Intro to Centre Edge 1 – Centre

Intro to Centre Edge 1 – Centre
22nd May 2018 Tim Malnick
In Centre Edge

The nine Centre Edge principles describe how each and every aspect of our experience is organised around the same basic principles. These apply for every type of system. For example:

  • A physical system (a room, a house, a cup),
  • A social system (a group, an organisation, an economy)
  • A psychological / emotional system (a period of depression, a moment of anger, my sense of identity)

Often in introductory workshops we only focus on 2 or 3 principles. Presenting all nine at once can get overwhelming and too heady. Also there is a great deal of useful stuff to be discovered by just looking at the interactions between 2 or 3 principles. As a basic and brief introduction, and for completion, here are blog post introducing all nine:

1. Centre

Everything has some sort of centre, a central organisation principle around which the whole entity is organised. Words that express this centre quality include: ‘heart’, ‘purpose’, ‘point’, ‘essence’ or ‘seed’. In day-to-day language we express this idea when we say things like, ‘let’s get to the point’, or ‘the heart of the matter’, or ‘it’s essentially about x’. The idea is that physical things, social entities and inner experiences can all be thought of as having some central, essential aspect. The object, situation or experience radiates out from that central point as it expresses itself in the world.

Take an oak tree as an example. The entire oak tree, maybe some great, ancient tree, arose initially from a single acorn. In some way that tiny acorn contained the central essence of the tree. Somehow everything in the tree today can be seen as an expression of what has radiated out, through time (say the tree is 200 years old) and across space (say 50 foot in its height, root system and branch span).

We can say the same for groups of people. Arsenal football club, now a business, a social movement, and (occasionally) a decent team (sigh), once upon a time was just the seed of an idea. So, we can say that all this activity has radiated out from an essential idea. When people debate whether the club is the same as it used to be, or praise its values, they are alluding to some implicit essential quality that has made Arsenal Arsenal, across periods of time (the club is 132 years old) and space (as it moves ground, gains a global following etc).

Other simple examples of centre principle are the striking of a gong. A single precise moment and point of strike between stick and gong radiates sound out through space as waves.


The centre of groups and social systems:

In social systems such as teams and organisations the centre principle requires us to pay very close attention to questions such as purpose. What is the point of this team, this meeting, this project? What are the essential qualities of this organisation that are (whether we know it or not) inevitably spreading out through space and time to create the overall atmosphere and expressions of the organisation? As a leader, do I know and trust what is in my own heart? Am I clear and courageous enough to speak and act from my centre? There are many, many questions that become highlighted in organisational life once we understand the importance of centre as a core principle in all situations.

Central principle also becomes very important in questions of change and of communication. In simple terms transformational change occurs when the central principle changes or moves in some way. This could happen in different ways – more suddenly (e.g. a revolution where the King is killed) or more gradually (e.g. gradual changes mean the values of an organisation get distorted over time). Many questions of communication and relationship can be understood in terms of how individuals and teams align their own core or central identities and values with the overarching central principles of the wider organisation (as well as other people and teams within it).