Why do we want learning organizations? LO30512

From: Jan Lelie (janlelie@wxs.nl)
Date: 08/27/03

Replying to LO30503 --

Dear readers, yearners for learning, hello At and Ly,

At's answers reminds me of Zarathustra's "Doctor, heal thyself". But even
Z's statement about the true nature of God didn't make it.

The issue - in my opinion - "is" the inside/ouside organization. Our
nature forces us to organize and organizing creates organisations who by
nature have people inside and people outside. For the outsiders it is vice
versa. The lonely I becomes stronger, is better able to survive in an
organisation. Co-operation - also called social behaviour - is a necessity
in barren nature, in the savanne. We handle our differences in order to
acheive a common good.

Now the funny thing is that a everybody wants his or her organisations to
be more successful than the organisations of other people. We start to
identify ourselves with our organizations (ranging from families, through
tribes to nations and peoples). The more succesful the organisation, the
bigger the I. So we've managed to learn to co-operate in order to compete.
By competing we innovate, we develop new tactics for better survival in a
environment of other groups. Groups grow and grow more and more
conservative. Some of the tactics come from smaller groups, who are under
pressure to differentiate, innovate, create. When we cannot "beat" another
group - and we cannot beat them because there'll be always be others, as
they are created by the same processes that created our groups- , we
absorb there innovation ("assimilate" a Borg - in Dutch "geborgen" means
safe, satisfied, happy in a crowd- tells me). I see nations and religions
as the very succesful vehicles of innovation, adaptation and competitions.
Why, nations and religions even advertise their ability to compete. But
the no. 1 can only loose its position and the others scramble to take over
.. only to become overtake too.

And now we have a tangled loop, a set of paradoxes. We're in a place and
time nobody wanted, intended, meant to exist. All our organizing has
brought us very large gains and very disturbing wars. We are unhappy on
individual level, teamlevel, organisational level an world level. We have
to race just to stay in the same place and we want to get out at the same
time. Organizations - once the cure for our pains - have become the
problem, the pain in the neck. A small organisation is good, it supports
us, but twice the size is not twice as nice.

In my opnion our organizational thinking "tries" to solve organizational
problems - thats is, problems created by organizing into large
organisations - by smarter organizing. Management is the new religion and
MBA's are the new priests. And the heretics have discovered a new faith,:
new principles and rules called "learning organizations". Ever wondered
why The Book on LO's is called "the fifth discipline"? Apply Systems
Thinking to LO and see for yourself: we're caught in a Tragedy of the
Commons. Apply Personal Mastery to LO and see how you can only become your
own slave in an organisation. Apply Team Learning to LO's and watch how
the teams start competing against each other. Apply Visioning to LO and
see how it is a self fulfilling prophecy: we're only a LO as long as it
lasts. And why do want a learning organizations? Because thats what we've

Organizations - i have learned long ago - are like pyramids. A large base
having a small, lonely top. What's inside a pyramid? Dead bodies, called
mummies. These pyramids we've build ourselves, are going to burry us.

The solution is not to not-organize, mind you. The solution is in
something that is being overlooked by organisations, almost forgotten, is
hidden, it is an ability we all used to have but that's poorly developed
as we didn't need it in an organisation. Even worse, organisations hate it
and try to eradicate it. Can you spot it?

Kind regards and keep up the good work,

Jan Lelie

AM de Lange wrote:

>>I would like you to help me something, why do we
>>want learning organisations?
>Greetings dear Thay,
>Many thousands of people are offering their services to individuals and
>organisations to turn back from the road to catastrophy which the world in
>general is heading to. Many do it because they are honestly concerned
>while the rest do it to make money quickly. Despite all these services,
>the world is just accelerating forward as if the driver felt asleep,
>oblivious to what lies ahead. Why can organisations from as small as
>families to as large as nations not benefit enough from all these services
>I think it is because all these services are "help from the outside". They
>are not complemented with "help from the inside". When an organisation
>wants to help itself from the inside, there is only thing to do. Become a
>learning organisation! Think of it this way -- the treatment of the doctor
>is useless when the patient ha an unhealthy life style.


Drs J.C. Lelie (Jan, MSc MBA) facilitator mind@work

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