at Work:

A Personal
and Public
Invitation to
Open Space

Michael Herman

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A Brief History of Evolution at Work

Sages and mystics the world over have been teaching for centuries and centuries that all of life moves and is moving -- from matter to body to mind and on to soul and the highest realms of spirit. Now scientists are confirming the same. And every one of them, each in his or her own way, keeps inviting us to keep exploring, keep moving and practicing, keep growing and evolving toward those higher spaces.

That's all well and good, but in the meantime, there's work to be done. It's just that simple, or so it used to be. The business of business was business. So was the wisdom of the day from President Calvin Coolidge. But somewhere along the way, things have gotten rather muddied and complex.

When things first started to go awry, we called it "transition," under the comforting impression that if we made just this one big move, all would soon be returning to normal. When one transition begat another and another and another, we renamed it "transformation" and hunkered down for the long, dark winter. In time, we admitted openly in conference rooms and strategic plans that this was a whole lot deeper than we'd bargained for. Still, we reasoned, it was going to end, was going to get better. Normal was out there somewhere. What's more, it was going to be that much sweeter (eventually) for our pains and struggles now. More and more, however, it seems that we've worked our way into a case of good news, bad news. Which do you want first?

The good news is that work really can be a whole lot easier, inspiring, open and flowing. The bad news is that it already is but most people have yet to experience it that way. This story then, is about beginning to make the connections between the wisdom of sages, mystics, poets, and scientists -- eastern, western and native teachings -- in a language that everyone can use at work and all of us can practice everyday. Indeed, in words and structures we already use, but may not yet fully appreciate what they really mean and how they really work.

What we've wrestled with as "transformation" is giving way to "evolution." Indeed, as we look back from here, we can see that it's been evolution all along. Lo, and behold! Evolution is normal!

And again, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that unlike transition and transformation, evolution really is too big to kid ourselves about ever escaping, ever returning to a secure sort of "normal." The good news, however, is that this new wave can be surfed -- and it can be fun.

And so, our newest, biggest challenge is fast becoming one of paying attention and making sense, in words, pictures and patterns, of what pops up now -- and now, and now. It's all about balancing, conversing, constructing and aligning atop this evolutionary wave of new information and events.

And as we look around, this notion of evolution in organization has shown up in all kinds of places. But just what kind of organizations are we evolving or surfing into? How are we supposed to lead ourselves there? And how are we to manage ourselves if (and when) we ever actually get there? It seems that the answers we seek must now lie somewhere between the wisdom of the sages and the realities of our everyday working and living.

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Evolution at Work: A Personal Journey and Public Invitation to Open Space, by Michael Herman (www.michaelherman.com)
© Copyright 1998-2002 Michael Herman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reprint or distribute without permission and full attribution, including web address and copyright notice. Permission will be granted gladly if you'll just say what you'd like to copy and where you'd like to share it. [email protected]