Towards conversational evolution

Gesprek - Inleiding Homan is one of the most interesting I’m following. I think it is connected with Antifragility by Nassim Taleb and Homo Deus by Harari. One of its latest post I’ve added these comments.

All laws of physics emerge from a paradoxical pair (like + and -, up – down, …). The tension between the alternatives is being released through motion, which can be used to do “work”. Conservation of energy – First Law – means also conservation of paradox. Like energy, paradoxes are converted into each other. The “lowest” type is heath, which is motion, action, the processes of conversing.

Between groups there are three inter-group paradoxes (Smith and Berg – Paradoxes of Group Life):
paradox of scarcity / abundance – which makes us create boundaries (which leads to the “problem” of migration),
paradox of engagement / disengagement (which leads to ingroup / outgroup and for instance the Brexit (“you can check out, but never leave”) and the
paradox of power / powerlessness (which leads to the problems of followers / leadership).
These paradox are in a dynamical equilibrium, creating a chaordic system.

The second law of thermodynamics creates “disorder”, entropy, or better use the verb “entropy creating“. The paradox here is, that an orderly system can produce more disorder then a disorderly system. So “free energy” will use itself to create order, which will be released later in heat, motion. Dissipation orders itself. If is “as if” the universe waits to collapse, because it “knows” that it can collapse with an even bigger bang.

The trick here is to establish a self-organizing, auto-catalyzing, self-referring system, aka “life“, with metastable states, to move away from equilibrium (and death, speaking of paradoxes). Any system needs “free energy” to jump to a more organized state. Once it has done tat, it can propagate itself. This is being called “punctured equilibrium”.

The third law is the law of least action. Every process produces the least amount of action or work. In order to do a lot of work, one needs a lot of “free” energy. Off course, nothing in life is “free”, so the equivalence here is, that we “pay” through disruptions, suffering, devastation. At least, until now, in the classical way, using unintentional evolution.

I suppose the next step is to get into intentional evolution. I think we need to use the paradoxes of power here: the interesting thing is, that power is connected with the use of energy. Power needs connections, a network, a grid. (I do think that the current “energy transition” is also part of the solution / problem). Also, a network structures, guides. We’re now witnessing the auto-organizing process of the internet. The way this work, is that first power is being concentrated, “attracted” – for instance in Google, Amazon, … much like the current great powers. This type of situation is fragile, very fragile, hyper critical and will be released into a new way of organizing. I suspect that we’ll create a network of distributed, local power. This type of organizing processes will use facilitative leadership.

It took a while to find it, but the article The evolution of cooperative organisation gives an interesting option: a new type of management. Stewart – interesting name – explains how RNA/DNA offers a digital type of “managing” the analogue type of evolution of metabolizing molecules. In way, they co-evolve. The basic problem with our current type of management, is that managers benefit more from coordinating cooperation than the participants in the organization. They’re having the power, but they do not use it to also share the benefits of cooperation. This is because the myth of “the invisible hand”. There is no “invisible hand” (or an all-seeing eye-in-the-sky). The other myth, the communist tale, doesn’t work either, because also here, it propagates a “winner takes all”. Taleb discusses this point from another perspective: managers don’t carry the risks of failure anymore (but say they do).

So, we’re at the edge of a systemic transformation, the development of a new type of leadership, which I call facilitative leadership. These leaders don’t get big benefits from managing or coordinating an organization. Because the don’t lead the organization in the traditional way. We lead the organizations through leading conversations, having dialogues. They do not command and control, but listen to the participants and check their assumptions. They guide the conversations into effective and efficient actions. And not only do they guide the conversation, they also manage the distribution of wealth through conversations. These leaders use the power of expressing by creating new myths. We’re seeing the emergence of this type of leadership in Agile, Deep Democracy, Dialogue, Intuitive Intelligence, Sociocracy, Systemic Work, … And what we’ll have to endure is the death struggle of the old system.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

U are reading this

On Quora there was this question: What is the link between mind, brain and consciousness?

Here is my answer, with some additions between [].

You. You are. You are the (missing) link. And “we” are, that is to say, the projection of me and our relationship (= link), implied by the use of language. Every thought is being thought by a human being. And this thought is being thought by U. [Added: at this very moment] Human beings think, using a part of our body called “brain”. Assigning “mind” or “consciousness” to a brain is like assigning “motion” and “movement” to you legs. What is the link between motion, legs and movement? The runner. So the question I read is: “who is running?” or “who is thinking this thought?”. (this, in my opinion, is why we are being moved by e-motion, or should we call it i-motion?).

Bennett and Hacker explain this in more detail in Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience. They’re calling this the “mereological fallacy”: a whole is not the sum of its part, it is the product of the parts and therefore a different logical type. Some words point to or refer to an element (fact), some to a relationship between elements which we cannot point at (fiction). What is the link between a word and its meaning? You are. You’re making it up (fact and fiction).

The words look the same – words – and (mind you! and and not but) what they refer to creates a paradox. Language is also meta-language (about “saying something about what is being said”) and therefore always implies a speaker. (S)He creates the links, like you’re doing while reading this.

[Eugene T. Gendlin, Ph.D schrijft in: Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning: “Indeed, all the functions of implicit intricacy in language and situations are functions of the body.” (cursivering door de auteur)]

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Money expresses the paradoxes of expression

Gene Bellinger – our systems thinking guru – has been inventing a model of economy, in order to understand economy. I added a comment on the discussion there, because i Read: “Gene, If you want to understand economics I suggest you avoid the advice you get from linguists.” There is an – in my view – interesting double bind at work. Here is the comment:

In Physics I’ve learned to recognize the difference between an “observable” and a “system variable“. (If you don’t manage it, you’ll never pass your exams) The first can be counted, irrespective of any observer, the second can only be calculated through a system of rules. For instance, my house, your house can be observed. You can count the number of rooms, inhabitants, … . These observables always have a limit, are constrained.

The age of the house, has to be calculated. It depends on the assumption of a starting point (laying of the foundation? roof? key to the first inhabitant?). So “time” is a systems variable and not an observable. Also the value of an house is a system variable: it depends on the system “in use”. It is not an attribute of the house, but an attribute of a relationship with the house. In The Netherlands, we used to say that the value of an house is “whatever a fool will pay”.

A system variable comes in handy to describe, to model the behavior of observables. Using it, you can more or less predict the outcome of an experiment, which is always an observable, and thus verify the model. However, a model is not reality. And the system variable only exist in our minds. They are not real, nor unreal: they are surreal, a product of our imagination. System variables are not facts, they are fiction. (However, both words are derived from “facere”, to make). Because they are fiction, they might have no limit, are not constrained to physical laws.

“Money” is a systems variable. We use it to calculate – usually called “costs”. Money is also an observable, when we’re talking about coins. They can be counted and measured – for instance in pounds or shekel. Now our imagination made an invention: why not relate the worth of something to the value of a coin. The number of houses is limited, the worth to its inhabitants also – you cannot live in two houses at the same time – but the value is not. (The value depends on three laws of real (!) estate: location, location, location. Location is real, value is imaginary) You can own a great number – but limited – houses. But their monetary value can rise without limit. Most people think they’re a fool, because they didn’t buy houses years ago.

The problem we have in understanding economy, is because the model is “flawed”. (I could have tackled this directly from scarcity, that’s how economist do it, but you can figure it out yourself). One of the most interesting system variables – in my opinion mind you -, is “meaning”. Goods and services have a “meaning”. And not only the goods and services themselves, also the money used in the description has a meaning. Money means status, power. You don’t only buy an house, you also give expression to your authority, creativity and courage. It gives you a feeling of independence. Money represents “free” power, because you’re free to spend it. Furthermore, all money is a currency and expresses a nationality, a belonging. (This is one of the hidden issues with the Euro).

The reason I used the very word “house” in this post, is because economy started out as “managing your house”, in Dutch, “Huishoudkunde”, the art of maintaining your house. Off course, “house” also indicates government – which is why we in The Netherlands speak about “geld”: which is something like “legal”. (Money, I read, is derived from “monitor”, to overlook. It has been connected to the Temple of Juno, who is, you’ve guessed, the goddess of the household. Maintaining the household). And, last but not least, “house” belongs to the archetype of “self”. And here is the fundamental flaw: you’re part of the model you’re using in describing your behavior.

Posted in Betekenis, English, Expression, money; worth | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Configure this. How to guide releasing E-motions in a positive way?

I’ve volunteered to do a workshop at the First Global Conference on Positive Change. Here is the approach.

How to change positively? Everything is energy and energy is always conserved. So, systems, by necessity, tend to settle in the lowest configuration possible. Moving them into a higher configuration, requires energy too. This energy we can call “free energy”. Change requires “free energy”. The question now becomes, “How can we free energy?” A second question arises: “how do we guide this free energy positively?”.

Energies are stored in tensions, and tensions are energies. You’ll have noticed that there are tensions everywhere. Inside you, between human beings, between groups of people. And, ultimately, between nations. Tensions build and need to be released. This creates motions. In Physics this is called the First Law of Motion: Action = – (minus) Reaction. The minus sign suggests, that reaction works contrary to (the cause of) action. Reaction somehow is “negative”. How to change positively?

Energy reside inside you, me, human beings. The energies of life, are tensions too. So, these tensions create motiond too. This is what I like to call E-motions. You act because of your E-motion; people act on E-motions. Most of the times, we instinctively react. Action = – (minus) Reaction. Which is, by default “negative”. We’ve learned that to “go away” makes more sense than to “engage”. We should learn to create positive change instead of react negatively. Guiding this process is called “process facilitation”

Our task now becomes, “Configure. How to guide the release of E-motions in a positive way?”. Over the years, I’ve been developing an approach that enables us to investigate the current system and search for creative resolutions, to find positive (re)configurations. Using objects, (LEGO, Playmobile) figures and placing them on a map, you recreate your configuration of elements. This makes the tensions visible and communicable. We can give at-tention to them. We can move them, finding paths of change.

Interested: join the 1St Global Conference on Positive Change – Amsterdam, Apri1 13th – 14th. We’ll recreate situations, and invent or create ways to positively change a system.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to deal with paradox?

Life is inherently paradoxical, among others. Specifically amongst others. Change is the only outcome of paradox and paradoxically change is a paradox too. What we can see, is people trying to “solve” paradoxes, paradoxes like I and other (“individuality, identity, involvement and borders”). Or paradoxes about power: authority, (in)dependence, creativity and destruction and off course “courage“. Or how to perceive reality – facts and fictions. As you’ll notice, one paradox will just change or morph into another one.

I adapted a quote form

Dealing with change and paradoxes does not mean trying to think things through and force a resolution into being through action. Rather it means to hold the opposites within one’s being until a path comes into being, emerging from its own nature. Thus is the natural way of paradox. Dealing with paradox is not action – reaction. Dealing with paradox and change rather means a kind of “recreating”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Alternative facts are fiction

We’ve got facts, hard facts and fictional facts. The implication of the fact, that the word fact and fiction are derived from the same source, facere, to make, implies that every word is a metaphor, including all lies. Including in this lie has to be a double bind: not only are we deceiving others, we’re also deceiving ourselves. If we would admit that we’re lying, we would tell the truth. And as when we’re telling the truth, we should stick to our lie. This also creates a kind of really unreal reality. We can use our power, to force our fact on others. However, as all power is limited, we can do so only for a limited time.

Posted in expressie, paradox, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Facts on fiction

archetypes-velasquez-ninas Wrote a page on facts, fiction and the use of language.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I have accepted the position of Open all our hours for your question on facilitating groups, events and change. I cannot make life easier, but lighter must be attainable. Please visit the page facilitation-guru

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Legend of Models

Brain as  metaphorDanny Greefhorst asked me, if I knew about the brain dominance model of Nedd Herrmann (HBDI). Off course, since the 90’s. I describe it on page 129 in our (Dutch) book.

I’ve been using 2×2 matrix since 1984, writing my thesis for my MBA. Because a manager, I was told, cannot understand things more complicated then a 2×2 matrix. From Kolb’s learning styles, through Herrmann I arrived at McWhinney, “Creating Paths of Change“. He presents his fourfold model based basis on his studies of change processes. I assume, that a archetypal or generic double division created the structure of our universe. All models (except in fashion) are basically fourfold. With three, there usually is a back ground. Five contains the “quintessence”, the combination of four.

I recognize the criticism on the model ( ). It holds for every model of the human mind, psyche or learning, like MBTI, Management Drivers, Insights … etc. (Not the enneagram, I consider that a true hoax). Coffield e.a. has investigated over 100 models (in 13 groups) including HBDI (p 103). De validity / predictability of models about human behavior is never more then 70%. Which sounds reasonable to me.

Carl Jung stresses that each and every model of the psyche, mind, soul or human behavior, including his, is a product of the human psyche. And that this psyche is self-aware. So its models elements from that mind, its inventor. This is also true for the models in physics, but these do not “recognize” their inventor – as we do, in our Nobel prizes.

I fancy radical constructivism : we invent models, we do not discover them. Discovery implies that there exists a psychological world outside our mind, without the existence of our own mind. However, we’ve invented our models, because they work for us. That’s why “werkelijkheid is wat werkt”, “reality is what works”.

As human being have a fundamental need to deal with the uncertain parts of reality, we tend to try to control them. Perhaps it is also an aspect of the fact, that we do not know how we invent our models. This region is fundamentally inaccessible (or at, least, when not meditating). In the old days, we would call on our gods, now we rely on our models (now including fashion models, :-)). In the gods, we express our psychological aspects. We tend to ignore these in our models. The “science” of economics is a nice example, how we deal with “not-working” models: the (unexplainable) facts are ignored or the models get more complicated. No model will ever explain human behavior. And the universe itself doesn’t care. As did our god or gods.

Herrmann presents his model as a metaphor. That’s why he uses letters A,B,C en D. All models are metaphors, images, idols.. . What I re-present is a a metamodel, a “legend” (also a true “legend“): how I read a model. And it is fractal: within every quadrant there exists a fourfold model.

Posted in English, Jung, model, Universe | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Meta-practice makes perfect

In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not. – A. Einstein.

In most cases, a difference between theory and practice is being ignored. Sometimes the facts are blamed. “We need more research”. Or we could revise the theory and run into another Einstein quote:

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius (and a lot of courage) to move in the opposite direction.

In facilitation we do have theories. They are also called methods or techniques. They lead to results. In practice, however, an actual situation may require another theory-in-use. As we do not seem to reach the intended result. You may blame it on resistance, unwillingness, defensive routines, whatever. You may try to apply more energy, more of the same. Won’t work.

We need a practice and to practice the practice. A community of practice on facilitation makes perfect sense.

In communicating about this, I call this a meta-praxis. The “meta-practice” I espouse, looks like a theory, feels like a theory, but isn’t a theory. It is about being aware of your practice while practicing. Facilitate yourself, while facilitating. How does this work? Only in practice!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment