It's only natural

The San Francisco Bay Area has been blessed with great weather for a few days, and nature is ripping me away from my computer to go for walks. This morning I wandered down the hill to join the Saturday ramble of the path wanderers. Along the way, I plucked ripe purple and yellow plums from the trees overhanging the sidewalks. Then a season first brought a smile to my face: the first blackberries of the season. Yum. I'll be nibbling as I hike for the next couple of months! Picking wild berries as I walk is one of life's greatest joys, right up there with discovering cool shells on the beach.

The best back-to-nature walks around here are in Tilden Park, about a mile from here. When I started out yesterday, a buck was standing at the end of the block. (Today a small specimen raced past us on a busy shopping street down the hill, startling drivers and pedestrians alike.) Tilden is hilly and rugged. The grass is already brown but flowers and the red leaves of the poison oak punctuate every vista with color.

Tromping up the hill, a fellow with a dog passed me. "This is the cardiovascular section," he said. I told him that's why I was here.

Health was only one justification for my tromp. I'm hatching a new concept of what's going on in the world, and nature's a great place for quiet contemplation. It blows my mind that I can see San Francisco from the East Bay hills. It's jam-packed with people. Yet the guy and his dog are the only creatures I see during an hour of hiking.

This morning, when I awoke, I wrote: "We are at the dawn of an era that will change the structure of business, the nature of work, our view of the world, and our impressions of ourselves. Our culture and institutions are stretched to the breaking point. After a quarter-millennium of the Industrial Age, humankind is poised to rewrite the rules, abolish modern slavery, stop plundering the earth’s resources, and focus on using our time wisely.

In 1848, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Denmark, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, and others revolted against heavy-handed, absolutist rulers. In 2004, workers and business leaders are rejecting inflexible, top-down, Industrial-Age holdovers out of step with today’s fast-paced, networked, egalitarian world.

Business leaders are confused. Strategy is a luxury. A sea of information washes over us. Entropy replaces purposeful behavior. The future is a crap-shoot. People dread their jobs. Executives feel they’ve lost control. Corporations destroy the environment. Politicians destroy the economy. All is chaos. Chaos creates stress, and stress fosters cancer, heart disease, stoke, adult-onset diabetes, and mental collapse. Change is preferable to continuing the charade that nothing’s wrong.

The model for the future is biological. Nature doesn’t have executives, managers, supervisors, or bosses. No one’s in control. Living things interact with one another and their surroundings. They adapt. They grow. It’s not planned; it just happens. There are no hidden agendas, no shadow organizations. In business, complex interactions will spontaneously create organizations without bosses, software without programmers, webs without weavers, and learning without instructors.

Imagine the opportunities of businesses that are distributed, decentralized, collaborative, and adaptive. Everything flows. Slack evaporates. Cooperation replaces competition. Learning and work merge into a single stream.

I'm refining the mission of the Workflow Institute. We want to make the world a better place. Luckily, I've got some great advice to draw upon.

    "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity." Albert Einstein

    "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew."
    Abraham Lincoln

Posted by Jay Cross at June 19, 2004 08:11 PM | TrackBack

Soothing yet energizing thoughts. When the inner chaos caused by the disconnect between our intentions/thoughts, words, and actions resolves through the practice of honesty (with ourselves and, therefore, with the world) an effortless alignment with the nature will emerge. And thus your vision will be realized.

Posted by: Vijay Luthra at June 20, 2004 07:29 AM

30 Poppy Lane
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