Consultant Michelle Holliday brings wisdom, compassion and joy to a discussion of business practices, and she shows how nurturing those attributes can enliven your organization. She explains that the people in a business are its living system – and give it “thrivability.” Holliday’s work is both abstract and practical, a meditation at the intersection of philosophy and management theory. She illustrates her thesis with case studies, though a few more nuts and bolts might make the book more helpful to managers. Still, this is a welcome, positive blueprint for those seeking a way forward in complex times.
Modern thinking recognizes living systems on a basis of patterns and relationships.
In the Newtonian view, the universe is predictable, machine-like and controllable. Industrial manufacturing cast people as cogs in production lines. Business standardized laborers so it could replace them more easily.
Companies separated employees by specialty, divided their tasks and focused on increasing efficiency. But Newton’s neat laws don’t apply to dynamic systems like a workforce, the weather or the economy. Organizations found that when they maximized efficiency, they became less creative and flexible.
Living systems don’t merely react to their environment’s information, physical nature and energy. They act, choose, self-regenerate, evolve and create.
Consider a new narrative to describe how life thrives in living systems that steward life’s processes to generate more life. These complex systems have many parts, but you can understand them with analysis.
Complex living systems, from rainforests to organizations, require four “fertile conditions” ...