Organizing as synergistic relationality

Here is a post by David Ing with notes from a plenary Christopher Alexander Lecture by David Seamon at PUARL 2018 Conference.

David Seamon talked about wholeness, where the whole remains whole. Wholeness is a global thing, easy to feel, hard to define. Seamon makes the following distinction between analytic vs. synergistic relationality.

Analytic relationality
– Belonging together.
– Whole as interconnected parts and relationships.
– Loses sight of how parts already belong together.
– Analytic relationality in General Systems Theory, from von Bertalanffy, is reductive and piecemeal.

Synergistic relationality
Belonging together.
– Whole is an integrated and generative field.
– Sustaining and sustained by collective belonging.
– Whole is self-organizing as each part enters into the constitution of every other part.

David Seamon also talked about place as synergistic relationality. I think we can view organizing as synergistic relationality too. It’s when individual or group actions, experiences, intentions and meaning are drawn together.

David Seamon asks if place can be described generatively and if there are underlying processes that might help us see? My questions are if organizing can be described generatively too, and how we can find other ways of looking and seeing?

Henri Bortoft called the switch of attention from what we see to the way in which we are seeing a dynamic way of seeing. For more information, see Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter by Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson, and First Steps to Seeing: A Path Towards Living Attentively by Emma Kidd.

Related posts:
Book Review: Holonomics
Book Review: First Steps to Seeing
Henri Bortoft on human organizations and relationships
Henri Bortoft on seeing life itself

Published by Jan Höglund

Jan Höglund has over 35 years of experience in different roles as software developer, project manager, line manager, consultant, and researcher. He shares his reading, book reviews, and learning on his personal blog.

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1 Comment

  1. “A thing is whole according to how free it is of inner contradictions. When it is at war with itself, and gives rise to forces which act to tear it down, it is unwhole. The more free it is of its inner contradictions, the more whole and healthy and wholehearted it becomes”.
    The Timeless Way of Building , Christopher Alexander (OUP USA, 1980).

    I quote this (with permission) in Right to Left, and we riff on that a bit further here: https://www.agendashift.com/wholehearted – it has become something of a mission statement.

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