Learning IT or Learning Organizations? LO24636

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 05/19/00

Replying to LO24566 --

Dear Organlearners,

Jan Lelie <janlelie@wxs.nl> writes:

>1. A computer is a "geheel onthouder" (this is a Dutch pun:
>a "geheel onthouder" is a person that doesn't drink alcohol
>and also means something like: keeps or stores everything
>as a whole)
>2. GiGo: Garbage in Garbage out: the quality of retrieved
>information depends only on the quality of the input (and that
>is also the questions used to retrieve the information)

Greetings Jan,

Thank you for your rich reply.

I love these two rules of thumb.

Perhaps I should add for the benefit of fellow learners that "heel" means
"whole" so that "geheel" means "wholly" or "complete". The verb "onthou"
can have two entirely different meanings -- "remember" and "withhold
from". However, the "onthouder" means "abstainer" (and not "rememberer")
and "onthouding" means "abstinence" or "continence" (and not

Your pun means that a computer cannot consume any alcohol. But there is
some deeper meaning to your pun. Alcohol affects the neurological system.
It is not only humans who experience this effect. Animals can experience
it too. When certain trees (like the Maroela in Southern Africa) produce
ripe fruit profusely in a short time, the animals cannot keep ahead in
eating them. Thus the fruits begin to ferment (without rotting because
they have such a thick skin). Eventually there are sufficient fermented
fruits to take the animals on an alcohol trip -- loss of body control and
boisterous actions. The next day they have typical head-aches and bad
tempers. It is then when an elephant has to be avoided.

Speaking of bad temper involves the concept of temperament. Temperament
is the complex manner in which a person reacts physically and spiritually
to his/her feelings.

Humans have temperament. Higher ordered animals also have temperament
similar to that of humans. Should we think in terms of "deep temperament",
even lower ordered animals like insects and the kingdom of plants have
temperament .

Computers have no temperament. This makes computers powerful when we want
to avoid temperament in electronic IT. But it also make computers useless
when we have to deal with temperament. We have to deal with temperament
whenever we have to deal with creativity. Temperament plays a vital role
in the dynanics of creativity.

Computers, the "mind of electronic IT" self have no creativity up to now
and even the foreseeable future . They are "geheel onthouders" (complete
abstainers) of creativity. When we use them to do self something
creatively, we have to make use of software. This software commands the
computer to do what we want it to do. However, the software was created
by creative programmers. This causes a serious problem. Our own creativity
are bounded-limited (spareness) by the creativity of the programmers. When
their creativity and what they provided for into the software exceeds our
own creativity by far, we may perceive that the computer has its some
creativity of its own. Some may even bow to this "apparent creativity" of
the computer, saying "I cannot do it because the computer cannot do it".

A colony of ants or a swarm of bees have quantitively and qualitatively
far more "deep creativity" than a single ant or bee. Likewise a
organisation of humans have more "deep creativity" than any of its
members. In some organisations which we may describe as TOs (Totalitarian
Organisations) its "deep creativity" is a little more than the creativity
of its CEO. The creativity of the rest of the members of the TO are
seriously impaired. These TOs function very much like a computer. But in a
LO (Learning Organisation) its "deep creativity" exceeds the creativity of
any of its members, even from the management team, by far in quantity and
quality. Furthermore, the management team of a LO is continually involved
in promoting rather than impairing the creativity of its members.

Why does a computer have no creativity self? Why does a TO allow so little
creativity? Why is the creativity of all its members so important to a LO?
Dear Jan, you wrote the following words (<) in reply to my comment (<<)
which may baffle the far majority of fellow learners.

>One thing which we never should forget, is that every complex
>system will always have a slowest internal becoming which will
>determine the rate of its "typical becoming".

>>We do not have to remember this, we cannot forget: it is as
>>natural a process as water not only seeking the lowest level
>>but also through the path of the least action.

Allow me to change your wording slightly into the phrase "seeking the
ultimate through the path of least action". This phrase is a fine summary
of the dynamics of creativity. I am not going to explain this summary step
by step. I am rather much more interest in how much all of us can learn by
connecting to this phrase.

For example, what does "the past of least action" means to us? It has
received a formal description in the context of physics which someone (you
or another physicist) can go into, trying to make this formality clear to
the majority of fellow learners who know very little physics. But I would
caution the phycisists among us to stay quiet until a lot of fellow
learners, knowing little physics, had sufficient opportunity to say what
"the past of least action" means to them. The idea is NOT TO JUDGE the
meanings which they have given with the physical formality.

The idea is to give all fellow learners a learning experience by trying to
articulate their tacit knowledge when connecting to the description "the
past of least action" ("weg van die minste weerstand") as it means in
ordinary language to them. The physicists among them will then rather have
to connect with all these articulations so as to explain what they know
self of this phrase. This will involve a new learning experience to them
too. Obviously, when no fellow learner who knows little physics responds
to the description "the past of least action", then the physicists will
not be able to connect to their responses. Since physicists ought to know
(by virtue of the history of quantum mechanics and relativity theory) that
a strong negative outcome has just as much meaning as a strong
confirmation, they will have to make a learning experience even when no
non-physics responses emerge. What will they learn? Are any of you fellow
learners interested in this latter learning of theirs?

Jan, you wrote:

>So either you're trying to cover-up something - unlikely- or you
>have a kind of third-order learning in mind that first trancends
>existing paradigms and then generates a new culture. Because
>the experience of creating a new culture is a part of this transition
>(perhpas only however when you start in the old frame of reference),
>you tend to recreate your own learning situation and guide us
>through it.

Thank you for your summary of what I seem to be doing. I actually paint
rich pictures of the physical and spiritual context in which all our
learning as individuals and organisations happen. I include my own
learning since the learning of each of us add to the context of any other
authentic learner. In terms of "deep creativity" it means that I try to
make each of you fellow learners aware of the ecosystem of your

In my humble opinion this "ecosystem of any person's creativity" is
incredibly and intimidating complex. As such it is perhaps the most
important reason why humankind is beginning to break up in two layers on
all walks of life, a few at the top layer who can sustain themselves and
the far majority at the bottom layer who cannot. It is as if that which
once happened in the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia and Egypt is now
happening once again, as if a gigantic rhythm involving many millenia has
completed but one beat, as if the drawing of a full circle is now reaching
its closing stage with the help of IT. When this happens, the shift to
complexity as the leading paradigm will be inevitable. The top layer will
consists of few "bosses of complexity" and the bottom layer will consists
of the multitude of "slaves of complexity".

MY mission is not to lift someone from the bottom to the top layer, nor to
equalise the people from both layers by taking away from those in the top
layer, but to help those learners from both layers who want to free
themselves of "slavery in complexity" to do so by means of authentic
learning (sort of personal mastery and team learning together) in which
creativity plays a key role. I know what to expect when interfering with
any kind of slavery -- history has much to tell and experiences add to it,
even on this list.

Jan, you also wrote:

>Well, it depends on your perspective: when you make a sound
>choice right away you haven't learned nothing. Only when you
>make the wrong choice and - - after some time - sit and wonder,
>you will learn from the wrong choice and thus you'll find and the
>right choice and that the wrong choice was the right choice to
>choose, because of the learning it brought.

This is very deep thinking which needs much contemplation salted with
feeling. Perhaps some day some fellow learner will initiate a LO-dialogue
on it.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@gold.up.ac.za> 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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