Corporate code of conduct LO24116

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 03/06/00

Replying to LO24097 --

Dear Organlearners,

Robert Bacal < > writes, in reply to my:

>>codes are useless when not matched by a prior knowledge
>>within people to recognise the sense of such codes.

>That isn't born out by some psychology and the practices of
>all the societies I know of from biblical times to the present. It's
>a mistake to believe that human behavior is driven by the "sense
>of such codes". Many people, in fact most people comply with
>codes of conduct, not because they see the inherent worth but
>because it is an expectation. I stop at stop signs when there is
>no sense, no cars, no pedestrians, for example.

Greetings Robert,

The understanding of any codification requires at least a knowledge of its
"grammer" (syntactical rules) and its "symbolism" (semiological rules).
These rules are necessary to make the information in the codes meaningful.
Thus they belong to the "sense of such codes".

Not a week goes by without me having to help a person how to make
meaningful information out of codifications. Every such incident adds up
to what has become a very rich picture for me.

The codifications can be an ordinary language and the person struggling
with them is often completely illiterate. About 45% of South Africa's
population are illiterate, i.e.they cannot read or write. The person may
also be functionally illiterate because in all his/her years of learning
that person has not learned how to comprehend and use ordinary languages
like the mother tongue and a lingua franca.

The codifications can also be one of many "technical" languages like that
of mathematics or chemistry. It is frightening that the majority of pupils
in South Africa who have completed a secondary/high school education and
then enrole for a BSc degree, are functionally illiterate in the
condifications of mathematics and chemistry. It means that they are able
to recognise mathematical or chemical code, but that they are not able to
extract meaningful information from of the code, nor are they able to code
meaningful information self.

To expect (assume) a basic or functional illiterate person to behave as a
literate person is not only traumatic, but dehumanising to that person. If
we want to dignify our fellow humans, we will have to stop making such
assumptions. We will have to make sure whether they can form meaningful
information from codifications, and if not, help them persistently in
becoming able to do so.

But I have something much more important in mind. The fact that
codifications can be transformed by a person X into meaningful information
does not ensure that it will automatically feed the evolution of a
person's X knowledge. There have to be a "kernel of knowledge" present in
that person X for such meaningful information to become part of person's X
knowledge. This "kernel of knowledge" cannot be "internalised" as you
have refered to below, but has to emerge within by way of experience and
then tacit knowledge. This internal emergence is the reason why topics
such as "autopoiesis", "irrversible self-organisation" and "complex
adaptation" have become so important

>Codes have a profound effect on people, recognized for centuries.
>They serve to inculcate, and develop and preserve societal or
>organizational values. Codes don't just reflect values, they
>CREATE THEM, via an internalization process.

>>This prior knowledge cannot be acquired by rote learning.
>Codification is not rote learning.

Yes, codification is not rote learning. However, this prior knowledge
which I have also called above "kernel of knowledge" cannot be created by
the internalization of codes. Making "meaningful information" out of
codifications only delivers something which can, but not necessarily will,
become a part of knowledge as a whole.

>I would much prefer that people treat people humanely because
>they DO care (on this I suggest we agree). However, codification
>is a means of enhancing behavior, and need not have to reach a
>"core" to do so.

As I see it and often have explain it, is that formal/explict/articulated
knowledge does have a "back action" action on intuitive/implict/tacit
knowledge by making it richer, i.e emhancing it. But this is only possible
if the "kernel of knowledge" in tacit level indeed exists by way of
emerging from experience . This "back action" cannot first create what
does not exist so as to enhance what has to exist. In other words, whereas
you insist that no "core" is required, I claim that a "kernel" (pertaining
to the information in the codification) in the "tacit knowledge" is
essential for digestive learning to happen.

>> I agree that codifying humane values is longer and harder.
>You can't codify values easily although the great religions are
>all based on such codification. You can codify BEHAVIOR.

I do hope that we understand under the meaning of "coding behaviour" that
it not involves merely giving a certain behaviour a name.

One of the lessons which I have learned is that the values codified by
every "great religion" depend on certain syntactical and semiological
rules defined through much toil and sweat by that people uphelding that
very religion. Trying to understand the meaning of these values without
adhering to the underlying syntactical and semiological rules leads to
seemingly senseless information. The next step is often to denigrate that
"great religion" because of its seemingly senseless values. The last step
comes as quickly as setting fire to dry wood -- a relious upheavel or even

I think we do not differ when you write "You can codify BEHAVIOR." It is
like writing "You can codify CONDUCT" or "You can codify BECOMING".

But what does the codification of behaviour involve? Is the codification
of behaviour complex? Are values not "higher order" behaviours?

When I think what it took hundreds of thousands of chemists to codify the
"behaviour" of the electron, I am pretty sure that the codification of
human behaviour is something very complex. The electron is the only
remaining fundamental particle in the higher order of atoms and the even
higher order of molecules. Being a fundamental particle did not make the
condification of its behaviour simple and easy. It is its very relation to
atoms as a greater whole and molecules as even greater wholes which makes
the codification of its "behaviour" so intricate.

Jan Smuts ("Holism and Evolution", 1926) would have said that it is the
field of the electron which makes the conding of its behaviour so
intricate. Likewise it is the context (or "field") in which a person
lives which makes the coding of the behaviour of such a person so complex.
Smuts, for example, as far back as 1926, carefully reasons how this
context ("field") play an immense role in the evolution of the person's

When any corporate code of conduct ignore this complexity, the changes are
very good that this codication will fail. In other words, when corporate
code of conduct ignore the personalities of the people to which this
codification will apply, it will fail. Senior management sometimes
question whether any intended codification will be a success. A
confirmation does not come easily. But it is rather easy to spot a certain
failure -- when the codification is insensitive to personalities, it will
most probably fail. In other words, when the codification deals with
people like machines or animals or any other asset rather than humans with
personalties, it will fail.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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