InterJournal Complex Systems, 373
Status: Submitted
Manuscript Number: [373]
Submission Date: 502
Purpose, Power and Process -A New Philosophy, Model, and Meta Language for Understanding and Designing the Organizing Process
Author(s): William Smith

Subject(s): CX.15, CX.43, CX.17, CX.41, CX.35

Category: Article


This work was triggered by an early career experience in which very high levels of performance were achieved in airport operations without managerial control of resources, and without telling anybody what to do. . The incident sparked a twenty-year search process that produced the current thinking The philosophy that emerged was the last step of the learning process. It states very simply that the source of power in organization is purpose, i.e. rather than the more Newtonian concepts that see power as the control of resources, access to authority, knowledge, status etc. This concept applies to any system, abstract, human or physical. The purpose served provides potential power while actual, or kinetic power, is derived from the management of three fundamental system relationships These are the: 1. The relationship to the whole (Appreciation - A). 2. The relationship between the parts of the whole system ( Influence - I ) 3. The relationship of the individual part to itself (Control - C}. The AIC model places the actor in the center and defines a five dimensional field of power around the actor produced by the purpose being served. This relationship between purpose and power brings relativity to the social field. Power is directly correlated with purpose enacted within the space/time constraints choosen by the actor. The control-centered domain operates in three dimensions and sees the world in terms of classic hierarchical, bureaucratic or Newtonian principles. It is focussed on the relationship to the individual part. The influence-centered view of organization extends the control model by adding time to structure to produce a four dimensional model centered on process. It focuses on the dynamics of relationships between the parts of the whole. The appreciative centered model adds a fifth dimension that rotates both inward and outward, recursively, to integrate and make one, or whole the purposes of all parts. Each dimension provides a higher order of organization capable of addressing higher levels of purpose, with less distortion of information and relationships, and with exponentially higher orders of effectiveness. The simplicity of the basic concept requires an equally simple language capable of expressing the three fundamental A, I, C relationships in five dimensions. That language has been found and is the language of color. The work correlates A, I and C relationships with the light color primaries, Green, Red and Blue. Color, for example, can express control relationships through the mathematical manipulation of frequencies. Colors can also express influence relationships through the ordering of relationships between spectral hues and degrees of saturation and brilliance. Colors are known to have direct influence on moods, feelings etc. Colors can also express the appreciative relationships associated, for example, with symbolism and meaning. In application, this work suggests that the developed world is in the throes of the transition between control-centered organization and influence-centered organization. While democracies by definition have an influence-centered political philosophy, their governments have been constrained by control-centered organization models. The organization field is now struggling to formulate such influence-centered models and practice. The increasing interest in spirituality indicates the emergence of the appreciative-centered model.

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