The world we had been taught to see was alien to our humanness. We were taught to see the world as a great machine. But the. We could find nothing human in it. Our thinking grew even stranger – we turned this world-image back on ourselves and believed we to were machines.
Life is about invention, not survival.
- Everything is in constant process of discovery and creating
- life uses messed to get to well ordered solutions
- life is intent on finding what works, not what’s right
- life creates more possibilities as it engages with opportunities
- life is attracted to order
- life organisers around identity
- everything participates in creation and evolution of its neighbour
Life is creative. It makes it up as it goes along, changing the rules even.
Most of us grew up in a world where we believed things existed in a fixed and independent state.
Our activities are cloaked in terror. When errors hold so much peril, play disappears. Creativity ceases. Only fear and struggle persists. Paradoxicall, we make greater errors.
We say to one another – ‘get it right the first time’ – how can we live with so much fear.”
Analytic plans drive us only toward what we think we already know.
But life’s tinkering has direction. It tinkers towards order – toward the systems that are more complex and more effective. The process is exploratory and messy, but the movement is towards order.
Life seeks order in a disorderly way.
It takes a lot of repeated messes to get it right.
All this messy playfulness creates relationships that make available more: expressions, variety, stability, support.
Who we become together will always be different than who we were alone. Our range of creative expression increases as we join with others. New relationships create new capacities.
Every change we make ourselves, every exploratory path we follow, changes many others.
The environment is invented by our presence within it. We and our environments become one system, each influencing the other, each co-determining the other. Environments are best thought of as sets of relationshipsoeganized by living beings. ‘Organising do not experience environments, they creat them.’
Life has created earth as a set of relationships that are hospitable to life.
When living beings link together, they form systems that create more possibilities, more freedom for individuals.
Life is creative. It explores itself through play, intent on discovering what’s possible. Can we bring creative play of the world into our lives in organisations?
Life isn’t concealing solutions to problems. Instead, life is exploring to see what works, to experience the pleasure of the unexpected and unique.
Many of us have created lives and organisations that give very little support for experimentation.
We believe answers already exist. We don’t need to experiment to find out what works, we just need to find the answer..
could we stop these searches? What if we have up so much striving to discover what others were doing? We could focus our efforts on discovering solutions that worked uniquely to us.
We can work on what is viable, rather than what is right. We can realise that solutions are not perfect, only pretty good – can work for us.
Observing others successes can show us new possibilities, expand our thinking, trigger our creativity. But their experience can never provide models that will work the same for us.
Give more support to our experiementation.
We could more easily abandon things when they stopped working.
Parallel systems are dedicated to finding what works, not by careful stepwise analysis in the hands of a few experts, but by large numbers of a population messing about in the task of solution-creation. They come up with better solutions by trying thousands of things simultaneously to find out what works.
Parallel systems are not afraid of error, they are expected, explored and welcomed. More errors create more information that results in greater capacity to solve problems.
Life behaves in messy ways. It succeeds in creating, responding, and adapting by us g processes that have no connection to our machine led ways of thinking.
Fuzzy, messy, continuously exploring systems bent on discovering what works are far more practicL and successful than our attempts at efficiency. Such systems are not trying to reduce inputs in order to maximise outputs. They slosh around in mess, involve many individuals, encourage discoveries, move quickly past mistakes.
Can we begin to appreciate that tinkering is efficient? They make do with what is available, making do with fewer resources than is desired. We will begin to notice the shape that things will take.
Playful tinkering requires consciousness. We must be mindful so that our attention doesn’t slip. Playful enterprises are alert. They are open to information, always eking more, yearning for surprises.
Being present creates choices, as awareness increases we can engage with more possibilities.
We tend to limit our explorations of what’s possible by surrounding ourselves with large amounts of information that tells us nothing new.
We collect measurements that tell us how we are doing – but they keep us distracted from questioning our experience in a way that could create greater possibilities. They don’t ask us to question why we’re doing what we’re doing. We don’t notice what learning is available from all those things we didn’t measure.
Everyone tinkers in a unique way. There is more than one workable solution, and these solutions arise from many different forms of self expression.
Life is not driving us towards one solution. The world is interested in pluralism. Life is calling us to experiment and change.
The history of life on our planet is a history of organisation, disorganisation and reorganisation.
When simple relationships are created, patterns of organisation emerge. Networks, living or not, have the capacity to self organise.
We live in a self-organising world. Structures emerge, change, disappear. New ones come into being.
Life seeks to organise so that life can flourish.
The system-wide stability depends on the ability of its members to change. Strangely, the system maintains itself only if change is occurring somewhere in it all the time.
Life leaps forward by sharing information. Margulis and Sagan note that the world’s bacteria have access to each other’s information.
We don’t have to look beyond ourselves to see self-organisation. We see a need. We join with others. We make do with what we have. We respond creatively. We create a solution that works.
How do we support our natural desire to organise? It begins with a change in our beliefs. We give up believing that we design the world j tiexistence and instead take up roles in support of its flourishing. We foster, discover, create connections.
Our task to provide what they need to begin the work.
In self organisation, structures emerge. They are not imposed. They spring from the process of doing the work. These structures are useful, but temporary. It is not the design of a specific structure that requires our attention but rather the conditions that will support the emergence of necessary structures.
Patterns and structures emerge as we connect to one another.
Send organisation calls us to different work. It calls us to partner with the worlds creative forces in a new way. We carry old perceptions of how the world works.
Life seeks systems so that more may flourish. Life is in the business of creating more life. Eg. Life creates niches, not to dominate, but to support.
Yet in a systems seeking, coevolving workd, there is no such thing as a hero. Not even a visionary leader. Everything is the result of interdependencies – systems of organisations where we support, challenge, and create new combinations with others. It’s hard to think about individuals at all.
We make the world lonelier and less interesting by yearning for heroes. We deny the constant, inclusionary creating that is going on; we deny our own capacity to contribute and expand.
No one forges ahead independently, melding the world to his or her presence while the rest trail admiringly behind. We tinker ourselves into existence by unbserved interactions with the players that present themselves to us. Environment, enemies, allies – all are affected by our efforts as we are by theirs. The systems we create are chosen together. They are the result of dances, not wars.
Self organisation is the capacity of life to reinvent itself. Out of nothing comes something. No externally imposed plans or designs are required. His process of invention always takes shape around and identity. There is a self that seeks to organise, to make its presence known.
Because a living system produces itself, deciding what it will be and how it will operate, it enjoys enormous freedom. It is free to create itself as it desires.
We each create our own worlds by what we choose to notice, creating a world of distinctions that make sense to us.
We can never assume that anyone else sees the world as we do. Information from the outside plays a small role in our perceptions – we can never direct a living systems. We can only disturb, nudge, titillate, encourage or provoke one another into a way of seeing.
Emergence – life exploring connections to create new and surprising capacity. Evolution results from these newly emergent capacities – where systems leap into new possibilities, where life takes new and unusual forms, where selves become more than they ever imagined. When we reach out for a different level of connnectioj, our search for wholeness is rewarded with a world wholly new.
The organising tendency of life is always a creative act. Every self is visionary.
How to creat organisations that stay alive? That don’t suffocate us with their imperatives for control and compliance? We need to trust self organising and we need to create conditions in which self organisation can flourish.
Organisation wants to happen. People want their lives to mean something. We seek one another to develop new capacities. We can stop worrying about perfect structures or rules. We need to become intrigued about how to create a clear and coherent identity. A self that we can organise around.
Identity includes: history,values, actions, core beliefs, competencies, principles, purpose, mission. None of these alone tell us who the organisation is, but together they tell a story.
Every organisation is an identity in motion.
The most important work we can do at the beginning of organising is to engage one another in exploring our purpose. Why have we come together?
What are we trying to be? What’s possible now? How can the world be different because of us?
Inside any organisation many engage in self organisation when there is no clear plan to follow. How? They look to the organisations identity for guidance.
Not all organisations have clear identities.
As we act together in the world, our organisations identity grows and evolves. It helps periodically to question what we have become.
Ethics is how we behave when we decide we belong together.
Behaviours are rooted in our agreements. They change only when we bring lift to these unspoken commitments. Our behaviours change only if we decide to belong together differently. We can’t train people to be open, or fair, or responsible if the real agreement is that we must succeed at all costs.
None of this is easy. We have identified ourselves as separate and have tried to protect ourselves from one another. We have used rules and regulations as weapons and fought to make ourselves safe. There is no safety in separation. In a systems seeking work, we find well being only when we remember that we belong together.
Emergence is the surprising capacity we discover only when we join together. We will never give us the ability to predict how people will behave in a system. Once individuals link together they become something different.
Relationships change us, reveal us, evoke more from us. We do not live in a world that encourages separateness. Only when we join with others do our gifts become visible, even to ourselves.
We witness emergence any time we are surprised by a groups accomplishments or by our own achievements.
People organise to do more. We seek out one another because we want to accomplish something. And then life surprises us with new capacities. Until we organise, we can’t know what we can accomplish together.
If a system appears that works well, our dilemmas in understanding it through traditional analysis only intensify. The success of this system results from conditions and relations that are unique and entangled. How can we learn enough about them to recreate such success? Emergent phenomena cannot be recreated. They cannot be transferred. We live in w prod that we cannot plan for, control or replicate. But such an obdurate need for originality is a gift. It frees us to discover what we can become. It welcomes us into the discovery of our own uniqueness.
An emergent world asks us to stand in a different place, not at the end, we must stand at the beginning, clear in our intent, with a willingness to be involved in discovery. It asks that we participate more than plan.
Every act of organising is an experiment. We begin with desire, with a sense of purpose and direction. But we enter the experience vulnerable and unprotected by the illusory cloak of prediction. We acknowledge that we do t n is how this work will actually unfold. We discover that we are capable as we go along. We engage with others for the experiment. We are willing to commit to a system whose effectiveness cannot be seen until it is in motion.
Every act of organising is an act of faith. We hope for things unseen which are true.
What can we do with (emergent) surprise? What do we do with a world which cannot be known until it is in the process of discovering itself? It requires constant awareness, being present, being vigilant for the newly visible. We need to notice things that we weren’t looking for, things we didn’t know would be important, influences we hadn’t thought of, behaviours we couldn’t predict.
We still don’t know how organisations change.
We can’t change a system by changing individuals. Systems are fluid relationships that observe as rigid structure. They are webby, wandering, nonlinear, entangled messes.
We can’t predict the system by looking good at the individuals.
Living systems take form differently, but they emerge from fundamentally similar conditions: a self gets organised. A world of shared meaning develops. Networks of relationships take form. Information is noticed, interpreted, transformed.
From these simple conditions emerge boldly different expressions of organisational form.
A system needs access to itself. It needs to understand who it is, where it is, what it believes, what it knows. These needs are nourished by information.
When we shrink peoples access to information, we shrink their capacity. They will still tinker to find what works. Why make it difficult?
Systems are relationships that we observe as structures – but these relationships can’t be structured.
Structures and behaviours emerge from our relationships. They emerge from decisions about how to belong together.
A system lives In it’s own world, a world whose meaning it has made.
Identity is at the core of every organisation, fuelling it’s creation.
Rigid organisations die early. They collapse from their weight.
There are companies that are clear at their core, curious about their future, these organisations develop expansionary range.
Our seemingly separate lives become meaningful as we discover how necessary we are to each other.
Life wants to happen. Life is unstoppable. Life, whateve it’s form, always figures out how to coevolve with our attempts at control. Life resists elimination.
Each of us embodies the boundless energies of life. We are creating, systems-seeking, self-organising, meaning seeking beings. We are identities in motion, searching for the relationships that will evoke more from us. We bring these desires to our organisations, seeking from them places where we can explore possibilities. Our energy courses through our organisations. This energy is the best hope we have for creating organisations that feel alive.
People are always in motions of self organising. Wherever there is freedom, we reach out to respond to a problem or to make something happen. We move to organise our world so that it satisfies us more.
We have seen life’s motions of coherence, but called them change.
…understand that change is continuous, creativity energy, it becomes nothing but a redesign.
We have backed ourselves into some fear filled corners. We have come to believe that to survive we must control everything. The world cannot be left to itself for a moment. Fearing people, we control one another mercilessly. Fearing change, we choose our little plans over the surprise of emergence. We struggle to contain the elemental energies of life, especially peoples natural desires to affiliate, to create, to contribute.
The unceasing motions of the world move us deeper into entangled networks of relationships. They feel messy. Yet messiness is simply another way of describing the freedom, surprise and a causal nature of life’s processes….life leads us away from our confident determinism into systems where we are called to experiment and play rather than predict.
Systems can’t be known ahead of time. Until the system forms, we have very limited knowledge of what might emerge. Instead of defining what’s right for the system and then struggling to impose it, we learn to say ‘let’s see’.
Human organisations are not the lifeless machines we wanted them to be.
Systems do not accept direction, only provocation.
If the system decides that something is meaningful, it abosorbs this information into itself. With lightning speed it will move information through its webs of connections, exploring and changing the meaning of the initial message. It will communicate with itself through paths we can’t see. It will display connections we never dreamed of.
This is how systems behave. They leave us with no choice but to become interested experimenters, sending pulses into the system to see what is noticed. We can provoke or disturb it, and then observe the responses. We then learn about the system and what it is capable of doing.
Take time to reflect on who we are and who we could choose to become and we will lead to territory where change originates.