Simon Robinson is the co-founder and CEO Worldwide of Holonomics, a pioneering business consultancy specialising in strategy, change management, leadership, innovation and customer experience. Having started his career in user-centred design in the early 1990s, he is a respected global thought leader on customer experience design, innovation and conscious leadership, helping companies to align their purpose and value propositions with today’s most critical challenges. Simon is the co-author of Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter, and Customer Experiences with Soul: A New Era in Design (2017). He is a Harvard Business Review author, an international keynote speaker and a member of the Strongly Sustainable Business Models research group.
The Key Articles section of this site contains many papers on a diverse number of subjects written by Simon if you are interested in finding out more about his work. If you would like to contact him please feel free to use the contact form below.
Simon. LinkedIn said that I can only post two thousand character messages. Hence I send my reply to you this way:
On Portuguese: Remember that learning grammar is secondary. It may be necessary to some extent – like polish on shoes. But the most important thing is to communicate spontaneously. For this, I use such vocabulary learning software as http://www.supermemo.com – based on the PhD thesis of a Polish psychologist who studied spaced-learning. I don’t know how intrepid a linguist you are but I have written a short article on learning languages on one’s own. If you were interested, I could send it.
On your statement : It is interesting that you mention Huxley, since he of course wrote “The Doors of Perception” as well as “Brave New World”.
I didn’t think of the connexion. But it’s true: societies that curtail perception and creativity end up without innovation and productivity (in the best sense of the word.) When John LeCarre spoke of why the USSR had collapsed, he said it was a society in which one could not send a used refrigerator to one’s grandmother in another city. That is: it was dysfunctional and could not fulfill the needs of its citizens. Such are dictatorships and Brave New Worlds. I believe that what you are working upon is a form of Deep Democracy – a form of building social relations on deep dialogue. Of course I am thinking of Bohm.
Thank you for the link on your book. I’m fascinated with growing consciousness and one who has influenced me is Roberto Assagioli. Basically he believed in the will but not in a tyrannical fascist conception of the will, but rather, a higher form of consciousness – one much more focussed and able to create great things. And this makes me think of the studies on the flow state by Dr. Mihaly Mindeczenmihaly.
You have taken a more radical path: that of Aldous Huxley or of Carlos Castaneda.
Thank you for mentioning Bortoft and McGilchrist. I do not know them and looking them up will – allow me – please allow me a grain of salt, to say this will expand my consciousness. I’m fascinated with heuristics and have read Polya’s book on problem solving. Indeed, I believe my years of meditation have helped me become a better problem solver and I am certainly able to visualize better. Systems science is much ado about visualisation: that it, rather than linear arrows it’s much more webs of interactions drawn in a diagram.
Consciousness fascinates me personally too. I wanted to do a master’s and doctorate in systems science. I tried. I failed. Then I did batteries of tests to find out why. I am poor at motor-visual skills, poor at working memory and poor at synthesis of information. I have since taken up yoga and gymnastics, worked on n-back tests to strengthen my working memory and – yes, meditation really helps in the synthesis of information.
I absolutely believe that complexity can teach the world about the deep connectivity between all life, but we are still at the stage whereby banks are trying to use ecosystem models to help them model their own financial systems, but this modelling still views nature as “dead” and “separate” and they have completely missed the deeper intrinsic dimensions of living systems that can only really be perceived in one’s intuition, and not logically or rationally.
I totally agree with you on complexity teaching us much. What’s interesting is that I think of Thomas Kuhn’s ideas on scientific revolutions. Scientific revolutions are driven by scientists questioning the axioms behind a certain scientific model: Copernicus questioned the heliocentric axiom in Ptolemy’s system; the three who invented non-Euclidian geometry questioned Euclid’s fifth axiom about parallel lines. I believe that axioms and models permeate not only science, but all areas of a certain culture in a certain generation.
One axiom-paradigm that really defines our era is topology. Topology tells us about connection (networks) and about how they form and morph – that is, topology unifies geometries and can translate one to the other. What you said about models of “deep connectivity” is deeply topological.
On banks, I will start by saying that one percent of the population of where I now – Haiti, owns fifty percent of the wealth of the country. Disturbing? Third World? Not if one takes into account that the same figures hold true internationally. A Swiss group did a topological study of companies and organisations in their financial dependencies. They found the Pareto law applied. But then again there was a second set of interdependencies within this showing that – basically, the Haitian statistics I have cited are the same for the world.
I understand that so many people go astray with systems thinking: they believe they have grasped something then revert to their old habits – presuppositions, in thinking. Indeed, one problem with new ideas at the core of what you are doing is that you may be lead to say “The emperor has no clothes.” In a bureaucracy, whether in government or in a bank, this is dangerous. Remember: Franz Kafka worked in a bank. But I doubt that his superiors appreciated where he got some of his absurdist ideas.
This kind of thinking is really captured well in the book “Profit Beyond Measure” which is about the different mindsets of Toyota, Ford, GM and Chrysler and shows that this is not just some academic exercise, but can be seen to have massive organisational implications.
Thank you for referring me to the book “Profit Beyond Measure.” The word Koyaanisquatsi is a North American word meaning “that which has gone beyond its measure” or something of the kin. While watching this wordless film (of the same name), the theme of the film suddenly caught me. The film started with monks in Nepal (I think) chanting. It then went into the mindlessness of mass-production society. It occurred to me that the Nepalese monks and other religious people that the film showed in religious settings were repeating prayers and mantras to transform their consciousness; modern society was repeating procedures to transform material for human ends. The problem presented by the film is that without individuals transforming their inner world – their consciousness, the outer world would become unbalanced, mad and destructive.
And by the way, I was just thinking of the big US motorcar manufacturers yesterday. Deming (and Juran) helped to bring Japan to the heights of international competition. Why? Because Japan was a needy nation thrown to the ground by war and needed any good ideas it could get. Over thirty years later Deming got a polite reception from the big US motorcar manufacturers – a basically “Thanks but no thanks.” Perception, receptivity and humbleness account for so much in leadership. So does creativity and the study of heuristics – which have much to do with questioning presuppositions.
Could complex systems theory transform Haiti as quality management did for Japan?
Donella Meadows , one of the leaders of the Club of Rome stated that for solving problems in a system the greatest skills were detachment and the ability to change paradigms – to question one’s own assumptions (as the founder of the Toyota system , Taichi Ohno, evidently did).
And may I mention, too, the scholar of medieval mnemonics , Dr. Mary Carruthers. She wrote that monasteries are factories of vision. In a problem-ridden world where creativity and heuristics are so important , these words resound in my mind.
Priogene’s statement fascinates me and it is beautiful and poetic. Bacon, after writing Novum Organum believed that using his empirical method, humanity would have the answers to all its questions within a few years. How wrong he was and what a boring world that would have been!
All the best
Hi – thanks for your considered reply. Yes, we have a lot in common. I think you will love Henri Bortoft’s book “The Wholeness of Nature”.
If you do a search on my blog for Bortoft and McGilchrist you will find a few articles about them.
Only just realised the Brasil connection with your last comment! Where abouts are you living? If you´re in SP we should meet up some time. You´re welcome to come and visit us on the farm!
Hi goes without saying I’d love to visit but we do not have a car right now. We live in Sao Paulo : )
Could you please write me an e-mail sending your personal phone number? See my e-mail address at the top of my home page:
This coming Sunday a British friend will come to São Paulo for a couple of days, and he certainly will be very glad to meet you. He referred to you because, as he wrote me: “I came across his website somehow in terms of the research I am doing about Phenomenology and Software since am in the middle of reading Henri Bortoft’s latest book ‘Taking Appearances Seriously’.”
All the best,
Valdemar W. Setzer