What is Structure? LO25511

From: mbayers@mmm.com
Date: 10/22/00

Replying to LO25499 --

Dave wrote:
>My question is - What is structure in a system? Is it visible,
>invisible or both? Is it formal or informal or both? What is it?

Hmmm... Interesting question. I guess I'd offer this:
the structure is what makes the system a system rather than a (mere)
collection of pieces.

The structure allows the system to create the results that a system
creats. That is, every system creats some result, whether it was designed
intentionally to create that result, or whether if somehow evolved to
create that result. The result defines the system in some way. We 'know'
that we have a cardio-vascular system because something creates oxygenated
blood, then pumps it throughout the body. We know we have a carburetion
system because something mixes the fuel and air and infuses the mixture
into the cylinders in the engine.

And if the system is genuinely more than just the sum of the parts, the
magic of the system lies in the interconnections between those parts, and
those parts only have value in their service of the purpose of the system.

I don't know whether that makes any sense to you. I don't even know if it
makes any sense to me! I work for 3M and we have been doing systems
thinking workshops for several years but this has never come up. I've
also had the chance to do some work with people in the field of education
... if fact, we're doing a mini-segment on ST in an EdD course on
organizations later this week.

Michael A
 - Michael Ayers
Mailto: mbayers@mmm.com Voice (651) 733-5690) FAX (651) 737-7718
IT Prof.Dev. 3M Center 224-2NE-02 PO Box 33224 St. Paul MN 55133-3224
Sometimes the right question is, 'Are we asking the right question?'



Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <Richard@Karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.