The Good$hare International Website is currently under construction. From its inception, on January 1, 2000, it will include a mirror of Ted Lumley's website at URL=http://rampages.onramp.net/~emlumley. Essay updates, from January 1, 2000 forward will be made only at this (Good$hare) website. Additional new features, besides the ongoing series of essays, and tied to the evolving mission of Good$hare, will be forthcoming at this site during the year. 2000.
Meanwhile, ... you are welcome to browse the 1996 - 1999 archives and to check out the new year 2000 essay entries as they are appended to the 1998, 1999 and 2000 Essay Index
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Archive Section (Mirrors the "rampages.onramp.net/~emlumley site) Introduction: . . . . August 12, 1998
If you take the time to randomly browse the essays on this webpage, you will probably detect a continuing evolution of ideas. These essays are really the 'footprints' of my personal 'ontogeny', impressed upon the field of 'knowledge management' (for lack of a better term for the terrain) as I explore the emergence of harmonies and dysfunction in teams, companies, and other collaborative 'systems'. Initially, in 1995, the words and the framings of my content reflected my inculturation in the world of the large corporation and my role as a senior advisor, concerned with the people-impact of information and knowledge management. After leaving the corporate world in early '96, the shaping of my thoughts owed less and less to the challenge of humanizing corporations and more and more to the challenge of meeting the financial and self-development needs of the individual (youth in particular) and groups of individuals who happen not to be amongst the 'annointed' in our highly exclusionary society.
So, if you are interested in the corporate needs viewpoint, the early essays on the page may be relevant; ... and if you are interested in exploring ideas on the source, nature and resolution of societal dysfunction seen from the point of view of those whose personal qualities and purpose excludes them from access to financial and status-granting cultural privileges, the later essays on the '98 update page, are more likely to be relevant.
At the time of this writing (August 12, 1998), my 'ontogeny' is carrying me ever deeper into these themes, past the reflective phase and on towards white water action. My need to engage physically, emotionally and intellectually in 'the right kind of trouble' has now hit a critical threshold, ... the 'kind of trouble' I am referring to is where the grappling 'out there' in the external world, alongside others with similar intent, energizes me in the same way as the grappling 'in here'.in my own interior world. Based on, ... a growing affinity for the learning systems and traditions of the native north american culture, the evolutional fertility of regions where multiple ethnicities are in dynamic equilibrium (the edge of chaos), and most of all, on 'gut feel', I am moving to Montreal this month in search of the co-resonant engagement my'self' craves.
Good$hare International, which you will see referenced frequently on these pages, is the not-for-profit vessel which has been 'standing by', waiting for actionizing definition relative to its intended 'learning systems' offerings in the domains of (culturally de-programmed) youth self-development, and advisories on investment highgrading via non-financial indicators, designed to help put the human dimension back into increasingly unconscious cultural approaches to money-making.
Note: The older vintage of introductory text which immediately follows, has been left unrevised so as not to disturb the 'ontogenetic trail'. Good hunting!
[ * * * For access to the most recent `98 essays, 1998 UPDATE ]
Knowledge management, as it is explored on this page, is about high performing, creative teams which thrive in complex environments. Such teams represent the most exciting yet least understood phenomenon in business today. Improving our ability to cultivate and sustain these "learning organizations" is both a business and a cultural imperative.
The thread of ideas on this page grew out of investigations into exceptional team successes. The cornerstone idea, presented in the Knowledge Advantage II Conference in Chicago in November 1995, "Complexity and Knowledge" , is that teams which understand the "metamorphosing" or "autonomous co-evolution" nature of the business environment, and how to get in tune with it, can deliver outstanding results from all stakeholder perspectives; employee, manager, shareholder and host community.
Metamorphosis, in a geophysical sense, involves upwelling and subduction with new features constantly boiling up to the surface in one place and older ones diving down into a hidden interior in another, in the manner of plate tectonics, or turbulent flow in fluids. For an individual, team, or organization to "stay on top" of things and avoid being recycled through one of these vortices, it is necessary to understand 'autonomous co-evolution' in one's own business context. Whatever fixed management theories and rule structures are embraced, this metamorphosis is more persistent than Duracell and continues on at some pace or another, in all environments. The success of teams is tied to their ability to sense and respond to this continual flux.
Much insight into "business metamorphics" can be gleaned from the nonlinear sciences. Insight can also be gleaned from history, psychology art and other disciplines. That's what's boiling up out of the "autonomous co-evolution" of ideas on this web page.
So please, come on in to this morphic thought flux; look around; see if there's anything your size. .... but be mindful that standing still for any length of time is a recipe for subduction.
For over thirty years, I have struggled to understand why some organizational situations blossomed into an abundant productivity and joyful self-actualization while others withered and died; or worse, they entrapped the participants and subducted them into a deep and long misery. During the '90's, while working for a major Oil Company, I had the opportunity to delve more closely into the anatomy of high performance, creative teams. I presented some of the findings at the November '95 Advantage II Conference in Chicago in "Complexity and Knowledge" . Finding the corporate environment too restrictive with respect to the directions I wanted to pursue, I opted to continue my explorations on an independent basis (i.e. if working with an informal network of associates can be termed 'independent')
All of the clues I had gathered, with respect to the 'magic' of high performance, creative teams, pointed me towards basic issues in 'time and motion' as are explored in Physics, Mathematics, Philosophy and the 'Sciences of Complexity', and also, as I have been discovering, in Psychiatry, Psychology and Theology. The first landmark on this brief guided 'flux' tour is "Complexity and the 'Learning Organization' [Oct. 5/96]" . This essay, which appears in the May/June 1997 (Vol. 2, No. 5) issue of "Complexity" , a Journal of the Santa Fe Institute, explored the analogies between organizational performance and complexity theory in more depth than 'Complexity and Knowledge'.
October 15th kicked off a series of essays stimulated by a dream. While I have often been accused of being a dreamer, I have not in the past pursued potential "clues" to issues in my work which emerged in dreams, at least not consciously, but this was different. " Sky_Clock_Gods" and the dream which it tries to explore (I couldn't remember all that much) was stimulated by a friend having given me an old 1945 paper on the "Theory of Communications" by Dr. Denis Gabor (Nobel laureate who invented holography) and suggesting that there was something profound in it which had not yet "clicked" in his head. Manus, a respected industry figure, had an exceptional mathematical mind and hearing him say that there was something deep in the behavior of these 'Gabor cells' that HE couldn't figure out made an impression on me. He knew he was dying of cancer at the time, roughly ten years ago, and he passed away shortly thereafter.
Gabor had some verbage in the paper which raised some deep questions about how we think about time and motion. The subject of the linkage between our basic concepts, thought and language was already part of my explorations and I begin to 'hit the books' more seriously. " Holons and Glyphs " looked at how our changing concepts of time and motion were reconciled with the evolution of our language. I was surprised to learn that there had been a major bifurcation in language form, as well as the purpose and stewardship of language, back in about 500 BC. This split appeared to be deeply entwined with the question of 'top-down' versus 'bottom-up' problem-solving approaches which had concerned me while writing "Complexity and Knowledge" .
This now took me deeper into problem-solving thought process issues and I explored these in "A Mathematical View of Consciousness" . Having got that far, the ongoing clues were leading me deeper into an investigation of the nature of 'normality' and 'madness'. This I examined in "Madness, a Passage to Consciousness" . This put me back on the track of the 'complex' nature of information and work, which I had brought out in the paper I had submitted to 'Complexity', so I dug in a little further in "The Complex Nature of Information and Language" .
The more I kept researching these topics, the more I kept running into the evidence of some humongous change in thinking around 500 BC. I was already enamored of the ideas of Heraclitus (500 BC) and repulsed by those of Aristotle (350 BC), so I was eager to feed my ignorance on this topic. One book I ultimately came across, made it all pretty clear. This was 'The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man' by Henri Frankfort, H. A. Frankfort, John A. Wilson, Thorkild Jacobsen, and WIlliam A. Irwin, published in 1946 by the University of Chicago Press .... high performance, creative teamwork, by all appearances.
"Plecto-Claptic Signal-to-Noise Discrimination" is a pretty weird title and looks out of place here, but its really right on the path of this investigation. I was prompted to look into the question of noise by an electrical engineering colleague who said; 'if you're going to talk about Gabor, you're going to have to say something about 'noise' because there were three major works in that era which founded communications theory, the other two being by Shannon and Wiener. Gabor's work was ignored because he didn't address the question on 'noise'.'
It was a real eye-opener for me to go back and revisit the issue of noise. It fit right in with the observations I had naively made in the Chicago paper. Culturally, we have a very utilitarian view of what's signal and what's noise. It's almost as if we're turning off our 'hearing aid' to the answers we're missing to our most serious issues. And this cultural flaw bites right into our basic communications theory. This revelation kind of irritated me as I began to ponder it, so in "Bladerunner Ballet" I tried to draft a warning flag, particularly for young people, to be on the look out for these cultural pitfalls, and make sure that all the linear machinery which is at large in the culture, doesn't get too tight a hold on your brain.
At this point, stimulated by all these questions of communications relative to thought, I moved on to "Knowledge versus Language" , examining some of the more intricate issues of complex thought conveyance and the apparently 'complex' nature of thought. In addition to the ever faithful Wittgenstein on questions of this type, interesting clues were provided by the decipherment, by Michael Ventris in 1956, of the 'Linear B' pictographic language of the Minoans.
It was clearly time to revisit the issue of "The Big Bifurcation" in 500 BC with this new information in hand. What happened in 500 BC appeared to accompanied by, if not motivated by, a shift in values relative to material possessions. The Old Testament had duly noted this and it was implicit in the shift towards an inventory and transaction oriented phonetic language. "Ownership: Where Culture and Nature Clash" takes a look at this situation, noting that not only did we take the divinity out of the earth at this time, we began to carve it up into 'owned' units and had been evolving a language specifically adapted to this type of purpose.
I had never really focused in on how huge a paradigm shift had actually occurred in 500 BC. I guess it was always overshadowed in my mind (and education) by the beginning of the Christian era 500 years later. So I turned my attention to the nature of paradigmatic change in "From Helio-Centric to Helio-Eccentric" and "Pondering Pendula" . It became clearer to me that the establishment and revolutionary breakdown of these major cultural paradigms related to, as Ian Stewart put it in 'Does God Play Dice: The Mathematics of Chaos', finding an exact solution to the approximate problem, rather than finding an approximate solution to an exact problem. And as Stewart quips; 'No Virginia, they are not the same thing; in mathematics there is no Santa Claus.' Thus came "Science and Santa Claus" . By now, I had collected a lot of ideas together and was struggling with how to present them all in context. It occurred to me that, at the bottom of it all, these ideas were really about time and motion, and that a dialogue between Kepler and Newton might provide the appropriate vehicle, since Kepler's philosophical approach to these themes was to Newton's as day is to night. Since by now we were into the Christmas season, I decided to give the dialogue a Christmas flavor and try also to bring out the greater measure of humanism which was in the Keplerian philosophy. "Mathematics of Motion: A Christmas Corollary" was the result of this strategy.
As I set out to write 'A Christmas Corollary', I didn't really know what words were going to come out of Johannes and Isaac's mouth, so when I had finished 'letting them speak', I had to review what all they had said and go back and write a short "Epilogue & General Scholium for 'A Christmas Corollary'"
Ok, I've been accused of Newton-bashing before, but after writing all these essays, it was beginning to become very much clearer in my mind, just what irked me about Newton's works. I took a stab at surfacing this understanding in "Newton's Error" .
By now, I felt prepared to take a stab at the biggie, discussing the basic philosophical split which seems to crop up everywhere and over all time; the implications of looking at the world as 'flux' (waves) as Heraclitus did, or as 'things' (particles), as Newton and we of the Newtonian Western culture most often do. This was the aim of "Of Moths and Men"
Finally (for the moment), In an attempt to tie back these entire three months of thought and explorations to the basic philosophical questions of time and motion, and how that relates to teams, I close out this sequence of essays with "Now_IS_THE_Time"
So, what do I personally take away from this 'total immersioin' in cultural conceptions of time and motion? I have come to believe, along with poets like Rainier Maria Rilke and David Whyte that we are harboring a deep fear of our own consciousness. I believe, with folks like Heracliltus and R. D. Laing, that all thinking is shared; developing as it does through mutual interactions, an 'autonomous co-evolution' that builds into the structure of its organization, the record of the embodied 'know-how' or 'experience, (as Stuart Kauffman would say). I believe, with Kepler, that the message of celestial motion (and all motion) is one of 'harmony and experience' rather than their derivatives, 'force and matter'. And, I believe that our overbalanced preoccupation with force and materialism relative to 'harmony and experience' amounts to a flight from our own consciousness and a denial of experience, both past and present.
Given this dark view of culture-driven squander of life's most precious gifts; consciousness and experience, what might be the outlook for recovery and renewal? This is one of those questions, raised whilst riding the Newtonian bus, that brings to mind the immortal lyrics of Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty in 'Ishtar'; ... 'Telling the truth can be dangerous business / Honest and popular don't go hand in hand / If you admit that you play the accordion / No-one will hire you in a rock-and-roll band. That being said; I believe that an attractive vision of the path to renewal is that given by Rilke; 'The great renewal of the world will perhaps consist in this, that man and maid, freed from all false feeling and aversion, will seek each other not as opposites, but as brother and sister, as neighbors, and will come together as human beings.' I also believe that the structure of organization catalyzed through the Internet, impersonal as Internet nominally seems, can become a more open and honest 'embodied record of experience' than was previously achievable. In any case, after decades of goose-stepping to structured games where, with impunity, bullshit is served up as wisdom, I'm ready for some virtual rock & roll', how about y'all?
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In parallel with the above-described explorations, I have been working with a network of others with similar interests to establish a "not-for-profit" membership organization called "Good$hare International". Good$hare will soon have a web site of its own, and I shall link this page to it. Until then, those that may have an interest can peruse Good$hare's Mission to get an idea of what its aims and values are.
While Good$hare will be driven by its members (it will be opening shop in 1997), a flavor of some of the ideas which are being woven into it through network dialogues with early supporters are in fact incorporated in the above-described essays. Please note, however that the above ideas may often go places where Good$hare and its membership have no desire whatsoever, to tread.
An early example of some of the background thinking that led up to Good$hare can be found in "Complexity and Knowledge". This material provides some practical examples and discussion on the application of complexity theory in business.
"Complexity and the 'Learning Organization'" is a more up-to-date and slightly more technical essay on the nature of "learning organizations", seen in the context of complexity and dynamical systems models. It attempts to show how high performance, creative teams like "Apollo 13" go through transitions which are described in terms of nonlinear science models, and how this type of "learning organization" can be engendered and sustained in the business environment.
The science of complexity is still very young and because of this, it is a frequent target of traditionalist snipers. For a debate on the legitimacy of the "science" of "complexity" between John Horgan (author of "The End of Science") and Stuart Kauffman (author of "At Home in the Universe") see the Nov/Dec '96 Issue of "Complexity". And for a few comments from the gallery on this debate, click on "'Duelling Banjo's'."
In London on February 12-13, 1997, the first Industry-specific Knowledge Management Conference will be held (Knowledge Management in the Oil & Gas Industry). I shall be presenting on the theme of "Knowledge as an Asset: Stakeholder Perspectives in a Knowledge Economy" at this Conference. The theme of this presentation is that there are two very different ways of looking at Knowledge Management which significantly impact the design of KM programs. The insights of retired oil professionals, captured in two recent 'Wellspring' sessions will be reconciled with this thesis.(3/25/97 Note: This Conference was deemed very successful by the conference organizers, 'First Conferences', and the 139 attendees and version II will be held in Houston, June 23-25/97)
(7/29/97 Note: The Houston Conference, roughly the same size, was also well received, and there is a rapidly growing trend towards industry-specific Knowledge Management forums. For Houston, I presented an updated talk based on feedback and evolving terminology usage sampled from the London meeting. To peruse this updated version, click on the following hyperlink; "Stakeholder Perspectives in Knowledge Management"
If you find any of these materials of interest, or if you see opportunities to link this page to web sites with similar interests, by all means, drop me an email. When Good$hare International has its web site up and running, clicking on this link will take you directly there.