LO, OL, and Social Learning LO26370

From: Sajeela M ramsey (sajeelacore@juno.com)
Date: 03/16/01

Replying to LO26354 --

Malcolm and LO-vers,

On Tue, 13 Mar 2001 19:31:06 -0500 "Malcolm Burson" writes:
> Is it just a matter of magnifying and replicating the Five
> Disciplines on a larger scale, or is there something distinct about
>communities and nations (as compared with organizations) that changes
>the approach? Or, from my particular point of reference, what is it
>that's so difficult about fostering environmental awareness and learning
>among consumers, nations, etc.?

Have pondered your questions myself over time, having worked in both
private and public sector in an array of different industries over some 9
years now (not long in the grander scale of things, but long enough to
offer some insight perhaps). My sense is that a system is a system ----
whether it's an individual, group, nation, eco-system or cosmology. It's
just that the level of complexity increases with each of these
"organizations", and therefore choosing interventions gets trickier and
more complex (which is why complexity theory is very helpful when one is
thinking in terms of particularly large systems where it becomes nessecary
to distribute time over space in order to get an adequate perspective of
what goes on).

Never-the-less, if the ideological principles or theories are broad-based
enough (Lewin said "there's nothing like a good theory"---or something to
that effect) then these can be applied at any level. But there is an
economy of scale issue that makes me tend to choose one intervention over
another for a given organized system, be it any of those I mentioned
above. A few (and I mean a very few) brief examples that come to mind for
interventions at different levels of system (and I would be willing to bet
that these apply up and down the scale, but some are better suited for a
given level of complexity):

1) Individual
Brief focused therapy
Therapeutic bodywork

2) Group
Family systems theory
Fifth Discipline principles
Gestalt systems theory

Tavistock group dynamics theory
Future Search process
Other open space thechnologies

4) Eco-systemic
Complexity theory
Aesthetic Interventions(TM)
Natural Step process [which may be VERY useful for you Malcolm---a tried
and "true" proven and successful national program that has changed a
nation's (Sweden I believe) behavior with regard to the ecological

5) Cosmology
Five Elements/Accupuncture systems
Alchemical transformation
etc, etc.

I think a key concept to your post was that of IDENTITY and change:
>relatively large groups who share a common political, cultural or social
>identity choose new individual and group actions in response to change.

I wrote recently to the Complexity list-serve on this very topic (enclosed
at bottom of this post so as not to disturb the line of thinking). Again,
identity occurs on many many levels (significantly more then I mention in
my post below), thus interventions must be designed with many cultural
nuances in mind in order to get "buy-in" (pardon the capatalistic term).
The trick is to figure out what a given group values (Appreciative Inquiry
is great for this), what a group is valenced or attracted to or
beauty-ized by. This is an extraordinary feet at a very complex level of
operating. Which is why many heads are better then just one.

So, back to you thought-provoking query Malcolm:

>help me identify between organizational learning as we discuss it, and
>the >social learning process by which communities and nations endeavor to
>(snip) shape interventions (snip) and interpret the consequences of
>the interventions.

I hope I was able to shed some meaningful/useful light on your excellent

tree branches dark against a still darker sky,

Excerpt from Complexity list serve:
Hi Ken,
Thanks for your post. My comments are in between yours:

On Wed, 14 Mar 2001 09:41:05 -0500 Ken Baskin writes:
> Chris,
> To me, culture begins with the "stories" (in the widest sense of that
>word) people in any social group tell each other about how they succeed.
I believe you are "right on the money" ---- stories, or communication
(which is 'stored' knowledge), do create culture. And there is an
etymological connection between community (culture) and communication
(language). Anthropologist E.Hall's (1959) model of culture attends to
what he calls Primary Message Systems; some visible or surface and some
otherwise invisible non-verbal and even para-verbal aspects of culture.
These include:
Interaction (language)
Temporality (cycles and frequencies)
Defense (belief systems)
Work (value and economy)
Sexuality (gender roles)
Exploitation (technologies)
Territoriality (spatial relations)
Association (class constructs)
Play (performance)
Learning (acquired and informal)
Schein (1997) has suggested that culture is a problem solving process.
Which reminds me a bit of what you are saying above: that culture is
shared successes. You go on to say:
>What connection does that make between
> culture and
> identity. At this point I'm not sure.
I will take the liberty of suggesting that culture, language,
communication, human learning, cognitive structure and identity are all
inextricably inter-connected. And, given some ten apects (at least) of
culture, the notion of identity becomes quite complicated. One's identity
can be based on ethnicity, socio-economic status, race, religion, gender,
ability, and so on. Furthermore, there are at least three layers to
culture (and therefore three layers or depths of identity):
Artifacts - superficial and easy to acquire (language, dress, customs)
Behaviors - more deep and still possible to learn new ones
Core values - deepest and almost impossible to change
There has also been some mention of the idea of "context" (which is
always relational) in this discussion about identity ---- and this
warrants some mention as well. The notions of heuristics, pattern
recognition, schemas, figure to ground, gestalten and field theory all
come to mind, dialectical as these may be. But we do exist (at least in
the immidiate sense) on the plane of duality, so these are useful for
describing identity (the Koan-esque question being "what do we identify
ourselves in relation to?").

So identity might be considered as any or all of these factors, depending
on what one wishes to focus on.

Early spring and purple crocuses slowly emerging,

Sajeela Moskowitz Ramsey: President, Core Consulting
Center for Organizational Renewal and Effectiveness
Senior OD Consultant/Culture Generalist
2432 Villanova Drive/Vienna, VA. 22180
703 573 7050/ SajeelaCore @Juno.com


Sajeela M ramsey <sajeelacore@juno.com>

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