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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

Principles of healthy living systems

Elisabet Sahtouris identifies the following Organizational and Operational Principles of Healthy Living Systems in her book EarthDance (my emphasis in bold):1

  1. Self-creation (autopoiesis)
  2. Complexity (diversity of parts)
  3. Embeddedness in larger holons and dependence on them (holarchy)
  4. Self-reflexivity (autognosis-self-knowledge)
  5. Self-regulation/maintenance (autonomics)
  6. Response ability — to internal and external stress or change
  7. Input/output of matter/energy/information from/to other holons
  8. Transformation of matter/energy/information
  9. Communications among all parts
  10. Empowerment — full employment of all component parts
  11. Coordination of parts and functions
  12. Balance of Interests — negotiated self-interest at all levels of holarchy
  13. Reciprocity of parts in mutual contribution and assistance
  14. Conservation of what works well
  15. Innovation — creative change of what does not work well

1 Elisabet Sahtouris, EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution, p.369.

Related post:
Operating as mechanism vs. organism

Michelle Holliday on thrivability

Michelle Holliday

I tweet quotes from the books I read from my twitter account @janhoglund. Here is a compilation of the most retweeted and liked quotes from Michelle Holliday’s upcoming book The Age of Thrivability: Vital Perspectives and Practices for a Better World (in italics):

… thrivability – the intention and practice of enabling life to thrive as fully as possible, at every level.

… what if we made it our primary intention and goal to enable life to thrive …?

… our … role is not to tightly control … but to cultivate the necessary fertile conditions for life to self-organize …

… systems thinking remained (and still generally remains) grounded in a mechanistic model …

… the persistence of mechanistic thinking … is valuable to some degree and absurd if taken as the total view.

Even Deming’s forward-looking systems vision was implemented in mechanistic fashion.

… the patterns and larger goal of all life … [is] to connect to itself in ever more complex forms …

… all life is … a single interwoven tapestry of living, evolving, creative organisms.

… engaging … life in our organizations and communities … unleash unprecedented wisdom, collaboration, creativity and impact.

If … divergence is not integrated into the whole, then the living system … is jeopardized.

… the real point of our efforts is to participate in and support life’s ongoing ability to thrive.

… the mechanistic view of organizations as machines prompts us to put people in service of infrastructure and process …

When infrastructure is … in service of the life in an organization, what naturally emerges is what I call Practical Play.

We have mistakenly assumed that play is the opposite of work.

Seeing the organization as one coherent living system … opens up new possibilities.

When we see organizations as living ecosystems, the goal more naturally shifts to enabling life to thrive …

… the most effective solutions will be those generated by the organization itself.

… our opportunity – and pressing need – is to participate consciously, intentionally and in harmony with life’s processes …

… “thrivability” – … can be understood as the intention and practice of crafting an organization as a “space for life.”

… “responsibility” … is most of all “response-ability.”

What is needed in the Age of Thrivability is … integration of … [divergence, relationship, wholeness, self-integration].

For some reason, it’s only MBA students who ask me: how do you measure thrivability?

… fundamentally reconceiving the organization and our role within it is the most powerful “social innovation” possible.

Related post:
Book Review: The Age of Thrivability

Joseph Campbell on following your bliss

Joseph Campbell

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.
Wherever you are — if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.

The adventure is its own reward — but it’s necessarily dangerous, having both negative and positive possibilities, all of them beyond control.
We are following our own way, not our daddy’s or our mother’s way…

There’s something inside you that knows when you’re in the center, that knows when you’re on the beam or off the beam.
And if you get off the beam to earn money, you’ve lost your life.
And if you stay in the center and don’t get any money, you still have your bliss.

— Joseph Campbell 1

1 Maria Popova, How to Find Your Bliss: Joseph Campbell on What It Takes to Have a Fulfilling Life, Brain Pickings, 9 April 2015. (Accessed 17 March 2016)