During my career I developed several large system change strategies that clients successfully implemented in their organizations. While I have written previously about some of these strategies, I have more to say concerning organization design that may be useful to readers who are addressing their own large systems change challenges. This website is a repository for that content.
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a knack for “seeing” organization dynamics. Whether among family members while growing up, or with people around me in various social settings, or simply as a projection of my imagination, anticipated and observed behaviors blended together into movie-like scenarios and possibilities.
Like most, I learned at an early age that when I changed my behavior within established routines I was part of—doing chores, for instance— it disrupted the flows of activity and impacted the behavior of others. This elicited responses, often painful, from those affected in an effort to force my compliance with expectations. As I grew older, rare occasions surfaced where my deviations influenced others to change the overall routine either because the cost of forcing my compliance became too great or the performance of the process improved such that it justified the change.
With the advent of adolescence and young adulthood, my mental grasp of what went on around me expanded and along with it, became more nuanced and sophisticated. I observed myself as part of myriad, interconnected processes and routines that collectively formed systems and systems of systems along a continuum from the tiniest forms of matter to the entirety of the universe. And I discovered that by making certain assumptions about what to observe or accept as givens, the resulting systems with their attendant processes and components reordered and restructured themselves into markedly different patterns, like a kaleidoscope, with each offering unique behavioral characteristics.
I could play in this space of my imagination for hours on end, and often did much to the dismay of others who expected me to do something more “constructive” with my time. One such “something more” was my education. I have been an autodidactic throughout my life. During my formal education in the public schools of the 1950s and 60s, I largely followed curricula of my own choosing and design. It has made me a lifelong learner who supports those holistic educational practices akin to self-directed learning and self-directed education that increasingly flirt with the mainstream. Such intellectual adventuring acquainted me with an eclectic array of knowledge sources and connected me with thinkers and doers on all manner of topics.
Another “something more” was my career path. Similar to the education system, the workplace of the the late 1960s and early 70s carried a strong expectation that one comply with the Industrial Age paradigm. From the outset, I did not accept that the conditions as they presented themselves on the job were givens. In each workplace, I found myself intellectually at odds with what I experienced on the job. I imagined a very different system design in which work could be done that would meet performance outcomes for the organization yet contribute to the well-being of each person within it. It took starting a family for me to accept responsibility for more than myself and stick with one employer for a matter of years rather than a few months. Even still, I didn’t accept that this was it.
Search for Truth
In my continuing search for truth1 on the path of self-learning and intellectual ramblings I discovered a “mine rich in gems of inestimable value”2 through the teachings and personages of the Bahá’í Faith. For over forty years, this expansive repository of knowledge and inspiration has informed my efforts on a daily basis and remains indispensable, both professionally and personally. More specifically, it imbues my voice with confidence, establishes my presence as one of service to humanity, and fills my being with a passion steeped in integrity to describe what I see and influence others to apply what they will of it in the designs of their organizations. And it certainly gives me the wherewithal to overcome feeling like an imposter whose credentials are insufficient to merit a seat at the table, or like an idiot savant whose thinking operates on such a unique, disassociated plane it has no relevance and value in the real world, or like Cassandra unable to put forth a believable view of social system’s future state and convince its members to take advantage of the potential opportunities in their midst.
Framework for Understanding the World
Over forty years of experimentation and experience interacting with this collective knowledge commons fueled the development of my theory and practice as reflected in the title for this website: “Framework for Understanding the World.” My goal is to build an archive of my work on a timeline that starts in the late 1980s and extends to the current year. I have organized it by category which corresponds to content copied in chronological order from original postings made on various social media platforms and drawn from digitized historical files. I have a lot of material to sort through with competing demands on my time so this is going to take a while!
In order to help me stay on track with this project and be more transparent with readers about additions and revisions I make to the website, I am using Micro.blog and Mastodon to post updates, pose questions, and invite discussions about my progress. I encourage you to use either of these two platforms to provide whatever constructive input or feedback you would care to offer as this effort unfolds. Thanks in advance for your consideration!
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. Paris Talks: Addresses given by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912. 11th British Ed. 1912. Reprint, London, England: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1972, pp 136-37. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/paris-talks/5#360118382. ↩
- Baháʾuʾlláh. Tablets of Baháʾuʾlláh, Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Translated by Habib Taherzadeh. 1st ed. Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1978, 162. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/tablets-bahaullah/5#009015192. ↩