LOs and databases LO25722

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 11/29/00

Replying to LO25696 --

Dear Organlearners,

Don Dwiggins <d.l.dwiggins@computer.org> writes:

>One problem with a central database is that it's developed
>and maintained by a group whose identity is tied up with
>the DB. This can make it difficult to have an effective dialogue
>between the group and those whose data it must import,
>manage, and export. (It's not hard to find war stories in this

Greetings Dwig,

You have identified a problem which is very serious in South Africa.
Those who use the DB wants something to be done in it and those
who manage the DB says that it cannot be done. This problem is
intensified because
* those who use the DB are not even literate in creating software
  in general
* those who manage the DB are not literate in the business of the
  users of the DB

Lack of solving this problem increases negativity in both the users and
the managers of the DB. Hence the commitment of both parties takes a
serious dive. Renewal of contracts seldom happens. New contracts are
negotiated and hence the problem manifest itself again and again.

I think that the problem can be solved by an "organised learning effort"
on both sides.When each party has a fair knowledge of what the other party
can do, then they can reach consensus on what to do together.

But I wonder whether a "organised learning effort" and a "learning
organisation" are the same thing?

>There's also a more subtle and difficult problem: the
>schema of the central database, no matter how carefully
>constructed, must be a compromise in an organization
>of considerable size. This can make it problematic to
>determine what the data mean.

This is a problem which develops by trying to circumvent the Law of
Requisite Complexity (LRC). As the organisation becomes "larger" (or
complexer ?), the CDB becomes more complex too. Thus more complex learning
is required of every section to use the CDB effectively. Many people are
willing to learn, but few have the capacity to learn beyond a certain
level of complexity. What they do not know, is that this cacapcity is not
fixed. It can be changed, either as an increase or as a decrease. The LO
provides the kind of environment to increase this capacity.

>In LO terms, this means that the parts of an organization
>must be free to maintain a shifting local consistency,
>doing articulation work across the boundaries to maintain
>the global consistency at a different level. (At, does this
>call to mind examples in the biological, chemical, or
>physical realms?)

Yes, definitely. It is something of which I painted a rich picture in the
topic "Emergence and Efficiency" a couple of years ago. Your "doing
articulation work across the boundaries to maintain the global
consistency" is nothing else than a emergence, a situation in which the
sum of the parts become a greater whole. Whatever gets used in an
emergence, sustains that emergence and hence ought not be used for
something else unrealted to the emergence. Your "parts of an organization
must be free" is nothing else than these parts have to be dedicated to an
emergence, something which is very unefficient for daily work in a
digestive manner.

>Peggy, I hope I haven't rained too much on your parade.
>To end on a positive note, I believe that addressing these
>problems carefully, and using the five disciplines as tools,
>will in itself help in the effort to increase the "learning quotient"
>of the organization.

I think that we have to consider carefully whether the solution of a
problem is on the same level of complexity as the problem or whether the
solution requires a shift to a higher level of complexity -- whole of
wholes. In the latter case the solution will require a bifurcation from
which a constructive emergence can be obtained. The problem itself is
usually already pregnant in the bifurcation. Thus we may even call it a
bifurcation problem.

Experiencing the emergence of an organisation into a LO will afford
invaluable experience to create emergent solutions to bifurcation problems

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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