Synthesis of organizing orders

This is a post in my series on organizing “between and beyond.” Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to synthesize the findings which are summarized in this post. I will add to this post over time.

First, a short overview of the posts in this series. I provided an example of what I consider to be an organizing “in between” in my 1st post in this series. My question was, and is, how an organizing “beyond,” which transcends the compromises in existing organizing ”orders,” would look like? I identified a number of guiding questions in my 2nd post, and started to compile a list of existing organizing “orders,” or rather approaches, in my 3rd post. This is work in progress. I then went on to identify key assumptions in selected approaches. The analysis is summarized in my 4th post. This is also work in progress.

Analysis is, in this case, the examination of key assumptions in selected approaches. This is done in order to get a deeper understanding of each approach. Synthesis, which is the purpose of this post, is to combine the key assumptions into a whole. This is done in order to understand how the approaches are entwined within each other in ways that are basically incompatible. Hopefully, we will then find clues to a deeper organizing “order.” A shift in perception is needed to recognize the underlying order.

What clues to a deeper generative “order” for organizing, an “organizing beyond,” can we find?

  • A key notion is that organizations are living systems.
    • An organization is a “structuring” of people.1
  • The deeper generative “order” for organizing has to be authentic.
    • Structure and actions need to belong together, rather than just belong together.
    • Here is an explanation of this subtle but important distinction.
    • Here is the difference between authentic vs. counterfeit “orders.”
    • And here is an example of play as authentic “order.”
    • Structure and activities need to naturally belong together, which means that they need to be self-chosen and self-directed.
    • Structure and activities can be made to belong together, which happens when they are prescribed and enforced.
    • The question is then: How do you ensure that structure and activities belong together?
  • Living systems and non-living systems are different.
    • The analyzed approaches are not wrong, but many of them 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. (Similarly, we’ve treated natural phenomena as approximate linear, since we only could solve linear differential equations.)
    • Applying approaches out of range (limit) can produce more harm than good.
    • Here is how organizing based on a view of organizations as living systems can look like.
      • Agreement on what’s important and what to do.

        • An observation is that almost all groups have problems at first to agree on what the major problems are and what has to be done.
        • Depending on each other for survival, like in egalitarian foraging societies, makes it important, and therefore easier, to agree on what the major problems are and what has to be done.
    • Active information and generative order.
      • Order arises from flow, but flow arises from a deeper generative order.
      • Active information, rather than process, is constitutive of the world.

To be continued…

1 The concept of “order” lies at the root of “structure.” Structure is basically dynamic, and should perhaps be called “structuring.” Stable products of structuring are “structures”. See David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010-09-01, first published 1987-10-01), p. 137.

Revision history:

Date Comments
2016-08-11 First draft published.
2016-08-15 Synthesis updated.
2016-08-16 Introduction and synthesis updated.

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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