Sense-making with the dialogue LO30096

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 04/15/03

Replying to LO30074 --

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to all of you.

I have linked this topic to Lee McCartney's
"Measuring Dialogue and Sense-Making LO30074"
This new topic is not concerned with measuring per se. It is rather a
story of what happened to me some two weeks ago.

I was the convenor of a dialogue at a company. It is not a large company,
but its business is extremely complex. Through this it has prepared for
itself a niche which others now envy and a few even try to imitate. In
view of the competition expected, the management team and i decided to
focus on learning more of creativity so as to stay at the leading edge.
Upon my advice we decided to do this learning by an open dialogue
involving all the key personel of the company.

The open dialogue was a new experience for several members. Thus they did
not participate as they should. But afterwards, despite their reserved
talk, they expressed their satisfaction with how the dialogue developed
and what they learned from it. I myself had no particular agenda in mind
except to let the particpants articulate their tacit knowledge on
creativity. I quickly explained to them Polanyi's concept of tacit
knowledge so as to draw their attention to it whenever one of them managed
to articulate his/her tacit knowledge.

I think that the dialogue was a success, although one manager thought that
there was too few critical questions. During the dialogue I was able to
make the particiapnts aware how they articulated four of the seven
patterns essential to creativity). I did not tell them about the 7Es
because this will be the goal of another dialogue. Nevertheless, it was
marvelous how many participants began to make increased sense of the "four
patterns essential to creativity" and how they related it to their regular

I myself did not expect any sense making for myself during the dialogue
because I thought it would be elementary, covering a terrain which i had
done myself many times. How wrong was I. During the dialogue someone
mentioned that their problem was not to live up to expectations, but to
"changing expectations". I was struck by that remark because in some other
organisations I have to struggle with rigid expectations while any new
expectations were considered as evil minded.

A few moments of reflection brought me under the impression that i also
stuggle to get creativity going in those organisations. I concluded
immediately that the more the creativity in the organisation and its
immediate environment, the more that organisation has to cope with
"changing expectations". In other words, the less the creativity in the
organisation and its immediate environment, the less the change in the
expectations of everybody involved. Doing things today as they had been
done yesterday makes people expect from tomorrow the same as today.

I was surprised that never before I articulated this
   creativity <=> changing expectations
I knew it tacitly, but thought it to be too insignificant to articulate.
After the dialogue i checked this thesis on historical developments in
many walks of life which i could remember, spanning many centuries.
I could not find anything facts contrary to the thesis. I felt like a fool
for not having articulated this connection before.

Next i tried to explain to myself the thesis
   creativity <=> changing expectations
in terms of several theories of creativity which i know of. Each time
i felt like hitting a solid wall, making no impression. Eventually i dared
to explain it in my own theory of creativity, namely that creativity is
one of the outcomes of entropy production.
The clarity of the explanation surpised me, althought it might leave many
of you fellow learners in the dark. A years or two ago i made on this list
a coonection between Kauffman's fitness landscape and free energy as well
as entropy landscapes. The more rugged the free energy landscape, the
better the creativity and vice versa. The more rugged the landscape, the
more those moving over it expect to find something new at the next local

The above explanation may be too nebulous for many. But it fits like a
glove over all my desert experiences. When I walk through a flat desert
landscape, I have learned not to find anything new. The next mile will be
extactly the same as the past mile. The greatest task is then not to lose
my mind in such monotony and thus not to wander aimlessly into a death of
dehydration. But as soon as the monotony is broken by a rocky ridge, even
less than a meter high, I find my pulse quickening. What would i find at
that ridge? Seldom, if ever, my expectations were not met. A weird
succulent plant or insect, all attracted my attention.

I would like you fellow learners to tell of your own stories in making
sense with an open dialogue.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> 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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