Holding the question

I just read a few bits from Margaret Wheatley’s book on leadership and the new science.  In particular, chapter 5 starts to talk about self-organizing systems.  The idea of moving from a concept of closed systems that tend towards entropy (2nd law of thermodynamics) towards open systems that exchange entropy with the environment is of interest.  Moving from a concept of decay and deterioration where equilibrium is fought for to one of energy and growth where disequilibrium is more appropriate.  Also the idea of looking at system dynamics rather than system structures.  The use of positive feedback loops as necessary for growth, despite what may initial feel discomforting and strange.  Adaptability and reorganization are other concepts here.

When I apply these concepts to the 119, there is a good deal of resonance here.  I start to wonder though are we currently in a process of becoming rigid rather than adaptable.  Like the crisis of bureaucratization in the Grenier Management Curve, how can we sustain a constant state of adaptability, fluidity, disequilibrium and positive feedback?  Wheatley talks about the need to maintain a strong identity as critical to these self-organizing processes.

In my brief conversation with Kennan Kalleris Salinero, how do continue to deal with tension in organizations especially for those who find disequilibrium confusing, fearful, and strange.  She started to talk about the idea of “holding the question.”  I should make sure to follow back up with her about this idea or seek out new ideas related to this concept.  I also need to continue to read through Wheately’s book to find additional thought points and reflection triggers.  I definitely think that Walter would find this book of interest.  I should get him a copy.

Looking forward to the NewSSC workshop I should think about how these concepts might work.  So is accountability within a self-organizing system really more about communication and positive feed back?  For example, if the gallery needs to create or ramp up new revenue streams (i.e. grants, sponsorships), is it a matter of calling the alarm and solving the issue collectively and then finding the necessary human resources to make it happen.  What if those sounding the alarm, don’t have the energy or time to follow through?  How do they engage others with equal passion?  Or, is the challenge to raise enough funds to make it a person’s “job”?  Or perhaps the idea is to bring the financial issues much more sharply into focus for people.  Make the work and effort Walter and Maryann put into the running of the gallery visible.

I wonder if I should ask Walter to write a detailed description of all of the things he does and ditto for Maryann.  Or perhaps we should do that with each really engaged person.  What are the tasks? What do they like doing?  What don’t they like doing?  How many hours?  What would their ideal effort look like?  Then perhaps we can put that into some sort of visual model.  How do you make visible the work that is invisible?  Perhaps then folks can become more aware of the need to release certain aspects of the work.

What I want to take up in tomorrow’s writing is read more from Wheatlely, see how today goes and then continue to write on how self-organizing systems can tackle work that is hard, difficult, long-term, necessary, and perhaps lacks a champion who can see it through.