For many years, I have written about how to create resilient and adaptive organizations where people are seen as the blessing, not the problem. I’ve tried to demonstrate how perspectives about chaos, networks, and relationships that come from the new sciences can be applied to human organizations. Such organizations become creative, self-organizing living systems, rather than the more common highly controlled mechanistic systems that only create robotic behaviors.
Finding Our Way is a collection of my practice-focused articles, where I apply themes I have addressed throughout my career to detail the organizational practices and behaviors that bring them to life. The pieces presented here represent more than ten years of work, of how I took the ideas in my books and applied them in practice in many different situations. However, this is more than a collection of articles. I updated, revised or substantially added to the original content of each one. In this way, everything written here represents my most current views on these subjects.
Finding Our Way sums up my thinking on a diverse scope of topics, from leadership and management, to social change, to our personal role in these turbulent times; from provocative social commentary to specific organizational practices and more.
An Invitation to the Reader
There is a simpler, finer way to organize human endeavor. I have declared this for many years and seen it to be true in many places. This simpler way is demonstrated to us in daily life, not the life we see on the news with its unending stories of human grief and horror, but what we feel when we experience a sense of life’s deep harmony, beauty, and power, of how we feel when we see people helping each other, when we feel creative, when we know we’re making a difference, when life feels purposeful.
Over many years of work all over the world, I’ve learned that if we organize in the same way that the rest of life does, we develop the skills we need: we become resilient, adaptive, aware, and creative. We enjoy working together. And life’s processes work everywhere, no matter the culture, group, or person, because these are basic dynamics shared by all living beings.
Western cultural views of how best to organize and lead (now the methods most used in the world) are contrary to what life teaches. Leaders use control and imposition rather than participative, self-organizing processes. They react to uncertainty and chaos by tightening already feeble controls, rather than engaging people’s best capacities to learn and adapt. In doing so, they only create more chaos. Leaders incite primitive emotions of fear, scarcity, and self-interest to get people to do their work, rather than the more noble human traits of cooperation, caring, and generosity. This has led to this difficult time, when nothing seems to work as we want it to, when too many of us feel frustrated, disengaged, and anxious.
I invite you to join me in this work of creating more capable, harmonious, creative, and generous organizations and communities. There is a simpler way, and we each need to play our part in bringing it into robust practice.