Non-western Theories of Leadership LO25622

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 11/13/00

Replying to LO25610 --

Dear Organlearners,

Jan Lelie <> writes:

>So the issue turns out to be language yet again.
>The process of splitting starts with the very use
>of language in communicating.

Greetings Jan,

Yes, for me the issue also goes back to langauge.

But for me it is not so much the "what" in the language used by each of
us, but the "how".

If we each write in a monologue and then merely allow our monologues to
mix, the typical western conversation as the outcome will be far different
than when we contribute to a dialogue. In a dialogue we each also make
contributions, but we furthermore let the contributions among us react
with each other contribution to produce particular outcomes.

Let me illustrate it with a metaphor. Let my contributions be one kind of
chemical compound, your contributions be another kind of compound, etc. In
the Western world we will merely mix these contribution, assuming that
somebody will make sense of them. But in the non-Western worlds the
edeavour is to let the mixture make certain chemical reactions so that
certain chemical products will be obtained.. That chemical reaction then
is like the dialogue.

>The problem with a digital language - as i understand it
> - is that there is a "no" as opposite of a "yes". Its strength
>is its weakness. In an analogue language, there is no concept
>of "no". There is just is as is.

The Western mind, my friend, is far more creative than that. It often
will, by hook or crook, make a "yes" of the "highest is" and a "no" of the
"lowest is", even though these two values are the merely the extremes of
many more values in between.

>Perhaps we should invent an second language
>to talk about the meaning of our communicating.
>Or perhaps we are already using that language
>and fail to notice that we also communicate
>analogously. As we do in musec and dances, um.

I think your second suggestion has much merit. In fact, the difference
between a "mixture of monologues" and a "dialogue" is like the difference
between a "digital language" and a "analogue language".

But I think we will have to explain to fellow learners what is meant by a
"digital language" and a "analogue" language. Here is my attempt as a
broad over view.

In a "digital language" the difference between two consequtive signals are
one of a fixed number of possibilities Between all these possible
differences are a fixed difference. For example, in a ternary digital
language (a, b, c) the possible differences are 0 (as in aa, bb and cc),
1 (as in ab, bc and ca) or 2 (as in ac, ba and cb). The difference
between 0, 1 and 2 is fixed, namely "one digit". This "one digit" as well
as each of the raw signals (a, b, c) have no internal meaning.
Furthermore, in a digital language economy is the watch word. Thus, rather
using (a, b, c) as "alphabeth", the differences 0, 1, 2 self are used as
alphabeth too. Further information is then built in by more complex
patterns like 0011, 0012, 0011211211, 00112212221112, etc. according to
definite protocols.

In the "analogue language" the difference between two consequtive signals
are not a fixed number of possibilities, but rather variable.
Furthermore, the differences between these various possible differences
are not fixed, but variable among themselves. In effect it means that each
of the signals have a inner meaning too (unlike a digital langauge) which
can be called the content. Like a digital langauge, further information is
then built in by complex patterns between these signals. Unlike digital
languages, the protocols cannot be established unequivocably by mere
convention. The inner meaning or content of every signal play an essential
role too.

The transcription of a "analogue" to a "digital" language tells in another
way the difference between them. The content of the analogue signal have
to be digitalised into a packet of digits (each digit have no content)
having a certain form. Only thereafter can further information (as
patterns between these analogue signals) become automatically digitalised
by froming patterns between these already formed digit packets.

Pictures may tell us pehaps the clearest the difference between them. An
"analogue language" is like looking directly at a meandering river in
nature. A "digital language" is like making an image of that picture by
connecting some of the regular spaced dots on a grid. Do yourself a
favour. Try to draw a meandering river with a digital program like
PaintBrush of Windows. You will soon experience the difference.

A dictatorial leader who think of his/her subjects as a regular grid of
dots which can be switched on or off at will to get the desired pattern,
will get a ragged image like when trying to draw a meandering river with
PaintBrush. The ragget image is not the worst, but the fact that the many
dots never become switched on even once.

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

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>

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