Etikettarkiv: Retrospectives

Organizing retrospective 117-121

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.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
I’m reading, or have read, the following books during the last month:

  • The ”I” of the Beholder: A Guided Journey to the Essence of the Child by Annemarie Roeper. Roeper’s book is as much a guided journey to the essence of us as human beings. We need to create an environments where we can flourish, rather than just adjusting to the demands of the system.  We cannot force a child to learn any more than we can force someone to eat. Here is my book review.
  • Who Do We Choose To Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity by Margaret Wheatley. Wheatley offers a perspective on how to engage sanely with the destructive dynamics of our time. We do that by facing reality, willingly seeing where we are, and how we got here. It’s relationships that bring us back to health and wholeness. Here is my book review.
  • Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe by Roger Penrose. Penrose argues that researchers working at the frontiers of physics are just as susceptible to fashion, faith, and fantasy as anyone else—and that this may lead researchers astray. We may have a very limited and biased view of what may be possible.
  • The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe by Roger Penrose. Penrose describes our present understanding of the universe and conveys a feeling for its beauty and philosophical implications.
  • In the Dark Places of Wisdom by Peter Kingsley. The book is about the roots of Western culture and that gave rise to the world we live in. The journey into a greater reality was a journey made through silence, in silence, and into silence.
  • A Story Waiting to Pierce You: Mongolia, Tibet and the Destiny of the Western World by Peter Kingsley. Kingsley reflects on the time when Eastern and Western cultures were one.
  • Catafalque: Carl Jung and the End of Humanity by Peter Kingsley. Kingsley shows who Carl Jung was, and explains why our western culture is dying—and what we must do. I’m currently reading Volume 1.
  • Teeming: How Superorganisms Work Together to Build Infinite Wealth on a Finite Planet (and your company can too) by Tamsin Woolley-Barker. Woolley-Barker shows how organizations can mimic superorganisms.
  • Biopoetics: Towards an Existential Ecology by Andreas Weber. Weber breaks free from the causal-mechanic paradigm. He shows that being alive means to exist through relations that have existential concern, and that these are expressed through the body. I’ll definitely write a book review.
  • The Phenomenon of Life: Toward a Philosophical Biology by Hans Jonas. Jonas provides an existential interpretation of biology, and a critique of the fundamental assumptions underlying modern philosophy since Descartes.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 111-116

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened lately. 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 since my father passed away last month. There has been much going on emotionally and practically. I’ve also been reminded that life has an end and feel a need to revisit my own priorities in life.

I’ve now spent two years on this series. Is this what I want to spend my time and effort on? Looking back I still think it’s necessary to transcend, or move ”beyond,” traditional ways of working. I also think that there’s much misinformation out there, and that this results in extremely negative consequences and in general destructiveness.

This morning I listened to an interview with Joseph Jaworski, Connecting with Coincidence, where he describes the U-process (at 42:00):

  • Observe, observe, observe, build an acute awareness of what’s going on
  • Sense, go to that deeper place of knowing
  • Act in an instant

I’ve spent very much time observing since I started this series. I now need to move more into sensing and acting.

Books I’m currently reading

I enjoy reading. As usual, I’ve many books ongoing:

What was good? What can be improved?
It’s good that I’ve got started blogging again. I need to let that ‘deeper place of knowing’ inform my writing.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 110

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 week, I published two new posts in my series on Life in Work / Liv i arbetet:

  • Liv i arbetet 5Principen om icke-tvång (the principle of no compulsion). This post is based on my review of The Werkplaats Adventure by Wyatt Rawson. There was no use of force – or threat of force in the school. Interestingly, the freedom granted resulted in spontaneous acceptance of responsibility. The children took responsibility, even when the teacher was away. It’s also worth noting that the children didn’t always keep to the rules, even though they had made them themselves – how human! And much of the organization of the school was deliberately left fluid – how unusual! In short, the organizing was based on each child’s intrinsic motivation and value as a human being.
  • Liv i arbetet 6Om värderingar (about values). Holacracy and sociocracy are based on the same principles. Both also value organizational transparency and effectiveness. However, only Sociocracy emphasizes equivalence, that is, each person’s equal value as human beings. My conclusion is that better ways of organizing ultimately is about values. What do we value most? People or the system? I will return to this in future posts.

And I posted two reflections on generative organizing:

  • Organizing reflection 34 — Generative organizing increases individual and organizational freedom, while it balances autonomy and relatedness on all levels. It’s a generative/creative process for well-achieved human relationships, prospering organizations, as well as for an economy in harmony with the biosphere.
    Inspiration: Andreas Weber’s The Biology of Wonder.
  • Organizing reflection 35Generative organizing is self-directed, creative, continual, and reflexive. It’s about expressing our felt sense for a situation. It’s to discover in the real time of the situation how to act effectively.
    Inspiration: Peter B. Vaill’s Learning as a Way of Being.

This week, I’ve read:

And I’m currently reading:

What was good? What can be improved?
Andreas Weber opens up most interesting perspectives on the new biology and the shift from Enlightenment to Enlivenment. It is a paradigm shift! I’m familiar with some of Andreas Weber’s references, for example Elinor Ostrom, but some are new. I’m reminded that I need to review Elinor Ostrom’s Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. I mentioned Ostrom’s book in this and this retrospective almost two years ago. Oops!

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 109

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 week, I started a new series of posts in Swedish on Liv i arbetet (life in work). I started searching for better ways of working together six years ago, in September 2012. I’m going to write about this search. It is my personal story. Hence, I need to write in my native language. Here’s a short summary:

  • Wednesday — I used this poem which I wrote last year as a starting point. Yeah, it’s pretty personal.
  • Thursday — I wrote that assumptions usually are valid within certain limits, but not necessarily outside of these.
  • Saturday — This means that assumptions which are valid for machines aren’t valid for human beings.
  • Sunday — Today, I wrote about sociocracy. I spent several years of my search for better ways of working on sociocracy. I even wrote an e-book on sociocracy together with John Schinnerer, who is a founding member of The Sociocracy Consulting Group. There are some good ideas in sociocracy, but I think the engineering preconceptions and assumptions are too strong. Here is an old post on the phenomenology of sociocracy. (The engineering perspective is even stronger in sociocracy’s cousin Holacracy. Here is an old post on Holacracy and Arthur Koestler. Koestler coined the term holarchy in The Ghost in the Machine.)

Besides starting my new series of posts on Liv i arbetet, I also posted the following reflections on generative organizing:


A new book arrived this week. It’s Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within by Robert E. Quinn. I’m looking forward to reading this book.


Otherwise, I’ve spent the week reading Andreas Weber‘s The Biology of Wonder: Aliveness, Feeling, and the Metamorphosis of Science. I’ve read about half of the book, but can already say that it’s one of the most interesting book I’ve read since I started my reading odyssey six years ago. The disconnection between humans and their organizations is, in my view, related to the disconnection between humans and nature. Andreas Weber eloquently addresses the latter. I’ve ordered Andreas Weber’s next book on Biopoetics: Towards an Existential Ecology. I hope it will arrive in the next few days. I’m looking forward to reading this book too.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’m really glad that I finally got started with my new series on Liv i arbetet.

I see a connection between Andreas Weber’s intrinsic value and Robert Hartman’s The Structure of Value. Hartman’s seminal work is about the valuation of value. Intrinsic value is more valuable than extrinsic value, and extrinsic value is more valuable than systemic value. Here is my review of Robert Hartman’s book.

I also see a connection between Andreas Weber’s meaning, as manifested in the body, and Eugene Gendlin’s felt meaning, which is a bodily comprehension. Here is my review of Eugene Gendlin’s Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective.

Several books have arrived the past few weeks which I haven’t had the time to read yet. I also have a couple of book reviews that I need to write. Also, I’d like to internalize Andreas Weber’s thinking and integrate it with all the other reading that I’ve done. It will take some time, for sure.

Notes:
1 Andreas Weber, The Biology of Wonder: Aliveness, Feeling, and the Metamorphosis of Science (New Society Publishers, 2016), pp. 12, 330-3, 338.
2 Andreas Weber writes that meaning makes itself manifest in the body. Ibid., p. 90.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 108

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.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
This week, I’ve continued to post (almost) daily reflections about generative organizing:

This week, I finished reading:

This week, I started reading:

What was good? What can be improved?
Reading Andreas Weber, I became very impressed by his English (since he is German) until I realized that his books are translations. This is my own challenge. I need to spend more time on my own writing—writing in my own true voice—but I need to do this in Swedish, which is my native language.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 107

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 week, I’ve continued to post daily reflections about generative organizing:

  • MondayGenerative organizing bypass “formal stuff” and happens in the “crunch time” when people “huddle up.”
    Inspiration:  A mail from Harrison Owen to the OSList. A continuation of this and this reflection.
  • TuesdayGenerative organizing calls for a conscious commitment to creating fertile conditions for life to flow and thrive accross our organizational ecosystems and beyond. It’s about reconnecting with what really matters, acknowledging the precious gift of life itself. It’s about finding and staying in the flow.
    Inspiration: This and this article by Michelle Holliday (@thrivability).
  • WednesdayGenerative organizing is to actively participate in exploratory conversations that matter. This leaves people feeling enriched, inspired, and alive.
    Inspiration: This article by Esko Kilpi (@EskoKilpi).
  • ThursdayGenerative organizing calls upon wholeness for guidance and direction. It’s more an undoing than a doing, which we often stumble upon in times of crisis. When we reclaim who we are, we also remember our basic human qualities. We already are the role models we seek. Wholeness is never lost, only forgotten.
    Inspiration: Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen.
  • Friday — The essential aspect of generative organizing is the sensing of the whole organization and the total situation. It’s a felt experiencing which transcends logical analysis.
    Inspiration: Managing as a Performing Art by Peter B. Vaill.
  • SaturdayGenerative organizing involves people getting together to discuss common problems, coming to mutual decisions, and taking action. It requires building trust and relationships. Creativity and experimentation are necessary.
    Inspiration: Abolish Human Rentals posts by David Ellerman. The idea that it’s not ok to rent human beings is profound, and it has revolutionary implications. I need to come back to this.

I’m still reading Rachel Naomi Remen’s two excellent books Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings. I’m also reading Peter B. Vaill’s Managing as a Performing Art: New Ideas for a World of Chaotic Change.

What was good? What can be improved?
My daily reflections (and weekly retrospectives) are a way to gather input and ideas. They are worthy of continual rereading and reflection.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 106

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 week, I posted the following reflections on generative organizing:

  • MondayGenerative organizing requires witnessing, experiencing, and feeling. We need to move ‘up‘ into our hearts (‘up‘ because intrinsic value has ‘higher‘ value than systemic value).
    Inspiration: A conversation with Skye Hirst (@autognomics).
  • Tuesday — The paradox of authentic organizing, is that you have to take off the systemic order and then put it back, such that the systemic order is a reflection of the organization’s intrinsic order.
    Inspiration: A combination of input from Joseph Campbell (a mythodological story), Robert S. Hartman (intrinsic/systemic values),and David Bohm (notion of order).
  • WednesdayGenerative organizing requires open space. It ceases as soon as the space closes.
    Inspiration: A mail from Harrison Owen to the OSList.
  • ThursdayGenerative organizing looks for the presence of life/well-being/beauty, rather than superficial bureaucratized order. This requires a willingness to observe and feel.
    Inspiration: This post by Petra Kuenkel‘s (@PetraKuenkel) on co-creation, collaborative spaces, and aliveness. Petra and I are both inspired by Christopher Alexander. Here is, by the way, my review of Christopher Alexander’s book The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth
  • FridayGenerative organizing is appropriate for riding waves of uncertainty. It relies on collective decision-making, abductive logic, and human judgment. Generative organizing is impossible if constraints are fixed.
    Inspiration: Cynefin and Dave Snowden’s insights to leading and managing organizations.
  • SaturdayGenerative organizing is about uncovering what is already happening in and around us, creating conditions that enable it. It requires listening for the potential which is trying to actualize itself. It means listening to life from the place in us that is whole and connected to the wholeness around us.
    Inspiration: Thoughts and ideas from Harrison Owen and Rachel Naomi Remen. Both speak about who and what we already are.

I am currently reading Rachel Naomi Remen’s two books—Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings. I will review both books.

  

This week, I also finished reading Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics, and started reading Peter B. Vaill’s Managing as a Performing Art: New Ideas for a World of Chaotic Change. I will review Michael Pollan’s book later.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’m very pleased with my daily reflections.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing reflection 18

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to reflect on subjects occupying my mind. I make no claim to fully believe what I write. Neither do I pretend that others have not already thought or written about the same subject. More often than not, I take up, combine, and add to already existing thoughts and ideas.

What is on my mind?
In today’s reflection I’m looking into the Cynefin complexity framework. Here is an interview where Dave Snowden, the creator of Cynefin, shares the philosophy underpinning his work. He talks about how people can apply his insights to leading and managing organizations.

Dave Snowden says among other things that (my emphasis in bold):1

We should manage the evolutionary potential of the present, rather than aiming for some idealized future state.

If you have a highly constrained environment, you can manage it through rules and objectives, because you’ve got predictability. … In a complex system, you have to manage in a different way. …

The great liberation of complexity science is that it gives you a base in science to say you’ve got a non-causal system. The minute you realize that systems can be non-causal, everything becomes simpleIf you believe causality is a necessary condition, life becomes very, very, complicated.

There’s a basic difference between … an enabling constraint and a governing constraint. A governing constraint is context freeand an enabling constraint is context sensitive. … A governing constraint is a container. … Within this boundary you can do whatever you want. A fixed constraint says, this is the way you do it. No variation is permissible.

Excessive constraints actually produces deviant behavior. … Human beings will accept constraint. … One of the great things about humans is that we actually have constraints … like laws, and also things like acceptable forms of behavior, and rituals. … We like order. We are really good at it. There’s nothing wrong with it.

But there is a big difference in Cynefin between order which is self-evident, which everybody buys into, and order which could only be understood by experts. Obvious vs. complicated, best practice vs. good practice, fixed constraints vs. governing constraints.

Cynefin is a typology, not a taxonomy. Taxonomy puts things into rigid chategories. Typology says this is different perspectives, different ways of looking at it. Actually, cynefin is a mixture of both. … The primary division of ordinary, complex and chaotic is a taxonomy. … Within that there are different gradations and that’s typology.

The difference between the obvious and the complicated is basically a gradient, it’s not a rigid boundary. … The point is that there are right answers. … The boundary between obvious and chaotic is a catastrophic cliff … If you become complacent you restrain a system which shouldn’t be constrained because it will break catastrophically. …

Complex to complicated is when you stop doing your multiple safe-to-fail experiments. … You’ve come out of the mist, you know roughtly what to do, but you’ve not settled yet. … You kind of know where you’re going, then it becomes complicated.

The liminal domain to chaos is drawn as a closed space. It’s open on the other one, because that’s where you dip into chaos for innovation. Or, you dip into chaos for mass sensing. No agent is connected with anyother agent. … The issue is, if you enter into chaos accidently, it leads to disaster. If you enter into it deliberately, … it’s a good thing to do. …

If people are arguing about the details, that’s liminality. … We know this is probably right, but we don’t know how to do it yet. That’s liminal. … Liminality is a good concept, because it’s a state of transition. And the longer you hold it in a liminal state, the more reliable is what comes out of it. … You’ve got a tradeoff between speed and reliability.

You move technically from deductive to abductive logic. … Deductive, if A then B. Inductive, all the cases of A have B, therefore the likely association. Abductive is a logic of hunches, plausable connections between apparently unconnected things. …

Human beings have evolved to think abductively. … Human beings have evolved to make decisions collectively, not individually. … That’s our strength, we can cooperate. … If you can increase the number of people in the collective decision-cycle, you can make it more objective.

One of the dangers we got with the engineering approaches which came in the 80s is people try to get rid of human judgment. … One of the big things over the next two decades is human judgment. … Artificial intelligence … is the second existential threat to humanity after nuclear war. … Part of the problem is that we’re reducing human beings to following rigid processes

Vector measures says am I going in the right direction, at the right speed, for the right effort. It doesn’t have a specific outcome. … It basically says I need to move in this direction, I need to shift in this direction at this pace. Am I doing it? … You still measure, but you measure appropriately.

Are you riding a wave of uncertainty, which means you have to have a sense of direction, and keep moving to maintain balance? Or are you in a highly stable position where you can say what you should achieve? Context is everything. … Always start from where people are, unless you can kill them and start from fresh, but that’s rare.1

Generative organizing is appropriate for riding waves of uncertainty. It relies on collective decision-making, abductive logic, and human judgment. Generative organizing is impossible if constraints are fixed.

Notes:
1 #12 Managing in Complexity—Dave Snowden | Being Human, 2018-06-15 (accessed 2018-08-10).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 105

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.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
This week I published the following (almost) daily reflections:

  • WednesdayThere are no formulas—except that this is a formula! I attribute this idea to Skye Hirst (@autognomics). There’s a focus on formulas, methods, and techniques, literally, everywhere. It’s easier because it’s tangible (explicate), but I’m more interested in what’s intangible (implicate). I wrote in this post that order arises from flow, but flow arises from a deeper order. I need to come back to this!
  • Thursday —  The dimension of ‘coming into being’ is essential to generative organizing. What’s generative/genuine/authentic requires ‘coming into being’. It’s Simon Robinson (@srerobinson) who has introduced the concept of ‘coming to being’ to me. This is a profound concept. Simon and Maria Moraes Robinson (@DoraMoraesR) discuss ‘coming into being’ throughout their book Customer Experiences with Soul, which I’m currently reading. Here is a succinct review of their previous book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet matter. I need to review Simon and Maria’s new book too.
  • Friday  — We need to see life’s intrinsic value, and act accordingly! This includes honoring intrinsic human values—not least at our workplaces. I share Emma Taylor‘s (@generativeOD) interest in actively cultivating more generative ways of working together. Emma has started this project On Feeling and Knowing: Authenticity, Creativity and Love which I find inspiring. I will keep an eye on Emma’s work.
  • SaturdaySeeing differently seems, to me, to be key for regenerative living—and working. This is a line of thought which is inspired by Michelle Holliday (@thrivability). Michelle invites us to see differently in this article. Here is my review of her book The Age of Thrivability: Vital Perspectives and Practices for a Better World.
  • SundayGenerative organizing requires a community of people who are engaged in each other’s movement towards wholeness. An example of this is Rachel Naomi Remen’s (@RachelRemen) healing communities. I’ve added Rachel’s books Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings to my reading list.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’m very pleased with that I’ve got started with my blogging again after a break of two months. My intention going forward is to establish a practice of posting daily reflections.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 97-104

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 a retrospective of the last two months.

Here are highlights from the books I’ve read during the last two months:

  • A Gymnasium Of Beliefs In Higher Intelligence by Anthony Blake.

    Many books claim all kinds of truths. This is not one of them. One theme throughout the book is that of illusion. Anthony Blake adopts the position that some things are not what they seem to be. He has studied physics and the philosophy of science, and had many conversations with David Bohm. Bohm influenced Blake a lot, especially with the idea that there’s no one true theory.
    .
    The word gymnasium means a place of nakedness. Anthony Blake recommends that whenever a view is put forward—think of its contrary! A belief cannot include all possibilities, so at best is partial and provisional. Emotions reveal what bind us into a view of reality. Listen to all voices, especially when they contradict each other.
    .
    Understanding means enabling one’s own mind to change. It comes out of the body and what we do. Intelligence is engaged in fact, while illumination comes from beyond fact and subsists in value. Anthony Blake proposes that when people coalesce their individual intelligences a higher order can emerge. One approach is through dialogue.
    .
    Listening is an action of tremendous depth. It requires an act of receptivity. Such an act is much rarer than any act of assertion. Seriously listening to other people is next to impossible for many because even just allowing different views to pay a visit is felt to be akin to annihilation.
    .
    Most attempts to bring people together for mutual enhancement of intelligence fail. Yet there’s evidence of such groups coming about of their own accord. Such groups are characterized by the following:
    .
    1. All members are equal in status.
    2. There is no limit on what is spoken about.
    3. The group operates from the content of the present moment. This requires a sensitivity to what is happening now.
    .
    I find it most interesting, in terms of generative organizing, that there’s no presupposition of solutions in dialogue. This is very different from the approach of imposing a system. Dialogue is more than just clever conversation. In dialogue, there is no leader, no agenda, and no set procedure. Dialogue is making one’s way through meaning as it unfolds without prejudgment. The direction emerges from the group. Needless to say, members of the group can easily inhibit or distort the process.
    .
    This is a thought-provoking book!
    .
  • Man or Matter: An Introduction to a Spiritual Understanding of Nature on the Basis of Goethe’s Method of Training Observation and Thought by Ernst Lehrs.
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe published his Metamorphosis of Plants in 1790. A mechanism can be taken to bits and re-assembled. An organism does not permit this. Goethe developed a clear distinction between two ways of observing the world, ascribing one to verstand (intellect), the other to vernuft (reason). Goethe discards the idea that measurement is absolutely superior to sense-perception.
    .
    One of the first systematic pieces of work which Goethe undertook was to go through Newton’s Opticks: or, A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light, sentence by sentence, recapitulating Newton’s experiments. Goethe’s examination of the Newtonian procedure showed him that to gain an explanation of natural physical phenomena, we must approach them through the way nature brings them into being.
    .
    A source of illusion lies in the fact the onlooker consciousness accepts itself as a self-contained ready-made entity. The feeling of certainty and security arises from the exactness in mathematics. The price paid is that the scope of the enquiry into nature is narrowed. Goethe found access not only to nature’s quantitative secrets—but also to nature’s qualitative secrets.
    .
    The book is interesting, but the translation into English is awkward!
    .
  • Small Arcs of Larger Circles: Framing Through Other Patterns by Nora Bateson.
    Nora Bateson suggests that we ”see our world differently—as a living process, not as a mechanism” (Bateson, Small Arcs of Larger Circles, p.186).

    ”There is an alive order that we are within and that is within us.”
    —Nora Bateson, Small Arcs of Larger Circles, p.17

    ”The idea of systems” is from ”the ’50s when cybernetics emerged” (p.95). ”Cybernetics … found purchase in the larger culture’s … industrial and mechanistic thinking” (p.95). The ”habit of applying the problem-solving methods of the engineer” is so pervasive that ”the language of the entire body of systems and complexity theory has become a container for slightly higher order reductionist thinking” (p.188).
    .
    The ”traps of linear and causal thinking, the notions of control, and the mechanistic approach to life … is repeatedly evident in all aspect of our culture” (p.96). The ”underlying metaphors” are based on ”the logic of industrial causation and mechanized interaction” (p.31). ”Life is not like that” (p.31). The ”actions and decisions … we make … based on this limited view … of course lead to trouble” (p.31). Organisms lives within ”the totality of patterns and relationships” (p.40). Complexity ”demands a more engaged inquiry” (p.41).
    .
    Nora Bateson often receives ”a plea for a map, a method, and a technique” (p.77). But, ”attempting to solve a problem by going at it directly is only occasionally effective” (p.77). ”The problems we see are nested in contexts” (p.77). Strategizing ”our way through becomes short-circuiting which is often destructive” (p.77). The ”options that surface when viewed from a wider angle,” a broader context, ”are entirely unplannable” (p.77).
    .
    ”Living systems … require more than one context of study if we’re to get a grasp of their vitality” (p.79). The ”subjectivity of our perspective is what gives depth and in-form-ation to everything we see” (p.101). ”Working and playing with the complex living world requires multiple languages, multiple ways of knowing” (p.205).
    .
    There are ”countless variables moving and changing in countless ways” in any ”living system” (p.133). The ”messy interaction with life” is not just ”a method of making decisions—it is an aesthetic” (p.139). Nothing can be ”more practical than to become more familiar with the patterns of movement that life requires” (p.140).
    .
    I agree with Nora Bateson that the ”lens through which we see systems theory or cybernetics or complexity will influence what we do with it” (p.95). The lens may still be an old one even though the language is new.
    .
    This is a personal and beautiful book! Enjoyed reading it.

  • The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View by Richard Tarnas.

    Richard Tarnas believes that ”only by recalling the deeper sources of our present world and world view can we hope to gain the self-understanding necessary for dealing with our current dilemmas” (Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, p.xi). Every generation must, furthermore, ”examine and think through again, from its own distinctive vantage point, the ideas that have shaped its understanding of the world” (p.xii).
    .
    Between ”the mid-fifteenth and early seventeenth centuries, an unmistakable quantum leap was made in the cultural evolution of the West” (p.247). The ”basic conception of the physical universe as an atomistic system ruled by a few mechanistic laws became the guiding model for the seventeenth-century scientists” (p.268).
    .
    Although Newton’s ”concept of gravity as a force acting at a distance” seemed ”insufficiently mechanical … the mathematical derivations were too spectacularly comprehensive not to be compelling” (p.270). The ”Newtonian-Cartesian cosmology was now established as the foundation for a new world view” (p.270).
    .
    ”Descartes used Galileo’s distinction between primary, measurable properties of objects and secondary, more subjective properties” (p.278). ”In Descartes’s vision, science, progress, reason, epistemological certainty, and human identity were are inextricably connected with each other and with the conception of an objective, mechanistic universe” (p.280).
    .
    As the ”Cartesian-Newtonian framework was drawn out to its logical conclusions, the implications … were gradually made explicit” (p.285). The ”universe was an impersonal phenomenon, governed by regular natural laws, and understandable in exclusively physical and mathematical terms” (p.285). ”The structure and movement of nature was the result of … an amoral, random, and brutal struggle for survival” (p.285). The ”purpose of knowledge … was to better align nature to man’s will” (p.295).
    .
    The ”Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment brought Western man unprecedented freedom, power, expansion, breadth of knowledge, depth of insight, and concrete success” (p.325). And yet ”simultaneously served … to undermine the human being’s existential situation on virtually every front: metaphysical and cosmological, epistemological, psychological, and finally even biological” (p.325).
    .
    With ”Galileo, Descartes, and Newton, the new science was forged” (p.236). And yet ”simultaneously, the new world was disenchanted” (p.236). ”The new universe was a machine, a self-contained mechanism of force and matter” (p.236). Science’s ”quantitative analysis of the world … was accompanied by the … diminuation of all those qualities … constitutive of human experience” (p.236).

    ”Reality may not be structured in any way the human mind can objectively discern.”—Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, p.359.

    ”In contrast with … the Enlightenment, the Romantic vision perceived the world as a unitary organism rather than an atomistic machine” (pp.366–7). ”In a world made mechanical and soulless by science, the pursuit of beauty for its own sake assumed extraordinary psychological importance” (p.373).
    .
    Goethe ”strove to unite … observation and … intuition into … a science capable of grasping nature’s organic archetypal forms” (p.378). ”The scientist could not, in Goethe’s view, arrive at nature’s deeper truths by detaching himself from nature and employing … abstractions to understand it, registering the external world as a machine” (p.378).
    .
    ”Bohm’s theory of the implicate order” and ”Bell’s theorem of nonlocality” point to new possibilities for a ”less reductionist scientific world conception” (p.405). ”Evelyn Fox Keller’s … recommendation … of empathic identification with the object … reflects a similar reorientation of the scientific mind” (p.405).
    .
    The challenge is to engage the ”set of perspectives which brings forth the most valuable, life-enhancing consequences” (p.406). The ”great irony” is that when we ”actively construes the world as unconscious, mechanistic, and impersonal, it is just then that the world is completely a selective construct of the human mind” (p.432).
    .
    This is a very well-written book, which took ten years to write!

  • Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizing World by Harrison Owen.

    Harrison Owen’s ”operating hypothesis” is that ”self-organizing systems are naturally productive … of superior performance” (Owen, Wave Rider, p.xvi). The argument of the book is that ”our organizations, as indeed the entire cosmos—are all self-organizing systems” (p.6). ”Not just a little bit, … but from beginning to end, top to bottom” (p.6).
    .
    This means that ”a large part of what we currently devote a good deal of time and energy to—organizing things—is wasted effort” (p.6). By ”imposing our view of organization on a self-organizing system we essentially throw a spanner in the works” (p.7). Organizations work despite our organizing efforts.
    .
    ”The image of the Wave Rider comes from the world of surfing” (p.7). The objective is ”to ride the wave … until you reach the beach” (p.8). For ”every beginning there is an end” (p.34). ”The simple truth of the matter is that as chaos, confusion, and conflict do their work, things come and go” (p.34). All three ”seem to be essential to living, and therefore their elimination would do substantial damage to life” (p.31).
    .
    Difficulty arises when ”life is downsized (at least in our thinking) to that which is observable and under our control” (p.40). ”Not only is everything radically connected, but it is all moving, and with every move the nature and impact of the interrelationships can change” (p.49). ”We are dealing with something of such magnitude, complexity, and changeability that even thinking about it creates massive overload” (p.52).
    .
    ”The conventional practice and theory of organization … find it difficult to understand how a group … might move from … confusion to active and productive engagement, without the benefit of an agenda, prior training, and intense facilitation” (p.63). ”Conditions” for making it happen are (pp.69-70):
    .
    1. A ”real” business issue
    2. Voluntary self-selection
    3. High levels of complexity
    4. High levels of diversity
    5. Presence of passion and conflict
    6. A decision time of yesterday
    .
    The ”significant difference” here is that ”structure and controls … are emergent, which is to say that they emanate from the group as a whole and therefore are appropriate to the people…, the task…, and the environment” (pp.75–6). ”When caring people gather around something they care about, there is a high likelihood that useful things will happen” (p.79).
    .
    In short, everything is self-organizing, ”even and perhaps most especially, all those things we thought we organized and must control” (p.233). Effective work ”emerge naturally from the people themselves, all in tune with the task undertaken and the environment” (p.132). Authentic leadership ”emerges from the passion and responsibility of those who care…, creating focus and direction for the emergent organization, and a nutrient space in which that organization may grow” (p.132).
    .
    This is a great book! Harrison Owen is one of my favorite authors. Here is my review of The Spirit of Leadership: Liberating the Leader in Each of Us, which is another of Harrison Owen’s books.
    .
  • Gaia’s Dance: The Story of Earth & Us by Elisabet Sahtouris.

    Elisabeth Sahtouris is among the scientists changing their views from a non-living to a living universe. Gaia’s dance is what we have come to know as Earth’s evolution. We are all part of Gaia’s dance, so the more we learn about it, the more we learn about ourselves as people of Earth.
    .
    A machine is created from the outside by someone who puts its pieces together in just the right way to make ti do what is wanted. A living being creates and continually keeps renewing itself. When something goes wrong with a machine, it must be repaired, while a living being often can repair itself.
    .
    Co-evolution happens as organisms try out all ways of life in Gaia’s dance. The knowledge how to co-operate is there in both bees and flowers, as in the rest of nature. Life organizes itself in intelligent and mostly co-operative ways. Ecosystems are made of countless different kinds of organisms all working together with no one of them in charge.
    .
    The old, mechanical way, of looking at the world, with organisms simply evolving by accidents which fit or didn’t fit them into their contexts, is just too simple a view. Organisms improvise and make it up as they go, using their intelligence to work out whatever problems come in their way, correcting imbalances so that all can dance together.

    ”Organization works best when it is cooperative and flexible. If it gets too rigid or too competitive, it does not work very well for long. We easily see this in the discontent people are now feeling about the old mechanical ways of organizing our schools, our work places and even our governments—as if they were supposed to work like well-oiled machines in which we were the parts! People now want to be treated like intelligent beings who can be improv dancers helping to reorganize such systems so they work better for us all.”
    —Elisabet Sahtouris, Gaia’s dance: The Story of Earth & Us (Kindle version)

    The human history is a story of competition and cooperation. Learning to co-operate well has been most important from the very beginning. Human society was, and still is, in a competitive expansion phase with corporate empires now larger than most nations. The problem is that we have left out some of the most important things in a co-operative society: the equal role of women, the concern for future generations, and the need to give back to nature for everything taken from it.
    .
    Human co-operation is necessary now for our survival. Being creative, greedy, and mean to each other worked to get us to where we are, but are now out of step with Gaia’s dance. Just how we work things out is not so important. What matters is that we do it in a way that works for everyone. Instead of hating each other, we can help and learn from each other. It seems as we need the challenge of immense disasters to get creative enough to wake up and act.
    .
    This is a thoughtful book!

  • The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Sensei by George Leonard.

    ”When confronted by any attack…, the aikidoist … enters and blends. That is, he or she moves toward the incoming energy and then, at the last instant, slightly off the line of attack, turning so as to look momentarily at the situation from the attacker’s viewpoint. From this position, many possibilities exist, including a good chance of reconciliation.”
    —George Leonard, The Way of Aikido (Kindle version)

    The very essence of aikido is contained in the blending move. The aikidoist moves toward the attacker. In this position, he or she is looking from the attacker’s viewpoint—without giving up his or her own viewpoint. This blending move multiplies your options. Blending isn’t the answer for every situation, but it can multiply your options.
    .
    It’s important that you are firmly connected to the earth, with your energy concentrated in your hara (center), as you blend. To blend consistently under pressure requires practice. Blending is an expression of the willingness to embrace even the strongest attack, and to bring it into concord with the unity of the universe.
    .
    The physical techniques in aikido are only the surface manifestations of a more profound reality. Each of as can be viewed as a context of the universe from a particular point of view. Each of us can act as if we are at the center of existence—allowing others the same privilege. To do so we must get in touch with our own center. The impetus of our actions must arise in our center.
    .
    All you have to do is put you attention on the hara, but the ramifications of centering can take a lifetime to play out. While physical centering is always a pre-requisite, there’s also centering in non-physical activities. To see, breathe, and move from the center can change our lives. Physically, as well as symbolically, the hara can be treated as the center of power.
    .
    Centering affects the outcome of our actions in many ways. And as the pressure increases, the difference between the centered and uncentered states becomes more apparent. To be centered is to say yes to life. Being willing to own your life creates a context that is almost sure to enhance it.
    .
    A context isn’t just a passive container for our experience. It impels and directs our thoughts, emotions, and actions. It deals with how we weave our experience together to give it meaning. Context can limit and it can liberate. Changing context opens up new possibilities. It is ours to change.
    .
    Executing techniques is not the end of the process. It is the beginning of the next action. When we become aware between techniques, techniques improve. When we approach an activity in the spirit of play—joyfully, for its own sake—we are likely to achieve the best results.
    .
    This is a great book! The aikido philosophy translates surprisingly well into guidelines for living.

  • The Silent Pulse: A Search for the Perfect Rhythm that Exists in Each of Us by George Leonard.

    This book is about the underlying rhythm that sustains life and underlies all of existence. There exists a silent pulse of perfect rhythm at the center of our lives. Getting in touch with this rhythm can transform our personal experience and alter the world around us.
    .
    Rhythm is a fundamental aspect of organization. The process of entrainment is the essence of human communication. A variety of bodily processes become synchronized through close interaction. The more you move in rhythm with someone, the close you become with that person. This is true not only with human beings but with all living organisms.
    .
    Entrainment is made explicit in music. The performer’s movements must be perfectly entrained with the pulse of the music, or else the performance falls apart. Human beings have an ability to sense, feel, and move as one. Watch the members of a chamber group—how they become as one.
    .
    Every creative act, every act of interaction, has its own movements, which can be suppressed only at the expense of what is spontaneous, and ultimately nourishing. At the heart of life, there is this silent pulse of perfect rhythm. It is our most accessible entry into the dance of Gaia, the dance of the universe. This subtle dance joins us to the world. At the heart of the world, there is only the dance.
    .
    How arrogant it is to think that we can stand alone apart, against the world. We are part of all that we perceive. It appears that objects are to be known by their relationships rather than by any independent, fixed character. The idea of an individual human identity can be expressed through a distinctive inner pulse.
    .
    The senses are means of connecting the organized rhythmic fields that we call the self with all the rhythms of the world. But our connectedness with the world goes beyond the sensory. It is built into our very structure. Mind and matter do influence each other. Everything that happens everywhere is somehow connected.
    .
    Every part of the universe in some sense contains the whole. You might think of yourself, not only as a series of rhythmic fields within fields, but also as a series of holoids within holoids. Just as you have identity, you also have holonomy. The very structure of your body and being may be said to reflect the ongoing structure of the universe.
    .
    The physically expanding universe is also a universe of evolution, transformation, and expanding possibilities. And the predominant direction of this evolution is toward increasing complexity and order, with new information, new options manifesting themselves at every point.
    .
    The relationship between identity and holonomy is always going on, a silent pulse at the heart of our experience. We are continually influencing our universe through our own intentionality. The present moment always contains an element of genuine novelty. The universe is continually at work of restructuring itself.
    .
    Our key choice is whether to become aware of and take responsibility for the power of our intentionality. A truly centered person feel no need to exploit others for selfish purposes. Each of us is a context, a weaving together of universal information from a particular point of view. We are not mere observers, but are always active participants at the feast of life. .
    .
    Each of us is in the universe, the universe is in each of us.
    .
    I really liked this book!
  • Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard.

    George Leonard writes that mastery ”resists definition yet can be instantly recognized” (Leonard, Mastery, p.5).  Mastery ”comes in many comes in many varieties, yet follows certain unchanging laws” (p.5). ”It brings rich rewards, yet is not really a goal … but rather a journey” (p.5).
    .
    The quick-fix mentality that pervades our society ”not only prevents us from developing our potential skills but threatens our health, education, [and] relationships” (p.6). ”Again and again we are told to do one thing only so that we can get something else” (p.39). ”We spend our lives stretched on an iron rack of contingencies” (p.39).
    .
    ”The achievement of goals is important” (p.39). But the juice of life ”is to be found not nearly so much in the products of our efforts as in the process of living itself, in how it feels to be alive” (p.39). Goals and contingencies ”exist in the future and the past” (p.48). ”Practice, the path to mastery, exists only in the present” (p.48).
    .
    The ”Five Master Keys” are (p.vii):
    1. Instruction
    2. Practice
    3. Surrender
    4. Intentionality
    5. The Edge
    .
    ”Our preoccupation with goals, results, and the quick fix has separated us from our own experiences” (p.141). To put it more starkly, ”it has robbed us of countless hours of the time of our lives” (p.141). Excessive use of external motivation can ”slow and even stop” our ”journey to mastery” (p.137). ”The ultimate reward is not a gold medal but the path itself” (p.138).
    .
    This book is okay, but I think George Leonard’s books on The Way of Aikido and, especially, The Silent Pulse are better (see above).

I’ve started reading:

What was good? What can be improved?
I am a very active reader. I need to become more active with my own writing.

Notes to myself:

  • There’s as big difference between intrinsic vs. extrinsic organization/structure/order as there is between intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.
  • There’s also a difference between authentic vs. counterfeit organization/structure/order. (See this post on how authentic vs. counterfeit are connected to the phenomenological idea of belonging together vs. belonging together.)
  • An example of belonging together (Henry Bortoft, Taking Appearance Seriously, p. 21) is Harrison Owen’s genuine community (Owen, Wave Rider, pp. 76, 132).
  • An aikidoist (George Leonard, The Way of Aikido) is a wave rider (Harrison Owen, Wave Rider).
  • Dialogue (Anthony Blake) is a way to open space (Harrison Owen).

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 92-96

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 a retrospective, not of the last week, but of the last month.

I’ve read the following books during the month:

  • The Supreme Art of Dialogue: Structures of Meaning by Anthony Blake.
    The structures of meaning emerge out of the dialogue itself. People discover the meaning as they speak together. Dialogue works with whatever arises in the moment. It can never be reduced to a formula. This is an excellent and interesting book! Here is my book review.
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk.
    The body continues to keep the score even if we try to ignore the alarm signals. The only way we can change the way we feel is to become aware of our inner experience and learn  how to befriend what is going on inside ourselves. This is an excellent book too! Here is my book review.
  • The Dynamics of Transformation: Tracing an Emerging World View by Grant Maxwell.Different assumptions lead to different ways of relating to experience. Opposed assertions both contain partial trues within their contexts. The challenge is reconciling them into a third perspective. All that is required to make the transition from one world view to another is a decision. This is a thought-provoking book. Here is my book review.

Finally, here is a video where Anthony Blake describes the art of dialogue. Dialogue requires being in sync with oneself and others. The critical issue is reciprocity, being truly heard and seen, or there is no dialogue.

Anthony Blake, Conference ‘Art for Business’ (Nov 2012)

What was good? What can be improved?
It’s good that I finally got this retrospective written. However, I need to get back to writing weekly retrospectives.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 91

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?
Finally, here is my review of Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective by Eugene Gendlin. This is a most interesting book, but it’s also a very difficult book to read. It has taken me several weeks to finalize the review. Eugene Gendlin considers felt experiencing in its own right:

  • We can think everything more truly if we think with attention to how we think.
  • Symbols and felt meanings function together in different ways.
  • Experiencing underlies every moment of living.
  • Experiencing is the total of experienced meaning.
  • It is vitally important to refer directly to experiencing.

What was good? What can be improved?
I am glad that I finally managed to finish my review of Eugene Gendlin’s book. I mentioned the book the first time in this retrospective almost a year ago. I think Gendlin’s work is groundbreaking. Felt experiencing is how we tap into deeper generative order. Here is also my review of another of Gendlin’s books. It’s a book on Focusing: How to Gain Direct Access to Your Body’s Knowledge.
Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 90

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 finished reading the following books this week:

  • Mind and Nature by Gregory Bateson. Bateson believes that mental process always is a sequence of interactions between parts. He doesn’t believe that elementary particles are minds in themselves. Contrary to Bateson I do believe that elementary particles have proto-minds. Here is my review.
  • The Myths We Live By by Mary Midgley. Myths are are imaginative patterns, networks of symbols. The way we imagine the world determines what we think important in it, what we select for our attention. That is why we need to become aware of these symbols. Here is my review.
  • The Garden Awakening by Mary Reynolds. This is a book about designing gardens that are radiant with life, bursting with energy. I think that Mary Reynolds’ approach to garden design is as applicable to organizational design. If we are to treat the organization as a living system, we must think in those terms. Here is my review.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’m really glad that I was able to publish three book reviews this week. Hopefully, I’ll be able to publish my ongoing review of Eugene Gendlin’s Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning next week. Gendlin’s book is a groundbreaking philosophical work. He considers felt experiencing in its own right, and explores how logical order can relate concretely to felt experience.

Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 89

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 am still working on my review of Eugene Gendlin’s Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to the Subjective. This is a philosophical work where Gendlin examines the edge of awareness, where language emerges from non-language. This is a groundbreaking book which addresses pre-conceptual and supra-logical aspects of experiencing and meaning-making.

Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning.

Gregory Bateson’s Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity arrived this week. Bateson offers the phrase the pattern which connects as another possible title for the book.1 The book is built on the opinion that we are parts of a living world.2 We have been trained to think of patterns as something fixed. It is easier and lazier that way, but it is all nonsense. The right way to think about the pattern which connects is to think of it as primarily a dance of interacting parts.3 Logic and quantity turn out to be inappropriate for describing organisms, their interactions, and internal organization. There is no conventional way of explaining or even describing the phenomena of biological organization.4

Bateson, Mind and Nature.

I have started reading Gregory Bateson’s book and Mary Midgley’s The Myths We Live By. Myths are everywhere. In political thought (theories of human nature and the social contract), in economics (the pursuit of self interest), and in science (the idea of human beings as machines). The great thinkers of the 17th century were obsessed by the ambition to drill all thought into a single formal system. Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, tried to mend the mind/body gap by building abstract systems powered by their models of thought, logic, and mathematics.5 However, conceptual mono-culture cannot work because, in almost all our thought, we are dealing with subject-matters that we need to consider from more than one aspect.6

Midgley, The Myths We Live By.

What was good? What can be improved?
It’s good that I’ve got started with my review of Gendlin’s book, but it’s very difficult to create a concise summary of the book. Gendlin examines a new kind of thinking, which begins in the intricacy of felt meaning. The book is highly relevant to my interest in deeper generative orders for organizing.

Notes:
1 Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Hampton Press, 2002), p.7.
2 Ibid., p.16.
3 Ibid., p.12.
4 Ibid., p.19.
5 Mary Midgley, The Myths We Live By (Routledge, 2011, first published 2004), p.88.
6 Ibid., p.68.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 84-87

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 a retrospective, not of the last week, but of the last month.

The following books arrived this month:

  • Kidnapped in The Amazon Jungle by F. Bruce Lamb.
    This is the true story of Manuel Córdova-Rios and his life among the Huni Kui, an isolated tribe possessing sophisticated knowledge of the curative powers of jungle plants and the habits of the many animals that lived with them in the Amazon jungle.
  • Rio Tigre & Beyond: The Amazon Jungle Medicine of Manuel Córdova-Rios by F. Bruce Lamb.
    This is a continuation of the story in the previous book. The word psychosomatic hardly scratches the surface when it comes to a master like Manuel Córdova-Rios in the use of jungle plants as medicines.1 Interestingly, Córdova-Rios felt that his part in the healing process was not to eliminate or directly counteract the trouble, but rather to create a condition of harmony and stability that would allow the body to heal itself.2 Similarly, I think deeper generative organizing is about creating conditions that allow people to organize themselves. The follow-up question then is, what are these conditions?
  • Many Voices One Song: Shared Power with Sociocracy by Jennifer Rau and Jerry Koch-Gonzalez.
    This is a new book which probably will be out in June. Jennifer Rau asked me in February whether I was interested in reviewing the book and I answered yes! The book is a collection of tools, methods, formats that support acting as one while celebrating our many voices. I share Jennifer and Jerry’s view that organizations need be life-serving and all-embracing, that is—they need to work for everyone and hold care for everyone affected by the organization. Here is my book review.

This month, I also published this review of Kelvy Bird’s book on Generative Scribing: A Social Art of the 21st Century. Kelvy’s writing and drawing resonates deeply with me. Kelvy’s approach can, furthermore, be applied to other arts, crafts, and practices as well. I love the book!

Kelvy Bird, Generative Scribing.

What was good? What can be improved?
I’d really like to immerse myself fully in this work, but I’m working full time with other things. I need to find a solution to this!

Notes:
1 F. Bruce Lamb, Rio Tigre & Beyond: The Amazon Jungle Medicine of Manuel Córdova-Rios (North Atlantic Books, 1985),
1980), p. 158.
2 Ibid., p. 160.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 80-83

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 a retrospective, not of what happened last week, but of what has happened during the last month.

The following books arrived this month:

  • The Epochal Nature of Process in Whitehead’s Metaphysics by F. Bradford Wallack.
    F. Bradford Wallack tries to gradually elucidate Whithead’s theory throughout this book, introducing Whitheadian ideas one at a time. Two world-views, materialism and organism, are contrasted throughout book.1 Each chapter is provided with both an introduction and a conclusion, all of which taken together summarize this book. One of Wallack’s conclusions is that there is no way to conclusively prove a particular interpretation of Whithead’s philosophy, since it contains enough ambiguous statements to satisfy opposing theories.2 I still have to read the book.
  • Voltaire’s Bastards by John Ralston Saul.
    John Ralston Saul writes that ”rational elites” have turned West into a vast directionless machine, run by process-minded experts—”Voltaire’s Bastards”—whose cult is scientific management. He wonders why a Western white- or blue-collar worker should be interested in loyalty, participation and teamwork when the units they work for are disposed of by management or speculators with an indifference reminiscent of the slave trade. The void in society has to do with the absence of intrinsic values.
    John Ralston Saul thinks that West has mistaken management techniques for moral values. ”The rational advocacy of efficiency more often than not produces inefficiency. It concentrates on how things are done and loses track of why. It measures specific costs without understanding real costs.”3 Doing away with themselves is not among the options considered by management. When people have a clear belief in the purpose of an organization, they find a sensible way to run it by themselves.4 It’s a well written and though provoking book!
  • Ensouling Language by Stephen Harrod Buhner.
    This book is written for those who have fallen in love with the luminous power of language.5 ”Trust that the things you feel, that insists they be said, are there inside you, pushing on you, for a reason. Trust that there are people out there that need to hear those things, just as much as you need to say them.”6 There is something more at the heart of any craft than the mechanics of it. We have forgotten something essential about our humanness. ”Feeling is the key to deep meaning.”7 I am currently reading the book.
  • Generative Scribing by Kelvy Bird.
    Generative scribing is a visual practice, in the moment, for social seeing. Kelvy Bird describes it as: ”We draw while people talk.” And in that ”while” are ”Be” (bring your authentic self forward), ”Join” (engage across boundaries), ”Perceive” (notice with a broad view), ”Know” (discern coherence to inform choice), and ”Draw” (give form to content).8 Generative scribes ”seek to represent what is beyond image that characterize inner life or the literally spoken word.”9 ”Fields […] inform form.”10 Kelvy Bird’s writing and drawing resonates deeply with me. This is the kind of book you don’t stop reading. I will write a book review.
  • The Harvest of the Years by Luther Burbank with Wilbur Hall.
    Luther Burbank made innumerable and unique experiments with plants. He had an intimate friendship with them. Burbank’s thoughts, reactions, observations, and philosophies are stored in this book thanks to Wilbur Hall.11 I am currently reading this book.
  • The Bushman Way of Tracking God by Bedford Keeney.
    Bradford Keeney shares the oldest teachings every given for how we can find meaning, purpose, and joy in life.12 What it requires is our fullest humanness and a sincere desire to be willing, able, and ready to be moved by life itself.13 We have thousands of years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom in this ancestral culture that was utilized before other cultures were born. ”It is no accident that the Australian Aboriginal people speak of songlines, for the Bushmen also say that their songs are the lines.”14 I am currently reading this book and will write a book review.

What was good? What can be improved?
It was good that I finally got this retrospective written. However, it would be better if I can get back into my habit of writing weekly retrospectives. I am doing this work in my spare time and would like to spend more time on it than I actually can.

Notes:
1 F. Bradford Wallack, The Epochal Nature of Process in Whitehead’s Metaphysics (State University of New York Press,
1980), pp. 4–5.
2 Ibid., p. 199.
3 John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West (Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2013, first published 1992), p. 582.
4 Ibid., pp. 234, 266.
5 Stephen Harrod Buhner, Ensouling Language: On The Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life (Inner Traditions, 2010), p. xv.
6 Ibid., p. 15.
7 Ibid., p. 38.
8 Kelvy Bird, Generative Scribing: A Social Art of the 21st Century (Presencing Institute Press, 2018), p. 13.
9 Ibid., p. 42.
10 Ibid..
11 Luther Burbank with Wilbur Hall, The Harvest of the Years (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1927), p. ix.
12 Bradford Keeney, The Bushman Way of Tracking God (Atria Books, 2010), p. xxi.
13 Ibid., p. xxiii.
14 Ibid., p. 112.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 78-79

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 a retrospective what has happened during the last two weeks.

Books
The following books arrived these weeks:

  • The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World by James Hillman.
  • The Winged Life: The Poetic Voice of Henry David Thoreau by Henry David Thoreau, Robert Bly (Editor), and Michael McCurdy (Illustrator).
  • The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka, Frances Moore Lappé (Introduction), Wendell Berry (Preface), and Larry Korn (Editor).
  • Sowing Seeds in the Desert: Natural Farming, Global Restoration, and Ultimate Food Security by Masanobu Fukuoka, and Larry Korn (Editor).
  • The Fractal Geometry of Nature by Benoît B. Mandelbrot.
  • Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Beyond the Doors of Perception into the Dreaming of Earth by Stephen Harrod Buhner.
  • Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now by Margaret J. Wheatley and Deborah Frieze.

So far, I’ve only finished reading Walk Out Walk On. Wheatley & Frieze’s book is based on the insight that community is nothing like a machine, and that people can’t be programmed, motivated, and supervised through external force and authority. Here is my review.

Article
Simon Mont’s Autopsy of a Failed Holacracy caught my attention last week. I got interested in Holacracy five years ago when I started searching for life-giving ways of working. Today I’ve changed my mind. The turning point was reading Brian Robertson’s book on Holacracy. Here is my review.

Brian Robertson has a mechanistic view of people and organizations. I’ll let Robertson speak for himself. He writes:

  • ”An organization … is equipped with sensors — … the human beings who energize its roles and sense reality on its behalf.”1
  • ”One powerful way … is to harness the tremendous sensing power of the human consciousness available to our organizations. … When those tensions can be processed quickly and effectively, … then the organization can benefit …”2
  • ”The whole point of Holacracy is to allow an organization to better express its purpose.”3
  • ”… an ”organization” is an entity that exists beyond the people, with its own purpose to enact and with work to do beyond just serving the people doing that work.”4
  • ”Organizations running with Holacracy are first and foremost purpose-driven … with all activities ultimately being for the sake of realizing the organization’s broader purpose. Every member then becomes a sensor for that purpose …”5
  • ”The organization is depending on you, as its sensor, to give voice to the tensions you sense so that it can evolve.”6
  • ”Holacracy is focused on the organization and its purpose—not on the people and their desires and needs …”7
  • ”Many of the rules … are there specifically to ensure that the focus is only on what’s needed for the organization to express its purpose, … not on … anything else.”8
  • ”… we are installing a system in which we no longer need to lean on our connections and relationships to be able to process organizational tensions.”9
  • ”… the organizational space is the result of working together role to role and governing those roles for the sake of the organization’s purpose.”10
  • ”[Holacracy] keeps human values out of the organizational space, which also keeps the organization out of our human-value space.”11

Holacracy prioritizes the systemic value of thought by keeping intrinsic human values out of the organizational space. However, making use of control, not for the good of those who are in the system, but only for the system’s own benefit is problematic. It’s problematic when intrinsic human value is given second priority.

The organizational structure in Holacracy is a holarchy, a term coined by Arthur Koestler. What’s interesting is that Arthur Koestler not only coined the word holarchy, but also criticized the mechanistic view of organisms. People are not passive automata. Here is more on that.

The proposition of Theory U is that the quality of results is a function of the awareness that people in the system are operating from. There’s a center, a quietness within, from which action occurs. This quiet place has to be known and held. This can be learned, but not directly taught. It goes beyond processing tensions.

What was good? What can be improved?
What was good is that Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze provide examples on organizing based on intrinsic human values. Walk Out Walk On is a learning journey where people create their future with their hearts, hands, and relationships. Connecting and relating are fundamental to us as human beings. It is not something we ”lean on” and that we would be better off without. Intrinsic human value must in-form systemic value.12

Notes:
1 Brian Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy, (Penguin, 2015), p.4.
2 Ibid., p.7.
3 Ibid., p.34.
4 Ibid., p.148.
5 Ibid., p.166.
6 Ibid., p.194.
7 Ibid., p.198.
8 Ibid., p.199.
9 Ibid., p.200.
10 Ibid., p.201.
11 Ibid., p.202.
12 Value is used as defined by Robert Hartman. For those interested, I can recommend Hartman’s biography Freedom to Live, and his seminal work on The Structure of Value. Hartman was born in Germany in 1910. Seeing the Nazis organize evil, he fled Nazi Germany for his opposition to Hitler. Hartman devoted the rest of his life to organize good. This led him to a life-long quest to answer the question, ”What is good?” and how to apply the answer to help preserve and enhance the value of human life. When life has meaning, it has value. The richer its meaning, the richer its value.

Related posts:
Book Review: Holacracy
Book Review: Freedom to Live
Book Review: The Structure of Value
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 77

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 week, I finished reading Stephen Buhner’s The Secret Teachings of Plants. It’s a book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, especially the second part. The book is full of quotes by Goethe, Henry David Thoreau, Henri Bortoft, and others. Stephen Buhner mentions, by the way, that the best general work on Goethe is by Henri Bortoft.1

S. H. Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants.

Stephen Buhner’s key point is that understanding living dynamics forces a substantial change in our orientation. It’s too often forgotten that the relationship with nature is at root a feeling, not a thinking, thing. It’s a change from mental constructs, theoretical analysis, and thought to feeling. We are immersed in a conflict of values and assumptions, specifically the belief that feeling is inferior to thinking.

We have lost the response of the heart to what is presented to the senses. That loss can be seen daily in the environmental devastation of our world. It can also be seen, although it’s somewhat harder to perceive, in the devastation of our internal worlds. Part of this is that we often denigrate our capacity to feel, or apologize for its emergence.

We no longer understand that feeling can be raised to the same level of sophistication as thinking, that the heart is an organ of perception and cognition equal, and perhaps superior, to the brain and its capacities. For its use automatically engenders empathy with, as well of, complex interdependencies. Its use automatically involves caring. This caring itself is crucial and involves the emergence of complex understandings inaccessible to the brain. Some things have to be felt to be seen.

Stephen Buhner writes that businesses embody the perspectives, beliefs, and orientations of their owners. Businesses convey to customers specific meanings through the feelings the customers experience, though they many not normally be able to say what those feelings are. It is possible, after much practice, to identify these feelings, and from them to determine the organizational structure of a business, the impact it has on its customers, its level of psychological and financial health, and many other things.2

Here is a compilation of my tweets from Stephen Buhner’s excellent book.

Finally, here is another reflection from the week. Changing the system doesn’t necessarily change people’s behaviors.

What was good? What can be improved?
I really enjoyed reading Stephen Buhner’s book. It reminds me that I need to re-read Henri Bortoft books on The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe’s Way of Science and Taking Appearance Seriously: The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought. Five years ago, I wrote here that we need to take the dynamic way of seeing seriously if we are going to be able to see life both in nature and in our work.

Notes:
1 Stephen Harrod Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature (Bear & Company, 2004), p.293.
2 Ibid., p.277.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 76

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?
New books
I mentioned last week that I need to take a break from my reading. Well, guess what? Two new books arrived this week.

My books

One book which arrived this week is Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World by Geoff Mulgan. Mulgan writes that he was helped writing the book by his PhD in telecommunications.1 This surprised me since I don’t see the connection between telecommunications and collective intelligence. Or, rather, it’s not that connection that I am interested in. I am, however, as interested as Mulgan in the space between the individual and the totality of civilization,2 but I think it’s a mistake to reduce it to a study of digital systems.

Geoff Mulgan’s bigger mind is the brainpower of people and machines. Mulgan’s central claim is that every individual, organization, or group can thrive if it is tapped into this bigger mind.3 The book is about methods, tools, and resources, and how these can be consciously orchestrated by specialist institutions and roles.4

Geoff Mulgan hopes that new kinds of consciousness will be generated as human brains and digital intelligence are combined.5 Well, it depends on what you mean by consciousness and intelligence. Machines are not conscious. Calculation is not intelligence.

My point is that collective intelligence is as old as the human species. It’s that intelligence I’m interested in, and it has nothing to do with digital machinery. Connecting humans with machinery, digital or not, has on the contrary a tendency to turn us into machines.

G. Mulgan, Big Mind.

The other book which arrived this week is The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature by Stephen Harrod Buhner. The first half of the book is filled with analytical explanations of why and how, while the second half is filled with poetry and doing. Stephen Harrod Buhner calls the first half systole and the second half diastole. Systole is when the heart contracts. Diastole is when the heart relaxes.6 The book is full of quotes by Goethe, Thoreau, Bortoft, and others.

S. H. Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants.

Reflection
Here is my reflection on mechanistic vs. dynamistic thinking, which is based one of the quotes of Goethe in Stephen Harrod Buhner’s The Secret Teachings of Plants.7

Source: S. H. Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants, p.62.

Article
Finally, here is my summary of an article on New Possibilities: A World That Works For Everyone – Part I by Skye Hirst. Skye Hirst explores ten essential organizing processes for life in the article. A take-away is that it’s essential that we have the

  • opportunity to find right and effective actions,
  • guided by our intrinsic intentions and meanings,
  • while feeling connected to the greater whole.

This is a healthy environment in which we can learn, adapt, and thrive.

What was good? What can be improved?
I read 60+ books last year (2017) and have been reading ever since I started this blog six years ago (2012). I have been in systole since then. Now, it’s time for diastole.

Notes:
1 Geoff Mulgan, Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World (Princeton University Press, 2018), p.1.
2 Ibid., p.2.
3 Ibid..
4 Ibid., p.4.
5 Ibid., p.228.
6 Stephen Harrod Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature (Bear & Company, 2004), p.xi.
7 Ibid., p.62.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Organizing retrospective 75

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.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
Books
Three books arrived this week, Autobiography of a Restless Mind Volume 1 & 2 by Dee Hock, and Gentle Action by F. David Peat. Dee Hock’s book is a collection of reflections written over twentyfive years. It’s a thoughtful book full of unusually tweetable quotes.

Dee Hock, Autobiography of a Restless Mind Volume 1 & 2.

F. David Peat explores gentle action — how we can exercise more effective, creative, and non-invasive action — in his book. Peat encourages the reader to enter creative suspension from which gentle action can emerge. I think this is related to the Quaker’s discerning of the sense of the meeting, Eugene T. Gendlin’s addending to the felt sense, and David Grove’s way of using clean language to draw attention to experience (expressed verbally or non-verbally). Yet another example of suspension is David Bohm’s approach to dialogue.1 Creative suspension is, in short, that little silence that happens when a person stops talking and begins to listen beyond words to ”the promptings of love and truth in the heart.”2

F. David Peat, Gentle Action.

Reflections
I have started to complement my weekly retrospectives with short reflections. Here are the reflections from this week:

Reflections 2 & 3 are based on my tweets from Dee Hock’s Autobiography. Reflection 4 is a further development of reflection 1. Whether people are, or are not, assets depends on the perspective. The systemic and extrinsic perspectives are explicate. The intrinsic perspective is implicate.3

What was good? What can be improved?
I tweeted this morning that I need a break from my reading and tweeting, so I will go silent for a while. I will focus on my own thinking and writing when the time is right.

Jan Höglund (@janhoglund) 2018-01-07. Tweet.

I will continue with my retrospectives and reflections.

Notes:
1 F. David Peat, Gentle Action: Bringing Creative Change to a Turbulent World (Pari Publishing Sas, 2008), pp.97–99.
2 How Quaker Meetings Take Decisions, (London: Quaker Communications, 2006), p. 1 <link> [7 January 2018].
3 Here, I make a connection between David Bohm’s implicate and explicate orders and Robert S.
Hartman’s intrinsicextrinsic, and systemic value dimensions. See David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010, first published 1987), pp. xiii,148, 168–177, 181, 188, 282. See also Robert S. Hartman, The Structure of Value: Foundations of Scientific Axiology, p.114.

Related posts:
Book Review: The Structure of Value by Robert S. Hartman
Organizing reflection 1
Organizing reflection 2
Organizing reflection 3
Organizing reflection 4
Organizing in between and beyond posts