Open mind, heart, and will

Kelby Bird, author of Generative Scribing, reminds us of the importance of staying open. If we close down, we get lost in our own heads. Staying open is a key skill, and a real challenge, while listening and acting.

Three key capacitiesThree blocks
Open Mind
– with Curiosity, we Perceive
– restricts the Open Mind
Open Heart
– with Compassion, we Join
– restricts the Open Hear
Open Will
– with Courage, we Know and Act
– restricts the Open Will
Source: Kelvy Bird, Developing Action-Confidence. 1

1. Kelvy Bird, Developing Action-Confidence: Through the Lens of a Scribe,, Medium. Accessed: 2022-09-30. Published: 2021-11-16.

Related posts:
Book Review: Generative Scribing by Kelvy Bird.
My 10 Year Summary, 4. Conclusions.

Architecture Life Thoughts

Wholeness is not breakable into parts

Wholeness is not breakable into parts.

—Skye Hirst

Skye Hirst said in a conversation that “wholeness is not breakable into parts”.1 It caught my attention. I saw it in relation to what Christopher Alexander has been trying to do with patterns.

Christopher Alexander attempted to formulate the principles that lead to a good built environment as patterns. However, he came to believe that patterns themselves are not enough to generate life in buildings.

Christopher Alexander writes:

The [pattern] language, no matter how useful or how powerful, is fallible, and you cannot accept its patterns automatically, or hope they will ever generate a living thing mechanically—becuase…it is only the extent to which you yourself become ordinary and natural, that in the end determines how natural, and free, and whole the building can become.

—Christoper Alexander 2

So long as you are using patterns slavishly, mechanically, they will interfere with your sense of reality…

—Christoper Alexander 3

…the buildings will become alive only when the person who uses the language is himself egoless and free. Only then will he be able to recognize the forces as they really are… But at that moment he no longer needs the language.

—Christopher Alexander 4

Patterns cannot capture the life in buildings because they break the wholeness into parts.

1. Skye Hirst, in a conversation with me, 2022-09-24.
2. Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building, pp. 540–41.
3. Ibid., p. 542.
4. Ibid., p. 543.

Thinking Thoughts

David Bohm on thought processes

Thought processes have a striking resemblance to quantum processes. David Bohm writes in his book on Quantum Theory that:

If a person tries to observe what he is thinking about at the very moment that he is reflecting on a particular subject, it is generally agreed that he introduces unpredictable and uncontrollable changes in the way his thought proceed thereafter.1

…a person can always describe approximately what he is thinking… But as he tries to make the description precise, he discovers that either the subject of his thought or their trend or sometimes both become very different from what they were before he tried to observe them.2

…thought processes appears to have indivisibility of a sort.3

…thought processes and quantum systems are analogous in that they cannot be analyzed too much in terms of distinct elements, because the “intrinsic” nature of each element is not a property existing separately from and independently of other elements but is, instead, a property that arises partially from its relation with other elements.4

The logical process corresponds to the most general type of thought process as the classical limit [of the quantum theory] corresponds to the most general quantum process.5

In the logical process, we deal with classifications. These classifications are conceived as being completely separate but related by the rules of logic…6

In any thought process, the component ideas are not separate but flow steadily and indivisibly. An attempt to analyze them into separate parts destroys or changes their meanings. Yet there are certain types of concepts…in which we can…neglect the indivisible and incompletely controllable connection with other ideas. Instead, the connection can be regarded as…following the rules of logic.7

…just as life as we know it would be impossible if quantum theory did not have its…classical limit, thought as we know it would be impossible unless we could express its results in logical terms. Yet, the basic thinking process probably cannot be described as logical.8

…a new idea often comes suddenly, after a long and unsuccessful search and without any apparent direct cause. …if the intermediate indivisible nonlogical steps occuring in an actual thought process are ignored,…then the production of new ideas presents a strong analogy to a quantum jump.9

We may…ask whether the close analogy between quantum processes and our inner experiences and thought processes is more than a coincidence. … [Niels] Bohr suggests that thought involves such small amounts of energy that quantum-theoretical limitations play an essential role in determining its character.10

Bohr’s hypothesis is not…in disagreement with anything that is now know. And the remarkable point-by-point analogy between the thought processes and quantum processes would suggest that a hypothesis relating these two may well turn out to be fruitful.11

…the behavior of our thought processes may perhaps reflect in an indirect way some of the quantum-mechanical aspect of the matter of which we are composed.12

Maybe thought processes provide the same kind of experience of quantum theory that muscular force provide for classical theory? The concept of force obtained from common experience is correct when there is a great deal of friction. (Force is proportional to the acceleration according to Newton’s second law of motion.)

1. David Bohm, Quantum Theory, p. 169.
2. Ibid..
3. Ibid..
4. Ibid..
5. Ibid., pp. 169–70.
6. Ibid., p. 170.
7. Ibid..
8. Ibid..
9. Ibid..
10. Ibid..
11. Ibid., p. 171.
12. Ibid., p. 172.

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.
Books Play Thoughts

Free Play

I have read “Spela fritt” by Stephen Nachmanovitch, which is a Swedish translation of Nachmanovitch’s book “Free Play“, and was reminded what is lost in translation.

Stephen Nachmanovitch, Spela fritt

Even the book’s title, “Spela fritt”, is lost in translation. Play can be translated with spel or lek. So, the title could have been “Leka fritt”, or “Fri Lek”.

However, lek is more like children’s play. It can be perceived as too childish? Hence, the translator’s choice of spela? But I don’t spelar, but leker, when I create my art.

Translation is an art in itself.

Books Thoughts

Selfless service

I have read Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity by August Turak.

August Turak, Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks

There are some gold nuggets in this book, but I don’t have the same enthusiasm for monastic life as the author. Selfless service driven by love is one thing. It’s another if it is based on blind obedience (of God, the Abbot, or the CEO).

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.

Creativity Thoughts

Why do I sometimes feel being used up?

Why do I sometimes feel being used up? It’s related to the exhausting world of work. I feel a need to check out at the end of the workday because I haven’t felt free during the day.

By contrast, when I feel free I come alive in the same way a child comes alive when playing. When I am immersed in a self-directed task (like play) I am free to dive into the flow of experience. There is nothing to check out from.

The boundary between work and play seems to have to do with creativity and flow. When I feel free to be creative, I find many interesting things to dive into. I can allow whatever comes to evolve and guide my actions wherever my curiosity and interest leads.

There are many things I enjoy, like reading and painting. Painting moves me into a state of flow which feels very relaxing, enjoyable, and freeing.

People Quotes Thoughts

Are People Machines?

This is an imagined conversation between Peter D. Ouspensky (1878-1947), George I. Gurdjieff (1866 to 1877–1949), and Norm Hirst (1932-2012).

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.