintock immense pleasure.8

Our surprise is a measure of our tendency to underestimate the flexibility of living organisms. The adaptability of plants tends to be especially unappreciated. There is no question that plants have all kinds of sensitivities.9 The ultimate descriptive task, for both artists and scientists, is to ”ensoul” what one sees, to attribute to it the life one shares with it.10 In short, one must have a ”feeling for the organism.”

Barbara McClintock had a holistic perspective and got a much deeper understanding than most scientists because she was interested in and got a ”feeling for the whole organism.” Barbara McClintock was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. I find her life and work most fascinating.

Notes:
1 Evelyn Fox Keller, A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock (W. H. Freeman and Company, 1982), p.ix.
2 Ibid., p.xiii.
3 Ibid., p.xiii.
4 Ibid., pp.xiii–xiv.
5 Ibid., p.xiv.
6 Ibid., p.101.
7 Ibid., p.198.
8 Ibid., p.199.
9 Ibid., p.199.
10 Ibid., p.204.

Book Review: Waking

Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence is a book where Matthew Sanford shares his own story without judgment, protection, and sentimentality.1 It’s a book about appreciating and believing in your own experience.2

At the age of thirteen, Matthew was in a car accident that killed his father and sister. It also left him paralyzed from the chest down.3 Matthew met his yoga teacher, Jo Zukovich, twelve years later.4 This changed his life and lead to an exploration of the possibilities of yoga and paralysis together.

Jo Zukovich had the patience and foresight not to force the Iyengar system of yoga onto Matthew’s body. Instead, Jo had faith in the system’s underlying principles. Iyengar emphasizes alignment and precision. Jo and Matthew discovered that alignment and precision increase mind-body integration regardless of paralysis.5

The mind is not strictly confined to a neurophysiological connection with the body. Matthew discovered that if he listens inwardly to his whole experience, he can actually feel into his legs. It is simply a matter of learning to listen to a different level of presence, a form of presence that subtly connects the mind to the body.6 Matthew describes this form of awareness a tingling, a sense of hum.7

Although Matthew’s life has taken much away, it has also revealed a powerful insight. The outer layer of Matthew’s legs and torso have been stripped away through the paralysis, but he has also learned to experience a more direct contact with an inner presence of consciousness. The silence Matthew encountered within his paralysis is the nexus within his mind-body relationship.8

Matthew’s memoir is a page-turning story, which I find most fascinating. Life presents its purpose and beauty in all sorts of ways.9 The challenge is to step more deeply into our lives, to stay open to our own experience — to not deny it, but rather to simply have it.

Notes:
1 Matthew Sanford, Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence (Rodale, 2006), p. 245.
2 Ibid..
3 Ibid., p. xv.
4 Ibid., p. 161.
5 Ibid., p. 188.
6 Ibid., p. 193.
7 Ibid., pp. 194, 198.
8 Ibid., p. 200.
9 Ibid., p. 233.

Book Review: Focusing

Focusing: How to Gain Direct Access to Your Body’s Knowledge by Eugene T. Gendlin is a most interesting book. Focusing is a skill which was discovered through fifteen years of research at the University of Chicago. Eugene T. Gendlin studied, together with a group of colleagues, why therapy so often failed to make real difference in people’s lives. And in the rare cases when therapy does succeed: What is it that successful patients and therapists do?1

Seeking the answers, the researchers analyzed literally thousands of therapist-patient sessions. These studies led to several findings. One is that differences in therapy methods mean surprisingly little. Nor does the difference lie in what the patients talk about. The difference is in how they talk.2

The purpose of the book is to teach focusing. Most importantly, not only is focusing an internal act which is useful in therapy. It’s also useful in approaching any problem or situation. Focusing enables you to find and change where your life is stuck. It enables you live from a deeper place than just thoughts and feelings.3

Focusing is natural to the body, and it feels that way. There is an experience of something emerging from the body that feels like a relief and a coming alive.4 A few seem to use focusing intuitively now and then, but it is mostly unused in most people. Some people learn focusing fairly fast, while others need weeks or months.5

Focusing is a process in which you make contact with a special kind of internal bodily awareness, a felt sense.6 The felt sense is a physically sensed knowing. The body knows the whole of each of situation, vastly more aspects of it than you can think.7

body shift is a definite physical feeling of something changing or moving within, a tight place loosening. Often what is next for the body is not what would logically come next. Focusing is unpredictable.8 And it is something to be used every day, as part of the daily existence.9

Just getting in touch with one’s feelings often brings no change. One must let a larger, wider felt sense form, which at first is unclear.10 Intellectuals like to figure things out. What is important is that the body is allowed to take the first steps. The analysis isn’t effective before these steps.11 When your felt sense changes, you change—and, therefore, so does your life.12

A felt sense is a physical experience.13 Since it doesn’t communicate in words, it isn’t easy to describe in words. It is a deep-down level of awareness.14 An emotion is often sharp and clearly felt. A felt sense, being larger and more complicated, is almost always unclear—at least until you focus on it.15 It bypasses your thinking mind. But when you let the felt sense form, then you can work with more than you can understand. And when you attend to the felt sense, it will shift.16

Eugene T. Gendlin divides focusing into six main movements: 1) Clear a space. 2) Felt sense. 3) Get a handle. 4) Resonate. 5) Ask. 6) Receive.17 To think of them as separate movements makes the inner act seem more mechanical than it is. Gendlin starts by giving the focusing instructions in a brief manual style from. He then approaches the movements from several different angels and explains them in more detailed.18 Finally, he reviews the most common problems that interfere with people’s focusing, and suggests ways to get unstuck.19

At the end of the book, there is a Listening Manual which was written for people who simple wanted to help each other with focusing.20 Four kinds of helping are discussed: 1) Helping another person focus while talking.21 2) Using your own feelings and reactions about the person.22 3) Interaction.23 4) Interacting in a group.24

To handle ourselves and our situations, we need to get into more of our own experience. The more deeply we go, the more the unique individual emerges.25 Beyond feelings, there is a holistic body sense, at first unclear, that can form. It is sense of the whole meaning of a particular situation or concern. It is from this felt sense that body shifts can arise. This cannot be figured out. It has to be met, found, felt, attended to, and allowed to show itself.26

A person’s experience is not a pattern. It might seem to fit a pattern just now, but moments later it will fit another or none. In any case, the seeming fit will never be exact, for experience is richer than patterns. Moreover, it’s changing.27 New forms can come from inside each person, instead of being imposed from the outside.28

Focusing lets people find their own inner source of direction. Instead of static structures we need dynamic structure-making. If we accept ourselves and each other as form-makers, we no longer need to force forms on ourselves and each other.29 Adopting patterns, old or new, is not the way. A sensitive focusing approach can eventuate really livable patterns suited uniquely to each of us and our situations.30

The holistic felt sense is more inclusive than reason. It includes the reasons of reason, as well as feelings, and much more. That holistic sense can be lived further, and has its own directionality. It is your sense of the whole thing, including what you know, have thought, and have learned. What is first sensed holistically is more basic than thoughts, feelings, and ways of acting that are already formed, already cut into existing patterns.31

A felt sense is body and mind before they are split apart. Focusing is not an invitation to stop thinking. It begins with the felt sense, and we then think verbally, logically, or with images. When there is a body shift, our thinking come together with the body-mind.32 Thinking put in touch with what the body already knows and lives is vastly powerful.33

Lived experience is more organized, more finely faceted, than any concepts can be. And lived further, experience creates new meanings that takes account of, but also shifts, earlier meanings.34 Focusing is a really powerful skill! It’s a different way of thinking and approaching any situation.

Notes:
1 Eugene T. Gendlin, Focusing: How to Gain Direct Access to Your Body’s Knowledge (Rider, 2003, first published 1978), p.3.
2 Ibid..
3 Ibid., p.4.
4 Ibid., p.8.
5 Ibid., p.9.
6 Ibid., p.10.
7 Ibid., pp.vii–viii.
8 Ibid., p.14.
9 Ibid., p.16.
10 Ibid., p.29.
11 Ibid., p.31.
12 Ibid., p.32.
13 Ibid..
14 Ibid., p.33.
15 Ibid., p.35.
16 Ibid., p.36.
17 Ibid., pp.173–174.
18 Ibid., p.43.
19 Ibid., p.64.
20 Ibid., p.117.
21 Ibid., p.118.
22 Ibid., p.127.
23 Ibid., p.135.
24 Ibid., p.141.
25 Ibid., p.155.
26 Ibid., p.156.
27 Ibid., p.157.
28 Ibid., p.158.
29 Ibid., p.159.
30 Ibid., p.160.
31 Ibid..
32 Ibid., p.165.
33 Ibid..
34 Ibid., p.166.

Book Review: Survival in the Organization

Survival in the Organization: Gunnar Hjelholt Looks Back at the Concentration Camp from an Organizational Perspective by Benedicte Madsen & Søren Willert is a small book and a quick read. The book is about Gunnar Hjelholt’s life with a focus on his time in a German Concentration Camp during World War II. I found the last few pages of the book most interesting.

What strikes Gunnar Hjelholt are the similarities between the concentration camp and organizations in general. ”Every position is connected to privileges. Salaries are dependent on the position in the hierarchy. You lose your privileges, if you don’t do your job. That is, unless you make sure that people below you in the hierarchy do their jobs and do not cause trouble. On top of it all you have the board of directors and the stockholders. In the concentration camp version, they were the SS. Their purpose is setting objectives and defining the task they want done. They determine how many resources can be made available for completing the task and then they appoint someone to be in charge of the operations … The rest takes more or less care of itself.” (pp.86–87).

Unfortunately, the really interesting question how ”a system would look like if God had created it” is saved ”for another time” (p.88).

Quotes of John Welwood

This is a compilation of my tweets from John Welwood’s book Toward a Psychology of Awakening. Hence all these quotes are the length of tweets.

… how we relate to another inevitably follows from how we relate to ourselves …

… our outer relationships are but an extension of our inner life …

… we can only be as open and present with another as we are with ourselves.

Courage involves facing the world squarely and letting your heart be touched, forever opening to life, come what may.

The core wound … is the disconnection from our own being.

… our lives unfold within … structures … surrounded by vast reaches of open space.

When we laugh, we have just stepped out of a structure.

In any process of growth … we always reach this … point where we must decide whether we really want to move forward …

… who I think I am now is always determined by who I thought I was a moment ago.

At some point in our development, it’s time to let go of the fabricated control structures that once served us so well.

… our larger awareness is the ultimate holding environment that can allow us to embrace all our … feelings & experiences …

Most people in our culture did not receive … unconditional acceptance in … childhood.

The health of living organisms is maintained through the free-flowing circulation of energy.

… the ungraspable, open-ended nature of reality … is what allows life to keep creating and recreating itself anew in each moment

If relationships are to flourish, they need to reflect and promote who we really are …

The less we need to hide, the more we can come forward as we really are.

On one hand, we long to break out of our separateness …Yet at the same time, we also experience trepidation.

If we hold on too tight or let go too much, we lose our balance.

Unconditional love has its reasons, which reason cannot know.

Because we are of this earth, we exist within certain forms and structures (body … beliefs and values) …

The leader in pathological groups is usually a magnetic, charismatic person who exudes … boundless self-confidence.

Corrupt leaders prey deliberately on their followers’ sense of personal inadequacy.

… the more the followers give the leader power … , the more he can … force them to do anything … in order to maintain his approval.

The more that self-trust is broken down, the more the followers try to model themselves on … the leadership.

The more one depends on another for validation, the more one is likely to act in ways that compromise one’s integrity.

… the more one’s integrity becomes compromised, the less one trusts oneself, which increases one’s dependency on the leader.

Failing to recognize important distinctions … only contributes to the confusion …

… identity structures are made of beliefs.

Through learning to speak truthfully and listen respectfully … we start to practice genuine meeting and dialogue …

Community is born in the relationship between I and Thou.

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