Re: The Dharma & Business LO2123

Michael McMaster (
Sun, 16 Jul 1995 07:43:16 +0000

Replying to LO2115 --

Tim suggests that there are ways of looking at ambiguity which can be
empowering individually but that they are difficult organisationally.
Individually offered, these make a difference in an organisation.

I'd like to explore them organisationally. First by considering what
they might be in a location within an organisation (time & space
limited) rather than the whole. From now on I'll use the term
"corporation" so it won't get confused with the phenomenon of
organisation. (That is, to distinguish it from a company and from
the process of organising.)

Tim says:
> The Dharma points toward a middle way, a way of dancing with ambiguity,
> that is difficult enough to practice personally, but almost impossible to
> implement on a broader, organizational scale not because it is difficult
> to 'understand', but that it is so difficult to experience.

There is a sense in which it might be easier to experience this
"dancing with ambiguity" in a team or even a group which meets
regularly. In such a situation, it is obvious that ambiguity is
present. We already have the experience of ambiguity which is
provided by the different perspectives (realities) of the
participants - and of the group independent of it members if it has
existed for some time. We might still personally experience the
difficulty of threats to self but we will experience the reality (or
presence) of ambiguity as a naturally occurring phenomenon.

Tim goes on to say: How much
> greater this fear in the context of the organization, with its inherent
> reinforcing mechanismisms of heirarchy, power, punishments and rewards for
> doing (being?) certain things for certain results?

This presence of ambiguity becomes unavoidable when we expand to a
corporation. Here we are thrust into the daily ambiguity of
corporate identity and the world and personal identity and the
organisation (and the other identities).

While this is in a context as Tim says above, it is also in a context
of life experience which says, "It is this way". And life has
provided another context which occurs at some level in some instances
to people in corporations - the added ease which a community provides
for dealing with ambiguity. When a group is dealing with ambiguity
reasonably effectively - which tends to happen if left alone to
self-organise - then we are far freer to deal with it personally.
This experience is a common one in life - and even corporate life at
its worst. For some reason, we focus on the larger and formal where
it does not occur rather than on the daily and information where it
frequently occurs. (between friends, between professionals, between
chance encounters of community members, between gaps in formality
with the power structure)

Is it possible that the job we have to do is to capture what is
already in our experience and encourage and nurture it than to create
something new or attact something old?

I like Tim's statement of inclusion for its chances of success: I see the
> process of overcoming these routines as an awakening process-one that can
> be helped along from any number of perspectives as long as the perspective
> is understood as only one of many that add value.

The allowance of many ways rather than one right way is consistent
with this ambiguity of life. One of my rules for any change process
is that the process be a direct mirror of the intended result - that
the process have complete integrity with the intention.

Michael McMaster