Power and Virtual Organizations LO30092

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 04/14/03

Replying to LO30079 --

Dear Organlearners,

Philip Keogh <Philip.Keogh@leedsth.nhs.uk> writes:

>I was drawn to the work of Paul Watslawick and his book
>The pragmatics of human communication. and in particular
>his comments on paradox, and not being able to solve a
>paradox on the same level it exists in. But needing to go to
>a higher level.
>It also brought to mind that quote about not being able to
>solve the problems of today with the solutions of yesterday
>(it might have been Einstein). And in a similar vein the work
>of Kurt Godel and unprovability from within a system.

Greetings dear Philip,

You have made an important point here. Yes, it was Einstein who said that
the solution of an authentic problem is on a higher level than its

I see here in South Africa too many organisations unable to overcome
paradoxes and to solve authentic problems. I think the reason is that they
do not know how to proceed to a higher level of thinking, nor are they
willing to do what it takes. In any evolutionary process, even that of
knowledge in the mind, the system moves to a higher level of complexity
through an "ordinate bifurcation". This forking event happens when the
system drives itself with massive entropy production to the ridge of

The people in organisations are very afraid of such bifurcations. They
have the tacit knowledge that a bifurcation may result in destructive
immergence rather than a constructive emergence. They do not have the
knowledge, not even tacitly, how to promote an emergence and thus avoid an
immergence. They base their behaviour on information of the past which, as
you have said, is not suitable for the bifurcation at hand.
>Do we then, in thinking about data, and information need to
>go to a new level of thinking when we talk about knowledge.
>Are we, even now, framing our concept of knowledge in a
>language and mind set that is not fully enabled to understand it?
>Are we trapping ourselves and not being aware of it?

I think that the trap is in assuming that information (which exists
outside the mind) is superior to knowledge (which dwells within the mind).
We have reached the situation that information has exploded so much that
its size dwarfs the knowledge of even the most profound thinker. This
indimidates most people so much that they cannot learn authentically.

>Once we have discovered this "new paradigm" and the
>paradox is broken, what then - we move onto the next one!
>But one thing is for sure, our new found "knowledge" will
>give us a different view of the past, and when we reconstruct
>that view of the past - will we learn anything. Will we still
>fumble along, and continue to be "destined" to make similar
>mistakes - reframed in the new mind set!

I find it exciting that you write of a "different view of the past". How
many times had i myself not had to change my view of a particular past. It
makes me think of apartheid. South Africa has been a multicultural society
for several centuries. The idea of apartheid was for people of each
culture (education, business, poltics, religion) to develop their own
culture. In the early seventies i though that this was a magnificant idea.
But in the early eighties i came deeply under the impression how this idea
was corrupted by one culture exploiting another culture. As i was
rethinking the past, i began to acknowledge the sufferings of those not
belonging to the dominant culture. But the worst shock for me came in the
nineties when it was revealed before the TRC (Truth and Reconsiliation
Commision) what devious means the dominant culture used by its civil
forces, but under cover, to sustain this exploitation.

>Knowledge is a good thing but only if some use is made of it.
>You allude to this in your "horror stories" where people of
>academic repute are "put out to pasture". This does not only
>happen in academia. Modern society I think is becoming more
>"ageist" in its discrimination. Less value is attributed to that
>fraction of the population that are close to retirement, or have

Yes, you are right. Almost everybody now in South Africa is avoiding
apartheid. But shunting people out of a productive life is still happening
at large scale, for example those close to retirement as you mentioned, or
the banking sector as another example. Those in a position of dominance
want to sustain it and the trouble begins when they make use of devious
means to do so.

>However, to counter the above I do find it heartening to
>see that as we (hopefully) approach this new understanding
>of knowledge, this change of paradigm - that we are moving
>around again to a more "community" based approach rather
>than individualistic approach to the sharing of knowledge.

We here in South Africa are now traveling on this raod, but oh, it happens
so slowly. We are already at that stage that everybody has the right to
have access to any information and often our courts of law have to support
it. But having right to any information is not the same as having right to
any knowledge. And to support the latter by courts of law will be far more
difficult, if not impossible. The only way i see how this can happen, is
for people to share their knoweldge by their organisations acting as
learning organisations.

>...till we write again...

Thank you for constructive thinking. It made my day.

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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