Anyone for a learning crusade? Enron, KM, and OL LO28313

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 04/25/02

Replying to LO28284 --

Dear Organlearners,

Chris Macrae <> writes:

>It starts with a mathematician's observation that
>arithmetic (ie operands on numbers) was never intended
>to represent the dynamics of things which grow because
>of their connectivity, ie rule number 1 of numbers is that
>your are dealing with stuff that separates. By its founding
>definition, intangibles was always about human process
>stuff whose core value and identity is in its systemising
>connectivity. Mathematically it can be said (no proven!)
>that anyone who tries to value intangibles only by numbers
>is either a bit dim or trying to pool wool over other people's
>eyes ( we've seen quite a lot of that at Enron, Andersen and
>other places .... (snip)

Greetings dear Chris,

I was think of your assertion, not as a mathematicican, but from the "hard
core" sciences such as physics and chemistry.

First the tangibles.

It is impossible to express a physico-chemical quantity Q by a pure number
q. It must always be done with respect to a unit [q]. Thus we always write
Q = q[q] like in mass M = 5 [kilogram] or length L = 7 [metre].

How many units are there? I took the Handbook of Physics and Chemistry and
began to count them. I stopped at 50 because it is time wasting.

Where does these units come from? By the way in which a system SY
interacts with any system in its surroundings. When we can increase of
decrease a property of that system in a systematical manner -- a process
called standardisation -- we have "systemic meter" for which I will use
the acronym SM. I always stressed to my students that they should never
think of any quantity without thinking about its SM (measuring apparatus)
too. Quantities do not hang in the void. They are grounded by their SMs in
physical reality.

Are all these units independent? No, only a few are and they are called
Fundamental Units (FUs). In practice a few more units (depending on FUs)
are included to make the interdepency less complex. The whole bunch (FUs
and extras) are now called Basic Units (BUs). The SI (Systeme
Internacionale) has seven BUs. That more than fifty units I wrote of, can
be expressed in these seven BUs of the SI. How it is done, is the exciting
subject called Dimensional Analysis.

I think that the one major error made in the "soft core" sciences is that
measurements are made without supplying the units as well as the
associated SMs (systemic meters). Another major error is that the SM is
often a system of which the metering property cannot be changed in a
systematical manner.

Thinking of financial systems, a currency (like the US$) is indeed used as
a unit. Furthermore, it has already been diversified into several kinds
like M1$, M2$, M3$, .....(see what the Reserve Banks do). However, since
they all are based on merely one FU (Fundamental Unit), namely the US$,
they are flawed. Some people firmly believe that the governer of a reserve
bank of a country can change the money of that country in a systematical
manner. If it is so, then the currency can be used to express financial
systems (of organisations) in that country. But if it is not so, then
think twice!

Now, for the intangibles.

The word "intangible" means for me materially not capable of being touched
and mentally not capable of being appreciated directly by the mind.

There are at least two intangible quantities in the physical world.
They are, and take a deep breath ............................,
energy and entropy. With this I mean that each cannot be
measured directly. For each two kinds of measurements have to
be made and then to be connected by calculations. For energy
we need, for example, to measure force and length and then
"multiply" them to get the change in energy. For entropy we need
to measure heat (thermal energy in flow) and temperature (intensity
of themal energy) and then divide them in that order to get the
change in entropy. Curious, is it not?

Is not curious that Enron did business in something intangible without
knowing it? Somebody has to wake up somewhere. Perhaps it is me for not
knowing that energy and entropy cannot be measured directly.

Chris, you have used the phrase "is now intimately interconnected with
intangibles" which is incredibly important. By doing so, I think that you
have articulated fruitfulness ("connect-beget") in your own manner. If
this is correct, then you have brought in all the other six 7Es (seven
essentialities of creativity). One of them is liveness ("becoming-being").
By the very "becoming" we have to admit to the necessity to changes in the
intangibles. Without such changes we cannot become aware of these
intangibles. Thus our problem lies not with our awareness to them, but our
direct appreciation of them by the mind.

So what things in the universe can intervene so that our awareness cannot
grow into appreciation? Perhaps these things are nothing else than what I
call the "laws of complexity" such as the LRC (Law of Requisite
Complexity) and LVC (Law of Veracity of Complexity).

The LRC means that I may become aware of something, but because of too
little complexity in my awareness, I cannot appreciate that something,
except for being aware to it. Its like having to become a master self
before appreciating the mastery of someone else.

The LVC means that when I use a too simple SM (Systemic Meter) in my mind
such as merely my awareness, its lack of complexity prevents me from
appreciating the patterns in the interaction I get by using this SM. The
mind of the becoming master had to imagine certain patterns in advance
before the mind of the actual master will recognise them once again.

>What I really need is for other people to take over
>the paper and rewrite the parts of it that need their
>discipline or cultural politeness (eg your view of
>Learning Organisation or intangibles economics or
>human values not my rude Englishman's style as a
>son of a libertarian economist) into it.

Wow, now you "toor" (tongue in the cheeck since it means "make magic")
with English. I am not able to say it with less respect for for fellow

Nevertheless, the thoughts which I have expressed before your last quote,
ought not to be used in the white paper because they are far too
eccentric, even though authentic. My only intention with them is to make
you as well as other fellow learners aware of things to take into account
in your thinking. This is already a dangerous thing to do because such
awareness has to come self. The appreciation of those things has to come
for each of you by authentic learning, something which I definitely cannot
and will not do.

By the way, have you ever thought of language as a unique way trying to
articulate ("measure";-) intangibles. It does not produce numbers, but
nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and the rest. But somehow I can perceive
a counting going on, because we have several fingers rather than one
finger ;-)

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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