This quote comes from Meg Wheatley’s book, Leadership and the New Science, 1993, Pages 150 - 151, Epilog Chapter: Being Comfortable with Uncertainty
“In our past explorations, the tradition was to discover something and then formulate it into answers and solutions that could be widely transferred. But now we are on a journey of mutual and simultaneous exploration. In my view, all we can expect from one another is new and interesting information. We can not expect answers. Solutions, as quantum realtity teaches, are a temporary event, specific to a context, developed through the relationship of persons and circumstances. There will be no more patrons, waiting expectanty for our return, just more and more explorers venturing out on their own.
“This sounds unnerving – I haven’t stopped wanting someone, somewhere to return with the right answers. But I know that my hopes are old, based on a different universe. In this new world, you and I make it up as we go along, not because we lack expertise or planning skills, but because that is the nature of reality. Reality changes shape and meaning because of our activity. And it is constantly new. We are required to be there, as active participants. It can’t happen without us and nobody can do it for us.
“This is a strange world, and it promises to get stranger. Niels Bohr, who engaged with Heisenberg in those long, nighttime conversations that ended in despair, once said that great innovations, when they appear, seem muddled and strange. They are only half-understood by their discoverer and remain a mystery to everyone else. But if an idea does not appear bizarre, he counseled, there is no hope for it. So we must live with the strange and the bizarre, even as we climb stairs that we want to bring us to a clearer vantage point. Every step requires that we stay uncomfortable with uncertainty, and confident of confusion’s role. After all is said and done, we will have to muddle our way through. But in the midst of the muddle – and I hope I remember this – we can walk with a sure step. For these stairs we climb only take us deeper and deeper into a universe of inherent order”
“A human being should be able to change a diaper….
Plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship….
Design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts….
Build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders…
Give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations…
Analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer…
Cook a tasty meal, fight gallantly…
Specialization is for insects.”
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love
"When I was young ideas came to me. Now that I am older I go halfway there to meet them." - Freud
Student: "Professor Einstein. The test is exactly the same as last year's test."
Professor Einstein. "Yes, but the answers are all different."
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein
Anthropologists have found “galumphing” to be one of the prime talents that characterize higher life forms. Galumphing is the immaculately rambunctious and seemingly inexhaustible play-energy apparent in puppies, kittens, children, baby baboons – and also in young communities and civilizations. Galumphing is the seemingly useless elaboration and ornamentation of activity. It is profligate, excessive, exaggerated, uneconomical. We galump when we hop instead of walk, when we take the scenic route instead of the efficient one, when we play a game whose rules demand a limitation of our powers, when we are interested in means rather than in ends. We voluntarily create obstacles in our path and then enjoy overcoming them. In the higher animals and in people, it is of supreme evolutionary value.
Quotes from Alice in Wonderland
I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.
Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only knew how to begin.
If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.
But it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.
"If you did not do what you did today, for example, the entire world would be in some way different.
Your acts ripple outward in ways that you do not understand, interacting with the experience of others, and hence, forming world events. The most famous and the most anonymous person are connected through such a fabric, and an action seemingly small and innocuous can end up changing history."
The Nature of the Psyche: It's human Expression, 1979
"The impossible has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbable lacks."
Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
“If science always insists that a new order must be immediately fruitful, or that it has some new predictive power, then creativity will be blocked.
“New thoughts generally arise with a play of the mind, and the failure to appreciate this is actually one of the major blocks to creativity.
“Thought is generally considered to be a sober and weighty business. But here it is being suggested that creative play is an essential element in forming new hypotheses and ideas.
“Indeed, thought which tries to avoid play is in fact playing false with itself. Play, it appears, is the very essence of thought.”
Freeman Dyson has expressed some thoughts on craziness. In a Scientific American article called "Innovation in Physics," he began by quoting Niels Bohr. Bohr had been in attendance at a lecture in which Wolfgang Pauli proposed a new theory of elementary particles. Pauli came under heavy criticism, which Bohr summed up for him: "We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. My own feeling is that is not crazy enough." To that Freeman added: "When a great innovation appears, it will almost certainly be in a muddled, incomplete and confusing form. To the discoverer, himself, it will be only half understood; to everyone else, it will be a mystery. For any speculation which does not at first glance look crazy, there is no hope!"
The Starship and the Canoe
Kenneth Brower, 1979
Exemplary performers use the constant flow of information to shape products and services. In contrast, other performers use only initial information. They tend to present their initial product or service as final and often have an aversion to producing or reproducing the product or service.
Exemplars, on the other hand, use the flow of information as inputs to engage in productive iterations of product development. The exemplar, given the time constraints, will repeat the process as many times as necessary in order to produce a ‘perfect product.’
For most products or services, the exemplar engages in six iterations of production. Each of these iterations emphasizes further shaping of the product because of new information feedback. Each iteration becomes a more and more efficient resource investment — perhaps half of the previous phase. In turn, each iteration doubles the quality of the product or services. The exemplar becomes increasingly more efficient in resource investments and effective in results outputs.
The Exemplar, 1984, page 103
In civilizations with long nows, says Brian Eno, "you feel a very strong but flexible structure … built to absorb shocks and in fact incorporate them." One can imagine how such a process evolves: All civilizations suffer shocks, yet only those that absorb the shocks survive. This still does not explain the mechanism however. In recent years a few scientists (such as R.V. O'Neill and C.S. Holling) have been probing a similar issue in ecological systems: How do they manage change, and how do they absorb and incorporate shocks? The answer appears to lie in the relationship between components in a system that have different change rates and different scales of size. Instead of breaking under stress like something brittle these systems yield as if they were malleable. Some parts respond quickly to the shock, allowing slower parts to ignore the shock and maintain their steady duties of system continuity. The combination of fast and slow components makes the system resilient, along with the way the differently paced parts affect each other. Fast learns, slow remembers. Fast proposes, slow disposes. Fast is discontinuous, slow is continuous. Fast and small instructs slow and big by accrued innovation and occasional revolution. Slow and big controls small and fast by consrtraint and constancy. Fast gets all our attention, slow has all the power. All durable dynamic systems have this sort of structure; it is what makes them adaptable and robust.
Stewart Brand, The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility, pp. :34, Basic Books, 1999.
"Insofar as the past is over and the future has not yet transpired, this midpoint is an open moment of possibility. Properly used, it becomes like the eye of a hurricane, a quiet place at the center of life, a free, unconditioned moment of opportunity."
Ira Progoff (At a Journal Workshop, 1975)