Learning & IT in Organizations LO24584

From: Jan Lelie (janlelie@wxs.nl)
Date: 05/10/00

Replying to LO24404 and LO24539 --

Hello Michael,

this message has been written to inform you on information technology,
knowledge management and the learning organization.

I was struck with some insight (or lighting, or a piece of wood, or a
peace* of mind) when reading a line of thought in a book called: Paradoxes
of Group Life (i've ordered it from Amazon, but it took over three weeks
to arrive in The Netherlands. And Rick, you may also store this message
under Team Learning) by K.K. Smith and D.N. Berg:

"It is out of the "in-formation" created from the distinctions between the
positive and the negative <feedback, jl> that a system's self-reflective
capacities are molded". ... "A further complication is that individuals,
like groups, both want and do not want negative feedback".

So there it is: data takes shape, is formed, informs, in a mold, a mold
that creates the information, is capable of handling negative and positive
feedback. The very word information tells us that information is in
forming, in creating, in changing, isin the figure and the ground. This
message is the medium becoming this message. Informing is a tautology or a

And, because we've a bias for not wanting negative feedback (which is not
the same as wanting positive feedback) we have unconsciously designed our
Information Technology on the basis of not wanting negative feedback and
IT is therefore unable to inform us.

Knowledge is not only information on a ledge, it is also the material the
ledger is made of. Knowledge, as a process, relies on positive and
negative feedback loops, formed by information. Again, because we have a
bias for not engaging negative feedback, becuase it hurts (#don't tell me
'cause it hurts#), a system of KM will have a bias towards positive,
confirming information and probably will not supply the information that
will make a difference. And when it does or did, it will require a lot of
self-knowledge to recognize it. Better adopt the Queen's strategy: "Off
with his head".

Igal Voronel wrote:

> >1)IT and Organizational Learning - everyone seems to be talking
> >about it,and most consultants seem to be making money elaborating
> >on the connections between these two areas.
> >However: Are they really connected? If so, how? In what ways?
> >Does IT automatically induce learning other things than IT usage?
> >Is knowledge management something that an IT system really can
> >create and support?

and you replied


> In our experience, the closer you get to (0,0) the more
> legitimate/defensible is the use of IT. For instance, if you the data you
> use is inventory-on-hand and the rule is that when it gets to seventeen,
> you need to re-order that item ... well, the data is structured and the
> rule quite clear so let the computer take the action. On the other hand,
> if you have data such as the child's temperature seems kind of high and
> the rule is when the temperature is too high the administer an appropriate
> dose of aspirin ... well, the data is kind of fuzzy and the rule is not
> very clear. In that sort of case, the use of IT to perform some action is
> not easy to defend.


> We've suggested that there is some sort of squiggly line running from
> about a third of the way up the vertical axis to about a third of the way
> out the horizontal axis. Between that line and (0,0), IT seems
> well-justified: if it's so automatic, then let's automate it. There's a
> similar squiggly line running between the two-thirds points, and beyond
> that line things uniquely require human intervention. Then there's that
> gray area in between...
> How does this relate to knowledge management? Ultimately this comes back
> to the difference between data and information and knowledge. ... In
> Bateson's words, information is a difference that makes a difference. For
> my money, information gets converted into
> knowledge when it is placed in a larger context and connected usefully to
> other information.


> I happily draw a line saying that the context is a human mind. Thus,
> knowledge by my definition requires a 'knower'. And thus knowledge
> management is people management.

> ** Sometimes the right question is, 'Are we asking the right question?' **

But when do we know the right question? And when to ask the right

Thank you for sharing the talking stick,


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

[Host's Note: In assoc with Amazon.com...

Paradoxes of Group Life : Understanding Conflict, Paralysis, and Movement in Group Dynamics (New Lexington Press Organization Sciences Series) by Kenwyn K. Smith, David N. Berg http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/078793948X/learningorg


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