developing learning org in the absece of systemic players LO30174

From: Vana Prewitt (
Date: 05/14/03

Replying to LO30155 --

Donal Barry responded to my comments about Learning Organization theory,
Peter Senge, etc. by noting that I had misunderstood his intent and
clarified, "I was not thinking of them having to know the theory , but was
inquiring into processes or practices to facilitate movement in thinking
from notions of the individual being the receptor and producer of
knowledges to being more open to seeing the co-construction of our paths

Absolutely fascinating Donal! This is exactly where I'm headed with my
research. Thank you for the explanation. He also noted that when
misunderstandings arise, "I think in noticing this and voicing the
difference brings us to another level of conversation." Yes, this is one
of the features that continues to bring me back to this list after so many
years. It's a place where people feel free to engage in scholarly debates
for the purposes of mutual inquiry.

Ah, but the next sentence is an interesting twist..."move from viewing
communication as the transmission of messages to one that is complex and
exciting and in its mystery challenges us to explore the grammer a little
deeper to look at what we are REALLY trying to say." Here is the
challenge...what is real? If we are co-constructing our reality, how does
this occur? I have my perception and you have yours. We reflect to
ourselves and then to each other on these "realities" and then begin the
negotiation. How does this play out?

What is the role of power in negotiating shared understanding and meaning?
Is it a matter of "real" or perceived power? Is the ability to manipulate
and apply language as critical to the negotiation process as a spiritual
connection or emotional bond? If we discard modernist concepts of winners
and losers in our process of creating shared understanding, is negotiation
replaced by some other activity? These are the issues that truly fascinate
me and I'm finding myself pulling material, literature, and techniques
from multiple disciplines to try and scratch out a semblance of an answer.
It is only a beginning. And yes, The World Café is right in the middle of
this work.

I want to check my understanding of the message regarding "hands on
service providers not seeing much of a change in the environment and your
interst in creating communication spaces for their voices to be heard. You
said, "What might be the challenges faced when we empower the 'lower'
groupings to speak? Imagine running a marathon and when you are 50 metres
from the finish someone changes the rules!!"

My thought on this was that I remember a point when leadership and
decision making were being pushed down the line in a company and the
"front line" people absolutely panicked at the idea of being responsible
for decisions that previously had been management's. They found it
terrifying that they might be held accountable. They did not see
empowerment as a positive force at all. Quite the contrary, they wanted no
part of it. Is this the type of concern to which you are referring?

For this group, managing the change of leadership, voice, and creativity
came in small wins to help them understand that the future was not going
to be awful. They experienced positive results and eventually became
champions of the process. Middle management and front line employees both
had a lot of changes to make and I found that helping them understand the
business rationale and their part in keeping the business successful
helped the transition.

Good luck,

Vana Prewitt
Praxis Learning Systems


"Vana Prewitt" <>

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