Organizing Thoughts

Organizing retrospective 26

This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective. Here is my next retrospective.

What has happened? What needs to be done?
The experiences from the Quaker decision-making meeting in mid January has stayed with me. I’m still thinking a lot about it. There was a feeling in the meeting which I have difficulties describing in words. I’ve talked about it as an encounter with a mature group, or a jelled team, but there’s more to it. Maybe it can be described as group gnosis (see below)? The Quakers themselves would say that the meeting was Spirit-led.

Anyway, what I discovered was that the Quaker’s decision-making by seeking unity is surprisingly different from sociocratic decision-making by consent. Consent decision-making easily becomes argumentative, especially if there is an objection and the facilitator has an agenda of his or her own. I’ve seen it happen. My conclusion is that you can still abuse people even if you claim to be using sociocracy.

So, inspired by Bob Emiliani’s distinction between real vs. fake Lean, I wrote this post on real vs. fake sociocracy. I’ve received mixed reactions. One person thought that the distinction itself is fake. Another thought that it’s necessary to narrowly define what’s real. A third person suggested that fake sociocracy is no different from other fake mindsets. And a fourth said that that there’s definitely something you can call pseudo, or fake, sociocracy.

Interestingly, Simon Robinson thinks that “the differences between fake sociocracy and real sociocracy … is a great example of a situation which is lacking organisational gnosis.” The quote is from Simon Robinson’s review of Future Fit by Giles Hutchins. Here is his review. And here’s what Giles Hutchins writes about personal and organizational gnosis:

Transforming our organizations
and improving our world starts
with each of us taking personal
responsibility for how we are
relating with reality, the intention
and attention we hold, and the
way in which we relate with, lead
and inspire others.

Our prevalent corporate culture is
inured in yesterday’s logic,
enslaving ourselves, our teams
and organizations in ways that
undermine our humanity. The
good news is that in opening up
to a regenerative logic, our
workplaces, relationships and
cultures become purposeful,
passionate, compassionate and
creative places.

I have continued reading The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. Ben is the conductor who is quoted in Leadership Ensemble by Harvey Seifter and Peter Economy. Ben Zander says that the orchestra conductor is a poor role model for business leaders. Here is an old post on collaborative leadership which is based on the Leadership Ensemble. I’m reminded that I need to write a review of Seifter and Economy’s book.

This week, I’ve started to write a little on my narrative and how I am structuring my thoughts, but I haven’t published anything. I find the writing really difficult. There are several reasons for this. One is the impasse I mentioned here in retrospective 20, that I have deep fears of revealing publicly my personal ideas and beliefs. Another is that I find it difficult to put my thinking and feelings into words.

Going back to when I started this blog in September 2012. It was at that time I actively decided to start searching for better ways of working together. This decision grew out of a frustration with our traditional ways of organizing. I have been a voracious reader ever since. Those who follow me on twitter (@janhoglund) know that I tweet quotes from the books I read. Over time I felt a need to put more effort into processing what I was reading, so I started writing book reviews. Initially, they were short but grew in size over time. One of my first more thorough book reviews got quite a lot of attention. This was in June 2015.

Then, in July 2016, I got the idea to start exploring organizing between and beyond.3 Here is the first post in the series. My point was, and is, that we need to move beyond our traditional ways of organizing work. I started identifying existing frameworks, approaches, and conceptions, but realized soon that they cannot be thought of as being well-defined organizing orders.4 There are furthermore many different kinds of orders, e.g., authentic, counterfeit, implicate, explicate, autonomic, and allonomic orders. Daniel Mezick has suggested that play is related to authentic order. I’m particularly interested in deeper generative orders for organizing.5

What was good? What can be improved?
The feedback I receive every week — both positive and negative — is very valuable to me. This is also the reason why I do this work publicly like this.

  • As already mentioned, I need to overcome my impasse.
  • I would also like to put more effort into this work than I actually can today.

1 Giles Hutchins, Future Fit (2016), p. 99.
2 Ibid., p. 149.
3 This idea is based on David Bohm and F. David Peat’s notions of ”order” that lies “between and beyond.” See David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010, first published 1987), pp. 275–314.
4 The notion of ”order” is too broad to be encompassed within an all-inclusive definition. Bohm and Peat explore the meanings and implications of ”order” in a discursive fashion. Ibid., pp. 97–146.
5 The notion of ”generative order” is primarily concerned with a deeper order out of which the manifest ”order” can emerge creatively. Ibid., pp. 80, 148, 154–157, 216, 286–287.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

By Jan Höglund

I share my reading, book reviews, and learning in my blog.

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