Criteria for "Learning Organization" LO29642

From: John Dicus (
Date: 12/03/02

Replying to LO29613 --

While Mark McElroy has contributed many insights here on LO with respect
to Organizations that Learn, I thought one of his emails to the COMPLEX-M
list was very helpful. I offer it below with Mark's permission. Just in
case "CAS" is not a familiar term to anyone, it stands for complex
adaptive system.


All of the examples you cite are (or may be) CASs to the extent that they
rely on collective learning as an adaptive strategy. If they do not rely
on learning at the level of the collective, then they are not CASes, for
their learning and the behavior that follows is either determined by
others, or is mechanical, or both. If you like, we could call such
systems "complex maladaptive systems," for their capacity to learn is at
least shunted, if not entirely disabled, and yet they are still made up of
living, autonomous agents who learn. In such systems, we still might see
emergent behaviors appear, but they would not necessarily be learning or
adaptive ones, per se. So any two or more humans engaged in the pursuit
of a common goal can be said to comprise a social system, but they are not
necessarily CASs (or very adept ones), since their ability to collectively
learn and to implement the knowledge they produce as they do may be
undermined or even overruled by others who cripple or deprive them of such
things. This, of course, is what we expect managers in business to do --
deprive people of their intrinsic capacity to learn and to act in
accordance with their own ability to do so. : - )

by Mark McElroy


John Dicus


John Dicus <>

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