New Science as a Model for Organizational Development
David S. Walonick, Ph.D.
The world is changing. The deterioration of structure is apparent where ever we look. The old ways of doing things no longer works. Rapidly expanding technology has irreversibly altered the world in ways which we are still tying to understood. We have entered a new era characterized by the proliferation of information.
New scientific discoveries are forcing us to re-examine many of our basic assumptions about society and organizations. We are beginning to appreciate the complex dynamics involved in the process of organizational stability and change. This paper will examine some of the scientific discoveries that have altered our view of the world. Examples will be drawn from systems theory, quantum physics, dissipative structures, and chaos theory.
At the heart of quantum mechanics (and general systems theory) is the idea that things exist through their relationships. Bob Toben (1975) quotes from an ancient proverb, “If you cut a blade of grass, you shake the universe.” (p. 33) Everything is connected. Every component of a system has the potential to affect all the other components. Some relationships are easily understood; others seem incomprehensible.
Margraret Wheatley (1992) writes that “In the quantum world, relationships are not just interesting; to many physicists, they are all there is to reality.” (p. 32) All components of a system interact with each other to form patterns, and the system itself is defined by these patterns. The extension to organizations is that “we will need to stop describing tasks and instead facilitate process. We will need to become savvy about how to build relationships, how to nurture growing, evolving things.” (p. 38)
In contrast to the traditional social research model, Einstein’s theory of relativity states that the researcher is not a passive observer of a phenomena. On the contrary, the observer is an intregral part of the process. “You cannot move without infuencing everything in your universe. You cannot even observe anything without changing the object and even yourself” (Toben, 1975, p. 36). The well-known Hawthorne effect is created by the act of observing workers. It is a classic example of how a researcher can influence those being studied. Pascale (1990) called it a “parable about researchers (and managers) manipulating and ‘playing tricks’ on employees.” (p. 103) More correctly, the Hawthorne effect is an example of the observer participating is the constuction of reality. The act of observing, by itself, is sufficient to change reality. The implication for managers of organizations is that focused attention (or intent) can inititiate change.
Fields permeate the universe. Although they are invisible, we become aware of them through their interactions with other fields. A field is like the ripples created by a stone thrown into a pond. As a field moves away from its origin, it interacts with other fields creating nodes at the intersecting points. The nodes form definable and stable patterns–provided that the source maintains a constant frequency. However, if the source changes frequency, nodal patterns bend and curve in relation to the changes in frequency. If the source changes frequency too often, the patterns disappear and are replaced by seemingly random fluctuations.
Stability in organizations is manifest as a result of all components maintaining their own constant frequency. Each component has its own character, and a field is generated that permeates the entire organization, as well as the environment. The stability of the interactions of these fields is a reflection of the stability of the organization. If any component (even a minor one) begins to waiver, the effect is manifest throughout the entire organization and the environment. A new pattern of interactions reflects a changed organizational structure. Even though only one component may have actually initiated a change, the entire organization is affected.
Wheatley (1992) believes that field theory provides an explanation to many organizational mysteries. In one example, Wheatley describes how a “customer service” field might permeate a retail store to such a degree that “clarity about service filled every nook and cranny.” (p. 53) In another example, the traditional idea of “vision” as a destination, might be replaced with a field that permeates an organization. The role of management becomes one of propagating information. Each individual contributes to the formation of fields within an organization.
The idea of resonance is a very old concept. When we pluck a tuning fork, and another nearby tuning fork begins to vibrate, it does so because the resonant frequencies of both tuning forks are the same. A voice can shatter a wine glass at it’s resonant frequency. There is a transfer of energy during resonance,
Entrainment, or mode-locking, is an important phenomena related to resonance. Dutch physicist Christian Huygens first documented entrainment when he noticed that several pendulum clocks in his laboratory were all operating in unison (Gleick, 1987, p. 292-293). The clocks had become synchronized with each other by sending and receiving minute vibrations through the walls and floor of the building. Not only was energy being transferred, but the individual clocks themselves altered their “behavior” in order to become synchronized with the other clocks. Equally noteworthy is that the fact that the slower clocks picked up their pace to become synchronized with the fastest (highest frequency) clock.
Its as if “nature feels that it is more economical if two or any number of oscillators that vibrate at frequencies close enough to each other work together rather than insist on keeping their small differences” (Bentov, 1977, p. 38).
The concepts of resonance and entrainment have important implications in the study of organizations. Suppose we think of each individual as an energy/information transceiver, capable of sending and receiving energy. At any given time, each person has their own resonant frequency. When the resonant frequencies are far away from each other, the result is disharmony and a lack of coordination. However, when the resonant frequencies are fairly close, the mode-locking phenomena causes everyone in the organization to resonate in unison. There is a maximum transfer of energy/information between individuals, which results in a coordination of effort. It is important to note that everyone does not need to be resonant at exactly the same frequency. Because of entrainment, they just need to be close.
In any stable organization, the resonant frequency of the individuals must be similar. When theorists speak of a vision, they often refer to a statement of purpose handed down by the top-level management. It should be no surprise that individuals often fail to resonate with a vision, since resonance only occurs when the vision is sufficiently close to one shared by the individuals. The goal of management is not to develop a vision, but rather, to find a common vision that will create resonance in individuals. The individuals that make up the organization already have many personal visions. The task of management is to discover the similarities in order to find a vision that is shared by the individuals in the organization.
How can management discover what visions will create maximum resonance in an organization? The implication of entrainment is to remove all constraints and let the organization seek its own resonant frequency. By allowing maximum freedom in all individuals, the organization will seek out its own resonant frequency that provides the maximum transfer of energy/information. The individual with the highest frequency (within the mode-locking range) will provide the synchronization pulse for the other members of the organization.
One of the most puzzling and counter-intuitive aspects of quantum physics is the idea of non-local connections. In 1964, John Bell developed a mathematical proof to demonstrate that instantaneous action-at-a-distance was not only possible, but in fact, was predicted by quantum theory. However, it was not until 1982 that the technology existed to actually test Bell’s theorem. Alain Aspect was able to actually measure the polarizations of photon pairs after they traveled apart from each other. He found that the act of measuring a photon forced the instantaneous polarization of its pair, even though they were separated by several meters. While some physicists have suggested faster-than-light communications as a possible explanation, most have accepted the idea that non-local connections exist.
According to chaos theory, non-local connections in organizational development demonstrate the uncertainty of the future, and therefore, forecasting needs to be short-term and incremental. Chaos management theory acknowledges the idea of non-local connections, however, it does not emphasize the necessity of prior contact. The photon pairs in Aspect’s experiment were initially in contact with each other, and then separated. Yet, they continued to remain in communication with each other. The act of measuring one photon, resulted in the instantaneous communication of polarity information to the other photon. Non-local phenomena might best be viewed as “communication-at-a-distance”.
The members of an organization come in contact with each other (and the environment), and then separate to their independent departments and the community. Quantum physics would suggest that communication could continue even though time and distance has passed. However, it is doubtful that we would be able to recognize a non-local connection. Non-local events appear as random events. The link between cause and effect is so obscure that it is essentially masked from our perception. However, knowing about the possibility of non-local connections suggests that members of organizations should maximize contacts with other people, both within and outside of the organization. By establishing “prior contact”, non-local connections become possible.
Feedback and Control
Traditionally, organizations have focused on the desire to maintain structure and stability. Negative feedback loops are established in order to correct deviations in the organization. Managers have seen feedback loops as a way of maintaining a system within some established limits of normality. The goal has been to maintain the integrity of the system. Negative feedback loops are often called “self-correcting”, because they dampen changes in the system. Positive feedback, on the other hand, amplifies changes in a system. Small deviations build on each other and become large. Positive feedback drives a system away from the current equilibrium.
As the system becomes increasingly unstable, the bifurcation point is reached. At this juncture, the system is in a maximum state of instability. Its future is indeterminate and cannot be predicted. The system is free to find its own solution to the variety of possible futures.
Wheatley (1992) believes that imposing control on an organization will inevitably lead to its downfall. “If organizations are process structures, then seeking to impose control through permanent structure is suicide. If we believe that acting responsibly means exerting control by having our hands into everything, then we cannot hope for anything except what we already have–a treadmill of effort and life-destroying stress.” (p. 23) Williams and Huber (1986) point out that controls often “reflect a basic distrust of and lack of consideration for people.” (p. 309)
Attempts to control open systems can sometimes have catastrophic results. Each time a control is imposed on an open system, it forces the system further away from equilibrium. The system can no longer seek its own best structure. The stability of the system becomes increasingly tenuous. Even small perturbations become threatening to the structure. Inevitably, one of these fluctuations will result in an avalanche of change, as the controls are overpowered by a system seeking to correct a state of imbalance. It is easy to imagine that the decine of many of our organizations is a result of authority and control.
Prigogine’s (1977) work with dissipative structures has demonstrated that disequilibrium is a necessary condition for the growth of a system. While a system is in equilibrium, it does not grow. We have been taught that growth is good. It is part of our current paradigm. Organizations measure their strength through their growth. Companies attract investors through their growth or growth potential. The paradox is that companies strive for simultaneous growth and stability.
We might ask why growth is important? Can an organization maintain a state of equilibrium indefinitely? System theory teaches us that stability can be maintained when the environment is stable; however, environmental stability is rare. Modern organizations operate in an world of rapid and profound change. The environment is in a constant state of flux. Stability in a dynamic environment can be accomplished only through the continual expenditure of energy and resources. An organization can maintain stability as long as it has the resources to counteract the effects of the environment. Increasing amounts of resources are required as the environment moves further from one that supports the current level of organizational stability. At some point, the demands on organizational resources reach a critical level. The entire resources of the organization are being consumed to maintain a structure that is incompatible with the current environment. Finally, organizational resources are exhausted. The organization either decays, bifurcates, or experiences a rebirth in a new form which is compatible with the current environment.
Mandelbrot’s fractals have shown that many things in nature occur simultaneously on multiple scales. Systems contain similarity on multiple levels. Similar patterns of stability can exist before and after the growth process.
Wheatley (1992) believes that self-reference is a fundamental principle of systems in the process of transformation. “In response to environmental disturbances that signal the need for change, the system changes in a way that remains consistent with itself in that environment.” (p. 94) Systems change, but only within the limits of its established identity. The past history and current state of a system provide the latitudes of possible change. A system can be transformed only in ways which are consistent with its history. Wheatley writes that “self-reference is what facilitates orderly change in turbulent environments. In human organizations, a clear sense of identity–of the values, traditions, aspirations, competencies, and culture that guide the operation–is the real source of independence from the environment.” (p.94)
One characteristic of many systems is the concept of nonlinearity. Small changes in one or more variables can have enormous impact on others. The lure for management is that a small (but well-placed) jolt can catalyze a system into a higher order. Management theorists see this as a tool for organizational self-renewal. The issue becomes how to apply this knowledge.
Chaos theory is beginning to teach us much about the nature of change in our organizations and social institutions. Nonlinear relationships among system components is a pathway to the introduction of institutional change. The challenge comes in the discovery of those relationships and the understanding of the dynamics of these systems. The planning of change involves the application of this knowledge.
In 1900, Max Planck discovered that objects heated to very high temperatures did not emit radiation in a linear fashion. He observed that as the objects grew hotter, they emitted radiation in discrete spurts, jumping from one energy level to another (Talbot, 1986). Planck called these packets of energy “quanta”. Five years later, while studying the photoelectric effect, Einstein proposed that light itself was composed of quanta, which he called photons.
The idea of discrete energy states defies our linear view of the world. As we add more energy to a system, we naturally expect it to respond in a linear fashion. However, empirical evidence demonstrates otherwise. When we add energy to a system, nothing might happen. As we add more and more energy, the system suddenly jumps to a new state, without displaying any characteristics of an intermediary state. The system has jumped to a new quantum level.
Miller and Friesen (1984) conducted a longitudinal study of twenty-six companies to examine how organizations change. They presented compelling evidence that change occurred in discontinuous jumps, instead of small increments. They conclude that significant change occurs in revolutionary ways, similar to Kuhn’s (1974) notion of paradigm shifts.
There are many examples in organizational theory that illustrate quantum-like jumps. A small manufacturing company lands a large production contract, and is suddenly forced to operate at a new level, without experiencing an incremental growth in production. A middle manager is promoted to an executive position, and immediately must exhibit the attributes and accept the responsibilites of the new position. The entrance of a new competitor in the market causes a sudden drop in sales. A new scientific discovery brings immediate financial success. In each case, a change in one variable forced a quantum-like jump in another variable. Dichotomous organizational decisions often involve quantum-like change.
Prigogine’s (1977) research on chemical systems demonstrated that some systems have the ability to self-organize into increasingly complex structures. With each new level of complexity, a system becomes more unstable and requires more energy to maintain its structure. A slight perturbation can force the system into greater levels of complexity, which are even more sensitive to perturbations. At each higher level of complexity, there is greater potential for new structure and change.
Modern organizations can be viewed as open systems exchanging energy with the environment. Fluctuations can be created by a small group of people, and these in turn have the potential to change the organization as a whole. If the perturbations exceed an organization’s ability to “dampen” the fluctuations, then a new structure can evolve. As an organization becomes increasingly complex, it also becomes increasingly unstable. It becomes more likely that small perturbations will lead to even higher orders of complexity. The implication is that organizational change (i.e., evolution) happens at an ever increasing pace.
Self-organizing systems share two characteristics. The first is that the system is exchanging energy with the environment. The second is that the system is far from equilibrium. Some organizational development theorists hypothesize that these conditions can be utilized to create organizational growth. They may be right, but there is a third (rarely mentioned) consideration implicit in their thinking–you have to know where to place the jolt. Just any jolt won’t due. It has to be a jolt in the right place with the right intensity. Since the idea is to foster change, maximum disequiibrium can be created by “jolting” the system component(s) that have the greatest number of links with other members of the organization or environment. In a hierarchical organization, “jolting” (or replacing) top management would create disequilibrium throughout the organization. In a matrix organization, both management and the functionality department, would be appropriate “leverage points.” A jolt can carry an organization into disequilibrium, however, the result of the jolt is filled with uncertainty, as the organization seeks its own new equilibrium.
In keeping with Prigogine’s theory of dissipative structures, Wheatley (1992) argues that a small group of creative individuals can have enormous impact on organizations. She writes that “revolutionaries cannot be isolated from one another. They must keep a firm grasp on their intentions and not let them be diffused into the larger system too early. And they must have links to other parts of the system.” (p. 96) However, Wheatley does not discuss the possibility that organizational instability can also result in detrimental change. It is equally plausible that a small group of “bad apples” in an organization can also have enormous impact. Instability opens a variety of possible futures–some more desireable than others.
Some theorists argue that self-regulating systems not only change themselves, but also change their environment. Dissipative structures are involved in the continual exchange of energy with their environment, and thereby information is flowing in both directions. This theory is known as co-evolution, where “organizations and their environments are evolving simultaneously toward better fitness for each other” (Starbuck, 1976, p. 1056).
An organization is an open system that exchanges energy with its environment. Higher levels of organizational complexity place greater energy demands on the environment. With each evolutionary change, an organization must draw more energy from the environment to maintain its new structure. At some point, the environment reaches its maximum ability to supply the organization with energy. This is the upper asymptopic limit of the S-curve. The organization is characterized by instability and chaos. It lacks the environmental resources to achieve higher levels of complexity. Peturbations in the organization or environment can no longer create growth-enhancing changes. Reorganization can occur, but it cannot happen at a higher level of complexity.
Many articles have been written to propose ways of reviving a stagnating organization. Prigogine’s (1977) research suggests that the best solution might be to find ways that increase the amount of energy available to the system. Many writers have described the diversification of large companys as a way of minimizing risk. Another way to look at this is that these companies diversified in search of new energy sources in order to maintain growth. They successfully tapped new markets, creating even greater levels of organizational complexity.
In many ways, the ability of the environment to maintain organizational growth has been exhaused. During the 1970’s and 1980s, theorists talked about “sustainable growth”. Many have now dropped the word “growth”, and instead talk about “sustainable futures”.
Information and Communication
Traditionally, information has been viewed as a “thing”. A “piece of information” is something that could be disseminated. Galbraith (1973) proposed that the acquisition and processing of information is one of the key issues in designing an appropriate organizational structure. Structures should be designed to maximize information flow between organization components and their environments. Information flow (i.e., communication) becomes a source for nonlinear change. “The ability of men and women to tell each other what they have learned or discovered and to leaverage off the knowing” (Lynch and Kordis, 1988, p. 77).
Wheatley looks at information as key ingredient of structure. “It is information that gives order, that prompts growth, that defines what is alive. It is both the underlying structure and the dynamic process that ensure life.” (p. 102) She proposes that information itself structures matter. In the absence of information, life ceases. Closed systems wind down and decay. “The fuel of life is new information–novelty–ordered into new structures.” (p. 105) The history of management is one of controlling and limiting information.
Information is not useful unless it can be communicated. One of Prigogine’s most surprising discoveries was that certain chemical reactions showed that communication was occurring in nonliving systems. He observed that some chemical reactions would pulsate in unison, demonstrating that there was a form of communication going on between the individual molecules. Wheatley (1992) argues that these chemical reactions are “conscious” because they show the ability to communicate.
If the capacity to deal with information, to communicate, defines a system as conscious, then the world is rich in consciousness, extending to include those things we have classified as inanimate. Consciousness occurs in systems that do not even have an identifiable brain. (p. 106)
By this definition, organizations are clearly conscious. Wheatley (1992) goes on to say that information and communication are the lifeblood of organizations. She points out that “poor communications” is frequently cited as a problem in ailing organizations. Kantler (1983) argues that “open communications” is at the heart of innovation. Organizations need to bring people together in new ways because this makes it possible to create new information, and it sets the stage for innovation. Organizations should encourage, and actively seek out conflict and contradictions to provide an environment where creativity can flourish.
Quantitative analysis of organizations has focused on measurement of discrete system components. The rationale has been that once we understand the individual components, we would understand the system. New science has taught us that we need to be viewing systems from a perspective of holism, where the relationships between the components are what is important, not the components themselves.
Wheatley (1992) believes that one of the most powerful forces in organizations is the individual’s search for meaning. When faced with an uncertain future, meaning is a sustaining force that gives workers a purpose. She views meaning as the strange attractor that draws an organization to a common purpose, and self-reference as the force that guides us to higher levels of organization.
Chaos science is the study of complex dynamic systems. Most of the concepts discussed in this paper are embraced by chaos theory. Self-organizing systems are learning systems that seek increasing levels of complexity and structure. Transformation and growth is preceeded by chaos. Each new level of stability is the result of turbulence in the system.
Chaos researchers have observed that open systems typically follow an evolutionary path. The first phase is characterized by increased complexity, increased dependence on environmental resources (energy), and increased sensitivity to random fluctuations. During the next phase, positive amplifying feedback increases disorder in the system. The system becomes unstable and seeks an equilibrium. There are several routes available for the system to achieve equilibrium. 1) If sufficient environmental resources are available, the system can jump to a higher level of organization, with even greater sensitivity to turbulence. 2) When insufficient environmental resources are available to support a higher level of organization, the system can bifurcate and split into two or more seemingly independent systems, each with its own evolutionary potential. 3) The system can self-organize into coherence and synchronicity with other chaotic systems. 4) The system can disintegrate and disappear.
Chaos theory recognizes that systems are very sensitive to initial conditions, and that seemingly minor system parameters can strongly influence long-term future development. This “butterfly effect” has led most theorists to think of chaotic systems as unpredictable. Chaos theory provides a new model for organizational forecasting. Instead of predicting what the future will be, organizations must acknowledge the uncertainties and forecast what the future could be. Organizational planning and forecasting is constantly and incrementally updated (Joseph, 1993).
Chaos science has offered new insights into our understanding of organizations. The application of chaos theory to organizations forces management to focus on the processes of adaptation, change, and transformation. In Thriving on Chaos (HarperPerennial, 1987), Tom Petersarpelld main hypothesis is that all institutions are operating in a chaotic environment, and that “no firm can take anything in its market for granted.” (p.13) Because of the interactions of many economic forces and the rapidity of change, institutions must constantly reassess their vision and adapt to abrupt changes in the environment.
Organizations and social systems operating within a chaotic environment are being continually challenged to maintain their purpose and structure. The paradox, however, is that larger and more established structures are usually less able to change. The inertia resulting from their size (i.e., number of people) makes it difficult to introduce planned organizational or social change. Large institutions generally encompass well-established patterns. The stability of these structures makes them less able to adapt to environmental and internal system changes. All other things being equal, small structures can adapt to change more efficiently than larger ones.
Chaotic systems have boundaries, as revealed by poincaire maps. Strange attractors somehow define the limits of chaotic systems. While it may not be possible to predict future values of the system parameters, we can accurately define values that are not within the system boundaries. Chaos theory implies that we can better forecast what the future will not be, than what it will be.
The hidden pattern in chaos is defined by strange attractors. In organizations, strange attractors are “behavioral magnets” that “create patterns for organizing firms and societies” (Lynch and Kordis, 1988, p. 175). When management attempts to implement organizational change, it is often unsuccessful because the organization moves to correct or counteract the imbalance. A better approach might be for management to modify the strange attractors, and let the organization find its new boundaries on its own. Strange attractors in organizations embody vision, mission, and ethics.
The New Organization
Many theorists have discussed the emergence of a new organizational form. It has been called by many names: the network, the circle, the shamrock, and the learning organization. Each of these refer to a flexible, interdependent, and customer-based organization.
Sanford and Mang (1992) refer to a holographic approach to work, where each decision encompasses the total perspective of the organization. Unlike the democratic model, decisions do not involve polling or require that everyone be present, because the shared vision is common to all members of the organization and is reflected in all decisions.
Osterberg (1987) describes our current economic system as a “consuming system.” He argues that it takes more from society than it gives. It is based on fear, profit, and the struggle for power. People and resources are exploited. Osterberg’s vision of the new organization is one where companies will exist “primarily as structures with which people come together to create cooperatively.” (p. 69) At the heart of this theory is the idea that each person has untapped knowledge and creative potential. The purpose of an organization is to provide an environment where personal development can occur.
Fritjof Capra (1990) believes that our current problems are a crisis of perception, where an outdated world view is no longer adequate for dealing with an interconnected world. For several hundred years, political and corporate leaders have been operating from a Newtonian mechanistic perspective. The new paradigm “looks at the world in terms of relationships and integration. Systems are integrated wholes whose properties cannot be reduced to those of smaller units.” (p. 233) Systems cannot be studied by dissecting the individual parts. Instead, focus is placed on the basic principles of organization.
Capra (1990) argues that the only viable solutions to our problems are those that are sustainable. Economic growth is a key element of the current paradigm, yet we are forced to ask “growth of what, for whom, and at what cost?”. In other words, economic growth needs to be defined in terms of human welfare (i.e., quality) instead of quantity. Capra believes that this will involve “a shift in social organization from hierarchies to networks.” (p. 236)
Robert Haas (1990) describes the corporation of the future as one without boundaries. According to Haas, technology (especially the computer) has created the potential for rapid proliferation of information. Globalization has been made possible through technology. “Telephones, fax machines, and electronic mail link the world. Business partners. . . expect you to respond quickly with decisions–if you don’t, someone else in the marketplace will.” (p. 103) Unfortunately, Haas does not seem to realize that there is also a negative side to instant communications. Decisions made rapidly often demonstrate a lack of thought. Managers, under pressure for immediate response, often spend too little time evaluating situations. Creative solutions to problems diminish because people don’t have time for the incubation period.
Haas (1990) has pointed out that the demographics of the workforce is rapidly changing. By the end of this decade, women will represent two-thirds of the new entrants into the workforce. The proportion of minorities in the workforce will increase dramatically. There will be increases in the number of workers who are single-parent heads of households, and two-wage-earner families. Yet, “for the first time in our history, a majority of new jobs will require a post-secondary education” (Hass, 1990, p. 104).
The literal definition of “paradox” is an apparent contradiction. Drucker (1980) emphasized that turbulent times are associated with an increasing awareness of paradox. Quinn and Cameron (1988) pointed out that paradox is also associated with increasing information, complexity, and competition. Many industries have reported record profits, while laying off thousands of workers. Several researchers have reported that organizations simultaneously pursue paradoxical (and seemingly mutually exclusive) goals (Peters and Waterman, 1982; Quinn and Cameron, 1983; Quinn and Cameron, 1988; Rohrbaugh, 1981). Rohrbaugh (1981) argued that paradoxical characteristics were not only present in organizations, but that they were a central characteristic of effective performance. Peters and Waterman (1982) conclude that, “The excellent companies have learned how to manage paradox.” (p. 100)
Pascale (1990) points out that dealing with paradox is not the same as seeking a balance between two opposing theories or mindsets. The idea of balance means maintaining an equilibrium, “but our associations with the term balance evoke images of rest and stability, not tension and instability.” (p. 33) Pascale uses the phrases like “orchestrating tension” and “harnessing contending opposites” to stress the dynamic relationships between paradoxical views.
Lynch and Kordis (1988) believe that paradox is the driving force of innovation, and that we need to actively create paradox, by “doing the things we fear.” (p. 102) An example might be to advertise what you usually hide, and hide what you usually reveal. Paradox creates an imbalance that seeks a resolution, and thus becomes the source of change.
Gary Zukav (1992), author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics (Bantam, 1979), believes that “humanity is now evolving through responsible choice with the assistance and guidance of nonphysical guides and Teachers.” (p.240) According to Zukav, humanity is evolving beyond our five senses and becoming multisensory. “In terms of commerce, this means that intuition will replace rationalization as the primary source of data in the development of long-term strategies, the means of implementing those strategies, and in the resolution of everyday challenges.” (p.241)
Zukav believes that the alignment between personality and the soul is the source of real power. He asserts that the current economy is based on scarcity–the underlying assumption being that there are not enough goods for everyone. Gain comes at the expense of other people, and the Earth itself. The desire for profit (i.e., surplus) creates competition among all those involved or invested in business, leaving the perception that power is the ability to manipulate, control, conquer, and dominate. Zukav believes that today’s institutions are experiencing the painful and destructive consequences of the past.
That mode of evolution has come to an end, and, therefore, so has the utility of economics of scarcity and exploitation. Further pursuit of external power in the field of economics, and every other area of human endeavor, now produces only violence and destruction. (p. 243)
According to Zukav, “ownership” is a way of exerting external power. He believes that as we evolve, “ownership will at first become confusing, then questionable, and finally meaningless.” (p. 243) Since contemporary business is based on ownership and control, Zukav concludes that traditional commerce will be subject to radical changes, and that “all relationships between businesses will be defined by the ability of each enterprise to contribute to Life, and to assist other enterprises to contribute to Life.” (p. 245) In other words, business activities will shift from goals of maximum extraction to maximum contribution. Zukav might be right. The confusion and chaos of modern organizations might only appear chaotic “because they are on the ‘lip’ of the bowl of a great attractor (Lynch and Kordis, 1988, p. 130). “Maximum contribution” might be the true purpose of all organizations.
© Dr. David Walonick – used with permission
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