Care and Feeding

Larry Peterson larry at
Thu Jun 17 14:13:54 PDT 2004

Harrison and Paul:

I agree that the "care and feeding" of self-organization is a good theme
for conversation and maybe a book.  I have been in conversation with an
interesting guy named Richard Knowles who has written the book "The
Leadership Dance" which he believes is about enabling leadership to
foster self-organization.  His experience is similar to Paul's in that
he was the manager of a number of DuPont plants that faced some
environmental issues.  He tells the story of his discovery of how
leadership needs to encourage or foster self-organization.  He is now
retired and a consultant.  (The Center for Self-Organizing Leadership,
2002. - You can google the center)

His book is about using the Enneagram as a tool for understanding the
relationship between intentional management and self-organization.  He
heard us on the Plexus call about Open Space and then called me as we
are not far apart.  He does not really know Open Space Technology as a
way of practicing self-organization.  Like many others, his primary
focus is theory or perspective which can lead to certain kinds of
practice (a friend of Meg Wheatly).  It is interesting how the two main
"levels" of the Enneagram, to him, suggest a deep structure of
self-organization overlaid by steps in a process that create the
conditions for it, or not.  The steps have some similarities to what we
do to Open the Space - it is much, much more complicated.

I've also been thinking a lot lately about "self-organization" in
relation to Ken Wilbur's 4 quadrants. Self-organization is the
"description" of what systems do - the lower left quadrant.  All the
other quadrants are also active and worth exploring and might help us
with the care and feeding.


Larry Peterson
Associates in Transformation
Toronto, ON, Canada

 <mailto:larry at> larry at

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