Objections to Learning Organization LO24035

From: Jan Lelie (janlelie@wxs.nl)
Date: 02/22/00

Replying to LO24015 --

Hi Rick and others,

I've been creating learning organisations even before i knew they existed
(you're probably familiar with the Monty Python sketch of creating an ever
bigger hyperbole, like "no kidding, i lived in a lo even before i was
born". "you lucky bastard, when we was Neanderthaler, we had to live in a
lo survival team". "Haa! And I, I had to create a lo in seven, no,..no it
was in six days, and I had to start even before time existed!") .

As a student i remember clearly studying in the library of the business
school in Delft, i do not remember the date, but still can retrieve the
sounds and the smell of the place and reading an article by Chris Argyris
on learning organisations. I really felt enlightened as He confronted me
with the central paradox of a LO: "learning in order to control behaviour
inhibits learning". I immediately knew this was important, but it took me
over fifteen years to realise the meanings.

And that is, i think, the only negative side of a learning organisation:
you're supposed to give up managing other people's behaviour. But what is
any organisation about: controlling behaviour. For me it is on the same
level as seeing people as means. The moment you think somebody else is not
an end in his- or herself, but a means to a goal, that is the moment the
LO goes out of the window.

Now in some cases it is very sensible not to have a LO: the life
threatening cases and the unimportant cases. In case of acute danger: do
not try to learn, but manage the problem. Firemen and soldiers in the
field are examples. And when confronted with unimportant problems: these
can be solves easily by a traditional organisation. Here delivery of
papers or parcels or mail springs to my mind. Fortunately, or alas, these
types of cases are becoming rare.

Kind regards,

Jan Lelie

> >seems like every website I have read always talks about the good side of
> >the learning organization. As a future manager, I would like to know
> >about any drawbacks of the learning organization.

> When people resist LO, it seems to me it is with one of these lines
> of thinking:
> 1. (Don't trust the means) The goals are right, but I don't like the
> means (reflection, capacity building, dialogue, addressing mental
> models, teaming skills). I don't believe in the means, they feel too
> soft to me. To reach the goals let's just work harder and smarter.
> (Other approach) I prefer _____ (some other approach to improvement).

Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM (Jan)
LOGISENS  - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development
Mind@Work - est. 1998 - Group Decision Process Support
Tel.: (+ 31) (0)70 3243475 or car: (+ 31)(0)65 4685114
http://www.mindatwork.nl and/or
taoSystems: + 31 (0)30 6377973 - Mindatwork@taoNet.nl

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