Three weeks since my last entry - it’s almost as if I had a vacation. I did, and I needed it. The constant cadence of work disconnects us from our ability to draw connections between complex problems. Time off results in terms like recharge, replenish, and renew. I’m particularly attracted to the word regenerate as it’s been at the center of my current research in new start-ups and AgTech. A break from the daily tends to guide us toward better correlation, deeper context, and the ability to remain curious rather than settling for TL;DR.
Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers co-authored a book in 1996 entitled, a simpler way. It hooked me right from the very first quote on the inside cover:
Wheatley offers an invitation to her readers…
…The mechanistic image of the world is a very deep image, planted at subterranean depths in most of us. But it doesn’t help us any longer. Our own search for new ways of understanding has led us to philosophers, scientists, poets, novelists, spiritual teachers, colleagues, audiences, and each other. We keep exploring what we can see when we look at life and organizations using different images…
She goes on to say….So much of human behavior is habitual. And behind every habit is a belief - about people, life, the world. We work from the promise that if we can know our beliefs, we can then act with greater consciousness about our behaviors….
Our companies and communities are human organizations. Natural systems that exist with universal mimicry and predetermined bylaws. Water always follows the path of least resistance. Carbon and oxygen are elemental to life. These are facts. Wheatley and Kellner-Rogers believe:
The universe is a living, creative, experimenting experience of discovering what’s possible at all levels of scale.
Life’s natural tendency is to organize. Life organizes into greater levels of complexity to support more diversity and greater sustainability.
Life organizes around a self. Organizing is always an act of creating an identity.
Life self-organizes. Networks, patterns, and structures emerge without external imposition or direction. Organization wants to happen.
People are intelligent, creative, adaptive, self-organizing, and meaning-seeking.
Organizations are living systems. They too are intelligent, creative, adaptive, self-organizing, meaning-seeking.
They also believe there’s a simpler way that requires a new way of being in the world. It requires being in the world without fear. Being in the world with play and creativity. Seeking after what’s possible. Being willing to learn and to be surprised.
Tomas Friedman, an acclaimed opinion writer for the NY Times, dubbed this moment in history a Promethian Moment. Prometheus was the greek God of fire. He’s often credited with bringing fire to mankind - talk about an accomplishment! Friedman sees our post-covid world hyper-infused with enabled technologies….AI, NPU’s, Quantum Computing…as the origin of a new universal element within the laws of nature.
Vernor Vinge, an American professor of mathematics and computer science is the first wide-scale populizer of the technological singularity concepts and among the first authors to present a fictional “cyberspace” in his writing. Technological singularity is a hypothetical future point in time at which the growth of technology becomes irreversible and uncontrollable which results in unforeseeable changes to human civilization. That certainly feels real right now.
A Promethean Moment of Singularity?
Thank GOODNESS for Marge and Myron - a simple way has become my go-to.
The structure of the book is progressive and linear….
a simpler way
organizing as play
organization as organizing
motions of coherence
It’s a simple read - no more than 300 words on a page - bookended with pictures of nature, people, pastimes, and play.
Perhaps the persistence of time, the constant feed of information, and the general decay in natural observation and curiosity are the cause of the overload. Perhaps if we understood that ‘intended outcomes’ follow ‘relationships that enable’ and create ‘moments that matter’ - we could more accurately treat our symptoms. Perhaps if we had more awareness of the linear adaptation models that shape us, we would be better equipped to solve problems with intentionality and clearer direction. The steps are elemental, the path is generally predetermined, and maybe it’s our role to guide the process to a regenerative state.
Woah - that was deep. Thanks for coming with me.
I hope you’ll check out a simpler way and read up on the singularity.
Image is Wolf-Rayet 124 (WR 124) from Webb Space Telescope. More here.
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