Archetype/Metaphor LO26488

From: J.C. Lelie (
Date: 04/05/01

Replying to LO26472 -- Was: Intro -- Vana Prewitt

2-4-01 7:27:09, Vana Prewitt <> wrote:

Hi Vana,

Good to hear from you again. Thanks for the reference to the paper. You
might have added that it contains a research that used the content of this
LO-list, based on the next observation:

"John Reed, Citicorp's chairman, while speaking at the Organization
Science 1997 Winter Conference made the following observation, "the
linkage between research and practice is via people, not from reading
journals." To explore this idea further, the research question proposed
was "Is there something about the language practitioners use that is
different from the language used in academic papers and journals, and if
so, what might it be?" [Note, this question was posed as vehicle for the
illustrations which follow, thus please avoid sending the author
commentary about triteness.] To operationalize the question, the focus was
narrowed to active discussants of the concept "the learning

The authors parsed texts from the MIT, Management Literature and this list
on the relation between certain key-words. I like such an approach,
because it searches for meaning without looking at the intent, only
looking at the content. Figure and ground, form and content. Besides, it
is always interesting to read what others write about your writing and, in
my view, confirms the ideas exposed in the dialogue on archetypes. I fell
for the trap:


Weick (1995) cites Watzlawick (1976) on this point as "once a tentative
explanation has taken hold of our minds, information to the contrary may
produce not corrections, but explanations of the explanation." end quote

and started to look for explanations of the explanations on the LO-list.

These were the tentative conclusions by the author:


Practitioners as represented by the LO mail list participants function in
a different semantic space than that represented by either the management
science journals or the MIT working papers. The journals and the MIT
working papers have even more drastic differences in semantic space than
the practitioners do with either group. The practitioners' semantic space
aligns more closely to the journal writers' space than it does to the MIT
authors' space. The concepts of "leading", "coaching", and "learning"
should be more fully explored in an effort to better understand these



The analysis revealed that the words "coaching" and "leading" had strong
association with each other and with the idea of change within the
semantic space of the learning organization mail list participants, yet
had no strong association in the academic literature. Thus, while one of
the LO members could write of coaching and leading as related to change:
"What is the 'subject matter' of the coaching/relationship? By which I
mean the need for us to understand the leaders role in whole system
change. What is involved for the leader personally in this sort of change?
What does he or she need to learn/do/change? What are their
feelings/problems/incentives in making the personal journey towards a new
place?" the academic authors seem to see these words as weak metaphors to
be abused:

"The succession process must be built on "tough love" coaching and
feedback and the willingness to make the varsity cuts. The CEO must be
willing to get up close and personal with the succession candidates and
have them work in interdependent team settings where the most valuable
player gets defined as a team player." Leading is an active verb done by a
person on the LO list and a link "leading to" something or somewhere in
the academic literature. Similarly, learning and change mean different
things in these two worlds.

end quote

Is there more information on this method?

NB: I'm in the business of computer supported meetings. We ask
participants to share items on a number of topics. We then print their
ideas on coloured cards and let them cluster the ideas themselves. Often
the people cluster the ideas not on what the card reads, as printed, but
how the message should be interpreted. They often start to explain the
explanations. On the one hand i've resisted to use tools as described in
the paper, because i assume that meaning is a social construct and should
be constructed socially. On the other hand, the article makes me pause and
reconsider. Perhaps this is a way to circumvene the explanation of the

PS: Please do not read the following sentences. The following words are
meant to confuse the searching machine only, That's teach them to parse
texts!;-) : strong leadership is needed for an LO, actions to manage
change effective, practical solutions implementing now, responsibility
means taking control, success of an LO s measured by making money, drive
for efficiency by LO generates a healthy profit, effective control of
organisation and people is needed, LO contributes to reducing workforce
and cost control.

Kind regards,

Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM
LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development
mind@work - Group Decision Process Support + 31 (0)70 3243475


"J.C. Lelie" <>

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