self organizing systems

Bryan Kidd bryan at
Mon Aug 23 17:45:41 PDT 1999

Dear all

Thanks Birgitt.  My identity feels restored!!!  (humour)

> And Bryan Kidd,  my apologies for calling you Bruce in an earlier e-mail.
Bruce Kidd is a
> local tv personality:-)

I am not sure whether to be flattered by the confusion or not.

Perhaps it is timely for me to say a little of myself, as I am not sure I
have yet done so.  I am consulting director of a small company in
Melbourne, Australia that aims to provide opportunities for organisations
to allow their members to bring themselves to the task at hand.  The
greatest challenge to achieving this is the natural complexity it involves;
if I bring myself to what I do, how do I create space for others to bring

The strategies I use involve establishing organisational context, ie.
mission, objectives, internal and external relationships etc, and then
inviting participants to evaluate the performance of their organisation,
and address the issues that create the barriers to greater performance.
This typically creates a process of dialogue, conflict, learning,
empowerment and performance.

I have used these processes with a range of clients in service and
manufacturing industries with great success.  I have also used similar
processes with enormous success in sporting organisations (2 seasons as a
field hockey coach, 2 premierships), and am embarking on a journey of
co-leadership of a cricket club using the same principles.

However, my most important and meaningful work is in educational settings.
I am on the staff team of a common first year business subject at Swinburne
University of Technology that employs the Classroom as Organisation
approach (Cohen, 1976) to learning about organisations and management.
This is an enormously challenging subject for students and staff.  The
students face a lifetime of being taught that knowledge is most valued,
while this method values  learning.  While a different set of behaviours is
required for learning, the expectations and assumptions held consciously
and sub-consciously by students are often difficult to overcome.  We often
face a range of resistant behaviours from disengagement to outright
hostility.  Wilfred Bion once talked of a hatred of learning by experience.
 This is what we seem to face.

I was involved in this program at its inception in 1995, and returned in
1997 till now.  I find it very stimulating, exciting and challenging, and
am constantly surprised by the fear people have of bringing themselves to
the task at hand, yet this is the only way to engage in self, life and

This last sentence seems to link nicely with OST and recent discussion.  I
only became aware of OST from hearing Birgitt on radio (3LO Melbourne), and
instantly recognised a paralel between our work and OST.  Contacting Brian
Bainbrige led me to this listserver.  Harrison's book is hard to get in OZ
(Australia), but I have it on order, and look forward to learning more
about OST.  Yet it is clear from the discussion taking place here that
there is a real sense of people engaging in learning the truth about
themselves, humanity, life, the universe and everything (humour), and
having the courage to take action with what they discover.  This is my
journey also, and I have a sense of sympatico.

Did I say "a little of myself"?  Enough is enough.

Birgitt wrote

> For me personally, I have come to understand
> that destiny and co-creation work together in a fascinating way. For me,
> there is something of the same in the struggle of understanding the self
> organizing system and the multi-dimensional world that is the universe
> all that we know and ever so much more that we don't, from our teeny
> on the earth" perspective.

I agree completely, and it seems part of the human paradox that we need to
know to survive, yet the more we know, the more we realise we don't know!
This makes it easier for us to say that we are just "teeny humans on the
earth", and use this as an excuse not to engage in destiny and co-creation.




All models are wrong, but some are useful - W Edwards Demming

Bryan Kidd
HyPerformance Team Works
Melbourne Australia
bryan at

> I will continue to struggle with my understanding of self organizing
> systems. I think I do have a grasp of the concepts and the scientific
> findings. I am convinced that all of nature is a self organizing system.
> also believe it has something to do with harmonic frequencies and with
> electromagnetic fields such as those which align our planets and so on. I
> believe nature will ultimately take care of herself and self organize no
> matter what the apparent devastation of any moment in time (ie: the
> after many years following a volcano erupting, or the shift in poles when
> the planets all move into alignment causing much earth change including
> major flooding and reduction of water in other areas--I am curious about
> what will happen in May of 2012 when the planets align as they do every
> 26,000 years or so---always causing earth changes). I think nature self
> organizes no matter what. And nature, the universe, the one song (which
> that harmonic thing coming in again) is so much more than I think we have
> yet understood.
> It is human beings, especially human beings in our formal organizations
> I am not so sure about. And yes, I am separating us from the rest of
> as I talk about us here.Mostly because that which differentiates us so
> from the rest of nature is that we have "will" and the freedom to make
> choices from amongst so many. And we have a lot of emotions. And we have
> tyrants and dictators and places where we aren't free to self organize.
> Doing an Open Space meeting is an "intervention" into the natural way of
> things. So, if the natural way of things is self organizing, why do we
> do Open Space? Harrison has pointed out that we do it to create the
> conditions for self organization to be possible. So...if that is so,
> we are not about naturally being a self organizing system???? I have seen
> self management operate in Open Space but I would not call this a  self
> organizing system.
> Regarding the website, until we can demonstrate with examples that we
> achieve self organizing systems with Open Space, I think we should hold
> on saying that this is what Open Space Technology is about. I know I
> make a case for it.
> Thanks for bearing with my pondering,
> Birgitt

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