Harrison Owen on control

Here are quotes of Harrison Owen from an email to the World wide Open Space Technology email list August 30, 2015. (My highlights in bold.)

It has taken me a lifetime of living. But. I have learned two things, or maybe better, come to two conclusions. 1) All Systems are open. 2) All systems are self organizing.

All Systems are Open is a complicated way of saying that everything is connected, including all the things that aren’t really a “thing,” which we don’t even know about. The net result is an infinite complexity which is completely unthinkable. And what you can’t think, you surely can’t control. So much for THAT vain hope.

All Systems are self Organizing — I know of no way of actually proving this one, but it does seem a natural concomitant of the first conclusion. If you find yourself in an infinitely complex and interconnected environment, where nobody is, or can be, in control, such systems as are there, must have pretty well gotten themselves together all by themselves. … the systems around us, including those we think we organized, have a source other than our selves.

Life under the conditions described above (Open, Self Organizing Systems) can seem a little peculiar to some people, but it is not so much irrational as different. Certain “strange” things always seem to happen. For example, Whoever comes are the right people, whatever happens is the only thing that could have, wherever it happens is the right place, whenever it happens is the right time, and when it is over it is over. Always works out that way, so I’ve found.

… the truth of the matter is that doing less always seems to accomplish a great deal more. That said, there is one thing that we really have to do. Follow the Law of Two Feet! Strange sort of law which says – If ever you find yourself in a situation in which you are neither learning or contributing, you must move your two feet until you find yourself a new place where you can do the one, the other, or preferably, both. In a few words: Follow your passion and take responsibility for it.

Related posts:
What if control is inappropriate?
Pre-conditions for self-organization
Self-organization is the real operating system
Emergence is simply what life does
Empowerment is a red herring
Pre-conditions for self-organization
What if the organization is a living system?
Facilitating an Open Space
How to enable and sustain self-organization
TEDxTalk on Open Space Technology

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