Uncovering the Act of Organisational Learning LO28843 (Part 3).

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 07/15/02

Replying to LO28819 --

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to all of you.

This is:-
Part 3. Organisational Learning within a Learning Organisation.

I did not intend to write part 3. But within an hour after having mailed:-
. Uncovering the Act of Organisational Learning LO28818 (Part 1).
. Uncovering the Act of Organisational Learning LO28819 (Part 2).
I began to feal uneasy. I focused so much on the maze of information
that I failed to take all my own experiences into account. I now want
to introduce them by asking two questions.

Does the OL (Organisational Learning) in a LO (Learning Organisation)
differ from the OL in a OO (Ordinary Organisation)? If it differs, how
does it differ?

We know that not only are the two disciplines Personal Mastery (PM) and
Team Learning (TL) essential to a LO, but also the three other disciplines
Mental Models (MM), Shared Vision (SV) and Systems Thinking (ST). PM
involves IL (Individual Learning) while TL involves OL (Organisational
Learning). Thus PM and TL have clearly to do with learning. But it is as
if learning stands in the background with respect to MM, SV and ST.

Let us look again at figure 4 -- Organisational Learning with
Information Management (IM):-
< http://www.learning-org.com/graphics/LO28819_learnman.gif >
How much can IM accomplish a common awareness to MM, SV and
ST? How much can IM accomplish constructive changes in MM, SV
and ST? In fact, is one of the main difficulties of trying to transform an
OO into a LO not because it is driven by IM? Should we use IM to
drive such a transformation, we simply try to use TL (or even worse,
the executive team) to set up PM, MM, SV and ST. This means that
TL becomes "more essential" than PM, MM, SV and ST, something
which it cannot be.

I have experienced the transformation of three OOs into "tacit LOs" and
their subsequent growth as "tacit LOs". I call them "tacit LOs" because,
except for me, none of their other members knew of Senge's seminal work
The Fifth Discipline. I have also studied about a year ago a fourth "tacit
LO". A week ago I had the opportunity to examine a fifth case rather
superficially. (Thank you Daan for kindly making me aware of it.) In all
five cases the transformation was definitely not driven by IM. It was
accomplished by what I prefer to call "caring deeds".

In each case all members participated in an extraordinary event which
lasted for a few days. Because of the nature of this event the members
developed special needs and they deliberately cared for each other in
these needs by deeds, not words. They had to go with constructive
creativity beyond their usual activities. They became a CCP (Community of
Constructive Practice).

When we examine figure 4, the absence of such caring deeds is noticeable.
Knowing the relationship between words (information) and deeds (practice)
goes further than formal knowledge into wisdom. For example, more than two
millennia the sage Confucius himself had the following to say upon
formalised religion:-

LY 3:12 "Sacrifice as though present; sacrifice to spirits as though the
spirits were present". The Master said, If I do not take part in the
sacrifice, it is though I did not sacrifice.

Caring deeds become before words, despite how compassionate
these words may seem to be. Caring deeds create events which
through experience give meaning to compassionate words or uncover
them as dishonest window dressing. Thus we have to add these
caring deeds to figure 4 as is depicted in figure 5. Please see:-


Observe how the caring deeds are initiated from the sapient level of
knowing rather than the formal level of knowing from which information is

Initially I tried to draw five straight lines from "sapient knowing" to
"event" on the inside, but they interfered too much with the five straight
lines from "formal knowing" to "information" to give a nice picture. (Try
to do it self and see what a mess the result is.) Thus I had to draw them
on the outside as five curves from "sapient knowing" to "event". In the
end the result has become quite symbolically to me. It is as if these
caring deeds embrace like arms the OL in a LO.

See if you can follow the two O-O loops. (It is like tracing over and over
again the number 8 turned sideways). The inner O-O loop involves
information and its management whereas the outer O-O loop involves events
created by caring deeds. The drawing as a whole looks very much like a
butterfly to me.

The butterfly effect? Mmmmm.

With care and best wishes,


At de Lange <amdelange@postino.up.ac.za> 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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