A Simpler Way

Margaret Wheatley (Author) | Myron Kellner-Rogers (Author) | Myron Rogers (Author)

Publication date: 01/01/1998

Bestseller over 75,000+ copies sold

A Simpler Way

A BusinessWeek bestseller

From the author of the bestselling Leadership and the New Science

"We want life to be less arduous and more delightful. We want to be able to think differently about how to organize human activities." So begins A Simpler Way, an exploration of a radically different worldview that will reshape how we think about organizing all human endeavors.

Margaret J. Wheatley and coauthor Myron Kellner-Rogers explore the question: "How could we organize human endeavor if we developed different understandings of how life organizes itself?" They draw on the work of scientists, philosophers, poets, novelists, spiritual teachers, colleagues, audiences, and their own experience in search of new ways of understanding life and how organizing activities occur. A Simpler Way presents a profoundly different worldview that can change how we live our lives and how we can create organizations that thrive.

A Simpler Way explores fundamental new beliefs about organizations and life. Like Leadership and the New Science, this new book is rooted in science but breaks new ground by developing insights from literature, spiritual teachings, and direct experience. The authors challenge many assumptions about life, organizations, and change, while providing inspiration and guidance for readers on their own journey to a simpler way to organize their endeavors.

The authors describe a new paradigm of life as self-organizing and coevolving, drawing on sources that support modern science but predate its findings by thousands of years. They examine five major themes-play, organization, self, emergence, and coherence-each grounded in both the science and philosophy of a world that knows how to organize itself. Each theme is explored in depth, and then applied to how we think about human organizations.

The book begins and ends with photo essays, providing visual imagery that recalls readers to their own experience with a world that is creative, playful, and self-organizing. Written in a relaxed, poetic, and inviting style, the book welcomes the reader into this exploration of a new way of being in the world, one which can give us increased organizing capacity and effectiveness with less of the stress that plagues us now.

• A BusinessWeek bestseller
• From the author of the bestselling Leadership and the New Science

Read more and meet author below



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Overview

A BusinessWeek bestseller

From the author of the bestselling Leadership and the New Science

"We want life to be less arduous and more delightful. We want to be able to think differently about how to organize human activities." So begins A Simpler Way, an exploration of a radically different worldview that will reshape how we think about organizing all human endeavors.

Margaret J. Wheatley and coauthor Myron Kellner-Rogers explore the question: "How could we organize human endeavor if we developed different understandings of how life organizes itself?" They draw on the work of scientists, philosophers, poets, novelists, spiritual teachers, colleagues, audiences, and their own experience in search of new ways of understanding life and how organizing activities occur. A Simpler Way presents a profoundly different worldview that can change how we live our lives and how we can create organizations that thrive.

A Simpler Way explores fundamental new beliefs about organizations and life. Like Leadership and the New Science, this new book is rooted in science but breaks new ground by developing insights from literature, spiritual teachings, and direct experience. The authors challenge many assumptions about life, organizations, and change, while providing inspiration and guidance for readers on their own journey to a simpler way to organize their endeavors.

The authors describe a new paradigm of life as self-organizing and coevolving, drawing on sources that support modern science but predate its findings by thousands of years. They examine five major themes-play, organization, self, emergence, and coherence-each grounded in both the science and philosophy of a world that knows how to organize itself. Each theme is explored in depth, and then applied to how we think about human organizations.

The book begins and ends with photo essays, providing visual imagery that recalls readers to their own experience with a world that is creative, playful, and self-organizing. Written in a relaxed, poetic, and inviting style, the book welcomes the reader into this exploration of a new way of being in the world, one which can give us increased organizing capacity and effectiveness with less of the stress that plagues us now.

• A BusinessWeek bestseller
• From the author of the bestselling Leadership and the New Science

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Margaret Wheatley

Now in my 70s, I can look back and appreciate what a rich and blessed life I’ve lived. I’ve been able to give my curiosity free rein and to be with extraordinary teachers. I’ve been able to explore a wide range of disciplines and lived in several different cultures. I’ve learned from an incredible diversity of people, from indigenous peoples to the Dalai Lama, from small town ministers to senior government ministers, from leading scientists to National Park rangers, from engaged activists to solitary monastics. This access to so many sources of experience and wisdom, held in the container of friendship, continues to deepen my resolve to bring whatever I’m learning into my books and teachings. For me, privilege is a responsibility, rather than a source of guilt.

Having experienced so much, I want to find the best means to communicate with all of you as we aspire to do meaningful work and be of service to others in this ever-darkening world.

I have been a consultant and speaker since 1973, and have worked, I believe, with almost all types of organizations and people. They range from the head of the U.S. Army to twelve year old Girl Scouts, and include Fortune 50 corporations, government agencies, healthcare institutions, foundations, public schools, colleges, major church denominations, professional associations, and monasteries. I have also worked on all continents (except Antarctica). Invitations to work in so many different places, with all types of people, fed both my curiosity and ability to recognize patterns of behavior common across cultural and institutional differences. And it kept me alert to changing trends in leadership. I am fond of making generalizations, sometimes to the annoyance of others, but they feel genuine and accurate to me because of the scope and depth of my work.

I have served as full-time graduate management faculty at two institutions, Cambridge College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and The Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. I’ve been a formal advisor for leadership programs in England, Croatia, Denmark, Australia and the United States and, in Berkana, with leadership initiatives in India, Senegal, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Greece, Canada and Europe. For the past nine years, I have had a formal appointment (President approved) to serve the National Parks as one of twelve citizen advisors on their National Advisory Board. My portfolio has been leadership and culture change within the system of 400+ national parks. This work has been among the most rewarding of my career, both because of the mission of National Parks and the dedicated and smart people who work to fulfill this mission under increasingly difficult circumstances.

I am co-founder and President of The Berkana Institute, a global non-profit founded in 1991. Berkana has been a leader in experimenting with new organizational forms based on a coherent theory of how living systems adapt and change. Berkana has worked in partnership with a rich diversity of people around the world who strengthen their communities by working with the wisdom and wealth already present in their people, traditions and environment. These pioneers do not deny or flee from our global crisis; they respond by moving courageously into the future now, experimenting with many different solutions. Berkana’s newest work is to train Warriors for the Human Spirit, leaders from around the world who engage together, learning-in-community, training with discipline and dedication to develop a stable mind and skillful means. These spiritual warriors do their work with compassion and insight, vowing to refrain from using aggression and fear to accomplish their ends. www.berkana.org.

My newest book is: Who Do We Choose To Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity

(June 2017, Berrett-Koehler). This book is born of my desire to summon us to be leaders for this time as things fall apart, to reclaim leadership as a noble profession that creates possibility and humaneness in the midst of increasing fear and turmoil by creating Islands of Sanity.

Each of my books has been an invitation to explore new ways of being and thinking based on wisdom drawn from new science, history, and spiritual traditions. Leadership and the New Science (1992, 1999, 2006, in 18 languages), is a voyage of discovery into an orderly universe where relationships are the basis of everything, a world that organizes itself according to unchanging laws that modern humans ignore. A Simpler Way (1996) continued that journey, asking whether we could organize following life’s example so that our lives and work would be less difficult, more delightful.

In Turning to One Another (2002, 2009), I invited readers to explore the power of conversations to create strong relationships and meaningful change. Finding Our Way (2005) offered a variety of roadmaps for how to navigate the different aspects of our lives, from nations to organizations to family, as the world grows more uncertain. When I observed how difficult it was for good leaders to not lose their way, I wrote Perseverance (2010) as a daily guide for maintaining our commitment, presence and energy no matter how hard the work is. Walk Out Walk On (2011), co-authored with Deborah Frieze, described the work of communities daring to live the future now, in conditions much harsher than ours, bright beacons illuminating what’s possible when we humans commit to working together. In 2012, I offered So Far From Home where I detailed the dynamics of global society that have emerged to create a world far distant from the one we were working so hard to create. I strongly encouraged us to notice what’s going on, and to counter this downward spiral by standing up as Warriors for the Human Spirit.

In 2014, I wrote How Does Raven Know? Entering Sacred World, A Meditative Memoir. Unlike my previous seven books, How Does Raven Know? invites you to see the world anew informed not by science but by sacred wisdom–a world we modern ones have dismissed or ignored, but still held for us in the ancient wisdom traditions of most cultures. It is not a call to action, but to relationship with forgotten companions and animate Earth which, in my own experience, willingly offer us support, encouragement, and consolation.

My articles appear in a wide range of professional publications and magazines, and can be downloaded free from my website, www.margaretwheatley.com. On the website, you can order DVDs and CDs that I’ve produced on topics ranging from personal to organizational.

I was raised on the East Coast of the U.S., first in the New York City area, and then lived in Boston for 15 years. In 1989, my family and I moved west to the mountains and red rock canyons of Utah. I have two adult sons and have raised five stepchildren, all seven from the same father. There are now 21 grandchildren (and counting) and three great-grandchildren. My family, friends and work bring me joy, and so does the time I spend in the true quiet of wilderness or wandering deep into the red rock canyons of Utah.



Visit Author Page - Myron Kellner-Rogers

Myron Kellner-Rogers is a principal of Kellner-Rogers & Wheatley, Inc. and a founder and trustee of The Berkana Institute. With two decades of experience as both a consultant and executive, Myron's work focuses on applying insight from the new sciences of chaos, complexity, and self-organizing systems to assist organizations in coping with turbulent environments. Kellner-Rogers & Wheatley is committed to working with clients on organizational planning and change processes that involve all stakeholders in creating their desired focus and form. Their clients encompass a wide variety of organizations, ranging from Fortune 500 companies, to healthcare, educational, governmental, and non-profit institutions, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Kellner-Rogers is a frequent key-note speaker in the U.S. and abroad, presenting seminars to senior executives, organization teams, community groups and professional associations.

At the Berkana Institute, Kellner-Rogers has led formal dialogues with managers, consultants, educators, and scientists in an on-going inquiry into how we can simplify and redesign our organizations by applying insights from new science. He is coauthor of A Simpler Way.



Visit Author Page - Myron Rogers

Margaret J. Wheatley is the author of Leadership and the New Science, named Best Management Book of 1992 by Industry Week magazine. She and Myron Kellner-Rogers are principals of a consulting firm that focuses on applying natural science principles of self-organization.

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Table of Contents



Photo Essay

Prologue: A Simpler Way

Chapter 1. Play: Organizing as Play
Chapter 2. Organization: Organization as Organizing
Chapter 3. Self: Selves Organizing
Chapter 4. Emergence: Emerging Organization
Chapter 5. The Motions of Coherence

Epilogue: A Simpler Way

Photo Essay

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Endorsements




"A Simpler Way is a marvelous raid on the unspeakable and invisible world which permeates every human attempt to work together. The writing is meditative, clear and uncluttered, yet exactly to the point. Destined to be a classic."

—David Whyte, poet and author of The Hearth Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America

"A Simpler Way is nothing less than a generous gift from the authors.... In an evocative, almost poetic, style they lead us with thought, care, and great gentleness, through a philosophy which observes life as always moving toward organization, and organization as ultimately affirming of life itself."

—James A. Autry, author of Love and Profit and Life and Work

"This inviting and courageous book illuminates the new organizational paradigm in a profound and poetic way. It is filled with hope, insight, and penetrating questions that lift us to a universe abounding in new possibilities. The issues it raises-about how we organize work and how we can create together-are of such depth and scope that we will be inquiring into their meaning for years to come. I so love and admire this work."

—Richard N. Knowles, Ph.D., Director, Community Awareness and Emergency Response, DuPont Corporation

"If you care about authentic change and want your faith in human systems affirmed, drop everything and read this book."

—Peter Block, author of Stewardship and The Empowered Manager
"There is an emerging lexicon for enabling and sustaining dynamic, playful, purposeful, and coherent organizations. Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers are teaching us this new language of integration, connection, and interdependence, of adaptation, patterns and inherent order and possibility. If we don't learn to speak it, our current organizations will not survive. Please read this book over and over until the words and meanings begin to seep into your soul."

—Stephanie Pace Marshall, Executive Director, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

"Warning: Reading this book could transform your life. The revolutionary assertion of this wonderfully poetic book is that life on earth is creative, experimenting, and self-organizing. Organization is trying to happen; often our efforts to manage it actually get in the way. Adopting this new philosophy, much of what we do in organizations will change profoundly. "

—Willis Harman, President, The Institute of Noetic Sciences

"Wheatley and Kellner-Rogers have the unique ability of understanding the essence of the emerging science of complexity and applying it to the business world. An inspiring book."

—Fritjof Capra, author of The Turning Point and The Web of Life

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