The Proliferation of Junk LO26418

From: John Dicus (
Date: 03/22/01

John Zavicki wrote in LO26365

>I'd always thought that philosophy was a part of everything we think, but
>rarely written, save by those of us blessed with insanity. The people I
>have converted to systems thinking who I have taught philosophy had both
>in their everyday life all along. They tend to be either somewhat
>religious or somewhat intellectual (I'm not sure if there's a real
>difference there.

Hello John,

I've recently noticed folks writing about systems thinking like it was a
tool, or in mechanical terms, while setting apart the more human, organic
and philosophical things in life as "something else." You know, like
systems and "not systems." The word "mechanical" may not capture my sense
of it. Perhaps I could say folks are writing about systems as being
comprised of the harder stuff that you can more readily see & touch. As
opposed to stuff you can't, like concepts, beliefs and values.

I'm more comfortable with a mindset that treats philosophy and systems
thinking as one. Or as largely overlapping elements of one. In my mind,
"system" is all inclusive. To me, it's about shifting consciousness. To
wholeness from disparate-ness. Not melding identities, but re-integrating
them into their rightful interrelationships and interdependencies.

People seem to have lost their systemic intuition and wisdom. Perhaps
some never had it, or never developed it due to the nature of our societal
cultures. I think we can learn to have eyes in the storm. First in that
we become able to create places of calm and reflection. And second in
that we can peer calmly into the storm and see pattern and hope instead of

It's also about structure -- system structure. Structure, to me, is also
all-inclusive. It's simply the huge unfathomable body of fluid and
dynamic relationships that associate the things we believe and do with the
things we notice happening somewhere/sometime else in our lives. If
systems and structure don't encompass the whole of life, then I seek a
description of systems and structure that does. New words too.

When I said "structure is simply... ," it reminded me of my college
professor who said: "Here's all you need to know in this course. It's
simple. F= M x A and T = I x Alpha.'' Then he went on to say "Now we'll
spend the entire coming year discovering all the Forces, Masses, etc."
Simple is relative.

Some perceive structure as such a hard word with so many edges. Consider
the softer words of Nell Dorr:

Life is greater than you know... it has its own structure, and pulse and
I can only tell you that it is yours for the taking.
Come close to it. Love it. Give it room to be.
Remember that some things need more room than others... respect such need.
Come humbly and patiently. Learn to witness and to wait.
Become clear as glass and selfless.
The more still, the more open and clear you are, the more will come.
Believe me: more will come than you could dream or dare.

Oh, and by the way, since you and Gavin began the interchange about junky
tools, I've been wondering how much theory a person needs to know to swing
a hammer? A good question. Does everyone need to know what underpins?
We get wrapped around the axle when others don't share our particular
interest in what's under the hood.

Some car commercials sell by talking about lightweight pistons and
micropolished camshafts (as if most cars didn't have them anyhow). While
other car commercials talk about speed, or how quiet the ride is, or the
cool places you can go. So what sells? What's important? Who needs to
know what? Who needs to see under the hood?

Do you want to create a new organization that is light and agile so that
it can change directions quickly and gracefully. Do you want to eliminate
wear and tear when our egos or ideas rub across one another? Or do you
want to work in peace and quiet. Do you want to move fast? Do you
impatiently wait to peek beyond the horizon? What floats your boat?

A Boeing 747 flies from A to B. 350 people get to their destination.
How many passengers do we need? How many travel agents? How many pilots?
How many maintenance personnel? How many people skilled in building an
aircraft? How many designers? How many people with expertise in unsteady
aerodynamics or flight control theory do we need? Of course there's
considerable leverage for change at this depth, yet how many people need
to know (and how much) about this?

I don't know the answers myself, but I believe not everyone needs to know
everything. Just how much everyone needs to know is a compelling question
for me. I wonder about this a lot. I wonder how it influences the way I
try to teach and share what I know. I wonder how it influences how I
learn from others.

Thanks for stirring my mind,


John Dicus  |  CornerStone Consulting Associates
 -- Leadership -- Systems Thinking -- Team Building -- Open Space --
2761 Stiegler Road, Valley City, OH 44280
800-773-8017  |  330-725-2728 (2729 fax)  |

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.