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?
Mechanistic vs. dynamistic thinking
Mechanistic thinking is everywhere. Not only do we see our organizations as machines. We even view ourselves and our bodies as machines. They are not. Goethe explained two hundred years ago why mechanistic thinking has become the order of the day (my emphasis in black):
We can grasp immediately causes and thus find them easiest to understand; this is why we like to think mechanistically about things which really are of a higher order. . . thus, mechanistic modes of explanation become the order of the day when we ignore problems which can only be explained dynamistically.1
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The belief that we can stand outside a system and make up a series of rules and suggestions for actions (like “best practices”) is everywhere too. Possibly for similar reasons as Goethe pointed out (my paraphrasing of Goethe in black):
We can grasp immediately processes and rules and thus find them easiest to understand; this is why we like to think algorithmically or procedurally about things which really are of a higher order. . . thus, computational modes of explanation become the order of the day when we ignore problems which can only be explained non-computationally.2
We need to replace our fixed strategies by approaches involving a constant dance forward into the doing and then back again to take into account the overall context and meaning of a situation. It is a dance that each individual and the organization as a whole need to perform together.
1 Stephen Harrod Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants, p.62.
2 An algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other operations. A procedure is a series of actions conducted in a certain order or manner.
Organizing in between and beyond posts