Superficial Change and “Real” Change4 min read

What is abundance?

Surely it includes shelter, clean water, and food.

How is abundance clearly accessible to you?

What about global abundance, abundance for all people?

What levers, so to speak, would you pull so that we would generate more abundance?

There are at least two things we might agree on.

  1. It doesn’t have to be like this, and
  2. It won’t always be like this.

We know the next few decades will change the face of human existence.

We can’t know how it will change.

We also know that some things will stay the same.

We can’t know exactly what will then resemble today.

We are stewards of change. Not just cultivators of the new, but maintainers of heritage.

It is actually our duty to ensure that we consider what we carry forward through this sociotechnical threshold of the 21st century.

Many things we might like to bring with us are actually quite menacing upon closer inspection.

This while abundance is clearly within reach of our grasp in so many ways.

As we wither, parched for fresh invigoration, will we thirsty beings in a complex world recognize the glass of water before us? Will we take hold of these opportunities that we may never see again?

We think there will be time to go on with our work tomorrow.

We may not like it, but it’s worth remembering: there may be no time at all tomorrow.

Your expectations, conscious and otherwise, may be wrong, dead wrong.

We have continued, for example, to continue our long walk along the perilous tightrope that is the global nuclear arms threat, a true menace by design.

Change is eternal, yet for all its variety, evolution from the human perspective can have something of the phrase “plus ça change” to it.

Much evolution of governance in the early 21st century has also been, for example, the evolution of a more ancient form of human relationship, which is that of the art of terrorizing people in an often successful effort to muddle their wills, both personal and collective, and otherwise gain competitive advantage.

And how much change now is so superficial as to represent not just a lack of meaningful change, but something less, something that is insidiously draining, something that stultifies?

We see that the generation of change is all too often the buzzing of a newsmill rather than the successful address of any fellow human’s problems.

Now, just as ever, the world needs us to be critical thinkers, even when that simply does not seem to be what evolution has molded us to be, generally speaking.

There is magic between our ears, not just some computer, and I’m not convinced that treating societies of these magic minds as though they were simplistic mechanisms and not wondrous, unpredictable things, persistently mysterious, and capable of novel inventions the likes of which may only occur once in the imagination of a single person before then taking form in the common manufacture of this material realm we share… I’m not convinced that this is the way to go.

Yet this is how traditional organizational design tends to address organizations, as though organizations and the people in them are best addressed in formal relationships that don’t admit the value of exploratory uncertainty and the work done to reduce it into intelligible bits of knowledge, because traditional models of organizational design have scarcely had an especially meaningful way of representing how real world problem solving is done, not as a structure, but as a dynamic process.

It’s not just organizations. Most western models of reality, or desired realities, have scarcely had this benefit of encoding dynamism.

It’s not organizational design’s fault. Western society has leaned toward reductionist explanations of the world for some time now, preferring structures rather than flows, roughly speaking, and from this culture came the so-called scientific management practice and all the rest.

Well, there is new science in town, and it is time that management practice and its visionary cousin, organizational design — it is time these disciplines are updated to account for the insights afforded by the still rather new science of systems and complexity.

— Evan M. Driscoll
August 28, 2020
Toronto

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