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One of my failings is that I find it very hard to write up my thoughts and experiences in anything longer that a page or two, whereas I am more than happy to stand up in front of an audience and to talk about them. Last autumn I was asked to talk about the practical applications of networking in a complexity context at a conference in Bilbao and they arranged to write up the presentation. This can be viewed on the London School of Economics site under the entry for 29th October by clicking on my name.

I was extremely pleased with the result because as I read it I could hear my self talking - vanity in the extreme! 


Here are this editions quotes again many thanks to Dave Gurteen 

"The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is good as dead." 

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

"Like computer viruses, successful mind viruses will tend to be hard for their victims to detect. If you are the victim of one, the chances are that you won't know it, and may even vigorously deny it." 

*** Richard Dawkins British Zoologist *** 

"A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else."

 *** John Burroughs *** 

The following quotes are supplied by Bill Orson of Capita (the part which used to be the Industrial Society) 

"Knowledge is not something you keep in your head, it's a behaviour." 

*** Tim Dee *** 

'Insanity is doing the same old things in the same old ways and expecting different  results.' 

*** Rita Mae Brown, American actress ***

"Problems only exist in the human mind." 

*** Anthony de Mello, Jesuit Priest from India, from his book Awareness *** 

"Inventing the future requires giving up control. No one with a compelling purpose and a great vision knows how it will be achieved. One has to be willing to follow an unknown path, allowing the road to take you where it will. Surprise, serendipity, uncertainty and the unexpected are guaranteed on the way to the future." 

*** George Land Breakpoint & Beyond *** 

And finally found on the web 

"Managers would rather live with a problem they can't solve than with a solution they don't fully understand or control" 

*** Eric Bonabeau *** 


For those of you interested in quotes on different aspects of management, this is the site for you. It has a wealth of quotes listed under ten headings.  

 There is a growing trend to use Art to illustrate complexity, a good example are the Mateo Willis paintings.

 Dave Gurteen has just set up a section on his website about Organisational Complexity. 

Codynamics is an excellent site which gives a very clear explanation of a number of aspects of complexity. 


Below is an interesting book review from a recent Dave Gurteen newsletter.

 Book Review: "The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and The Next Episode of Capitalism," by John T. Maloney, founder, KM Cluster.

 Author and Harvard business professor Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxmin have assembled a potent manifesto on the future of capitalism. Moving away from the centralized, linear, mechanistic and 'managerial' models of the past, "The Support Economy" elaborates principles, frameworks and concepts practiced by very few, yet to be discovered by many. In a thoughtful and engaging style, the authors introduce entirely new value-generating models including relationship economics, federated support networks and the ascension and primacy of the individual to wealth creation.

 Qualities common to successful Knowledge Management practitioners and their stakeholders such as trust, individualism, value and relationships, are examined in the greater context of the history and future of capitalism. Zuboff and Maxmin refract and anneal their breakthroughs by introducing the principle of 'Deep Support' - a fundamental rethinking of the enterprise value proposition. Deep Support and its foundations of relationship value, respect, trust and responsibility are elemental to effective KM.

 "The Support Economy" offers a vision of distributed capitalism and learnings about the future that are simultaneously provocative and pragmatic. It needs to be read by everyone concerned about the future. For leading KM practitioners and thinkers it will legitimise many of your emergent mental models and provide a compelling look at

the horizons of capitalism. 

To join in the discussion of "The Support Economy," visit:

 To buy the Support Economy:

 To find out more about KM Cluster:


Following on from my previous newsletter (No. 18) here is another contribution from Paul Jacobson:

 Dear Peter ~ thank you so much for including my theme on "Play" in your Newsletter; a combination of feelings, words and visuals (even music) is necessary to describe complexity in the conversation we have to have. . .

 Here's a Christmas Gift: back in '73 I dropped out and went travelling to investigate what I first called "analog speech".

 My hypothesis was that people frequently used mental pictures of shared experiences when they talked together to the extent that a conversation could become almost non-verbal. Someone would say "Do you want to go fishing like the other day?" and if there was the visual memory of a good catch, the reply would be "Yup!"; or if the memory was bad, the reply would be a grunt.

 I wanted to understand what would happen to human communication when a group used a visual scenario (say, an image of a little sand island with two coconut trees to start with) and then developed the visualisation as a constant metaphor of what was going on in real life that they could refer to in conversation. So someone would add to the image by saying "a bottle has just washed up and there is message in it". Somebody else would "read the message" and so on. Other things would wash up on the island and visual complexity would grow and grow. The mental landscape would become very rich; but not beyond anyone's capability to picture details and recall them.

 From the beginning of a shared scenario, the conversation starts to sound enigmatic to outsiders. Sometime down the track, one person might discuss a business decision with another and they will reflect: "Just like we did with the two coconuts OK". Both would understand. In 1973, I thought that it was a breakthrough; but a year later, I threw the whole lot out, reasoning that I had only re-discovered the Tower of Babel. It's what the English called cant: the slang and secret languages that little tribes use for private talk.

 However, with the advent of soft systems methodology, serious play and meta-strategic thinking, I have slipped back into supporting the value of metaphors as a technique to reveal systems to people who generate a meta-conscious approach. It was Aristotle who said: "The greatest gift by far is the use of metaphor". Wow Peter, my wife Ali (who is a deBono accredited trainer) is independently setting up enduring "landscapes" that people in organisations keep on talking about meaningfully with each other. It is quite remarkable to watch it unfold.

 So "analog speech" is back on centre stage. Not only do we use it naturally to accelerate communication in experiential environments but we can also harness it to apprehend collectively those metaphorical environments that help us understand the Overview. You know, I sit around in Australia with a lot of aboriginal mates whose ancestors constructed "songlines" that were virtual maps of territory to get from one waterhole to another. Many paintings that aboriginal people handed down from the Dreamtime are unmistakable aerial views of the landscape that they lived in. When critics say that it is impossible that they could have flown over their land, I think that we are trying to do the same thing with our conceptual terrain; and if they could picture it, then so can we.

 Kind regards ~
Paul Jacobson,
Western Australia

 A Point to Ponder 

When we call out (in excitement or in pain etc.) we use the same part of our brain that other animals use for making sounds. But when we use language we use the same part of the brain that we use for gestures, and scientists now believe that we developed large brains not because of language, but to throw and hunt. And because we developed large brains we were able to vocalise our gestures, creating language. This could explain why so much of our communication is non verbal.


"Execution" has become the business mantra for the new millennium. But it's much more involved than firing the CEO and bringing in a charismatic new leader: The ability to execute is embedded in the management processes, relationships, measurements, incentives, and beliefs that constitute an organisation's DNA. Like the DNA of living organisms, the DNA of living organisations consists of four "bases," which recombine and express distinct corporate personalities -- from "resilient" to "passive-aggressive." These can be diagnosed with a short, online self-assessment -- a first step toward improving organizational performance.

To read the full article:

 To diagnose your company's DNA now:


Here is a posting in Werner Vogels' weblog about how to consider whether it is worth attending a particular conference or event.

 I think there are a number of criteria to consider when selecting a conference:

 Innovation              - will you hear new stuff that may challenge you

Technical                - will you learn about techniques/technologies you will use

Political                  - will you get a better of view at the strategic level

Networking             - will you hook up with (new) people

Career                    - will this conference help you to advance your professional goals

Entertainment         - Will you be able to have some fun

Location                 - if the conference sucks can you go somewhere else

 Werner then goes on to use these criteria to evaluate a number of conferences that he has attended recently. Food for thought!

 And Finally

 Returning to the theme of art, a colleague and friend of mine, Amanda Dale has found a hidden talent. She has recently taken to writing poems whilst interacting with groups and then sharing the poem with the group. On the last page of this newsletter I have reproduced one of her poems.

 Best wishes

Up-close and Transpersonal

I'm looking for my glasses

And find them on my head.

I'm looking for the Answer

And more questions come instead.

I'd like to get to know me

But I keep getting in the way.

If my Higher Self could get a word in,

It would have lots to say.


I'm gazing at my navel

I know the Truth's in there.

I had some wisdom yesterday.

I know it's here, but where?


If everything's illusion

And all that's far is near,

If thinking I know, means that I don't,

And now can last a year,

If wisdom comes in riddles

And I've got to be there to be here,

Then maybe that's why up my backside

I often disappear.


Ah multiple realities!

So I'm not mad, just manoeuvring.

I'd slipped into another realm

Whilst trying to do the hoovering.


And so what of the future?

Just what do Light Beings do?

Will I have to work hard?

Or is that illusion too?

I look at my neighbour's garden

And see how green the grass is.

But I'm content with what I've got.

Now, where did I put my glasses?

 Amanda Dale