The IO: I-nvolving Organisations LO29751

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 01/03/03

Replying to LO29727 --

Dear reader, a very happy and healthy 2003 - or what ever year you're into -
Hello Jim,

Thank you for your kind reply.

I suppose that describing organisations can be done in every way you want,
see or perceive them. It only tells you something about the processes of
describing. How one person sees and calls the things, the processes, the
entities he or she perceives (form and content) and how another person is
being informed about them. And vice versa. One cannot have the message and
its context seperately - although we usually assume it can. But when the
context is lacking, we simply supply it. That's why a computer cannot do
anything sensible. We've only learned the machines the form, but not the

Informing has to the with figure and ground. In fact, i may have no idea
what your talking about (ground) and you may have no idea about what i'm
saying (figure), but as we assume we have a meaningful conversation (i'm
supplying my own figure and you complement the background), the
conversation becomes meaningful. To put is differently: you can only read
these lines because the letters differ in colour from the background. And
you can only read the content, the meaning, because it has a different
"colour" then the background. But your background is not mine. We have
been in-formed-of (have learned) the same "back grounds" - for instance
English grammar and spelling and words and also some contexts - and
therefor we can communicate using these strange symbols. The tokens
however, have no meaning, the words have no meaning. Listen to a foreign
language, or read an foreign language: gibberish. I suppose that the same
is true for the contents of the sentences. And of organisations. We
negotiate the meaning.

If i try to understand the idea average evolution, i get the impression
that the "best" way of organizing is the average way: sub-optimizing as
the optimal solution. Years ago, i noted that the input of a logistical
process (customer demand, plotted as a bell-shaped figure) is exactly (not
only the average, the mean, but also and more importantly the width, the
spread) as irregular as the shipments or deliveries. The way we organized
the processes did not change this rule. The curves only get steeper. The
frustrating aspect (what i find frustrating, off course) of organizing -
and evolving - is that what ever we do, try, invent, improve, compete,
cooperate, in the end, it comes out just about average. And more
complicated. In the past few thousands of years we have conquered the
world and found out what ever we do, it just ends up about average. Such
is life and it is getting sucher and sucher all the time. The richest man
today is absolutely richer than the richest man in the past, but he is
relatively poorer. And the poorest people today are still as poor as
always, but relatively richer.

Kind regards,

Jan Lelie

Jim Marshall wrote:

>Thank you Jan Lellie for an excellent contribution. It has sure got me
>I focus on your continuum of coherence-spread.
>Consider that an organisation's whole corpus of information (wrong words
>but enough for now) as being describable around key dimensions:
>coherence and spread are candidates. there are others and I am looking for
>help to name them.

[...snip by your host...]


Drs J.C. Lelie (Jan, MSc MBA) facilitator mind@work

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