Learning Organization LO29134

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 09/06/02

Replying to LO29116 --

Dear Organlearners,

Mehria Albert <mehriaalbert@earthlink.net> writes:

>I am interested in finding out the names of the
>organizations in the US who are applying the theory
>of "Learning Organizations."
>I will appreciate your assistance in this matter.

Greetings dear Mehria,

I do hope you will get some names here.

I live in South Africa so that I cannot help. The reason is the following.
Already as far back as some 400 years BC the sage Confucius warned that
what people claim and what they actually do are two different things.

It is easy for the management of an organisation to claim that they are a
LO. I can use Google's advance search engine and find you within a couple
of hours a hundred of names of organisations which make such a claim. But
it is actually their doing which makes them a LO or not. To make sure of
this, i need to be in the US and observe self the doing of such an
organisation closely.

I know of a certain department in a certain university here in South
Africa which functions as a LO. I have observed it myself and saw all five
disciplines of a LO clearly in action. But the important thing to note
here is that they do not know anything of Senge's work. In other words,
they are what i call a "tacit LO".

I also know of several other departments in that same university which are
light years away from functioning as a LO. The important thing to note
here is that a part of an organisation can function as a LO while the rest
do not.

I myself refrain from ever using the phrase "applying the theory of LOs".
The reason is that what Peter Senge did in his seminal work The Fifth
Discipline is to "describe" the features of a LO. (I have to admit that he
used dedicated terminology of past managerial theories which tend to give
his description a theoretical flavour.) To do this description he had to
have "tacit LOs" to observe closely.

One of the worst errors to make when trying to guide organisations
transforming into LOs, is to APPLY the "description", "theory", "systems
thinking" or whatever we may call it on that organisation. In the
"description" essential features may occur. These essential features can
never be applied. Let me give an example. The heart is an essential
feature of the body. Now apply a heart to a body and see how far you can

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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