Measuring Hidden Dimensions of Human Systems
* Book: Measuring Hidden Dimensions of Human Systems. Otto Laske. Foundations of Requisite Organization, Volume 2 (IDM Press, ISBN 978-09776800-6-1)
"Otto Laske's work is a very significant contribution to the emergence of a new and higher level of cognition amongst humans. This dialectical/systemic cognition will give humanity a much-needed capacity to better understand and manage complex systems and processes.
Laske's book Measuring Hidden Dimensions of Human Systems promotes our cognitive development by assisting us to see the limitations of our current levels of thinking. In particular, it helps us to 'stand outside' our analytical/rational thinking and to see it as an object. This enables us to see the limitations of this form of cognition. It assists us to see why analytical/rational thinking fails to adequately represent and understand complex systems and processes. Laske's book then goes on to identify the new forms of thought that are needed to represent and understand those aspects of reality that cannot be adequately represented by analytical/rational thinking.
Analytical/rational thinking is the cognition that spread with the European Enlightenment and now dominates in Western societies. However it can represent mentally only those limited aspects of reality that are relatively mechanistic. It is incapable of representing complex patterns and processes, non-linearities, transforming systems, emergence and complex relationships. Cognition that is unable to represent or model something is incapable of understanding or managing it, or even of 'seeing' it.
Dialectical/systemic cognition continues to use analytical/rational cognition for understanding mechanistic aspects of reality. But it also models and represents those many aspects of reality that are more complex and fluid. It represents and models complex patterns, transforming systems, non-linear processes etc. The use of these representations is experienced as intuitions and insights.
The spread of systemic cognition is of critical importance because:
· Systemic cognition is essential if an individual is to be able to fully understand the large-scale evolutionary processes that have shaped humanity and other life on this planet and that will determine our future. It is therefore a pre-condition for fully 'getting' the evolutionary worldview and for experiencing the transformative epiphanies that accompany this;
· The global crises and challenges that are confronting humanity cannot be understood and cannot be solved without a cognitive capacity that enables the management of complex systems and processes. Analytical/rational cognition cannot do this;
· True systemic cognition is currently almost non-existent. Most 'systems thinking' is done with mental/rational representations and cognition. Post-modern cognition ('green' in Spiral Dynamics terms) is incapable of rigorously understanding complex phenomenon, and people at this level are commonly anti-cognitive.
· It seems unlikely that systemic cognition will develop quickly enough to meet global challenges unless it is spread intentionally and consciously.
What is needed is a New Enlightenment. It will be similar to the first Enlightenment in that it will be driven by a shift to higher cognition. But this time the shift will be from the analytical/rational thought of the first enlightenment to systemic cognition. And the shift will be developed and spread intentionally and consciously.
Currently there are no widely-accepted approaches to training and developing higher mind and systemic cognition. The Integral Movement and spiritual progressives tend to focus on the development of consciousness, not the development of higher cognition. Since these movements are almost universally 'green', cognition tends to be part of their shadow.
Most members of these movements do not have the cognitive development to see that effective responses to global challenges require a higher level of cognition, not just higher consciousness. The failure of the Integral Movement and spiritual progressives to make any significant contribution to resolving major crises such as global warming is due to their cognitive limitations. The 'missing piece' that is limiting these movements is systemic cognition.
As outlined in his book, Otto Laske has developed courses and supporting materials aimed at training and developing systemic cognition. The book includes an extraordinarily valuable Manual of Dialectical Thought Forms that builds on the work of Michael Basseches and others.
The Manual identifies the classes of things that we have to represent in our thinking if we are to adequately represent and understand complex phenomena and processes. It shows us the things that analytical/rational thought is unable to represent and understand effectively. It identifies the sorts of processes to which we must direct our attention if we are to build adequate mental models of complex systems.
Although Laske's work shows us where we have to direct our attention to think dialectically and systemically, it does not include practices that train the ability to freely move attention to where it is required. It is here that the 'consciousness movement' can contribute significantly to programs that aim to train and transmit dialectical/systemic cognition.
More specifically, the development of higher mind can be greatly accelerated by the use of the kinds of practices promoted by the world's spiritual and contemplative traditions that develop consciousness. These practices train the capacity to dis-embed from lower forms of cognition, freeing attention and consciousness to access and build higher cognitive structures.
Together with Victoria Wilding of Symplicitus ( http://symplicitus.com /), I have been working on the development of an approach to training higher cognition that synthesizes Laske's approach with practices appropriated from the spiritual traditions.
These 'spiritual' practices train the ability to:
· Dis-embed from analytical/rational thinking;
· See analytical/rational thought 'from the outside' as an object that can be contemplated and evaluated
. Eventually this enables systemic cognition itself to be seen as an object that can be contemplated, evaluated and improved;
· Gain conscious and intentional control over attention so that it can be moved freely around the aspects of complex phenomena that are not represented effectively by analytical/rational thinking; and
· Access and develop non thought-based cognitive resources, including pattern recognition capacities and intuition.
These capacities enable the individual to identify the critical aspects of complex phenomenon that are not represented adequately by analytical/rational thought. It also enables them to build new cognitive representations that include what is left out by analytical thinking. This makes possible the construction of new mental models that are not solely thought-based and that can adequately represent complex systems and phenomenon as they evolve and transform through time."
Here is another excellent review by Sara Nora Ross: http://www.archive-ilr.com/archives-2009/2009-06/2009-06-review-laske.php
"The Most Important New Book on Integral Thinking and Decision-Making since the Integral/Evolutionary Movement Began and maybe --- since the Enlightenment."
"The above headline is one that should naturally stimulate healthy doubt. In the 1600s the Enlightenment there was a major breakthrough in thinking; rational, logical thought and its accompanying scientific methodology came into being. This allowed for a new way of conceptualizing and managing the world. Even now, 400 years later, we continue to reap the bountiful benefits of that great breakthrough in a new of thinking.
Today we are also on the brink of what might be considered an even greater second Enlightenment. With the existing knowledge of the integral and evolutionary movements and the integral new complex system dialectical thinking tools in Otto Laske's new book Measuring Hidden Dimensions of Human Systems, we just might get there, sooner rather than later. Within its pages readers will find an effective, near-complete overview of the newest "Integral/Evolutionary" dialectical thinking processes that may be applied to today's problems and to the interaction of the complex systems of our world.
While the rational logical thinking of the first Enlightenment was two-dimensional and linear, the new dialectical complex systems thinking elucidated in Laske's book is four-dimensional thinking in that allows one to deal with unpredictable spontaneities, nonlinear and unknown feedback loops and a host of other issues that arise with multiple and single interacting complex systems. The information in Measuring Hidden Dimensions also shows a person how to step outside of their own thoughts, problems or issues in order to consider them objectively by using twenty-eight different thought forms for redirecting attention thus creating what I call the new four dimensional dialectical thinking. (Three dimensions plus time.) The ability to think this whole systems way is clearly a huge advantage in all areas of life, and is far more effective in dealing with today's problems --- than the two-dimensional linear thinking of the first Enlightenment.
It's no exaggeration to say that Measuring Hidden Dimensions of Human Systems may be the best book yet written about the development of human thinking in general and integral post-postmodernist thinking systems for the twenty-first century. Laske is a rare genius who has explained the development of thought through the seamless integration of multiple perspectives and frameworks, including psychology, science and indirectly even through the mystical core of theology. Powerful life and world rearranging cognitions and epiphanies by the bucketful await the conscious reader of this 4D revolution in integral dialectical thinking.
In addition to providing the most complete integral four-quadrant complex dialectical thinking system to date, Laske's book guides the Integral/Evolutionary movements toward an important new focus for future development. Many of today's Integral and Evolutionary leaders focus almost exclusively on consciousness-training or on how to be a spiritual evolutionary. Yes, consciousness creates a thought space, and in many ways consciousness-creation runs parallel to the concept of communion in the Integral agency/communion pairing. But integral/evolutionary consciousness-development without the tool of well thought-out action lacks the needed agency balance.
This new dialectical thinking is definitely action! Laske's complex systems dialectical thinking process provides a well thought out "thinking" agency that is needed for any optimized decision-making process that results in wise action, thus creating the better future we all seek.
This book has personally allowed me to move with effort and attention from mostly two-dimensional thinking to much more of the new four dimensional thinking. It has also helped me to integrate a vast amount of observations about my life and work in less time than I ever imagined possible. It even helped me to evaluate complex personal situations in my life in a whole new way, either saving me untold trouble and cost or more quickly motivating me to take wise risks and seize new opportunities that hold real dialectically evaluated benefit.
Adoption of this new dialectical thinking system would work wonders for the Integral/Evolutionary movements as well. A well-defined and complete integral/evolutionary dialectical thinking system has been until now a main elements that has been lacking to effectively resolve the challenges of complex systems interacting in our world today. Laske's new book provides exactly that missing element. There is little doubt that this work is going to spread within our movement and within other progressive social and activist movements as well.
It is my sincere hope that the Integral/Evolutionary Movement quickly picks up Laske's complex-systems dialectical thinking processes and couples them with the consciousness-teaching processes found in our movement. This would finally establish another and much-needed agency/communion balance that could more readily build the better future we all are seeking.
Laske's book is nothing less than a true gift to humanity! In time, he will be eventually recognized as the man who did much to help bring about the second Enlightenment. That being said, as amazing as it is, however, this book also poses a few challenges to its readers.
Although Laske says that anyone can be taught complex systems dialectical thinking, I think that this book is a difficult read for many individuals. Laske's writing style is concept-dense and demands that you pay careful attention to each initial definition that he uses. In one paragraph alone he may take you through a dozen or more interrelated or sequential new thinking conceptual spaces. In addition to the implied cognitive capacity requirements there are social and emotional development requirements that also play a part in one's ability to understand and "get" this amazing new dialectical thinking training manual and tool.
Measuring Hidden Dimensions of Human Systems is written more as an aid to human resources staff and as a training manual for coaches who will use this new kind of thinking to help their clients see the world much differently. That said, anyone with a little extra observational effort will find it useful as a manual for learning the new dialectical thinking processes.
Individuals with a strong background in developmental psychology will be in heaven and probably find the book considerably easier to understand. "Getting" Laske's new book on integral dialectical thinking will quickly separate the Integral/Evolutionary beginners and aficionados from the experts, qualified teachers and dedicated practitioners...
Whether you're an integral, spiritual, or eco-evolutionary, or you are a corporate, government or non-profit sector leader, I wholeheartedly recommend that you get this book fast. I already envision that savvy Integral/Evolutionary entrepreneurs will be quickly and discretely scampering to make teaching deals with Laske.
Most of the staff at our organization have already ordered it or are reading it now. The news is spreading via word-of-mouth that: this book is a must-read for those that optimized thinking is the best way to create success in most any area. Don't be surprised if you find it out of stock at Amazon.com or other online booksellers.
The above review was written by Lawrence Wollersheim, Executive Director of two Integral/Evolutionary organizations in San Francisco: Universe Spirit and the Universe Institute."