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The Geometry of

Dynamic Structure
A Fundamental Pattern of Organizational Architecture
for Adaptive Transformation and Success in a Changing World

Faith Diehl
Independent

PowerPoint 1999
Peer Presentation March 2006
PowerPoint plus introductory pages and references posted on SSRN July 2009

You may redistribute this document freely, but please do not post the electronic file on the web. I welcome web
links to this document at http://papers.ssrn.com. I revise my papers and providing a link to the living document
ensures that the readers will receive the most recent version. Thank you.

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.

Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1431965


The Geometry of
Dynamic Structure

Author: Faith Diehl


Email: faithdiehl@gmail.com
Based: Atlanta, Georgia

The author is an independent researcher, consultant and author in the field of dynamic systems
architecture, with focus on organizational level governance, leadership and transformation.

Electronic copy of this paper is available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1431965

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.

Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1431965


Introduction and Acknowledgments
This presentation captures the essence of a model of living architecture – in which science is more than a
metaphor for social phenomenon.

The conceptual framework evolved from an initial insight in January 1998, after reading Donald Ingber’s
“Architecture of a Cell” in Scientific American. Other insights were provided by numerous thinkers and writers,
including Ken Auletta in his April 1998 article in The New Yorker on industries undergoing rapid change, and
biophysicist Werner Loewenstein in his book The Touchstone of Life: Molecular Information, Cell
Communication, and the Foundations of Life. Confirming the leap to organizational dynamics, Simon School
faculty Jim Brickley, Cliff Smith, and Jerry Zimmerman graciously provided access to a draft edition of
Managerial Economics and Organizational Architecture (1997), a derivative of Michael C. Jensen’s theoretical
work on the theory of the firm. Gerald de Jong collaborated on the design and development of 3-D software in
1999, and provided introductions to innovators in information technology visualization, including Anthony Judge
of the Union of International Associations, who saw the vision and provided a database for an application.

From the beginning, encouragement to develop the model was provided by many – from the enthusiasm and
support of colleague John O’Rourke – to the ardent interest expressed by Jim Undercofler, Mitch Robinson,
Leslie Marx, Malcolm McCullough, Ian Turvill, Nancy Lotane, Mike Waters, Richard Couch, Kevin Parker,
Sandra Sucher, Gregg Olin, and Somi Kim and Susan Parr of ReVerb. They all made a difference in my
persisting. Special recognition goes to John Diehl who quietly endured my absence while covering the bases at
home, and to my children, Sarah and Justin, who were unconditionally supportive.

Special gratitude is extended to Mike Jensen, who made possible my graduate education at the Simon School
at the University of Rochester, whose work on organizational architecture provided the initial framework for
these insights, who graciously set aside an entire afternoon in March 2006 to view this presentation and listen
to my story, whose subsequent encouragement was an inspiration to re-immerse myself in the work, and who
has made possible this posting through the development of SSRN and his commitment to getting ideas known.

With delight in the discoveries of deep listening.


Faith Diehl, July 24, 2009
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
Abstract:
The world is changing rapidly, placing increasing pressure on organizational systems to develop structures,
processes and cultures that facilitate ongoing transformation.

For half a century, a growing understanding of adaptive mechanisms in biological systems has provided
metaphors and conceptual possibilities for organizational process and culture that facilitate change. In this
presentation, the structure of living dynamic systems is identified as a critical component of adaptive capacity.
A fundamental geometry is introduced that is observed in highly evolved systems – from the micro level in
biology to the macro level in societal level organization. It appears that the fundamental structural geometry of
dynamic living systems is ubiquitous – applying to all levels.

Based on this observation, the author proposes that science is more than a metaphor for social phenomenon,
and that organizations are a higher level of biological complexity. This proposition goes beyond a conceptual
framework. It provides access to the entire range of advances in the natural and health sciences as templates
for understanding and for the development of concrete tools for observation, measurement, intervention and
design of organizations.

The mechanical properties of this living architecture allows for a high level of elasticity, rapid redistribution of
pressure and tension, distribution of information, and harmonic potential – creating conditions for both
wholeness and adaptive capacity. The components are distinct, occur in predictable proportion, and appear to
emerge in a particular sequence. With these understandings and a growing understanding of how they
manifest in organizations, it becomes possible to develop a science of transformation.

This presentation is intended to create awareness of the geometry of dynamic structure – contributing to
understanding and greater freedom to cooperate responsibly with emergent design as well as co-create design
possibilities. Application of the fundamental geometric pattern to organizational structure is one of the most
powerful responses to the pressures of a rapidly changing world.

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.


Tools Pain

Insights Questions

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today today

yesterday.
© Copyright 1999/2009 2010 Faith D Diehl All righ
profit = revenue - expense

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today…
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
portal Web-enabled
mass customization channels
customer-service band-width
intelligence chaos DNA meme
fully-integrated-e-biz
T-1;T-3 digital-communities
coopetition
adaptive-design
digital-collaboration-systems
supply-chain value-capture
cellular singularity legacy
seamless connectivity
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…our world is
increasingly dynamic.

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?

What types of change


cause pain?

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throughout the environment

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and connectivity
transportation

rapid change
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telecommunications
and connectivity

rapid change
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and connectivity
computers

rapid change
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overall connectivity
and overall change

rapid change
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within the central core

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Wall Street Journal Fortune Wired Harvard Business Review
New York Times Barrons Harris Interactive Customer Surveys
Annual Business Report Quarterly Profit Reports Monthly
Financial Reports Weekly Sales Reports Daily Stock Exchange
Reports Quality Management Fish Bone Reports Fast Track Team
Reports CBS C-NBC ABC C-Span America OnLine
e-mail spam amazon. Com Yahoo Ask Jeeves ISO 2000
Supplier Specs Boston Globe Economist San Jose Mercury
Washington Post Business Week CIO Forbes Daily Deal
London Times Newsweek Fox MSNBC Excite Computer
World bloomberg.com Computer World AltaVista DogPile
Metacrawler Wall Stree Search URL Wire Red Herring
Smart Money ceoexpress.com kpmgconsulting.com

information overload
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throughout the interior

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evolving enterprise

SCATTERED SILO FLAT


COTTAGE INDUSTRIES HIERARCHICAL CUSTOMER-FOCUSED
architecture

structural stress
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
enterprise life-cycle
increasing speed of

PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE INDUSTRIAL AGE INFORMATION AGE

Key: Points of value-capture transition

?
structural stress
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
in every part of the infrastructure

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human
disconnects
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human
l
u ra
lt
c u

disconnects
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human
l
u ra
lt
c u

financial

disconnects
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
human
l
u ra
lt
c u

financial
tim
e

disconnects
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
human
l
u ra
lt
c u

financial
technology
tim
e

disconnects
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
human
l
u ra
lt
c u

n financial
technology

io tim
a t
m e
or
inf
disconnects
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
human
l
u ra
physical lt
c u

n financial
technology

io tim
a t
m e
or
inf
disconnects
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
pr
oc

human
es
s l
u ra
physical lt
c u

n financial
technology

io tim
a t
m e
or
inf
disconnects
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
?

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Pain of
change

What questions
are implied?

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dig in our heels? cut salaries?
blame someone else?
throw out all processes?
invest in training staff?
“tweak” the numbers?
contract product lines?
deny that change is occurring?
bargain for more time?
wait for the ax to fall? quit?
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
or…

accept…

the inevitability
of the unknown…

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…and learn to deal with
change
on a continual basis…

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…by identifying the
constants.

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Who are we?

…our DNA and the


dynamic geometry of
our architecture…

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What do we want to
accomplish?

…our value creation


for our customers…

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How will we do it?

…our roles, processes,


technologies…

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How will we know?

…our reflections,
understanding,
memory and wisdom…

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.


Leading Organizations
through Chaos
Negotiating
the Port-Hole
while Hosting
a Mad
Tea-Party
And
Maintaining
Integrity
Throughout
the Journey

Faith Diehl

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.


pain of
change
questions
?

What insights
offer answers to the questions?

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.


Part 1: Alice in Memeland

Leading Organizations through Chaos


Negotiating the Rabbit-Hole …..

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insight #1

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where life began …

Coral: tetrahyperbarioal
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… the geometric nanostructures
of single-celled algae and coral ….

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… contain clues …

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… to the structure of complex
adaptable human enterprises.

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the insight –

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the insight –
ubiquity of structure

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the insight –
ubiquity of structure
• Cellular cytoskeleton =
• Fossil corals =
• High performance teams =
• High valuation corporations =
• Effective partnerships =
• Evolved governments =

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.


the insight –
ubiquity of structure
Cellular cytoskeleton =
Fossil corals =
High performance teams =
High valuation corporations =
Effective partnerships =
Evolved governments =

tensegrity structure
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cellular building-blocks

tensegrity structure
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cellular building-blocks
CORE AND
CORE SUPPORTS
(INSIDE)

tensegrity structure
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cellular building-blocks
CORE AND MEMBRANE
CORE SUPPORTS SUPPORTS
(INSIDE) (OUTSIDE)

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
cellular building-blocks
CORE AND MEMBRANE NETWORK
CORE SUPPORTS SUPPORTS SUPPORTS
(INSIDE) (OUTSIDE) (INTEGRATORS)

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
cellular building-blocks
CORE AND MEMBRANE NETWORK
CORE SUPPORTS SUPPORTS SUPPORTS
(INSIDE) (OUTSIDE) (INTEGRATORS)

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
cellular building-blocks
MEMBRANE
SUPPORTS
(OUTSIDE)

CORE AND NETWORK


CORE SUPPORTS SUPPORTS
(INSIDE) (INTEGRATORS)

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
cellular building-blocks
MEMBRANE
SUPPORTS
(OUTSIDE)

CORE AND NETWORK


CORE SUPPORTS SUPPORTS
(INSIDE) (INTEGRATORS)

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
cellular building-blocks

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
cellular building-blocks

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
cellular building-blocks

Tetrahedron
Tensegrity

Geometry
Buckminster Fuller
tensegrity structure
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building-blocks of
ocean corals & creatures

tensegrity structure
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building-blocks of
ocean corals & creatures

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
building-blocks of
ocean corals & creatures

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
building-blocks of
ocean corals & creatures

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
building-blocks of
ocean corals & creatures

tensegrity structure
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team building-blocks

tensegrity structure
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team building-blocks
TEAM LEADER;
CONTENT EXPERTS

Kelly

John
Robert

tensegrity structure
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team building-blocks
CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDING
TEAM LEADER; FORAGERS;
CONTENT EXPERTS OUTCOME EXPERTS

Kevin
Kelly

John
Robert

Pat

tensegrity structure
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team building-blocks
CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDING FACILITATORS;
TEAM LEADER; FORAGERS; INFRASTRUCTURE
CONTENT EXPERTS OUTCOME EXPERTS PROVIDERS

Kevin
Kelly Susan

John
Robert Andy

Pat

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
team building-blocks
CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDING FACILITATORS;
TEAM LEADER; FORAGERS; INFRASTRUCTURE
CONTENT EXPERTS OUTCOME EXPERTS PROVIDERS
(CORE SUPPORT) (MEMBRANE SUPPORT) (INTEGRATORS)
Kevin
Kelly Susan

John
Robert Andy

Pat

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
team building-blocks
CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDING FACILITATORS;
TEAM LEADER; FORAGERS; INFRASTRUCTURE
CONTENT EXPERTS OUTCOME EXPERTS PROVIDERS
(CORE SUPPORT) (MEMBRANE SUPPORT) (INTEGRATORS)
Kevin
Kelly Susan

John
Robert Andy

Pat

tensegrity structure
team building-blocks

Kevin
Susan Kelly

John
Robert Andy

Pat

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
corporate building-blocks

CHARTER; Finance
NUCLEUS INFRASTRUCTURE
Production
CEO HR

R&D Marketing

CORE SUPPORT MEMBRANE SUPPORT


tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
corporate building-blocks;
including “band-width”
Finance

Production
CEO HR

R&D Marketing

INFORMATION FLOW (relevance, accuracy, completeness)


INFORMATION FIT (time, place, clarity),
INFORMATION RESONANCE (is “heard”)

tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
partnership building-blocks

PARTNERSHIP
AGREEMENT INFRASTRUCTURE:
Litigation
HR STAFF; DATABASES

Tax Environmental

CORE SUPPORT:
MANAGING PARTNER(S) MEMBRANE SUPPORT:
& PRACTICING ATTORNEYS PRACTICING ATTORNEYS
tensegrity structure
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government building-blocks

Legislature

EXECUTIVE
CONSTITUTION
President BRANCH

Supreme Court Congress

JUDICIARY LEGISLATIVE BRANCH


tensegrity structure
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
Part 2: Alice in Memeland

Leading Organizations through Chaos


Negotiating the Rabbit-Hole …. while hosting a Mad Tea-Party

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.


insight #2

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integration is critical…

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…to integrity of fit
within the nanostructures
and throughout the macrostructure.

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© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
women’s inner psychological life centers on
connection…for them, difference is a marker
of human condition, not a problem to be
solved.
In a Different Voice
Carol Gilligan

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cognitive reframing for effective emotional
listening, called mirroring, is a requirement
for learning.
Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman

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culture is the way in which a group of people
solves problems.
Riding the Waves of Culture
Fons Trompenaars

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notable exceptions to the glass ceiling are
in the communications and entertainment
industries. there, rapid change and highly
segmented customer markets requires
highly sophisticated, flexible integration for
survival and growth.
In the Company of Women
The New Yorker

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.


Part 3:
Through the Looking Glass

Leading Organizations through Chaos


Negotiating the Rabbit-Hole ….. While hosting a Mad Tea-Party …..
And not Loosing Sight of “Who You Are”
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insight #3

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all living organisms…

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…have the same DNA…

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…embedded in every single cell.

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on a primitive basis,
chartering forms the DNA.
more digitally evolved
organizations…
use portal technology
to embed DNA.

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pain of
? change
insights questions

what new tools would


enhance the value of these insights?

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.


Neither the naked hand nor the
understanding left to itself can
effect much. It is by instruments
and helps that the work is done,
which are as much wanted for the
understanding as for the hand.
Sir Francis Bacon

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tools to evaluate:
• structure
• integration
• DNA

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…are different
than the tools for
evaluating profit
and loss.

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For example:
measurement of fidelity to the optimal geometric structure:
• # of cells without key components (gap analysis)
• # of strategic cells missing components (focus)

measurement of recognition of infrastructure significance:


• # integrators per cell mass
• reward system for integrative behaviors

measurement of DNA dispersion:


• % of staff with access to system wide planning documents
• % of staff with understanding of their role in big picture

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.


The Results – Nimbleness
Flexibility to discern when to “change on a dime”
and what to “wisely hold constant” with regard to:
¾ customers
¾ core mission
¾ enablers (technology, financing, people
management, structure, processes,
culture)
¾ whole system mechanisms to anticipate,
sense, respond, adapt and propagate

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DON’T STOP rewarding the hunters –
the customer service, marketing,
and core production specialists…
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
…DO START rewarding
integrative facilitation,
the people and processes that plant the
seeds, that are the hub of
communication, that keep in mind the
“long-now.” they are the sine qua non
for all organic transfers of information.
they fit components together. they
transform entropy to information.
they are the G-proteins of complex
social structures.
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
The Solution –
Adaptive Design
Legislative

Constitution Executive

Judiciary

“Using design to find order


and opportunity in the chaos.”
Clement Mok
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
Growth, evolutionary growth,
is set into motion
when a molecule chances upon a partner
capable of information transfer.
the conditions are ripe for transfer
if the molecules
have closely complementary shapes,
are in proximity,
and if one emotes an electro-magnetic energy
that pulls them together.
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
so, to create conditions that invoke
spontaneous growth, means to provide
opportunities for:
• flexible components (integrators)
• to be in proximity (structure)
• to cross pollinate (DNA)
as their instincts and the instincts of
their cohorts see fit, within the context
of organizational DNA.
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
Imagine a world where geometric principles
and aesthetic design guide the assembly
of all matter, including atoms in the “living phase.”

Imagine a world where “life” ranges


from the microscopic
to the organic orchestration of corporations and governments.

Imagine a world where information exceeds fact,


where learning is defined by the flow of time
and the transitions from one phase to another.

Imagine a world where boundaries aren’t limits,


but the next ripple toward an eternity,
shaped by the constancy of never-ending waves of enthusiasm.

Imagine a world where mass-less particles,


from phonons to photons to the voices in telephones
catalyze forms that are greater than the sum of their parts.

Imagine a world where human striving is understood


in the language of Bucky architecture, elastic intervals and field theory,
opening doors-of-perception to new points-of-view and new realities.

Imagine a world where imagination is released,


where quantum consciousness opens each of us
to a meta-consciousness that is all of us.
Faith Diehl 1999
© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.
“The most beautiful experience we can
have is the mysterious. It is the
fundamental emotion which stands at the
cradle of true art and true science.

. . . I am satisfied with the mystery of the


eternity of life and with the awareness
and a glimpse of the marvelous structure
of the existing world, together with the
devoted striving to comprehend a
portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason
that manifests itself in nature.”

Albert Einstein, 1931

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.


tools pain of
change
insights questions

the rewards –
beyond imagination

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.


References
Auletta, Ken, “In the Company of Women,” The New Yorker, April 20, 1998.

Brickley, James A., Clifford W. Smith, Jr., and Jerold L. Zimmerman. Managerial Economics and Organizational Architecture, 5th edition,
McGraw-Hill/Irwin, New York, 2009.

De Jong, Gerald, Elastic Interval Geometry Java Applet, 1999.

Fuller, Buckminster, Synergetics; Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking, Macmillan, 1975.

Gilligan, Carol, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, Macmillan, 1993.

Goleman, Daniel, Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ, Bantam, 1995.

Hampden-Turner, Charles and Fons Trompenaars, Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business, McGraw-Hill, New
York, 1998.

Ingber, Donald, “The Architecture of Life,” Scientific American, January, 1998.

Jensen, Michael C. and William H. Meckling. “Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs, and Ownership Structure,” Vol. 3, 1976.

Lewin, Kurt, Field Theory in Social Science: Selected Theoretical Papers, Harpers & Bros., New York, 1951.

Loewenstein, Werner R., The Touchstone of Life; Molecular Information, Cell Communication, and the Foundations of Life, Oxford University
Press, New York, 1999.

Mok, Clement, Designing Business: Multiple Media, Multiple Disciplines, Hayden Books, 1991.

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre, The Phenomenon of Man, Harpers & Row, New York, 1959.

© Copyright 1999/2009-2010. Faith D. Diehl. All rights reserved.

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