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"Ours is a living world of continuous creation and infinite variation"

February 8, 2007, 10:00 AM

The_ascent_of_man_economist Over at the Great Human Capital blog, Margaret Wheatley has written a beautifully moving description of innovation that ties in to many of the themes that will appear here on the Endless Innovation site. According to Margaret, too many organizations fail on their innovation projects because they tend to think of themselves as mechanistic and machine-like. Once they learn to think of themselves as living, breathing systems, it all becomes a lot easier. Notice, too, how she brings up the notion of "continuous creation" and "infinite variation" by referring back to the natural world:

"The human capacity to invent and create is universal. Ours is a living world of continuous creation and infinite variation. Scientists keep discovering more species; there may be more than 50 million of them on earth, each the embodiment of an innovation that worked.

Yet when we look at our own species, we frequently say we’re “resistant to change.” Could this possibly be true? Are we the only species — out of 50 million — that digs in its heels and resists? Or perhaps all those other creatures simply went to better training programs on “Innovation for Competitive Advantage?”  [...]

Now that I understand people and organizations as living systems, filled with the innovative dynamics characteristic of all life, many intractable problems have become solvable. Perhaps the most powerful example in my own work is how relatively easy it is to create successful organizational change if you start with the assumption that people, like all life, are creative and good at change.

Once we stop treating organizations and people as machines and stop trying to reengineer them, once we move into the paradigm of living systems, organizational change is not a problem. Using this new worldview, it is possible to create organizations filled with people who are capable of adapting as needed, who are alert to changes in their environment, who are able to innovate strategically."

[image: The story of man]

 

"Ours is a living world of ...

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