Five Waves of Organizational Structures LO26660

From: Dressler, Winfried (
Date: 05/09/01

Replying to LO26552 --

(This contains also a comment on Alexander and Organizational Patterns

Dear All,

In a breathtaking contribution, At de Lange wrote:

>Our present technological activities have been described by a revered
>cosmologist as a "one-only peak" and not as another plateau upon
>successive plateaus (ordinary waves) of the past. The reason is that we
>had been driving our technology with fossil fuel which nature prepared
>through many millions of years. By compressing (turbo-charging) these
>millions of years into two centuries of consumption, this high speed
>became possible. However, we cannot sustain this technological activities
>indefinitely. In fact, the summit of the "one-only peak" may have already
>passed us some years back. We will have to redesign our technological
>activities on renewable sources of free energy. But we need organisations
>to do it. That is why the oil companies, as Rick have noticed, are
>investing so much in new "waves of organisation" (using Teresa's
>Humankind is in much deeper trouble than we may think.

You will find a picture of this "one-only peak" technological soliton wave
under (fasten your seat belts and then dare to click)

>Here and
>elsewhere in the world the existing "ordinary waves of organisation" are
>not capable of managing this "one-only peak" as is evident from our daily
>news bulletins in the media. Millions of humans in need, like dead leaves
>on a tree ready to fall, become a shower of fallen angels as the
>technological soliton passes through them.

The technological soliton has been caused by organized human action. Such
organization can hardly be called ordinary organization (OO), yet it need
not be a learning organization (LO) in the sense of Peter Senge, although
very much learning must have occured to invent all the technology which
now forms the soliton. I may call those organizations "extraordinary
organizations" (EO). Their main characteristic is a) their extraordinary
consumption of free energy (fossil fuel, may I add: man power), which
differentiate them from OO's and b) their nonspontanous organizing, which
differentiate them from LO's.

This allows me to express my impressions on the difference of Alexanders
pattern language and what I could see on organizational patterns in the
other thread. Alexander seems to me to have a clear imagination of LO and
a society of "homo sapiens amans". He made clear that in order to arrive
at this imagination, one must completely free oneself from existing
patterns. In fact, in his early book "Notes on the Synthesis of Form",
Alexander showed how existing patterns in conscious societies lead to
misfit in design. After the pattern language has been derived from the
imagination, three things became apparent: First, each pattern form a
whole in itself and can be improved and modified as needed. Second, the
patterns exhibit "one-to-many-mapping", i.e. they don't prescribe fixed
design but can be adjusted to individual or group need and taste. Third,
he could observe each pattern in reality allowing him to start each
pattern with a photograph of one possible realization. This third was the
most impressive in the whole book for me.

You may already feel what is still missing on the OrgPatterns site. Don
cited: "The patterns in this book were drawn from empirical studies of
about a hundred organizations in dozens of companies in several countries
around the world." The patterns were derived from observing best practices
in EO's, not by imagining LO's. At least this is my impression.

What allows survival in the technological soliton? LO's? Is the soliton a
filter for LO's? The best place to be when a Tsunami, a soliton wave
caused by a seaquake, proceeds towards the next coast is a nutshell on the
open sea, the best place to be when the Deluge came was Noah's Ark. What
has a nutshell in common with a LO? Many questions. But we have to improve
on the imagination of the far future which has been presented in the above
link olduvai.htm. I by far prefer Alexanders imagination.

Liebe Gre,



"Dressler, Winfried" <>

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