Don Michael's Death LO25702

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 11/22/00

Replying to LO25654 --

Dear Organlearners

Rick Karash <> quotes:

>That's learning. Admitting uncertainty. Trying things.
>Making mistakes, ideally the small ones that come
>from failed experiments, rather than the huge ones that
>come from pretending you know what you're doing.
>Learning means staying open to experiments that might
>not work -- which Michael called error embracing. "It
>means seeking and using -- and sharing -- information
>about what went wrong with what you hoped would go right."

[Host's Note: Actually, it was Dana Meadows, whose article I forwarded to
learning-org. ..Rick]

Greetings Rick,

Thanks for sharing with us the wisdom of Don Michael.

I wonder whether we should even use the word "mistake". In my mother
tongue we have the words "probeer"=try and "probeerslag"=experiment. We
view a "probeerslag" as one of many "probeer"s succeeding each other in a
learning loop. When trying one experiment does not succeed, we learn from
that experiment so as to try the next one until we can break that learning
loop with the successful try.

One of the "mysteries" of science is that the authentic scientist will
never judge the outcome of any experiment as a mistake. Oh, they will
avoid certain experiments for many reasons, some good and some bad. But to
ignore the outcome of an experiment for whatever reason as some sort of
mistake is most unscientific.

Is there not a strange correspondence between scientific experimentation
and authentic learning?

You also quote:

>In 1996, preparing to re-issue his great planning book,
>Don Michael wrote a paragraph that seems as if it were
>written for his nation's confusion in the week of his death.
>"The depth of learning to be done grows ever more
>daunting. Whether that learning can be accomplished
>remains to be seen.

It reminds me of much of present science. Far too many people (I refuse to
call them scientists) have discovered a recipe by which they make one
sausage after the other satisfying the hunger of publication. It also
reminds me of how many people see my activity on this list ;-) When I
finally dared to disclose my cyber experiments, what a pot shot was not
soon afterwards taken at me.

Why is learning an activity which too few people is befriended with?

Do Learning Organisations fail to emerge because too little learning takes

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.