The Will and Purpose of an Organisation LO28181

From: Benjamin Compton (
Date: 04/08/02

Replying to LO28159 --

At --

Forgive me for not quoting your message -- or pertinent parts. It was
long, and I'm still digesting your chemical equations.

My observation is that the first part of your message boils down to this:
Purpose for any non-intelligent object is found in it's relationship to
another object. While intelligent objects can have both a purpose and a
will, and therefore can largely decide on their own purpose.

Did I miss anything? If not, I'll buy that.

Here's what I've been thinking. . .

Take a self-consistent, ordered system. Let's say mathematics, as an
example. Here we have a bunch of axioms, and the *purpose* of these axioms
are to make certain relationships possible such that the system can expand
and maintain it's self-consistency and order. To that end, every new axiom
introduced into the system must be congruent existing axioms. So the
system is designed to allow certain relationships and prevent other
relationships that would destroy it's self-consistency.

The point is that *one* of the purposes of an axiom, in mathematics, is to
govern the evolution (or expansion) of itself in such a way that it
remains self-consistent and well structured.

What I draw from this is that purpose is very much connected to
relationship and to possibility. . .that is, it tends to have a governing
effect, defining what is acceptable and possible and what is not.

To that extend, then, I must confess a logical flaw in my previous
argument and concede that the universe (as a whole) has a purpose and that
purpose is found in the relationship between the parts.

Now turn this argument back toward an LO. . .

Let's loosely equate organizational rules (policies, procedures, etc.)
with mathematical axioms (a bit of a stretch I know, but bear with me),
what you end up with is that the part of the purpose of any policy or
procedure is to maintain an organizations self-consistency and structure.

This raises some very interesting questions. In mathematics we begin with
a very basic set of axioms. . .stuff we teach to children in grade school.
As you learn more about mathematics you are introduced to more complex
axioms -- but their complexity is purely conceptual. The beauty of
mathematics is that it is such a precise and economical science. The
problem with most organizations, is that as the number of policies and
procedures grows, they become imprecise and verbose. Pretty soon no one
has a clue what they mean.

This takes me back to a basic tenet of mine: Simple is always better.

Here's a real-life example of what I mean. I started programming computers
when I was a kid. My dad was a programmer, and he taught me BASIC when I
was 10. It took me a couple of years to realize that when your code gets
really complex, and you have a lot of conditional statements and obtuse
logic you really screwed up. Put another way: You didn't think through
your problem very well (and chances are your solving *a problem* but not
the problem you think your solving).

Perhaps this is a difference between an LO and an OO.


Benjamin Compton

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