Martin’s Musings: Emergence

eccentric interests!


Big Picture, Personal Focus, Meaningful Environment

The Duality is probably best discussed as understanding the Big Picture but maintaining a connection to the personal focus. What Think Globally, Act Locally means to the ecological and peace movements, Big Picture, Personal Focus, Meaningful Environment means to the Effective Organization. This idea is not new. Senge (1990) touches on it in his seminal book, The Fifth Discipline.

Big Picture

Seeing the Big Picture is about seeing the world as collections elements with interrelated parts. It is essentially seeing groups of things and the relationships between them. The more technical term is systems thinking but it comes in many forms. In a quaint way, it is the specialization of generalization. Complexity and Chaos are just a few of the ideas that come under aegis of systems thinking.

Much of western education focuses on specialization, systems thinking does not want to discard that but also wants to integrate some of the Renaissance notions of seeing the connections and patterns among different things such as science and art. It is about stepping back from the incredible volume that we process every day and distilling it down to its essence. Minessence is about mining the essence of complex ideas. This is what systems thinking is about. It is essential for understanding and harnessing the power of the organization and the environment in which it operates.

Personal Focus

There is really no such thing as an organizational value. It is really the manifestation of personal values in a larger context. Personal focus is about getting the individual to understand the role that values plays in their day-to-day life. As we understand our values, we get insights into out own behavior. It is only when we get this insight into our own behavior that we can effectively interact with others, and can begin to understand their behavior. The more I understand about being what I desire and can offer the more effective I can be as a team player. The team is the holograph of the organization in that it is where values are first applied in a social context. It is where personal focus must get applied in a group context.
Values are about understanding relationships the more that we make our own values explicit, the more success we can have with our relationships. Organizations are really nothing more than a complex system of relationships.

Meaningful Environment

Meaningful environment is the team, group, organizational or cultural alignment by harnessing the Big Picture and the Personal Focus.

January 25, 2002 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment


Values as DNA for the individual and DNA for the organization

If we are to tie the concepts of chemical reaction and evolution together, genetics can be a strong communicator. Mendel, Bateson and Watson are among those that have been instrumental in our understanding of how a “genetic” code has a lot to do with how our genes or cellular make up “behaves”.

From a values context, we inherit from our biology and from our experiences a sense of valuing what we feel is important. This configuration or code is what makes us individual.
If we are to think in an organizational context, Values are the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) that codes the genes, humans are the cells, and teams are their manifestation as organs. These all need to come together to have an effective human being. If the DNA has defects it can disrupt the whole being, if the organs have problems it can threaten the viability of the organism. If the whole being is not held together and healthy it will not be able to meet the challenges that it has put before it. And while there may be similarities with other beings (organizations), there still is a sense of self that is different for all others. This is the same for the organization as it is for the individual.

Our relationships are the glue to this DNA. Relationships build human beings, teams, organizations, and marketplaces.

January 24, 2002 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment


Chemistry as Metaphor

This core commonality is a kind of code. This code is similar to the configuration of chemicals and chemical reactions. Metaphorically speaking, chemistry’s periodic table of elements is a way of looking at values systemically. All human’s pull from the same “table” or list of values.

As human beings, we all have the potential for all values. Values could be seen as the descriptors for behavior, how we configure our values, gives us a key to understanding our own behavior and the behavior of others. People actually only operate on a subset of all values. It is our own personal configuration of these values that makes us unique and drives our behavior. And like chemical compounds, some values clusters are more compatible than with some other values clusters. But the wrong combinations of people and the results can be explosive. When the right combination of people come together the results can be exciting and effective.

Organizational alignment of values and culture is about finding the compatible compounds without making everyone the same.

January 23, 2002 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment


Darwin, DNA, Chaos and Meaning

This and other thoughts from Martin Hall

We hear about values in values in many contexts – and we will go into some historical contexts in the next chapter. However, we hear about values: family values, organizational values, societal values, religious, moral values, etc.. But many times they are hard to understand because the context is not understood. Values are personal and but they also need to be accessible. They need to be meaningful. The challenge is create meaning for the individual while also providing meaning for others to understand and interact.

The closer that we can come to discussing personal values in a universal context the more effective it can be. Looking at values from the perspective of the pursuit of science can be effective at looking at values in a more universal, more accessible context. The more we can agree on what something means (even if we disagree on its importance) the better possibility that we will have better communication, better relationships and more meaningful organizations.

If we begin to understand values, and at least agree on the definitions of values, then we can measure. Measure values! Can you really do that! Well, in the proper context you can. We will go more into the idea of measurement later, but the idea of identifying something and being able to see if it changes is very important in the pursuit of science. While there are some areas such as axiology (Hartman, etc.) which are trying to turn values into a science, we are going to explore the strong contexts in a more metaphorical context. As you will see these contexts are very powerful in creating a language for the effectiveness of values in organizations.

While we will talk about Aristotle and others in a historical context later, it can be good in setting a context of how a Darwinian view of values is important to getting the proper context of how values play an ongoing and changing role in our lives and the organizations within which we work and interact. Aristotle may have had the first attempt to vocalize values concepts. He saw leaders as needing about half a dozen attributes for excellence. In many ways he was one of the first leadership development mentors. He was an advisor for Alexander the Great. His context was leadership development, but there were obviously other things that drove people’s decisions at that time, such as simple survival. In the intervening years, there have been more values as the way in which we have interacted with the world has become more complex.

Values have evolved in a manner that might be consistent with Darwinian concepts of evolution. Think of the Cave man – personal survival, family, relationships, power, etc. Moves to hunter/gatherer – created need for stronger relationships. Communities came together to deal with the increasing need for specialization so that duties did not have to be duplicated and more could be provided….this is where the valuing process starts to get more diverse. As groups come together to achieve common but diverse objectives there is more needs or aspirations involved.

Aristotle voiced some of these. Likely there are things that were valued historically, that are not valued now. Or they have evolved into something that is more significant to our time. But as religion, philosophy, science, politics, exploration, economics all grew so did those things that people would value or aspire to.

We have evolved from the cave man to the six to twelve values of Aristotle’s day to what be considered a number well over 100 (we will cover this idea later). Not only the did the development of values “frameworks” develop, but there is process of evolution and survival of the fittest that comes out of how the individual and organization grow and maintain themselves.
Let’s look at Darwin for a moment. Before Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species (1859), he took a trip on The Beagle. It was here that he discovered many things that lead to his ideas and concepts such as the process of natural selection. In the Galápagos Islands, he found that similar creatures on different islands had developed differently apparently based on different environments even though they were only miles apart.

Values both for the individual and for the organization react the same way. We may be born into similar environments but a combination of our genetics and our environment shapes in very specific ways. We will be very much like those around us but we will also have things that drive us that are unique. We all have our own unique configuration. We are attracted to living and working with people with similar likes, dislikes and gifts. However, we are still unique and have our own contributions.

Organizational culture develops in the same way. Organizations are a lot like self-regenerating evolutionary organisms that evolve to meet new challenges or die off. If they have the requisite variety (Ashby) or diversity while maintaining a core they will continue to evolve and continue to be successful.

Organizations may start from the same environment such as the same marketplace but the internal code is different. There are different people in the different organizations. And while people from different organizations may come together for similar reasons, they are all a little different. It is dependent on this code or configuration that defines the culture. The minimal values that are in common give the basis for the culture, and it is the diversity and the clarity of purpose that give the organization capability for success. They still need to have good products and be competitive, but to do this they must evolve.

January 22, 2002 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment


This is a test of the Blogger Column for SysVal.Org.

January 20, 2002 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment