Replying to LO29705 --
Greetings to all of you.
This essay is of a religious nature, but not intended to make a convert
out of anyone. If it offends you, please forgive me because it was not
intended. (I wrote it before Christmas, but due to computer problems at
home I can send it only now, well away in the new year.)
I began the essay after feeling an immense urge in writing it. Jan Lelie's
summary in "LO as paradise lost and liberation LO29705" of an essay by
Veerle Rooze shows how timely this urge was. He mentions
>She notes that The Fifth Discipline contains all or most
>of the important Christian values (integrity, freedom, loyality,
>openness, forgiveness) but lacks a normative framework.
That is why i have linked this contribution to LO29705
Here is the essay
For weeks we had to endure the shop banners "Merry X-mas". The day of this
mysterious X came and it went. What or who is this X? The Greek word
"Christos"=Saviour begins with the letter "chi" which looks like an X, but
which we render in English with "ch".
Jesus was born in Bethlehem somewhere in June/July some 2000 years ago. It
is too cold for the shepards and their sheep to sleep outside in Palestine
during December. Jesus claimed that he is the long awaited Christ and that
his death and resurrection would prove it.
The religion Christianity flowed forth from the work of Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, i think that too much of Christianity has made Jesus a
stumbling block to the rest of humankind. They do it by claiming that a
person first has to believe the dogma in Jesus as his/her saviour before
anything else can follow. However, this contradicts Jesus' work which was
to restore wholeness among humankind. Faith in Jesus as saviour is only a
much later step. To experience what he did and then to learn what he
taught comes first.
Jesus healed people in body and mind. He also taught people about the
Kingdom of Heaven (KoH). The KoH has a constitution which he
summarised as follows from scripture:-
Love God with personal wholeness and
love fellow humans as one loves oneself.
Does this constitution make the KoH a LO (Learning Organisation)? I
think that we have to learn more about the KoH before we can answer
Jesus taught that the KoH has to be sought among us rather than being some
place to go to after death. He had much to say on this KoH as is reported
by the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
Peter Senge taught that a LO can be characterised by five disciplines:-
Personal Mastery, Team Learning, Shared Vision, Mental Models and Systems
Thinking. Let us see whether some of the sayings of Jesus on the KoH fit
into Senge's disciplines of a LO.
I intended to list only three sayings of Jesus himself for each
discipline. More can be listed, but that would be an overkill. I have
restricted myself to the four gospels which report him directly.
Matt 5:3 "Blessed are the humble people for theirs is the kingdom of
Matt 18:2-3 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them
and said "Truely I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven".
John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet,
you also ought to wash one another's feet.
Matt 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field
which a man discovered. In his excitement he sells everything he owns
to get enough money to buy the field and get the treasure too.
Mark 9:47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better
for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes
to be thrown into hell.
Luke 4:42 But he said to them, "I must preach the good news of the
kingdom of God to the other cities also because I was sent for this
Matt 12:7 And if you had known what this means 'I desire mercy and
not sacrifice', you would not have condemned the guilty.
Luke 6:41 Why do you see the speck that is in you brother's eye, but
do not notice the log in your own eye?
John 8:15 You judge according to the flesh, but I judge no one.
Matt 21:43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of heaven will be taken
away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.
Mark 3:24 If a kingdom is devided against itself, that kingdom cannot
John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if
you have love for one another.
I was very surprised not to find anything on Team Learning in the four
gospels, except for perhaps John 13:14. It was my gut feeling that the KoH
(Kingdom of Heaven) is a LO. I searched through the four gospels several
times, but could not find anything. So what went wrong with my gut
Then i realised that nothing was wrong! It was a matter of an emergence at
the appropiate time. Jesus as leader taught in four of the five
disciplines. He kept on saying that the "kingdom of heaven has come
close", but not that it has already arrived through an emergence. It seems
to me that he expected from his disciples to fill in the empty discipline
Team Learning -- to make the "kingdom of heaven an actuality" by an
emergence after his death and resurrection. In other words, i had to go
beyond the four gospels to all the letters of John, Peter and Paul to find
further information on the KoH. And what a wealth of information did I not
find on Team Learning! For example:-
Col 3:10 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish
one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
James 5:16 Therefor confess your sins to one another and pray for one
another that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has
great power in its effects.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God and he
who loves is born of God and knows God.
Jesus brought the Kingdom of Heaven (KoH) near with the individual
learning of his disciples. His disciples then had to make the KoH an
actuality with their organisational learning! They had to discover for
themselves how IL (Individual Learning) extends into OL (Organisational
Learning) and for that he selected the discipline Team Learning. That
discovery began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit like "tongues of
fire" on the pentecostal day.
I have contemplated for several days this lack of information on Team
Learning in the four gospels, but not in the epistles of the apostels. I
was not aware of it before writing this essay. It now seems that Jesus as
leader did most of the work to set up the KoH as a LO, but refrained from
doing all of it. He expected from his followers to fill up the remaining
gap in Team Learning, thus gaining self experience in doing so. This
experience would enable them to understand much better the information on
the other four LO disciplines.
Obviously, the concept of a LO described in terms of the five disciplines
followed nearly two thousands of years after the work of Jesus.
Nevertheless, what Senge articulated following an idea of Arie de Geus
(the living organisation) is not a theory, but an actual condition which
may exists in some organisations, perhaps some of them also of a religious
nature. I therefor think we ought to refer to any possible LO before the
time of Senge's articulation as a "tacit LO". However, when i propose that
Jesus had to work with the Kingdom of Heaven as a "tacit LO", it is just a
theory and not a fact. Finding citations in the four gospels and all the
epistels of the New Testament for the five disciplines of a LO, tends to
justify this theory.
But what about practice rather than theory?
Our parish had been losing its spirituality over a couple of decades. The
sermons of the pastor became like lectures wasted on disinterested
students. Except for the congregation on Sundays, little happened. A few
of us began to pray for a revival. God began to show us the way -- serve
one another with deads of love. Six months ago we began with four "Care
Groups" (CGs). Their function can be described as "cells of a LO". Each
had about eight members and by now they average about twelve members.
Should a CG become about fourteen members, we intend for it to divide in
two CGs. We expect this to happen soon in the new year. We also expect the
majority of our parish to be transformed into a LO a couple of years from
now. Our parish is regaining its spirituality. The sermons of the pastor
have deepened from lectures to spiritual pleadings for the common good of
all and the glory of God. The CGs serve our parish and the wider community
in a profound way. Praise the Lord.
I should have said above that we expect the majority of our parish to be
transformed into a "tacit LO" a couple of years from now. By this I mean
that nobody else in the parish than me know formally of Senge's work. The
beauty of it all is that only a few need to know its essentials to make
its emergence a success.
In fact, in the beginning of the year i was asked to draw up a set of
goals to indicate to the board of elders of our parish what we mean with
Care Groups (CGs). I did not mention Senge's work, but only listed the
goals in what the CGs ought to do. Our initiative was almost shipwrecked.
These goals were so alien to the elders that they did not want to give
their approval for the formation of CGs which they indeed have to do by
church law. But any change in our local organistion has to be approved by
them. It took me all my wits to convince them to forget about these
articulated goals which they wanted, but to allow us to proceed with the
formation of CGs under their close supervision. Now, after six months of
experiencing the practice of CGs, most of the elders have become
positively inclined towards them, something which the theoretical outset
they required could not accomplish.
Is it unlawful or even immoral to do good what has not been informed in
advance? I do not think so. Information which exists outside cannot
replace or override knowledge which dwells within. The knowledge which we
have gained by six months of experience with CGs is far more important
than all my careful articulations twelve months ago. It seems that
practice is more telling than theory. The proof of a LO is not its theory,
but its practice. Begin your LO by practising it and not by informing
others about it. Get a few similar minded members to work with you because
it cannot be done alone. Take care that the leaders do not derail your
efforts, but rather let them experience that these efforts are harmless.
With care and best wishes
At de Lange <firstname.lastname@example.org> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa
Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <Richard@Karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>
"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.