The Will and Purpose of an Organisation LO28250

From: Alfred Rheeder (
Date: 04/17/02

Replying to LO28159 --

Dear At and LO'ers

At de Lange wrote:

>Perhaps I should not have mailed this contribution to the LO-dialogue, but
> merely to those fellow learners mentioned in it. It has some wild
> thoughts, even more wild guesses and desperate attempts to remember my
> past experiences.

Thank you for a thought provoking and stimulating post. Allow me to add
some fuel to the fire....

In this contribution I will refer extensively to previous postings. The
extensive "cutting and pasting" is important to provide and refresh the
context of my probing.

> A person may have a "will" as well as a "purpose". But what about a book?
> Its author wrote it with a purpose so that it acquires that purpose. I
> usually read the preface of a book before even browsing through it. I have
> seen hundreds of times the expression "the purpose of this book" rather
> than "my purpose with this book". Perhaps in some cases the authors
> avoided on purpose the personal touch of the latter. But can a book also
> have a will? I think no. A book does not have such intelligence that it
> can have a will.
> Think about a tree. Can a tree have a will? I think no. A tree can have
> many propensities, some on the chemical level, others on the biochemical
> level and some even on the organ level. That is why a tree will grow given
> a suitable environment. (By the way, the influence of the Bantu languages
> on Afrikaans is such that it is also acceptable to say "the tree go
> grow".) But again I think a tree lacks the requisite complexity in
> intelligence for us to speak of its will.
> But what about the tree and purpose. I may have as purpose in mind a tree
> to give shade rather than a verandah. Hence, when I plant a tree for
> shade, it gets the purpose of giving shade. I have heard hundreds of
> people saying that the purpose of some tree is to give shade. But what
> about a tree growing in the wild? Does it also have the purpose of giving
> shade? Perhaps not, but when I seek up that shade in a hot day, have I not
> given a purpose to it?
> I am reminded of a viewpoint which most philosophers had on aesthetics
> (study of the beautiful). When an artist creates something, the beautiful
> transfers from artist to the work of art. Thus the art can have beauty or
> be ugly. The past two centuries this viewpoint gave way to a seemingly
> more sober viewpoint. No transfer of the beautiful is possible so that it
> is not innate to any work of art. Beauty lies rather in the eyes of the
> beholder. When I now think of it, I can kick myself for not having read
> these treatises on aesthetics more carefully.

I would also like to refer to the earlier statement/question of Benjamin
Crompton in LO28709 - Purpose of the Universe:

>Call me cynical, but I'm not sure the Universe has a purpose. To be more
>precise, I'm not sure "purpose" is a property of the universe. I think
>purpose is much more a need for living creatures than it is for the
>universe itself.

We can be a 100% certain of only one "thing" when engaging in a dailog
regarding purpose. I think it is safe to remark or even exclaim that it
is a fact that purpose has been discussed for centuries by many people.
Well, we are still at it - so is there any purpose to it? Have we only
been confused for centuries? Is there a purpose discussing purpose or
even engaging in a dialog about it or is it a futile exercise?

I think not.

Purpose should be seen within a specific context. Can a system have a
purpose without a surrounding environment? No, purpose has to been seen
within the context of a system functioning within a environment -
otherwise the I in I Am would not exist. From the systems point of view it
is almost as if the surrounding environment "allows" the system to have a

 Imagine a world with no surroundings......

For myself purpose becomes a reality when the world-inside-of-me comes
into contact (fruitfull/effective contact) with the world-outside-of-me.
The environment is inviting me to start looking for the truth of which
purpose is part of. The awareness of the whole-of-me functioning in the
environment compells me to ask: What is the purpose of .....? One can
start looking and begin seeing....The categorical-identity of the system
functioning in the environment is increasingly becoming clearer

> An artist has a purpose for creating a work of art. For many artists this
> purpose is for that work to tell the beautiful. Thus the work of art
> itself gets the purpose to tell the beautiful. When I cannot find the
> beauty in it like the shade under a tree, the problem is with me, unless
> the artist had another purpose in mind. Artists as explorers at the
> frontiers of mind often have the purpose to shock their audience so as
> draw them into a mental bifurcation. Is it needless to say that some
> experience an emergence while others experience an immergence?

At, it seems I agree with you. Purpose does not exist independently from
me or you or any other person. In other words a universal, objective,
independent purpose does not exist. Neither will we be able to quantify
and/or measure such a purpose or any other purpose. Imagine a device
measuring beauty..... Apologies didn't Robin Williams ask the students to
tear out certain pages of the poetry text book in Dead Poet Society which
they eagerly proceeded to do?

When I cannot find the purpose like finding the beauty in the tree the
problem is with me.

> I think that in OOs (Ordinary Organisations) the will and choice of the EP
> (Executive Party such as the CEO or the executive team, if it has one) are
> not merely different to most of the wills and choices of its members, but
> actually overrides them. But how will it be in a LO. Should all the
> members have the same will and make the same choice? I think no because
> this will deny otherness ("quality-diversity"), one of the 7Es (seven
> essentialities of creativity). As soon as one or more of the 7Es are
> denied, creativity and learning will become impossible. This we do not
> want in a LO. Does this mean that one collective will and one collective
> choice become impossible? Take a deep breath and think carefully ;-)

> Out of the many different individual wills and choices a collective will
> and choice ought to EMERGE. Let us call them the LO-will and the
> LO-choices. In other words, in the emerging metanoia of the LO the LO-will
> and the LO-choices will be clearly discernable. Will this LO-will and
> LO-choices override the wills and choices of the individuals like in a OO?
> No, because that which emerged does not undo that from which it has
> emerged. A seedling does not override the seed, soil, water and light from
> which it emerged, but depends on them to incorporate them...

At, I think the important question to ask is how to manage the LO-will and
LO-choices in a world in which the Law of Requisite Complexity (LRC) is a

Lets assume that an LO-purpose, LO-will and LO-choices emerged
spontaneously for an organisation. However, we must remember that even
though this process happened spontaneously the LRC for the organisation
/system as a whole dictated. Now lets assume that the environment is more
complex than the system - meaning the LRC of the environment is greater
than than that of the system. Will the organisation (system) IMERGE when
the environment deluge it (with entropy because of its complexity) because
the organisation lack the Requisite Complexity? Yes, over time the
organisation will come to its knees!

For a moment consider the opposite as well. What if the environment as a
whole is less complex than the organisation. For e.g. what if the
environment as a whole demand a treasure map as At would say? What if the
environment demand a quick fix that doesn't exist, meaning the
organisation or system has knowledge that the quick fix / treasure map /
miracle product the environment demands does not exist? Isn't marketing
and selling a product under such circumstances not a legalised way to
steal people's income? Don't we call this all too often freedom of choice
or will. Is it a democracy and should we just accept it?

Even though the LO-will, LO-choices do not override the will and choices
of the individual members the organisation can be brought to its knees
because of LRC. This is reality. What is the implications of the LRC on
the way we understand and comprehend a Learning Organisation?

I would like to highlight the following:

1) Purpose, Norms, Value's, Choices and Will etc. has to be seen within the
context of LRC.
2) The LRC of systems and the environment differ.
3) Simply letting the members of an organisation decide or not overriding
the the members of the organisations purpose, will and choice does not mean
the organisation is a learning organisation. Necessary but not sufficient!

> I think that fellow learners like Daan Joubert will become very excited by
> this chemical example because he has already indicated how important it is
> for him that the value of an organisation lies in how much the environment
> accepts its normative behaviour freely. Think of a nation. What Daan's
> viewpoint entails for me, is that the value of a nation lies in how much
> other nations in the world will accept its normative behaviour freely.
> Does your nation enforce its will or does its will get freely accepted?
> Does it demand coalitions or does it seeks free collaboration?

I have often contemplated what the implications are when the value of an
organisation lies in how much the environment accepts its normative
behavior. What if the environment accepts me stealing? I have often heard
numerous people say: "The customer is always king". I would reply: " The
customer is important, very important but not king"

Trying to navigate through the reality of LRC.


Alfred Rheeder


Alfred Rheeder <>

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