Retrospective 2019-48

This is a summary of what happened last week.


This is the second week in a row that I have not painted. So many other things have been going on.


I attended a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training during the week. The focus in Lean Six Sigma is on removing waste and reducing variation. Lean Six Sigma was presented as a panacea, a cure-all. And still, one of the most frequent types of waste for me — interrupts — weren’t even mentioned. Reducing variation is, furthermore, only possible for truly repetitive processes.

The teacher said, for example, that: “We don’t expect creativity. You just need to execute.” He used an airline flying people from A to B as one of the examples when no creativity is needed. And still, at another occasion, the teacher expressed his appreciation of Lufthansa’s creativity when he was stuck at Heathrow due to snowfall.

My point is that the assumptions in Lean Six Sigma are valid, but only within narrow limits, when the situation is stable and there is a direct relationship between cause and effect. More often than not, we want people to be creative, and we have to live with variation (it’s not always a bad thing).


I finished reading F. David Peat’s The Philosopher’s Stone during the week. I really like the book! Peat argues that the universe is endlessly complex and that its subtlety can never be explained fully by any theory. One of the goals of the book is to explore the deep connections between the innerness, or essence, of things and their outerness, or external apperance.

Peat, The Philosopher’s Stone, and
Bohm & Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity.

I started my series of posts on Organizing Between and Beyond after having read David Bohm and F. David Peat’s Science, Order, and Creativity. Peat’s notions of creative suspension and gentle action in The Philosopher’s Stone are highly relevant to generative organizing. Gentle action is very different from the brute force used in traditional project management.

Now, I’ve started reading John Briggs and F. David Peat’s book Seven Life Lessons of Chaos. I’ve also started reading New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton.


I mentioned last time that I’ve started microblogging to keep track of my reading. Tweeting is a form of microblogging, but my content stays at Twitter. I’ve been tweeting quotes from the books I read since 2012. Now, I’ve started to look into how to transfer the content at Twitter into my microblog. I basically want to recreate my reading history. It’s going to be very useful in my own writing since it will give me access to all my reading at my fingertips.

Retrospective 2019-47

This is a look back at the week.


Tweeting is a form of microblogging, but my content stays at Twitter. This week I started a new microblog to keep track of my reading. The reason I got it done is that Twitter has started to spam me with “Was this you?” notifications. The thing is that I always login from the same three devices (home, work, mobile), and always log out for security & privacy reasons. Twitter obviously wants me to stay logged in. I’m considering logging out for ever.


I finished my rereading of David Whyte’s book The Heart Aroused this week. My reading of F. David Peats book The Philosopher’s Stone continues. Next week, I will publish quotes and notes on my microblog as I read.

I haven’t painted anything this week.

Book Review: Catafalque

Peter Kingsley, Catafalque, Volume 1 & 2.

Catafalque is a biography where Peter Kingsley offers a view of Carl Jung as a mystic and prophet. Kingsley is a pleasure to read. His writing is like music, but after a couple of hundred pages I got tired of the single tune. Catafalque is a meticulous work about Jung, and as such it’s impressive. It’s also a book about Kingsley himself and his relation with Jung. Peter Kingsley writes that Jungians didn’t understand Jung. Kingsley certainly provides an additional perspective.

Retrospective 2019-46

This is a summary of my reading and painting this week.


The Philosopher’s Stone: Chaos, Synchronicity and the Hidden Order of the World by F. David Peat arrived this week. I have started reading the book and will come back with a review. Peat is one of my favorite authors. My series of posts on organizing between and beyond is inspired by his and David Bohm’s notion of the order between and beyond in Science, Order, and Creativity.

Peat, The Philosopher’s Stone.


The following articles caught my interest during the week (my emphasis in bold):

  • Divine transports by Mark Vernon.
    “…social activities create a kind of buzz that he called effervescence. Effervescence is generated when humans come together to make music or perform rituals, an experience that lingers when the ceremonies are over.”
  • Positive Deviance – a ground-up approach to innovation by Jacqueline Conway (@DrJAConway).
    “A positive deviance approach assumes that it is those closest to the work that are best placed to address and solve organisational problems. … It assumes that behaviour change in a system is best achieved through practice and doing without the aid of someone ‘in charge’ …”
  • Lyla June on the Forest as Farm by Trace L. Barnett.
    “…I don’t like the word sustainability. We’re not just going to sustain ourselves; that’s a low standard. I’m going for enhanceability. The ability to enhance wherever I walk. The ability to make it better than when I found it.”
  • Zen and the Art of Seeing by Kees van Aalst.
    “What we see isn’t what we see, but who we are.”


I worked on following two paintings during the weekend. See Jan Höglund Art.

Retrospective 2019-45

This is a look back at this week’s reading and painting.



Recently, I have discovered Carolyn J Roberts’s – Fine Artist blog. Carolyn Roberts (@CRJFineArtist) took the decision six years ago to re-ignite her passion for art. I enjoy both her art and writing.

Another blog which has caught my interest is Vogel Wakefield’s – The counter-consultancy blog.


Martin Vogel (@martivo) writes in Conversations matters more that structure in organisations that “day-to-day interactions … are much more material to how things get done than the structures, strategies, documents and plans that people imagine to be their work.” Martin Vogel continues with: “One of the consequences of viewing an organisation as a thing is that managers … end up bringing the attitude they bring to other thing-like objects. Instead of relating to their colleagues as other human beings …, they implicitly treat them as constituent parts of a machine.” “It follows that one of the most critical skills for leaders is enabling in organisations the conversations that need to happen. This calls for approaches to facilitation that are mostly alien to managers accustomed to working with the organisation-as-thing analogy.”

Esko Kilpi (@EskoKilpi) writes in his article on We need to shift our focus from competencies to agency that “work corresponds with art through creative and contextual engagements.” Work is about “agency, human beings being … present for each other.” Esko Kilpi emphasizes that work is more about “exploration of solutions” than the “repetitive business processes we know so well, where inputs are … converted into outputs” in some “predictable” way. There are no “predetermined task sequences” that “guarantee success.” Work is “highly contextual”, and “requires interpretation” and “a new kind of agency.”

Esko Kilpi writes furthermore in his article on Complexity revisited that management theory is based on the assumption that the world can be “described and understood by identifying causal links: if I choose X, then it will lead to Y.” Esko Kilpi writes: “We try to model the world as predictable processes based on knowing how things are and controlling how they will be.” “We want things to appear orderly…, but what happens is inherently unpredictable.” “There is no linearity in the world of human beings. This is why our thinking needs to develop to something more applicable to sense making…” It’s about “being at the edge of chaos.” That is, being alive.

Another post I’ve read this week is the transcprition of Martin Fowler’s (@martinfowler) keynote, The State of Agile Software in 2018, at Agile Australia. Martin Fowler says: “It’s “values and principles that count”. People work “the best when they choose how they want to work.” “If you want to succeed in doing software development, you need to find good people. You need to find good people that work together at a human level, so they can collaborate effectively. The choice of what tools they use or what process they should follow is second order.” This is true for all knowledge work. (And all work is knowledge work.)


I started reading Imagine Chicago: Then Years of Imagination in Action by Bliss Browne and Shilpa Jain, with contributions from Diana Tatarchuk and Yasmeen Basheeruddin, and a forward by Melinda Fine. I got this book via Skye Hirst (@autognomics). Bliss Browne writes in A Mother’s Story that she “assumed that people connect out of common interests or strengths”, but understood that “our most profound connection is based in a common vulnerability”. Our common bond is “to recognize and accept.” One thing that has emerged for her is to “think like a mother.” Bliss Browne interpreted this to mean that “it was not necessary to create anything, only to stay open and present to what would emerge naturally.”


The workweek saps my creative energy. I have discovered that relaxation kick in while painting. I spent Saturday exploring a motif from Falkenberg, Sweden. The challenge is to get depth in the painting without it getting cluttered.

This week I have also made a series of paintings from Lillåudden, Västerås, Sweden.

Final reflection

I started searching for life-giving ways of working seven years ago. Lately, I have realized that my searching is more about seeing than finding. The first years, I spent much time searching for solutions. For example by learning about sociocracy, which lead to the publishing of Sociokrati — En metod för självstyre in Swedish on Leanpub. A year later, I started my series of posts on organizing between and beyond, which is an inquiry into deeper generative order for organizing. Another shift happened this year when I started painting. It’s all about seeing!

Retrospective 2019-40—44

This is a summary of my reading and painting during the last month (week 40–44, 2019).


I published the following paintings at Jan Höglund Art:

Paintings by Jan Höglund


I finished reading the following books:

  • The Book On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts. Watts explores in this book who, or what, we really are. We are in an urgent need—even more so today than when Watts wrote this—of a sense of our own existence which is in accord with physical facts and which overcomes our feeling of alienation with nature.
  • A Question of Physics: Conversations in Physics and Biology conducted by Paul Buckley and F. David Peat. The book contains conversations with Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, Roger Penrose, Ilya Prigogine, Robert Rosen, David Bohm, and others. Buckley and Peat have focused on areas, they feel, hint at the next scientific revolution. It’s a very interesting book.
  • The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works by Ricardo Semler. This book reminds me of Ricardo Semler’s other book Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace. Ricardo Semler is a visionary and most unusual himself.
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. This is, in many, ways an amazing book. What Paulo Freire has to say about oppression and human freedom is highly relevant. But Freire’s revolutionary language is awkward, and I don’t see any value in his references to Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Castro. If anything, these men were oppressors. Paulo Freire has much wisdom to share all by himself. I liked the book.

I started reading and re-reading the following books:

I want to read the following books and added them to my reading list:


Finally, I made the following notes to myself:

  • Organizing arises through the movement of inquiry rather than as an output of it.
  • Inquiry is making fresh sense between us how we get to be here and how we can move beyond.
  • Generative organizing is about shifting the focus from planning of outcomes to participation in inquiry.
  • Our interactions are always evolving in ways that we cannot control or predict, no matter how sophisticated our planning.
  • Dialogue is a special form of conversation.
  • Generative organizing is conversational.
  • I have to paint to balance my darkness.
  • The manager has no choice but to dominate.
  • Paulo Freire’s generative theme reminds me of David Bohm’s generative order.
  • Loving commitment is dialogical.
  • I am increasingly detecting a gap between teams who understand how work works and senior managers who are still driven by management myths.
  • What we value, or not, has consequences.
  • It’s very hard to reach a well-adapted state in any organization we are trying to meddle in.
  • Life-affirming organizing can only be obtained when we agree to use the worker’s feeling of his or her own aliveness. Subjective as it sounds to our mechanistic ears, this is nonetheless objective. It opens the door to a Christopher Alexander’s concepts of wholeness, centers, fifteen properties, and structure-preserving transformations shed useful light on organizing.
  • One cannot confront the problems of organizing without facing fundamental questions of human feeling, spirit, and beauty.
  • Wholeness is related to aliveness.
  • Wholeness can be felt but is hard to define.
  • Wholeness is where the whole remains whole.
  • Instantaneous connection is a form of wholeness.
  • It is all too easy for our thinking to lose sight of the very quality of livingness.
  • You can’t grasp the past, the present, or the future.
  • We can’t pin down what’s implicate.
  • By calling something something, we dispose ourselves to think of it in that way.
  • We need to reconnect with our five-year-olds within.
  • It “takes two” to make something happen.
  • The order the generative work mirrors acting; it is organic, unfolding, and embraces ambiguity.
  • Love flows through, stronger than any destructive force. –Skye Hirst
  • The whole both determines its sub-wholes and organizes its activity. –David Bohm
  • There are profound connections between the way organisms work and the quantum level.
  • Our belief systems deeply influence the organizations we create.
  • Movement, transformation and change are primary (verbs), not interaction between objects (nouns).
  • Live in the present.
  • Together yet apart (nonlocality).
  • What if there is no disorder, but only different degrees of order?
  • What the next moment will bring is unknown, let alone the next day, month, year.
  • It’s easy to desire the wrong things.
  • It’s easy to be certain and wrong.
  • There’s so much in life that cannot be calculated.
  • As one is, so one sees.
  • Lovingness is your being. You don’t have to be separate. –Skye Hirst
  • Implicate order is subtle and pervasive.
  • People are already self-organizing.
  • Implicate order is more powerful than explicate
  • You cannot change a system unless you transform consciousness.
  • Organizations are more like organisms than machines.
  • Coherence is the basis of living organization.
  • Living organization allows organisms to be organisms.

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

Posts on David Bohm

David Bohm is one of the most interesting thinkers that I’ve encountered during all years of reading. Here’s an overview of posts where I mention David Bohm in one way or another:


Organizing retrospective 126 — A retrospective of 2018.

Book Review: The Supreme Art of Dialogue by Anthony Blake

Book Review: Mind and Nature by Gregory Bateson


Organizing retrospective 74 — A retrospective of 2017.

Paavo Pylkkänen on David Bohm’s interpretation of the quantum theory

Interviews with Basil Hiley

Book Review: Artful Leadership by Michael Jones

Book Review: The Future of Humanity by Jiddu Krishnamurti and David Bohm

Book Review: A Key to Whitehead’s Process and Reality Donald W. Sherburne


Organizing retrospective 22 — A retrospective of the 2nd half of 2016.

Analysis of pattern languages

Analysis of the systems view of life

Free flow of meaning

Meaning as being

Book Review: Mind, Matter and the Implicate Order by Paavo Pylkkänen

The meaning of meaning

Information vs. misinformation

Implicate vs. explicate orders

David Bohm on ecology, organization, thinking, dialogue, and wholeness

The very quality of livingness

Analysis of process thinking

Authentic vs. counterfeit orders

Organizing in between and beyond

Book Review: Science, Order, and Creativity by David Bohm and F. David Peat

What is life?

Book Review: Infinite Potential by F. David Peat

Book Review: Synchronicity by F. David Peat


The uncovering of the U-process


The differences between discussion and dialogue

Two experiments in collective decision-making


I’m interested in how to tap into the collective intelligence of a group, for example, in decision-making.

Two weeks in a row I’ve facilitated two different workshops which had the specific aim to make decisions in two separate but related areas. In both cases the needed decisions were long overdue. In one case, with several years.

So, what did we do? How did it go? And what did I do as the facilitator?

It turns out that I did very little. It went well. And we did the following…


1. Opening

The first thing I did was to remind the participants why they had been invited. I said that my expectation, or at least hope, was that we were going to be able to think together in order to reach a decision. And then I made a round and asked the participants about their own expectations. I also made it clear that it was pefectly ok to pass. Some did. One or two participants had clarifying questions, which led us to the next step.

2. Background

I had asked one of the participants to prepare and provide a background. This led to a conversation between the participants. From time to time, I stepped in and tried to summarize what had been said so far.

3. Proposals

I had asked the participant who provided the background to also prepare some proposals for the decision. This led to a continued conversation. Again, I stepped in from time to time to summarize what I had heard. I also started to act as a time keeper, especially in the second workshop, reminding the participants how much time we had used, and how much time was left.

4. Decision

In both workshops, the participants used the proposals as input to the creation of their own proposal, which, actually, became the decision.

5. Closing

The last thing I did was to ask the participants for their feedback on the workshop. What was good? And what they thought could be improved? Again, I made it clear that it was ok to pass. Some passed. Several participants agreed with what the previous person had said.


So, what are my observations and conclusions?

My main observation is that the participants took care of themselves, both as individuals and as a group. I helped the group by mirroring back what I heard, and by reminding people about the time left.

The first workshop went well. There was such a flow that we could end the meeting ahead of time. The second workshop was different. The decision was more complicated. There were more aspects to consider. One of the participants was also so out of sync with the rest of the group that I started to doubt that we would be able to reach a decision — but, to my surprise, we did. It just happened, all by itself.

Finally, I just want to mention that I’ve got the idea of summarizing what I’ve heard back to the group from the Quakers. See related posts.

Related posts:
Quaker decision-making in a secular context
Book Review: A Quaker Approach to Research
Book Review: Beyond Majority Rule
How Quakers make unanomous decisions

Related posts (in Swedish):
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Fördjupningskurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Anteckningar från ett kväkerskt beslutsmöte