A Simpler Way


The more I work with people, the more I learn that the most likely way to create lasting change is by reclaiming the story that organizations are living systems. It sounds a bit funny even to say that. Lasting change. Perhaps it is the lasting ability to keep changing, keep evolving. Beyond facilitation. Beyond methodologies, important as they are, is the invitation for all of us to reorient ourselves to an adaptive and evolving world. Without the story, it’s like trying to find our way while blindfolded. A Simpler Way is the best version of that story that I know. A Simpler Way is also a title of a book written by my friends Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner Rogers, first published in 1996. They were my primary mentors in the early 1990s, the central lineage from which I work. Consider these premises about human organizations from their book — premises that change the starting point of good work together.

The universe is a living, creative, experimenting experience
of discovering what’s possible at all levels of scale, from microbe to cosmos.

Life’s natural tendency is to organize.
Life organizes into greater levels of complexity
to support more diversity and greater sustainability.

Life organizes around a self.
Organizing is always an act of creating an identity.

Life self-organizes.
Networks, patterns, and structures emerge
without external imposition or direction.
Organization wants to happen.

People are intelligent, creative, adaptive,
self-organizing, and meaning-seeking.

Organizations are living systems.
They too are intelligent, creative, adaptive,
self-organizing, and meaning-seeking.