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Looking Back to Look Forward

3 min read

Information will never replace illumination. - Susan Sontag

Maria Popova of Brain Pickings reminds us that 99% of the record of human thought is not found on the internet. This applies as much to the vast legacies of wisdom on organizational life and meditations on "difference" and "inclusion" as it does to the deep reflections on how to live meaningfully that she documents so beautifully and intricately.

As practitioners, our daily work involves coaching and advising companies and individuals on the
"how": how to leverage and negotiate as many dimensions of diversity as possible, how to redesign systems and cultures that were founded on principles of marginalization and exclusion, how to create greater inclusion and equity for all employees in the face of these histories and perpetuating systems, and how to transform organizational cultures into more humane ones. In my own personal journey through this work, I am often frustrated by the fact that many of the tools and knowledge we draw on as practitioners are either filtered through recency, present, and availability biases (read: "fad of the year"), or were developed siloed off from other rich, complementary sources of insight and perspective.

So I'm challenging myself to do something different: how might we benefit from drawing on the diverse voices that have produced collective, cross-disciplinary insights on how to understand, and eventually build, more human-centered and diversity-positive organizations? What do some of the most prolific organizational theorists, scientists, educators, artists, philosophers, and more— both living and long gone—have to say about 'difference,' 'belonging,' 'growth and development,' and other such topics that are so vital to our workplaces and organizational lives? What persisting pitfalls might they warn us about? What unrealized beauty might they direct us towards?

Let's go there.

This blog is a cross-disciplinary lens on organizational life, a compendium created for those of us committed to making workplaces and organizations more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, yes, but much more than that: life-giving spaces, to the extent possible, for nourishment, growth, and belonging. 

We will find beauty and wisdom in complexity, in the imperfect, as 'wabi' teaches us. We will build a future of work that expands human freedom instead of impinges it.

To light the way forward, it's often best if we look around us, and when the task calls for it, we look back.