Intro -- Sooksan Kantabutra LO24668

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 05/24/00

Replying to LO24657 --

Dear Organlearners,

Sooksan Kantabutra <> writes:

>My name is Sooksan Kantabutra. I'm a doctoral student at
>Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Sydney. My
>doctoral research is built around how to develop and nurture a
>learning organization in a hospital in Thailand.

Greetings Sooksan,

Welcome to the list. May we all benefit learningly from your learning.

May you have success with your doctoral studies. I suspect that as you
bore in on that you have in mind, you will have to be very tenacious to
overcome resistances.

>I'm always curious about what factors are in transforming a
>Thai organization into a learning organization. I believe it must
>be different from those of the west.

Sooksan, the first thing which I want to stress, is that no two learning
organisations can ever be the same.

One of the most valuable things which I learned some thirty years ago, is
that no two pupils can ever have the same personality, despite the
attempts using personality tests to find similtudes in them. When a
learner needs spiritual guidance, the midwife has to take the full and
unique personality of the learner into consideration.

One way to think of a LO, is that it is an organisation which emerged into
a "collective personality" OF WHICH every member participates consciously
in its evolution. Just as the particular environment (nature and culture)
of a particular person has a telling influence on that person's
personality, the same applies to the environment of a learning
organisation (i.e. an "organisation with an evolving personality").

>For example, I think rewards could be employed as an
>accelerating mechanism in the transformation process in
>Thailand. There are always cultural differences involved in
>this matter.

WE have often discussed on this list the work of Alfie Kohn on punishment
by rewards. It will help you to work through the archives of the LO list
in this very important topic and become acquianted with the different

[Host's Note: The archives are at where they
are organized by month. For search, I recommend and include a
search term to restrict the search to our
material. ..Rick]

As for myself, I always try to bear in mind that rewarding any
accomplishment is something peculiar to human culture, but that it is
completely alien to the rest of nature. It is possible for me to extend
human creativity into the concept of "deep creativity" which involves
other living species too, but it is not possible to extend rewarding into
"deep rewarding". Thus we ought trying to understand why rewarding is
peculiar to human culture and why it plays a much greater role in some
cultures than others.

Is it not that the more fragmentaristic a society becomes, the more it has
to relay on external rewarding to promote excellence?

Sooksan, some fellow learners who have been following my comments on the
seven essentialities so as to question their own thinking and thus learn
from such questioning, may ponder the following question too. Is it not a
tragic confusion between wholeness ("monadicity-categoricity") and
otherness ("quality-variety"), trying to rectify with otherness the
impairing of wholeness?

>I would like to ask you all if anyone know of the implementation
>of Senge's learning organization concept in Asian countries.
>How would you determine if an org. is successfully transformed?
>Are there any measures?

As I see it, Senge (and De Geus) indeed did something revolutionary. The
revolution was not to create something into existence which never existed
before, but to articulate something which emerged frequently for millenia
in all kinds of organisations, but which was never articulated before. To
become more than tacitly aware of the LO, the genius of Senge was to
formulate the ive disciplines to allow us some description of it.

In chemistry/biology one soon realises the vast difference between
describing a molecule/specimen and synthesising/cultivating that
molecule/specimen. The same applies to a LO. That is why we have to pay as
much attention to the Fieldbook as to the Fifth Discipline.

Many consultants and managers bemoan the fact that it is far more
difficult to let an organisation emerge into a LO than to describe what a
LO ought to be. But I think that it is because they are unaware just how
complex the evolutionary+autopoietic+ +adaptative+self-organisative system
is. To illustrate what I mean, think of all the organs (like the skin,
heart and brain) in the human body as the members and the body itself as
the learning organisation. Although we have made considerable advancement
in describing the various organs and how they interact with each other, we
are far away from creating a human body.

I am not advocating the artificial creation of a human body, but I do
advocate the development of the creativity of all humans. I completely
believe that the future learning of all humans have to be fully integrated
with their creativity in order to steer humankind away from the increasing
destructions it is causing. This belief is not based on my theoretical
insights, but has emerged as a result of observations during my many
wonderings over our sub-continent. Wherever creating and learning went
hand in hand, whether an individual or a community, whatever the culture,
the transformation to a better life was astounding.

I recognise it as an "authentic belief" and not merely a fact. For me
"authentic beliefs" are facts which can be trusted in our emergence to
caring love.

The ignorance of formalised (institutionalised) education to the fact that
creating+learning does lead to a better life or the unwillingness to
transform education so as to honour this fact, is often a source of great
fury in me.

>For example, how would I know if organizational members have
>developed systems thinking abilities? Any direction to the
>answers of these questions will be greatly appreciated.

Sooksan, I live in South Africa where five main cultures ought to have
learned how to coexist -- Banthu, Xhoi, San, European, Asian. There are
many reasons why they often fail to co-exist in peace. One of seven of
these reasons is that they fail to recognise and accept diversity
(otherness) as essential to living together in peace. This otherness even
involves Systems Thinking (ST). Think of ST as a genus with many species.
The European species of ST is much different from the Banthu, Xhoi, San
and Asian species.

Here is an example. In the European species of ST (especially since
Guthenberg's invention) the espoused theory play a central role -- the hub
which connects all the spokes of the wheel. This makes literacy a
prerequisite to European ST. But in the Banthu species of ST (expecially
before the Arabian and later European colonialisations) the "unlomo"
(mouthpiece) played the central role. The umlomo was the person through
which two parties had to communicate whenever a ST topic was the issue.
Mandela, for example, is still one of the few remaining powerful exponents
of the "umlomo" culture. The task of the umlomo was to cast whatever the
one party had to say to the other in metaphors. Each party could hear
what the other one had to say without the metaphors of the umlolomo
intervening, but the intervention of the umlomo made a ST out of it. Thus
literacy was not prerequisite in Banthu cultrues, but "figuracy" (the
ability to articulate using metaphors).

Is this possible at all? Europeans who tend to think that any organism can
become alive only after the two elementals (sperm and egg) have joined,
find it very difficult to even consider the possibility beginning with a
living organism at any future stage of its development. Why? As I
understand it, it has much to do with how humans deal with duality
content-form. Europeans begin with content as given and then work towards
form as goal. The Banthus begin with form as given and then works to other
forms until they arrive at content in some cases. Europeans easily and
initially give a new name to a form, but for Banthus it is most complex
process which happens only after sufficient forms related to the form have
been accounted for. The task of the umlomo is to guide the transformation
from form to form by using metaphors, not technical names as Europeans do.

I have described the difference between European and Banthu ST so that you
may become aware that the ST in Thailand may be as different to these two
as they are different to each other. Sadly, the domination of one culture
over another (often deliberately as during the colonisation era) and now
often voluntary (by wanting the "fruits" of the other culture) has caused
havoc in the ST of the recessive culture. The tragic immergences (warfare,
corruption, poverty, famine) in Southern Africa where the Banthu cultures
are to be found, is evident of this. Thus "tacit LOs" (LOs which emerged,
but not as a result of Senge's articulation), once abundant in family,
community and tribal life, have now become rare. This makes the future
emergences of LOs precarious and difficult. Perhaps you ought to suspect
the same in Thailand, even though not at the same massive scale as here.

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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