Over the years of reading and trying to master the four ways of thinking about organizations, as they were, as they are, as they might become, and as they ought to be, I began to think of “ought” in the inductive sense of a preferred, ethically better condition, rather than in the compulsory sense of an instructive command. It is not likely that synthesizing those four ways of thinking about things into a compelling, new concept of organizations as they ought to be in future will ever be a singular work of genius.
It is much more likely to arise spontaneously in many minds using different words and metaphors, then coalesce into a unified concept capable of broad understanding; a concept that has infinite durability in purpose and principles, yet is infinitely malleability in form and function. Creating organizations based on that new concept and bringing them into universal acceptance and use will be an evolutionary process—a cooperative work of the genius that lies buried in everyone, patiently waiting to be educed. All life on earth, consciously or unconsciously, cries out that it should be done.
Since the past can never be more than preparatory and the present no more than a point of departure, it is the future that should have our best thoughts and energy, though it seldom does in the stress and strain of modern life. If one examines organizations as they might become or as they ought to be, the specifics of that which we know must yield to the abstracts of that which we can conceive. Perception is the primary means by which we cast up such concepts. Therein lies a serious problem.
Somewhere in the middle of perception is the fun-house mirror of perspective. It distorts and discolors everything we know, think or imagine. Therefore, when considering the future, one’s viewpoint, one’s frame of reference, one’s internal model of reality, in a word, the perspective that experience indelibly implants in each of us is all-important. It is our individual perspective that discolors and distorts our perception, blinding us to how things might become, or conceiving of how they ought to be.
Out of the lumber of things we are taught, the gravel and cement of our experience and the nails of things we observe, we slowly erect an internal edifice, an internal temple of reality, gradually filling it with the furniture of habit, custom, preference, belief and bias. We get comfortable there. It's our sanctuary. Through its windows, warped though the glass may be, we view society and the world. Our internal model of reality is how we make sense of the world. And it can be a badly built place indeed. Even if it is well constructed, it may have become archaic. Everything that gave rise to it may have changed. Society and the natural world are never stagnant. They are constantly becoming.
When it becomes necessary to develop a new perception of things, a new internal model of reality, the problem is never to get new ideas in, the problem is to get old ideas out. Every mind is filled with old furniture. It's familiar. It's comfortable. We hate to throw it out. The old maxim so often applied to the physical world, "nature abhors a vacuum", is much more applicable to the mental world. Clear any room in your mind of old perspectives, and new perceptions will rush in. Yet, there is nothing we fear more. It is our individual perspective, the view from our internal temple of reality, that constantly discolors and distorts our perception, blinding us to how things might become, or conceiving of how they ought to be. Perspective is the Achilles heel of the mind.
In a very real sense, we are our ideas, concepts and perceptions. Giving up any part of our internal model of reality is as bad as losing a finger or an eye. Part of us no longer exists. Fortunately, unlike most organs of the physical body, internal concepts of reality can be regenerated, although never as they were. It is a joyful and enervating in the end, but frightening and painful in the process. I was a long time realizing I had one. Even longer realizing how mechanistic it was and how archaic it had become. Oh, how I hated to give it up.
It’s gone now. New and much more stimulating concepts are rushing in. As I gain more experience with them, a much more beautiful temple of reality is rising within. The view through its windows of society and its institutions becomes clearer every day, and as it does, the complexity and diversity of the Chaordic Age is less forbidding. It makes more sense. And it is rich with promise of a more beneficent future in harmony with the human spirit and biosphere