From Management Education to Civic Reconstruction: The Emerging Ecology of Organizations

By Ronnie Lessem; Sudhanshu Palsule | Go to book overview

13

Freeing up societies

Virgin's simpler way

INTRODUCTION

We are now poised to move out of the realms of the post-modern, lodged in knowledge intensive services around the globe, and into the world of what we have termed the 'perennial', oriented towards civic reconstruction. In that respect, in fact, both Margaret Wheatley's and Kellner Rogers' theoretically 'simpler way', and Richard Branson's practical approach at Virgin constitute something of a 'western' halfway house. Such a freely enterprising approach to exploiting Virgin territory we liken to 'fire'.

Wheatley, like Ralph Stacey, an American management thinker, has been influenced by the sciences of chaos and complexity. The 'simpler way', embedded in such an approach, she says, is .a world which we already know-in business as in life in general-without quite realizing it. We may not have seen such a world clearly, but we have been living it all our lives, at home and at work. The world we had generally been taught to see at school was alien to our humanity. We were taught to see the world as if from an accountant's perspective, in Jayne-Anne Gadhia's case, like a great machine. That is why, as we shall illustrate, the young Richard Branson (of Virgin) and Jayne-Anne Gadhia (of Virgin Direct) both rejected this approach: he left school and she left our MMBA course physically (but not in spirit), to get on with life and business. For some of the rest of us, less brave or brazen ('fiery') then Richard and Jayne-Anne, less sensitive or sensible, Wheatley maintains, alienation has spawned the need to dominate. Fear has led to control, in the family, in the community, in the workplace. When we change our image of the world, we leave behind the machine and welcome our free selves back. We recover a world that is supportive of free spirited human endeavour. This free world of the simpler way has a natural and spontaneous tendency towards organization.

It is life's invitation to freedom, creativity and meaning that welcomes us back. From such a 'chaotic' perspective, there are four overriding aspects to life and organization, which apply pre-eminently to Branson and to Gardia, to Virgin and to Virgin Direct. These relate first to the pursuit of self and identity, second to the love of play and recreation, third to the

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From Management Education to Civic Reconstruction: The Emerging Ecology of Organizations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Tables x
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • 1 - Knowledge Creating Ecology 3
  • 2 - From Business School to Learning Society 20
  • 3 - Organizational Ecology 41
  • 4 - Ordinary and Extraordinary Management 67
  • 5 - Work and Soul 90
  • 6 - Towards the Individualized Corporation 101
  • 7 - From Crisis to Awakening 122
  • 8 - The Age of Business Ecosystems 144
  • 9 - The Stories We Are 161
  • 10 - The Development Spectrum 173
  • 11 - Information Space 187
  • 12 - Spiral Dynamics 201
  • 13 - Freeing Up Societies 221
  • 14 - Communities at Peace 240
  • 15 - Enhancing Life Through Water 264
  • 16 - Sustainable Development 289
  • 17 - Entering the Catalytic Zone 311
  • Index 333
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