Kategoriarkiv: Organizing

Organizing reflection 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

So my (rather simple) conclusions is the following:

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

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

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

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

And, in this interview from 1994 Christopher Alexander says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, in other words, does it feel right?

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 105

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

What has happened? What needs to be done?
This week I published the following (almost) daily reflections:

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 13

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

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

Rachel Naomi Remen says:1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 97-104

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 of the last two months.

Here are highlights from the books I’ve read during the last two months:

  • A Gymnasium Of Beliefs In Higher Intelligence by Anthony Blake.

    Many books claim all kinds of truths. This is not one of them. One theme throughout the book is that of illusion. Anthony Blake adopts the position that some things are not what they seem to be. He has studied physics and the philosophy of science, and had many conversations with David Bohm. Bohm influenced Blake a lot, especially with the idea that there’s no one true theory.
    .
    The word gymnasium means a place of nakedness. Anthony Blake recommends that whenever a view is put forward—think of its contrary! A belief cannot include all possibilities, so at best is partial and provisional. Emotions reveal what bind us into a view of reality. Listen to all voices, especially when they contradict each other.
    .
    Understanding means enabling one’s own mind to change. It comes out of the body and what we do. Intelligence is engaged in fact, while illumination comes from beyond fact and subsists in value. Anthony Blake proposes that when people coalesce their individual intelligences a higher order can emerge. One approach is through dialogue.
    .
    Listening is an action of tremendous depth. It requires an act of receptivity. Such an act is much rarer than any act of assertion. Seriously listening to other people is next to impossible for many because even just allowing different views to pay a visit is felt to be akin to annihilation.
    .
    Most attempts to bring people together for mutual enhancement of intelligence fail. Yet there’s evidence of such groups coming about of their own accord. Such groups are characterized by the following:
    .
    1. All members are equal in status.
    2. There is no limit on what is spoken about.
    3. The group operates from the content of the present moment. This requires a sensitivity to what is happening now.
    .
    I find it most interesting, in terms of generative organizing, that there’s no presupposition of solutions in dialogue. This is very different from the approach of imposing a system. Dialogue is more than just clever conversation. In dialogue, there is no leader, no agenda, and no set procedure. Dialogue is making one’s way through meaning as it unfolds without prejudgment. The direction emerges from the group. Needless to say, members of the group can easily inhibit or distort the process.
    .
    This is a thought-provoking book!
    .
  • Man or Matter: An Introduction to a Spiritual Understanding of Nature on the Basis of Goethe’s Method of Training Observation and Thought by Ernst Lehrs.
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe published his Metamorphosis of Plants in 1790. A mechanism can be taken to bits and re-assembled. An organism does not permit this. Goethe developed a clear distinction between two ways of observing the world, ascribing one to verstand (intellect), the other to vernuft (reason). Goethe discards the idea that measurement is absolutely superior to sense-perception.
    .
    One of the first systematic pieces of work which Goethe undertook was to go through Newton’s Opticks: or, A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light, sentence by sentence, recapitulating Newton’s experiments. Goethe’s examination of the Newtonian procedure showed him that to gain an explanation of natural physical phenomena, we must approach them through the way nature brings them into being.
    .
    A source of illusion lies in the fact the onlooker consciousness accepts itself as a self-contained ready-made entity. The feeling of certainty and security arises from the exactness in mathematics. The price paid is that the scope of the enquiry into nature is narrowed. Goethe found access not only to nature’s quantitative secrets—but also to nature’s qualitative secrets.
    .
    The book is interesting, but the translation into English is awkward!
    .
  • Small Arcs of Larger Circles: Framing Through Other Patterns by Nora Bateson.
    Nora Bateson suggests that we ”see our world differently—as a living process, not as a mechanism” (Bateson, Small Arcs of Larger Circles, p.186).

    ”There is an alive order that we are within and that is within us.”
    —Nora Bateson, Small Arcs of Larger Circles, p.17

    ”The idea of systems” is from ”the ’50s when cybernetics emerged” (p.95). ”Cybernetics … found purchase in the larger culture’s … industrial and mechanistic thinking” (p.95). The ”habit of applying the problem-solving methods of the engineer” is so pervasive that ”the language of the entire body of systems and complexity theory has become a container for slightly higher order reductionist thinking” (p.188).
    .
    The ”traps of linear and causal thinking, the notions of control, and the mechanistic approach to life … is repeatedly evident in all aspect of our culture” (p.96). The ”underlying metaphors” are based on ”the logic of industrial causation and mechanized interaction” (p.31). ”Life is not like that” (p.31). The ”actions and decisions … we make … based on this limited view … of course lead to trouble” (p.31). Organisms lives within ”the totality of patterns and relationships” (p.40). Complexity ”demands a more engaged inquiry” (p.41).
    .
    Nora Bateson often receives ”a plea for a map, a method, and a technique” (p.77). But, ”attempting to solve a problem by going at it directly is only occasionally effective” (p.77). ”The problems we see are nested in contexts” (p.77). Strategizing ”our way through becomes short-circuiting which is often destructive” (p.77). The ”options that surface when viewed from a wider angle,” a broader context, ”are entirely unplannable” (p.77).
    .
    ”Living systems … require more than one context of study if we’re to get a grasp of their vitality” (p.79). The ”subjectivity of our perspective is what gives depth and in-form-ation to everything we see” (p.101). ”Working and playing with the complex living world requires multiple languages, multiple ways of knowing” (p.205).
    .
    There are ”countless variables moving and changing in countless ways” in any ”living system” (p.133). The ”messy interaction with life” is not just ”a method of making decisions—it is an aesthetic” (p.139). Nothing can be ”more practical than to become more familiar with the patterns of movement that life requires” (p.140).
    .
    I agree with Nora Bateson that the ”lens through which we see systems theory or cybernetics or complexity will influence what we do with it” (p.95). The lens may still be an old one even though the language is new.
    .
    This is a personal and beautiful book! Enjoyed reading it.

  • The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View by Richard Tarnas.

    Richard Tarnas believes that ”only by recalling the deeper sources of our present world and world view can we hope to gain the self-understanding necessary for dealing with our current dilemmas” (Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, p.xi). Every generation must, furthermore, ”examine and think through again, from its own distinctive vantage point, the ideas that have shaped its understanding of the world” (p.xii).
    .
    Between ”the mid-fifteenth and early seventeenth centuries, an unmistakable quantum leap was made in the cultural evolution of the West” (p.247). The ”basic conception of the physical universe as an atomistic system ruled by a few mechanistic laws became the guiding model for the seventeenth-century scientists” (p.268).
    .
    Although Newton’s ”concept of gravity as a force acting at a distance” seemed ”insufficiently mechanical … the mathematical derivations were too spectacularly comprehensive not to be compelling” (p.270). The ”Newtonian-Cartesian cosmology was now established as the foundation for a new world view” (p.270).
    .
    ”Descartes used Galileo’s distinction between primary, measurable properties of objects and secondary, more subjective properties” (p.278). ”In Descartes’s vision, science, progress, reason, epistemological certainty, and human identity were are inextricably connected with each other and with the conception of an objective, mechanistic universe” (p.280).
    .
    As the ”Cartesian-Newtonian framework was drawn out to its logical conclusions, the implications … were gradually made explicit” (p.285). The ”universe was an impersonal phenomenon, governed by regular natural laws, and understandable in exclusively physical and mathematical terms” (p.285). ”The structure and movement of nature was the result of … an amoral, random, and brutal struggle for survival” (p.285). The ”purpose of knowledge … was to better align nature to man’s will” (p.295).
    .
    The ”Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment brought Western man unprecedented freedom, power, expansion, breadth of knowledge, depth of insight, and concrete success” (p.325). And yet ”simultaneously served … to undermine the human being’s existential situation on virtually every front: metaphysical and cosmological, epistemological, psychological, and finally even biological” (p.325).
    .
    With ”Galileo, Descartes, and Newton, the new science was forged” (p.236). And yet ”simultaneously, the new world was disenchanted” (p.236). ”The new universe was a machine, a self-contained mechanism of force and matter” (p.236). Science’s ”quantitative analysis of the world … was accompanied by the … diminuation of all those qualities … constitutive of human experience” (p.236).

    ”Reality may not be structured in any way the human mind can objectively discern.”—Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, p.359.

    ”In contrast with … the Enlightenment, the Romantic vision perceived the world as a unitary organism rather than an atomistic machine” (pp.366–7). ”In a world made mechanical and soulless by science, the pursuit of beauty for its own sake assumed extraordinary psychological importance” (p.373).
    .
    Goethe ”strove to unite … observation and … intuition into … a science capable of grasping nature’s organic archetypal forms” (p.378). ”The scientist could not, in Goethe’s view, arrive at nature’s deeper truths by detaching himself from nature and employing … abstractions to understand it, registering the external world as a machine” (p.378).
    .
    ”Bohm’s theory of the implicate order” and ”Bell’s theorem of nonlocality” point to new possibilities for a ”less reductionist scientific world conception” (p.405). ”Evelyn Fox Keller’s … recommendation … of empathic identification with the object … reflects a similar reorientation of the scientific mind” (p.405).
    .
    The challenge is to engage the ”set of perspectives which brings forth the most valuable, life-enhancing consequences” (p.406). The ”great irony” is that when we ”actively construes the world as unconscious, mechanistic, and impersonal, it is just then that the world is completely a selective construct of the human mind” (p.432).
    .
    This is a very well-written book, which took ten years to write!

  • Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizing World by Harrison Owen.

    Harrison Owen’s ”operating hypothesis” is that ”self-organizing systems are naturally productive … of superior performance” (Owen, Wave Rider, p.xvi). The argument of the book is that ”our organizations, as indeed the entire cosmos—are all self-organizing systems” (p.6). ”Not just a little bit, … but from beginning to end, top to bottom” (p.6).
    .
    This means that ”a large part of what we currently devote a good deal of time and energy to—organizing things—is wasted effort” (p.6). By ”imposing our view of organization on a self-organizing system we essentially throw a spanner in the works” (p.7). Organizations work despite our organizing efforts.
    .
    ”The image of the Wave Rider comes from the world of surfing” (p.7). The objective is ”to ride the wave … until you reach the beach” (p.8). For ”every beginning there is an end” (p.34). ”The simple truth of the matter is that as chaos, confusion, and conflict do their work, things come and go” (p.34). All three ”seem to be essential to living, and therefore their elimination would do substantial damage to life” (p.31).
    .
    Difficulty arises when ”life is downsized (at least in our thinking) to that which is observable and under our control” (p.40). ”Not only is everything radically connected, but it is all moving, and with every move the nature and impact of the interrelationships can change” (p.49). ”We are dealing with something of such magnitude, complexity, and changeability that even thinking about it creates massive overload” (p.52).
    .
    ”The conventional practice and theory of organization … find it difficult to understand how a group … might move from … confusion to active and productive engagement, without the benefit of an agenda, prior training, and intense facilitation” (p.63). ”Conditions” for making it happen are (pp.69-70):
    .
    1. A ”real” business issue
    2. Voluntary self-selection
    3. High levels of complexity
    4. High levels of diversity
    5. Presence of passion and conflict
    6. A decision time of yesterday
    .
    The ”significant difference” here is that ”structure and controls … are emergent, which is to say that they emanate from the group as a whole and therefore are appropriate to the people…, the task…, and the environment” (pp.75–6). ”When caring people gather around something they care about, there is a high likelihood that useful things will happen” (p.79).
    .
    In short, everything is self-organizing, ”even and perhaps most especially, all those things we thought we organized and must control” (p.233). Effective work ”emerge naturally from the people themselves, all in tune with the task undertaken and the environment” (p.132). Authentic leadership ”emerges from the passion and responsibility of those who care…, creating focus and direction for the emergent organization, and a nutrient space in which that organization may grow” (p.132).
    .
    This is a great book! Harrison Owen is one of my favorite authors. Here is my review of The Spirit of Leadership: Liberating the Leader in Each of Us, which is another of Harrison Owen’s books.
    .
  • Gaia’s Dance: The Story of Earth & Us by Elisabet Sahtouris.

    Elisabeth Sahtouris is among the scientists changing their views from a non-living to a living universe. Gaia’s dance is what we have come to know as Earth’s evolution. We are all part of Gaia’s dance, so the more we learn about it, the more we learn about ourselves as people of Earth.
    .
    A machine is created from the outside by someone who puts its pieces together in just the right way to make ti do what is wanted. A living being creates and continually keeps renewing itself. When something goes wrong with a machine, it must be repaired, while a living being often can repair itself.
    .
    Co-evolution happens as organisms try out all ways of life in Gaia’s dance. The knowledge how to co-operate is there in both bees and flowers, as in the rest of nature. Life organizes itself in intelligent and mostly co-operative ways. Ecosystems are made of countless different kinds of organisms all working together with no one of them in charge.
    .
    The old, mechanical way, of looking at the world, with organisms simply evolving by accidents which fit or didn’t fit them into their contexts, is just too simple a view. Organisms improvise and make it up as they go, using their intelligence to work out whatever problems come in their way, correcting imbalances so that all can dance together.

    ”Organization works best when it is cooperative and flexible. If it gets too rigid or too competitive, it does not work very well for long. We easily see this in the discontent people are now feeling about the old mechanical ways of organizing our schools, our work places and even our governments—as if they were supposed to work like well-oiled machines in which we were the parts! People now want to be treated like intelligent beings who can be improv dancers helping to reorganize such systems so they work better for us all.”
    —Elisabet Sahtouris, Gaia’s dance: The Story of Earth & Us (Kindle version)

    The human history is a story of competition and cooperation. Learning to co-operate well has been most important from the very beginning. Human society was, and still is, in a competitive expansion phase with corporate empires now larger than most nations. The problem is that we have left out some of the most important things in a co-operative society: the equal role of women, the concern for future generations, and the need to give back to nature for everything taken from it.
    .
    Human co-operation is necessary now for our survival. Being creative, greedy, and mean to each other worked to get us to where we are, but are now out of step with Gaia’s dance. Just how we work things out is not so important. What matters is that we do it in a way that works for everyone. Instead of hating each other, we can help and learn from each other. It seems as we need the challenge of immense disasters to get creative enough to wake up and act.
    .
    This is a thoughtful book!

  • The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Sensei by George Leonard.

    ”When confronted by any attack…, the aikidoist … enters and blends. That is, he or she moves toward the incoming energy and then, at the last instant, slightly off the line of attack, turning so as to look momentarily at the situation from the attacker’s viewpoint. From this position, many possibilities exist, including a good chance of reconciliation.”
    —George Leonard, The Way of Aikido (Kindle version)

    The very essence of aikido is contained in the blending move. The aikidoist moves toward the attacker. In this position, he or she is looking from the attacker’s viewpoint—without giving up his or her own viewpoint. This blending move multiplies your options. Blending isn’t the answer for every situation, but it can multiply your options.
    .
    It’s important that you are firmly connected to the earth, with your energy concentrated in your hara (center), as you blend. To blend consistently under pressure requires practice. Blending is an expression of the willingness to embrace even the strongest attack, and to bring it into concord with the unity of the universe.
    .
    The physical techniques in aikido are only the surface manifestations of a more profound reality. Each of as can be viewed as a context of the universe from a particular point of view. Each of us can act as if we are at the center of existence—allowing others the same privilege. To do so we must get in touch with our own center. The impetus of our actions must arise in our center.
    .
    All you have to do is put you attention on the hara, but the ramifications of centering can take a lifetime to play out. While physical centering is always a pre-requisite, there’s also centering in non-physical activities. To see, breathe, and move from the center can change our lives. Physically, as well as symbolically, the hara can be treated as the center of power.
    .
    Centering affects the outcome of our actions in many ways. And as the pressure increases, the difference between the centered and uncentered states becomes more apparent. To be centered is to say yes to life. Being willing to own your life creates a context that is almost sure to enhance it.
    .
    A context isn’t just a passive container for our experience. It impels and directs our thoughts, emotions, and actions. It deals with how we weave our experience together to give it meaning. Context can limit and it can liberate. Changing context opens up new possibilities. It is ours to change.
    .
    Executing techniques is not the end of the process. It is the beginning of the next action. When we become aware between techniques, techniques improve. When we approach an activity in the spirit of play—joyfully, for its own sake—we are likely to achieve the best results.
    .
    This is a great book! The aikido philosophy translates surprisingly well into guidelines for living.

  • The Silent Pulse: A Search for the Perfect Rhythm that Exists in Each of Us by George Leonard.

    This book is about the underlying rhythm that sustains life and underlies all of existence. There exists a silent pulse of perfect rhythm at the center of our lives. Getting in touch with this rhythm can transform our personal experience and alter the world around us.
    .
    Rhythm is a fundamental aspect of organization. The process of entrainment is the essence of human communication. A variety of bodily processes become synchronized through close interaction. The more you move in rhythm with someone, the close you become with that person. This is true not only with human beings but with all living organisms.
    .
    Entrainment is made explicit in music. The performer’s movements must be perfectly entrained with the pulse of the music, or else the performance falls apart. Human beings have an ability to sense, feel, and move as one. Watch the members of a chamber group—how they become as one.
    .
    Every creative act, every act of interaction, has its own movements, which can be suppressed only at the expense of what is spontaneous, and ultimately nourishing. At the heart of life, there is this silent pulse of perfect rhythm. It is our most accessible entry into the dance of Gaia, the dance of the universe. This subtle dance joins us to the world. At the heart of the world, there is only the dance.
    .
    How arrogant it is to think that we can stand alone apart, against the world. We are part of all that we perceive. It appears that objects are to be known by their relationships rather than by any independent, fixed character. The idea of an individual human identity can be expressed through a distinctive inner pulse.
    .
    The senses are means of connecting the organized rhythmic fields that we call the self with all the rhythms of the world. But our connectedness with the world goes beyond the sensory. It is built into our very structure. Mind and matter do influence each other. Everything that happens everywhere is somehow connected.
    .
    Every part of the universe in some sense contains the whole. You might think of yourself, not only as a series of rhythmic fields within fields, but also as a series of holoids within holoids. Just as you have identity, you also have holonomy. The very structure of your body and being may be said to reflect the ongoing structure of the universe.
    .
    The physically expanding universe is also a universe of evolution, transformation, and expanding possibilities. And the predominant direction of this evolution is toward increasing complexity and order, with new information, new options manifesting themselves at every point.
    .
    The relationship between identity and holonomy is always going on, a silent pulse at the heart of our experience. We are continually influencing our universe through our own intentionality. The present moment always contains an element of genuine novelty. The universe is continually at work of restructuring itself.
    .
    Our key choice is whether to become aware of and take responsibility for the power of our intentionality. A truly centered person feel no need to exploit others for selfish purposes. Each of us is a context, a weaving together of universal information from a particular point of view. We are not mere observers, but are always active participants at the feast of life. .
    .
    Each of us is in the universe, the universe is in each of us.
    .
    I really liked this book!
  • Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard.

    George Leonard writes that mastery ”resists definition yet can be instantly recognized” (Leonard, Mastery, p.5).  Mastery ”comes in many comes in many varieties, yet follows certain unchanging laws” (p.5). ”It brings rich rewards, yet is not really a goal … but rather a journey” (p.5).
    .
    The quick-fix mentality that pervades our society ”not only prevents us from developing our potential skills but threatens our health, education, [and] relationships” (p.6). ”Again and again we are told to do one thing only so that we can get something else” (p.39). ”We spend our lives stretched on an iron rack of contingencies” (p.39).
    .
    ”The achievement of goals is important” (p.39). But the juice of life ”is to be found not nearly so much in the products of our efforts as in the process of living itself, in how it feels to be alive” (p.39). Goals and contingencies ”exist in the future and the past” (p.48). ”Practice, the path to mastery, exists only in the present” (p.48).
    .
    The ”Five Master Keys” are (p.vii):
    1. Instruction
    2. Practice
    3. Surrender
    4. Intentionality
    5. The Edge
    .
    ”Our preoccupation with goals, results, and the quick fix has separated us from our own experiences” (p.141). To put it more starkly, ”it has robbed us of countless hours of the time of our lives” (p.141). Excessive use of external motivation can ”slow and even stop” our ”journey to mastery” (p.137). ”The ultimate reward is not a gold medal but the path itself” (p.138).
    .
    This book is okay, but I think George Leonard’s books on The Way of Aikido and, especially, The Silent Pulse are better (see above).

I’ve started reading:

What was good? What can be improved?
I am a very active reader. I need to become more active with my own writing.

Notes to myself:

  • There’s as big difference between intrinsic vs. extrinsic organization/structure/order as there is between intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.
  • There’s also a difference between authentic vs. counterfeit organization/structure/order. (See this post on how authentic vs. counterfeit are connected to the phenomenological idea of belonging together vs. belonging together.)
  • An example of belonging together (Henry Bortoft, Taking Appearance Seriously, p. 21) is Harrison Owen’s genuine community (Owen, Wave Rider, pp. 76, 132).
  • An aikidoist (George Leonard, The Way of Aikido) is a wave rider (Harrison Owen, Wave Rider).
  • Dialogue (Anthony Blake) is a way to open space (Harrison Owen).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 91

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?
Finally, here is my review of Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective by Eugene Gendlin. This is a most interesting book, but it’s also a very difficult book to read. It has taken me several weeks to finalize the review. Eugene Gendlin considers felt experiencing in its own right:

  • We can think everything more truly if we think with attention to how we think.
  • Symbols and felt meanings function together in different ways.
  • Experiencing underlies every moment of living.
  • Experiencing is the total of experienced meaning.
  • It is vitally important to refer directly to experiencing.

What was good? What can be improved?
I am glad that I finally managed to finish my review of Eugene Gendlin’s book. I mentioned the book the first time in this retrospective almost a year ago. I think Gendlin’s work is groundbreaking. Felt experiencing is how we tap into deeper generative order. Here is also my review of another of Gendlin’s books. It’s a book on Focusing: How to Gain Direct Access to Your Body’s Knowledge.
Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 90

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

What has happened? What needs to be done?
I finished reading the following books this week:

  • Mind and Nature by Gregory Bateson. Bateson believes that mental process always is a sequence of interactions between parts. He doesn’t believe that elementary particles are minds in themselves. Contrary to Bateson I do believe that elementary particles have proto-minds. Here is my review.
  • The Myths We Live By by Mary Midgley. Myths are are imaginative patterns, networks of symbols. The way we imagine the world determines what we think important in it, what we select for our attention. That is why we need to become aware of these symbols. Here is my review.
  • The Garden Awakening by Mary Reynolds. This is a book about designing gardens that are radiant with life, bursting with energy. I think that Mary Reynolds’ approach to garden design is as applicable to organizational design. If we are to treat the organization as a living system, we must think in those terms. Here is my review.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’m really glad that I was able to publish three book reviews this week. Hopefully, I’ll be able to publish my ongoing review of Eugene Gendlin’s Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning next week. Gendlin’s book is a groundbreaking philosophical work. He considers felt experiencing in its own right, and explores how logical order can relate concretely to felt experience.

Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 89

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

What has happened? What needs to be done?
I am still working on my review of Eugene Gendlin’s Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective. This is a philosophical work where Gendlin examines the edge of awareness, where language emerges from non-language. This is a groundbreaking book which addresses pre-conceptual and supra-logical aspects of experiencing and meaning-making.

Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning.

Gregory Bateson’s Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity arrived this week. Bateson offers the phrase the pattern which connects as another possible title for the book.1 The book is built on the opinion that we are parts of a living world.2 We have been trained to think of patterns as something fixed. It is easier and lazier that way, but it is all nonsense. The right way to think about the pattern which connects is to think of it as primarily a dance of interacting parts.3 Logic and quantity turn out to be inappropriate for describing organisms, their interactions, and internal organization. There is no conventional way of explaining or even describing the phenomena of biological organization.4

Bateson, Mind and Nature.

I have started reading Gregory Bateson’s book and Mary Midgley’s The Myths We Live By. Myths are everywhere. In political thought (theories of human nature and the social contract), in economics (the pursuit of self interest), and in science (the idea of human beings as machines). The great thinkers of the 17th century were obsessed by the ambition to drill all thought into a single formal system. Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, tried to mend the mind/body gap by building abstract systems powered by their models of thought, logic, and mathematics.5 However, conceptual mono-culture cannot work because, in almost all our thought, we are dealing with subject-matters that we need to consider from more than one aspect.6

Midgley, The Myths We Live By.

What was good? What can be improved?
It’s good that I’ve got started with my review of Gendlin’s book, but it’s very difficult to create a concise summary of the book. Gendlin examines a new kind of thinking, which begins in the intricacy of felt meaning. The book is highly relevant to my interest in deeper generative orders for organizing.

Notes:
1 Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Hampton Press, 2002), p.7.
2 Ibid., p.16.
3 Ibid., p.12.
4 Ibid., p.19.
5 Mary Midgley, The Myths We Live By (Routledge, 2011, first published 2004), p.88.
6 Ibid., p.68.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 88

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?
Three new books arrived this week:

  • The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Buhner.
    This book explores the complex, multidimensional, intricately connected, living organism that we call Earth. Stephen Buhner has become one of my favorite authors. This is the fourth book of Buhner which I am reading.
  • The Myths We Live By by Mary Midgley.
    Myths are everywhere. In political thought they sit at the heart of theories of human nature and the social contract; in economics in the pursuit of self interest; and in science in the idea of human beings as machines.
  • Beyond the Limits of Thought by Graham Priest.
    This book investigates the nature and the limits of thought. The book is a blend of logic and the history of philosophy.

Last month, I read Masanobu Fukuoka’s first and last major works, The One-Straw Revolution and Sowing Seeds in the Desert. Masanobu Fukuoka criticizes our willingness to reduce life to what is know about it, and to act on the assumption that what we don’t know can safely be ignored. One principle that Masanobu Fukuoka followed was to consider how one could do as little as possible. This was not because he was lazy, but because of his belief that if nature were given the opportunity it would do everything on its own. Here is a compilation of my tweets from my reading Fukuoka’s books.

Fukuoka’s first and last major works (from left to right).

I am currently reviewing Eugene Gendlin’s book Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning. It’s a most interesting book which I mentioned in this retrospective last year. Experiencing, as defined by Eugene Gendlin, is directly related to the deeper generative order for organizing which I’m so interested in. I will post a review of Gendlin’s book next week.

Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning.

What was good? What can be improved?
I am glad that I finally got started with my review of Gendlin’s book. David Bohm and Eugene Gendlin’s thinking are cornerstones in this work. There are interesting parallels between Gendlin and Bohm:

  • Bohm talks about the implicate and explicate, while Gendlin talks about the implicit and explicit.1
  • Bohm explores the nature of consciousness, with particular attention to thought. Gendlin explores experiencing, with an emphasis on the ability to think with the intricacy of the situation.2
  • Bohm proposes that there is order in all aspects of life.3 So does Gendlin, who describes nature as a responsive order.4
  • Bohm thinks that all action, including inaction, takes place immediately according to the meaning of the total situation at the moment.5 Gendlin thinks that we orient ourselves in situations, and make appropriate responses, all on the basis of felt meaning,6 which is present whenever actions and situations occur that have meaning to a person.7

I think that Gendlin’s experiencing and creation of meaning is a Bohmian soma-significant activity, which gives rise to further signa-somatic activity.8

Notes:
1 Eugene Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective (Northwestern University Press, 1997, first published 1962), p.xiii.
2 Ibid., p.xii.
3 David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010-09-01, first published 1987-10-01), p.146.
4 Eugene Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective (Northwestern University Press, 1997, first published 1962), p.xix.
5 Paavo Pylkkänen (editor), The Search for Meaning: The New Spirit in Science and Philosophy, (Crucible, 1989), p.57.
6 Eugene Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective (Northwestern University Press, 1997, first published 1962), p.68.
7 Ibid., p.70.
8 Paavo Pylkkänen (editor), The Search for Meaning: The New Spirit in Science and Philosophy, (Crucible, 1989), p.46.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 84-87

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 of the last week, but of the last month.

The following books arrived this month:

  • Kidnapped in The Amazon Jungle by F. Bruce Lamb.
    This is the true story of Manuel Córdova-Rios and his life among the Huni Kui, an isolated tribe possessing sophisticated knowledge of the curative powers of jungle plants and the habits of the many animals that lived with them in the Amazon jungle.
  • Rio Tigre & Beyond: The Amazon Jungle Medicine of Manuel Córdova-Rios by F. Bruce Lamb.
    This is a continuation of the story in the previous book. The word psychosomatic hardly scratches the surface when it comes to a master like Manuel Córdova-Rios in the use of jungle plants as medicines.1 Interestingly, Córdova-Rios felt that his part in the healing process was not to eliminate or directly counteract the trouble, but rather to create a condition of harmony and stability that would allow the body to heal itself.2 Similarly, I think deeper generative organizing is about creating conditions that allow people to organize themselves. The follow-up question then is, what are these conditions?
  • Many Voices One Song: Shared Power with Sociocracy by Jennifer Rau and Jerry Koch-Gonzalez.
    This is a new book which probably will be out in June. Jennifer Rau asked me in February whether I was interested in reviewing the book and I answered yes! The book is a collection of tools, methods, formats that support acting as one while celebrating our many voices. I share Jennifer and Jerry’s view that organizations need be life-serving and all-embracing, that is—they need to work for everyone and hold care for everyone affected by the organization. Here is my book review.

This month, I also published this review of Kelvy Bird’s book on Generative Scribing: A Social Art of the 21st Century. Kelvy’s writing and drawing resonates deeply with me. Kelvy’s approach can, furthermore, be applied to other arts, crafts, and practices as well. I love the book!

Kelvy Bird, Generative Scribing.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’d really like to immerse myself fully in this work, but I’m working full time with other things. I need to find a solution to this!

Notes:
1 F. Bruce Lamb, Rio Tigre & Beyond: The Amazon Jungle Medicine of Manuel Córdova-Rios (North Atlantic Books, 1985),
1980), p. 158.
2 Ibid., p. 160.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Essential organizing principles for life

This is a post in my organizing ”between and beyond” series. Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to explore essential organizing principles for Life.

Background
This post is based on the article New Possibilities: A World That Works For Everyone – Part I by Skye Hirst. Skye Hirst explores ten essential organizing processes for life in the article. Her intention with the article is ”to study and learn how to foster Life-environments that enhance and allow the realization of these processes” (p.3). I share Skye’s conviction that ”with greater awareness of these necessities for living, a more peaceful, healthful and meaningful existence can occur for humanity everywhere” (p.3).

Organizing principles
Skye Hirst identifies the following ten organizing processes and needs in the article:

  1. Intrinsic intention
    Living, Learning and Acting in concert with one’s own nature” (p.3). All life forms have an intrinsic uniqueness. Living beings have an inherent right to be themselves, to thrive, and to flourish. We need to be able to act in concert with our own knowing.
  2. Intrinsic meaning
    FIND Sense of Purpose & Meaning” (p.4). We feel fulfilled when we act from our our inner knowing. Doing something which has a coherent overall felt sense feels meaningful. This intrinsic felt sense gives our lives direction and focus. We feel creative and alive.
  3. Right action
    Use SELF-INTEGRITY to find right action” (p.4). We feel an internal integrity, or coherence, when we act in concert with our intrinsic selves.
  4. Effective action
    A need to EXPERIENCE A SENSE OF FULFILLMENT AND ACCOMPLISHMENT OF YOUR OWN CHOOSING” (p.4). Choices that feel like effective action inspires us to keep going to achieve our intention over and over again.
  5. Self-management
    A need to feel in charge of and able to manage our own lives” (p.5). Self-confidence and self-esteem grows from inside out. The richer the learning experiences are, the more confident we become. Confidence grows through action from intrinsic intention.
  6. Self-mastery
    A need to grow to be challenged Beyond Our Boundaries, Recognizing and Realizing our Genius, a chance to be ”somebody” because we are being what we were born to be” (p.5). We need to feel useful. And we need be challenged to develop our skills. There is something which no one can do as well you do.
  7. Self-inquiry
    A need to be aware and confident that we can think, learn and grow” (p.5). We need to discover and use our own unique learning abilities. There is an intrinsic self-satisfaction in pursuing self-directed inquiry.
  8. Wholeness of life
    A need to Recognize we are part of larger whole, a bigger picture and that we contribute to that picture in a meaningful way” (p.6). We are all connected. Nothing truly separate. We need to discover the bigger picture. We affect the whole, and the whole affects us.
  9. Spirit of life
    A need to experience a connection to the Spiritual, our inherent loving nature, the breath of life that breathes us, and there, find inspiration and integration” (p.6). We need time for reflection. We need to integrate our experiencing and learning. Doing something creative feels inspiring. Lovingness opens the space.
  10. Life is change
    A need to Develop the Ability to sustain “Not knowing” Taking Risk (The body/mind likes risks) Life requires creativity and novelty” (p.7).  We need to sustain the inquiry needed for learning, adapting, and living. Life is change. Tolerating ambiguity increases the variety and depth of learning.

Conclusion
It’s essential that we, as living beings, have the opportunity to find right and effective actions, that are guided by our intrinsic intentions and meanings, while feeling connected to the greater whole. This is a healthy environment in which we can learn, adapt, and thrive.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 74

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: goodreads.com

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

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

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

Posts
Additional posts that I have published this year are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 73

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

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

Wachterhauser, Beyond Being.

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

Barrow & Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.

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

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 72

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 71

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 70

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

What has happened? What needs to be done?
This week, I saw a little girl, crying, on her way to school, and wrote this poem.

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

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

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

S. Kauffman, Reinventing the Sacred.

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

R. Meyer & R. Meijers, Leadership Agility.

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

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 69

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

What has happened? What needs to be done?
Three new books arrived this week. The first one is Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and his Emissary.

I. McGilchrist, The Master and his Emissary.

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

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

J. Brown, The Art and Spirit of Leadership.

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

W. Rawson, The Werkplaats Adventure.

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

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

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

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

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