Main Difficulties with LO LO27469

Date: 10/28/01

Replying to LO27446 --

Rick writes in reply to a request by ok3.

>Hello ok3...
>Senge himself and the member companies of the Society for Organizational
>Learning did a major project on this... The result is the book, The Dance
>of Change which details the challenges of initiating an organizational
>learning effort... and the challenges of sustaining the effort.
>Each challenge is described in systems thinking terms.
>This is based on the experience of the member companies, many of whom had
>been using these methods in depth for five years or more.

I am almost physically unable to write about the issues involved in the
interfaces between reality and systems thinking, though I sometimes see a
paiting by Peter Breugel come to mind, increasingly, at the questions
arising, increasingly herein, the painting is called The Parable of the
Blind and it is said by some to be one of the most moving paitings ( I let
it stand uncorrected) of its age. Here is something offered by a
University course on complexity and systems thinkin as approached to
problems in the world (sic)...there are of course no problems in the
world, but instead in the minds of those apprehending the world and thinki
the while they control it (sic). FWIW

"1. System Thinking versus Complexity Thinking in Exploring Reality

1.1 System Thinking:

World Made of Systems and Parts Unlike the holistic standpoint of
complexity thinking, systems thinking, be it 'hard' or 'soft',
deterministic or probabilistic, exploratory or intervention-oriented, is
always focussed on some pre-selected part; this part is called a system.
The system inevitably has its own boundary that makes it distinguishable
from the rest of the world. The functioning of the system is according to
a specific partial truth (provable in a strictly limited, pre-defined area
of operation); the system thinker strongly believes in this partial truth,
works on it, explores it deeper and deeper. While working with partial
truths, system thinkers see the world made of parts (systems, sub-systems,
components, elements, particles) that can be separated and analysed
independently from one another. The underlying assumption is that the
whole is more than the parts, where 'more' usually relates to 'more
complicated' or 'more difficult to study and understand'; consequently,
the parts are simpler and therefore easier for studying and understanding.
For artificial (human-made) systems, such an assumption can be accepted.
In nature and society, this assumption fails. The microcosm is not simpler
than the macrocosm; the same inseparably connected dynamics ? energies and
forces that make the spiral of our galaxy fold and stretch pulsate in a
similar way through any living cell of our organism. The life of a single
individual is not simpler that the life of society considered as a whole.
In the fractal structure of nature, revealed by Mandelbrot [1], the whole
consists of wholes, only the scale changes. The scale of an atom's nucleus
is different than the scale of the sun, but the 'whole' consisting of
atom's nucleus and the orbits of the electrons that this nucleus attracts
is similar to the 'whole' consisting of the sun and the orbits of the
heavenly bodies that the sun attracts. While seeing existence as a
holistic manifestation of inseparably interwoven dynamics, complexity
thinking deals with concepts like strange attractors, fractals,
self-organizing criticality, edge of chaos, etc. These concepts are not in
the vocabulary of the system thinkers. 1.2 System Thinking: Obsession with
Goals and the Future System thinking is goal-oriented: there are always
pre-defined goals and objectives, which system must achieve, and there are
always prescribed requirements and criteria, which system must satisfy. As
the achievement of any goal happens always in the future, system thinking
is obsessed with prediction and generating plans, blueprints,
time-schedules and scenarios. The obsession with future tends to grow up
to a such degree that system thinkers start to lose the ability to
distinguish between the present and the future; by looking at any present
situation with an intent to shape it according to goals and objectives
anchored in future, they often find themselves substituting their plans,
expectations, promises, dreams and illusions for reality. This kind of
substitutions is typical for the political and economic system thinking.
With complexity thinking, one can easily see the reason why system
thinkers are so preoccupied with the future. The swirling dynamics of life
hardly tolerate pre-defined goals and objectives, pre-set requirements and
criteria, long-term predictions, plans, blueprints and scenarios - most of
them turn to be meaningless or illusory when the future becomes present;
so, the only way to meaningfully discuss their 'realness' is by keeping
them attached to a 'tomorrow', which, unfortunately, never comes. 1.3
Complexity Thinking: Centering in the Present Complexity and chaos focus
their attention on the present, because even tiny perturbations in the
process of self-organization occurring at present can have enormous impact
on the further development of this process. It is an impossible task to
make the 'butterfly effect' follow any goal-oriented strategy and any
targets' setting anchored in the future. ....SNIP"

end quote.

ok3, and all others. I heard on the radio this evening that Intel employ
an anthropologist to stay ahead of and in 'the game'. They love acronyms
at Intel, so they have one for the Intel/\ world interface and it is Intel
and "ROW". Rest of World. That's how they see it, you see. Except of
course they don't see at all. When the anthropologist demonstrated that
another systemic bit (sic) of knowledge (double sic) was wrong (viz. Intel
believed the whole world wanted to be like America) they just didn't get

I asked before if some of you could you gedit now?...methinks
knot. Methinks the game is up. Learn a new game.

ho hum,

Andrew Campbell


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.