Metanoia in LOs - Part 1 LO30234

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 06/05/03

Dear Organlearners,

I dedicate this contribution to fellow learner Artur da Silva of Portugal.
He may not be subscribed to our LO-list anymore, but his contributions on
metanoia have been most rewarding to me. I will mail a copy to him and
hopefully he will respond.

Peter Senge desribes the Learning Organisation (LO) as having metanoia.
What is meant by this metanoia? The prefix "meta" comes from Greek and
means beyond, through or beside. The "noia" is also from Greek and means
thoughts. Thus we can think of metanoia as thoughts which members of the
LO has beyond that of an OO (Ordinary Organisation). Senge thinks of
metanoia as the profound change of minds in an organisation. Late in life
dr Deming also began to embrace the concept of metanoia as an outcome of
profound knowledge.

I suspect that far too little is made of these metanoia. But let me first check
with Google's advance search engine at
< >
With the phrase
   learning organisation
in the 2nd window I got 31600 hits. What a lot! But with
in the 1st window too, I got merely 44 hits. Thus it seems that my suspicion
is correct.

Perhaps the word metanoia is too esoteric or too mysterious for the hard
reality of organisational management. So I used Google once again with
only the word
in the 1st window. I got 25 500 hits! In many of them metanoia is used in
conjunction with psycho-therapy and spiritual healing. Might this be the
reason why organisations shy away from using this word? I do not think so.

In one of those 25 500 hits the history of the usage of the word metanoia
is traced. Fellow learners can study it in
"The Historical Meaning of Repentance" at
< >
There is even an organisation dedicated to metanoia at
< >
On its home page the following description is found:
Metanoia means: "a change of mind"...
"turning around, to face a new direction...
    to turn toward the light.
       Because when you face the light,
          shadow is behind you."

What are metanoia? Let us first go to those 44 hits to see how metanoia
are described in them.

*Robin Bradbeer wrote in
"City university of Hong Kong: A Learning Organisation?"
< >
"Senge (1990a) reintroduces the Greek word, metanoia - a shift of mind -
as the basis for defining the type of learning required."

* In the First report of the Archbishops' Council to the General Synod
of the Anglican Church
< >
it is written:
"It must be a call to metanoia in the proper sense, to a radically new way
of seeing how things really are, what the human situation really is ...

* John Perry wrote in
"Chapter 1. A personal and historical context of the project - overview"
< >
"The author explores the concept of 'metanoia' (or 'mind shift'), arguing
that what he terms as 'real' learning involves processes such as
'transcendence', 'awakening' and 'shared intuition'. Thus, the learning
organisation implies an organisation which is 'continually expanding its
capacity to create its future'"

* Malcolm Allen et al wrote in
"Authentic transformational leadership"
< >
"Teams and individuals are supported to 'shift' their minds to enable them
to do things they never thought possible, what Senge terms 'metanoia'."

* Olive Gibbens wrote in
"New Creation and the Learning Organisation: Process of Sanctification"
< >
"At the heart of a learning organisation, says Senge , (and Wesley would
have agreed with him wholeheartedly), is a shift of mind - metanoia,
 (1992: 13) - through which we reperceive the world and our relationship
to it and extend our capacity to be part of the generative process of life."

* In
"Business case for diversity management"
the transformational changes of double loop learning are compared with metanoia.

For all the above quotations we can learn that little has been written on
metanoia. Most of them are merely a rephrasing of what Senge wrote.

Our site
< >
are directly concerned with learning organisations so that the phrase
"learning organisations" is not necessarily used in contributions, even in
those on metanoia. So restricting Google to thise site with
in the first window gives 102 hits. This is probably the most hits for the
word metanoia at any site. -- thanks to Rick's hosting the site!

[Host's Note: It's the power of accumulation over time... The LO list has
been operating since 1994! ..Rick]

Let us see what some of those 102 hits on our site involves.

* Peter J Wharton wrote in:
"The Spiritual Dimension LO11039"
< >
"Peter Senge touches on ideas of Metanoia - repentance or restructuring
one's perceptions - for example in his work on generating and
communicating personal vision, and the whole process of dialog the
suspending of judgement, etc. "

* In
"Against the Technical Rationality of Positivism LO26930"
< >
"LOs and Metanoia - Reflective Practice LO26971"
< >
"LOs_and_Metanoia - "Good Enough" LO27022
< >
Artur F. Silva shared some wonderful thoughts with us on metanoia.

* But in the earlier
"Our Founding Discipline LO20405"
< >
i find the most brilliant of his thoughts.

* I also wrote a few contributions on metanoia such as
"Mystic -- Myth or Metanoia LO25675"
< >
"Catalysis in LOs LO21912"
< >
"metanoia organizations LO25138"
< >

But what do I and each of you fellow learners say these metanoia are? I
myself want to take up the thesis which Artur da Silva made so clearly in
"Our Founding Discipline LO20405"
< >
This thesis is that a LO without metanoia is impossible.

This ends part 1. Part 2 is somewhat larger because i want to keep it
as a unit.

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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