Organizing retrospective 11

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’ve worked on several parallell tracks this week with input from Diane Musho Hamilton (conflict resolution), Christopher Alexander (living structure & pattern language(s)), Mae-Wan Ho (coherence), Roger Penrose (non-computational mind), and Daniel Mezick et al. (open space agility).

I’ve written a review of Diane Musho Hamilton’s book Everything Is Workable, which is about conflict resolution. Here is the book review. Constructive conflict resolution is critically important. Working with conflict requires learning how to take several perspectives, and how to relate with strong emotions, such as fear. Misinformation is reduced through the meditative practice of staying present, unbiased, and available.

”Rather than cope with … anxiety and doubt,
we are tempted to … collapsing reality into a single point of view.”1

I’ve started re-reading Christopher Alexander’s four volumes on The Nature of Order. Alexander’s notion of living structure is highly relevant to my inquiry into deeper generative orders for organizing. I noticed, with interest, that Christopher Alexander refers to David Bohm.

“Perhaps one of the clearest statements so far
has been expressed by … David Bohm.
Bohm tried to outline a possible theory
in which order types of many levels exist …”2

However, Christopher Alexander didn’t find Bohm’s ideas directly useful, since they are not concrete enough to give any practical help with architecture. Alexander’s A Pattern Language, on the other hand, describes detailed patterns for towns, buildings, gardens, and work.4 Interestingly, Alexander discovered weaknesses with patterns and the pattern languages.

“I began to notice … some weaknesses in our work
with patterns and the pattern languages.
… the buildings generated were okay, but not profound.”3

I think the reason why patterns cannot generate profound structure is that patterns are explicate orders. If you want to create living structure (and living organizations) you have to go deeper into the implicate orders. Here is my analysis of Christopher Alexander’s pattern language. And here are Alexander’s patterns related to work.

I’ve also started re-reading Mae-Wan Ho’s two books The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms, and Living Rainbow H2O this week. Ho is an original thinker. Her research is very interesting. My hypothesis is that the physics of organisms can give insights into the deeper generative orders for organizing. A key notion is (quantum) coherence.

“A coherent state … maximizes both
global cohesion and local freedom.
Nature presents us a deep riddle that compels us
to accommodate seemingly polar opposites.”5
“Quantum coherence … is incredibly dynamic,
involving astronomical numbers of the most diverse players …
freely improvising from moment to moment,
yet keeping in tune and in step with the whole.”6

I’ve finished reading Roger Penrose’s Shadows of the Mind. Penrose argues strongly that mind cannot be described in any kind of computational or algorithmic terms. If Penrose is right, then matters which requires understanding and other qualities, such as moral judgments, lie — in principle — beyond the capabilities of automation.

And finally, I’ve also read The OpenSpace Agility Handbook by Daniel Mezick, Deborah Pontes, Harold Shinsato, Louise Kold-Taylor, and Mark Sheffield during the week. I found the ideas from cultural anthropology and game psychology interesting. A key notion from anthropology is liminality. The core idea in OpenSpace Agility is that handling liminality reduces the worry, anxiety, and fear associated with Agile adoptions. Here is my book review.

  • Next week, I will focus on Giles Hutchin’s Future Fit, which is a workbook on the qualities required for future-fit businesses.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’ve had a productive week. Simon Robinson, co-author of Holonomics, and I had a brief discussion about liminality while I was reading The OpenSpace Agility Handbook. The word liminality comes from Victor Turner. Interestingly, Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson also quote Turner in their book on Holonomics.7 I’ve added Victor Turner’s From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play and The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure to my reading list.

  • I need to spend more time on reflection, weaving the different thoughts and perspectives together.

1 Diane Musho Hamilton, Everything Is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution (Boston & London: Shambhala, 2013), p. 58.
2 Christopher Alexander, The Nature of Order, Book One: The Phenomenon of Life (Berkeley, California: Center for Environmental Structure, 2002), p. 10.
3 Christoper Alexander, The Origins of Pattern Theory, the Future of the Theory, and The Generation of a Living World (transcript of a recording at OOPSLA 1996, San Jose, California) (accessed 2016-10-15).
4 Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, with Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, and Shlomo Angel, A Pattern Language (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), p. ix.
5 Mae-Wan Ho, The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms (World Scientific, 3rded. 2008), p. 282.
6 Mae-Wan Ho, Living Rainbow H2O (World Scientific, 2012), p. 41.
7 Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson, Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter (Floris Books, 2014), p. 35.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

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. This is his personal blog where he shares his reading, book reviews, and learning.

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