Replying to LO30583 --
I find At's comments intriguing and stimulating. I generally agree with
Bill's comments that this is REALLY HARD stuff to do as it must be
spontaneous and without coercion in order to become permanent and
effective. There are a couple of exceptions that I want to toss out to be
First, most of what we talk about in this list with regard to learning
organizations applies to discrete, conventional organizations in a
non-learning context. Those organizations that can become LOs (we
believe) will prosper because this becomes a competitive advantage. As
this metamorphosis takes place, an evolution in the truest sense must also
take place. The result of this evolution will likely lead to something
that in no way resembles the original organization. This is because a LO
will respond to its environmental context which will, in turn, respond to
the LO, which responds further, and so on. I believe that, in order to
truly become a LO, we have to be willing to let go of our conceptions and
ideas of how the organization should look and function and accept what
That said, the situation that At addresses with regard to 9/11 and its
reasons for coming about are on a much higher plane than that where we
normally apply the LO principles. We are not talking about an
"organization" in the usual scope. We are talking about the entire
planet. How do we take the entire planet and create a global LO?
Through the United Nations? At this point, I think not.
The base issue to me is the inherent aspect of human nature to compete and
acquire in order to satisfy (and ensure continued satisfaction) of basic
needs. Those who are able to transcend this level of need continue to
compete and acquire in order to ensure continuation of their power.
What does this look like in the world today? Israel claims its lands by
divine birthright. The Palestinians, and other Arab countries, violently
disagree. While the conflict originally was about a homeland claimed by
both Israel and the Palestinians, the situation now has world-wide
ideological and political concerns. Both sides are reluctant to release
their long-held notions and truly embrace the peace process.
Expand that view to the entire region and beyond and we see essentially
the same thing going on between the US and France, Germany, Russia, and
many other countries around the world. While each makes its case
eloquently, it remains true that none is willing to let go of its (sense
of) power and influence to allow another to make a real difference.
So how can we transcend this context of political posturing and reach that
plane where enlightened people can create a better world for the entire
Bill points out that using coercion undercuts the validity of the aims of
a LO. While I agree with that in principle, I also know that many
situations require a little coercion to get things moving in a new
direction. This can be in the form of directives to do something
different or in the form of the removal of reinforcers for old behavior.
Either way can, and often does, beget change/movement. The trick is to be
able to move off of this coercion and to move toward a more spontaneous
evolution of affairs.
I will admit to being a long-time fan of Star Trek. One of the things
that keeps me so interested is the exploration of the world of that time.
Please bear with me while I explain.
Humanity in the time of Star Trek has generally transcended its regional
interests in order to establish a global government and pursue higher
goals involving off-world concerns. Yet, there are still some regional
areas of focus. For example, Captain Picard has (had) a brother who ran
the family vineyards and disdained the idea of leaving the family farm,
much less the planet, in pursuit of goals that were of no concern to him,
personally. This formed a central theme in the character of Jean Luc
Similarly, Benjamin Sisco's father was a chef in New Orleans. While he
has a different view toward involvement with other worlds and cultures, he
still retains his focus on his restaurant and providing that as a safe
haven for both his son and grandson.
In both cases there is the implication that these viewpoints are not
isolated examples, but reflective of general feelings among various
portions of the population. These "errant" ideas are able to exist within
the framework of that time and political structure because of the open
connection between all major portions of the Earth's population and its
major cities. As such, they constitute the "spice" that makes life in
those times interesting.
What could make such a political and social development possible?
According to that storyline, the development of a global government came
about only after the political leadership of the Earth had, once again,
tried to wipe each other out. In that stormy and uncertain aftermath the
earth made contact with an extraterrestrial race and our parochial
concerns started to seem rather petty in retrospect.
This story forms a parable reflecting many events during the history of
humanity. The most notable (or at least well known) of these center
around Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and others who came and offered a
viewpoint of acceptance and transcending one's individual concerns in
deference to a higher calling. It is indeed unfortunate hat much of the
teachings of these great inspirational leaders has been ignored and/or
perverted over time to suit the interests of political "leaders" from all
parts of the globe.
What is required is an example of transitional, transformational, and
inspirational leadership that can facilitate such inspiration outside of a
religious context. Those who fit this description must be willing to
sacrifice themselves in order to achieve their goals. We have numerous
examples of this in recent times to include Mr. Mandella and Mikhail
Gorbachev. Mohandis Ghandi and Mother Teresa also fit this description.
What has been missing is a mechanism to bring these people together to
create a greater level of raised consciousness worldwide. Each worked in
his/her own area or "neighborhood" to accomplish their goals. Humanity
was raised in their presence. Will their influence last beyond their
departure? How can we combine the efforts of those of like minds to
perpetuate the work and ideology of the originals?
At the risk of talking in circles, I can't help but think about Bill's
comment about the police and their role in society. We want society to be
safe, so we establish rules by either governance or consensus, to
facilitate that desired state of being. Because we know human nature,
though, we also establish a police force to catch/punish those who would
violate those rules. While the initial desire and decision was
consensual, the execution is based, at least in part, on coercion.
Finally, when we reach the point where a police force is no longer
required, or its role is greatly minimized, and the creative energy to
evolve and adapt to achieve something higher is self-sustaining, does the
concept of a learning organization still apply? Will the LO concept
itself have been rendered obsolete due to its own evolution?
I apologize if this has rambled a bit. There's just so much to explore on
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