Linear thinking LO22814

Winfried Deijmann (
Wed, 06 Oct 1999 14:02:06 +0200

Replying to LO22793 --

I like to add my two pence of thoughts to the Linear thinking thread by
drawing in the polarity "Past versus Future.

Understanding the past (whatever led to the present situation), is for
many people extraordinarily important in designing interventions. This
list is discussing e.g. Linear versus Global thinking to -at some point-
be able to design interventions that are useful and fruitful What can the
Future tell us about designing interventions?

To use the same vocabulary as in this tread I understand Linear thinking
as a time-related flow from the Past into the Future and Global thinking
as a space-related flow from the Future towards us. These flows meet
eachother in human consciousness.

I agree that the past is important. Because one needs the past to learn
for the Future. But there is IMHO more to it.

About a year ago I read a book written by the Dutch professor Cees Zwart.
He has written a book titled : The Strategy of Hope". In this book he
describes - among other things- three possible futures:
1. a projected future,
2. a programmed future
3. a dreamed future.

sub 1. In Zwart's view a projected future projects the past into the
future. You hear people than say: Why change things. We've done it 20
years like this! Why change? Conservatists and fundamentalists.

In a projected future people try to deal with the unfinished past. They
project their "mistakes" into the future. they create environments where
they desire to correct the consequences of their "mistakes". The
unfinished past still works in the future. Much of what leaders do is in
fact based on the unconscious wish to correct the unfinished past. E.g.
every new government starts with a governmental declaration that intends
to deal with the consequences of the past.

sub 2. In a programmed future rules the law of "the hard agreements,
detailed contracts and deals". Here you hear people say: "This is what we
decided and this is what we are going to do, no matter what....!"
Generals, dictators and 'die hards'.

A programmed future is no 'new' future, but a repetition of the past. Much
of what we call future is, thanks to the computer, a programmed future. In
a programmed future we want to repeat the good things from the past. Have
you noticed how much is being developed and still is under development on
this level? IMO the whole IT-industry is focussed on conserving the good
things from the past. In this future everything is scheduled and planned.
The IT-sector is intensely trying to break through this "programmed future
thinking" but they don't realize that its their way of thinking about the
future that denies real break throughs.

sub 3. In a dreamed future you forget the past totally and you just
fantasice. This is when people say:"Shouldn't it be wonderful if........".
The ultimate Idealist talks here.

A dreamed future is free of influences from the past, it's not blocked by
impossibilities It is the main source for positive pro-active energy. It's
the source of hope. IMO we can only meet the future through dreams. But
far to often dreams are repressed by projections and objections from the

Reality today is mostly the result of projected- and programmed
Reality should however IMO include also dreamed future-thinking.

Re-inventing daydreaming

Nowadays I meet very few people who, on a regular base, daydream about the
future. In this I absolutely agree with Cees Zwart that daydreaming should
be re-invented and re-introduced in Management Development. Most managers
are too afraid of their boss, of losing their jobs, loans,status, etc..
They instinctively make decisions that insure and secure their position.
So for reasons of security they project the past onto the future, or
program themselves and others to just follow orders without taking notice
of their (moral) consciousness. Thus continuing linear thinking and
preventing Global thinking.

Global Thinking is similar to 'anticipating consciousness'' which in its
turn gives us access to 'not yet embodied knowledge'.

Boulding, one of the founders of General Systems Theory,
introduced the principle of searching an objective (goal) IN the future.
He states that 'An image acts as a field'. An image is to be considered as
something that hasn't been realized yet, but does have an attraction on
us. it influences us. How it influences us depends on the 'materials' that
are used to create it. If the image is entirely based on historic material
(= experiences from the Past), you only get a history-related Image. You
will only be attracted (again) to history, to an already realized reality.

The concept of (day)dreaming needs acceptance of an unrealized reality
that exists as 'not yet embodied knowledge' in the 'womb of the Gods'.
(Cliff Havener makes an excellent attempt to describe this 'womb of the
Gods' in his book "Meaning, The secret of being alive"
<>) The nature of 'realized reality' can
beautifully be compared with the geological layers from the earth: rests
from the past that still work on in the presence. In earlier postings to
this list I pointed out that in individual life you can also find
comparable layers, situated in our soul. They still have impact on our
inner life and in our actions. In much religious - and esoteric
literature the spiritual world is also described in reality-layers.

Organizations consist of similar reality-layers.

The art of (day)dreaming consists of developing images that draw the
contents from the 'wombs of the gods' closer to us. The difficulty with
that however is that we often are not aware that we actually CAN get in
touch with these 'not yet embodied knowledge'. A new (?) direction of
science should be designed that leads individuals into the fields of the
'not yet consciousness'. or 'not yet embodied knowledge'. Perhaps second
- or third generation Knowledge Management concepts will make this
possible? The first sign of 'not yet embodied knowledge' is a kind of
hunch that comes to you as a gift from the future. Everybody has -or at
least has the potential- to have these hunches or daydreams.

If we (as consultants and trainers) are able to connect our thinking about
the past with the sources of 'not yet embodied knowledge' by using our
'anticipating consciousness' we'll be much more capable of letting the
here-and-now situation show us what intervention is the right one. The
future itself knows best what is necessary to be done. To get re-connected
we have to design interventions to develop awareness for "hunches" ore
"the inner voice" or in Senge's view: Personal Mastery. A good start is to
plan some daily dreamtime. Every day say 10 minutes of planned

For what its worth,

Winfried Deijmann

Mr. Winfried M. Deijmann - Deijmann & Partners - Zutphen - The Netherlands
Artists, Consultants and Facilitators for Organizational Learning,
Leadership and Action Learning Events
Het Zwanevlot 37. NL 7206 CB Zutphen, The Netherlands
Phone: +31-(0)575-522076

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