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Rethinking Complexity

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Posts tagged with the category Humanizing 21st century organizations

One of the best tips I ever got came from journalism school. The tip involved assumption-making and it was offered in the form of a question-and-answer. Do you know what happens when you make assumptions? The journalism professor asked my undergraduate, database research class. The first three letters of the word "assumption," that's...
Writer Margaret Wheatley's poem, "The True Professional," isn't entirely original and she lets everyone know this. It's a "found poem," Wheatley explained on her website. All of the lines of "The True Professional" are phrases "found" in Parker J. Palmer’s book The Active Life. After taking...
Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Enterprise Services.
The reality of war has had a profound influence on my life. This influence is hard to see. In fact, it's invisible. I would have kept it hidden if I hadn't read Clay Sellers' August 26 post, "Beyond the Clouds of War: A Faint, Silver Lining." His writing inspired me to explore the complexity that a legacy of war has had on my...
Photo courtesy of Mist in the Garden.
Harry Nilsson’s Grammy award winning song, "Everybody's Talking at Me," has been stuck in my head all day, specifically the lyric: Everybody’s talking at me, I don’t hear a word they’re saying, only the echoes of my mind. I actually met Harry Nilsson years ago when I managed a restaurant in Southern California...
Call me old-fashioned, but nothing beats having a face-to-face conversation with another person. Sorry, Facebook. Sorry, Twitter. Sorry, Skype. But I really don’t think any social media site, gadget, or app can replace this method of communication—the most authentic way of connecting with another human being. When you're chatting...
Photo courtesy of Idea Champions.
This is the first week of the fall semester at Saybrook University and we launched it with the residential conference in San Francisco. We are a distance learning institution, but the sense of community and connection that I have with colleagues and students is deep and real. At commencement on Friday, the room was filled with the overflowing...
Photo courtesy of AmericaSpeaks.
Recently one of my previous students sent me an email inviting me to write to my senators asking them to get on board with spending cuts. The email made the argument that just as individuals cannot continue to spend more than they bring in, neither can governments. She noted that she would “fire” all members of the U.S. Congress for...
Photo courtesy of Dennis Rebelo.
After the 30th International Human Science Research Conference in Oxford, England, wrapped in late July, I made a brief stop in London before returning to the U.S. My lecture and workshop at the conference had been steeped in metaphor linked to English gardens and I thought it appropriate to make a brief visit to Kensington Gardens. I plopped my...
Photo courtesy of eHow.com.
A sustainable organization is capable of "thriving in perpetuity." Those were the words of environmental activisit Adam Werbach—words I first came across earlier this week while reading Alexander and Kathia Laszlo's post, The Practices of Systemic Sustainability. Werbach's use of the word perpetuity stuck with me these past...
Photo courtesy of Chairs Under Trees.
I have noticed an increasing tension residing in sustainability conversations as to whether the primary focus of attention should be on local or global development, community or organization change. Rather than engaging in this either/or thinking, I believe it is critical to recognize that we have to work on multiple levels in multiple places. We...
Photo courtesy of Inside African Art.
During the past few weeks, we've seen countless stories and images of the famine that's gripping East Africa on several media outlets—from cable news shows to online discussion forums. The crisis affecting Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti has shown us deeply disturbing and heartbreaking images of starving families and...
A lot of people consider “storying” an inborn knack or talent. Some listen intently, while others envy the natural-born storytellers around them. Truth is, natural “storying” with strategic intent can be learned by anyone.  "Storying," or storytelling, as a means of expressing personal identity has risen in...