30 Slices
Medium 9781576754450

THREE: Inhabiting a Different Worldview

Alan Briskin Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In the early 1970s, one of our colleagues, Robert Kenny, helped develop and lead educational and mental health programs for youth in New York City. Inspired by the work of the visionary educator Erling Thunberg, Kenny began to put into practice the values of community, personal authenticity, and collaborative leadership advocated by Thunberg. He noticed that even casual visitors to these youth programs commented on the “palpable atmosphere, or field, that they sensed—the therapeutic milieu, as we used to call it.”1 Many of the students’ public school teachers expressed amazement that these students, engaged and focused, were the same kids they knew to be violent and destructive.

Kenny became fascinated with what Thunberg referred to as “group consciousness.” He wondered if indeed his transformative experience in New York, which was healing and creative for so many, might be a portal to a different way of understanding life that involved work as a spiritual practice, collective consciousness, and group wisdom. Like Thunberg and so many other pioneers in social experimentation of that time, he was challenged to think differently about the meaning of the explosive changes going on in technology, communications, culture, and human values.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781576750407

5 Enlightenment Born of Fear Frederick Taylor and the Gospel of Efficiency

Alan Briskin Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

He protects himself with the shield of science and the armour of reason. His enlightenment is born of fear; in the daytime he believes in an ordered cosmos, and he tries to maintain this faith against the fear of chaos that besets him by night.

Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

Frederick Taylor, whose name is forever linked with efficiency, is a controversial figure in American history. For some he is a villain and the architect of the dehumanized workplace, whose legacy we are learning to counteract. For others, he was a misunderstood missionary whose basic principles are still instructive today. Both sides view the other with reserved scorn. He is known as the father of scientific management, and his theories are believed by many to be the foundation of modern industrial practices. Some historians believe his contribution to present practices has been exaggerated, and others point out that his theories were never fully understood and therefore never fully implemented in the first place. There is no question, however, that Taylor and his theories had a profound impact on the American imagination in the early twentieth century. Within one year from the time his ideas first gained national attention in 1910, 2l9 articles on scientific management had been written. Harper and Brothers published a collection of his major articles on the subject of efficiency, and the work was translated into nine languages. Taylor societies were formed, and efficiency expositions were held. President Theodore Roosevelt praised Taylor’s work, and for years after Taylor’s death businessmen made pilgrimages to his home in Philadelphia.110

See All Chapters
Medium 9781576751114

8 Role As an Expression of Soul

Cheryl Peppers Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

137

Something we were withholding made us weak, Until we found it was ourselves.

—ROBERT FROST

THE NEATLY CARVED-OUT roles of the modern era have disappeared. Traditional hierarchical relationships are confounded by matrix, team-based, and even virtual organization designs. Gone are the cut-and-dry performance reviews, clearly written job descriptions, and even private office space. Mergers, spin-offs, and frequent restructuring mean constantly shifting positions and roles. Reporting relationships are less direct, often remote, and performance management systems are increasingly complex. Job descriptions can’t capture all of what we do, ongoing responsibilities compete with project-based initiatives, and process changes require constant adaptation to the work itself. Not only are we confused about our own roles, but the shifting roles of our colleagues leave us unsure of where to go for support and collaboration. It’s no wonder that, in the attempt to hold on to our sanity, we learn to withhold parts of ourselves. And then that weakens us, because we are split, and parts of ourselves are not present.138

See All Chapters
Medium 9781576754450

SEVEN: The Unlimited Cocreative Power of Groups and Communities

Alan Briskin Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We must envision our work as a creative act, more akin to the artistic endeavor than the technical process. This never negates skill and technique. But it does suggest that the wellspring …lies in our moral imagination, which I will define as the capacity to imagine something rooted in the challenges of the real world yet capable of giving birth to that which does not yet exist.

—John Paul Lederach, The Moral Imagination

We know that groups are often the settings for stress, discomfort, and wounding. We are also aware that all too often, we are subject to destructive actions and emotions that can influence our thoughts, affect our biochemistry, and even alter our physical brain. Pick up a newspaper, glance at the Internet, turn on the television, or listen to the radio, and we are immediately drawn into images of raw aggression and conflict. Nor can our workplaces or even families be safe havens from agitation, aggression, and worse. Each of these systems has its own conflicted histories, habitual behaviors, and potential new crises.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781576751114

11 The Threads of Connection

Cheryl Peppers Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

193

It is amazing how time and again, one of the most consoling factors in experience is that each experience has a sure structure; this is never obvious to us while we are going through something. But when we look back, we will be able to pick out the path that offered itself. Experience always knows its way. And we can afford to trust our souls much more than we realize. The soul is always wiser than the mind, even though we are dependent on the mind to read the soul for us.1

—JOHN O’DONOHUE

Love… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…. Love never fails.

—I CORINTHIANS 13

OUR EXPLORATION OF SOUL began through the window of reflection on experience—of our own experience. There, we began the journey of ownership, opening to what our experience has taught us, appreciating how it has shaped us, and folding it into our life story. “Experience always knows its way,” O’Donohue writes. Much of this book has been about learning to trust our own experience—learning to see beyond the rational and concrete, and using the mind and physical images to translate for us what our souls already know.194

See All Chapters

See All Slices