What Kind of Treasure is a Learning Organization? LO24209

From: Winfried Dressler (winfried.dressler@voith.de)
Date: 03/20/00

Replying to LO24193 --

Winfried Deijmann offered the following story:

>A child walked on the beach. Suddenly it stopped and
>picked up a small object, observed it attentive and ..
>shouted excited: "Daddy, look, I found a treasure!"
>The father looked at it too and said kindly: "Oh, it is
>just a piece of colored glass." from that moment the
>child only saw a piece of colored glass, the magic was
>broken. Nevertheless, a moment ago... it was there... a

to which I would like to add two variations:

1.) A child walked on the beach. Suddenly it stopped, gripped it's fathers
hand tightly and it's face turned pale: "Daddy, there is a snake!" The
father kicked some sand at it. The snake didn't move. "Oh, it is just a
rope," the child laughed with relief. It took up the rope and for the rest
of the walk, the father showed his child some sailors knots.

2.) Some children were playing with pieces of colored glass. It were a big
treasure for them. Suddenly a few older boys came and robbed the treasure.
The children screamed: "Give us back our treasure!" The boys laughed:
"It's only colored glass." - "Give it back!" Some of the smaller children
started to cry. A window in a house nearby opened and the mother of one of
the children shouted: "Will you give the toys back to the children
immediately?!" The boys repeated to her: "It's only colored glass." The
mother became angry: "Then what is the value for you? Give it back!" The
boys looked astonished at the glass in their hand and threw it back to the
children. Then they ran away laughing: "Those little ones are still
playing with colored pieces of glass, we wouldn't do such a rubbish." and
started to play their own games with the same enthusiasm they had just
been envious about. The children collected their treasure and continued to
play as if nothing had happened.

Lieber Winfried,

>What I had in mind while typing the story,
>was a type of organization where managers
>are not sensitive for the enthusiasm of their employees.

I think fostering enthusiasm and developing valuable outcomes out of it is
common to us. Differences may be on the path to accomplish this - and
about what is a thread to it.

>Enthusiasm comes forth out of an idea trying to
>become an Ideal. Having an ideaflash is similar
>with the joy of finding a treasure. I indeed was
>pointing at romantic hope, this powerful butterflies-
>in-stomach experience, we all have once in a while.
>But not necessarily connected to 'back to a lost
>paradise'. (BTW: Was there something wrong with
>the Paradise?)

In your first sentence, you have expressed, what I would call idealistic
hope, the hope that there is development, evolution possible towards
something bigger, greater than todays conditions - towards an ideal.
Romantic hope, as I use it, takes such an ideal from the past and thus
effort has to be taken to establish something lost. Surely powerful
butterflies-in-stomach experience is not what I would call romantic hope.
But if a couple recognises one day, that these strong feelings of their
first days are gone and they want to get them back, or when they have the
idea that these feelings should last for ever, than this is romantic hope.

I think the joy of finding a treasure is based on the ideaflash of all the
new open possiblities, butterflies-in-stomach, one-to-many. Indeed, the
future can be different from repeating the past and all the programs

So there is nothing wrong about Paradise, except that it was in the past
and that time is irreversible so that all we know for sure is that it
won't come back. In fact, I find it most extraordinary, that the bible
places Paradise in the past, stating, that it cannot serve as an ideal for
the future anymore. The blue piece of glass will not turn into the
treasure it used to be. An adult will never become a child again. But
there are other possibilities: emergences and immergences. Neither path
repeat the past, both are steps in the big unknown, the future, making it
more or less valuable than the present.

>What I meant to say is that idea's too often are killed
>while still in a childlike state, although they might be of
>high importance for a more paradise-like future.

Yes, yes, yes! Here we are deep in the concern of how to foster emergences
and how to avoid immergences. (Although I would complain 'paradise' in
'paradise-like future'. As a christian I would express my hope for the
future as gods kingdom established. Admittedly this is not less rich in
pitfalls ;-) )

>A child still lives in a fantasyworld or dreamworld. Most adults
>don't anymore, which IMHO is one of the reasons why the
>Purgatories of the Past are so often repeated. A lot of
>managers (and consultants) today are obsessed by
>measurable outcomes - yes, that's black magic.

Obsessions IMHO belong to what you've called fantasyworld and dreamworld.
William Goldings Lord of the Flies gives a strong picture of the relation
between children and adults with respect to dreamworld. It is the duty of
adults, parents to guide their children through all the worlds they will
encounter. Yet not only adults but whole organizations and even industries
are sometimes caught in fantasyworld. (In fact, who is not? ;-) ) But
still the past is not repeated. Only the structure of impaired
essentialities and the subsequent processes of immergences repeat the
pattern of endless Purgatories. Imagine images of the Paradise hanging at
the wall there, can you feel the hunger for it? Imagine the noise of
laughing children there, can you feel the thirst for it? Will it help??
That's black magic:

>Magic, because it is not their intention- if you talk to them
>privately; black because there seems to be forces at work they
>have no control over, but that nevertheless cause these results.

Intentions and causes: these are important and cannot be seen in

If there is sense to family therapy to organizations, then it could be to
guide an organization out of a magical frame of acting towards at least a
rational frame where intentions are 1.) openly discussed and 2.) realized
by the help of cause-effect. The latter is, what you call programming the
future, the former could be your 'daydreaming' - or whatever is needed to
create shared vision. I say 'at least rational', because the frame may
emerge further into a spiritual one - beyond rational and far beyond

What kind of treasure is a learning organization?

Liebe Gruesse,


P.S.: Some notes on the form I have used.

Mainly I wrote about ('---( )--->' indicating a becoming):

magical ---(emergence)---> rational
child ---(emergence)---> adult
Paradise ---(?)---> todays condition
and that the reverse process does not exist.

In the final paragraph I have added another order relation:

magical ---(emergence)---> rational ---(emergence)---> spiritual

As an abbreviation, I may write: M --(e)--> R --(e)--> S.

Now I think I am in a position to explore some of the negative
ramifications of a (in my eyes still misused) LEM (law of excluded
middle). The main pitfall is to set

M = S

magical equals spiritual, both being non-rational, or NR for short.

The worldview of the idealistic rationalist is then:

NR --(e)--> R

batteling with whoever claims that there are higher orders than
rationality. But who will claim such a thing? Of course those idealistic

R --(e)--> NR

I like the names of the schools of Freud and Jung as illustrations:

Freud: psycho(NR)analysis(R): NR-->R
Jung: analytical(R) psychology(NR): R-->NR

A notation for the romantic non-rationalist worldview would be:

NR <--(e)-- R

for romantic was a countermovement to the rationalism of enlightenment.
But becomings back in time are forbidden (second law of thermodynamics:
the LEP - law of entropy production). Of course no romantic would really
try to travel back in time, but there remains the hope, that the past can
be reestablished somehow. So the romantic becomes part of the idealistic
non-rationalists movement, with the twist that the non-rational ideal is
something which e.g. the rational adult has lost, but which the
non-rational child has had before.

The battle between the idealistic rationalists and idealistic
non-rationalists wouldn't be so fierce, if not both sides have a clear
knowledge of immergences. But while for the non-rationalists this
immergence is represented in the rational adult state itself, the
rationalist knows of the danger that ratio can easily be destroyed and
immerge into non-rationality. In diagrams ('i' for immergence):

rationalist: NR --(e)--> R --(i)--> NR
non-rationalist: NR --(i)--> R --(e)--> NR

The fatal NR = NR makes it impossible to see irreversible becoming. And
only either R or NR can be good while the other must be bad with the
evidence of immergence.

So let us establish real, irreversible becoming and break the NR = NR.
Therefore I introduce three types of NR, but now I prefer more neutral
words than 'magical' and 'sprirtual':

prerational (PR): before rational
transrational (TR): beyond rational
irrational (IR): destroyed rational

The terms are defined such that:

PR --(e)--> R --(e)--> TR

PR --(e)--> R --(i)--> IR

An irrational state is as much a prerational state as a bombed building is
a house under construction.

What does become of our rationalist in the light of these becomings? The
rationalist guides his child responsibly and carefully through the
prerational states and crowns his educational effort by being proud of an
adult-child which reached the rational state. But there is also the fear
that the reached can be destroyed, the fear for immergence into the
irrational. Without a concept of transrational states and knowing that
with high entropy production the bifurcation point will come (as
experienced again an again previously), the final part of the rationalists
education is to slow down entropy production as much as possible. This
ideal is called the release of a useful and capable member to society.

This rationalists ideal is a tragedy in the eyes of the non-rationalist.
Useful and capable member to society. Is this the vision of the unfolding
human potential? Unfortunately, while the rationalist just don't jump,
although the swimmingpool is nicely filled with refreshing transrational
water, inviting to the experience to swim, the non-rationalist tend to
jump into it before there is any water in it. A rationalist who observes
the outcome of such a 'brave' (stupid) jump is not really encouraged...

Now here we stand in year 2000 with all our rational organizations, some
disturbingly irrational patterns and most of the prerational paradises
distroyed. Entropy production rate is high and still rising, the
bifurcation point unavoidable. And the question rises:

Either 'R --(e)--> TR' or 'R --(i)--> IR'?

The answer will be once again as always: both/and.

Meanwhile we are standing 'at the trembling state of both/and -- between
-- either/or'.


"Winfried Dressler" <winfried.dressler@voith.de>

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