01 March 2010

Let the Reflection on the Games Begin

Yes, it was a great hockey game yesterday, and not merely because Sidney Crosby finally lived up to hype surrounding his wunderkind-ness. But key among the many "real stories" of the Vancouver Olympics are the stories of all 206 Canadian athletes who have dedicated their lives over many years, and those of the families and friends of those 206. There is an important lesson to be taken from these games, I think: individual effort, dedication, perseverance, training, preparation can yield tremendous success that creates both direct, and vicarious pride and sense of accomplishment. Additionally, it is the tremendous and often selfless support, encouragement, advice, and sacrifices of those who care about the athlete in question that make a huge difference in whether the ultimate performance realizes the dreams and aspirations of the competitor.

Not to elevate myself or overstate my own experiences over the past six years, I am just completing a marathon not unlike those undertaken by Olympic-level performers. Like them, I have dedicated, persevered through adversity and challenge, prepared, and expended tremendous effort to the exclusion of many other pursuits to complete my Valence Theory research (which will be defended on Friday, June 11, 2010, beginning at 10:00 a.m.). Like them, I have enjoyed and am truly grateful for the often selfless support, encouragement, advice, and sacrifice of those who have cared about me and my work - support that has indeed made a huge difference in my ability to realize my goal. Here, then, are the Acknowledgements that are included in my thesis: 
A doctoral thesis is a marathon, and in many ways appears to be a solitary, isolating process. At the same time, to successfully complete this marathon requires the assistance and support of so many wonderful people that it truly cannot be considered as anything else but a collaboration, reflexively an emergent organization not unlike those about which I write.

Thank you to my doctoral committee—Marilyn Laiken, Derrick de Kerckhove, and Ann Armstrong. Marilyn has encouraged and mentored me throughout my two degrees at OISE, and provided one of the two key inspirations that formed the kernel of Valence Theory through her course on the History and Theory of Organization Development. She was the first to challenge me with the “obviousness” of Valence Theory, and hence, spurred me with the impetus to clearly articulate new thinking about that which everyone already sees. Derrick provided me the other inspiration—the incorporation of the Toronto School of Communication discourse, leading to the realization that I should be able to observe the emergence of new organization consistent with contemporary reality if I was able to notice the “effects that precede the cause.” Ann inspired me to carefully question not only the approach I was taking, but the approaches I was not taking so that I could better appreciate and comprehend the ground of my work. To the three of you, my heartfelt thanks for your guidance, inspiration, and friendship.

To my friends and colleagues at OISE, thank you for participating in making these the six best years of my life. Special thanks to the members of our thesis group – Soosan Latham, Tracey Lloyd, Bettina Boyle, Carole Chatalalsingh, Cristin Stephens-Wegner, and Alena Strauss – for your unwavering support, camaraderie, and encouragement. Thanks as well to all those who participated as core members of Students on Seven through my years here, who helped create a great environment in which to learn, think and play. A heartfelt thank you to Bonnie Burstow, who taught me everything I know about designing and conducting research from a ground of respect and equity.

To my participant organizations, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for granting me permission to connect with some of your members, and especially to the managers and executives in those organizations who facilitated the approval processes. Although I would love to thank you by name, respecting confidentiality does not permit. Sincere thanks to Adam, Frank, Karen, Robert, and Roxanne from Organization A; Aaron, Jeff and Matt from Organization F; Jean and Sam from Inter Pares; Mary, Mina, Sean, and Stan from Organization M; and Cindy, Frances, Loreen, and Roger from Unit 7. The gift of your time and insight is the foundation of this thesis and I will be eternally grateful for all that you have contributed.

Thanks to all those who participated and contributed to my thinking via my weblog and wiki. Taking the time to reflect on what I have been writing has enriched my understanding of this work. Thanks especially to Pam Rostal for pointing me to Nonaka’s use of ba, from which it was a small step to discover the work of Nishida Kitaro. A very special thank you to my dear friend, Christine Sorenson, who has contributed immeasurably to my research, writing, and state of mind throughout this entire process. Finally, thanks to my friends at Salsaholics Anonymous and Toronto Salsa Practice for helping to keep me sane and embodied, enabling me regularly to go out of my mind.

Last, but not least, thank you to my wife, Miriam, and the two, finest young adults I have the privilege to know – my children, David and Julie – for standing by me through the long hours, days, weeks, months, and years. I have been able to begin to realize my dream; I pray that you each will be able to realize yours.

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