October 17, 2006

In the Beginning...

It seems looking into the past can give us some perspective on the future. I guess I might be writing this more for myself than for others. Anyway,  might as well get some of the facts and figures out of the way. Born in London, Ontario, Canada, November 4, 1963 (6 weeks premature) to British parents (dad: English, mom: Welsh). Age: 42 (now, not then). Nearly did not make it, etc.

With parents and younger sister in the Anglican mission field (Father was/is ordained Anglican/Episcopal Priest) in Mexico and Central America until about 4 years old. Came to the US (Los Angeles), moved to Indiana (God only knows why).  Lived in Indiana from about 6 years old to 15 years old. Moved quite a bit until I was in my 20s. Moved to Santa Clara while in high school. I have been in SF Bay Area ever since (Santa Clara, San Jose, and then Napa, CA since 2001).

When we moved to Santa Clara, I ended up going to all boy Bellarmine Prep (High School) in San Jose from 10th to 12th grade (1982). I went to Santa Clara University (where my father taught) -- While I was not very thrilled with Bellarmine, both Bellarmine and SCU were outstanding Jesuit schools. While I started at SCU to get a Computer Science degree, I ended up getting a BA in History degree with a lot of computer science courses (1986). After a few years, I ended up going to San Jose State University (1988) for my MS in Cybernetic Systems (1992) (ironically from the Anthropology and Cybernetic Systems department). About  2 years later, I started a Ph.D. at University of Hull in the UK while living in Napa. In retrospect, maybe not the brightest thing I ever did. I defended in November of 1997, and graduated February of 1998 from the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside. Lincoln School of Management for short. My PhD was essentially in Systems Thinking and Human Values.

I got married in September of 1986 (for an update on this, see here). Worked in the tech industry in various roles for a long while (largely until I started on the PhD). Some of the places were: Olivetti ATC, Sun Microsystems, Frame Technology, Verity, Autodesk, IDG (technology writer). I was also starting to do a little OD (organizational development) and that eventually led to me doing the doctorate. My father is an expert in human values, and I worked with him at various times over the years. In 1994, we started Values Technology which has been seriously up and down over the last twelve years (I am not currently working for VT). Since I was technology savvy, and a growing expert in the area of values, I consulted and also steered the technology development. When I was not working on the technology I designed large scale interventions for values-based OD. The last time I left I was considered chief architect (bridging technology and values). I still advise my dad and company. Other than this stuff, I have taught at the post graduate level -- mostly in the area of leadership development.

Systems thinking and values, two areas, that other than history and technology, have fascinated me. I might add document analysis, but that really is an offshoot of the others. Since high school I had been fascinated by the ways in which values and meaning could be pulled from documents. Metaxio is a current attempt to make this more accessible to others.

In 1999 and 2001, my wife and I had a boy and twin girls -- as with most fathers, they are my pride and joy.

Well, that is probably enough for this entry. It sets up the entries to follow ;-). I am hoping there is a point to all of this!

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March 9, 2005

Leadership Tools

Leadership Tools looks like a interesting web site. I am just starting to checking it out.

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February 4, 2005

Foundation or Future, War and Peace: Why Current Peace Initiatives are Likely to Fail

Dr. Martin L.W. Hall
Minessence & Systems, Values & Organizations

I have been slow in coming to the realization that the current peace process has a fundamental flaw. Rather than trying to create a unified vision of peace, we end up fighting the idea of war (Iraq, etc) on its terms not ours. The vision for peace is seen only as the absence of war. Peace needs to be a viable alternative. It also must look at practical ways of dealing with the issues that war is now being used to solve.All too often a viable alternative is not proposed that looks at root causes and motivations. The leadership environment that allows for a strong vision of peace takes time to put into action, however it must start with an articulate and actionable vision that the common person can understand. Essentially, we are talking about an expanded and comprehensive New Deal for a global stage.

War is a foundational response to a problem. It comes out of the notion that we are forced to violence as a way of defending and/or protecting ourselves or our interests. A link to the concept of freedom is as close as war gets to a vision. The concept of peace is an energizing notion for most people. We are energized by things, values, ideals, beliefs that give us hope.

The lack of a unified vision simply allows us to become fractured and unclear in our message. We then end up simply trying to displace war by attacking the foundational elements of life. Since we are not linked in a single notion, we give several messages that can often times give mixed messages. (My Son is over there, War is bad., Anything but war., Blood for Oil., etc.) This is then contrasted by the singular message as communicated by those that advocate war they are a threat, we must remove the threat.Most of the reasons to not going to war are valid, but they must be part of a unified vision and message that includes these ideals. We must prevent war by creating a global leadership environment that deals with potentially conflicting issues before war surfaces as a solution.

I do not want to be so bold as to suggest that I have the vision for peace but I think there are some complementary notions. The strongest of these, I believe is sustainability.

· Human dignity
· Basic necessities
· Economic fairness
· Sovereignty

A very actionable plan can rise out values such as those above. A vision with sustainabiltiy as a theme, if defined and promoted properly, covers all the phases of consciousness and human development. What this creates is a vision that people can connect into no matter what stage of live they are in, from single mother to Geroge Soros (progressive global philanthropist). A vision that covers this spectrum creates energy toward a viable vision, and it engages everyone. War, on the otherhand, is speaking to our foundation, so all can understand it, however, it is not promoting a vision (except maybe freedom). However, the means of getting or protecting this freedom is ultimately short-lived.

Here is one value-based or cultural cluster that can be used in promoting sustainability. From basic needs to becoming the best that I can be, and empowering others to do the same.

Security/Basic Needs --> Self Worth --> Self Actualization --> Being Self --> Global Human Dignity

This works in Afghanistan, Iraq , Tsunami-ravaged countries and in the U.S. It allows a person, group, tribe, nation or world to connect to the vision from where ever they are. People cannot expect to dislike and throw out a dictator if they do not have a basic idea of self worth (I am worthy of something better).

Foundation is about Focusing on Basic Needs, Vision must be the way that we energize ourselves and the world. And the Focus is the most effective way to get the work done.

The complete vision can be simple, but the deployment will be tough. Create a vision that is obtainable but also allows for a currently hostile environment.

Harnessing the Evolution of a Global Consciousness

The more that people organize in groups, the more that we have to find new ways to do things. The explosion of travel and world-wide information access is creating a world where the bounds of nations are becoming increasingly murky. While the potential for human development is great, it also creates a tension as nations try to understand what it is to survive in the future. While the gains for humanity could be incredible, turf wars are one of the dangerous components that we need to wrestle with.Our future needs to be adaptable and flexible while maintaining a common vision.

We also need to realize that achieving a globalConsciousness is something that does not happen overnight. We need to think far into the future and try to put into place meaningful steps that can take us along this path. At best we can hope to be a guide. If we complete some baby steps, we might actually make a difference.

Creating Global Sustainability
A majority of the world's population does not have the minimum amount of food to eat. One of the imperative steps is that a majority of the planet musthave the basic needs for survival met. While this maybe quick, we must do this with in twogenerations. This is a tall order but one that really needs to be done if we are to have any hope of seeing ourselves as one planet rather than several nation-states.

The development of human consciousness requires that the minimum elements of survival be met. If these are not met then engaging in even the most basic human interaction is difficult if not impossible. How can you be in a position to demand a minimum of change for the better if you are constantly struggling just to stay alive. Assuming for the moment that we have the capability and the capacity to deliver food, warmth and shelter to those that want and require all over the globe? What would it take to create an environment where this was not just desired by most but a moral requirement. What we are talking about is installing a world-wide meaning system. With subtle, yet conscious shifts in global cultural priorities, this can be achieved. Some places it may be easier than others. But it can be done. Sustainable change takes time.

For this, we need to look at the development of the human being, the group and the planet. And in that order. The levels of consciousness of the human being are going to get mirrored in the way we organize to how we operate as a planet. In some ways, we need to imagine what does the basic sustainable human being look like, what is the meaning system that puts this person in the best place for accessing their potential for fulfillment.

From Survival to Self Worth to (Being) Self
Being is about arriving at a place where a person has the best understanding of how to actualize their own personal fulfillment. Developmentally, this not an easy place to get to. However, there are basic components that must be in place before we can even think about this. A totally evolved planetary consciousnesswould have all the people in the world with the potential of getting access to their own being. But we are still talking about baby steps.

The cornerstones of this journey are Survival, Self Worth and Being (Self). I cannot hope to progress as a human being if I am not getting my basic needs met. But I also cannot progress if I do not feel that I am worthy of this food, or of a better life. This istrue of a starving child in Ethiopia as it is to the drug addict on the streets of New York. It is these two items (survival and self worth) that must be part of the foundation of this planetary consciousness. In human terms, the planet is not meeting its basic needs so there is arrested development.

Creation of a planetary consciousness requires that we build up the self worth of the individual. They must feel that they are worthy of the respect of being provided with basic human necessities. This is easier said than done. Self worth is often expressed culturally. Therefore, their needs to be a common framework for establishing self worth but it should take into account the issues in a given culture.

Awareness is also important. If I know what is going on around me, I can make informed decisions. If I know how friends and peers feel, I will likely not feel alone.

Leadership and Accountability (Mutual)
Awareness is important for the person. But awareness is also about being explicit. When things are no longer hidden, when they are explicit,it is harder for those in power to ignore the needs of the many. Being explicit about the needs and desire of the populace is an important way for leaders to be held accountable. Their actions are measured against the wishes of the people and culture. Leadership without accountability creates a misuse of power. The global consciousness needs to create a leadership environment that focuses on leadership and not on management. There are plenty of people that that are good atdeployment. However, creating an effective, and yet collaborative leadership environment is needed and imperative. Telling others in the world what to do will not work, but creating the environment where the vision can be accomplished is imperative.

This awareness also creates a framework of systemic ethics. When intervening to create new global consciousness, the development of this system needs to provide for the needs of the whole. Awareness is essential to this.

From Clan to Global-State
Throughout history, man has had a tendency to create relationships in order to get more and more complicated things done. One started with the family or the clan (or in more modern terms a team or group). Man had to learn how to best organize this to accomplish goals such as killing a mastodon. As these tribes grew, and people became more specialized, and citiesand towns developed. Each time these occurred, it took time for the man to adapt and work these relationships. These groups would also get a sense of self. A sense of ownership of and for the group. You progressed to the city-state and then to the nation-state. The sense of self at the level of the nation-state is what we call patriotism. It is good for creating a sense of group-self but it can create differences with other such groups. And conflict and war can arise from this.

The evolution to the global-state is going to be key to the development of an evolutionary consciousness. We need to think of ourselves as one planet, and not a planet divided into groups. We must move from Us vs. Them -- to We.
The global state needs to see itself as entity worthy of existing. To do this we need to evolve human development to the evolution and development of the whole. To the planet as the reflection of the holographic image of all its occupants.

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January 25, 2005

Darwin, DNA, Chaos and Meaning

This and other thoughts from Martin Hall

We hear about values in values in many contexts and we will go into some historical contexts in the next chapter. However, we hear about values: family values, organizational values, societal values, religious, moral values, etc. But many times they are hard to understand because the context is not understood. Values are personal and but they also need to be accessible. They need to be meaningful. The challenge is create meaning for the individual while also providing meaning for others to understand and interact.

The closer that we can come to discussing personal values in a universal context the more effective it can be. Looking at values from the perspective of the pursuit of science can be effective at looking at values in a more universal, more accessible context. The more we can agree on what something means (even if we disagree on its importance) the better possibility that we will have better communication, better relationships and more meaningful organizations.

If we begin to understand values, and at least agree on the definitions of values, then we can measure. Measure values! Can you really do that! Well, in the proper context you can. We will go more into the idea of measurement later, but the idea of identifying something and being able to see if it changes is very important in the pursuit of science. While there are some areas such as axiology (Hartman, etc.) which are trying to turn values into a science, we are going to explore the strong contexts in a more metaphorical context. As you will see these contexts are very powerful in creating a language for the effectiveness of values in organizations.

While we will talk about Aristotle and others in a historical context later, it can be good in setting a context of how a Darwinian view of values is important to getting the proper context of how values play an ongoing and changing role in our lives and the organizations within which we work and interact. Aristotle may have had the first attempt to vocalize values concepts. He saw leaders as needing about half a dozen attributes for excellence. In many ways he was one of the first leadership development mentors. He was an advisor for Alexander the Great. His context was leadership development, but there were obviously other things that drove peoples' decisions at that time, such as simple survival. In the intervening years, there have been more values as the way in which we have interacted with the world has become more complex.

Values have evolved in a manner that might be consistent with Darwinian concepts of evolution. Think of the Cave man personal survival, family, relationships, power, etc. Moves to hunter/gatherer created need for stronger relationships. Communities came together to deal with the increasing need for specialization so that duties did not have to be duplicated and more could be provided....this is where the valuing process starts to get more diverse. As groups come together to achieve common but diverse objectives there is more needs or aspirations involved.

Aristotle voiced some of these. Likely there are things that were valued historically, that are not valued now. Or they have evolved into something that is more significant to our time. But as religion, philosophy, science, politics, exploration, economics all grew so did those things that people would value or aspire to.

We have evolved from the cave man to the six to twelve values of Aristotles day to what be considered a number well over 100 (we will cover this idea later). Not only the did the development of values frameworks develop, but there is process of evolution and survival of the fittest that comes out of how the individual and organization grow and maintain themselves.Lets look at Darwin for a moment. Before Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species (1859), he took a trip on The Beagle. It was here that he discovered many things that lead to his ideas and concepts such as the process of natural selection. In the Galápagos Islands, he found that similar creatures on different islands had developed differently apparently based on different environments even though they were only miles apart.

Values both for the individual and for the organization react the same way. We may be born into similar environments but a combination of our genetics and our environment shapes in very specific ways. We will be very much like those around us but we will also have things that drive us that are unique. We all have our own unique configuration. We are attracted to living and working with people with similar likes, dislikes and gifts. However, we are still unique and have our own contributions.

Organizational culture develops in the same way. Organizations are a lot like self-regenerating evolutionary organisms that evolve to meet new challenges or die off. If they have the requisite variety (Ashby) or diversity while maintaining a core they will continue to evolve and continue to be successful.

Organizations may start from the same environment such as the same marketplace but the internal code is different. There are different people in the different organizations. And while people from different organizations may come together for similar reasons, they are all a little different. It is dependent on this code or configuration that defines the culture. The minimal values that are in common give the basis for the culture, and it is the diversity and the clarity of purpose that give the organization capability for success. They still need to have good products and be competitive, but to do this they must evolve.

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Big Picture, Personal Focus, Meaningful Environment

The Duality is probably best discussed as understanding the Big Picture but maintaining a connection to the personal focus. What Think Globally, Act Locally means to the ecological and peace movements, Big Picture, Personal Focus, Meaningful Environment means to the Effective Organization. This idea is not new. Senge (1990) touches on it in his seminal book, The Fifth Discipline.

Big Picture

Seeing the Big Picture is about seeing the world as collections elements with interrelated parts. It is essentially seeing groups of things and the relationships between them. The more technical term is systems thinking but it comes in many forms. In a quaint way, it is the specialization of generalization. Complexity and Chaos are just a few of the ideas that come under aegis of systems thinking. Much of western education focuses on specialization, systems thinking does not want to discard that but also wants to integrate some of the Renaissance notions of seeing the connections and patterns among different things such as science and art. It is about stepping back from the incredible volume that we process every day and distilling it down to its essence. Minessence is about mining the essence of complex ideas. This is what systems thinking is about. It is essential for understanding and harnessing the power of the organization and the environment in which it operates.

Personal Focus

There is really no such thing as an organizational value. It is really the manifestation of personal values in a larger context. Personal focus is about getting the individual to understand the role that values plays in their day-to-day life. As we understand our values, we get insights into out own behavior. It is only when we get this insight into our own behavior that we can effectively interact with others, and can begin to understand their behavior. The more I understand about being what I desire and can offer the more effective I can be as a team player. The team is the holograph of the organization in that it is where values are first applied in a social context. It is where personal focus must get applied in a group context.Values are about understanding relationships the more that we make our own values explicit, the more success we can have with our relationships. Organizations are really nothing more than a complex system of relationships.

Meaningful Environment

Meaningful environment is the team, group, organizational or cultural alignment by harnessing the Big Picture and the Personal Focus.

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January 24, 2005

Mining the Essence

Systems thinking maybe one of the best examples of looking at Mnessence. It is about seeing the big picture without seeing the initial complication of the component parts..You are looking at the main themes of the situation or system. It is about finding the essence. Distilling the system to the understandable patterms.

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