Organizing retrospective 22

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?
This is my first post of the year, so I’ve decided to do a retrospective, not only of the last week, but also of what has happened since I started this series on “organizing between and beyond” six months ago.

Source: David Bohm & F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010, first published 1987), p. 275.

The series is inspired by David Bohm and F. David Peat’s notion of “the order between and beyond” in Science, Order, and Creativity.1 Here is my review of Bohm and Peat’s book.

I think that we need to move “beyond” our traditional ways of organizing work. We need to transcend the compromises of “organizing in between.” Here is my first post in the series. And here is my second post where I identified three organizing questions. I then started to answer these questions:

  1. Here is an overview of existing organizing orders. I realized pretty soon that the many different frameworks, approaches, and conceptions that exist cannot be thought of as being well-defined organizing orders.
  2. Here is an analysis of organizing orders. The analysis is done for the sake of understanding the key assumptions underlying each approach. Within what limits are these assumptions valid? An assumption isn’t necessarily wrong, but it can be a limiting case.
  3. And here is a synthesis of organizing orders. The purpose of the synthesis is to combine the key assumptions into a whole. Many of the approaches are based on specific assumptions (machines) which are not generally applicable to living systems (organisms). It’s as if we treat organizations as approximate machines, since we only understand how to operate machines. Here is how organizing based on a view of organizations as living systems can look like.

In hindsight, I’ve realized that I only updated the analysis and synthesis during the first month. On the other hand, I’ve spent much time exploring the different notions of order, mis-information, and meaning:

My inquiry was initially purely rational-analytical, but I realized after three months that I also had to let my heart in-form the work. Maria Popova explains it eloquently like this: “The wisdom of the heart … is of a wholly different order than the intellectual insight we synthesize through deliberate rational thought.”2 This has lead me to exploring Malcolm Parlett’s notion of whole intelligence. Here is my review of Parlett’s book Future Sense. There are crucial personal learnings here for me.

Looking at what has happened this week, I finished reading A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan.3 Part of Brogan’s motivation in writing the book is to help the reader develop a new watching, questioning eye.4 One take-away is that when we disconnect from a sense of inner (implicate) guidance, we are forced to rely on external (explicate) constructs.5 Here is my book review.

I have also been reading Pathways to Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander. Zander’s intention is to strengthen the reader’s observing part.6 She has spent the last fifteen years to understand human growth and expansion.7 One of the stories that caught my attention is the story about how a new and young CEO showed the workers how badly the company was doing, and asked for their help. The CEO related on an equal footing with all employees. This created deep resonance within the organization which enabled it to act swiftly and decisively.8

Finally, I’d also like to highlight the following blog posts:

  • Here is Peter Pula on why hosting is harder than leading. Holding space for life requires a readiness to be changed personally, to learn, and to be surprised.
  • Here is Bob Emiliani on the historical parallels between Scientific Management 100 years ago and Toyota Management today. Both resulted in an army of consultants. Most focus on the technical aspects, not the human aspects.
  • And here is Charles Tolman on organizing principles. I find Charles Tolman’s perspective particularly intriguing and fascinating. Perceiving livingness requires mobile thinking perception. Thinking in a living way is required whenever we are dealing with human situations.

Going forward, I need to clarify my direction by identifying new organizing questions.

One question which interests me is whether there’s a limit on what you can compute, i.e., what you can express as algorithms? This goes back to Charles Tolman’s organizing principles. Thinking which is fixed into rule-based structures have unwanted side effects, like making it difficult to think in a mobile, living way. Interestingly, Robert Rosen claims — on mathematical grounds — that organisms aren’t computable.9

What was good? What can be improved?
Simon Robinson continues to provide valuable input to my work. This week, he provided the links to Charles Tolman’s recent posts. Simon writes about Charles Tolman here and here on his own blog Transition Consciousness: Making the transition to a better world.

Again, I need to clarify my direction going forward.

1 David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010, first published 1987), pp. 275–314.
2 Maria Popova, Proust on Love and How Our Intellect Blinds Us to the Wisdom of the Heart | Brain Pickings (2016-08-12) (accessed 2016-11-05).
3 Kelly Brogan, A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives (Thorsons, 2016).
4 Ibid., pp. 15–16.
5 Ibid., p. 277.
6 Rosamund Stone Zander, Pathways to Possibility: Transforming Our Relationship with Ourselves, Each Other, and the World (Viking, 2016), p. 7.
7 Ibid., p. xiv.
8 Ibid., pp. 119–123.
9 Robert Rosen, Essays on Life Itself (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), pp. 295, 298–299.

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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