Viv sent me something Harrison Owen posted on the Open Space listserv.

In our (understandable and necessary) pursuit of High Performance we make the seemingly obvious assumption that we might achieve our objective were we somehow able to eliminate chaos confusion and conflict. Indeed we have devoted massive efforts designing re-designing, training and fixing our multiple human systems in the sure and certain hope that someday we will get it right. But our experience to date has not been overwhelmingly positive. Indeed it often seems that the harder we try the worse it gets. Specifically – when we attempt the good old problem/solution approach we discover that the problem solved reveals a deeper and worse one. It seems that our focus has been too narrow, blindsiding us to the deeper puddle into which we are about to fall.

I breathed a big sigh reading this, as I think it points to the struggle we face trying to put ordered systems into a world that appears to have other plans. I keep coming back to the thought that everything is connected to everything, and any solution we come up with is necessarily going to be imperfect. So maybe we can invest a little less energy in the fear of disorder and relax our efforts to create perfect meetings or organisations.

1 thought on “Imperfection

  1. Dwight Towers

    There was this king who had an infestation of mice in his palace. Traps hadn’t been invented yet, so he got loads of cats. That sorted the mouse problem, but now he had a cat problem. So he got a load of dogs to chase away the cats. That worked, but then he had a dog problem. Anyway (I forget the other steps) he ends up with an elephant infestation. For which the only solution is… mice.


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