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Trojanmice Complexity Club Newsletter No 16


As you are aware I have an interest in all the new and different ways of thinking about the world around us because I believe that the greater the number of perspectives we have on any thing the richer the picture we have. And therefore the more meaningful questions we can ask. One of the areas of interest I have is spiral dynamics ( and one of the insights I have gained from Spiral Dynamics recently is that to survive and thrive an organisation needs a deep sense of community, one that values its people and one that values them as individuals not just some form of human capital – how I hate that phrase. I recently have witnessed a devastating change in an organisation and I sought an answer in the leadership style, the levels of higher level thinking etc. but I now realise that it has lost its sense of community (its purple in spiral dynamics terms) and to quote one of its employees “it has gone from the best place I have ever worked in to the worst place I have ever worked”.

If you can create a community where everyone will want to work and act in the best interests of that community, there is no need for copious rules, procedures, managers etc. There is no need for clearly defined mission statements, strategic plans and business plans, as long as there is a clear senses of purpose the organisation will co-evolve with its environment in order to fulfil that purpose.

This is illustrated brilliantly in Margaret Wheatley’s article “Supporting Pioneer Leaders”

Also at the end of this newsletter I have attached a piece on “purpose” by Nigel Risner which was sent to me by Tony Cosgrove.


In my previous newsletter (No 15) I wrote:

Smarter, Simpler, Social: an introduction to online social software methodology
by Livio Hughes

This paper is based on the author’s experience of trying to develop meaningful online applications that have a real world purpose or that support existing communities of people over the past 7 years, and is partly also a response to recent debate around the idea and practice of social software.

Livio has contacted me and informed me that Lee Bryant is actually the author.


Some more pertinent quotes, again mostly courtesy of Dave Gurteen:

"1. Out of clutter, find simplicity. 2. From discord, find harmony. 3. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."

*** Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate ***

"Many of the familiar principles of Quality management amount to an elaboration of this simple truth: an innovative, healthy organization requires that we work with people rather than do things to them."

*** Alfie Kohn Author, Speaker & Educator ***

"There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will have truly defeated age."

*** Sophia Loren Actress ***

Also for those of you who like quotes visit the quotes page of this site of a friend of mine:


Following on from my previous newsletter I received this message from Ken Scott:
“Thanks for the latest. Another newsletter that your readers might enjoy is Ray Kurzweil's, please visit I personally subscribe to the weekly issue and really like it - Ken Scott

I also heard from Gerald Midgley at Hull University, who says:
“Thanks Peter. Incidentally, did I give you the Centre for Systems Studies newsletter when you came here? Are you already on the mailing list? If not, I'll correct this. You might want to mention this in your next missive too, as anyone can go on the mailing list for free. Thanks, Gerald Midgley. Contact

A Thought

Why amongst the billions of species on this planet is Homo sapiens the only one that needs quality standards, and why only in the last 30 years or so?


The American Museum of Natural History has an interesting article in their June newsletter on “Patterns in Nature”

An interesting article on conversation by Ray Shaw can be downloaded from Dave Gurteen’s site:


For those who are interested in computer simulations of co-evolution and self-organising, here is an interesting site where you can play “the Game of Life”:

Mistakes and Failure

You know how I am always going on about the benefits of mistakes and failure, well here is an extract from Jemstone Tidbits, the newsletter of Sarah Lewis’s Jemstone Consultancy.

‘If at first you don’t succeed, you are running about average’ M.H. Alderson

However, Lincoln’s road to the white house

• Failed in business 183
• Defeated for legislature 1832
• Second business failure 1833
• Nervous breakdown 1836
• Defeated for Speaker 1838
• Defeated for Elector 1840
• Defeated for Congress 1843
• Defeated for Congress 1848
• Defeated for Senate 1855
• Defeated for Vice President 1856
• Defeated for Senate 1858
• Elected President 1860

Suggests that ‘getting ready is the secret to success’ H. Ford


In his newsletter Dave Gurteen features Dave Snowden and highlights that he questions many things that we hold to be common sense about human nature - assumptions that we have just not thought about or questioned deeply enough. A few ideas he questions:

• We make rationale decisions!

• We often do things accidentally while others always do things intentionally!

• Even in complex systems there is a relationship between cause and effect and so prescriptive solutions are possible!

For a description of a Dave Snowden presentation:

And Finally

Back to the first topic. are you clear about your purpose in life and also the purpose of your organization (is your organisation clear about its purpose?)

Be purposeful

Peter Fryer

What were you put on earth to do? That's a mind-blowing question, because most people don't know the answer. Lots of folks get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, sit in front of the television and go to sleep. That's their day. That is not anyone's purpose in life. That's not a life at all.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not throwing blame or fault. In most cases, they probably don't know any better. This was how their parents live each day; this was how they grew up. Maybe they think this is it - this is all life has to offer.

Well, I'm here to sound the wake-up call.

There's a great scene in the movie "The Matrix" between Morpheus, a mentor, and Neo, his student. Neo has just woken up and discovered that what he thought was reality was just a world 'that had been pulled over his eyes to shield him from the truth.' Morpheus wants Neo to let go of what he used to think of as "reality," his mundane, day-to-day existence, where his true purpose was neither recognised nor realised. I want you to create a new world, a new reality, where you recognise that you have a purpose for being on this planet, and realise that your purpose is waiting for you to figure it out.

If you don't know your purpose, then your first purpose is to get a purpose.

When you look at the lives of the most successful people who ever lived, you can see that they had a definite purpose and they knew it. Some examples are:

Walt Disney's purpose: "To make people happy."

Dr. R. Buckminster Fuller's purpose: "Humanity's comprehensive welfare on spaceship earth."

Easyjet; Make flying available to everyone

Andrew Carnegie's purpose: "To manufacture and market steel."

Mother Teresa's purpose: "To care for and comfort the poor, sick and needy all over the world."

I don't want you to confuse a purpose with a goal. Goals are great! I teach goal setting, and believe it is crucial to achieving any kind of success. But goals alone, left by themselves, can be indiscriminate and undirected. We can have hundreds of goals (and I hope you do), but we may only have one purpose that we work for our entire life. That purpose should be the underlying core that gives our goals direction and meaning.

Discovering your purpose will put your life into crystal-clear perspective. You won't see the world you once knew. You will see another world, one in which you are a necessary and intricate spoke in the wheel.

The saddest places on earth are graveyards. Not because people are buried there, but because dreams, talents and purposes that never came to fruition are buried there. Graveyards are filled with books that were never written, songs that were never sung, words that were never spoken, things that were never done.

You have talents and gifts that no one else can offer. There are things you can do that no one else is capable of doing quite the way YOU can do them. Don't rob this earth of your purpose by taking it to the grave with you. You see, we all have a purpose, a reason for living, breathing and existing. We all have unique talents and gifts that were created and given to us to be shared. Our task is to understand this and figure out what our purpose is. We owe it to the Universe AND to ourselves!

"You will become as small as your controlling desire, or as great as your dominant aspiration."