In the beginning …

Some would say it’s a gutsy move to call your company Heaven & Earth Incorporated. What’s behind the name? A few things: first, in Chinese philosophy, the human being (literally perched on the horizon) is seen as where heaven and earth meet.

Second, my work for the last 30 years has centered on creative or generative tension, as initially introduced to me by Robert Fritz. The simple model poses that creative energy comes from the discrepancy between vision (what we want) and reality (what we’ve got). As you can imagine, this is easier said than done. I like the phrase “heaven and earth” to capture how we are oriented to our aspirations while also being grounded in reality. I’m also intrigued by the more recent work of colleague Charlie Kiefer in this area, noticing that the most entrepreneurial among us are master creators, not only because they keep their “eyes on the prize” but because they let their definition of the “prize” actively evolve as they create and adjust.

Finally, my Roman Catholic upbringing complemented with the adult exploration of many eastern contemplative traditions causes me to believe that life is fullest when we can integrate the spiritual and the material. I am committed to this integration in my own life, and the company name serves as a daily reminder of my own aspiration.

Since I founded Heaven & Earth Incorporated in 1996, I have been fortunate to vastly expand my network of colleagues who have in turn have helped me develop and expand my thinking and capabilities. I’m particularly grateful to Otto Scharmer and his colleagues (Senge, Jaworski and Flowers) for articulating their model of a deep action learning process in Presence and Theory U. Like many others, I feel they put into more organized concepts what I too had experienced. I’m delighted to have published the first editions of both of these books and marvel at the “presencing” community that has evolved around this reflective/generative model.

Lastly (for now), the opportunities that I’ve had to travel extensively in India as well as my connection with the Seeing Things Whole community have provided wonderful opportunities to explore the “integration of spiritual imagination and organizational life”.

This has all been good for my soul. As my mentor Bill O’Brien said, the effectiveness of a leader, manager, change agent is largely a function of their interior condition. Much of my work holds what I’ve been describing here as tacit. I hope it makes me a good listener and “friendly co-pilot” for those change agents I work with, creating the conditions for greater collective intelligence and wisdom as we take on awesome challenges and wonderful opportunities.

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