Autognomics Books Holacracy Life Organizing Quakers Sociocracy Value Workplaces

My 10 Year Summary: What I Have Learned


1. Introduction
2. Background
3. My Journey
 3.1. The initial years (2012–2015)
 3.2. The middle years (2016–2018)
 3.3. The final years (2019–2022)
4. Conclusions
5. Afterword
6. Acknowledgments
7. Recommended Books

1. Introduction

I started blogging ten years ago today (Sept 26, 2012). At the same time, I started searching for life-giving ways of working. This is a summary of my journey and what I have learned. It is a personal story of what felt right to me at the time and what I am seeing now. I raised three questions. The answer to the third question about deeper order is a topic for a book in itself.

I may perhaps pass a few ideas along to you that you can relate to in your own life. I mostly really want to communicate how deadly our world has become for so many. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Bookshelves with ten years of reading.

During this time, I wrote 1000 blog posts and gathered 40000 quotes. The links in this post provide entry points to further reading. There is a list of recommended books at the end. I have included links to my book reviews when available.

2. Background

I have 39 years of experience, mostly in industrial R&D. I was trained as a physicist. I learned everything that was to learn and I even taught it. I was good at it. I received ABB Corporate Research’s Mission of The Year award in 2010 for my contribution to ABB’s Software Development Improvement Program.

I have explored a lot of ideas over my lifetime. I am still learning. I am even unlearning. My inquiry into life-giving work became more personal than I had anticipated.

3. My Journey

I saw a little girl this morning,
on her way to school.
It could have been me!
And here I am
on my way to work.
Fifty years later!
Does it have to be this way?

3.1. The initial years (2012–2015)

Little did I know at the start of my journey that I would suffer from depression half a year later. It took a couple of months until I could feel the sun in my face and the wind in my hair again. I think I have helped a lot of people in my workplace, but in that workplace I discovered that I was being killed. I was dying and I didn’t know why. I had to find out what I could do differently.

I found sociocracy two months after the start of my journey. I spent two years studying sociocracy in depth and wrote an ebook on sociocracy (in Swedish) together with John Schinnerer. I learned that the early development of Holacracy was influenced by sociocracy. My review of Brian Robertson’s new book on Holacracy got attention on twitter.

The group-centered decision-making in sociocracy is derived from Quaker practices. Michael Sheeran’s Beyond Majority Rule is to some the definitive guide on the Quakers’ decision-making method. I wanted to learn more and visited the Quakers in Stockholm, Sweden.

Kväkargården, Stockholm, Sweden.

I learned that the Quakers (Friends) don’t just seek consent (as in sociocracy), but seek unity (or concord). It’s a subtle but important difference. I noticed how the Friends deliberately slowed down when there were objections. The Swedish Friends call it “framkallningstid” (development time).

I met a British Friend at the Nordic Friends Yearly Meeting 2017 who had experiences of making decisions in meetings with a thousand participants. He said it worked because they were seeking the sense of the Meeting. The method can also be used successfully in a secular context. It would revolutionize our political system.

Michelle Holliday sent me her new book on thrivability. I love her tree metaphor. We need to recognize life itself in our organizations. We need to move from control to letting life thrive. It is all too easy for us to lose sight of the very quality of livingness. There is a place for control, but that doesn’t mean that it is the best way to deal with work and people.

Sociocracy and Holacracy are based on cybernetic principles. The way of seeing is the engineer’s. Both use control to run the organization. Sociocracy acknowledges that people are not system components, while Holacracy uses the metaphor of people as sensors acting on behalf of the organization. It is a misconception to view people as autonomous rule-following entities. Metaphors both reflect and influence our thinking.

There is a distinction between being autonomic…, and allonomic

—Norm Hirst, Life-itself as organism characteristics – The Autognomics Institute

Norm Hirst makes a very important distinction between machines, which are allonomic, and living organisms, which are autonomic. Organisms come into being and grow into maturity as a whole entity unlike machines that are assembled piece by piece by some other.

Organisms are self-creating, not just self-organizing. Their purpose is not only to fulfill external tasks, but to develop their own life. To be alive is to be able to act. No organism is a machine, let alone an input-output machine (cybernetics).

Comparing an organism to a machine is profoundly misleading…

—Andreas Weber, Biology of Wonder

Andreas Weber emphasizes that it is profoundly misleading to compare an organism to a machine. Machines do not create themselves. They have no own interests. They do not resist being switched off. All organisms experience being alive. They decide, choose, and act according to values. Feeling is the inner experience of meaning. Organisms have to be free out of necessity.

Organism ways will always push to maintain the freedom to be autonomous…

—Skye Hirst, Value Intelligence In All Creative Organisms – The Autognomics Institute

Skye Hirst points out that it is a fundamental principle and an inalienable right for us to be free to act according to our own beinghood. Some people in power try to take it away by imposing overly tight controls. People are living beings, not things to be managed.

It is essential that we have the opportunity to take right and effective actions that are guided by our intrinsic intentions and meanings. This is a prerequisite for a healthy environment where we can learn, adapt, and thrive.

These insights gave me an understanding of my depression. I realized that I couldn’t find effective actions to fully be myself in the workplace. And yet, I was very good at adapting, obeying, and fulfilling expectations.

3.2. The middle years (2016–2018)

My journey took a new turn in 2016 when I started searching between and beyond our traditional ways of organizing work. Many different approaches have been developed over the years. They are often accompanied by a whole industry offering tools, training, consulting, and certification.

David Bohm & F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity, pp. 274–5.

My inquiry was inspired by David Bohm and F. David Peat’s notion of the order between and beyond. I raised three questions in the inquiry:

  1. What existing orders of organizing do we have today?
  2. How are they entwined within each other in ways that are basically incompatible?
  3. What clues to a deeper order can we find in the answers to these questions?

I were never able to answer these questions completely, but they gave a direction to my inquiry:

  1. I made an attempt to answer the first question. The challenge was that the different approaches couldn’t be thought of as being well-defined. Misinformation also became problematic. I discovered quotes that were not accurate, and claims that were not true.
  2. I never answered the second question. As I write this, my working hypothesis is that there is an overcommitment to mechanical order. Many approaches require that people behave as cogs and wheels (or, in the language of cybernetics, as sensors).
  3. Likewise, I never answered the third question. This is a topic for a book in itself. My hypothesis is that in order to sense deeper order we need to pay acute attention to the ways in which we see, think, feel, and act — individually and together. We need to enter into a new way of seeing. We need to examine the edges of our awareness.

Paavo Pylkkänen was a collaborator with David Bohm and is in a great position to comment on David Bohm’s work.

Bohm often used the metaphors of machine and living organisms to illustrate the difference between a mechanical order and a non-mechanical…order…

—Paavo Pylkkänen, Mind, Matter and The Implicate Order, p. 51.

Mechanical order emphasizes external relationships while deeper order draws attention to internal relationships and participation. Bohm thought that it was important to understand the factors which supports communication and coherent action. Changing reality means changing oneself. We always act based on a certain understanding.

You can learn how to let a deeper bodily felt sense come in relation to any specific situation.

—Eugene Gendlin, Focusing, p. vii.

Felt sense is a felt meaning, a bodily understanding. When we become quietly attentive and sensitive we can let our actions be guided by the needs of the situation. Experiencing is always there in the present moment. It is a deeper order in that it is pre-conceptual. Only actual living can grasp living experiencing adequately.

…feeling our needs and having them satisfied is a direct sign of how well we realise (or fail to realise) our aliveness.

—Andreas Weber, Enlivenment, p. 17.

Feeling is directly related to our sense of aliveness. Rational thinking has no way of understanding lived experience. Our ability to think in logical and abstract terms of mechanical order separates us from the world. It is, in fact, our reliance on rational calculation which makes today’s loss of life possible. We need a more qualitative and organic way of understanding. We need to become carefully observant of life itself.

3.3 The final years (2019–2022)

My journey took yet another turn in 2019 when I started painting. I loved it! I discovered that painting moved me into a state of flow, which felt very relaxing, enjoyable, and freeing.

It felt so good, in fact, that I spent hours painting when I came home from work. While painting, I was totally absorbed in the moment. I was totally involved with all my being in something which felt intrinsically satisfying. I felt creatively alive.

—Jan Höglund, Grevens stig, Ängsö, Sweden.

I continued reading and writing, but not as much as previously.

4. Conclusions

At the beginning of my journey, I discovered that I was being killed. I was dying and I didn’t know why. I knew I had to find out what I could do differently. Ten years later, I have learned how to move towards my own aliveness, towards who I am, towards who I was born to be.

We are not only killing ourselves with our organizations, we are killing our planet and all of nature with our western civilization. Our organizations reflect our values and priorities, our ways of thinking. All aspects of life need to be marked by new priorities, new ways of seeing, new perceptions of what is good.

What we find in other organisms is aliveness: ours, and theirs, and that which is the source of all.

—Andreas Weber, Biopoetics, p. 117.

We can discern what enhances aliveness for the simple reason that we are alive. By experiencing aliveness we are able to evaluate the life-giving potential of any situation. Life is contagious with aliveness. Aliveness is intrinsic to life itself.

Life-giving work is about being in the world with a deep sense of caring. It is about listening, seeing, and acting in harmony with Life. It is through gentle action, living from a deeper place, using our whole intelligence, that we can act in harmony with Life’s deeper order.

Kelvy Bird provides a practical example of how to make the unseen, yet felt, inner life of a social field visible in her work as a scribe and visual facilitator. It’s about staying open, listening deeply, and acting in the right time.

Staying open is a key skill…

—Kelvy Bird, Generative Scribing, p. 53.

We need to step deeply into our lives, staying open to the flow of meaning. It is a key skill and a real challenge. It is far too easy to inadvertently close our minds to what is actually going on. I closed my mind during my depression because I was afraid of feeling deeply. I didn’t think it was safe to feel and to express those feelings honestly.

Listen deeply… Trust that a deeper meaning will arrive…

—Kelvy Bird, Generative Scribing, p. 127.

Instead of imposing order we can inquire into what is seeking new order. We can listen deeply for what wants to unfold in the present moment. We can act in the right time as it unfolds. It is all fluid motion!

We can let our next step of thought come from…experiential feedback, rather than only from the concept.

—Eugene Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning, p. xvii.

We can let our thoughts and actions come from our experiencing, rather than from ideas alone. It can lead us to modify our thinking, rather than being confined in it. We can act from a felt sense. This is one of my most important discoveries.

Felt meaning is present whenever actions, observations, and situations occur that have meaning to a person. An individual who is maximally open to his or her experience weighs and balances all the meanings in his or her experience. Change occurs through experiencing.

In summary, I know now that I can choose to stay open and allow myself to feel fully alive. Without natural beauty and a deep connection to the living world, we end up lifeless and depressed. Beauty is felt aliveness. It is also healing.

…help each person reach the deepest place in their own hearts and…help them bring this material out into the open.

—Christoper Alexander, The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth, p. 117.

Going forward, I want to create conditions that will activate and intensify life itself, with my he-art. Ultimately, it is a question of love — for the planet, for other beings, and for myself. To allow myself to be fully alive is to love myself and the world. Love is the inside of aliveness. Honoring our aliveness is also the best way to ensure our long-term survival as a species.

5. Afterword

My journey became more personal than I had anticipated at the start. My focus was initially on finding systemic answers to my question about life-giving work (for example, sociocracy), but I ended up with intrinsic answers (seeing, being, feeling). I had searched for explicate order, but ended up with a focus on implicate order. I had searched for systemic value (rules), but ended up with giving priority to intrinsic value (love). This is also one of my most important discoveries.

Embrace change…
…be present.
Work is…creating.
Create a nurturing…environment.
Love the workers…before the work.
Make time for community…

—Tess Jette, Six pillars of a life giving workplace – The Autognomics Institute

Life-giving work can only happen when all people are free to use their brains and hearts. It can be done in many ways, but it always has to be done wholeheartedly. Stay open, listen deeply, act at the right time, and trust your felt sense! It can be this way!

6. Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the Friends in Sweden for generously sharing their knowledge in group-centered decision-making. It’s one thing to read about it, it’s quite another to experience it! Thank you!

I would also like to give my heartfelt thanks to Skye Hirst, who coached me in the writing of this post. We have had an ongoing dialogue since 2017. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey — both as a coach and as a friend!

Finally, thank you, dear reader, if you have read this far! You can reach me or follow me here.

7. Recommended Books

This is a long list. Authors who have influenced me most are Christopher Alexander, David Bohm, Henri Bortoft, Eugene Gendlin, and Robert Hartman. I have found myself going back to their books again and again. All have something to say about deeper order.

Christopher Alexander’s books hold a special place in my library.

Abram, D., The Spell of the Sensuous
Abram, D., Becoming Animal.
Addleson, M., Beyond Management
Agerbeck, B., The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide
Alexander, C., The Timeless Way of Building
Alexander, C., The Nature of Order: Book 1 – The Phenomenon of Life
Alexander, C., The Nature of Order: Book 2 – The Process of Creating Life
Alexander, C., The Nature of Order: Book 3 – A Vision of a Living World
Alexander, C., The Nature of Order: Book 4 – The Luminous Ground

Alexander, C., et al., A Pattern Language
Alexander, C., et al., The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth
Amabile, T., & Kramer, S., The Progress Principle
Arrien, A., The Four-Fold Way
Arrien, A., The Second Half of Life
Artur, B.W., The Nature of Technology
Atran, S., Talking to the Enemy

Bache, C.M., The Living Classroom
Bache, C.M., Dark Night, Early Dawn
Bache, C.M., LSD and the Mind of the Universe
Baghai, M., & Quigley, J., As One
Baldwin, C., & Linnea, A., The Circle Way
Ballé, M., & Ballé, F., Lead With Respect
Banishoeib, F., The Poetry of Leadership
Bateson, N., Small Arcs of Larger Circles
Beck, K., Extreme Programming Explained
Bennis, W., Organizing Genius
Benson, H., The Relaxation Response
Bergstrand, J., Reinventing Your Enterprise
Bird, K., Generative Scribing
Brikinshaw, J., Reinventing Management
Blake, A., The Supreme Art of Dialogue
Blake, A., A Gymnasium of Beliefs in Higher Intelligence.
Blake, A., The Intelligent Enneagram.
Block, P., Community
Block, P., Flawless Consulting
Block, P., The Answer to How is Yes
Block, P., The Empowered Manager
Block, P., Stewardship
Bogsnes, B., Implementing Beyond Budgeting
Bohm, D., On Creativity
Bohm, D., On Dialogue
Bohm, D., Unfolding Meaning
Bohm, D., Wholeness and the Implicate Order
Bohm, D., Quantum Theory
Bohm, D., The Special Theory of Relativity
Bohm, D., & Biederman C., Bohm-Biederman Correspondence
Bohm, D., & Hiley B., The Undivided Universe
Bohm, D., & Peat F.D., Science, Order, and Creativity
Bornstein, D., How to Change the World
Bortoft, H., The Wholeness of Nature (My tweets from the book compiled by Simon Robinson)
Bortoft, H., Taking Appearance Seriously (Excellent book review by Simon Robinson)
Brafman, O., & Beckstrom A., The Starfish and the Spider
Brogan, K., A Mind of Your Own
Brooks, F.P., The Mythical Man-Month
Brown, J., The Art and Spirit of Leadership
Brown, J., & Isaacs, D., The World Café
Briggs, J., & Peat, F.D., Turbulent Mirror
Briskin, A., The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace
Briskin, A., Erickson, S., Ott, J. & Callanan, T., The Power of Collective Wisdom
Buk, J., & Villines, S., We the People
Buckley, P., & Peat, F.D., A Question of Physics
Buhner, S.H., Ensouling Language .
Buhner, S.H., The Lost Language of Plants
Buhner, S.H., The Secret Teachings of Plants
Bungay, S., The Art of Action
Burbank, L., & Hall, W., The Harvests of the Years
Bush. R.A.B., & Folger, J.P., The Promise of Mediation
Bushe, G.R., & Marshak, R.J., et al., Dialogic Organization Development

Cameron, J., The Artist’s Way
Campbell, J., The Power of Myth
Capra, F. & Luisi, P.L., The Systems View of Life
Carson, R., Silent Spring
Chaitin, G., The Limits of Mathematics
Chaitin, G., The Unknowable
Chang Ha-Joon, Bad Samaritans
Chase, S., Roads to Agreement
Cleveland, H., Nobody in Charge
Cloke, K., & Goldsmith, J., The End of Management
Conley, C., Peak
Cori, J.L., The Emotionally Absent Mother
Cox, G., et al., A Quaker Approach to Research
Csikszentmihalyi, M., Creativity
Csikszentmihalyi, M., Flow
Chomsky, N., On Anarchism.
Chödrön, P., When Things Fall Apart

de Geus, A., The Living Company
de Maré, P., et al., Koinonia
Deci, E.L., Why We Do What We Do
Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M., Intrinsic Motivation and Self-determination in Human Behavior
Dehnugara, K., Flawed but Willing
Dekker, S., The Safety Anarchist.
DeMarco, T., Slack
DeMarco, T., & Lister, T., Peopleware
Deming, W.E., et al., The Essential Deming
Denning, S., The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management
Dimitrov, V., A New Kind of Social Science
Earls, M., Herd
Edmondson, A.C. Teaming
Edwards, B., Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Elgin, D., The Living Universe
Ellison, S.S., Taking the War Out of Our Words
Emery, F., & Thorsrud, E., Democracy at work

Fairtlough, G., The Three Ways of Getting Things Done
Ferguson, M., The Aquarian Conspiracy
Frankl, E.F., Man’s Search For Meaning
Frankl, E.F., Yest to Life.
Freire, P., Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Fukuoka, M., Sowing Seeds in the Desert
Fukuoka, M., The One-Straw Revolution

Gallwey, W.T., The Inner Game of Tennis
Gebser, J., The Ever-Present Origin
Gendlin, E.T., Focusing
Gendlin, E.T., Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning
Gendlin, E.T., A Process Model
Goodwin, B., How the Leopard Changed Its Spots
Goodwin, B., Nature’s Due
Graeber, D., Bullshit Jobs
Grant, A., Originals
Griffin, D., The Emergence of Leadership
Grof, S., Healing Our Deepest Wounds
Grof, S., When the Impossible Happens
Grof, S., The Cosmic Game
Gruen, A., The Betrayal of the Self
Gruen, A., The Insanity of Normality
Guendelsberger, E., On the Clock.

Hamilton, D.M., Everything is Workable
Harding, S., Animate Earth
Hari, J., Lost Connections
Harland, P., The Power of Six
Hartman, R.S., Freedom to Live
Hartman, R.S., The Structure of Value
Hartman, R.S., Five Lectures on Formal Axiology.
Hartman, R.S., The Revolution Against War.
Heider, J., The Tao of Leadership
Hensel, M., Menges, A., Weinstock, M., et al., Emergence
Hernes, T., A Process Theory of Organization
Hiley, B., Peat, F.D., et al., Quantum Implications: Essays in Honor of David Bohm
Ho, M-W., The Rainbow And The Worm
Ho, M-W., Living Rainbow H2O
Ho, M-W., Meaning of Life and the Universe .
Holliday, M., The Age of Thrivability
Hollis, J., Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life
Holman, P., Engaging Emergence
Hock, D., Birth of The Chaordic Age
Hock, D., One From Many
Hock, D., Autobiography of a Restless Mind, Volume 1 & 2
Hoffman, D., The Voice Dialogue Anthology
Holdrege, C., Thinking Like a Plant
Holt, J., How Children Learn.
Holt, J., Learning All the Time.
Husband, J., et al., Wirearchy
Hutchins, G., Future Fit
Hutchins, G., The Illusion of Separation
Hutchins, G., The Nature of Business
Inamori, K., A Compass to Fulfillment

Isaacs, W., Dialogue

Jaworski, J., Source
Jaworski, J., Synchronicity
Jung, C.G., Answer to Job
Jung, C.G., & Pauli, W., Atom and Archetype
Johnson, R.A., Living Your Unlived Life
Johnson, R.A., Owning Your Own Shadow
Johnson, S., Emergence
Johnstone, K., Impro
Jonas, H., The Phenomenon of Life
Jones, M., Artful Leadership .
Jones. M., The Soulf of Place.
Joy, L., How Does Societal Transformation Happen?
Joy, W.B., Joy’s Way
Järvensivu, T., Managing (in) Networks

Kahane, A., Collaborating with the Enemy
Kahane, A., Power and Love
Kahane, A., Solving Tough Problems
Kauffman, S., At Home in the Universe
Kauffman, S., Reinventing the Sacred
Kay, J., Obliquity
Keeney, B., The Bushman Way of Tracking God
Kegan, R., & Lahey, L., How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work
Keleman, S., Emotional Anatomy
Keller, E.F., A Feeling for the Organism
Kendzior, S., Hiding in Plain Sight.
Kidd, E., First Steps to Seeing
Kingsley, P., A Story Waiting to Pierce You
Kinglsey, P., In the Places of Wisdom
Kingsley, P., Catafalque, Volume 1 & 2
Kirkpatrick, D., Beyond Empowerment
Koestenbaum, P., & Block, P., Freedom and Accountability at Work
Koestenbaum, P., Leadership.
Kohn, A., Punished by Rewards
Kohn, A., The Myth of the Spoiled Child
Koestler, A., The Ghost in the Machine
Koestler, A., The Sleepwalkers
Kotler, S., & Wheal, J., Stealing Fire
Kramer, N., The Unfoldment
Kuenkel, P., Mind and Heart
Kuenkel, P., The Art of Leading Collectively

Lamott, A., Bird by Bird
Laszlo, C., & Brown, J.S., et al., Flourishing Enterprise
Laszlo, E., How Can We Build a Better World?.
Lawlor, R., Voices of the First Day
Lee, B., Artist of Life
Lee, B., Striking Thoughts
Lehrs, E., Man or Matter
Leonard, G., Mastery
Leonard, G., & Murphy, M., The Life We are Given
Leonard, G., The Silent Pulse.
Leonard, G., The Way of Aikido.
Levine, S.K., Poiesis
Lieberman, M.D., Social
Lievegoed, Phases
Lipton, B.H., The Biology of Belief
Lowen, A., Joy.

MacKenzie, G., Orbiting the Giant Hairball
Macy, J., & Brown, M.Y., Coming Back to Life
Madsen, B., & Willert, S., Survival in the Organization
Malone, T.W., The Future of Work
Mandelbrot, B.B., The Fractal Geometry of Nature
Mannix, K., With the End in Mind
Margulis, L., & Sagan, D., What is Life?
Marshall, P., A History of Anarchism.
Marquet, L.D., Turn the Ship Around!
Maslow, A.H., The Farther Reaches of Human Nature
Maslow, A.H., Maslow on Management
Maturana, H.R., & Varela, F.J., The Tree of Knowledge
May, R., The Discovery of Being
Mayer, E.L., Extraodrinary Knowing.
McCallum, I., Ecological Intelligence
McChrystal, S., et al., Team of Teams
McGilchrist, I., The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning.
McGilchrist, I., The Master and His Emissary .
McGilchrist, I., The Matter with Things.
McGregor, D., The HumanSide of Enterprise
McInnes, W., Culture Schock
Mead, G., Coming Home to Story
Merrell, F., Becoming Culture
Merrell, F., Change through Signs of Body, Mind, and Language
Meyer, E., The Culture Map
Meyer, R., & Meijers, R., Leadership Agility
Midgley, M., The Myths We Live By
Miller, T., & Hall, G., Letting Go
Milton, J.P., Sky Above, Earth Below
Mintzberg, H., The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning
Mithen, S., The Prehistory of the Mind
Morris, T., If Aristotle ran General Motors
Murphy, M., The Future of the Body

Nachmanovitch, S., The Art of Is.
Nachmanovitch, S., Free Play.
Neal, C., & Neal, P., The Art of Convening
Nelson, S., Living in Flow.
Neumeier, M., The Designful Company
Nicholson, D.J., & Dupré, J., et al., Everything Flows.
Nielsen, J.S., The Myth of Leadership
Norman, D.A., The Design of Everyday Things
Norman, D.A., Emotional Design

O’Donohue, J., Anam Ċara
O’Donohue, J., To Bless the Space Between Us
O’Donohue, J., Eternal Echoes
O’Donohue, J., Divine Beauty
Ostrom, E., Governing the Commons
Ostrom, E., Understanding Institutional Diversity
Owen, H., The Spirit of Leadership
Owen, H., Wave Rider
Owen, H., The Power of Spirit
Owen, H., Open Space Technology

Paul, M., Inner Bonding
Palmer, P.J., A Hidden Wholeness
Palmer, P.J., Let Your Life Speak
Palmer, P.J., The Active Life
Palmer, P.J., The Courage to Teach Guide
Papert, S., Mindstorms
Parker, P., The Art of Gathering
Parlett, M., Future Sense
Pascale, R.T., Millemann, M., & Gioja., L., Surfing the Edge of Chaos
Peat, F.D., Blackfoot Physics .
Peat, F.D., From Certainty to Uncertainty
Peat, F.D., Gentle Action
Peat, F.D., Infinite Potential
Peat, F.D., Pathways of Chance.
Peat, F.D., Synchronicity
Peat, F. D., The Philosopher’s Stone
Peirce, P., The Intuitive Way
Peltier, B., The Psychology of Executive Coaching
Penrose, R., Fasion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe.
Penrose, R., Shadows of the Mind
Penrose, R., The Road to Reality
Peppers, C., & Briskin, A., Bringing Your Soul to Work
Perls, F., Gestalt Therapy
Perls, F., Gestalt Therapy Verbatim
Pink, D.H., A Whole New Mind
Pink, D.H., Drive
Pink, D.H., To Sell is Human
Plotkin, B., Nature and the Human Soul
Plotkin, B., Wild Mind
Plotkin, B., Soulcraft
Polanyi, M., The Tacit Dimension
Pollan, M., How to Change Your Mind
Polyani, M., Personal Knowledge
Poynter, J., The Human Experiment
Prigogine, I., The End of Certainty
Prigogine, I., & Stengers, I., Order Out of Chaos .
Pylkkänen, P., et al., The Search for Meaning
Pylkkänen, P., Mind, Matter and the Implicate Order

Quillien, J., Clever Digs.

Radin, D., Supernormal
Radin, D., The Conscious Universe
Ramquist, L., & Eriksson, M., Integral Management
Ramquist, L., & Eriksson, M., Manöverbarhet
Rawson, W., The Werkplaats [Workshop] Adventure
Reiss, S., Who am I?
Remen, R.N., Kithcen Table Wisdom.
Remen, R.N., My Grandfather’s Blessings.
Reynolds, M., The Garden Awakening
Richards, M.C., Centering.
Richards, M.C., The Crossing Point.
Rico, G., Writing the Natural Way
Rilke, R.M., Letters to a Young Poet
Robinson, K., Out of Our Minds
Robinson, K., The Element
Robinson, K., Finding Your Element
Robinson, S., & Moraes Robinson, M., Holonomics
Robinson, S., & Moraes Robinson, M., Customer Experiences with Soul.
Rodgers, C., Informal Coalitions
Roeper, A., The “I” of the Beholder
Rogers, C., A Way of Being
Rogers, C., Client-Centered Therapy
Rogers, C., On Becoming a Person
Rogers, C., On Personal Power
Rogers, C., & Stevens, B., Person to Person
Rogers, C., Kirschenbaum, H., & Henderson, V.L., The Carl Rogers Reader
Rosen, R., Life Itself
Rosenberg, M.B., Nonviolent Communication
Rosenberg, M.B:, Speak Peace in a World of Conflict
Rosenzweig, P., The Halo Effect
Ross, C., The Leaderless Revolution
Roth, W., The Roots and Future of Management Theory
Rother, M., Toyota Kata
Rough, J., Society’s Breakthrough!
Rozenthuler, S., Life-Changing Conversations
Rovelli, C., Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Russell, J.M., Thrivability

Sadler-Smith, E., The Intuitive Mind
Safina, C., Beyond Words
Sahtouris, E., EarthDance .
Sahtouris, E., Gaia’s Dance.
Sanford, C., The Regenerative Business.
Sanford, M., Waking
Saul, J.R., Voltaire’s Bastards
Scharmer, C.O., Theory U
Scharmer, C.O., & Kaufter, K., Leading from the Emerging Future
Schein, E.H., Humble Inquiry
Schmaltz, D., The Blind Men and the Elephant
Schmidt, M., et al., Understanding Montessori
Schumacher, E.F., A Guide for the Perplexed
Schumacher, E.F., Small is Beautiful
Schumacher, E.F., Good Work
Schwaber, K., & Beedle, M., Agile Software Development with Scrum
Schön, D., The Reflective Practitioner
Seagal, S., & Horne, D., Human Dynamics
Seddon, J., Freedom from Command and Control
Seddon, J., In Pursuit of Quality
Seddon, J., I Want You To Cheat!
Seddon, J., Systems Thinking in the Public Sector
Seddon, J., The Whitehall Effect
Seifter, H. & Economy, P., Leadership Ensemble
Semler, R., Maverick
Semler, R., The Seven-Day Weekend.
Senge, P., The fifth Discipline
Senger, P., The Dance of Change
Senge, P., et al., The Necessary Revolution
Senge, P., Scharmer, C.O., Jaworski, J., & Flowers, B.S., Presence
Sennett, R., The Craftsman
Shaetti, B.F., Ramsey, S.J., & Watanabe, G.C., Personal Leadership
Shaw, P., Changing Conversations in Organizations
Shaw, P., Stacey, R., et al., Experiencing Risk, Spontaneity and Improvisation in Organizational Change
Sheeran, M.J., Beyond Majority Rule
Sheldrake, R., The Science Delusion
Sheldrake, R., A New Science of Life
Sheldrake, R., The Presence of the Past
Sherburne, D.W., A Key to Whithead’s Process and Reality
Siegel, D., Mindsight
Siegel, D., The Developing Mind
Sirolli, E., Hot to Start a Business and Ignite Your Life
Sirota, D., Mischkind, L.A., & Meltzer, M.I., The Enthusiastic Employee
Snowden, D., et al., Cynefin.
Sousanis, N., Unflattening
Stacey, R., Managing Chaos
Stacey, R., Managing the Unknowable
Stacey, R., Complexity and Organizational Reality
Stacey, R., Strategic Management and Organisational Dynamics
Stacey, R., Complexity and Group Processes
Stamoliev, R., The Energetics of Voice Dialogue
Stefanovic, I.L., Safeguarding Our Common Future
Stolaroff, M.J., The Secret Chief Revealed
Stone H., & Stone, S., Embracing Our Selves
Stone H., & Stone, S., Embracing Your Inner Critic
Streatfield, P.J., The Paradox of Control in Organizations
Surowiecki, J., The Wisdom of Crowds
Sutton, R., The No Asshole Rule
Sutton, R., Good Boss, Bad Boss

Tarnas, R., The Passion of the Western Mind
Thompson, W.I., Coming Into Being
Tippett, K., Becoming Wise
Tonn, J.C., Mary P. Follet: Creating Democracy, Transforming Management
Turner, T., Belonging.

Ury, W., The Power of a Positive No

Vaill, P.B., Managing as a Performing Art
Vaill, P.B., Learning as a Way of Being
van der Heijden, K., Scenarios
van der Heijden, K., Bradfield, R., Burt, G., Cairns, G., & Wright, G., The Sixth Sense
van der Kolk, B., The Body Keeps the Score
van Vugt, M., & Ahuja, A., Selected
Varela, F.J., Thompson, E., & Rosch, E., The Embodied Mind

Wachterhauser, B.R., Beyond Being
Wahl, D.C., Designing Regenerative Cultures
Wallack, F.B., The Epochal Nature of Process in Whitehead’s Metaphysics
Watts, A., The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.
Watts, A., The Watercourse Way.
Watts, A., Does it Matter.
Watts, A., The Way of Zen.
Weber, A., Matter and Desire.
Weber, A., The Biology of Wonder.
Weber, A., Enlivenment.
Weber, A., Biopoetics.
Weggeman, M., Managing Professionals? Don’t!
Weick, K.E., Sensemaking in Organizations
Weinstock, M., The Architecture of Emergence
Weisbord, M.R., Discovering Common Ground
Weisbord, M.R., Productive Workplaces
Weisbord, M., & Janoff, S., Future Search
Weisbord, M., & Janoff, S., Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!
Weltzel, C., Freedom Rising
Welwood, J., Toward a Psychology of Awakening
Wendt, T., Design for Dasein
Western, S., Coaching and Mentoring
Western, S., Leadership
Whitehead, A.N., Process and Reality (see also Sherburn and Wallack)
Wheatley, M.J., Leadership and the New Science
Wheatley, M.J., Finding Our Way
Wheatley, M.J. Who Do We Choose to Be?.
Wheatley, M.J., So Far From Home
Wheatley, M.J., Turning to One Another
Wheatley, M.J., & Frieze, D., Walk Out Walk On
Wheatley, M.J., & Kellner-Rogers, M., A Simpler Way
Whyte, D., The Heart Aroused .
Whyte, D., The Three Marriages
Williams, B., The Genuine Contact Way
Williams, M., & Penman, D., Mindfulness
Wolff, R., Democracy at Work
Wolff, R., Original Wisdom .
Woolley-Barker, T., Teeming.

Youngs, R., The Puzzle of Non-Western Democracy
Yunkaporta, T., Sand Talk.

Zander, R.S., Pathways to Possibility
Zander, R.S., & Zander, B., The Art of Possibility
Zubizarreta, R., From Conflict to Creative Collaboration
Zimmerman, J., & Coyle, V., The Way of Council
Zweig, C., & Abrams, J., et al., Meeting the Shadow

Organization Organizing Phenomenology Workplaces

Henri Bortoft on wholeness in organizations

Simon Robinson inspired me to read Henri Bortoft’s two books The Wholeness of Nature and Taking Appearance Seriously. While reading these books I was struck by the thought that in order to see life in work we need to a dynamic way of seeing.

I am currently re-reading Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson’s book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter. I found an interesting section on Henri Bortoft’s work on organizational wholeness.

Simon and Maria writes:

It was Bohm’s interest in the hologram that would inspire Henri’s work on the wholeness in organisations.1

This led Henri and a few other researchers to begin to contemplate the perceptions in a holographic manner, and not via that of the General Systems Theory, a methodology which Henri described as leading to concepts of ‘counterfeit wholeness’, an incorrect perception of what exactly the whole organisation is.2

In saying that the whole organisation ‘comes to presence’ in each person, we begin to realise that the concept of the whole organisation cannot be written down… It is not an object as we normally think of them…3

In a hologram, neither the whole nor the parts dominate each other. You cannot analyse a hologram in either a bottom-up or a top-down matter. …you also need to consider another aspect of the hologram, which is the ability to be broken up into parts, but still remain whole.4

With systems theory, you take a step back in order to see the whole, whereas for Henri, you can gain an intuition or feeling of the whole by going into the parts…5

Intuitions and feelings about the organisation cannot easily be expressed in language, but we need to avoid getting stuck in only an analytic, verbal and logical mode of thinking. Our experience of life as it is lived in our organizations requires a dynamic way of seeing.

1. Henri Bortoft, Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter, p. 51.
2. Ibid..
3. Ibid., p. 52.
4. Ibid..
5. Ibid., p. 53.

Related posts:
Book Review: Holonomics
Book Review: First Steps to Seeing
Henri Bortoft on human organizations and relationships
Henri Bortoft’s Schumacher Lectures 2009
Henri Bortoft on seeing life itself
The very quality of livingness
BELONGING together vs. belonging TOGETHER
Henri Bortoft on taking the ‘appearance’ seriously
The ‘totalitarian’ tendency of systems theory
Organizational metamorphosis

Letters Organizing Thoughts Workplaces

Rúna Bouius on Managing People

Rúna Bouius suggests in a newsletter that we need to replace the term “managing people” with something else.

Rúna writes (Sept 3, 2022) that:

It started with a young leader…contacting me to ask for advice about a workplace dilemma. He explained how he…likes to reach out to subordinates so he can understand where they are coming from and what their needs are. …he wants to create an atmosphere where his people feel appreciated and have a feeling of belonging.

But that kind of leadership is not going down well with some of his senior leaders, who ridicule him and talk down to him… He says his bosses enjoy making others feel less and instilling fear… They are rude, insensitive, and hard on people.

What’s surprising to him is how…people take the abuse and seem to respond positively to the leaders who terrorize them and threaten to fire them. I explained to him that that’s…what people do when their jobs and livelihood are threatened. They can’t afford to lose their jobs, so they try to ignore the abuse and pretend they are fine. But deep down, of course, they are not fine. Anything but…

What we are talking about here is the old command and control management style based on hierarchy and domination (“Power over”) versus the new type of leadership based on partnership, collaboration, and co-creation (“Power to” and “Power with.”)

I agree with Rúna Bouius and think that traditional top-down command and control management is a poor way of organizing work. It is a waste of human energy and creativity. We need to create workplaces where people can thrive.

Rúna asks what other terms we can come up with replacing the term “managing people”? What about organizing, not people, but the work? It’s best done by the people who actually do the work. Hence, my interest in organizing between and beyond.

Related posts (on management):
Does Agile Change Management Thinking?
The management view of agile
Needed changes in the managemeent ecosystem
Book Review: Maslow on Management
W.L. Gore’s management model
Management as stewardship of the living
Management is designed to get compliance
Management & to manage (English-Swedish translations)
How will companies approach the management challenge?
Integral Management
Bob Emiliani on Scientific Management and Toyota Management

Creativity Life Organization Organizing People Thinking Thoughts Value

New orders reflect new values

The world crumbles. New orders are emerging.
Conditions are getting worse and worse.
There is less and less to hold on to.
There are fewer givens to assume.
How to live? What to do? How to organize?

The world is falling apart.
Fear deepens as necessary orders are lost.
Events force rapid reassessment of everything,
    events of such scope that no one can escape.
Everyone is forced into the melting pot of survival.
Life as we know it is shattered.

As survivors find each other, new orders begin to form.
New social institutions spring into being,
    reflecting new values, and new ways of thinking.
Every aspect of life is marked by new priorites,
    and new perceptions of what is good.
The new orders reflect new states of awareness,
    and elicit still deeper levels of self-awareness.
Creativity flourishes and aliveness is expressed in new ways.
Organizing Quotes Thoughts

How to make living structure?

Christopher Alexander on how to make living structure:

…success in making living structure…comes from the ability of the maker, at each step in the unfolding process, to do the thing which is required—at each instant to do the thing which is most consistent with wholeness. …and that, of course, depends on the extent to which the makers could see the structure of the wholeness that was there while they were making it. Yet while one works…it is hard to see what is required, it is hard to see wholeness. To see wholeness as it is requires purity of mind, because the thoughts, mental constructs, theories, ideas, and images one has all interfere with perception of wholeness, and make it difficult to see.1

1. Christopher Alexander, The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe, Book 4 – The Luminous Ground (2004), 35.

Articles Life Organizing Thoughts

Vårt sätt att organisera är människofientligt

I detta inlägg reflekterar jag över Jonna Bornemarks artikel Vårt sätt att organisera samhället har blivit människofientligt i DN 2019-12-25. Texten i artikeln är ursprungligen från ett tal som Jonna Bornemark höll i samband med Riksmötets öppnande 2019-09-10.

Jonna Bornemark skriver att “frågan om hur vi organiserar vårt offentliga samhälle har blivit alltmer akut”. “Svaret har varit checklistor, register och manualer.” Jag anser att frågan hur vi organiserar det privata näringslivet är lika akut. Dessa “checklistor, register och manualer” är lika utbredda i kommersiella bolag.

En grundläggande fråga, enligt Jonna Bornemark, är “vilken sorts människor vi förväntar oss att samhället byggs av”. Det är en fråga som har “blivit brännande i diskussionen om hur vi organiserar offentliga verksamheter”. Frågan är, enligt min mening, lika relevant i diskussionen om hur vi organiserar privat verksamhet. Vilken syn vi har på människor är en fråga som har att göra med hur vi organiserar all mänsklig verksamhet.

Jonna Bornemark frågar om “det är något i själva organiseringen av till exempel vården som har blivit människofientligt”. Bornemark skriver att “långsamt har syftet med verksamheterna förskjutits”. “Det har blivit viktigare att fokusera på vad det står i papperen” än vad som är syftet med verksamheten. “Kvalitetsarbetet tar plats i papperen, inte i verkligheten.” Den som faktiskt utför arbetet ska “bara lyda order”. Om ett djupare syfte med verksamheten är otydligt, eller kanske rentav saknas, och man inte litar på människors eget omdöme, är regler och ordergivning det enda som återstår i försöket att styra verksamheten.

Jonna Bornemark påpekar att vi “på så sätt har skapat ett system som ger allt mindre plats för professionellt omdöme”, dvs. förmågan att utifrån situationen “handla på bästa möjliga sätt”. Det är, enligt Bornemark, en förmåga som “aldrig kan generaliseras och skrivas ner i regler” därför att “livet är rörligt, ständigt annorlunda och specifikt”. “Pappersapparaten”, där enbart “det mätbara blir synligt”, saknar “känslighet inför det levande”. Jonna Bornemark påminner oss om att allt inte kan mätas, och att något kan vara viktigt även om det inte finns siffror. Jag håller med! Använding av mätetal har dessutom sidoeffekter beroende på sammanhanget. “När ett mätetal blir ett mål, upphör det att vara ett bra mätetal” (Goodharts lag).

Jonna Bornemark betonar att “vi behöver utveckla det mänskliga, inte avveckla det”. Det sker när det finns en pågående dialog och ett kontinuerligt utbyte av erfarenheter kring det som är konkret och svårt. Omdöme är “något som vi skapar tillsammans”, och då är det viktigt att vi inte är “alltför lika varandra” för då kan omdömet bli “allför smalt”. Mångfald är viktigt i såväl ekologiska system som mänskliga grupper. Enligt Science ökar t.ex. gruppers kollektiva intelligens ökar om den består av både kvinnor och män.

Jonna Bornemark undrar om “vi har odlat ett tankesätt där … effektivisering övertrumfar allt”? En effektivisering som utgår från att människor, djur och natur är till för att utnyttja. För det är som Jonna Bornemark skriver att: “Ett snävt fokus på effektivitet är inte effektivt eftersom det inte förstår sig på det levande.” Vårt sätt att organisera handlar om värderingar. Det är ett uttryck för vad vi värderar mest. Hur vore det om vi började sätta värde på och vårda Livet självt? Det skulle vara både natur- och människovänligt.

Organizing Phenomenology Thoughts

Organizing as synergistic relationality

Here is a post by David Ing with notes from a plenary Christopher Alexander Lecture by David Seamon at PUARL 2018 Conference.

David Seamon talked about wholeness, where the whole remains whole. Wholeness is a global thing, easy to feel, hard to define. Seamon makes the following distinction between analytic vs. synergistic relationality.

Analytic relationality
– Belonging together.
– Whole as interconnected parts and relationships.
– Loses sight of how parts already belong together.
– Analytic relationality in General Systems Theory, from von Bertalanffy, is reductive and piecemeal.

Synergistic relationality
Belonging together.
– Whole is an integrated and generative field.
– Sustaining and sustained by collective belonging.
– Whole is self-organizing as each part enters into the constitution of every other part.

David Seamon also talked about place as synergistic relationality. I think we can view organizing as synergistic relationality too. It’s when individual or group actions, experiences, intentions and meaning are drawn together.

David Seamon asks if place can be described generatively and if there are underlying processes that might help us see? My questions are if organizing can be described generatively too, and how we can find other ways of looking and seeing?

Henri Bortoft called the switch of attention from what we see to the way in which we are seeing a dynamic way of seeing. For more information, see Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter by Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson, and First Steps to Seeing: A Path Towards Living Attentively by Emma Kidd.

Related posts:
Book Review: Holonomics
Book Review: First Steps to Seeing
Henri Bortoft on human organizations and relationships
Henri Bortoft on seeing life itself

Organization Organizing Software Thoughts Workplaces

Two work perspectives

Watts Humphrey and Dee Hock are two pioneers, in different areas, and in different ways. They also have two very different ways of seeing work.

Watts Humphrey: Work is, or has to be, repeatable

Watts Humphrey provides his view on process improvement in Three Process Perspectives: Organizations, Teams, and People (Kluwer Academic Publishers, Annals of Software Engineering 14, 2002). Humprey describes in this paper his work with process assessments in IBM and the development of the CMM, PSP, and TSP.

The first group Humphrey assessed was one of IBM’s semiconductor facilities. It used process measurements to identify quality problems and cut manufacturing costs by over 50%.

With silicon chips, you have to control the process in order to consistently improve the yield and reduce costs. This means that you need to examine every defect, identify its cause, and then change the process to eliminate the cause. This, in turn, requires precise process measurements, and a defined and stable (repeatable) process.

Watts Humphrey’s view is that a similar approach is necessary in software engineering, and developed the CMM, PSP and TSP. Here is my analysis of all three (long post).

Dee Hock: Work is a blend of chaos and order (chaordic)

Dee Hock challenges our habitual ways of seeing work in his book One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2005). Hock describes the chaordic processes present in our organizations and the use of chaordic concepts in organizational development.

Dee Hock’s view is that there is a place for process control—you need a dust-free environment if you want a perfect silicon chip—but that it by no means implies that control is the best way to deal with work. Watts Humphrey had another view and focused on process control in software development.

Watts Humphrey is called the “father of software quality.” Dee Hock was actually a pioneer in software development too. Here is his own story of the chaordic (agile) development of VISA’s first electronic authorization system in the early 1970s. Dee Hock threw out IBM, but that’s another story.

Update 2022-09-14
Clarification added that Watts Humphrey focused on process control in software development.

Books Organization Organizing Phenomenology Thoughts

Henri Bortoft on human organizations and relationships

Henri Bortoft is the author The Wholeness of Nature and Taking Appearance Seriously. I am particularly interested in the ‘dynamic way of seeing’ which is explained at length by Henri Bortoft. Taking the ‘appearance’ seriously is necessary if we want to see ‘life’ in nature and in work.

Henri Bortoft mentions in Taking Appearance Seriously that there was a growing interest in the late 1960s and early 1970s in management education and organizational development.1 Here is a paper by Henri Bortoft from 1971 on counterfeit and authentic wholes.2

Human organizations
Henri Bortoft writes the following about human organizations:3

…we find that behind the current notion of organization, what could be called the ‘managerial view’… This says that an organization consists of a set of personnel (which is a nice way of saying people reduced to the status of things) who can be assigned to a set of roles to operate on a set of resources to perform a set of tasks. … It is just this axiomatic approach which is embalmed in the systems approach to formal organization theory, and which has thoroughly infested management throughout contemporary organizations.

…we can see immediately that the current managerial approach constitutes an attempt to stand outside of the organization, to take an overview of it as an object for observation and manipulation… So the manager’s task comes to be seen as one of applying technique from outside, the effect of which is to stop others from participating authentically in their own situation, so that they have to proceed as if they were outside of their own work.

Human organizations fail because those involved do not understand… Where they do not visibly appear to fail it is because they are held together externally by forces, fears and pressures—in other words, by violence. What is needed is the development of a sensitivity… In this way they can have made known to them the genuine needs of their situation, not the counterfeits which arise…at the top, nor…from outside. But this approach is so different to the axiomatic approach to management that it is at first unthinkable to those concerned with techniques for solving problems.

Human relationships
Henri Bortoft also discusses human relationships:4

It is when we begin to consider human relationships in terms of the wholesome encounter that we realize the tragic limitation of our lives together.

The encounter between two persons is very often only external; each looks upon the other as an object, as a thing among things. Each is outside of the other, separated from the other as an object to be known and manipulated. … We develop counterfeit relationships as an attempt to bring us together by overcoming separation. But…separation is preserved and we ensure that we remain outside of one another.

An authentic relationship with another person begins with the turning around into the whole. … We cease from trying to grasp hold of the other person, to know him as an object, to work him out or to make him do things. We begin to let the other person be, becoming sensitive to him as a presence… If this happens we enter directly into an encounter with the whole person…

Today’s organizations are as infested by the ‘managerial view’ as they were 50 years ago. And authentic encounters — where we meet each other as whole human beings — are as rare now as then. More often than not we are instead immersed in our thoughts about each other.

1 Henri Bortoft, Taking Appearance Seriously: The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought (Floris Books, 2012), p. 11.
2 Henri Bortoft, The Whole: Counterfeit and Authentic (Systematics Vol. 9. No. 2, 1971).
3 Ibid., pp. 23–24.
4 Ibid., pp. 23–26.

Update 2022-09-18: Link added to the notes. Related post added.

Related post:
Henri Bortoft on wholeness in organizations
Henri Bortoft’s Schumacher Lectures 2009
Henri Bortoft on seeing life itself
The very quality of livingness
BELONGING together vs. belonging TOGETHER
Henri Bortoft on taking the ‘appearance’ seriously
The ‘totalitarian’ tendency of systems theory
Organizational metamorphosis

Books Organizing Retrospectives

Organizing retrospective 126

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 is a retrospective, not only of the last week, but of the year.

The series on organizing “between and beyond” started two and a half years ago, and is inspired by David Bohm and F. David Peat’s notion of “the order between and beyond” in Science, Order, and Creativity. Here is my review of Bohm and Peat’s book.

David Bohm & F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity, pp. 274–5.

I think that we need to move “between and beyond” our traditional ways of organizing work. We need a major shift in how we perceive and organize work, and in how we relate to ourselves and othersHere is an overview of all the posts in the series.

I use Goodreads and Twitter to keep track of my reading. I read 60 books this year.

Source: Goodreads

The shortest book was Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli. The longest was Catafalque by Peter Kingsley. The most popular was Dune by Frank Herbert, and the least popular was A Gymnasium Of Beliefs In Higher Intelligence by Anthony Blake. I am apparently the only one on Goodreads who has read Blake’s book. Anthony Blake studied physics and had many conversations with David Bohm. It’s a thought-provoking book.

The highest rated book on Goodreads with 5.00 average was Biopoetics by Andreas Weber (@biopoetics). Actually, there’s so far only one rating on Goodreads, and it’s mine. It reminds me that I need to review Weber’s book. I also like Andreas Weber’s The Biology of Wonder: Aliveness, Feeling, and the Metamorphosis of Science very much.

Andreas Weber, Biopoetics.

Andreas Weber sees enlivenement as a way to move beyond enlightenment, and acknowledges the deeply creative processes embodied in living organisms. Here is an essay by Andreas Weber on Enlivenment which was published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in 2013. It was Emma Taylor (@generativeOD) who introduced Andreas Weber to me. Thanks Emma!

Other books which I read during the year and really like are:

  • The Supreme Art of Dialogue: Structures of Meaning by Anthony Blake. The structures of meaning emerge out of dialouge itself. Dialogue works with whatever arises in the moment. It requires being in sync with oneself and others. The critical issues is to be truly heard and seen, or there is no dialogue.
  • The Garden Awakening: Designs to Nurture Our Land and Ourselves by Mary Reynolds. This is a book about designing gardens that are radiant with life. Reyonlds’ approach to garden design is as applicable to organizational design.
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk. The only way we can change the way we feel is to become aware of our inner experience and felt sense.
  • The Silent Pulse: A Search for the Perfect Rhythm that Exists in Each of Us by George Leonard. There exists a silent pulse of perfect rhythm at the center of our lives. Every act has its own movements which can be suppressed only at the expense of what is spontaneous, and ultimately nourishing. Rhythm is fundamental to deeper generative organizing.
  • Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen (@RachelRemen). When we reclaim who we are, we also remember our basic human qualities. Wholeness is never lost, only forgotten.
  • The “I” of the Beholder: A Guided Journey to the Essence of a Child by Annemarie Roeper. We cannot force a child to learn any more than we can force someone to eat. We need to create environments where we can flourish and thrive, rather than just adjusting to the demands of the system.
Kelvy Bird, Generative Scribing.

A book which I love is Kelvy Bird’s (@kelvy_bird) Generative Scribing: A Social Art of the 21st Century. Kelvy Bird’s writing and drawing resonates deeply with me. Her approach can be applied to other arts, crafts, and practices as well. Here is my review of Kelvy Bird’s book. It’s a gem.

Another author I’d like to mention is Stephen Harrod Buhner (@SBuhner). I read four of his books during the year. Buhner mentions, by the way, that the best general work on Goethe is by Henri Bortoft. And one of the best sources on Bortfoft, that I know of, is Simon Robinson’s (@srerobinson) excellent blog and books, written together with Maria Moraes Robinson (@DoraMoraesR). Stephen Harrod Buhner is a very skilled writer. There’s something more at the heart of writing, or any craft, than the mechanics of it. I warmly recommed Buhner’s Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life. It reminds me I need to review Buhner’s book too.

Two books I’d also like to mention are The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, and Sowing Seeds in the Desert: Natural Farming, Global Restoration, and Ultimate Food Security by Masanobu Fukuoka with Larry Korn as translator. Fukuoka criticizes our willingness to reduce life to what is know about it, and to act on the assumption that what we don’t know about life safely can be ignored. Here is a compilation of my tweets from my reading Masanobu Fukuoka’s books.

A most interesting, but very demanding book to read, is Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning by Eugene Gendlin. This is a groundbreaking philosophical work. Gendlin examines felt experiencing and and the edge of awareness, where language emerges from non-language. Here is my review. Here is also my review of another of Gendlin’s books, Focusing: How to Gain Direct Access to Your Body’s Knowledge.

I see, by the way, interesting parallels between Eugene Gendlin and David Bohm. Bohm explores the nature of consciouness, with particular attention to thought. Gendlin explores experiencing, with an emphasis on the ability to think with the intricacy of the situation. Bohm proposes that there is order in all aspects of life. So does Gendlin, who describes nature as a responsive order. I think that Gendlin’s experiencing and creation of meaning is a Bohmian soma-significant activity, which gives rise to further signa-somatic activity.

Another of my favorite authors is Harrison Owen. Owen is influenced by Peter Vaill, who, in turn, is influenced by Alan Watts. I have read Peter Vaill’s Managing as a Performing Art: New Ideas for a World of Chaotic Change and Learning as a Way of Being. I have also read Alan Watts’ Tao: The Watercourse Way. Peter Vaill makes an interesting comparison between Western vs. Taoist management. He quotes Watts, who discusses the Taoist principle of wu-wei (“nonaction”). There is not much emphasis in management on just being effective in the moment. Yet, about the only thing that one can be in the moment is wu-wei. Wu-wei is a way to access a deeper generative order for organizing.

Finally, I’d like to mention Margaret Wheatley. I read two of her books this year. One is, Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now, which is written together with Deborah Frieze. The other is, Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity. The books are full of deep insights on how to work together on what we care most about. Wheatley’s intention is to bring an understanding so that we can do our work—wherever we are, whatever it is—in partnership with life.

Here is also an old, but excellent, article from 1996 on The Irresistible Future of Organizing by Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers. Self-organization is not new. It just takes different eyes to see it. Structures are temporary. Leaders emerge in the moment. Organization is a process of continous organizing.

Book Reviews
I published the following book reviews during the year (the books in bold are mentioned above):

What was good? What can be improved?
Looking back, I found this “gold nugget” among my posts. It’s a post on essential organizing principles for life, which is based on an excellent article by Skye Hirst (@autognomics). Skye Hirst identifies ten organizing processes and needs in her article.

At the beginning of the year I started writing short reflections. Here is an overview. It didn’t turn out as expected. Many reflections were never written down and lost.Next year, I’ll continue with my retrospectives and reflections. I have also started to use the hashtag #NoteToSelf on Twitter.

I find a great pleasure in reading, but I’m struggling with my own writing. There are several reasons for this: 1) It’s hard work; 2) I feel vulnerable speaking in my own voice; and 3) the language is a challenge in itself. English is my second language.

This is why I’ve started a new series of posts on life in work / liv i arbetet in Swedish. It’s a story about my journey searching for better, or more life-affirming, ways of working together. And since it’s my personal story, I need to tell it in my native language. The journey continues!

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts