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.
The conversation is based on quotes from Peter D. Ouspensky’s book In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, and the Autognomics website.
PO: Once I was talking with Gurdjieff… I was speaking…about the terrifying mechanization that was being developed in the big European cities… “People are turning into machines,” I said.
GG: “Yes,…that is true, but only partly true. …the mechanization you speak of is not at all dangerous. … Have you ever thought about the fact that all people themselves are machines?”
NH: “There is a distinction between being autonomic, obeying self-law, and allonomic, obeying some other’s law. Machines are allonomic, they obey the laws built in by external agencies. Organisms are autonomic, there is no way for any other to build in the internal laws of a living entity.”
GG: “All the people you see, all the people you know, all the people you may get to know, are machines, actual machines working solely under the power of external influences…”
NH: “We have been led astray by our experience of obedient things. In dealing with living autonomic self-acting entities it may come as a surprise that they do what they want with no thought of obedience.”
PO: “I thought it rather strange that…[GG] should be so insistent on this point. … I had never liked…short and all-embracing metaphors. They always omitted points of difference. I…had always maintained differences were the most important thing and that in order to understand things it was first necessary to see the points in which they differed.
David Bohm is one of the most interesting thinkers that I’ve encountered during all years of reading. Here’s an overview of posts where I mention David Bohm in one way or another:
Organizing retrospective 126 — A retrospective of 2018.
Book Review: The Supreme Art of Dialogue by Anthony Blake
Book Review: Mind and Nature by Gregory Bateson
Organizing retrospective 74 — A retrospective of 2017.
Book Review: Artful Leadership by Michael Jones
Book Review: The Future of Humanity by Jiddu Krishnamurti and David Bohm
Book Review: A Key to Whitehead’s Process and Reality Donald W. Sherburne
Organizing retrospective 22 — A retrospective of the 2nd half of 2016.
Book Review: Mind, Matter and the Implicate Order by Paavo Pylkkänen
Book Review: Science, Order, and Creativity by David Bohm and F. David Peat
Book Review: Infinite Potential by F. David Peat
Book Review: Synchronicity by F. David Peat
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?
It’s not ok to sell, to buy—or to rent—human beings.
Today’s reflection is based on David Ellerman‘s arguments against the rental of human beings at the Abolish Human Rentals website. (The contents of the website are also available as an ebook., which is compiled by Daniel Trusca.) This site examines the standard employment relationship, the human rental, and seeks to promote an understanding of the problems associated with it. The abolition of human rentals is a profound idea, which has revolutionary implications. David Ellerman writes (my emphasis in bold):
Inalienable rights are based on the already broadly held principle of the non-transferability of responsibility for one’s actions. That principle, taken to its logical conclusion, means the rental of humans have no more legitimacy than their sale. The issue is not one of coercion, willfully choosing to be rented, or the treatment and compensation of workers. Humans cannot choose to be rented for the same reason people cannot choose to sell themselves into slavery or sell their vote, regardless of their consent or how much they are paid.
The alternative to human rentals is universal self employment in democratically managed worker owned businesses, or worker cooperatives. Workplace democracy eliminates the alienation of decision making power, and worker ownership means workers appropriate any resulting profits or losses, thus bearing financial responsibility for their actions.
Human rentals involves two key features.
The first aspect is the agreement to follow orders within terms of the rental. … The rented person must obey, or risk being fired.
The second aspect of a human rental is the transfer of responsibility for the actions of the person while at work. The most obvious is the transfer of responsibility for any profit or loss that results from the worker’s actions.
Since the abolition of slavery, humans ownership has been banned. People are no longer allowed to sell their labor by the lifetime. Instead they must rent themselves temporarily for a salary or wage.
The inalienability of personal responsibility is the foundation of the abolitionist argument from which all else follows. … The legal system clearly recognized this principle in the prosecution of crimes. All participants in a crime are held responsible. The law does not excuse a hired criminal because they were following orders.
The inalienability of responsibility for ones actions does not disappear when a crime is not being committed. It holds in all cases where human action is involved. In particular it applies to productive labor. However, the legal system pretends otherwise… It allows financial responsibility for profits or losses resulting from labor to be contractually transferred violating a principle it readily acknowledges in the commission of a crime.
Isolated individuals can rarely overcome a system, organization is necessary. The employment system has demonstrated a remarkable robustness in insuring human rentals remain the dominant form of labor exchange.
Progressive change is inherently a bottom up activity. It involves people getting together to discuss common problems, coming to mutual decisions, and taking action. It requires building trust and relationships, both time consuming activities. …
It is not rugged individualism which solves problems, but cooperation between people which provides the solution. …
Parallel approaches are essential, because they cater to the different assessments and abilities of individual participants. Organizing efforts can and should take place simultaneously on different fronts.
The point is that the best solution is not known. There are promising directions in the current environment, but circumstances change. History can only provide so much of a guide. Creativity and experimentation in the organizing process is a necessity.
In the end education and awareness are necessary but not sufficient, structural change is also needed. The structure of work and the employment system must be fundamentally changed.
There are many steps that can be taken to abolish human rentals. By analogy one can think of appropriate actions if we were seeking to abolish slavery.
Advocacy on this issue carries significant risk and the need for mutual support is essential. Efforts to provide support and build a viable alternative should not be neglected.
Worker Cooperatives are democratically run, worker-owned businesses. They are the alternative to the … alienating employment system, involving collaborative self-employment by groups of individuals.
While technically trivial to implement, the transaction is simple it is unlikely to happen. The primary reason this won’t spontaneously take place is that equity holders are unlikely to be willing sellers at the net asset value. It would be the equivalent of slave owners spontaneously deciding to free their slaves.1
Generative 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.
1 David Ellerman, Abolish Human Rentals | Support Worker Cooperatives (accessed 2018-08-18).
Organizing in between and beyond posts
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. Here is my previous reflection.
What is on my mind?
People ARE assets
This is a further development of my first reflection. I wrote in this reflection that people are NOT assets. Well, people ARE assets — systemically. It all depends on whether you take a systemic, extrinsic, or intrinsic perspective:1
- People ARE assets from a systems perspective. Their systemic value are as assets.
- People also have extrinsic value as a type of asset. Notice that the extrinsic value of people can be compared with the value of other type of assets, say, relationships BETWEEN people. We can claim, as is done in this reflection, that it’s NOT people, but the relationships BETWEEN people that are our greatest asset.
- People, finally, have intrinsic value as human beings. This has far-reaching consequences that I will come back to in future reflections. A corollary is that people are NOT assets — intrinsically.
1 Systemic, extrinsic, and intrinsic value are three value dimensions defined by Robert S. Hartman. See, Hartman, The Structure of Value: Foundations of Scientific Axiology, p.114.
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. Often, I take up, combine, and add to already existing thoughts. Here is my next reflection.
What is on my mind?
People are NOT assets, neither are relationships
Bob Marschall (@flowchainsensei) tweeted this morning that: “People are NOT our greatest asset. In collaborative knowledge work particularly, it’s the relationships BETWEEN people that are our greatest asset.”
I totally agree that relationships are important, but I question whether they are assets? An asset is something which is useful or valuable. It’s furthermore often something which is owned. From this perspective, I’d claim that people are NOT assets, neither are relationships.
New books arrived today
Volume one and two of Dee Hock’s Autobiography of a Restless Mind arrived today. These two volumes were written in the decades spanning the turn of the millennium.1 I am really looking forward to reading these two books.
Previously, I’ve read Dee Hock’s book One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization. Here are extracts from the book. It’s a post written by my good friend Simon Robinson, which is based on my tweets at the time.
1 Dee Hock, Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition Volume 1 (iUniverse, 2012), p.ix.
This is a post in my organizing “between and beyond” series. Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to explore Bob Emiliani’s emphasis on Respect for People.1
Bob Emiliani has written several books and papers where he presents Lean as a management system. He describes the interplay between the Continuous Improvement and Respect for People principles in Lean.
The Respect for People principle “extends back to the 1900s.”2 Respect for People is “deceptive in that it seems very easy to understand and apply, but it is not.”3
The principle consists of two parts at Toyota: (1) To “respect others,” and “make every effort to understand each other,” in order to “build mutual trust.” (2) To “stimulate personal and professional growth,” and to “share opportunities of development,” in order to “maximize individual and team performance.”4,5,6
Respect for People can “never be completely comprehended.” “It takes years of thought and practice” to understand it well.7
The Respect for People principle “has been around for many decates,” but it has “only rarely … been put into effective practice.” The focus has instead been on “the near-singular pursuit of productivity and efficiency improvements to lower costs and increase profits.”8
Already in the 1800s, “business thinkers … began to press for improved cooperation.” R. Whatley Cooke-Taylor wrote, for example, in 1891 about the “strained relations often existing under the modern factory system.” He pointed out “some grave dangers … which the future may have in store for us in this connection.” The “cure” Cooke-Taylor proposed was “that of co-operation.”9
“Co-operation,” in this case, meant a business “operated jointly by labor and management,” combined with “profit-sharing.” Respect for People was seen as “a practical necessity to reduce conflict and help achieve higher productivity, lower costs, and better quality.”10
Taiichi Ohno wrote in 1988 that the “most important objective of the Toyota System has been to increase production efficiency by … eliminating waste.” But Ohno also wrote that “respect for humanity” is “equally important,” and that the “respect for humanity” has been passed down from Toyoda Sakichi (1867–1930), the founder of the company, to Toyoda Kiichiro (1894–1953), Toyota Motor Company’s first president.11
I think that the Respect for People principle is generally applicable, regardless of whether its Lean, Agile, or something else. And I find it interesting that Toyota’s Respect for People was lost with the birth of Lean thirty years ago. Similarly, I think the Respect for People in Sociocracy, i.e., the emphasis on equivalence,12 has been lost in Holacracy, where the process is all that matters.13
I agree with Bob Emiliani that the Respect for People principle is “anything but trivial to understand.”14 Too many are too focused on processes and tools “to notice the foundational principles.”15
1 Bob Emiliani, The Equally Important “Respect for People” Principle (2008) (accessed 2017-01-14).
2 Ibid., p. 1.
3 Ibid., pp. 1, 8.
4 Ibid., p. 2.
5 Toyota Motor Corporation, The Toyota Way 2001 (Toyota City, April 2001).
6 Toyota Motor Corporation, Sustainability Report 2007, p. 57.
7 Bob Emiliani, The Equally Important “Respect for People” Principle (2008), p. 2.
8 Ibid., p. 2.
9 R. Whatley Cooke-Taylor, Modern Factory System (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd, London, 1891), pp. 459–461.
10 Bob Emiliani, The Equally Important “Respect for People” Principle (2008), p. 3.
11 Taiichi Ohno, Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production (Productivity Press, Portland, 1988), p. xiii.
12 Gerard Endenburg, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making (Eburon, 1998), pp. 44, 167, 168.
13 Brian J. Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy (Penguin, 2015), pp. 21, 110, 111.
14 Bob Emiliani, The Equally Important “Respect for People” Principle (2008), p. 8.
15 Ibid., p. 5.
Carol Black writes the following in On the Wildness of Children (my emphasis in bold):
When we first take children from the world and put them in an institution, they cry. … But gradually, over the many years of confinement, they adjust.
The same people who do not see themselves as “above” nature but as within it, tend not to see themselves as “above” children but alongside them. They see no hard line between work and play, between teacher and student, between learning and life. It is a possibility worth considering that this is more than coincidence.
The underlying belief that somebody always has to be in charge is stubbornly persistent, woven into our thinking at a very deep level. There always has to be a subject and an object, a master and a slave. We have forgotten how to live and let live.
Control is always so seductive, at least to the “developed” (“civilized”) mind. It seems so satisfying, so efficient, so effective, so potent. In the short run, in some ways, it is. But it creates a thousand kinds of blowback, from depressed rebellious children to storms surging over our coastlines to guns and bombs exploding in cities around the world.
— Carol Black1
1 Carol Black, On The Wildness of Children, April 2016. (Accessed 24 April 2016)
The environment within which people work is key to the organization’s success. Life-nurturing conditions contribute to high creativity and productivity, while life-depleting conditions contribute to apathy and low productivity.
|Life-nurturing behaviors 1||Life-depleting behaviors 2|
1 These are some of the behaviors listed in Birgitt Williams, The Genuine Contact Way: Nourishing a Culture of Leadership, (DALAR, 2014), p. 221.
“If people do not wish to be helped, leave them alone.“ 1
“The most important thing is passion. … The passion that the person has for her own growth is the most important thing.“ 2
“Planning is the kiss of death of entrepreneurship.“ 3
“We have discovered that the miracle of the intelligence of local people is such that you can change the culture and the economy of this community just by capturing the passion, the energy and imagination of your own people.“ 4
1 Ernesto Sirolli @ (05:02), Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!, YouTube, Published 26 Nov 2012. (Accessed 27 March 2016)
2 Ernesto Sirolli @ (06:26).
3 Ernesto Sirolli @ (10:44).
4 Ernesto Sirolli @ (15:41).