“A different ideal for organizations is surfacing. We want organizations to be adaptive, flexible, self-renewing, resilient, learningful, intelligent – attributes found only in living systems. The tension of our times is that we want our organizations to behave as living systems, but we only know how to treat them as machines.” — Margaret Wheatley, Finding our Way
When I read these words from Margaret Wheatley, the first image that came to my mind, is one of a shift from organizations to organisms.
An organization is an organized group of people with a particular purpose.
An organism is a system consisting of interdependent parts.
These are just the first two definitions that I pick from the web.
Maybe it’s one of my biases, but when I think about an organization, my focus goes to all the parts that make it work. As if the organization is something that grows outside and between the people who are part of it. It’s an image of separation.
The image of an organism is one of wholeness. The strength of the organism comes from the interdependence of the parts. There is no separation from the parts and the whole. The organism’s growth happens both inside and outside people.
I’m not sure about what to do with these thoughts. But I know words are powerful and shape reality. So, maybe, if I begin to use a different word for the initiatives in which I’m involved, new ways of working together may emerge.