Meg Wheatley is a blend of philosopher, activist, thinker; an extraordinary woman who first came to be known for her 1992 book Leadership and the New Science in which she develops various concepts related to systems thinking and neuroscience.
She belongs to a very special type of management consultants who draw not only on specific management and business disciplines but on a wide range of sciences, practices and experiences.
She always wanted to be out in the world and curious about its workings, eagerly studied many different disciplines, including science, history, literature, systems thinking, organizational behavior, social policy, cosmology, archeology, geology and theology. She values what she has learned from each of these different fields because no one discipline, institution, or specialization can answer the questions that now confront us. We all must draw from many different perspectives to both understand and reweave the world. Her overarching interest: how to maintain direction, integrity, motivation, and effectiveness as we cope with relentless turbulence and unending change in this very troubled world.
She has been a consultant and speaker since 1973, and have worked with almost all types of organizations and people. They range from the head of the U.S. Army to twelve year old Girl Scouts, from CEOs to small town ministers. This diversity includes Fortune 100 corporations, government agencies, healthcare institutions, foundations, public schools, colleges, major church denominations, professional associations, and monasteries. Recently she has declared that she wants to dedicate the rest of her life to war, she intends to become a warrior. Let´s see how she intends to wage her particular war.
A Path for Warriors of the Human Spirit
In a recent letter to her many friends, colleagues and admirers all over the world she says:
“With this email, I am announcing my new work, work that I expect to occupy the rest of my life, the training of Warriors for the Human Spirit. Three years ago, in my book So Far From Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World, I named the warrior role as a new identity for those of us actively working in the world-in organizations, communities, governments-as a means to transform our grief, outrage and frustration into the skills of insight and compassion to serve this darkening time with bravery, decency, and gentleness.”
“At that time, I knew I would want to create a training for warriors to strengthen our capacity to be of service without falling victim to the fear, anxiety and aggression of this time. I also knew that such training would require real discipline, courage and devotion in service to the human spirit.”
“That time has arrived. With the support of my teachers and the wise counsel of trusted companions, I am initiating a series of Trainings focused on forming a clear identity as a Warrior for the Human Spirit, and learning the skillful means and stableness of mind that enable us to stay in our work and communities and be of true service. The cycle of Trainings is for one year, and includes three in-person gatherings as well as continued work during the intervals with teachers and a cohort.”
“This is not a programme focused on you as a lone individual or that leads to a certificate. Integral to this Training is the formation of a community of Warriors -dispersed in space but connected strongly at the heart- that can rely on one another for support, companionship, ideas, consolation and delight. As Warriors, we need to be actively engaged in the world, and we cannot do this work alone.”
In my first article for Open Mind, The Second Curve, I commented on the book with the same title by Charles Handy. The author sustains that we need second and further curves to get us all on different paths because the present one seems to lead us nowhere, or worse to the precipice. Margaret Wheatley, like Handy and many others are warning us of the need to change course and to do it while we have resources available from the present (first) curve. It would be foolish and against our real interest not to heed these thinkers and philosophers. My humble role, together with others’ is to spread the news, to share the information on the preoccupations of exceptional individuals who are illuminating organizational life.
Carlos Herreros de las Cuevas
Master in Science in Management, London Business School