The Stars Within Us
Brain, p. 223, John
Wiley and Sons, 2000.
stars in their death throes spat out atoms like iron which this
universe had never known. The novel tidbits of debris were sucked
up by infant suns which, in turn, created yet more atoms when
their race was run. Now the iron of old nova coughings vivifies
the redness of our blood. Deep ecologists and fundamentalists
urge that our faces point backward and that our eyes turn down
to contemplate a man-made hell. If stars step constantly upward,
why should the global interlace of humans, microbes, plants, and
animals not move upward steadily as well? The horizons toward
which we can soar are within us, anxious to break free, to emerge
from our imaginings, then to beckon us forward into fresh realities.
We have a mission to create, for we are evolution incarnate. We
are her self-awareness, her frontal lobes and fingertips. We are
second-generation star stuff come alive. We are parts of something
3.5 billion years old, but pubertal in cosmic time. We are neurons
of this planet’s interspecies mind.
you’re building a system designed to learn from the ground
level, a system where macrointelligence and adaptability derive
from local knowledge, there are five fundamental principals you
need to follow. Gordon’s harvester ants showcase all of
them at work:
• More is different – It’s only by observing
the entire system at work that the global behavior becomes apparent.
• Ignorance is useful
• Encourage random encounters
• Look for patterns in the signs
• Pay attention to your neighbors.
is a fundamental fact that "information is physical."
This phrase has become the mantra of a group of scientists called
information physicists. It was first adopted by one of their most
august members, the late Rolf Landauer, of IBM's Thomas J. Watson
Research Center. The mantra doesn't mean that information is a
separate kind of entity whose bits get tabooed up alongside the
number of molecules and joules when accounting for all the material
in the universe. Nevertheless the presence of information can
change the course of events, and it is in this sense that information
is physical. Any complete description of the universe must include
information. Physical reality must be considered to include not
just matter and energy, but information too. As Norbert Weiner,
one of the founders of cybernetics in the 1940's, put it: "Information
is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does
not admit this can survive the present day." Why does information
matter? Because the structure of the universe—that
is, of matter and energy—is a function of the distribution
and quantity of information. If matter and energy are randomly
distributed through space, there is no structure to the universe;
if there is useful information about the universe, then there
are pockets of organized matter and energy within it, capable
of doing work, such as being converted from one to the other.
Information is the quality or property of bundles of
matter or energy.
was thinking about organisms and organizations, and the common
force at work in both to create life, or energy. Margaret Wheatley's
work in A Simpler Way, which provides an organistic perspective
and model on designing organizations, is a fascinating book on
this topic. Coupled with the many exciting ideas coming from organizations,
like yours, willing to rethink every aspect of an organization
from structure and relationships to communications and behavior,
exciting new possibilities abound today. My curiosity about these
forces led me to suggest the following quote:
you begin to execute, you acquire the advantage: momentum."
question behind this quote relates to what creates the "good"
energy that we notice and are attracted to when in its presence.
What is the ingredient that we notice in people, companies and
nature, with so much energy and force, that attracts us like a
magnetic? In a person, the force attracts people, ideas and success.
In a company, that force attracts
partners, customers and intelligent employees.
is a real entity. But what is it? To identify it and name it,
I looked to what is missing when the force is not present. That
proved a much simpler way to find and identify this concept. The
next question, naturally, was the concept of what you must do
to get the force or energy going, and I think that's very much
what your organization focuses on and provides to its clients,
in many ways.
have not discovered anything new, of course. I've simply clarified
it in a new light, a new context. I believe that momentum is the
energy force that we see and are attracted to, and that attracts.
The properties of momentum are known in physics as mass, speed
and direction. If we examine an organization's problem(s) at any
given time, I think we can identify details that would track along
so the solution becomes organizational and relational context
that creates the right mass, speed and direction for a company,
a rearrangement of particular organistic properties. The concept
suggests that if we examine an organization through discovery,
identify and reposition the properties, and then jump start the
heart (if you will), we can set the organization into a mode of
execution, which then creates a healthy flow of energy and attraction: