The Ultimate HIDDEN Cost(s) of Doing Any Business

My studies in human behavior began 66 years ago. For the last 50 of those years I’ve worked with individuals, teams, families and organizations in the context of creative interchange (CI). CI was a name, given by my teacher, mentor and friend, Dr. Henry Nelson Wieman, to describe the process of human development and transformation. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I finally could read a book reporting similar findings to my own work and research. It provided vital information detailing the inseparability of personal and organizational development, growth and transformation. That book is “An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization” by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey.

I shared the book with some long time colleagues and friends and they agreed it came the closest to documenting that when the required conditions for CI are present, individuals and organizations develop and thrive. Since the mid 1940’s business has had access to information on how to develop corporate cultures that could promote individual well being and organizational profitability. Unfortunately, most of the information was ignored, rejected or was confined and used to increase efficiency, effectiveness and from the 1970’s on also creativity and innovation.

The business focus was on getting people to adjust and adapt to existing business systems, functions, processes and practices. Training was designed to equip workers to be competent, motivated, compliant, cooperative, and productive. Much of the “human side of the enterprise” was based on rewards and punishments. In short, a human being was a means to an end, most often a financial one. Management was about controlling and directing human activity and assuming most people were innately lazy and not motivated to work or do what the organization wanted or needed done. Corporate cultures were not designed to involve people, let alone develop them. Personal growth was to take place elsewhere. In those early days I heard over and over again the phrase, “The office is not a mental health center or hospital”.

Over the decades people were taught and learned, as best they could, to divide themselves into a work-self and a not-at-work-self. They learned to be “politically correct,” say and do what others wanted them to say and do whether it was true or not. In short, they learned how to masquerade. What many failed to understand, including business leaders and managers, was that such a daily life came with a high expenditure of “energy” and a hidden financial price tag. Hiding one’s emotions and thinking produced hidden costs. Enter the new book by Kegan and Lahey who say on page 1:

   In an ordinary organization, most people are doing a second job no one is paying them for. In businesses large and small; in government agencies, schools, and hospitals; in for-profits and not-for-profits and in any country in the world, most people are spending time and energy covering up [all italics mine] their weaknesses, managing other people’s impressions of them, showing themselves to their best advantage, playing politics, and hiding their inadequacies, hiding their uncertainties, hiding their limitations. Hiding.

   We regard this as the single biggest loss of resources that organizations suffer every day. Is anything more valuable to a company than the way its people spend their energies? The total cost of this waste is simple to state and staggering to contemplate: it prevents organizations, and the people who work in them, from reaching their full potential.

It is no longer a matter of how to “fix” everyone, to “fit” the business. It’s transforming everyone to transform the business for the benefit of everyone. I believe CI is the human transformation process and the required conditions for its operation have become now a business imperative. It is not enough to hire people with certain technical competencies. It is knowing how to develop a corporate culture that sustains those required conditions for personal and organizational transformation. Today’s business competencies will not be tomorrow’s. It’s no longer just about change management. It’s about a deliberate continuing transformation of everyone in the organization. As Edward Deming, the quality guru, put it over two decades ago, “To transform an organization, you must have transformed people.”

People are transformational by nature. Early childhood development and formal education, in an effort to control what a child learns, have had an adverse impact on that transformational nature. Such conditioning undermined the required conditions for CI and compromised the continuing transformative growth of individuals and the organizations they serve. The cost of this lost potential, as stated by Kegan and Lahey above, is “staggering.” From a business point of view, any serious effort to get rid of these “hidden costs” can and will more than pay for itself. In the past, as long as the majority of businesses had the same hidden costs there was little or no incentive to reduce them. As more businesses are discovering the competitive advantage of eliminating these costs the odds of surviving, let alone thriving, will change drastically and quickly.

Experiencing one’s creative interchange is a prerequisite for helping others discover and recover it within themselves. CI isn’t found in books nor can it be driven from the outside. It must be experienced within oneself. It is about becoming who you really are. The cost is worth it personally and organizationally and your transformative nature won’t be hidden anymore.

The Chicken and the Eagle

Charlie Palmgren’s first book, with co-author and business partner at that time Stacie Hagen, ‘The Chicken Conspiracy, Breaking the Cycle of Personal Stress and Organizational Mediocrity’ starts with a quiz: “Are you a Chicken or an Eagle?” and a story: The Golden Eagle by Antony de Mello SJ.

The intriguing question on the cover of the book ‘Are you an eagle or a chicken?’ is an ‘or’ question and ‘The Farmer and his Zen Master’ story taught us, that it therefor can have only one valid answer: Yes! We were born an eagle and we’re gradually slip sliding away into a chicken state. What’s more, the title of the book reveals that there is a conspiracy among the chickens to keep the eagle in each of us hidden within the chicken.

In following marvelous video Charlie Palmgren narrates his unique paraphrase of Antony de Mello’s thought provoking story.



Re-dis-covering and re-living the Creative Interchange Process is indeed a transformation, from Chicken back to Eagle! The aim of the game of our endeavors, including the upcoming 14th Gathering of the Crucial Dialogue Society, can be pinpointed by one of Charlie’s incredible sayings: “Teaching People What They’ve Always Known, So They Can Discover What They Never Lost!”

This new lesson in the series ‘Learning to Fly’ will take place at:

Ter Heide, Tragelstraat 2, 9971 Lembeke

On July 7th 2016 from 900 till 1700 hours.

Investment, since Charlie has left his Consultancy fee in the States, the usual Euro: 250,- (Vat excluded; Refreshments, drinks, a genuine ‘Ter Heide’ lunch and an extended final networking drink @ Christine’s place included).

We’re going to have a great day! So Join Us!

To join, e-mail to with your name, company name and VAT number.

The Creative Interchange Process – Part II

Second Aspect of Creative Interchange

The Right Side of the Lemniscate

Characteristic 3: Creative Integrating


Creativity, like authenticity and appreciation, has a specific meaning in the creative interchange process. As was stated earlier Dr. Wieman focused on the creativity that creates the human mind, rather than, the creations proceeding form that mind; for example work, art, science, technology and the like.

The Indo-European roots for the word create, as used here, mean becoming, to grow, to bring forth. The creative integrating characteristic of creative interchange brings forth growth by expanding the range of what we can know, appreciate, imagine and control from the inside out. It incorporates the promise of transforming our be-ing through our be-coming. This means we are both, a human being and a human becoming. We are a being that continually becomes a new being. We are not either a being or a becoming. We are both a becoming being and a being becoming.

Becoming in the realm of creative interchange involves transcending. To transcend means to pass beyond the limits, to surpass, to leap and to climb. In order to create, to grow and become our mind moves beyond its current understanding, meanings, limits, structures and expectations. It is a movement outside and beyond our current mental model or mindset. Of course, such movement precipitates uncertainty, ambiguity, unknowing and potential confusion. Many people experience anxiety at such moments. This is an interlude between being the way we’ve been and becoming a new and different way of being.

Most people resist such moments of ambiguity and anxiety. Instead of moving beyond they become protective, defensive and often offensive. Nevertheless, this is a critical characteristic of the creative interchange process. It requires a willingness to let go of the way things are in order to embrace what they can become. Those who are willing to remain open, curious and accept and embrace ambiguity are more apt to have an “aha” experience or what Maslow called a peak experience. It paves the way for what he called “synergistic awareness”. Synergy involves an experience that is different from and more than what was expected. It is a moment of originality and novelty. It’s an interlude of creativity beyond the current created self. It is an experience of the creative self-awareness penetrating created self-consciousness.

The “aha’ occurs from a common meaning that is forming and integrating a new and expanded meaning from the ambiguity and uncertainty through connecting elements of the paradox. A new perspective is emerging. It is a transformational moment in the mind of moving form and through one form of being and doing toward a another. Sometimes the new form is an “incremental” change, while at other times it evokes a “transformational” change. It requires the capacity to suspend judgment and delay gratification and remain within and between transcendence and integration. It is an interlude when the creative self is transcending the created self, a time of expanding the valuing consciousness.


Transcendence moves us beyond our existing mindset while the integration provides the parameters for the emerging mindset. Integration means to bring parts together into a whole, to unify, to join and to make complete. Some of the Indo-European roots include, bring into contact, to connect, to touch, to arrange and to bring together. The integration brings together a new arrangement of the current configuration of the created mindset and combines and integrates new material experienced in the transcendent ambiguity of the creative self. The old mindset is transformed into a new one that is different form and more than the old. This transcending and integrating is at the heart of the third characteristic of creative interchange.

Interrelating characteristics 2 and 3

(The basis for Becoming)


This interrelating is pictured by a “skewed or diagonal 8” connecting the left (the observing, perceiving and thinking) part with the right (creating and transforming) part of creative interchange process (the Lemniscate or “horizontal 8”).

The integration of characteristics 2 and 3 form the basis for our Becoming. This is the process of allowing our created self to become permeable, pliable and open to entertain and appreciate differences. The more we trust, are curious, observe, perceive and “appreciate” new ways of being, the less intimidated we are by ambiguity, uncertainty and interludes of frustration and confusion. This is the prerequisite for letting go and letting the process of transformation “flow” without becoming anxious and stressed. During this integration of the two characteristics being accepting and engaging ambiguity is paramount.

Appreciative understanding and creative integrating are distinct but not separate. The more we expand our valuing consciousness the more information, images and options become available and acceptable the more there is for adapting and inventing new mental models. We are more willing to let go of our current mental models as we appreciatively understand the limitations and errors that can and be corrected. The process of becoming and merging into a new way of being is our also provides us with the highest form of satisfaction. No amount of pleasure derived from any other way of being can approximate becoming a higher level of who we are capable of becoming and being.

Characteristic 4: Continual Transforming


Without continual transforming, much of the potential gain of the 3rd characteristic is lost. Habits are not easily changed. It takes commitment, discipline, integrity and perseverance to sustain “aha” moments into new habits of behaving. Good intentions can initiate change but not sustain it. As pointed out in characteristic 2, sustainable change means there has been a change, a development, in our valuing consciousness. We must value the new emerging mindset in order to make the effort to form the new habits required to establish and sustain it. A friend of ours summed it up by saying, “If you’re willing to pay the price (make the effort), you can keep the change.” The price to be paid is the amount of attention we put with our intention. Many people abandon their intentions through distraction. They have good intentions, but not much discipline to sustain their attention.

While characteristic 3 makes differences mutually supportive characteristic 4 makes them habitual. This characteristic is dependent on the degree of motivation, the value and the amount of attention placed on developing the new mindset. It also, requires courage to engage and persevere through the ambiguity and uncertainty of the transition. This characteristic carries our intentions to fruition through attention and repetition on to action. Characteristic 4 completes the synergy initiated during creative integrating. Both 3 and 4 bring elements of the old mental model to merge with the new elements of the “aha” moment and habituate them into a new mindset. The original creative self energizes an expanding transformation within the created self.

It is an emergence from one version of stability into a new one. The integration of these two characteristics provides a converging and emerging dynamic. It moves from ambiguity toward stability via spontaneity, simultaneity and novelty. It merges the best of the old with what is better in the new. This requires a two-fold commitment. It keeps the “old” from obstructing the emergence of the “new” and keeps the “new” from abandoning and discarding the value of the “old.” Wieman said this requires a two-fold commitment. A commitment to act on the current best we know and a commitment to remain open to what in truth can transform our current best to what is better.

Far too often, we are committed to our current best on the assumption it is THE best; it is somehow TRUE beyond doubt, question or correction. Such rigidity is an instance of the created self-obstructing a creative interchange with our created self.

Interrelating characteristics 3 and 4

(Convergent thinking)


This interrelating is pictured by a “Vertical 8” within the right part (the creating and doing part) of Creative Interchange (the Lemniscate or “Horizontal 8”).

Creative integrating and continual transforming are distinct but not separate. Simply put, as the quality of what we creatively integrate increases the more transformational the change. Usually, as the benefit of a change increases the motivation to become the change we want to “see and be” increases. Conversely, the more we become the change the more we are drawn toward the satisfaction experienced in and through the transforming process.

These characteristics are not sequential. The more we expand the range of what we know, appreciate, imagine and control the more competent we become at continuing to expand and creating ever-new ways to integrate and adapt creatively. The movement from stability to change to an expanded stability provides a felt quality of satisfaction that is more than and different from such notions as fun, excitement and pleasure. The latter are derived from one’s current mindset. They tend to be temporary and their opposite experienced when their pursuit is obstructed, frustrated and denied. The deeper experience of “bliss”, “peace” and “joy” are not emotions in the conventional sense of the meaning of satisfaction. The distinction between “feeling” and “emotion” is taken up in the section on CI conditions.

Thus, Characteristics 1 and 2 support divergent thinking while Characteristics 3 and 4 support convergent thinking. These characteristics integrate and stabilize the current mindset into a new configuration that expands and transforms the existing mindset into a new and more comprehensive mindset. Transformational change is more of a paradigm shift, a new worldview, an epiphany of life changing proportions. Such interludes provide us with what Maslow called “Peak Experiences.” These have often been identified with “religious” and “mystical” experiences.

Summary Second Aspect of Creative Interchange

The second aspect of Creative Interchange is about becoming who we can become through creative integrating and continual transformation.


Interrelating characteristics 4 and 1



This interrelating is pictured by a “Diagonal 8” connecting the right (creating and transforming) aspect with the left (seeing and thinking) part of Creative Interchange (the Lemniscate or “Horizontal 8”).

The integration of characteristics 4 and 1 form the basis of our Being. It is a process of making the emerging integration of the old and new mindsets into a habit. It is a process of aligning our intention with what we say and do. It is process of completing our becoming in characteristic 4 with our authentic interacting in characteristic 1. It is about integrity of being our best current self. It is acting on the best we now know, appreciate, imagine and control.

Continual transforming and an authentic interacting are distinct but not separate. As the quality of whom we transform into increases, the more courage we develop for being who we are and authentically saying and acting on the best we now know, appreciate, imagine at any given moment. The realization that we are who we are and who we are yet to be allows us to be open to sharing and experiencing differences that will act as the precursors to who we are yet to become and be.


Question: Is the creative interchange process primarily individual or social? The answer is a resounding, yes! In a letter to our friend Mike Murray, dated March 6 1973, Wieman posed this issue as a question. He moreover wrote the question in capital letters; “HOW TO RELEASE AND DEVELOP THE CREATIVE POTENTIALITIES OF THE INDIVIDUAL IN COMMUNITY WITH OTHERS?” He continued, “These potentialities are not in the individual apart form community with others but neither are they in community apart from the unique potentialities of each individual. How to bring these two together in such a way that they create one another: the free, full, unlimited potentialities of the individual and the kind of community with others in which each fosters his development in one another. This is the basic problem of human existence. The expression ‘creative interchange’ seeks to summarize it.”

Henry spent his later years seeking the “required conditions” that foster creative interchange within and between individual living in such community. In the next section we will examine some of those required individual/social conditions.






The Creative Interchange Process – Part I

It’s paramount to understand the creative interchange process before focusing on the required conditions and helpful behaviors for its operation in transforming the human mind. Henry Nelson Wieman defined the process in the introduction of his 1958 book, “Man’s Ultimate Commitment (MUC).” He said, “ By creativity I do not mean creative work, science, technology, social organization or any other area of human achievement. … But I shall be examining … the creative transformation of the individual in the wholeness of his being ….” He continues, “Creative transformation of the individual is distinguished from every other kind of change by four characteristics. These four are not the only features pertaining to it, for creativity is very complex and in its depth fades into mystery.”

Elsewhere, Henry Nelson Wieman makes a distinction between an original creative self and a conditioned created self. The created self is a construct within the original creative self and authors much of the creative work, science, technology, arts and what is usually referred to as creativity. In another section we will discuss how excessive identification with the created self leads to what many call the false or ego self. The focus here is on the creative process that creates and transforms the created self. Wieman identified and named this process creative interchange. Creative interchange is what expands indefinitely the human conscious mind.

H.N. Wieman did not presume to have the final understanding of what creative interchange is nor how it transforms the mind. He said, “Creativity is an expanding of the range and diversity of what the individual can know, evaluate, [imagine] and control [from the inside out].” In the closing paragraphs of MUC he concludes “… creative and transforming power …means two things: (1) [an] interchange which creates appreciative understanding of unique individuality and (2) integration within each individual of what [they] get from others this way, thus creating [their] own personality in power, knowledge, and capacity to appreciate more profoundly diverse individuals, peoples, and things.”

In summary, creative interchange operates when individuals authentically interact and appreciatively understand one another’s’ unique perspectives and creatively integrate those perspectives in a way that transforms their own mind and behavior. The more individuals, groups or organizations engage in creative interchange the more they will undergo continual transformation. It is our opinion that the more we learn about the required conditions who foster this creative interchange, the more we can experience continuing transformation of our minds and gain greater control of our lives.

The four characteristics of Creative Interchange are:

  1. Authentic Interacting
  2. Appreciative Understanding
  3. Creative Integrating
  4. Continual Transforming

To symbolize the Creative Interchange Process we’ve chosen the ‘official’ symbol for the concept infinity: the Lemniscate, since Creative Interchange is infinite.


In the next paragraphs of this section “The Creative Interchange Process” we will present those characteristics and their interrelating.

First Aspect of Creative Interchange

The Left Side of the Lemniscate

Characteristic 1: Authentic Interacting


For many people authenticity and honesty mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably. As it relates to creative interchange, honesty means that one’s motives, values and beliefs are aligned and congruent with one’s existing mental model, their words and behavior. Authenticity includes another condition of greater self-awareness. The condition of awareness will be taken up in a later section (concerning the required conditions for Creative Interchange).

Authenticity has different meanings for different people. As it relates to creative interchange, it means that one’s intentions, values and beliefs match and conform to and are congruent with one’s words and actions. What is being expressed is worthy of trust, can be relied upon, as being the best that person understands to be factual and true at the moment. There is no intent to deceive, manipulate or give misinformation. Hypocrisy and dishonesty are antithetical to authentic interacting. It is both a matter of integrity and humility: ‘What you hear and what you see, so what you get, is what there really is’.

Authenticity requires courage, the courage to be open and transparent. It is based on an individual’s non-judgmental felt sense and awareness of her/his intrinsic self-worth. Such awareness tends to be the exception in most cultures of the world; especially in most organizational cultures. In other words it is the awareness of self, others and the world as seen through non-judgmental observation based on one’s intrinsic worth. 

Characteristic 2: Appreciative Understanding


Appreciation, like authenticity, lends itself to a variety of interpretations. Appreciation as used here involves accurate assessment and critical judgment. There is an effort to perceive a whole range of facts and values, both positive and negative. It is a “both/and’ appreciation that any idea, person, event or situation has positive and negative aspects.

As it pertains to others it means ‘seeing’ (observing) them as they are and not ‘perceiving’ them as we are. It includes what is commonly referred to as empathy. This is the capacity to enter the frame-of-reference or perspective of another and understand their assumptions, beliefs, values and reasoning. One must place value on ‘observing’ others as they are in order to move beyond identifying differences without the ability to reconcile them toward mutual growth and transformation.

Henry Nelson Wieman talked about what he called our “valuing consciousness”. For him a value is a “goal-seeking activity.” Values initiate intention and direction and result in action. We seek and pursue what we value. Any change in our valuing consciousness has behavioral implications and consequences.

This means that in living Creative Interchange we have to be both, curious regarding the frame-of-reference of the other and embrace and engage the ambiguity this generates. Since what we see “through the eyes of the other”, when we observe them as they are, is often different form who we are, we can learn from the differences, rather than, polarizing them.

So the first aspect of creative interchange (the left side of the Lemniscate) has two characteristics, 1) authentic interacting that results in 2) appreciative understanding of what is unique and original in the thinking and perspectives others. This is more than our conventional communication or information exchange. It involves sharing both information and its context. The characteristics of authentic interacting and appreciative understanding are reciprocal and can be mutually supportive when we don’t polarize them.

Interrelating characteristics 1 and 2

(Divergent Thinking)


Authentic interacting and appreciative understanding are distinct but not separate. This interrelating is pictured by the smaller vertical Lemniscate within the larger horizontal Lemniscate.

The more authentic our interacting the more appreciative we can become with others and ourselves. Conversely, the more we understand and appreciate others and ourselves, the more trusting, authentic, open, curious, and empathic we are capable of becoming in our actions, as we increase tolerance for uncertainty, ambiguity and differences.

These characteristics are not sequential. The more trusting and open we are in sharing our intentions and knowledge the more opportunity there is for appreciative understanding. The more we are appreciatively understood the more willing we are to trust and remain open to authentically interacting and sharing the best we know. We become more transparent in our sharing and receptive to experiencing others as they are. Authenticity fosters appreciation and curiosity while appreciation fosters and supports greater authenticity and openness. Characteristics 1 and 2 form the basis for divergent thinking. They support new possibilities for transformation.

It is important to introduce an additional distinction, but not separation, Dr. Wieman alluded to is between what he called the creative self and the created self or adaptive self. The created self is the self that develops as a result of our “ social conditioning.” This includes parenting, formal education, peer involvement and all forms of life experience. The created self is the one that most of us identify with and come to believe is our only or true self. It is our conscious self. This will be discussed in greater detail in a following section where we develop the required “conditions” for the creative interchange process.

The created self has both stable and developmental qualities. It includes our current mental model or mindset and our openness and predisposition to grow and develop. As we become conscious of the differences in the perspectives of others we must become open and permeable to growth and development. The initial experience of such differences involves ambiguity and uncertainty. If we are to undergo transformational change as a result of encountering and appreciating these differences we must be willing let go of the way we are and open to discovering and inventing new ways of being.

When a person becomes attached to an existing way of being and has identified with it, the prospect of letting go is often experienced as threatening. This is a critical juncture point in determining to what extent the person will be resistant to change. This requires moving beyond our current way of being, our created self, and being open to our creative self. The creative interchange process requires people share authentically and appreciatively their differences. Most people have difficulty managing differences. They are conditioned to make judgments that polarize them into agree/disagree, like/dislike, right/wrong and good/evil. This will be examined in depth later in a section on the Vicious Circle.



Creative Interchange is being authentic and appreciative. It is sharing with integrity and humility and appreciating others as they are, by observing and being empathic.








14th Gathering of the Crucial Dialogues Society

I’m really thrilled to be able to organize this Summer the 14th Gathering of the Crucial Dialogues Society quite unexpectedly animated by my ‘third father’ dr. Charles ‘Leroy’ Palmgren. The theme of this day is:

People Serving People

Empowered by Creative Interchange.

Creative Interchange as the process of Leadership and Service is more critical now in our rapidly changing and ambiguous world than ever before.

The great recent work of Frederic Laloux (‘Reinventing Organizations’) and Otto Scharmer (‘U Theory’) are showing us a path forward for organizational and societal systems. The question then arises: Who do we need to be in order to put these powerful new ideas into place? What skills, tools, awareness, and capacities do we need within us as the people who will facilitate transformation in business, government, education, and society?

The Creative Interchange Process was first introduced by Charlie’s mentor dr. Henry Nelson Wieman (Man’s Ultimate Commitment’) and is the key to ‘Becoming a Leader through Becoming Yourself’. Charlie Palmgren has been working with this ‘mother’ process of all learning and transformation for almost fifty years. He added to the thinking of Henry Nelson Wieman the necessary conditions needed for the Creative Interchange Process to thrive. On top of that, his approach provides a “skill set” that equips us to be truly transformational leaders, managers, business owners, and coaches in today’s world.

Charlie is co-author of ‘The Chicken Conspiracy’ and author of ‘The Ascent of the Eagle’ and is working on the third book in this series: ‘The Decent of the Dove’. All books about Birds, I hear you say… Learning the Creative Interchange Process is ‘Learning to Fly!’.  By the way, the series started with a poem from the ‘Songs of the Bird’ of Anthony de Mello SJ. Here you can hear Charlie narrating a beautiful metaphor-story, build upon a paragraph of ‘Man’s Ultimate Commitment’ of Charlie’s mentor, dr. Henry Nelson Wieman:

The Bird in the Cage

From this one-day event on, you will be able to further develop your skills and capacities for awareness, appreciation, creativity and commitment so that you’re able to step into effective, sustainable and transformational action. In other words: “You will fly, once again!”

You will discover how to navigate both challenges and opportunities by reconnecting with your innate capacity to trust, be open, curious, embrace uncertainty and ambiguity, connectivity, creativity, and tenacity when collaborating and co-creating with others.

This unique event will take place at:

Ter Heide, Tragelstraat 2, 9971 Lembeke

On July 7th from 900 till 1700 hours.

Investment, since Charlie has left his Consultancy fee in the States, the usual Euro: 250,- (Vat excluded; Refreshments, drinks, a genuine ‘Ter Heide’ lunch and the final networking drink @ Christine’s place included).

We’re going to have a great day! So Join Us!

To join, send an e-mail to with your name, company name and VAT number.

New Creative Interchange Column, First Entry

Author: dr. Charles Leroy Palmgren

At the launching of this new column I want to make two points.

1. As the volume of words and diversity of opinions pour out each minute at an accelerating rate into the Internet, it’s hard to imagine that one more column would have much value let alone impact. Nevertheless, as we humans continue changing the architecture of our brains and lives, there is value in understanding why and how we are doing it. What’s at the heart of personal, social, and organizational development and transformation?

Some of my colleagues and I want to outline a process that was identified 100 years ago. It is the process that is central to evolving our human minds, social institutions, and corporations. We’ll focus your attention on what is already operative, to a greater or lesser degree in us all. So why look at something that has been working for so long? Why would making it conscious add value? What’s different now? This process is a part of each of us whether we know it, like it, want it or not.

We would be amiss if we didn’t admit that while many marvelous things are taking place in our world today, there are also some painful, confusing, disastrous and lethal things as well. And, as we all know, that is nothing new in human history. One major difference is the accelerating exponential rate of global change and transformation and the driving force of technology. Civilization, as we have known it for thousands of years, is giving way to globalization. The human mind that served us well in the past is facing new challenges.

We must learn to navigate the uncharted territories of the Internet and its emerging social media networks to forge a new planetary existence. This change has social, cultural, political, economic, technological, individual, family, climate and planetary implications. The “old civilized mindset” is not equipped to bring about such a magnitude of change.

2. We are not selling anything. We just want to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and creativeness of the things you or any of us are doing. One of my favorite advertisements of all time was developed for BASF a few years back. The gist of it was “We don’t make most of the products we’re in, we make the products we’re in better.” By better they meant things like stronger, more flexible, brighter colored, longer lasting, etc.

That slogan sums up the intent of this column over the weeks and months ahead. I/we will be describing an innate process, called creative interchange by my mentor, Dr. Henry Nelson Wieman, that is present in us all. This process has developed our current best self and it is the same process that will make our current best self better. We’re not here to shoot anyone’s theory down, we want to expand it and make it and you more effective at using it.

Our intent is to help everyone discover and experience the creative interchange process within themselves and others. It is the process that can make you a better leader, manager, employee, parent, teacher, politician, physician, police officer or firefighter. You name it. The process can help you be better at it. It increases the performance of teams and organizations. So what’s the catch? In one sense there isn’t one, but what it does require is your commitment, discipline, patience and perseverance.

There you have it. If you’re interested join us in the weeks ahead, become active– comment, critique, challenge, correct and modify what you read here. All are welcome. The process will help you improve at authentic and appreciative communication AND creative commitment to be and do our best AND to what can transform us to be and do better.

Jean-François Zobrist’s building blocks of his Self-Organizing Organization FIVA – Part I

This is a column of dr. Charles Leroy ‘Charlie’ Palmgren. It was initially posted as a comment on my previous post “Creative Interchange: The Unconscious Ingredient in Sucessful Teal Organizations” and I think it deserved being published as a column ‘on its own’ in the series ‘Creative Interchange’ the unconscious ingredient of Self-Organizing Organizations. Since I’m for the moment the only moderator of this column website, the column is ‘posted’ by me. I hope that in the near future , the other members of ‘Charlie’s Eagles’ will be able to post their columns directly on this site.


Zobrist moves to the heart of having better organizations with the assumption, “People are systematically considered to be good.(Reliable, self-motivated, trustworthy, intelligent). The critical operative word is “good.” Many people are suspicious of such a word. I would use the word to mean of having worth or value.

Many corporations have written value statements. More often than not such statements become wall hangings and have little to do with how things are acutally done on a day to day basis. I believe, with Zobrist, that people are good, but I also believe there are two operative meanings for the word. I believe people are always “intrinsically” and often can be “extrinicallly” good. Unfortunately, most often extrinsic good or value is the only one that gets attention.

Extrinsic value is an instrumental value. One is good if one is doing what others like, what is acceptable in the eyes of others, what is expected of one by others. In other words, extrinsic worth or value is bestowed by others or a corporation. It comes from the outside. Most people assume they are worthy or good when they are pleasing others and that such value has to be earned through performance and success. And, worst of all that that is the only source of their worth as a person.

The primary threat or enemy of such value is failure and rejection. The fear of rejection and failure fills many a workplace. It is the major generator of fear, anger, guilt, shame, blame and stress in most organizations. It undermines productivity, confuses communication, obstructs creativity and innovation, wastes time and money. In short extrinsic value carries the seeds of  much that is wrong with organizations and their leadership and managment.

If what Zobrist means by good is intrinsic worth and value then a different outcome can be expected. Intrinic good, worth, respect or value is the basis for mental, emotional and behavioral health and wellness. It is the basis for healthy individuals, teams, marriages and organizations, Few leaders and managers even realize there is a difference between intrinsic and extrinic worth or good. Most organizations build their compensation, reward and promotion systems entirely on extrinsic good. No wonder so many employees in so many corporations are unhappy with their jobs.

Unhappy employees reduces loyalty and contributes to absenteeiism and turnover. Effective leaders and managers must first accept and experience their own intrinsic worth before that will be able to express and enable such worth toward others. Talking about respect for others is one thing, actually living it with them is quite another.

Creative Interchange: The Unconscious Ingredient in Successful Teal Organizations

In 1983, Jean-François Zobrist was appointed CEO of FAVI, a family owned brass foundry in the north of France. Within 3 years, he transformed FAVI into a highly successful, self-managing organization. In a market that has been steamrolled by Chinese competition, FAVI is the only European producer standing. It generates double digits margins and commands a 50% market share in automotive gearbox forks in Europe.

When FAVI switched to self-management, and in the years that followed, Zobrist and his colleagues defined three new assumptions[i] that over time have become mantras inside the factory:

  • People are systematically considered to be good.(Reliable, self-motivated, trustworthy, intelligent)
  • There is no performance without happiness. (To be happy, we need to be motivated. To be motivated, we need to be responsible. To be responsible we must understand why and for whom we work, and be free to decide how)
  • Value is created on the shop floor. (Shop floor operators craft the products; the CEO and staff at best serve to support them, at worst are costly distractions)

These three assumptions can and have in a number of instances revolutionized the way work and productivity can be achieved and organized. Frederic Laloux has researched both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations that operate from similar assumptions and have achieved similar results[ii]. Since the late 1940’s such organizations have been envisioned and attempted – few have succeeded.

This column website proposes to engage its contributors with a process that was identified nearly a hundred years ago by Dr. Henry Nelson Wieman[iii]. Even then this process was an articulation of even much older wisdom and understanding. The great question arises as to why something now being practiced by only a few has been resisted for so long by so many. We want to identify and explore that process which was so successful for Zobrist and others, as well as, understand it with greater precision and understand why it has caused so many to shy away from it.

We invite you to join us on a quest to understand what brings out the best in humankind and ways of organizing and utilizing more of that vast reservoir of human potential for collaboration, creativity, innovation and productivity.


[ii] Laloux, Frederic Reinventing organizations. A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness. Nelson Parker, Brussels, 2014

[iii] Wieman, Henry Nelson described this process in many articles and books: e.g. Man’s Ultimate Commitment. Carbondale,IL.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1958