April 13, 2018

A view from the Sun: #10 Navigating interrelational change

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As on-the-ground conditions of life change, its social and ecosystemic forms evolve, combine, and recombine in unpredictable kaleidoscopic array. If one form is selected in isolation for study or management, it grows its way out of understanding and manageability, because it is not actually isolated, but is integral to a living milieu. Managing a school in isolation for example, ignores the conditions of life in which it is imbedded, in the lives of its students and teachers, its surrounding neighborhood, other schools in the system, local economy, weather, agronomy, politics, and all these same conditions at greater and greater distance, which still affect the life of the school and its local milieu. Since the scope of this interrelationality continues on and on, at scales large and small, and is constantly changing, the best laid plans of managing aspects of it inevitably fall behind changing conditions on the ground. Therefore the price of understanding and manageability is eternal awareness. Plans dissolve, but conscious intent enacts the living now.

Awareness of persistent forms helps to make sense of and to manage aspects of changing interrelationality. An eddy in a stream can last a long time, a whirling vortex through which change passes while preserving the eddy’s form and sustaining its dynamism, as new water constantly replaces old. Change also passes through vortices of human awareness at personal, organizational, and societal scale, and along the way the stream of change is changed as human conscious enaction interacts with it.

A form which has persisted through eons of human and biological experience is the terrain, across which life has slithered, crawled and walked, and which has left its mark deep in neurological structure and function. This action landscape is essentially two-dimensional. It may be bent by hills and valleys, but on the  psychological world stage of lived movement of individuals, populations and civilizations, the Earth is flat. Actual conditions of life’s changes, movements and interactions are said to be played out “on the ground.”

In conceptual thought and in nature, many small-world forms endure as shapes, sequences and processes that emerge from the small numbers. Some examples in the context of understanding and managing aspects of interrelational form on the move are these: One is a locus, two is the number of nodes in the simplest network, three axes indicate spatial navigation, four edges make a frame. The concepts of location, networked communication, navigation in social or physical space, and framing are tools for learning about and managing aspects of change.

Increasing numbers of nodes lead to rapidly increasing complexity in social (or any) networks. Two people can communicate from one to the other and vice versa, a total of two ways. Seven people can communicate with each other in 5,040 ways.   

There are many more enduring forms and types of forms, that provide something to hold on to while navigating the rapids of change. Maintaining awareness of conditions on the ground while noticing familiar forms and patterns is then the strategy for understanding and managing aspects of interrelational action. Otherwise there is no prescribed formula of forms. It is up to each person, group or society to consciously enact the living now.


Every form is integral to its living milieu.

Changing interrelational complexity outpaces planning.

The living now is consciously enacted.

The stream of change is influenced by human conscious action and interaction.

The action landscape is bred deeply into evolutionary neurological heritage.

What forms are useful in the school management example?

small number worlds













mutual enaction



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