Etikettarkiv: Life

Michelle Holliday on thrivability

Michelle Holliday

I tweet quotes from the books I read from my twitter account @janhoglund. Here is a compilation of the most retweeted and liked quotes from Michelle Holliday’s upcoming book The Age of Thrivability: Vital Perspectives and Practices for a Better World (in italics):

… thrivability – the intention and practice of enabling life to thrive as fully as possible, at every level.

… what if we made it our primary intention and goal to enable life to thrive …?

… our … role is not to tightly control … but to cultivate the necessary fertile conditions for life to self-organize …

… systems thinking remained (and still generally remains) grounded in a mechanistic model …

… the persistence of mechanistic thinking … is valuable to some degree and absurd if taken as the total view.

Even Deming’s forward-looking systems vision was implemented in mechanistic fashion.

… the patterns and larger goal of all life … [is] to connect to itself in ever more complex forms …

… all life is … a single interwoven tapestry of living, evolving, creative organisms.

… engaging … life in our organizations and communities … unleash unprecedented wisdom, collaboration, creativity and impact.

If … divergence is not integrated into the whole, then the living system … is jeopardized.

… the real point of our efforts is to participate in and support life’s ongoing ability to thrive.

… the mechanistic view of organizations as machines prompts us to put people in service of infrastructure and process …

When infrastructure is … in service of the life in an organization, what naturally emerges is what I call Practical Play.

We have mistakenly assumed that play is the opposite of work.

Seeing the organization as one coherent living system … opens up new possibilities.

When we see organizations as living ecosystems, the goal more naturally shifts to enabling life to thrive …

… the most effective solutions will be those generated by the organization itself.

… our opportunity – and pressing need – is to participate consciously, intentionally and in harmony with life’s processes …

… “thrivability” – … can be understood as the intention and practice of crafting an organization as a “space for life.”

… “responsibility” … is most of all “response-ability.”

What is needed in the Age of Thrivability is … integration of … [divergence, relationship, wholeness, self-integration].

For some reason, it’s only MBA students who ask me: how do you measure thrivability?

… fundamentally reconceiving the organization and our role within it is the most powerful “social innovation” possible.

Related post:
Book Review: The Age of Thrivability

Book Review: The Age of Thrivability

The Age of Thrivability: Vital Perspectives and Practices for a Better World by Michelle Holliday is a new book which will be released this fall. Michelle Holliday is a facilitator, consultant, researcher, presenter, and writer. Her work centers around ”thrivability,” which is based on a view of organizations and communities as living systems. It’s this view which Michelle Holliday eloquently elaborates in her book.

Thrivability
Thrivability can be understood as ”the intention and practice of enabling life to thrive as fully as possible” (p. 21). It’s about ”crafting an organization as a ”space for life”” (p. 107). But thrivability is not only about ”vibrant health and joy” all the time (p. 149). It also includes ”death” and ”conflict” (p.149).

Mechanical Systems vs. Living Systems
Michelle Holliday writes that ”the persistence of mechanistic thinking … is valuable to some degree” but is ”absurd if taken as the total view” (p. 41). I fully agree. Systems thinking has ”remained (and still generally remains) grounded in a mechanistic model” (p. 40). The result is that ”many of the changes made to date on the basis of systems thinking represent important first steps in a new direction, while most have been superficial and built on familiar values” (p. 41). Even W. Edwards Deming’s ”forward-looking systems vision was implemented in a mechanistic fashion” (p. 40). Although Deming insisted that ”measurement and quotas be replaced with leadership and removal of fear from the workplace, the widespread application has focused squarely on statistic measurement” (p. 41).

A key differentiating factor between mechanical systems and living systems is that ”living systems integrates divergent parts into a convergent whole characterized by dynamic relationship internally and externally in a continuous process of self-organization and self-creation” (p. 42). Keywords here are self-integration, self-organization and self-creation. This means that ”the real point of our efforts is to participate in and support life’s ongoing ability to thrive” (p. 95). When we see ”organizations as living ecosystems, the goal … naturally shifts to enabling life to thrive – contributing to and participating in life’s process[es] and pattern[s]” (p. 101). What are these patterns?

Living System Patterns
Michelle Holliday presents ”the core patterns of living systems in a variety of contexts” throughout her book (p. 12). The point is that ”the underlying conditions for … living systems to thrive” are ”the same conditions needed for an organization to thrive” (p. 18). Michelle has found the following four basic patterns to be ”widely cited across the literature in biology” and also to be ”universally present across … organizations and communities” (p. 29):

  1. Divergent Parts (Individual People): ”In every living system, there are individual parts …” (p. 29)
  2. Patterns of Relationship (Connective Infrastructure): ”The divergent parts are connected and supported in a pattern of responsive relationship with each other and with context” (p. 30).
  3. Convergent Wholeness (Shared Identity & Purpose): ”The divergent parts come together in relationship to form a convergent whole with new characteristics and capabilities” (p. 30).
  4. Self-integration: ”The entire process of divergence, relationship, and convergence is self-organizing, set into motion by life itself” (p. 31)

Generally, 1) the more ”diverse and self-expressive the parts are able to be,”  2) the more ”open and free-flowing the interactions” are, and 3) the more ”consistency and convergence there is at the level of the whole”, the more ”resilient, adaptive and creative the living system is likely to be” (pp. 30–31). This means that our ”most appropriate and important role is not to tightly control the activities of our human systems, but to cultivate the necessary fertile conditions for life to self-organize and self-integrate” (p. 31).

The metaphor of a tree offers useful guidance to the living systems patterns. (Michelle Holliday, The Age of Thrivability, p. 97)

The metaphor of a tree offers useful guidance to the living systems patterns. (Michelle Holliday, The Age of Thrivability, p. 97)

Management vs. Stewarship
Michelle Holliday has ”spent the past decade bringing these patterns of living systems into” her ”consulting work with a range of organizations” (p. 18). Perhaps most importantly, recognizing ”organizations as living systems has encouraged … leaders to see themselves less as engineers and managers and more as stewards in service of life” (p. 18). Stewardship is to ”create the conditions for the organization-as-a-living ecosystem to self-integrate — to self-organize and to enable collective intelligence, responsiveness and resilience to emerge” (p. 47). Stewardship replaces ”control and guidance” with ”encouragement and invitation” (p. 122). An ”invitation-based, broadly participatory process” enriches the organization ”through learning and relationship” (p. 156).

Embodying Patterns & Practicing Stewardship
Michelle Holliday emphasizes that ”the most effective solutions will be those generated by the organization itself” (p. 101). Stories from five different organizations practicing thrivability are included in the book:

  1. Espace pour la vie / Space for Life
  2. Zenith Cleaners (written by Tolu Ilesanmi, Cleaner and CEO)
  3. CLC Montreal (written by a long-time staff-member and teacher)
  4. Experiencing Mariposa (written by Michael Jones, long-time resident of the town of Orillia, Ontario, Canada)
  5. Crudessence (written by Julian Giacomelli, CEO at the time of writing)

Conclusions
Michelle Holliday’s book is very inspiring! I love her tree metaphor. What gives Michelle’s book an edge is that she is serious about the living systems view. She even acknowledges that death is a vital aspect of thrivability. It’s certainly not superficial mechanical thinking. What’s nice is also that it’s possible to approach the book as an open buffet. I enjoyed the real-life stories in the book. Stewardship is less a role and more a commitment offered from a stance of reverence for life. What is called for is not a set of best practices, but a recognition of the life in our organizations and the world around us. The book shows what’s possible if we go beyond our old habits of thought and action. Thrivability requires that we see life’s intrinsic value and act accordingly.

Related posts:
Michelle Holliday quotes from The Age of Thrivability
Book Review: Thrivability by Jean M. Russell

Cybernetics is a poor metaphor for living systems

Here is how Elisabet Sahtouris defines ecosophy and why she thinks that cybernetics is a poor metaphor for living systems:

Ecosophy
… I give the word ‘ecosophy’ (oikos + sophia = oikosophia) the meaning it would have had in ancient Greece, had it come into use there:

Ecosophy: wisely run household of human affairs
or, even more simply:
Wise Society 1

Cybernetics
Cybernetics is an advanced form of mechanism, but it is still [a] mechanism, which I consider a poor metaphor for any living system – a metaphor missing the system’s very essence.

… elites have learned to control society by deliberately working to construct society itself as machinery, and teach people that it is machinery… That does not mean that psyche, society and nature are machinery!

… it is not possible from my perspective to promote an ecosophy in terms of cybernetic mechanics.

… Mechanism and organism are created and function by completely different kinds of logic. 2

Notes:
1 Elisabet Sathouris, Ecosophy: Nature’s Guide to a Better World, Kosmos Journal, Summer 2014 (accessed 26 April 2016).
2 Ibid..

Related post:
Metaphors both reflect and influence our thinking

Alfie Kohn on love, motivation, and self-esteem

Alfie Kohn is the author of Punished by Rewards, which is a book about the damaging effects of rewards. Here are his thoughts on motivation, love, and self-esteem (my emphasis in bold):

Motivation
When we deal with people who have less power than we do, we’re often tempted to offer them rewards for acting the way we want because we figure this will increase their level of motivation to do so. … Unfortunately, it isn’t. … What matters is whether one is intrinsically motivated to engage in an activity (which means one finds it valuable or satisfying in its own right) or extrinsically motivated (which means that doing it produces a result outside of the task, such as a reward). 1

Love
Let’s consider a very different example of the same general principle. … the relevant question isn’t just whether, or even how much, we love our kids. It also matters how we love them. … I tend to focus on the distinction between loving kids for what they do and loving them for who they are. The first kind is conditional … The second kind of love is unconditional … 2

Self-esteem
When adults control children, they end up promoting an introjected style that often results in learning that’s rigid, superficial, and ultimately less successful. … On the outside they look like admirably dedicated students, but they may have mortgaged their present lives to the future: noses to the grindstone, perseverant to a fault, stressed to the max. … Such students may be skilled test-takers and grade grubbers and gratification delayers, but they’re often motivated by a perpetual need to feel better about themselves … Their motivation is internal but it sure as hell isn’t intrinsic. And that key distinction would go unnoticed if we had just asked whether they had internalized certain values rather than inquired about the nature of that internalization. 3

Notes:
1 Alfie Kohn, Why Lots of Love (or Motivation) Isn’t Enough, 23 April 2016. (Accessed 26 April 2016)
2 Ibid..
3 Ibid..

Carol Black on the wildness of children

Carol Black writes the following in On the Wildness of Children (my emphasis in bold):

When we first take children from the world and put them in an institution, they cry. … But gradually, over the many years of confinement, they adjust.

The same people who do not see themselves as “above” nature but as within it, tend not to see themselves as “above” children but alongside them. They see no hard line between work and play, between teacher and student, between learning and life. It is a possibility worth considering that this is more than coincidence.

The underlying belief that somebody always has to be in charge is stubbornly persistent, woven into our thinking at a very deep level. There always has to be a subject and an object, a master and a slave. We have forgotten how to live and let live.

Control is always so seductive, at least to the ”developed” (”civilized”) mind. It seems so satisfying, so efficient, so effective, so potent. In the short run, in some ways, it is. But it creates a thousand kinds of blowback, from depressed rebellious children to storms surging over our coastlines to guns and bombs exploding in cities around the world.

— Carol Black1

Notes:
1 Carol Black, On The Wildness of Children, April 2016. (Accessed 24 April 2016)

There is another way

Here’s an excerpt (my emphasis in bold) from Russel Means’s most famous speech in 1980.1 There’s something deeper than just a rejection of Marxism from this radical. He has an entirely different worldview compared to all ”isms”:

“… Newton … “revolutionized” physics and the so-called natural sciences Descartes did the same thing with culture. John Locke did it with politics, and Adam Smith did it with economics. Each one of these “thinkers” took a piece of the spirituality of human existence and converted it into code, an abstraction. … Each of these intellectual revolutions served to abstract the European mentality even further, to remove the wonderful complexity and spirituality from the universe and replace it with a logical sequence: one, two, three. Answer!

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. … it makes it all right to kill and otherwise destroy other people. … In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so that it becomes virtuous to destroy the planet. …

There is another way.It is the way that knows that humans do not have the right to degrade Mother Earth, that there are forces beyond anything the European mind has conceived, that humans must be in harmony with all relations or the relations will eventually eliminate the disharmony. … There is no need for a revolutionary theory to bring this about; it’s beyond human control.

All European tradition, Marxism included, has conspired to defy the natural order of all things. Mother Earth has been abused, the powers have been abused, and this cannot go on forever. No theory can alter that simple fact. Mother Earth will retaliate, the whole environment will retaliate, … That’s revolution. …

What I’m putting out here is … a cultural proposition. … To cling to capitalism and Marxism and all other “isms” is simply to remain within European culture. … As a fact, this constitutes a choice. … retain your sense of reality.

Notes:
1 Revolution and Amrican Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Clture as Capitalism”, 17 October 2010. (Accessed 5 April 2016)

Life-nurturing vs. life-depleting behaviors

The environment within which people work is key to the organization’s success. Life-nurturing conditions contribute to high creativity and productivity, while life-depleting conditions contribute to apathy and low productivity.

Life-nurturing behaviors 1 Life-depleting behaviors 2
Listening Controlling
Understanding Punishing
Trusting Regulating
Sharing Telling
Clarifying Shaming
Judging
Rationalizing

Notes:
1 These are some of the behaviors listed in Birgitt Williams, The Genuine Contact Way: Nourishing a Culture of Leadership, (DALAR, 2014), p. 221.
2 Ibid..

The dancing rainbow within

Mae-Wan Ho’s new book Living Rainbow H2O is dedicated to the dancing rainbow within, which is made possible by the water that makes up all organisms. 1 Mae-Wan Ho writes (my emphasis in bold):

The organism is thick with coherent activities on every scale, from the macroscopic down to the molecular and below. I call the totality of these activities ”quantum jazz” to highlight the Immense diversity and multiplicity of players, the complexity and coherence of the performance, and above all, the freedom and spontaneity. The quantum coherence of organisms is the biology of free will. 2

The quantum coherent organism plays quantum jazz to create and recreate herself from moment to moment. Quantum jazz is the music of the organism dancing life into being. It is played out by the whole organism, in every nerve and sinew, every muscle, every single cell, molecule, atom, and elementary particle, a light and sound show that spans 70 octaves in all the colours of the rainbow. 3

There is no conductor or choreographer. Quantum jazz is written as it is performed; each gesture, each phrase is new, shaped by what has gone before, though not quite. The organism never ceases to experience her environment, taking it in (entangling it) for future reference …” 4

The quantum jazz dancer lives strictly in the now, the ever-present overarching the future and the past, composing and rewriting her life history as she goes along, never quite finishing until she dies.” 5

Intercommunication is the key to quantum jazz. It is done to such sublime perfection that each molecule is effectively intercommunicating with every other, so each is as much in control as it is sensitive and responsive. 6

The coherent organism is a unity of brain and body, heart and mind, an undivided bundle of intellect and passion, flesh, blood, and sinew that lives life to the full, freely and spontaneously, attuned not just to the immediate environment, but the universe at large. 7

Quantum coherence and quantum jazz are possible because of the 70% by weight of liquid crystalline water that makes up the organism. Quantum jazz is diverse multiplicities of molecules dancing to the tunes of liquid crystalline water. Water is the means, medium, and message of life. It is the dancing rainbow within, to which this book is dedicated. 8

Notes:
1 Mae-Wan Ho, Living Rainbow H2O, (World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., 2012), p. 5.
2 Ibid., p. 4.
3 Ibid..
4 Ibid..
5 Ibid..
6 Ibid..
7 Ibid., p. 5.
8 Ibid..

Related posts:
Quantum Jazz
Mae-wan Ho on the autonomy of organisms
The organism is wildly uncontrollable and unpredictable from the outside

The organism is wildly uncontrollable and unpredictable from the outside


The organism is wildly uncontrollable and unpredictable from the outside. From the inside, of course, you know what you are doing. You know that your actions are not random or arbitrary. And … if you are a perfectly happy human being, you would feel absolutely spontaneous and free.
— Mae-Wan Ho 1

Notes:
1 Quote at (22:14), William Stranger interview Dr. Mae-Wan Ho in London, YouTube, published 12 May 2013. (Accessed 21 March 2016)

Victoria Safford on freedom

You know, we do it every day. Every morning we go out blinking into the glare of our freedom, into the wilderness of work and the world, making maps as we go, looking for signs that we’re on the right path. And on some good days we walk right out of our oppressions, those things that press us down from the outside or (as often) from the inside; we shake off the shackles of fear, prejudice, timidity, closed-mindedness, selfishness, self-righteousness, and claim our freedom outright, terrifying as it is—our freedom to be human, and humane.
— Victoria Safford 1

Notes:
1 Victoria Safford, Walking Toward Morning, p. 1.

Mae-Wan Ho on the autonomy of organisms


Mae-Wan Ho, is best known for her pioneering work on the physics of organisms and sustainable systems. Here’s what she writes on the autonomy of organisms in her book The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms (in italics, my emphasis in bold):

Organisms are never simply at the mercy of their environments on account of the coherent energy stored. More to the point, we don’t have to eat constantly, leaving plenty of time for other useful, pleasurable activities. The other consequences are that, the organism is exquisitely sensitive and free from mechanical constraints; and satisfies, at least, some of the basic conditions for quantum coherence. 1

Do take note of the radically anti-mechanistic nature of organisms. Mechanical systems work by a hierarchy of controllers and the controlled that returns the systems to set points. One can recognize such mechanistic systems in the predominant institutions of our society. They are undemocratic and non-participatory. Bosses make decisions and workers work, and in between the top and the bottom are “line-managers’’ relaying the unidirectional “chain of command”. Organic systems, by contrast, are truly democratic, they work by intercommunication and total participation. Everyone works and pays attention to everyone else. Everyone is simultaneously boss and worker, choreography and dancer. Each is ultimately in control to the extent that she is sensitive and responsive. There are no predetermined set points to which the systems have to return. Instead, organisms live and develop from moment to moment, freely and spontaneously. 2

It must be stressed that the ‘single degree of freedom’ of organisms is a very special one due to quantum coherence which maximizes both local autonomy and global correlation 3

Notes:
1 Mae-Wan Ho, The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms, 2nd Edition, p. 91.
2 Ibid., p. 92.
3 Ibid., p. 152.

Norm Hirst on a life-itself science


Prologomena of Life-itself Science by Norm Hirst at The Autognomics Institute is an introduction (or prologue) to a life-itself science. Below are some axioms from the paper:

  • All life is connected
  • All living entities are autonomous
  • All living entities are complex
  • All living entities are self-referential
  • Self-referential implies self-observation and awareness
  • Living entities survive by learning effective acts
  • Living entities exhibit invariant organization and structural plasticity
  • Living process is social
  • At all levels from atoms to the universe life forms societies

Related posts:
Autognomics: Radical self-knowing
Organisms are self-creating, not just self-organizing
Machines are allonomic, living organisms are autonomic

Book Review: Sky Above, Earth Below

Principles
John Milton wrote Sky Above, Earth Below: Spiritual Practice in Nature in the hope that the practices and principles he shares will “greatly enrich your life” (p.229). Over the years he has identified the following principles for natural liberation (pp.8—15):

  1. The fundamental truth: All forms are interconnected, constantly change, and continuously arise from and return to primordial Source.
  2. Commit yourself completely to liberation in this lifetime
  3. Relax and surrender to life.
  4. Remain in now.
  5. Cultivate union with universal energy
  6. Go with the universal flow.
  7. Rest in the radiance of your open heart.
  8. Active compassion arises naturally out of unconditional love.
  9. Cut through to clarity.
  10. Return to Source.
  11. Pure Source awareness is—remain in recognition.
  12. Serve as a warrior of the open heart and liberated spirit.
  13. Don’t take all these twelve principles too seriously.

From these twelve principles John Milton has essentialized six core principles (p.16):

  1. Relaxation
  2. Presence
  3. Cultivating universal energy
  4. Opening the heart of unconditional love
  5. Cutting through to clarity, luminosity, and spaciousness
  6. Returning to Source

Each one of these six core principles are introduced in the book. John Milton emphasizes that: “The key is to bring each of these principles into creative interaction with the challenges of everyday life” (p.14). Each principle has a variety of practices to help support the realization of its essence. And every practice “serves to cultivate the truth of each principle within” (p.6). Over time, our “old habitual patterns of fear and automatic contraction to life” will be replaced with “new, helpful habits of meeting life with openness and letting go” (p.9).

Relaxation
The union of (1) relaxation and (2) presence, combined with (3) the cultivation of universal energy, is the key to opening greater vitality. The main thing is this: “With whatever time you have available, go into Nature and start cultivating relaxation there” (p.30). It’s also important to remember that “you cannot force relaxation” (p.46). “The attempt to force relaxation just creates more contraction” (p.46). And contractions “usually arise from strong emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, and worry” (p.49).

Presence
The cure for much worry and anxiety is the cultivation of presence” (p.57). The main secret for transforming blocked emotions is to “breathe deeply and gently into them while applying … relaxation and presence” (p.43). The practice to start move emotional blockage is “to simply stay clearly present with the feeling it, while at the same time relaxing into its core” (p.43). If the mind wanders, “gently bring it back to the intention of relaxing all the constricted, tight, or stiff blockages” (p.46). Becoming “pristinely present while in a state of deep relaxation, totally surrendered to the moment, is the heart of spiritual practice in Nature” (p.52).

Nature
By immersing ourselves in Nature – “Nature that has not been heavily disturbed and damaged” – we begin to tap into “the primal natural harmony” that is our “genetic inheritance” (p.37). Our “whole bodies, our energy, our diverse emotions, and our mind” have all coevolved with Nature (p.28). “All … ecosystems, and the beings within them, have coevolved in a way that has produced extraordinary symbiosis, balance, integration, and harmony” (p.36). “Integration is characteristic of virtually everything in Nature” (p.37). This is why “Nature is a very powerful healer” (p.28). Nature provides a “natural vitality and harmony” that is “not accessible in our urban centers” (p.37).
One of John Milton’s favorite things to do is to “go into a forest, to a mountain, or by a river or wild coast and spend an hour or two each day” (p.55). John Milton says that: “All of Nature supports your being in the present moment. You do not even have to meditate. You can simply enjoy Nature” (p.55). The key is to find a place that inspires you – “a place that gives you a sense of harmony, peace, and tranquility” (p.74). And then, with practice, you can bring this “present-centered awareness back into your ordinary life, and you will find that the flow of your normal day will gradually become transformed” (pp.57—58).

Conclusions
John Milton has convinced me that natural vitality and energy are released when relaxation and presence are cultivated. The challenge is to gently bring this awareness and relaxation back into the flow of the normal daily life. It’s all about practice, and there are many practices in the book. In a way, it can feel a bit overwhelming, but it’s also important to remember that “every journey begins with a first step” (p.91). What’s so nice is that “just regularly being in Nature brings joy and happiness” (p.229). It’s a great book, and I’m now taking the first steps on my own journey!

Preservation of the soul

Here is Jeffrey Mishlove’s interview with David Whyte
on the preservation of the soul, waking up, and saving our lives.

LOST
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushed beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are truly lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
—Native American elder
(Poem rendered into modern English by David Wagoner)

Keeping your heart alive

When we are present in our work as human beings, when we are connected to the lives around us, and the stories around us, the work itself will sustain you, and inspire you, and even heal you.
— Rachel Naomi Remen

Notes:
Keeping Your Heart Alive: Rachel Naomi Remen talks about the importance of connecting to your heart in healthcare.

Christopher Alexander on real beauty

When you come face-to-face with real beauty it changes you, and it changes the other people who are witnessing it, or who are thinking it, and they will take a different road. … Although this is so simple, it’s extremely powerful, because it only comes from the heart. … If you take this advice … it will change your own life.1

Notes:
1 Interview with Christopher Alexander by Hiro Nakano on September 5, 2011.

Dee Hock on control

Life is not about control. It’s not about getting. It’s not about having. It’s not about knowing. It’s not even about being. Life is eternal, perpetual becoming, or it is nothing. Becoming is not a thing to be known, commanded, or controlled. It is a magnificent, mysterious odyssey to be experienced.1

… I have long puzzled where mechanistic organizational concepts originated, and why we are so blind to their reality. Their genesis reaches back to Aristotle, Plato, and even beyond. However, it was primarily Newtonian science and Cartesian philosophy that fathered those concepts, giving rise to the machine metaphor. That metaphor has since dominated our thinking, the nature of our organizations, and the structure of industrial society to a degree few fully realize.2

For nearly three centuries we have worked diligently to structure society in accordance with that concept, believing that with ever more reductionist scientific knowledge, ever more specialization, ever more technology, ever more efficiency, ever more linear education, ever more rules and regulations, ever more hierarchal command and control, we could learn to engineer organizations in which we could pull a lever at one place, get a precise result at another, and know with certainty which lever to pull or for which result. Never mind that human beings must be made to behave as cogs and wheels in the process.3

The first and paramount responsibility of anyone who purports to manage is to manage self—one’s own integrity, character, ethics, knowledge, wisdom, temperament, words, and acts. It is a never-ending, difficult, oft-shunned task. The reason is not complicated. It is ignored precisely because it is incredibly more difficult than prescribing and controlling the behavior of others.4

Everyone is a born leader. Who can deny that from the moment of birth they were leading parents, siblings, and companions? Watch a baby cry and the parents jump. We were all leaders until we were sent to school to be commanded, controlled, and taught to do likewise.5

People are not “things” to be manipulated, labeled, boxed, bought and sold. Above all else, they are not “human resources.” We are entire human beings, containing the whole of the evolving universe. We must examine the concept of superior and subordinate with increasing skepticism. We must examine the concept of management and labor with new beliefs. We must examine the concept of leader and follower with new perspectives. Above all else, we must examine the nature of organizations that demand such distinctions with new consciousness.6

Only in a harmonious, oscillating dance of both competition and cooperation can the extremes of control and chaos be avoided and peaceful, constructive societal order be found.7

In organizations of the future, it will be much more important to have a clear sense of purpose and sound principles within which many specific, short-term objectives can be quickly achieved, than a long-range plan with fixed, measurable objectives. Such plans often lead to futile attempts to control events to make them fit the plan, rather than understanding events so as to advance by all means in the desired direction.8

In organizations of the future the centuries-old effort to eliminate judgment and intuition, art if you will, from the conduct of institutions will change. Organizations have too long aped the traditional mechanistic, military model wherein obedience to orders is paramount and individual behavior or independent thinking frowned upon, if not altogether forbidden. In organizations of the future it will be necessary to have people in every position capable of discernment, of making fine judgments and acting sensibly upon them. The industrial age trend toward stultifying, degrading, rote work that gradually reduces people to the compliant, subordinate behavior one expects from a well-trained horse will not continue.9

It extends far beyond a factory worker on an assembly line. Vast white-collar bureaucracies exist everywhere, with mountains of procedures manuals depressing minds, avalanches of directives burying judgment, forests of reports obscuring perception, floods of studies inundating initiative, oceans of committees submerging responsibility and drowning decisions. You know what I mean. You have endlessly suffered through it and, worse yet, may be inflicting it on others. It has created a society of people alienated from their work and from the organizations in which they are enmeshed. Far too much ingenuity, effort, and intelligence go into circumventing the mindless, sticky web of rules and regulations by which people are needlessly bound.10

Notes:
1 Dee Hock, One From Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization, (Berrett-Koehler, 2005), p. 7.
2 Ibid., p. 37.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid., p. 48.
5 Ibid., p. 55.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid., p. 226.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid., p. 227.
10 Ibid.

Related posts:
Dee Hock in his own words
Dee Hock on rules
Agile software development in the 1970s

Organisms are self-creating, not just self-organizing

Organisms are born to create and maintain their own life. They are self-creating, i.e., autopoietic; they are not just self-organizing. They maintain their own life by constantly recreating it. Their purpose is not to become machines fulfilling some external task. Thus they are autonomic, i.e., obeying self-law. They are autonomous. An organism’s purpose is to develop its own life.1

Notes:
1 Norm Hirst, Towards a Science of Life as Creative Organisms, (Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, vol. 4, nos. 1-2, 2008), p. 95.

Related post:
Machines are allonomic, living organisms are autonomic

#jagdelar

#jagdelar är Dagens Nyheters manifestation för allas lika värde.

Uppropet får mig att tänka på Robert Hartman, som flydde Nazi-Tyskland i sin opposition mot Hitler. Hartman ägnade sitt liv åt frågorna ”vad är gott?” och ”hur organisera det goda?”. Han kom fram till att det är allas problem att organisera det goda. Hans slutsats är att vår vackra värld bara kan bestå om vi ser livets inneboende värde och handlar därefter. #jagdelar därför dessa värderingar.

Relaterat inlägg (på engelska):
Book Review: Freedom to Live