Shared Vision or Shared Cliches? LO26749

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 05/30/01

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to all of you.

Last night I was at a function listening to the speeches of several
leaders. True to textbooks each leader did his best to share his vision
with the audience. Everything seemed to go fine, but not with me.

My soul was disturbed. What they shared with the distinguished audience,
were not visions. They were merely "extrapolating our business as usual".
I knew I was judging them so that I began to question myself. Have I not
fallen self into the pit of sharing cliches with fellow learners? How will
I distinguish between a vision which ought to be shared and the sharing of
cliches on business as usual? Why do I not want to accept this
"extrapolating our business as usual" as a valid vision? When I tell of my
own vision, am I not misusing it to manipulate the minds of other
learners? What is the difference between a shared vision and a vision
controlling all the shares of others?

Time and again my thoughts went to the 7Es (seven essentialities of
creativity) -- liveness, sureness, wholeness, fruitfulness, spareness,
otherness and openness.

When the leader says "We must position ourselves in the global economy",
does this also say indirectly "We will increase in wholeness"? For what a
greater whole than the globe do we have on earth? What a greater force
than the economy act in our daily lives? The English people have a great
saying in "Charity begins at home." Likewise increasing wholeness begins
by making the small parts wholesome before moving to bigger parts to make
them wholesome also. What is the wholeness of an upfront position in the
global economy when an illiterate person cannot even read or write the
words "global economy"? Greater wholes cannot overlook or condone the
endless fragmentation of smaller wholes.

When the leader says "We must be internationally competitive to survive",
does this also say indirectly "we will increase in spareness"? Is
competition not a fine way to quantify our spareness and reach its limits?
The English have a great saying with "In charity, out of charity."
Likewise increasing the spareness of the winner for survival cannot happen
while the loser perish in lost spareness. The "survival of the fittest"
cannot legitimise the "consumption of the unfit". We rather ought to spare
each other from suffering through a lack of spareness.

When the leader says: "We must establish our identity on the exclusivity
of our business", does this not also say indirectly "we will increase in
sureness"? Are trademarks and copyrights not the best way to preserve the
identity of a business? Think of the saying "Business is not charity".
When a charity organisation uses the bulk of what it collects to sustain
its very collecting it has become a thieve in the clothes of a beggar. But
since when did a business wolf in the role model of sheep clothes became a
lamb? Humankind has now expanded from material ownership to intellectual
ownership, selling intellectual property as soon as it is made tangible.
But what is more banal than debasing the original intellect when selling
it for material means?

When the leader says: "We must increase our efficiency so that society can
benefit from it", does this not also say indirectly "we will increase in
liveness". If we become more of the same, how ever can we become
rejuvenated to share it with society? How can we use more of our limited
free energy in efficiency and still have enough left over for the
emergence of those beneficial things which are obviously lacking? We will
not give somebody a stone who is begging for bread. But when somebody is
begging for a stone (or expensive equipment for the same reason) to still
her hunger, are we not malicious when giving her a stone since she
mentioned it rather than bread?

My soul was indeed deeply troubled. I had several times during these
speeches the moving image of robots, although acting as humans, which are
not conscious that they are externally programmed robots rather than
internally motivated humans. I saw some of the audience frowning from time
to time, but perhaps it was my imagination. I left the function before the
end, went to home, phoned a friend and hurt his ears with foul language. I
am still much of a robot self because I often fail to undo the programming
within me. I am part of that image even though I do not want to be part of
it. I left the function before its end, but can I leave this imaginary
movie before its end? No!

I have this vision of living as a "one-to-many-mapping", but last night I
lived through its opposite -- the nightmare of a "one-to-many-cloning" as
a result of rote learning. Perhaps I should speak in future of clone
learning rather than rote learning.

The above was written yesterday. The next will be written today. Earlier
this morning I was at another university where the idea of an Learning
Organisation (LO) was introduced by one of its acting deans to members of
one of its faculties. After the lecture questions were asked as usual.
Except for two persons who showed through their questions that they knew
of the LO (the one spoke of the LO as a "fifth generation organisational
model"), the remainder seemed to have heard of it for the first.

I kept my silence like a bed light because the spirit of the LO-dialogue
was lacking. But afterwards I went to the offices of two persons who asked
the most critical questions. I asked them openly why they were so
critical. They said that they had the feeling that the idea of an LO will
not work because of too many little empires within the organisation
preventing it to become a LO. I want to thank them because in less than 30
minutes I knew why my sould was so deeply troubled.

Dear fellow learners, you know these many little "empires within an
organisation" too well for me to go deep into them. The executive
management team may form a little empire within. The administrative
division may form their own little empire, etc. The outcome is usually
the following.
. Our exclusive little empire (although never
. called by that name) is the pivot or founding
. stone of the whole organisation. The well
. being of the whole organisation depends on
. us "extrapolating our business as usual". Our
. vision is our "imperial positioning" to which
. you will obey.

The function which I had been to and which troubled my soul so deeply, was
nothing else than one of the many empires within an organisation so big as
our whole nation. You know them well too because they may also be
operating in your country: health service, military, academy, technology,
banking, etc. The well being of the whole nation depends on us
"extrapolating our business as usual" since we are the pivot or "imperial
position" of nationhood.

Actually, I think what troubled me so deeply is that the function went
even further. Although it was a South African "imperial positioning" for
South Africans, it could happen in any country of the world and possibly
have happened many times in each of them. Hence it is an example of a walk
of human life establishing its "imperial positioning" for humankind. In
other words, just to take an example, it happens when IT (Information
Technology) people claim that the well being of humankind depends on them
"extrapolating their business as usual" as the pivot for future human

As an afterthought, I think that I should have called this topic "Imperial
Positioning within Organisations preventing them to become LOs" rather
than "Shared Vision or Shared Cliches?" Nevertheless, how would you fellow
learners solve this problem of dissolving the many little empires (the
mental model of "imperial positioning") within an organisation which
prevents it from emerging into a LO? You may think of small organisations
like your family business, or of medium organisations like your nation, or
of large organisations like a global corporation or even of the largest of
them all -- humankind itself (even though few would consider it as a
system with organisation).

When you again will be invited to a function yourself while it is insisted
that you would have to dress formally, think whether you will have the
guts to attend it, dressed perfectly, except for feet bare naked. If you
have the guts, perhaps you will have the guts to challenge the "imperial
positioning" in the many walks of our life.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> 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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